Our Approach to the Gate Called “Beautiful”

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Entering the Gate

ONE HISTORICAL ACCOUNTING & LOCATION OF THE “BEAUTIFUL GATE”:

In my detective investigation for this POST, I discovered many scholars seem to disagree with the exact location of THE GATE CALLED “BEAUTIFUL”.

I tend to side with Leen Ritmeyer’s Archaelogical Design and his explanations of the historical account in relationship to The “Beautiful Gate” ; connecting the description found in Acts 3:2, 10:  

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There was The Double Gate located at the southern wall of the Temple Mount.  A 210 feet (64 m) wide monumental stairway led up to this gate from the lower plaza.  Because of its monumental proportions, this gate was probably used by most pilgrims going up to worship and pray at the Temple [www.ritmeyer.com/2010/12/14/the-beautiful-gate-of-the-temple/].

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THE MAN AT THE BEAUTIFUL GATE:

Acts 3:1-2:

“[1] ONE DAY Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon.  [2] Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts”  (NIV).

Here we see a man who was crippled at birth and earned his living by begging.  In taking liberties and reading “between the lines”, I began to look closely at the facts presented by Dr. Luke.

#1.  Every day, this man was carried to and from the church (“temple”) gate.  That FACT tells me that he had friends or family that helped him.

So, why do you think they called the “temple gate BEAUTIFUL”?  

My guess is, the people might like to make their entrance here through the beautiful way and enjoyed the aesthetics of the place.  Especially the art work and engravings of Solomon’s Porch [above drawing].

A Crippled Beggar
A Crippled Beggar

But, how does the “crippled beggar” fit into this picture of perfection?  

He doesn’t fit in! Presumably this majestic and beautiful gate prepared your mind to worship an awesome God.  Then you open your eyes and your smile of contentment begins to fade as you spy the beggar lying or sitting in the dust.  Your spirit feels fingernails screeching along a blackboard.

It’s like when driving down the road to the supermarket and glancing towards the curb at a stop light.  There stands an unkempt stranger holding a sign that reads, “HOMELESS – NEED HELP”.  You try not to give him any notice, feeling that eye contact will only encourage him.  OUCH!   “Another “homeless beggar” on the street.”  And soon as the RED LIGHT turns green, you step on the gas and you’re off!  Safe and secure from all alarm!

So Why Was The Beggar There?

Why do the temple authorities permit this to happen every day at the Church Gate?  The beggar wouldn’t sit there every day unless…he was making money.

What this shows to me is that the “church goers” had a heart for those less fortunate.  Not all the attendees were going for the “beauty experience”; they were going to worship God.  No one said the beggar was there by the temple (the visible dwelling place of God) because he hoped to be healed in his proximity to God.

Was this Beggar hoping for a miracle or is he looking for help from man?

“So when he (the “beggar”) saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them to give him a gift.  And Peter directed his gaze intently at him, and so did John and said, Look at us!  And [the man] paid attention to them, expecting that he was going to get something from them”  (Acts 3:3-5 AMP).

Based alone on the above verses, it’s clear to me… the man was looking for a “hand-out” and not a “hand-up”.  He was begging for monetary relief.

Are we like this crippled beggar?  We come close to God, but look to man for help?  We come close to God, but look for temporary relief for what is really ailing us?

You might be thinking, “I’m not crippled, a beggar either.”  Maybe not physically crippled, but maybe crippled from brokenness or strife in your life over the years from all types reasons.

Mary Lowry and Buddy Greene wrote the lyrics to a great Bill & Gloria Gaither song that was popular in the 70’s:

Something beautiful, something good

All my confusion He understood

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife

But He made something beautiful of my life.

NOTICE ALL THE DISCUSSION ABOUT WHO IS LOOKING AT WHAT AT THE GATE CALLED “BEAUTIFUL”:

(VERSE 4)  “And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him (the “beggar”) with John, said, LOOK ON US”  (KJV).

Verse 4 tells us that Peter and John looked, gazed intently, fixed their eyes, looked “straight at the beggar”.  Then Peter told the crippled man to look at them.  Was Peter suggesting that the beggar should look back at them…to receive a healing?  Did the beggar expect to get something in return for all this eye contact?

“YES”.  (See verse 5):  “And [the man] paid attention to them, expecting that he was going to get something from them.”  Peter wanted to have this man’s undivided attention!

So whose FAITH is revealed?

[6] “But Peter said, Silver and gold (money) I do not have; but what I do have, that I give to you; in [the use of] the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, WALK!  [7] Then he took hold of the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up.  And at once his feet and ankle bones became strong and steady.  [8] And leaping forth he stood and began to walk, and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God”  (Acts 3:6-8 AMP).

Did this “crippled beggar” have FAITH that he would be healed?

The Bible verses makes it clear–he expected money, not healing.  However, when he was told to walk he obeyed; the man crippled from birth, who was brought every day to beg before the Beautiful Gate, made the effort to rise up!

Don’t you wish that when things aren’t going the way you expected, that God would just “Do it”?  Well, if the “crippled beggar” wasn’t obedient to Peter’s words to STAND…would he have been healed, or would God have healed him right where he sat?

FAITH IS AN EXPRESSION:

I love Creflo Dollar’s definition of FAITH:  “Faith is…the practical expression of the confidence in God and His Word.”

The CRIPPLED BEGGAR was giving his practical expression; his faith being expressed in confidence and obeying the command of the apostles AUTHORITY.

Peter said in verse 4, “what I have I give you…”  And what did Peter have?  Did Peter have power to heal?

In my detective work this past week, I came upon a commentary Interpreting Acts by Harrison (p.79), where he says,  “In himself Peter had not more power to bestow healing than he had money in his wallet.”  Is Harrison right?

Matthew 10:8 reads,  “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.” 

The Message Bible reads,  “Tell them that the kingdom is here.  Bring health to the sick.  Raise the dead.  Touch the untouchables.  Kick out the demons.  You have been treated generously, so live generously.” 

Is this what Peter was giving in Acts 3?

According to Matthew 10:1, what Peter had, was AUTHORITY, in the name of JESUS to HEAL.

“AND HAVING summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them AUTHORITY over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and HEAL EVERY KIND of disease and every kind of sickness.”

PETER had authority to use Jesus’ name.  But he links two concepts together in Acts 3:16:

–He says, “Jesus name”.

–He says “the faith that comes through [JESUS] has given complete healing.”

Do We Who Live in the 21st Century Have the Authority to Use Jesus’ Name As Effectively?

Here is just a few Bible references that will answer that question if you are in doubt of your effectiveness as you approach the Gate Called “Beautiful”:

[ 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Ephesians 4:7-13; Romans 12:4-8 ].

The referenced verses above, all talk about “gifts” — all of us as Christians can have the same effectiveness through the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:9 specifically mentions “healing” as a gift.

Does that AUTHORITY rest only on those who are “worthy”?  Does that God-given AUTHORITY rest only on those who “have faith”?

“JARS OF CLAY”  Might Be the Answer–

JARS OF CLAY
JARS OF CLAY

What is meant by “jars of clay?”  (Us!)

2 Corinthians 4:7:  “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”  (NIV).

I can understand on the surface why we can be called “clay” (Gen. 2:7).  But why are we “JARS”?

As I looked more closely at the apostle Paul’s words in VERSE 7, what I received was–JARS HOLD SOMETHING!  And in this situation–a “treasure”.

So what is that “TREASURE”?  

The knowledge of God reflected in JESUS (verse 6) in the POWER from God (verse 7).  “WOW”, I thought to myself.  Is “this treasure” not being shared with others?

Does the FACT that the “JAR” holds a treasure mean…the jar in and of itself is a treasure?

Peter’s Story in Luke 22: 

Peter confesses to Jesus,  Lord, I am ready to go with You to prison and death (verse 33).  

Was this true, did he really know his own heart?

In verses 49-50 and John 18:10, the words cast additional light that reveals the servant who drew his sword was…PETER; it shows that Peter was willing to stand and fight and die for his Lord!

So how did Peter get from being willing to die to repeated denial in Luke 22:55-60?

He believed in his sword with the fact that together, they could win this fight.

When Jesus allowed Himself to be taken captive, it turned Peter’s ideas upside-down.  It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  Do you see the same parallel occurring between the crippled beggar– at the gate called ” BEAUTIFUL”– and Peter during the Luke 22 happenings?

What stuck out clearly to me was the beggar was close to God but was depending upon man and his sharp Realtor’s idea of location, location, location; how to get man to provide for his own personal welfare…every day!

Peter was close to God, but depending on his sword and his idea of how things needed to turn out.

So if Peter is much like the beggar he healed in Acts 3, why does he get to heal?

In this First Church–why this apostle, this follower of Jesus in His ministry on earth…why does he have such moral superiority that he can call God to heal the crippled beggar?

I know that this a wordy question to ponder.  The point is…Peter doesn’t have “moral superiority”.  What he has is knowledge that he’s just a “jar of clay.”  And, the “jars of clay” and their treasures are as current in today’s churches as they were in the First Church!

Unlike the beggar, unlike his ideas accumulated in Luke 22, Peter now realizes the TRUTH!

“And Peter…answered the people,  You men of Israel, why are you so surprised and wondering at this (healing of the crippled beggar)?  Why do you keep staring at us, as though by our [own individual] power or [active] piety we had made this man [able] to walk?”  (Acts 3:12 AMP).

The realization is the “authority” allows the POWER of God to work through FAITH.

“Healers in Need of Healing”

Do we sometimes get confused in our churches we attend, believing that we are part of the “treasure” instead of just the “jars” holding the treasure?

Are you a devoted Christian as long as things go the way you planned?  And if they don’t, you find yourself “crippled” by circumstances to move on?

Do you believe you should get part of the “credit” for your work in advancing the gospel?

Some soul-searching questions to ask ourselves as Christians.  God works most powerfully through JARS, who clearly understand their role and content to trust God in whatever transpires.

 

How Confession Begins–With “Old Camel Knees”!

How Confession Begins

“OLD CAMEL KNEES”

In an article by Jon Peterson, “Writing in the 4th Century by Jerome records that ‘James, the half-brother of Jesus…prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camel’s knees’.”  Thus, the nickname stuck!  Therefore, what better place to begin the blog on confession through prayer but The Letter of James.

THE THREE QUESTIONS

“Is anyone among you afflicted? He should pray. Is anyone glad at heart? He should sing praise (to God). Is anyone among you sick?”  (James 5:13, 14).

1.  WHO’S AFFLICTED?

2.  WHO’S MERRY; GLAD AT HEART?

3.  WHO’S SICK?

AFFLICTION

“Affliction” doesn’t refer to a sickness or illness; that topic is referred to in verse 14.  The word means “to be attacked or persecuted for the sake of the gospel. A by-product would be poor choices we’ve made that go against the Word of God. A Scriptural example can be found in The Book of Romans, where Paul says;

“Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?”  (Rom. 6:16).

That’s “reaping what we’ve sown”.  Remember, “Words Determine Your Thinking”; that’s right words and wrong words.  In Creflo Dollar’s “8 Steps to Your Destination”, he starts the conversation by, YOU determine your words that you say. Either God’s words or the worlds.  “Your words then, determine your thinking; your thinking determines your emotions; your emotions determine your decisions or choices”.  WRONG choices will lead to “affliction”.

THE REMEDY

It always starts with your prayer life; that doesn’t necessarily mean to petition God. Prayer is the “vehicle” of our relationship with God; asking for wisdom, studying/reading His word; enjoying quiet time with Him without saying a word. All of those thoughts are prayer (fellowship). Relief of affliction comes through your relationship with God.

“Relationships last a lifetime!”

I heard a pastor one morning, start his sermon with this quotation: “I don’t want to KNOW ABOUT God.  I want to KNOW God”.  

It’s personal and it ALL starts with a loving relationship with Jesus. 

“And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”. 

With social networks, smart phones, computer email, it seems we are never involved in a face to face relationship anymore. We are even finding a future spouse via on-line dating. What has happen to the relationships in our lives?

“MERRY” OR “GLAD OF HEART”

When was the last time you could say to yourself, “Boy, I am sure feeling “merry”; “glad of heart” lately?  Scripture says we should be making “a joyful noise unto the Lord”  (Psalm 66:1; Psalm 81:1; Psalm 95:1-12; Psalm 98:4-6; Psalm 100:1). 

I sang with a worship team on Sundays for about two years.  I looked at some of the faces singing and it was hard seeing people who were singing without “joyful noises”, without “thanksgiving”, without expressions of praise in their singing.

Looking back now at the experiences, knowing I wasn’t aware of what they might be going through, perhaps a time of experiencing  affliction as they stood singing. 

James is telling us in verse 13, no matter what our affliction might be, we are to be “glad at heart” IN… our affliction.

“I CAN’T BE HAPPY WHILE I AM GOING THROUGH ‘STUFF’…”

Paul and Silas clothes were torn off, beaten with rods, struck with many blows to the face and thrown into jail with their feet fastened in the stocks (Acts 16:22-24). Now that’s affliction!

“But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God”  (Acts 16:25).

If you have thought it was hard for you to sing praises in YOUR affliction on Sunday mornings, remind yourself of Paul’s and Silas’ circumstances and sing as loud as you can in gladness the next time. “Sing praise to God”. It becomes your intent to please Him; not to please yourself and looking like ‘road kill’ while trying to please God in your affliction.

IS ANYONE SICK?

Scripture teaches other means by which healing is brought to a person. 

In James 5:14,  any sick person should call the elders of the church; assuming the elders BELIEVE in the laying on of hands to heal any sickness and praying over the sick person of the anointing with oil. 

Verse 15 says you must have “the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick”.  In other words, if you ask someone in the church who doesn’t believe that prayer can heal, your are not going to see results. 

A GOOD definition of FAITH is, “A practical expression of the confidence in God and His Word”.  And FAITH continues in HOPE’s definition: “is a heartfelt expectation of a thing with an out-stretched neck”.

If you call upon someone to pray for your sickness that doesn’t exhibit the “prayer of faith”, your sickness won’t go away. That’s not the WORD detective telling you, it’s God’s Word giving you the remedy. The prayer of faith shall save the sick! NO FAITH, NO HEALING!

THE “ELDERS”

The word “Elders” isn’t necessarily referring to the position within a local body; although it is likely during the years of the early church when everyone believed in healing this would be so. I’ll leave it at that.

Most churches that I know don’t make a regular practice of laying on hands to heal the sick. They simply refer people to a doctor they know of that you can seek out.

An “elder” was translated in the Greek language, “prosbuteros“; translated to English the word is “presbyter” or senior member of the church.  NOTE the fact, that a person is an elder, that fits the requirement; it’s whether they know how to pray the “prayer of faith”.

“THE PRAYER OF FAITH” AS TAUGHT BY JESUS

“And Jesus, replying, said to them [His disciples],  Have faith in God [constantly].  Truly I tell you, whoever says to the mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it wilL be done for him.  For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]”  (Mark 11:22-24 Amplified).

SPEAKING TO THE MOUNTAIN

If sickness is the mountain, command it to be removed (healed); in the Name (Authority), using the word “SHALL” or “IT WILL” gives absolute certainty to what you’re asking for.  “I believe that I receive that I possess it, I confess it” That simple confession is the root of all prayer.

If a person isn’t healed, 1 or 2 things occurred and neither have to do with God or His will:

1.  Didn’t call the elders in faith but by religious practice.

2.  The request of others who were believing, or the elders present, didn’t make “the prayer of faith”.

DEALING WITH RELATIONSHIPS; Confessing your faults to one another:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed”  (James 5:16 in King James).

We are to confess our sins to God but our faults one to another.  If I have injured you, then I should confess that to you.  BUT I will not confess my sins to you, and I don’t want you confessing your sins to me. You are to confess that to the Lord.

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]”  (I John 1:9).

I cannot forgive sins; neither can any clergyman forgive sins–only God can do that.

Confessing your faults to one another doesn’t mean to grab a stranger next Sunday in church and start telling them your deficiencies, your character make-up; “I’m always late” or “I can’t thank God for anything anymore.”  It starts by developing a relationship first.

Also, a clergyman shouldn’t ask someone in the fellowship to come up to the platform and admit their faults; to make them feel better; getting rid of their burden.  You should know the “one another” before spilling your guts about what a critical person you are.  Remember, confession isn’t an apology; “I am sorry for the way I am”.  Repentance goes with confession; turning 180 degrees from where you’ve been. If you choose the wrong person to confess your faults too, that’s how gossip starts in churches.

CONFESSING YOUR FAULTS:

It means you confess or “I admit it,” what you did wrong.  Leave the other person’s mistake or fault to them–For THEM to confess.  Too often, we confess the other persons faults instead of our own.

“Old Camel Knees” says,  “confess your faults” and pray for each other “that you to be healed”. 

James isn’t referring to sickness, he has already dealt with illness in verse 14.  Rather, this “HEALING” refers to the reconciliation of relationships and healing any conflict among people.

I have covered but a few aspects of an effectual prayer life.  It all starts with our relationship with Our heavenly Father; for He is love.  And believers in His Son, we are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Confessing that Jesus is your Saviour and Lord, is admitting who He is and by faith your ‘are sticking with it’.