Dr. Sam Martin
Quite a few years ago I walked up to the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Port Au Prince in Haiti and I was struck by its size, its beauty in fact it was a lighthouse to the ships passing the Island, drawing them into Haiti. What struck me most was the fact that there was a beggar lying outside the door, a woman wearing only bits of a torn sack with, her hands stretched out looking for help.
My mind took me back to a story I had heard so many times, the story told in Acts 3. Peter and John were making their way to the temple. They made to go through what was called ‘The Beautiful Gate’ when they heard a man beg for help, he was lame and we are told he was carried to the gate every day and left there to beg, something he had done for 40 years (Acts 4:22). Here is what the scripture say:
“They looked at him intently, and then Peter said, 'Look here!’ The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting a gift. But Peter said, ‘We don’t have any money for you! But I’ll give you something else! I command you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’”
Peter was exercising his faith. He believed in the Power of the name of Jesus Christ and he knew that the beggar needed Jesus more than he needed money. Yes a miracle took place and we read in verse 8 “the man leaping up, stood up and walked and entered the temple with them” — ‘walking, leaping and praising God!’ Of course this is the message of the Gospel, what people need is nothing more, nothing less than Jesus!
This of course is the thrust of Missions to take the name of Jesus to the people of the world. However, I want you to notice a very important thing that happened that day, yes immediately following the release of the Power of God. Look at verse 7:
“And Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up.”
Isn’t that interesting to say the least? Peter saw the power of Christ in action, he saw healing come and he said to the man, ‘walk.’ He and John could then have walked on into the Temple, but he stopped and helped the lame man up! Let me remind of what is said in James 2? “14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Peter excreted faith, and then he went and helped the man! In John 11 verses 41 - 44 we read of the raising of Lazarus from the grave, and when he came out of the grave, Jesus said, “Loose him and let him go.” He had been raised from the dead, but he was still bound so Jesus says, “take of his grave clothes, set him free.” Again, this following the miracle!
My friends this is a dimension that many within the Evangelical Church have forgotten or missed, we have to put our faith into action. Not only meet the spiritual needs, but the physical, the material. It is important we preach, teach Christ - He is the only way to God, He is our salvation! But when a person trusts Christ, we cannot just walk away! We need to learn from this, we need to grasp the truth that the whole Gospel is for the whole man and this is what The Arms of Jesus seeks to do, put faith into action! We share, we live by the ‘whole gospel for the whole man!’
When I was a student at the University of Manchester, there was an outreach to Street people on a Saturday night, this in the center of the City. I decided as a Christian, I wanted to get involved and I assumed many of my fellow evangelicals would be present. I was shocked that when we gathered, I was the only ‘evangelical.’ I asked the leader, ‘Where are the born again believers?’ The answer came loud and clear: ‘They don’t want to get their hands dirty!’ Half a gospel!
My friends, let’s never simply preach and then walk away. If Peter and John had done that, perhaps the lame man would still be sitting begging! Think about it please! Be willing to get your hands dirty for Jesus!