Summary: Thesis: Preaching the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit will affect our culture more than preaching against sins.
Introduction: There is no doubt that our culture is in danger. I'm not speaking of just Anglo or Hispanic. I mean that our culture is becoming more chaotic and dangerous.
Leaders disagree as to the best way to preserve society. The world's answer is to pass more laws, build more prisons, and have more educational and rehabilitation programs. We have more laws and more prisons than ever before. We have more schools and educational programs than probably any nation on earth, yet crime increases, drug and alcohol abuse continue to destroy families, and teenage pregnancy continues. False religions and dangerous cults flourish.
Christ has called the church as salt and light to have an impact on its society. We have tried many methods without much success. Paul made a tremendous impact on the culture of Ephesus. His method of impacting His culture was simple.
I. Paul Impacted His Culture by Preaching the Word (v. 10-12)
1. Paul's teaching pattern:
a) Three months preaching about the kingdom in the synagogue.
b) He moved to the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
i) He taught daily from about 11 a.m. -- 4 p.m.
ii) He made tents in the morning to support himself.
c) He continued for two years until everyone in Asia Minor had heard the Word.
2. God validated Paul's teaching through miracles.
a) The miracles proved the power of God.
b) They showed that Paul had the same status as Peter (similar things happened to Peter in Acts 5)
3. The Power to save was in the preaching and teaching.
a) We love to hear about the "visible" miracles
i) Healings, exorcism of demons, etc.
ii) These affect only the physical realm.
b) We do not stand in awe of the "spiritual" miracles.
i) These are invisible.
ii) This is the salvation of the soul.
iii) The body can be clean, healthy, well fed and demon free while the person is on his way to hell.
(Wiersbe p. 481) Three periods of miracles in the Bible: (1) The time of Moses, (2) Elijah and Elisha, (3) Jesus and the apostles. Each period lasted less than 100 years. The total number of miracles for all three periods is less than 100.
Three purposes for Christ's miracles: (1) to show His compassion and meet human need, (2) to teach a spiritual truth, (3) to present His credentials as Messiah.
1. We feel like "miracles" would have an impact on our culture and society.
2. The greatest miracles we need are the spiritual miracles of transformed lives.
3. This transformation comes about as the gospel changes people's lives.
II. Paul's Enemies Recognized the Spiritual Power of the Name of Jesus (vv. 13-16)
1. People highly regarded Jewish people as exorcists because they could properly pronounce the name "Yahweh."
2. Certain itinerant exorcists tried to add Jesus' name to their "bag of tricks" as a magic charm.
a) Sceva's seven sons had no personal relationship to Christ -- "In the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches."
b) The demon gained strength from the improper use of Jesus' name.
3. Satan tries to imitate and counterfeit whatever God does.
a) He sought to discredit the name of Jesus.
b) He used false leaders to try miracles.
c) Paul demonstrated God's Power in the middle of an occult center.
d) Satan imitates because he knows that unbelievers cannot tell the difference.
4. If this exorcism had succeeded, apart from a personal relationship to Christ, it would have reduced the name of Jesus to a magic charm.
The culture in which we live recognizes the name of Jesus Christ and the cross as religious symbols. The cross graces our neck and adorns our church buildings. People use Jesus' name carelessly and as a spell to ward off evil. Few of these, however, recognize Him as God and Savior.
1. Accepting Jesus as Lord means rejecting all other religious claims in your life. He does not become a part of your pantheon of other idols.
2. His name is powerful, but it is "not magic itself to cure people" (BBC 112).
3. Second hand faith is dangerous. You cannot survive on your parents' faith or your wife's faith. You need a personal relationship with Christ.
III. The Powerful Demonstration of the Gospel Impacted the Culture (vv. 17-20)
1. What happened to Sceva's sons became known throughout Ephesus.
2. Great fear fell upon all the people and Christ's name was exalted in front of the people.
a) Those who believed joined the believers and openly confessed their sins.
b) Those who had engaged in the occult brought all their scrolls together and burned them.
i) They finally made the break from sin because the Lord had dealt with them