Acts 19: 1-20
There's a lot of stuff going on in these twenty verses from Acts Chapter 19. You sorta have to break it down and read it slow and think on it for a little bit.
Paul arrived in Ephesus and met up with 12 disciples; basically 12 men that were followers of John the Baptist. Paul questioned their faith and it appears they weren't saved. They did get baptized by water according to the teachings of John, but because they didn't have the Holy Spirit living within them, they were simply men that went through the process of getting wet. It seems they didn't get the full concept of asking Jesus for forgiveness of their sins and asking Him to come into their lives. Yes, they may have gotten dunked in a water pool, but they didn't know that this was just an outward expression of their salvation. Paul presented them with the memo and they believed.
This is similar to how many people believe today. Some think they are saved because of a bloodline genetic thing handed down from a family member. Or maybe by going to church and shaking the preacher's hand. Some may actually go through the process of getting baptized and think that's what it's all about. But, it's not! It's about true repentance. It's where a person realizes they are lost in sin without Jesus and have never asked for forgiveness of it and turned from it. True repentance is where you know that you are separated from God because of the junk in your life. The Holy Spirit convicts your heart and one day you wake up and call out to Jesus to save you with sincerity, not from repeating some meaningless words that someone tells you to say. It's real and from your heart. That's the deal! The day you got saved is when the Holy Spirit began living within you.
God used Paul to perform some awesome miracles in people's lives. From these verses we see where God also worked through material items such as handkerchiefs and aprons that were touched by Paul's hands. You know, many religions today practice this, too. They mail you prayer cloths for you to use to receive miracles. The concept is that someone prayed for you using that piece of fabric. I suppose when you get it in the mail, you touch it and your miracle happens or something like that. I am very skeptical of this practice in religion. It's not that I don't believe God can perform miracles because He can. I also believe He can use whatever He wants to to make it happen. But, I see many religions out there doing all this as a money making business. We basically write them a check (love offering) and they will send us a prayer cloth, which now is a printed piece of paper with a fabric design inked on it. I picture a mail room somewhere with people opening letters and pulling out checks and then sending out paper. This is a legal operation because you are paying something and receiving something in return. You basically bought a 2 cent sheet of paper, the envelope and stamp for them to mail it to you with your love offering. Many people are being deceived by this.
But, Paul was the real deal. He was one man being used by God to reach the masses. Paul didn't sit in an office mailing out fabric and he didn't take people's money. It was their faith in God working through Paul that they received their miracles. God received the glory!
In the remaining verses, 13 – 20, we have some men trying to perform some miracles using the name of Jesus. It could have been that they didn't truly believe in Jesus, but were using His name to promote themselves in some kind of personal gain. The seven sons of Sceva made a living from doing exorcisms in the community, so maybe this was a new approach to improve their business. But, we see in the end that it didn't work out too well and they paid a price for it.
The message to us is that not everyone that comes in the name of Jesus is actually all that and a bag of chips. We have to be cautious.
And people out there that are doing 'Jesus stuff' need to make sure their hearts are right. Are they doing it for self recognition, for money, or out of obligation? This includes fancy and great speaking preachers, singers and performers. If true belief in Jesus isn't there, it won't amount to a hill of beans. Their true convictions will manifest its way to the listeners. Their hidden secret will be exposed leaving them naked and bleeding.
Anything we do in Jesus name needs to be sincere and heartfelt. Preaching, serving, and even when we pray. Our belief and love for Jesus has to be in it. When it is, lives will change.
As an added bonus, the people from the verses that were involved in the 'curious arts' brought their books and burned them. It says the value was 10,000 pieces of silver. I did a search on the internet and it says that it would be comparable to a million US dollars today. Can you imagine that? I thought that was interesting.
A Redneck's Guide Series is available from Amazon worldwide:
Australia | Brazil | Canada | China | France | Germany | India | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Spain | United Kingdom | USA
A Redneck's Guide Series c/o ToonIt Up! Graphics | PO Box 71972 | Newnan, GA 30271-1972