Springboarding from Acts 19

Last Sunday we heard an inspiring, insightful and sobering teaching based on Acts 19.

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all. 8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. — Acts 19:1-10

What was the point of the messenger at Grace church here in Detroit? The point was the work of the Holy Spirit, which leads to group repentance and to the name of the Lord Jesus being held in high honor. The messenger gave a good overview of how the Spirit works. He mentioned the key times the Spirit worked significantly in Scripture. He mentioned how several things in Acts 19, especially the verses after verse 10, make all of us uncomfortable, but that is okay. The Spirit works to bring us out of our comfort zone. His request to us is to stop resisting the Spirit and start seeking the Spirit. He mentioned how he believed the Spirit would do great work this fall, but that no one knows what that would look like. He planted an expectation and a hope to submit to the Spirit’s leading.

I was prompted to make this post on my blog when I noticed a UBF message on Acts 19 that was given recently at the dedication of a new Bible house in Venezuela (Merdia). What was the point of the UBF message?

On Aug. 21 at 11 am, we had the inauguration ceremony with 12 people. M. Juan delivered a powerful message titled, “The work of God in Tyrannus,” based on Acts 19:1-10. From this message, we could receive much grace of God and the clear direction to establish our house church like a Bible center where disciples of Jesus will be raised up through Bible study. In his message, M. Juan focused on the importance of one person who repents of his sins and how God works through him.

The UBF messenger found a verse in the Bible that mentioned daily discussions in a lecture hall. Then he springboarded into talking about one person who repents and how to establish a Bible house to have Bible studies for college students. This somehow planted vision in those listening to raise up many disciples of Jesus through Bible study.

Perhaps the UBF messenger should have kept reading the next verses in Acts 19 to see how God’s word actually spread widely and grew in power. Those who use Scripture to springboard into some sort of idealism are in danger of becoming like the seven sons of Sceva.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. — Acts 19:11-20

“Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

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