2019-03-03 – Acts 19:11-20 – Miraculous Faith and Magic
Bible Text: Acts 19:11-20 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Acts | 2019-03-03 – Acts 19:11-20 – Miraculous Faith and Magic
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
(Lord’s Supper, World Day of Prayer – Happy meteorological spring, March 1vs20)
As Jeremy read earlier from Mark 10, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
We all should strive to have the faith of a child, in regards to our love and trust in Father God and Jesus Christ, Amen? I have a FAITH acrostic
In todays message we are going to see what faith can do in the lives of the early believers, but we are also going to talk about what that means in today’s world in which we live in today. We are going to see in scripture some miracles performed and some evil bogus magic destroyed as a result of faith. So buckle up for another episode of God’s word lived out by Paul in the book of Acts.
Please turn now to Acts 19, verse 11, page 986 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
Paul is now in Ephesus, which is now modern-day Turkey. He has been there for a couple years now, and many people throughout Asia had heard and believed in Jesus because of Paul’s wisdom, Paul’s care and Paul’s testimony. Paul was becoming a very well-known miracle-worker in the area, and people were starting to even seek him out, so they too could be healed or saved.
11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, 12 so that even facecloths or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
First Let us note well and resolve for good, what the first word of this first verse says here; Who was performing the miracles? God. That’s right, it wasn’t Paul or anyone else in that matter, and it surely wasn’t magical facecloths or aprons, it was God and God alone. When we witness miracles being performed, that should be the first thing we look for. Who is claiming to be doing the miracle? Who is getting the credit, the glory and the attention? If it isn’t God, then it is a lie.
It is so sad to know that there are many people around the world that claim to be doing miracles based upon their own “anointed” powers. Please don’t get taken by these sad actors. I know that God performs miracles all the time, however make no mistake, it is God’s work and for God’s glory alone. He sometimes elects to use agents like Paul in our verses today to amazing things. As the church was just getting started, I believe God gave a special anointing to these disciples so as to get peoples attention and thus to grow the early churches.
The New Testament proves out that Paul was being used as an instrument of God to carry out many “extraordinary miracles”, and this next verse is quite unique in that it says that even Paul’s “facecloths or aprons” were being used as a catalyst for healing people and casting out demons. In scripture there are only a few instances where inanimate objects are used for carrying out God’s miracles. You might think this is a bit strange, and it is. Something akin to what you might see a televangelist do. And it makes me furious when I see organizations target especially elderly people for the purpose of getting them to send money. I recall my wife’s dearly departed aunt Beula got such a letter once, and they attempted to pressure her into sending money. That is until I contacted them directly and got it all stopped. These fake endeavors are generally from “religious” crooks that pray on the frailest of people in the name of Jesus, and that makes me so mad. I can hardly believe people would carry on in such a way. God please protect our loved ones from such greedy and evil schemes.
Having said that, and now looking at our verses here, they actually took Paul’s facecloths or aprons to the people and healed them. My Bible says it happened, and I believe my Bible to be God breathed, “Inspired and Infallible” and thus I really believe that it did happen as it says it did. Now you might know that there are other objects that are mentioned in the New Testament regarding healing that come to mind. Peter’s shadow is mentioned; Jesus’s garment when the lady touched it; the pool of Bethesda where the lame man was healed; and the mud Jesus put on the blind man’s eyes is another. Yes, many times Jesus healed people, with or without using objects in the process. Healings and exorcisms are real, they did take place. Our God can do anything that He wills to do. Amen?
So the question is, were Paul’s facecloths or aprons somehow anointed with holy power because they touched the Apostle Paul’s skin? I think not. Instead let me give you an alternative explanation to consider. I believe that it was really the people’s faith in Jesus Christ Himself that healed them that day, not the objects.
Faith is a very powerful thing. As Jesus was serving the people during His 3 ½ year ministry, over and over again, He would tell them “your Faith has healed you”, “your Faith has healed you”, “your Faith has healed you”. Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood, and He told her “your Faith has healed you”. He also healed the ten lepers (Luke 17) and a blind beggar (Luke 18), and then He said, “your Faith has healed you”. Even the sorrowful prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, He told her, “Your faith has saved you”.
When Jesus said this, what He was implying is that their faith (their confidence in Him) had been the means of their healing or restoration. The power of Christ was what effected the cure, but His power was applied in connection with their faith.
So it wasn’t the facecloths or aprons directly, and it wasn’t even Paul that really effected their healing. Instead it was their faith in Jesus, as it was imparted through Paul, that they were all healed. I believe in healings, I have seen them myself, but we must be careful though not to be duped by evils schemes as well.
So please, as you are growing in your faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and then you see “evangelists” selling miraculous healing objects, please do not partake. Instead maybe get angry at the notion that crooks may be taking advantage of people’s ignorance. That is called righteous indignation by the way. Remember Jesus Himself got angry at the marketers and money changers that were taking advantage of people. God want’s you to stand-up and protect folks against such evil schemes. We have got to be looking after one another, Amen?
13 Now some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists also attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this.
“itinerant Jewish exorcists”. I had to look up the word itinerant here. I found the synonyms for itinerant is traveling, roving, wondering. So these traveling Jewish exorcists were going around trying to mimic or copy Paul’s miracles. They probably heard of what he was doing, maybe even saw Paul doing miracles and decided they would jump on the bandwagon. Notice this says they “attempted” to exorcize the demons, or rid people of demons as a service. This reminds me of the traveling roofing teams that show up after large hail storms. They were attempting to take advantage of the excitement that Paul started because of his healings. They even tried to use Paul’s name to execute their schemes, thinking that that might work. “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” they said. They may not have known but they were really playing with fire. You should never even horse around with demonic things brothers and sisters. Satan and his demons are real and should never be taken lightly. The “Seven sons of Sceva” learned a valuable lesson that day. Our verse 14 continues:
15 The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul—but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.
That had to be an amazingly scary event. It sounds like something you might see on a Halloween scary-night thriller movie. I probably would have been running away long before the evil spirit had a chance to move. I have before ran across people who I think were demon possessed, if not just mentally unstable or crazy. And I got to tell you it is a scary proposition. In this verse, the demon possessed guy overpowered the seven sons and somehow beat them all up and tore off their clothes. How crazy is that. I would bet they never played around with evil spirits or demons again. Talk about eating humble pie. Please know that evil spirits, demons and satan are real brothers and sisters, and never take them for granted.
17 When this became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, they became afraid, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high esteem. 18 And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, 19 while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 In this way the word of the Lord flourished and prevailed.
This must have been an amazingly convincing event. People who didn’t even witness these events were coming forward and confessing their demonic practices, and they were even burning their valuable magic scrolls or books. This says the books were worth of Fifty-thousand pieces of silver, which is about $5.5 million dollars today. That is a lot of books, and I love old valuable books. You might think they would instead try to sell them, but they must have been so scared to the bone that they didn’t want to be even affiliated with propagating their demonic magical practices, in fear for their lives.
As a result, this says that the name of the Lord Jesus was now held in high esteem, and many were becoming believers. It is sad that the Ephesians had to go through such evil turmoil to get them to finally recognize the majesty of Jesus Christ and turn from their wicked ways. What do you think it would it take today, for people to turn to Jesus Christ and hold His name in high esteem? Sad to say but I think for many today it might take even more turmoil than what these Ephesians then had experienced. Satan has a strong hold on his prisoners.
We can learn several things from the account of the seven sons of Sceva. First, demons are dangerously powerful spirit beings—much stronger than we know or think we know about such things. Second, demons really do recognize valid authority, and they fear God. The fact that they knew of Paul but they questioned “who are you?” to the seven sons of Sceva is chilling. Probably the greatest mistake they made that day was that the failed to realize that Paul was not doing the exorcisms. Jesus Christ was doing it Himself through Paul, and it was only successful because of the peoples’ faith. Faith in Jesus is the key ladies and gentlemen. Faith is the key to healing, Faith is the key to exorcizing evil spirits, and Faith is the only way that anyone can enter into heaven.
Question: What does the Bible say about faith?”
Answer: Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” Perhaps no other component of the Christian life is more important than faith. We cannot purchase it, sell it or give it to our friends. So what role does faith play in the Christian life? The dictionary defines faith as the “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.” It also defines faith as the “belief in and devotion to God.” The Bible has much more to say about faith and how important it is. In fact, it is so important that, without faith, we have really no place with God, and without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Where does faith come from? Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, and it isn’t something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His holy plan and purpose, and because of that, our God gets all the glory.
God designed a way to distinguish between those who belong to Him and those who don’t, and it is called faith. According to the Bible, faith is essential to Christianity. Without demonstrating true faith and trust in God, we have no place with Him. Sure, our faith can falter at times, God provides times of trial and testing in order to prove that our faith is real and to sharpen and strengthen it. This is why James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3).
1 Peter 1:8-9 says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
We have to have faith brothers and sisters. This world we live in is tough, so tough. Evil spirits and deceivers are all about us, and faith is the only real solution. Again, God doesn’t want you to check your brain at the door, but He wants you to resolve to have the faith of a child. Put your trust in Jesus, and His Amazing Grace today.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation
Let us sing: Amazing Grace.. “A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”