Sun, Nov 30, 2014
Acts 19:1-22 Paul's Third Missionary Journey Part 2
Acts 19:1-22:0 by Joe Guglielmo
Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
Series: Sunday Service

ACTS 19:1-22

PAUL’S THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY - PART 2

 

       Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Acts chapter 19 as we continue our study through the book of Acts. In our last study we saw in the last part of Acts chapter 18 Paul begin his third missionary journey, heading to the region of Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen the brethren in the faith. He is visiting those he ministered to on his previous missionary journeys!

       We also learned of a Jewish man who was born in Alexandria and his name was Apollos. He loved the Lord, he was mighty in the Scriptures but something was lacking in his life. You see, he was only aware of the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentance, and he was unaware of Jesus! Thus, Apollos was not saved.

       And God does not leave this man in this condition but we see God bring this couple, Aquila and Priscilla, Jewish believers in Jesus across his path. And once they hear Apollos speak they knew he was missing something, they knew he was missing Jesus, he was missing the Savior!

       So as he finished speaking they took him outside and shared the Scriptures with him, they shared the Gospel with him and Apollos gets saved. Now that he has the whole truth he wants to continue sharing the Good News with others, he wants to go down to Achaia and that is exactly what he does with that same boldness he had before but now with the complete message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Now, Aquila and Priscilla coming from Corinth, sent a letter back with Apollos encouraging the brethren there to receive him and they did.

       This morning we are going to run into another group of people who heard of the baptism of John but not of Jesus, which may confuse some. “How could they not have heard about Jesus?” The answer is simple. People even today have not heard of Jesus I am sad to say. And believe it or not, some are living in this country!

       Let me share this story with you because I think it will drive home the point and you will see how easy it was for Apollos not to hear of Jesus even though he loved the Lord. He just did not have all the information yet and when he was told the truth, he came to saving faith!

       We are told,

       During the latter part of the eighteenth century many colonists left Virginia and started through the mountains to settle the valleys that lay far to the west. Fear of Indians, the death of a horse, or the breaking down of a wagon forced many to stay in the mountains. For over twenty years these settlers saw no white man at all, until a group of travelers straggled into the neighborhood.

       Naturally there was much conversation about the outside world. The travelers asked the mountaineers what they thought of the new republic and the policies of the Continental Congress. The others answered, “We have not so much as heard of a Continental Congress or a Republic.” They thought of themselves as loyal subjects of the British king and had not even heard of George Washington or the Revolutionary War.

- R. Kent Hughes, Acts - The Church Afire, pp. 249-250

       That is what was going on with Apollos and as we will see this morning there are some 12 men in Ephesus who have also not heard of Jesus. With that as our background, let’s begin reading in Acts chapter 19 beginning in verse 1 as Paul is on his third missionary journey.

 

ACTS 19

VERSES 1-2

       First of all we are told that Apollos was in Corinth. Keep in mind that Corinth is located in southern Greece about 50 miles from Athens, and about two miles south of the narrow isthmus that forms a land bridge between the main landmass of Greece and the Peloponnesus. And it is here in Corinth that Apollos his sharing Jesus with the people.

       Secondly we are told of Paul and his arrival in Ephesus. Keep in mind that Paul was in Ephesus on his second missionary journey. He came through there on his way back from Corinth but this time he is coming in the opposite direction, arriving in Ephesus from the region of Phrygia.

       Also, remember what Paul said back in Acts 18:20-21. We are told, When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, ‘I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.’ And he sailed from Ephesus. Now Paul is making good on that promise he made to them as he returns to Ephesus just like he said he would!

       In Ephesus we are told that Paul found some disciples and he asked them, . . . ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’. . . Acts 19:2. No I don’t know about you but I have been a Christian for over 30 years and I have never asked anyone that question. Don’t you think of all the things that you would ask someone that this would be the one you would never ask? I think so and yet Paul asked them.

       In regards to the question that Paul asked them in verse 2, listen to what J. Vernon McGee wrote in his commentary on the book of Acts. He tells us,

You recall that Apollos did not know anything about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until Aquila and Priscilla had talked to him. All he had been preaching was the baptism of John, which was as far as his knowledge went. As a result of this, the people who had heard his preaching had been instructed only as far as the baptism of John and had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul detected that.

       “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” is a poor translation. Both verbs receive and believe, are in the same tense. The American Standard Version translates the verse more accurately: “Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?” Paul is asking them, “When you believed, did you receive the Holy Spirit?” Their response was that they had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit. They had been instructed up to the baptism of John. They had not been taught about the Lord Jesus and didn’t know anything about Pentecost.

- J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, Vol. IV, p. 597

       I agree with what he wrote, I think that is what the Scriptures show us and we will look at this more as we move on and take a brief look at the other point, that they were saved. But again, I don’t think that is correct, you are not saved by repentance but by repenting of your sins AND believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, that you receive Him into your life!

To me, the big question is, “Why did he ask them if they received the Holy Spirit?” I think there are a couple of things going on here. First of all I think Paul recognized something was missing from their life, maybe their speech, they were not talking about Jesus. Secondly and probably more importantly I think the Holy Spirit gave him these words to say!

       I have experienced this in my own life and I can’t say that I heard God speak to me and tell me to say certain words but as I spoke them and saw the response that I got back I knew it was the Lord who prompted me to say those words and I think that is what is going on with Paul here. This was not something that Paul did wherever he went but it was something that God impressed upon him to say here in Ephesus.

       And listen to the response once again of these 12 men. They said, . . . ‘We have not so much as heard whther there is a Holy Spirit.’ Acts 19:2. Now here again are more questions for us. Was Paul speaking of the Spirit indwelling them when they are saved or the empowering with the Holy Spirit that can happen at the time of salvation or later on?

I don’t believe Paul is speaking of the empowering of the Holy Spirit here but I do believe he is speaking of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion or at the time a person comes to know the Lord. Now here is a problem for many, even many commentaries struggle with this.

They feel that these 12 men were believers but they did not have the Holy Spirit. I disagree. You see, Paul tells us in II Corinthians 1:21-22, Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. The Holy Spirit is given to believers as kind of engagement ring guaranteeing that the Lord is coming back for us, His Bride one day!

Now you may not be convinced by that but look at what Paul says in Romans 8:9-11 and if you had any doubt before you won’t after you hear what he wrote. We are told, But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

These disciples did not have the Spirit of God in them. “Then how can they be called ‘disciples?” I don’t believe that makes them Christians for as John 6:66 tells us that some of the disciples of Jesus were not saved, From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.So I don’t believe these men were saved at this time and we will see that in a few minutes.

So what did they believe in? We don’t have to guess because Pau is going to ask them that and they will respond. Listen to what we are told.

 

VERSES 3-4

       Paul does not just accept what they said and move on; he wants to know exactly what they believe. Thus, Paul wants to know what baptism they received and they tell Paul, Into John’s baptism.

Again, we talked about this when we looked at Apollos last time but it is important because the Holy Spirit is repeating this point. So what is John’s baptism? In Matthew chapter 3 we are told what John’s baptism was all about. We read, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’. . . and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. . . . Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. Matthew 3:1-2, 6, 8.

       We also see this in Mark 1:4-5 where we are told, John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

       I think this is very clear. John’s baptism was one of repentance from sins. John’s baptism was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. But that is all they knew. They were not saved, they were waiting for the coming Messiah, not knowing that He had already come and paid in full the penalty for their sins. They were what we might call Old Testament saints, the Spirit of God had not in-dwelt them for they had not received Jesus as yet.

       And the point is simple. The moment you come to Christ, the moment you receive Him as Lord and Savior of your life then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You are sealed by the Holy Spirit. You are baptized into the body of believers by the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15-17 Jesus said in regards to His leaving them, If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

       You see, prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit came upon people and empowered them for service. But after the death and resurrection of Jesus those who come to Him will have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, it is a sign of a believer. Thus, the Holy Spirit is in this world drawing people to Jesus or He dwells with you and once you come to Jesus He will be in you.

       Now I do have to say that there are a few Bible commentators who disagree with me. They feel that they were saved but just lacked the information and the reason they believe this is that they are called disciples.

       F. F. Bruce makes this point as he wrote, “When the men are called disciples without further qualification, that. . . . seems to mean that they were disciples of Jesus. Had Luke meant to indicate that they were disciples of John the Baptist. . . . he would have said so explicitly.”

       Once again that does not mean they that were saved as I have shared with you. Also, we are told that they were baptized into John’s baptism, a baptism of repentance and they did not as yet know of the Savior, they did not know of Jesus. That means that they were not saved and the Holy Spirit did not indwell them as yet. But the Holy Spirit was with them now drawing them to Jesus as we are going to see.

       How do I know that? Because in verse 4 we see Paul tell these men, . . . ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. Acts 19:4.

       So Paul shares with them Jesus, His atoning death and glorious resurrection and they got saved! How do I know that? Because of what we read next but before we get to that let me just share how one writer summed this up for us. He wrote,

       After coming into contact with the teaching of John the Baptist, these men in Ephesus had become spiritual Rip Van Winkles. Their reply, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” does not mean they knew nothing about the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit came on Jesus when he was baptized, and John taught that the Messiah would baptize believers with the Spirit and with fire. These men simply did not know that the promised Spirit had come.

       Paul knew just what to do - he preached Christ!

- R. Kent Hughes, Acts - The Church Afire, p. 250

 

       So let’s read on and see the salvation of these 12 men in Ephesus.

 

VERSES 5-7

       No longer were these men baptized into the baptism of John. Now that they had been told about Jesus, that He is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world, they were baptized in Jesus!

In other words, they immersed their lives in His, and they were saved! The Holy Spirit that was dwelling with them drawing them to Jesus has now come in them. Paul makes that point in I Corinthians 6:19 where he wrote, Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

       We also see this point in Romans 8:9 where Paul says, But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

       And remember what Jesus said in John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

       I shared a little about this verse earlier but let me break it down for you to show you how important it is for us to understand these words of Jesus. In these verses we see that there are two Greek prepositions that are used of the Holy Spirit. First of all the Holy Spirit is with us, PARA in the Greek, drawing us to Christ. Once we are saved the Holy Spirit comes in us, EN in the Greek, indwelling us. That is where these men were and are now, the Holy Spirit was with them and drew them to Jesus and then the Holy Spirit came in them, they are believers, they are saved!

       Now some don’t see this but I believe that the Scriptures teach that there is one more Greek preposition that is used of the Holy Spirit and that is found in Acts 1:8 where we read, But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.The Holy Spirit will come upon us or EPI in the Greek and empower us for service.

This empowering for the believers is what we read here in Acts 19:6 as Luke tells us, And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.Again, many negate this empowering and yet the Scriptures speak of it and we see it manifested many times in the book of Acts and in the New Testament!

Let me show you what I mean about this empowering. In Mark 1:7-8 John the Baptist said . . . ‘There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.He is speaking of Jesus baptizing believers with the Holy Spirit, empowering them to move the Gospel message forward, and we see that manifested in the lives of these believers and that same power is for us today, not to toot our whistle or blow our horn but to move the Gospel message forward!

       So these 12 men come to saving faith and here is something that we need to understand. Just because they did not hear of Jesus doesn’t mean that the church in Ephesus did not hear of Jesus. This was a small group of 12 men and now they came to that saving faith and we will see the church in Ephesus growing, not by programs but by the teaching of God’s Word!

       We will see that as we move on but just keep that in mind. It is God who grows His Church and it is not by the wisdom of man but the power of God through His Spirit and His Word!

       Also keep in mind that Paul wrote I Corinthians and II Corinthians during his stay in Ephesus and it is interesting because the church in Corinth had many problems and one of them was this issue of the empowering of the Holy Spirit and how they were abusing it and Paul corrects them on that issue!

 

VERSES 8-10

Paul spoke with boldness and that is a sign of the empowering of God’s Spirit upon a believer’s life! We see that in Acts 4:31 where we are told, And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

       Here in Acts chapter 4 they are praying for boldness and the boldness they were praying for was a boldness to speak forth the Word of God! And GOD ANSWERED THEIR PRAYER! The Holy Spirit came upon them, empowered them and they spoke forth the Word of God with boldness!

       This is difficult for some because they don’t believe that believers are baptized with the Holy Spirit or this empowerment as I have said. They believe that there is only one baptism and that is into the body of Christ. But we see here that the Holy Spirit comes upon them and empowers them a second time and we also see that they don’t speak in tongues but they speak forth the Word of God with boldness.

       The word boldness is PARRESIA and it speaks of “telling it all.” In other words, these believers in Acts chapter 4 did not hold back and neither did Paul here in Acts chapter 19! That is important for us to understand, that we don’t hold back, that we don’t hide the truths of God but we speak it forth in love and if you lack that powerful boldness, just ask for God to fill you once again!

That means we need to let them know that they are sinners and it is their sin that has separated them from God. But don’t stop there, then tell them that God loves them and died for their sins, He has paid in full all of their sins! Tell them all that they need to hear and let the Holy Spirit draw them to Jesus!

       We see this prayer for boldness spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 6:19-20 where he wrote, . . . that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. May that be our hearts desire, may that be our prayer that we would speak boldly, like we should, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

       Remember the pattern for Paul. If there was a Synagogue he would first go there and speak to the Jews about Jesus and any Gentiles who were there to hear about the God of Israel, they also heard the message. Then he would go to the Gentiles.

Here in Ephesus Paul was going for a record with the Jews, he spent 3 months with them, debating with these Jews before they threw him out! In speaking of these Jews, it says that their hearts were hardened which is in the imperfect tense of this verb in the Greek. What that means is that this was a gradual process, their unbelief.

They heard Paul sharing Jesus from their own Scriptures and maybe at first they were curious but over time they did not want to believe it because that is not what they were taught by their own religious leaders. And after a time they started to come against what Paul was saying about Jesus and they started to fight against the Way, a term used for Christians, causing Paul to now go to the Gentiles and taking with him those Jews who did believe.

       In Ephesus was the School of Tyrannus, who was a philosopher. Now most people don’t think that was his real name because it means, literally, “Tyrant!” It is hard to imagine parents naming their child like that even though you may feel that way from time to time. Richard Longenecker gives to us these words regarding his name,

       Since it is difficult (except in certain bleak moments of parenthood) to think of any parent naming his or her child “Tyrant,” the name must have been a nickname given by the Man’s students.

- Richard Longenecker, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9, John-Acts, p. 495

       It may be that this name he was called kind of stuck with him. Now some ancient writings regarding Paul say that he used this school during the hours of 11 am to 4 pm, when businesses and other activities were shut down due to the heat of the day, even this school.

F. F. Bruce write regarding this school,

Tyrannus no doubt held his classes in the early morning hours. Public activity ceased in the cities of Ionia for several hours at 11 a.m., and . . . more people would be asleep at 1 p.m. than at 1 a.m. But Paul, after spending the early hours of the day at his tent-making (cf. Ch. 20:34), devoted the hours of burden and heat to his more important and more exhausting business, and must have infected his hearers with his own energy and zeal, so that they were willing to sacrifice their siesta for the sake of listening to Paul.

- F. F. Bruce

       Once again we see that ministry is not always easy, it is not always under the best conditions or circumstances, but it is always a blessing because you get to serve the Lord. Thus, Paul took advantage of the situation and taught the Good News of Jesus to the people of Ephesus even in the heat of the day when most people were resting.

Then, as Paul was done teaching he went back to his tent making to help support himself as Acts 20:33-34 tells us, I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.

Ministry is like that, especially for small churches, but not exclusively. The pastor may work outside the church, the elders may work outside the church, and those that are involved in ministry may also work outside the church. It can be tiring as I am sure it was for Paul, but he knew the Lord would sustain him through it all as He will sustain each of us!

And even if you are full time in the ministry, the work does not end and I am thankful for that. I know there are times when you may want it to, when I may want it to, but the reality, what God has placed upon your heart, my heart we just can’t keep inside, we have to share the gift that He has given us and there is great joy, a great blessing as we do. God refreshes, He encourages, He does exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think even though it might not be easy!

Paul spoke of this very thing in I Corinthians 16:8-9, But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

Also, in II Corinthians 1:8-10 Paul said, For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: [which is the Roman province in which Ephesus was located] that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.

Too often people see adversity and they run or trying to be spiritual they say, “The Lord closed the door.” Not all the time as we see here. Think about it, if you have much adversity it must mean the Devil doesn’t like what you are doing and if you are just breezing through life without a problem, maybe the Devil isn’t worried about what you are doing!

G. Campbell Morgan put it this way as he wrote, “If you have no opposition in the place you serve, you’re serving in the wrong place.” I think that is very true! Let’s face it, when you are serving the Lord, ministering to the lost you may begin to ruffle some feathers and that is not necessarily bad!

       Let me also say this, let us not be so rigid in our daily schedules that Divine appointments become a nuisance and an irritation that just wrecks our day! God knows what He is doing and if He is going to interrupt your day, it is for a reason and He will take care of the time from your studies or whatever, as I have found out!

Opposition, difficulty did not stop Paul and it should not stop us. If God is for us who can be against us and that is a rhetorical question, no one can be against us and win because God is for us and He will accomplish His will no matter what!

We also are told that Paul taught them for over 2 years after he left the Synagogue. And he is teaching them the Word of God! What was the result of this teaching of the Word of God? We don’t have to guess because Luke tells us, . . . so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. Acts 19:10.

       Word got out and they heard about Paul and his teachings. The people went out and shared about the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. That is Paul’s point in Ephesians 4:11-13 regarding what the leaders in the church are to do and how it will affect the people. He wrote, And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

As the Word of God is being taught people will not only get saved but they will grow in the Lord, they will be healthy! And healthy sheep naturally reproduce and we see that here with the people in Asia as they got saved.

We see the Gospel message spread from Ephesus to Colosse, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, as God was working through His people! It is like a virus that is spreading, a good virus. You see, as Christians come in contact with others they catch it, and what a glorious thing that is, building people up, restoring them to life!

 

VERSES 11-12

Now this is strange. People were taking pieces of Paul’s handkerchiefs or aprons and placing them on sick relatives or friends and they were being healed. Bruce tells us regarding these garments, “The pieces of material were presumably those which Paul used in his tentmaking or leather-working - the sweat-rags for tying around his head and the aprons for tying around his waist.”

       What I want you to notice about this is that these were unusual miracles. I am not saying that God does not do any miracles today, but these were not the norm. The reason I say that is because we see people abusing these verses and trying to make a profit off of God by offering things to purchase for healing. I will show you what I mean in a minute.

       First of all here is Paul and God is doing the miracles, not Paul, it was not his sweat that healed these people but the power of God. So, Paul went into business and started selling these sweat-bands and aprons for $19.95, plus shipping and handling, right? Wrong!

Like I have said, many do that today. I have received these letters in the mail and some of you have been so gracious in giving your letter to me, which contained this amazing Prayer Rug. Well, it was not really a Prayer Rug but it was just a piece of paper with a picture of Jesus on it and if you “look into Jesus’ eyes you will see they are closed.

But as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes. Then go and be alone and kneel on this rug of faith or touch it to both knees. Then please check your needs on our letter to you. Please return this prayer rug. Do not keep it.” And, of course there is a place to donate to this cause and people do or this would not be mailed out!

       Listen to how strange one of these letters was. It says,

       Dear . . . Someone Connected with This Address,

       People just like you are writing to this 54-year-old church, telling us of all types of blessings since this church started praying with them. They are receiving divine help in the form of answered prayer. Some are seeing loved ones saved, and many of them are receiving spiritual, physical and financial blessings of all types – better jobs, raised salaries, being able to buy and sell homes, buying new cars, and so on.

Actually, these dear people are receiving so many blessings that it is impossible to mention them all in a letter. And, as you will read in the enclosed brochure a Sister Garcia used the same type of Bible faith prayer rug that we are sending to you, with this letter, and was blessed with almost $50,000! Now, we must talk to you about something we see, in the Holy Spirit, concerning you and your family’s needs.

       GOD’S HOLY BLESSING POWER IS IN THE ENCLOSED ANOINTED PRAYER RUG WE ARE LOANING YOU TO USE!!! [I can’t keep it?]

       WE MUST GIVE YOU THIS OPPORTUNITY FIRST . . . THEN IT MUST GO TO THE HOME OF ANOTHER DEAR FRIEND WHO NEEDS A BLESSING [Can’t you just make another copy of this prayer piece of paper?]

. . . You, or someone connected with this address, and another dear family are about to be blessed through this unusual, Bible Faith, Church, Prayer Rug, which we are placing in your care for these next 24 important hours. Because of any needs you are facing, we want you to use this Church Prayer Rug first, then we must pass it on to another dear friend of ours who also needs a blessing. As we pray for you and everyone connected with this address,

WE FEEL THAT SOMETHING VERY WONDERFUL IS TRYING TO COME TO YOU.

       When you use this Faith Church Prayer Rug, go into a room where you can be alone (Just God and you). Turn off the television and radio and try to be by yourself when you kneel on this Holy Ghost, Bible Prayer Rug, or spread it over your knees. We want this Church Ministry, Prayer Rug to be touching both of your knees – as you pray for the needs you are facing right now.

It is going to be like you are kneeling before God All Mighty at the altar inside a great church of blessings. If you need more joy, peace, health, money, a new car, a new house, healing in family communication, or whatever, we, as a very old (54 years) church, [hey wait a minute, I am older than that church ] want to know about it. Check your prayer needs on page two of this letter. Talk to us. This power you and this church ministry are about to use works!

       The next 24 important hours are crucial to you. Timing is important to God. After you kneel on this Church Prayer Rug, or place it over your knees, place it in a Bible, on Philippians 4:19. (If you don’t have a Bible, it’s okay – just slide it under your side of your bed, for tonight, if you can. If you can’t do this, it is okay.) Leave It There No Longer Than Tonight Only! God sees.

       Then, in the morning it is a must that you get this unusual blessing Church Prayer Rug out of this house and back to us, here at the church’s chapel prayer room, in faith. And, we must also have this letter back, with whatever you need prayer for printed on page two of it. You must get the Bible Prayer Rug back to us so we can rush it onto another family that’s in need of a blessing. Do this without fail. Please, do not break this flow of power between us.

       Notice the face of Jesus on this Church Prayer Rug. When you first look, you will notice that His eyes are closed. If you relax and continue looking straight into His eyes, you will see His eyes slowly opening, and He will begin looking back at you. Jesus sees your needs (Philippians 4:19). Use this unusual, important, Church Prayer Rug for tonight only.

       Let us ask you: Would you like to have God’s blessings upon your home, your family and your finances? Say, “Yes, Lord Jesus, I do need Your financial blessings upon me and my family’s finances!” Deuteronomy 28:6. Just put a mark by your needs below, telling us that you want prayer. Also, check any other needs you are facing. Pray about sowing a seed gift to the Lord’s work. Give God your best seed and believe Him for His best blessing (St. Luke 6:38).

 

       Now, go and use this Church, Faith, Prayer Rug. The Lord is watching and waiting. You are about to enter the Holy Spirit of God right here in your home, through this faith exercise. Then, it is a must that you return it for another to use.

- Prayer Rug Letter

      

And folks, for only $19.95 you too can have your prayers answered if you are one of the first 100 to send back your prayer rug! Just kidding but you read that and how strange, making money off of God and feeding off of others who are in need, who are desperate and will try anything for a healing! Folks, our faith for a healing better not be in an object like this Prayer Rug, or in a man, or even in our own faith, but in Jesus Christ as we pray for His will to be done in a given situation!

Now in saying that I want you to understand that God does heal, He does unusual miracles even today. The thing we need to remember is that it had nothing to do with these articles of cloth but I believe they were points of contact for their faith to be released. We see the woman in Matthew 9:20-21 who wanted to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and she would be healed and she was. In Acts 5:15 as the shadow of Peter fell upon people they were healed, not that Peter’s shadow was special, but God used it to heal people. All these things are just points of contact by which a person’s faith can be released, their faith in Jesus the healer!

I believe that this sill happens today. Pastor Chuck told of a story that happened many years ago as he worked for a pastor who had a radio ministry. This pastor had these 4 X 4 pieces of cloth that he would pray over and anoint with oil before sending them to people who requested them.

One lady who received one of these clothes sent a letter back and Chuck read it. He said that one evening her unbelieving son stopped by before going to the movies with his wife and saw the cloth. He asked her what it was and she told him it was a prayer cloth. Not thinking he just placed it in his pocket and went to the movie.

       At the movies he turned to his wife and told her that he smelled smoke. She thought he was nuts because he could not smell at all. But he insisted and finally went to the front of the theater and told everyone to leave the theater immediately. After everyone was out the theater went up in flames! She was writing this letter asking for another prayer cloth because her son would not give her back the one he took from her!

       Again, it was not the cloth but the cloth was a point of contact to release their faith. God did this and He is still working miracles in and through the lives of His people. Don’t let people cause you not to believe!

 

VERSES 13-16

       I am sorry but I love this story. This would have been great to see if they had a camera on this situation. It would surely be on You Tube! It is a very humorous story, at least to me! Here we see these traveling Jewish exorcists and they saw the power of Jesus. They did not come to saving faith but they just thought they would use that power in their work. Again, they did not know Jesus; they had no relationship with Him.

So as they tried to do this the evil spirit said that he know[s]” Jesus, GINOSKO in the Greek which speaks “to know by interaction and experience.” They know Paul, EPISTAMAI in the Greek which speaks “to know about, to understand.” But this demon didn’t know these men and the man who was possessed came after the others and they fled from the house naked and beaten! The name of Jesus is not some kind of magical charm to be used by whoever wants to use it in whatever way they want to use it whenever they want!

I find that interesting because we see that kind of theology in the health, wealth and prosperity teachings. There is power in words and anyone can use certain words and God has to respond. Foolishness! There is power in Jesus! And we are seeing it being taught in the Emergent Church teachings were anyone can meditate on a phrase, have an encounter with God and you don’t have to be a Christian. Again, foolishness! The only encounter with God you can have is through Jesus Christ!

       I like the way the F. B. Meyer put it regarding this incident. What he has to say is a bit amusing but also very true! He wrote,

       When the sons of Sceva started on the demon, he turned on them, and said, “You little dwarfs, you Lilliputians, who are you? I know Paul! I don’t know you, I have never heard about you before; your name has never been talked about down in Hell. No one knows you, nor about you outside of this little bit of a place called Ephesus.”

       Yes, and there is the question that was put to me today: “Does anyone know of me down in Hell?” Do the devils know about us? Are they scared about us? Are they frightened by us? Or do they turn upon us? When we preach on Sunday, or when we visit in the streets, or take our Sunday School Class, the devil says, “I don’t know you, you are not worth my powder and shot; you can go on doing your work. I am not going to upset Hell to stop you.”

- F. B. Meyer

       How true that is. When you are serving the Lord you are also causing the demonic world to rise up to come against you. But, remember what the Scriptures say, You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. I John 4:4. Do not forget that!

       And as we read on you will see why the demonic world was going crazy and you guessed it, it was because of the impact these believers had on the people around them and how many came to know the Lord. How many were taken out of the world of darkness and placed into the Kingdom of Light, they came to Jesus!

 

VERSES 17-20

       Notice carefully what is taking place here. The people, the Jews and Gentiles heard about what happened with the sons of Sceva and the demonic power that attacked them. They also knew of the power of God. This was healthy because the fear of the demonic world caused them to fear the Lord!

       As we see here, there was much demonic activity going on in Ephesus and we will see that more next time with the temple of Diana and the many shrines and idols the people had. We do get an indication here of what they were involved in by what they got rid of when they came to Christ. One writer put it like this in regards to Ephesus. “Ephesus was a stronghold of Satan. Here many evil things both superstitious and satanic were practiced. Books containing formula for sorcery and other ungodly and forbidden arts were plentiful in that city.” (Gaebelein)

       So as the people heard the Word of God, as they saw the power of God, many came to saving faith and many in the faith gave up worldly practices, conviction and the fear of the Lord caused them to draw close to God! They took their magic books and they burned them! We might not think that was such a big deal, but it was! These books and scrolls full of magic charms, amulets and incantations were well known in Ephesus, and they were valuable. The value of fifty thousand pieces of silver today has been estimated at anywhere between $1 million and $5 million and probably even higher!

You see, when God gets hold of your heart it leads to a change in your actions. That is what we see here as they burned, not sold all their demonic books. What a great lesson for us as Spurgeon said, “You will have enough temptation in your own mind without going after these things. Is there any habit, any practice, that you have got that defiles your soul? If Christ loves you, and you come and trust in him, you will make short work of it. Have done with it, and have done with it forever.”

       So as this church was purged of the garbage it grew in the Lord. What about you? Are you frustrated that you are not growing in the Lord? Are you upset that your walk is not where it should be? Maybe there are some things you need to get rid of in your life! Is there no time for you to have a Bible study, prayer, worship in your life? Maybe you need to burn up some of the garbage that is taking you away from these things.

       One writer put it like this,

When did the Word of God grow and prevail? When the believers burned their junk. If you’re burned-out with Bible study, prayer, or meditation - chances are it’s because you need to burn something up. When my appetite is dull, when I’m not interested in spiritual things the way I once was, when I find worship a drudge or a discipline - inevitably I say, “Father, search me and show me the junk in my life that has caused my appetite for You to be diminished.” And you know what? He does.

I’ve been there a thousand times. Whenever my appetite for the meat of the Word diminishes, invariably it’s because I’m filling up on the junk food of the world. I’m not talking about blatant sin, but rather empty calories for my mind, Twinkies for my spirit. But when I finally say, “Enough of that,” my appetite for the Word returns.

- Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, New Testament, p. 767

 

       I think that is important for us to understand. Don’t let things get in the way of your relationship with the Lord. Let the fear of the demonic world cause you to fear the Lord and follow after Him all the days of your life with your whole heart!

 

VERSES 21-22

Paul was truly a man on a mission. He knew his time in Ephesus was drawing to a close and he is planning out where he is going to go. He would travel through Macedonia and Achaia and then onto Jerusalem. From there he wanted to go to Rome. He does have a long journey to get back to Jerusalem but Paul’s heart was to share Jesus wherever he went. And Paul would eventually make it to Rome but not in the way he thought as we will see as we continue on in our study of Acts.

       We also see that Paul sends Timothy and Erastus on to Macedonia and he stayed in Ephesus (Asia) for a while longer and next week we will see what happens in Ephesus as he is sharing Jesus and lives are being transformed, the gates of Hell are being stormed and it is affecting the pocketbooks of some of the people.

       Some powerful lessons this morning about sharing our faith, by correcting those that may be in error or not have all the information they need, to give of ourselves even when it is difficult, even when the situations or circumstances may not be ideal and allow God to work in you and through you for His glory. You see, Jesus will affect a person. If they come to saving faith the changes will be amazing and they will give up the old life to walk in the new life that Christ has given to him. If the person rejects the truth, turns away from Jesus then that too will affect their life. God will give them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting and we see the results of that today!

       Let me leave you with these encouraging words as we are in a battle for the souls of people today and our witness. Luke tells us, So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” Acts 19:20. God’s Word will always prevail; the enemy will not win out. Things may not turn out the way we want but God’s Word will grow as it is being taught, as it is being shared and it will prevail!