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The Perfect Mold: Man did not do this, Christ Jesus did! (Part 1)

Written by: Christopher Sernaque

Dear Reader,

Imagine if you were different, radically different, from the moment you were born. Set apart from your parents and siblings. You may be the only extrovert in a family of introverts. The only individual with blue eyes. The quietest. The strongest. The one with the most sensitive heart. Who exactly are you?

We’re going to leave that question dangling for a moment there because, right now, we are going to step into someone else’s shoes. The shoes of the lame beggar who was healed. In Acts 3, we find that good Doctor Luke has recorded this most stunning illustration of the principle of the Perfect Mold. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, when we take a look at the beggar’s situation, we find that he has been unable to walk since birth. Thankfully, this man was not abandoned and isolated; he had a network of friends, or at the very least associates, who took him to “the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.” (Acts 3:2 ESV)

The Apostles, Peter, and John, enter the scene and our beggar takes note of them after they asked him to “Look at us.” (Acts 3:4 ESV) His eyes were wide with hope; perhaps these gentlemen had especially generous hearts and would give him a bountiful donation. Indeed, this beggar received a donation, as did we, as this encounter illustrates the “Perfect Mold” theme most beautifully.

Peter, locking eyes with the beggar, speaks from the depths of his heart and says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6 ESV) Peter, not letting a perfect opportunity to lend a helping hand pass him by, helps lift our beggar to his feet. No sooner had his feet been planted on the ground, than our beggar bursts into praise of God! “And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:8 ESV)

Praise God: indeed, the only appropriate reaction to the miracle of life is praise to God almighty. For those not familiar, that is the very essence of the “Perfect Mold” theme of Scripture. Throughout all of Scripture, we find that the Bible is pro-God worship, but anti-human worship. Jesus is the perfect mold that we are called to reflect; man is God’s creation, and not worthy of idolization. Indeed, there is no Pastor, no Priest, no Pontifex, no Prelate, and no person, but Christ Jesus who can save you. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

In this scene, in Acts 3, after the healing of the beggar, the witnesses of the miracle, in their amazement, began to stare at Peter and John as though they were gods among men. It was this verse, that initially drew my attention to this scene, and is the linchpin for why this recorded event is so important to comprehend: “And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” (Acts 3:12)

Peter absolutely nailed it here. He and John had no power and no piety that could have healed this beggar, and they made no pretense or profession to have such divine attributes. Peter recognized, as every Christian leader should, that it is God who is almighty, not man. This is not to say that we should be robbed of self-respect, for even the Apostle Paul said, “In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.” (Romans 15:17 ESV)

Ellen G. White, the most widely translated female author and one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Christian Church, has inspired commentary on this very subject, which provides an adequate balance on the matter at hand:

“God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself. In all His dealings with human beings He recognizes the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence and to impress the need of personal guidance. He desires to bring the human into association with the divine, that men may be transformed into the divine likeness. Satan works to thwart this purpose. He seeks to encourage dependence upon men. When minds are turned away from God, the tempter can bring them under his rule. He can control humanity.” {MH 242.4}

“None should consent to be mere machines, run by another man’s mind. God has given us ability, to think and to act, and it is by acting with carefulness, looking to Him for wisdom that you will become capable of bearing burdens. Stand in your God-given personality. Be no other person’s shadow. Expect that the Lord will work in and by and through you.” {MH 498.5}

Both of these excerpts are from Ellen White’s book, “The Ministry of Healing” and they illustrate this point magnificently. Indeed, while we should have self-respect and uphold and maintain our God-given individuality and autonomy, we must never put our faith and reliance on people instead of God, and that would include ourselves.

Now, to answer the question, “Who exactly are you; who are we as Christians?” As Peter said, “we are witnesses.” Witnesses that “by faith in his name” miracles are possible. To close with the words of Peter, indeed as he said, “our own power or piety” is not going to get us anywhere, but “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” is our perfect mold.

In Christ Jesus,

Christopher Sernaque, NCPT

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