From Beggars to Heirs

This past week (Feb 18th to be exact) marked the 468th anniversary of Martin Luther’s death. It has been told that on his death bed these were his final words: “We are all beggars. This is true.” The significance of this statement really impacted me this past week, especially as I prepared to preach on Acts 3:1-10 where a man “lame from birth” is healed right in front of the temple gate. This man had a physical malady that had rendered him unable to walk since birth (Acts 3:2). Now, it was his daily practice to be carried to the gate and ask for alms. This man was a beggar in every sense of the word. I believe Luke’s desire was to use this man’s physical condition as a launching pad from which to remind all of us of our spiritual condition. Just as this man was physically broken and in need of healing, we are likewise spiritually broken and in need of restoration. So why are we spiritual beggars?

1. We are dependent (Apart from the grace of Christ, we are left with our own individual, tired strength).

2. We have no control (our lives are fragile and out of our hands).

3. We don’t determine the outcome (Try to stop your death from happening).

4. We are needy (From the air we breathe, to the sin that we can’t atone for, we are desperately needy).

5. We are limited (No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop sinning. I also can’t stop death. In fact, I can’t change much of anything from an eternal regard).

6. We are helpless (My defenses against my terrible condition, in my own effort, are incomprehensibly feeble)

We see in this passage that the man’s physical healing was immediate and complete (Acts 3:7: “immediately his feet and ankles were made strong”). Further proof is that the man’s first reaction was to enter the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8). From one moment to the next, this man goes from an impossible situation to a complete transformation. This parallels our justification.

Paul breaks it down for us in Rom 3:23-24: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”. The bad news is really bad. But the good news is even better. And it brings about change in an instant.

Our spiritual condition apart from the glorious grace of Christ is pretty dreadful. But in a moment everything can change.

The man’s reaction following his healing in Acts 3 reflects this truth. It reveals what the gospel can bring; a totally changed life… One that is marked by our worship of Jesus, not by our circumstances and hardships and struggles. This man was no longer defined by his malady. The people even realized that this man wasn’t the same man; “this is he who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple asking for alms” (Acts 3:10). He used to be that guy. Now he’s not any more. This is what the gospel does in us.

Ultimately, people will take notice. Our text says that people saw him (praising God), recognized him (his changed life), and were filled with wonder and amazement (Acts 3:9-10). A life that has been changed by the grace of Christ, will be a life that will reflect that change, and cause others to take notice, and hopefully point others to that grace so that they can in turn be changed and go from beggars to heirs (Titus 3:7 “so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”).

 

 

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