Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up. And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.”
Peter is mentioned now, along with Paul, as the top leadership in the church. The word “saints” refers to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it was one of the first technical words for believers used in the Church Age. It refers to the believer in union with the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christianity we do not have a religion but a relationship, and the first designation of this was the word “saint” which means to be set apart unto God or in union with Christ.
Peter contacts this one man in Lydda and the first thing he did was heal him. This was simply to establish himself as an apostle, not to alleviate suffering. This man had palsy simply means he had had a paralytic stroke and was unable to get out of bed. He was confined to his bed and there was nothing that could be done about it until Peter comes along.
Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” The implication is that Aeneas has previously accepted Christ as his Savior and he knew who Christ was. In Greek it says, “Jesus Christ has now healed you.” So when he tells him to arise and make his bed he was already healed. All he had to do is to believe what had already occurred. This confirms the fact that Peter had the temporary gift known as the gift of healing.
And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. This miracle was very timely because there was a large group of people in Lydda. “And turned to the Lord” means they accepted Christ as Savior Who was the object of their faith. Peter obviously preached a Gospel message and people were saved as a result.
Verse 36 – Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. Her deeds were good of intrinsic value, therefore divine good; she was performing her good in the power of the Holy Spirit. The word deeds means grace in action, any type of grace, not simply giving money. It could be translated righteous deeds.
And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. She was actually lying in state when Peter arrives on the scene. Peter extended his ministry into an area where there were many believers, where there is a strong church. Peter was following up on the evangelistic efforts of Philip and others and often would stay there for some time. And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon.” It just so happened that under Jewish law no one stayed with a tanner. This was contact with a dead animal and the rabbis had passed a law that a tanner was unclean. Peter was becoming oriented to the principle of grace.
Peter had to be trained by easy transitional steps. The miracle at Lydda had prepared Peter for the greater ministry at Joppa, which in turn prepared Peter for the greater ministry of Caesarea. Peter learned slowly and had to take a little at a time, and to digest it. Paul on the other hand learned rapidly. After three years in the Arabian Desert Paul was a mature believer. With Peter it took many years and hard knocks to understand doctrine. With Paul it took less time and more concentrated study. Peter learned by experience; Paul learned by academic study. Each arrived at maturity and maximum production, but in a different way which should give us all great hope for our spiritual lives.
God provides for us the freedom and the opportunity for all believers to be taught Bible doctrine. We learn Bible doctrine under the filling (control and guidance) ministry of God the Holy Spirit. (John 16:12-13) God has also given the local church certain men with the gift of pastor/teacher for the communication of doctrine, systematically. (Ephesians 4:11-16) We are also commanded to spend time in personal study of God’s Word. (II Timothy 2:15, Isaiah 28:9-10) It is important to remember that no one passage of Scripture stands alone. We must always study by comparing Scripture with Scripture. (II Peter 1:20-21)
We believe that the Bible is inerrant and infallible in its original form. We believe that God so directed the writers of Scripture that His complete and coherent word was transferred to the pages of Scriptures in its original form without altering the literary style or personality of the author. “ …Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138:2)
Bible doctrine is the word of God the Father. (Hebrews 4:12) It is the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16) and the voice of God the Holy Spirit. (Hebrews 3:7) The Word of God is profitable for doctrine (the body of teaching that we believe), for reproof (the Word of God is a mirror into our souls so that we can evaluate ourselves before God), for correction (once we evaluate ourselves and find there needs to be corrective action, the Word of God gives the correct course of action), and for instruction in righteousness (once we discover the right course of action, the Word of God gives us a blueprint of how to accomplish our goal). (II Timothy 3:16)
Jesus continually used the doctrine that He had learned to sustain Himself throughout the trials and tribulations of life. When attacked by others, He used the doctrine and principles of the Word of God to endure the adversity. He also used the doctrine He had learned to combat the tests from Satan. And He used the doctrine in His soul to teach others. (Matthew 4:1-11; John 5:16-39; 6:59-60; 7:16-24)
Spiritual metabolism is the first skill. The Greek word for metabolism is “metaboleus” meaning change or transition. Medicine has translated this word into the English language as the medical term “metabolism.” Metabolism refers to the intake and the absorption of food, plus the process of respiration by which oxygen is made available. Therefore metabolism, as a medical term, includes all the body processes by which matter is utilized for growth, repair, and maintenance. The metabolic process by which oxygen is supplied to the brain is how you think. This makes a perfect analogy to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Physical metabolism is analogous to the various stages of the spiritual life where Bible doctrine provides momentum in our spiritual lives and also the destruction of human viewpoint.
Just as the Holy Spirit metabolized the Gospel for us, He metabolizes the doctrine we learn. Physical metabolism involves both eating and breathing, which is once again a perfect analogy of the intake and exhale of Bible doctrine. Like a good doctrinal lesson, food on the table can be prepared magnificently but must be eaten and metabolized to sustain life and create energy. Any malfunction in metabolism produces disease. So also, an accurate doctrinal lesson from a pastor-teacher is not spiritual growth; it does you no good until it’s metabolized. We have believers who have been exposed to doctrine and simply look at the spiritual food and leave.
The greatest doctrinal message in the world from any pastor-teacher is no guarantee of spiritual growth; it is merely the first phase in bringing the believer up to the point of metabolized doctrine. Metabolized doctrine is a matter between you and the Holy Spirit. You provide the positive volition; the Holy Spirit then metabolizes the doctrine. God provides in logistical grace everything you need to assimilate doctrine: life, a local church, a pastor-teacher, the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, the divine power system, and the protocol plan of God. God’s grace provision of the human spirit makes possible the understanding of doctrine and sets up a spiritual I.Q. to prepare you for spiritual metabolism.
Spiritual metabolism is the Holy Spirit converting academic knowledge (gnosis) of Bible doctrine into spiritual knowledge (epignosis) of Bible doctrine. But the Holy Spirit cannot do so without your consent. Therefore, you must have positive faith perception; the Holy Spirit metabolizes only what you accept on a non-meritorious basis. Spiritual metabolism is the function of positive faith perception, whereby the believer inside God’s divine power system acknowledges in his own soul the truth of academic doctrine. He understands it through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in his human spirit. Only after the believer acknowledges the truth of it does the Holy Spirit metabolize it.
Problem solving is the second spiritual skill. Every problem in life has a solution which is found in the Word of God. Today, God reveals Himself and His policy through the inspired written page of the Bible, which we call the Word of God, the mind of Christ, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. The definition of inspiration is that God so supernaturally directed the human writers of Scripture that without waiving their personal feelings, human intelligence, their literary style, or any human factor, His complete and coherent message toward mankind was recorded with perfect accuracy in the original languages of Scripture, the very words bearing the authority of divine authorship. Therefore, there is no such thing as a problem in life that does not have a solution in the Word of God. The subject of problems and solutions is directed toward the believer in Jesus Christ, and specifically toward the Church Age believer whose possession of the mystery doctrines of the Church Age, his very own portfolio of invisible assets, the unique availability of divine power, the fantastic privileges related to being a member of the royal family of God, all have clearly-defined problem solving devices. So unless you put Bible doctrine first in your life, you will have unsolvable problems in your life.
The problem solving devices, when utilized, provide accurate and objective application of metabolized Bible doctrine to your experience. God did not give us His Word without the means to apply it. Bible doctrine is not applied through human functions. Doctrine is applied to experience by learning and using the problem solving devices. The problem solving devices are the only means of application of doctrine in your soul. When you attempt to apply doctrine apart from any one of the ten problem solving devices, it is inaccurate, it is distorted, and inevitably it leads to false doctrine. The problem solving devices are how you relate doctrine to your experience.
The Protocol Plan of God is the third spiritual skill. Protocol is strict adherence to precisely correct procedure. In the case of believers, protocol is strict adherence to the mandates from God and using the correct procedure for carrying out those mandates. By learning and applying the truth found in the Bible, believers can fulfill God’s purpose, plan and will. When this truth is presented from the Word of God in a systematic manner it allows any believer to grow spiritually, regardless of I.Q., by following God’s plan. God, in His grace, has set up certain protocols that must be strictly adhered to if a believer is to advance in his spiritual life. Random intake of Bible doctrine will not accomplish the goal. If a believer is to properly execute God’s protocol plan, he must be consistent with his intake and application of Bible doctrine. There is no other plan for believers in this Age.
There are eleven Principles of the Protocol Plan of God: 1) The Protocol Plan of God has a system of authority. God has delegated that authority in two areas; a) the laws of divine establishment and government, b] Bible doctrine, communicated by the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher. (Psalms 33:12; Ephesians 4:11) 2) The Protocol Plan of God has a spiritual life for each believer. Therefore, you and you alone are the only one who can live your spiritual life – no one else can live it for you. (I John 1:5-10)
3) The Protocol Plan of God recognizes the volition of a believer. Each believer is a production of his own decisions, whether they are positive or negative. Volition is important for establishing values. As you establish values, those values dictate the manner and function of your own volition [free will]. (Philippians 2:1-16) 4) The Protocol Plan of God has a system for spiritual growth… metabolized doctrine in the stream of consciousness. (II Peter 3:18) 5) The Protocol Plan of God has a system of problem-solving devices. They are related to metabolized doctrine in your soul. The Christian Way of Life was designed for you to personally resolve your own problems before God without interference from others. (Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 5:11-14) 6) The Protocol Plan of God has both historical and individual time reference. The historical time reference is during the unique dispensation of the Church Age. The individual time reference is from the moment you believe in Christ till the moment of your death or resurrection [Rapture], whichever occurs first. (Colossians 1:25-29) 7) The Protocol Plan of God has a portfolio of invisible (spiritual) assets provided for each believer in eternity past. (Ephesians 1:3)
8) The Protocol Plan of God has a system of invisible impact on history, which comes in 5 categories: a] personal impact – blessing by association with a mature believer, a winner and invisible hero b] historical impact – blessing by association to the client nation through the Pivot (remnant according to grace) c] international impact – blessing by association to a non-client nation through spiritually mature missionary function d] angelic impact – invisible heroes become a witness for the prosecution in Satan’s appeal trial, which extended from prehistoric times into the Church Age e] heritage impact – blessing by association with the invisible hero after his death. (Romans 11:1-12) 9) The Protocol Plan of God has precisely correct procedure, based on the principle that God has only one way of doing a thing – a right thing, done in a right way. (I Corinthians 14:40) 10) The Protocol Plan of God has a system of eternal rewards and decorations for each believer who executes the Protocol Plan of God. And even if you fail to fulfill God’s plan, your rewards will be on record…they will be in Heaven, available for you to see. (I Corinthians 3:12-15) 11) There is also failure to execute the Protocol Plan of God by believers because of negative volition based on arrogance. This becomes the basis for whether a believer will succeed or fail because arrogance means a believer thinks his way is superior to God’s way. (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5-6)