Summary: In the providence of God the gospel moves westward into the center of the morally decaying Roman empire. It is not possible to even allude to every revival included in the Bible. But the turning of Paul to evangelize the west instead of the east is so i
ACTS 19: 1-20
REVIVAL AMONGST RELIGIOUS PEOPLE
It is not possible to even allude to every revival included in the Bible. But the turning of Paul to evangelize the west instead of the east is so important to us today that it should be mentioned. Paul and his second missionary journey team evangelized through what is now called Turkey until they came to its NW border just south of the Black Sea (16:6-7). As they tried to press on the route that would have taken the gospel into the modern republics of Russia and then into the Far East Scripture records that “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to go there” (16:7b). They therefore turned west to Troas. While there Paul had a night vision of a man in Greece standing and begging him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9).
Had it not been for that vision, history would have been much different today. No doubt, missionaries would have come from the East to evangelize the West, instead of the reverse pattern that has occurred since the days of Paul. The church would have been strongest in the Far East, not the West. The spiritual leadership of the world would have first come from Russia, China, India, Persia, and Japan. Indeed, America might have been discovered from the other side (i.e., the West Coast area of California, Oregon, and Washington), not the East Coast. [Walter Kaiser. Revive Us Again. B & H Publishing. 1999. p 220]
But in the providence of God the gospel moves westward into the center of the morally decaying Roman empire. Paul moves to Philippi, (where there was not even a synagogue which required only ten Jewish men to established) to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth and then back to Ephesus in Asia Minor before he returns to his home church in Antioch.
On his third missionary journey He preaches through the region of Asia Minor till he reaches Ephesus where he spends nearly three years while the churches in Greece strengthen themselves sufficiently for God to send him back there to reap a great harvest. This time in Ephesus is where we want to look today.
There were three corrections of understanding that brought revival to Ephesus.
I. THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE VERSES THE BAPTISM OF HOLY SPIRIT FIRE, 1-7.
II. ENTERING THE OPEN DOOR NOT THE CLOSED DOOR, 8-10.
III. EXCHANGING THE ARTIFICIAL FOR THE AUTHENTIC, 11-20.
Upon Paul’s arrival in Ephesus he found a group of disciples studying O.T. Scriptures. These followers only know what John had taught about Jesus as the Messiah. Despite their imperfect knowledge, they believe what they knew and had repented of their sins and had been baptized but they did not have the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was based on “repentance from” evil rather than on faith in the finished work of Christ. These disciples did not know the meaning of the cross and the resurrection nor of the gift of Pentecost. They undoubtably had heard of the cross and the resurrection but mental assent alone does not save. These Ephesians needed not only to turn from sin they need to transfer their trust from anything they could do or have done (to merit salvation) to what Jesus did for them on the cross. When they did this “the Holy Spirit came upon” them (v.6). and there was tangible affirmation of change.
Many people today “believe” also and are attempting to live a good honest life, but their life is not yet empowered by God. They have turned from sin, have heard of Christ, His cross and His resurrection and believe the events occurred, but they have never transferred their faith, their reason for living, from trusting in this life to trusting in what Christ did for them on the cross. Some were not ready, others have never heard a clear explanation of what is necessary for salvation. They too need to transfer their reason for living from themselves to Christ and they also will find the gift of the Holy Spirit coming to indwelling them.
After these placed their faith in Jesus alone and were baptized they became a N.T. Church. The initial church at Ephesus, now totaled twelve Gentile men.
II. ENTERING THE OPEN DOOR, NOT THE CLOSED DOOR, 8-10.
After converting the disciples of John the Baptist, according to Paul’s usual pattern he began preaching boldly in the synagogue, after three months of such preaching they became obstinate so Paul turns to the Gentiles again. He went to the lecture hall where Tyrannus taught philosophy or rhetoric. Such halls were used in the morning for teaching philosophy, but they were empty during the hot part of the day (about 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Because many people did not work during those hours, they would come to hear Paul’s preaching.