Summary: In Ephesus some born again Christians come clean and make a complete break with their past.
Series: Acts: We’re on a Mission from God
Message: Coming Clean
Dr. Bobby Brewer
Text: Acts 19:11-20
Big Idea: It’s always a costly thing to turn from your past. Friendships, dating, sales, finances, etc. may seem to initially suffer as a result. The temptation is to hold on to some of your old ways. To follow Jesus mostly, but not completely. In Ephesus some born again Christians come clean and make a complete break with their past. As a result, we’re told, “the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” The same is true today. Making a complete break from sin results in a more powerful work of God in your life that you wont regret.
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
Wait a minute…what? That’s odd. What just happened.
Fans will spend an incredible amount of money to own things owned by favorite celebrities.
-A stick of gum once chewed by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons sold on eBay for $247,710.28
-An outfit that Olivia Newton John wore in Grease sold for $405k.
-A dress of Marilyn Monroe sold for $1.2M
-A Dodge Charger from Dukes of Hazzard, and owned by the actor John Schneider sold for $9M.
So, people will pay a lot of money to have some connection to a celebrity.
In Paul’s case it’s similar and yet different. People are taking items, i.e., a hand kerchief which functionally would be similar to a bandana or head band. An apron was an outer garment similar to what a barista wears in that it was both functional and designed as an outer garment to protect your clothes.
Paul is associated with Jesus and these personal items are associated as the next best thing to having Paul in person. The Ephesians are taking these sweatbands/headbands and aprons from Paul to the sick and a remarkable thing happens…people are getting healed and exorcised from demons.
Televangelist Scams. Unfortunately, there have been a number of scams taking advantage of those who are desperate and hopeful. Frauds falsely claim that by making a donation they’ll send you a special prayer cloth from which you’ll be healed and become rich. There are some groups today who only focus on seeing and experiencing miracles…all the time. They become spiritual thrill seekers. In some cases, they end up chasing the experience or thrill more than chasing after the Holy Spirit Himself.
Descriptive vs Prescriptive.
Without doubt, miracles do still happen today. But just remember that this particular instance is descriptive and not prescriptive. Prescriptive means that like a medical prescription it’s something you should do and you’re also told how to do so. Descriptive is simply describing what happened, i.e., this is how it went down. Although God can of course do what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants, this event in Ephesus is descriptive.
The key is in v.11 “God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul”
ESV: God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul
KJV: special miracles
NKJV/NLT: unusual miracles
Extraordinary means extra ordinary, i.e., it’s not the norm. Unusual means that this isn’t the normal way that God does things.
There are amazing things happening in Ephesus. There’s a buzz. Jesus has become the talk of the town and unusual extraordinary things are taking place.
So, what’s going on…
Whereas Corinth was somewhat the Las Vegas of its day, Ephesus could be described as a cosmopolitan version of Sedona, Arizona. For those of you who are new to the Valley of the Sun, Sedona is a beautiful town that has the unfortunate reputation of also being the New Age capital of the world. In addition to psychics and palm readers, its downtown is filled with shops where you can purchase fortune telling cards, new age books and crystals. You can take “spirit” tours and many believe that Bell Rock is a vortex, a doorway into another dimension. Aside from Roswell, it’s also a popular destination and location for those who are enamored and intrigued with UFOs and extraterrestrials. That’s Sedona. Ephesus was similar but actually on a much larger scale.
Jesus was the first missionary and God speaks to people way that they recognize.
God speaks to people in ways in which they’ll understand, He speaks their language.
These extraordinary miracles are speaking to the Ephesians in a way that gets their attention.
-Native Americans. A number of my native American friends as well as some of the missionaries we support tell stories of how Jesus shows up in their dreams. It’s a way that makes sense to them.