When you read through the book of Acts, you find out that the apostles were doing such mighty works that people would come and worship them as if they were gods. That’s what happened to Peter when he arrived at Cornelius’s house (see Acts 10:25). These were ordinary men who were living such extraordinary lives that this sort of thing happened more than once, and each time they would have to say, “No, no, no! I am not God. I did not do this miracle!” and they would point the people to Jesus.
When was the last time you had the power of God operating through your life to such a degree that people wanted to worship you? I have not had that happen, and most likely you have not either. Most church people would object, “But, Pastor, of course we don’t have that happen to us today. That happened only with the first apostles.” To that, I suggest we look beyond the apostles for more examples. How about the man named Stephen and another man known as Philip? Both of these men were laymen, ordinary members of the church who had been elected as deacons. They were not apostles; in fact they were servants in the Body of Christ—table-waiters.
Wherever Stephen went, miracles happened: “And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8, rsv). Eventually, he was arrested and persecuted because of this. In the end, when he was being stoned to death, he looked up and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56, kjv).
Philip was a good church member. He sat and listened to the apostles teach. His only official position in the church was to be a deacon, and he was always ready to serve in practical ways. Yet when he obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit and went to a certain road where he encountered an Ethiopian man riding in a chariot and reading aloud from the book of Isaiah, and after he explained how Jesus Christ fulfilled those prophetic words, look what happened through him—and to him:
He [a eunuch who served the queen of Ethiopia] commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:38–40, nrsv).
The eunuch’s conversion and subsequent baptism in a small body of water alongside the road was just the beginning of amazing events, because after that the Spirit whisked Philip to Azotus by supernatural means so that he could share the Good News in that region, which was over thirty miles away!
Besides Stephen and Philip, we read about the exciting life of Paul, who had never met Jesus before His crucifixion and who had probably never met an apostle until after he was converted. He persecuted the new Church and by his own admission, he was “one born out of due season” (see 1 Corinthians 15:8). In other words, “I don’t even deserve to be a servant of Jesus Christ. I don’t have to come to you with a great message, but I can come to you with a demonstration of the Spirit and His power.” And that’s what he did, working miracle after miracle, year after year.
All through the Word of God we see ordinary people operating in the extraordinary power of God. Why are we not seeing these things today? Is it still true? Or is Jesus a liar, along with everyone in the Bible? Is this book the biggest farce that humanity has ever fallen for? Or is it all true and we just haven’t experienced it for ourselves yet?