Summary: Biblical Christianity is superior to magic and superstition. Yet we need to rout our superstition in our own lives, too. Biblical faith has no room for superstition.
Superstition or Faith?
1. I think it is bad luck to believe in superstition. That’s a joke.
“The number 13, black cats, breaking mirrors, or walking under ladders, may all be things you actively avoid – if you’re anything like the 25% of people in the US who consider themselves superstitious.
“…Superstition also explains why many buildings do not have a 13th floor … some airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa, do not have a 13th row. Lufthansa also has no 17th row – because in some countries – such as Italy and Brazil – the typical unlucky number is 17…
2. In contrast to superstition, Biblical faith is grounded in God’s Word; it is a historical faith, based upon what God has done and revealed in real space and time. It is God’s revelation, to be interpreted as objectively as it can be.
4. The Bible can be used superstitiously by ignoring the intent of a verse and making it apply to whatever you want it to apply to. Like the man who wanted God’s will….and Judas… the Bible is an inspired book, not a magic book (Contemplative Prayer)…
5. Crosses are supposed to drive away vampires, holy water repel demons, and on and on…
Main Idea: Biblical Christianity is superior to magic and superstition.
I. God Made EXTRAORDINARY Miracles Available to Counter the MAGIC of Ephesus (11-12)
“In Bible history, you will find three special periods of miracles: (1) the time of Moses; (2) the time of Elijah and Elisha; and (30 the time of Jesus and the apostles. Each period was less than 100 years.” (Be Daring, pp. 74-75)
A. God was behind these UNUSUAL miracles (11).
1. We need to review the difference between description and prescription.
2. Although Jesus and the apostles worked many miracles, this was a short period of unique ones… even by those standards…
3. Even when common, not a carte blanch. Even Jesus didn't have the handkerchief thing going. Sometimes He healed all (Matthew 4:23), a few (Mark 6:5). He never waived over a multitude to heal them all, but saw them one by one.
4. Resurrections: so rare that pointed out in great detail. The many who "sleep" in I Corinthians 15:6 were neither healed nor raised. Even in the apostolic era, miracles were exceptions, many for purposes of validation, although some mercy-driven.
5. All of this will drive the consistency police crazy!
B. Paul’s ability to work miracles were part of his CREDENTIALS as an apostle.
1. One gal gave this sad testimony: “Today, I purposely set my phone off in class to make it seem like I had friends.”
2. It is sad that she felt like she had no friends. So she faked her social credentials. There are few fields quite like ministry when it comes to drawing fakes.
3. For some people, ministry is a way to feel important, like you have a special corner on God that other believers do not have. As a result, always fake apostles around.
4. 2 Corinthians 12:12, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.”
5. When Christianity was new, false teachers waited at gate. God ordained the apostles to lay foundation of church (Eph. 2:20), their time spent w/ Jesus & miracles provided a sign of credibility. In Paul’s case, the miracles were especially needed.
C. The idea here is that God’s POWER trumped pagan magic.
“…Ephesus was indeed the magic capitol of Asia Minor…” Ben Witherington III, Acts, p. 576.
Only instance of handkerchiefs and other items being used for healing.
Question: God works miracles according to His will, often in answer to prayer. Do we see miracles of this caliber? Not here, not now. More miracles where the Gospel is new.
II. The FAILURE of Unbelievers MECHANICALLY Using the Name of Jesus Proved Jesus’ Superiority (13-17).
A. There is power in the Name of Jesus – for the BELIEVER!
My fellow Christian, you may sense Satan bothering you. It is appropriate to command Satan to leave in the Name of Jesus Christ. And he will.
B. The humiliation of the Jewish exorcists EXALTED the Name of Jesus.
1. This is a humorous event
2. They saw Christian leaders successfully exorcising people.
3. The Bible makes a distinction between sickness, epilepsy, and demonization.
Matthew 4:24, So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them.
4. Demonization is generally highest where occult practice is highest.
III. The Believers Truly REPENTED of All Vestiges of OCCULT Practice (18-20).
A. These were NEW believers.
B. They made a clean BREAK with their occult practices.