Can we experience the acts of the apostles in our lives today?
Some scripture commentators refer to the Acts of the Apostles as a “testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit,” or “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” It begins with Jesus’ instructions to the disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5)
With the coming of the Holy Spirit, we see the apostles, who all ran at Jesus’ arrest, take on a new courage to witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus, proclaim the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven and perform miraculous works among the people just as Jesus did. The same Holy Spirit that empowered the early disciples to build God’s church in the first century is still present to all of us today as evident by the following story taken from Hope for the Workplace-Christ in You. (p. 107)
John was a county prosecutor in Minnesota, and worked with a detective sergeant named Eric, who was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Eric was in his mid-thirties and married with two children. After a couple of months of chemotherapy, Eric lost his hair and was often too weak to come to work.
John could see that Eric was very ill, so he asked him if he could attend a Christian conference in Minneapolis in order to be prayed with for healing. John explained that the healing power of Jesus had been manifested at these conferences. Eric was open to going, but he had additional chemotherapy scheduled and was too weak to make the trip. John told him he would pray for him there.
In Acts 19:11-12, Luke reports, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured.” At the conference John stood in for Eric, as people gathered around him to pray that Eric’s cancer would be healed. Someone handed John a handkerchief that was prayed over to take back to Eric.
Upon returning home, John met Eric one day at the courthouse and invited him into his office. “I told him that we had prayed for his healing at the conference, and someone had given me a handkerchief, which we prayed over for him. I emphasized that I firmly believed in the healing power of Jesus Christ and that God could use the handkerchief as a sign of our faith to heal Eric just as had been done in biblical times. We placed the handkerchief on his chest and prayed that the healing power of Jesus Christ would remove the cancer from him.”
“He thanked me,” John said, “and told me he believed that he would be healed and would return the handkerchief after the doctors had confirmed that he no longer had cancer.” About a month later Eric informed John that the doctors had confirmed that he was cancer free. This took place in the fall of 2001. To this day, the cancer has not returned.
Sometimes our willingness to step out and do something that may seem to be foolish reflects the kind of faith on which God wishes to act. The most important lesson from this story is that God is still performing miracles today through the power of the Holy Spirit just as he did with Peter, Paul and the other disciples of the first century church.