Part 11-12: The Go Factor
Pastor Terry Inman
What we call the great commission couldn’t be more explicit then and now. In Mark’s story Jesus says,
“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
(Mark 16:15-16 NIV)
The gospel begins with GO! Today we will talk about the GO Factor! In today’s clip from the AD Episode 11 Peter reconnects with Phillip who was preaching with great signs and wonders throughout Samaria.
An angel appears and sends Phillip on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he catches up with the entourage of the Ethiopian treasurer. He is converted and baptized. The next thing you know Phillip is airlifted about 35 miles south of Jerusalem and continues spreading the gospel.
Peter, on he other hand, who had been enjoying some reprieve from the hostilities in Jerusalem begins venturing out to preach around Judea.
Acts 9.31 says,
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.
The Go Factor is about to take Peter on a whole new adventure. “Go” for him meant he would meet up with some people he would normally avoid.
Jesus’ last word to his Apostles, just prior to his ascension, is the central theme of the book Acts.
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1.8 NIV)
Civil authority, religious resistance even apostolic reluctance can’t detour the global destiny of the emerging church.
Jesus promised and provided the power, the personnel and the pathway to take the good news to the ends of the earth and back. Bye the way the Holy Spirit is still empowering people willing to be his witness.
Jesus said,“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Matt. 24.14 (NIV)
There are nations and generations that have not yet heard the good news. Many live and work right here in the bay area! Let’s take a look at Peter’s next adventure for some tips on engagement in the GO factor.
Peter’s travels throughout Judea take him to visit some saints in Lydda. Primarily pagans populated it. There he healed a man named Aeneas who was a bedridden paralytic for eight years. He didn’t heal him he just declared.
“Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” (Acts 9.34 NIV)
Peter did not say Jesus has healed you or Jesus will heal you. He didn’t even say Jesus heals you. In the Greek the tense of this declaration is called aorist present. (this moment Jesus Christ heals you).
This is where the gift of faith and the gifts of healing work together. Peter was given faith to see Jesus healing this man. All he did was affirm or assert what Jesus was doing.
It’s OK to ask God to heal people. We call that intercession. God does hear our prayers and graciously answers those prayers for his reasons. But most of the healings in the scriptures are the result of these declarations. God gives us the faith to perceive what he is doing and proclaim it.
As a disciple Peter Jesus watched Jesus heal a paralytic that his friends lowered through the roof. He also saw him heal a man waiting for a dip in a therapy pool. He heard him tell the guy to roll up his mat on be healed.
In fact right after Peter and John were empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost they made a severely disabled man’s day by handing him a healing instead of a hand out. He was on his feet dancing God’s praises!
Here in Lydda this man, Aeneas was healed and the whole city including the village next door turned to Christ. We will see more healings and salvations when we take the healer to the unbelievers in our village!
The reach of the Spirit was expanding just like Jesus predicted. Lydda was about 10 miles from the seacoast port of Joppa. It is now modern Jaffa, a suburb of Tel Aviv. For Peter, this is where the plot thickens!
There were a few disciples in Joppa. One very popular one was Tabitha (Heb.) or Dorcas (Gr.) which means Gazelle. This deeply loved woman suddenly died. She “was always doing good and serving the poor”.
Her close friends heard about Peter’s miracles in Lydda and sent for him.
When he arrived, the poor widows she made clothing for, were lined up weeping. He sent everyone out. He again declared, “Tabitha Get up”. She opened her eyes and sat up. Peter makes it look so easy.
It all begins with a simple word GO! Peter was out his comfort zone and being guided by a GPS. A global positioning system called the Holy Spirit!
While in Joppa he is given hospitality in an unusual bed and breakfast—a tanner’s house. The pious Jews considered the animal hide business an unclean trade. Peter kept the Jewish traditions so this was already a bit out of his element.
When I first moved to Nebraska in the early seventy’s. We opened an outreach in a closed bar. It had been a popular hippie hang out. Next door there was a pizza joint. We brought in Christian rock bands and called it JC Unlimited. The church folks in western Nebraska were offended but hundreds of young people came to Christ and became part of the church.
The Go Factor leads Peter into a head on collision with his prejudice so he will embrace God’s intention to reach the Gentiles. Is there a race or a culture that we struggle with? Get ready for God to push the envelope!
Meanwhile in Caesarea Corneliusan enlisted Italian officer has a vision of a brilliant angelic messenger. Luke notes that he and his family were religious. They believed in God and were very generous and prayed regularly. This could be said of many devout Muslims in our city! Bye the way many Muslims in the mid-east are reporting visions of Jesus.
Just last week I received a credible report about the transformation of a High ranking security officer in Iran who was responsible for the surveillance and seizure of Christians.
Secretly his sister had been praying for his salvation. He began watching Christian teaching on a TV. He had a lot of questions. Ebrahim has been producing programs like this that are reaching his homeland.
This officer detained one of the local underground pastors for questioning. When they got to the end of the conversation he ask how to become a follower of Jesus.
The Pastor prayed with him, and told him to come to church to grow in his faith. The officer said “I am not coming to the church we would all get in a lot of trouble.” You are going to come to see me to teach me and if you don’t I will have you picked up.
That’s what Cornelius did. After he received instructions and directions from the angelic vision he sent two of his officers to pick up Peter in Joppa. The man in shinning garments, he called “LORD” gave him orders.
“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
(Acts 10.5-6 NIV)
The next day at noon Peter is praying on the roof top patio probably under a colorful awning that shaded the son and let in the sea breeze. How many times have you started praying only to fall into a short afternoon nap? The bible says he was hungry and probably sleepy.
As the smell of fresh lamb Kabobs waffled up stairs he fell into what Luke calls a trance. He may have been praying about the problem of Samaritans and Gentile’s claiming Jesus as their Messiah. Half awake and half asleep he had a vision. Some would call it an “open heaven revelation”.
The bible says, He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
(Acts 10.11-13 NIV)
First it amazes me how many believers and pre-believers are having visions, dreams and angelic encounters in the book of Acts. You know we say gifts like “speaking in tongues and prophecy are for today” well what about visions, dreams and angelic guidance.
When we discover the GO factor. God shows up with signs and wonders!
I’m not suggesting you go out and Google angels.net to get directions. We have what most of these folks were just receiving--The indwelling and empowering presence of God’s Holy Spirit! He is our daily guide!
The point I want us to get here--is that God is communicating all the time. Are we listening and obeying. This is the GO Factor. When we are on the GO with the gospel we will get plenty of divine guidance.
Peter has strong convictions. He’s not about to eat un-kosher food no matter how hungry he is. It would violate his conscience. He says,
“I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” But God uses this religious taboo to get his attention. “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (vs.14-15)
This vision reoccurs three times. The sheet of animals, like the awning flapping in the wind disappears into heaven. Everyone say “three”! While Peter is processing this strange daydream during pre-lunch prayer, three Italian soldiers show up asking for him.
Now the Spirit speaks directly to him.
“Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” (vs.19 -20)
This is the GO Factor! Get up and GO!
Peter says I’m your guy--now what do you want with me. They tell him about their Gentile boss whom they say is highly respected by the local Jews in Caesarea. They tell him that a holy angel, that must me a special angel, told them to invite Peter over for pizza and and some conversation.
Peter went against his better judgment and expressed that as he entered a whole house full of gentiles. He said to them:
“You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.(v.28)
You know we have to stop calling people dirty names if we are going to reach them with the good news of the gospel. Think about it!
Cornelius, who really had all the power, humbly fell at Peter’s feet. Peter said get up “I’m only a man myself”. Which is to say “all humans are created by God and desperately in need of his grace. None of us have a corner on God’s favor. We are all favorites! Some of us just don’t know it.
This meeting was as much for Peter’s transformation as it was these Gentiles. He opened the conversation with his rooftop revelation.
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (v. 35)
He went on to preach a new message of God’s grace revealed in Jesus Christ.
While he was still speaking a house full of Italians suddenly interrupted him with the gift of “praising God in other tongues”. On the day of Pentecost Jews from at least fifteen countries heard the disciples speaking their languages and dialects. Now Gentiles, people of another race and religion are doing it. This is the GO Factor!
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mark 16.15-16 NIV)
Miracles signs and wonders followed not just the Apostles but common people like Ananias, Barnabas, and Cornelius. Angels, visions dreams and healings were common.
Some folks follow miracles. We just need to follow Jesus. We need to GO everyday where he leads us and He will do all the rest!