Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. — Acts 8:5-8
By Rick Renner
On April 12, I told a bit of this story, but it so impacted my life that I want to share it in greater detail today and give you the reason why miracles often occur on a massive scale, or among large crowds of people.
It was the conclusion of five amazing days of meetings — the first large public meeting that Denise and I had ever conducted in the former USSR. Of the 32,000 people who attended the event, 7,000 people came forward to receive Christ and 926 people received water baptism — and we witnessed scores of healings, miracles, and deliverances. The meeting reminded me of Acts 8:5-8, which says:
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.
In those five days of meetings, we preached Christ to 32,000 people, and the people literally “gave heed unto” the things that we preached. As a result, we saw miracles that week — including the expulsion of many unclean spirits that cried out as they were expelled from people by the delivering power of Christ. Many who had various types of sickness were healed, including the lame. And just as Acts 8:8 says, there was great joy as a result of all these happenings.
Yet there was one man who was obviously in need of a miracle, but had not received a healing touch in the meetings. He came into the meetings each night after the meeting had started so he could get to his reserved seat without fighting the crowds that swarmed into the big auditorium. Because he came in late each night, I saw him each evening. I couldn’t help but notice his desperate and sad physical condition and the distorted look of pain in his face.
I later learned that this man had been paralyzed from his waist down as a result of falling off his house 19 years earlier. For 19 years, he had used crutches like legs. He would swing his body on his crutches as he slowly moved forward one “crutch step” at a time. Once he would finally reach his seat each evening, he would collapse into his chair, exhausted from his “crutch walk.” Because he had come in after the rest of the crowd was seated, many people had watched him come into the auditorium each evening and — they were aware of his extremely disabled condition.
That week we had witnessed many instantaneous miracles. Ears of the deaf were opened. And as Christ came into people’s hearts, we literally heard demons scream as the power of Christ drove them out. It was everything I had read about in the book of Acts, but it was happening here and now — in our meeting! Denise and I were speechless at the wonder-working power of God we saw in those services.
Now it was the last night. Oh, how I longed for that paralyzed man to receive a miraculous touch. As that last meeting concluded, I stood to dismiss the crowd and bid them farewell. Suddenly I heard a lot of commotion to my left, and I turned to see what the disturbance was all about. I turned at the exact moment the man on the crutches suddenly shot straight up from his chair and threw his crutches into the air!
Before I could even catch my breath, the man jumped and began walking — free of crutches! The bottom half of his paralyzed body had suddenly come alive. This was the first time this man had walked in 19 years without the assistance of his crutches. He literally went walking and leaping and praising God all the way to the front of the auditorium, where he threw his crutches on the stage and then stood there jumping for joy!
There was a crowd that night of approximately 8,000 people. When they saw this miracle happen right before their eyes, hundreds rushed the stage for more prayer. Only God knows how many more people received miracles that night.
When the auditorium authority said it was time to shut down the meeting, people didn’t want to leave and had to be forcibly directed out of the arena and onto the street. People clung to us, asking for more prayer, but it was time to leave, so we quickly left the stage through a private back hallway and a door that opened right to our transportation. However, when we exited that exterior door, several hundred people had already surrounded our vehicle, wanting one more opportunity to receive prayer.
Later as I meditated on the miracles we saw that week, I kept going back to Philip’s experience in Samaria in Acts 8. It specifically says, “…The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake…” (v. 6). This is precisely what had occurred with us, so I opened my Greek New Testament to study what these words meant in the Greek.
The words “one accord” is homothumadon, a compound of homou and thumos. The word homou usually points to a moment when something happens at one time or simultaneously. The word thumos here carries the picture of passion. The people were excited about what Philip was preaching. The Greek word tells us they were completely stirred up and excited about what they were hearing. And it wasn’t just a few of them, but all of them at once were caught in the moment — in an eruption of thrill.
The crowds were so enraptured by what Philip was preaching that Acts 8:6 says they “gave heed” to the things he was speaking to them. The words “gave heed” are from the word prosecho, a compound of the words pros and echo. The word pros means near, and the word echo means to hold or to embrace. When the two words are compounded, the new word prosecho means to hold near or to draw near. It is the idea of giving one’s full attention to what is being spoken and heard — and drawing as near to it as possible. In other words, all those people under the sound of Philip’s preaching were fixated on and undistracted from his message.
Prosecho can also be translated to give one’s full attention to a matter, to apply the mind to a thing, or to give serious consideration and contemplation to what is being heard. This was not a light-listening moment in Philip’s ministry in Samaria — those people were listening with 100 percent of their hearts and souls!
No wonder Philip’s crowd experienced so many miracles! Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” As they listened so intensely to the message of Christ, faith came exploding into their hearts — and where faith explodes, the supernatural takes place.
This truth, by the way, provided my answer for why we saw so many supernatural signs and wonders in that big meeting in the USSR. The crowd was fixated on every word we preached from that stage. And where the message of Christ is really heard, faith comes. That explains why miracles started occurring all over that vast auditorium. The people heard, believed, and received.
This shows how important it is that you really listen when the Word of God is being preached. If you’re talking to your neighbor, writing notes, sending text messages, thinking of something else, or merely not listening, the Word can have great effect on the people all around you, yet have no effect on you. If you want to see the supernatural, you must be totally focused on the message that’s being preached, for faith comes by hearing — really hearing — the Word of God. And when the message has been heard and embraced by 100 percent of a hearing heart, the environment becomes right for the supernatural to start taking place!
Rick Renner is a prolific author and a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek.
In 1992, Rick and his family moved to what is now the former Soviet Union. Two years later, he and his wife Denise founded the Riga Good News Church in Latvia before moving on to Moscow in 2000 to found the Moscow Good News Church. In 2007, the Renners also launched the Kyiv Good News Church in the capital of Ukraine. Today, Rick serves as Bishop for this group of churches.
In addition, Rick and Denise pioneered a Bible school, and a ministerial association that serves thousands of Russian-speaking pastors throughout the former USSR as well as parts of the Middle East.
Rick also founded Media Mir, the first Christian television network established in the former USSR. Its broadcast capabilities via terrestrial stations in Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova, and as well by satellite means millions of people are reached with these messages. It has since expanded into book publishing and managing social media accounts.