“So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths [handkerchiefs] or aprons that had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” (Acts 19:11-12)
Some scripture commentators refer to the Acts of the Apostles as “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. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses In Jerusalem…and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:5, 8)
The same Holy Spirit that empowered the early disciples to build God’s church in the first century is still present to us today. The following story was related to me by my friend, John who was a county prosecutor in Duluth, Minnesota and later a District Court Judge.
John worked with Eric, a detective sergeant who was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Eric was in his mid-thirties, married, and had 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, but Eric was too weak to make the trip.
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 would remove the cancer from him.”
Eric thanked John and told him he believed that he would be healed and would return the handkerchief after the doctors had confirmed that he no longer had cancer. Sometime later Eric did indeed inform 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 foolish reflects the kind of faith on which God wishes to act. 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.
Can we experience “acts” like the apostles in our lives today?