Acts 19 - August 19
Growing up in a Pentecostal church, many times people would refer to the miracles of Paul where they would take his handkerchiefs or aprons and touch other people with it to be healed. Which is what we see in this chapter. They would try to reenact those very things. There are two issues with that; Firstly, Paul and the twelve disciples had apostolic authority that was given to them for their time to promote the preaching of the gospel. We no longer have apostles or people who can do those types of things (perform miracles). Secondly, the miracles that we see through the book of Acts are not the main point of the chapters, but they are a means to an end. The point of the miracles is to providentially make a way for the proclamation of the gospel. This is what we see from verses 11-41. In this scene what we have is God using the apostle Paul powerfully. Demons are being cast out, people were being healed, people were being made well. As stated previously, the miracles that were happening were making a way for Paul to be able to powerfully proclaim the gospel. A group of Jewish exorcists tried to cast demons out by the name of Jesus because they thought it was just some type of formula, and they were beaten and abused by the demon possessed man. It is interesting that the demon says, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” It is because the power from God came through the name of Jesus from those who truly knew him. All to say that because of the miracles that are happening, people are coming to Christ in waves. People were turning away from practicing their magic (probably some form of witchcraft), they were turning from their pagan practices, they were turning away from their former way of life, because of the powerful proclamation of the gospel. The proclamation of the gospel has reached so far, and people have turned to Christ to the point that the businesses who make money off building shrines (idols) were slowing down. Business was bad because people's hearts were turning from worshiping false gods to the only true living God. One business owner goes to the rest of them and pretty much says “we have to do something about this, business is going down.” They had heard that people all over Asia were being saved and turning to the Lord. If this continued, they would be completely out of business, so they incite a riot. The proclamation of the gospel caused an uproar, people tried to fight against it, but at the end of the day they cannot fight against almighty God.
Friends, one thing we can observe from this passage is that when the gospel is present, it completely changes our way of life. The people in Ephesus were being uprooted through the preaching of the gospel. They are no longer building idols, no longer giving into their passions, no longer worshiping at altars, no longer making sacrifices, no longer practicing their magic arts, no longer living for themselves. Why? Because the gospel is the power of God! The gospel digs out all that we are at the very core of our being and makes us new creations. Friends, there is no possible way that you can have believed in the gospel and still be the same. You will not be the same if you were to get hit by an 18-ton Mack truck, there is no possible way that you will not be dismembered after getting hit by that truck. It is the same for the gospel, it is not possible for the gospel to be in your life, and for you to just be comfortable in your own sin. The gospel is effectual and even though change might be slow sometimes, there still will be change in our lives. Voddie Baucham a church planter and dean of a christian university says, “I am not where I want to be but hallelujah I am not where I was.” The gospel is at work in us changing us from the inside out to be more like Christ. Just like those Ephesian people having their worlds shaken, the gospel comes and shakes the core of our being.
So, the question is… Are you bringing your sins and practices before the Lord like those Ephesians brought their magic arts books to be burned? Is the power of the gospel at work in your life? Are you bringing your passions before the Lord to be burned up? Praise God, that the gospel is doing its work in us through the Holy Spirit. May the gospel continue to shake us and transform us into the image of Christ.