Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 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.In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
In the previous post, we looked at the early Church and learned that they were an evangelistic Church. By evangelistic, we mean that evangelism to them was (1) A Continuous Program Of The Church, (2) their Consuming Passion, and (3) the Christ-Centered Preaching Of The Word Of God.
In other words, evangelism to the early Church is a Lifestyle. It was the major goal of their life – to be an influencer for Jesus and call others to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. What we see in the Bible is that the more we preach and teach and share the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ, the more we become strong in our walk of faith with the Lord.
In this post, we will wrap up this series on “How to Strengthen Your Faith” by looking at the subject of Personal Consecration. I believe that the lives whom God has used powerfully are those who willingly and consciously consecrated their lives before Him.
So, I submit to you that if we are to strengthen our faith, we need to consecrate our life before the Lord.
As we look at chapter 19 of the Book of Acts, we will find here Paul enjoying a very fruitful ministry in Ephesus, a major city in Greece. After staying for two years there, Paul was able to saturate the area with the teachings of the Word of God. In fact, the Lord used Paul to perform supernatural and extraordinary miracles, to the point that Paul’s handkerchief and apron were used by others to heal the sick and drive out evil or demonic spirits (vv. 10-12). Some tried to imitate Paul but they were exposed by the Lord and this caused the people (unbelievers) to fear and revere the Name of the Lord; and the Church was regarded in high honor.
Let me now submit to you, that the Ephesian Church grew strong because they were able to break free from their personal or individual bondages or strongholds. Consider the following important insights in the passage…
A. The Cause Of The Church’s Consecration
The first observation that I want to show you is the cause of the church’s consecration. The Lord revealed His presence and power in the midst His people. Specifically, the Lord revealed Himself as powerful and holy.
1) The Lord revealed Himself as a powerful God (vv. 11-12). Verse 11 tells us that
“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so 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.” (Acts 19:11).
God made Himself known by doing extraordinary miracles! He made sure that the people recognized Him as a powerful or supernatural God. But not only a supernatural God but also a holy God.
2) The Lord revealed Himself as a holy God (vv. 13-17). We can see this in vv. 13-16 where some people tried to imitate what Paul and the disciples were doing; particularly, driving out evil spirits. But in one of their dealings the evil spirit told them:
“The Jesus that you say I know and the Paul that you spoke I know but who are you?”
In fact, the evil spirit not only expose them as fraud or peddlers of the Word but injure them physically. This incident were reported to the community and verse 17 tells us that
“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” (v. 17).
The moral lesson is clear: We can never mock God. God knows who are His. He is a holy God and He will expose evil and He will judge evil in due time. There’s no point of hiding our sins and wicked hearts from the Lord. He knows our hearts. This leads us to our second observation here: the crucial point of the story in verse 18.
B. The Crux Of The Church’s Consecration
I say that the crux or crucial point of the church’s consecration is their complete surrender to the Lord. Those who believed in the Lord’s message or the Gospel surrendered their life to the Lord completely as demonstrated in verse 18.
“Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19A 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.” (vv. 18-19)
1) They openly repented of their evil deeds (v. 18). Two things are noteworthy here. One is that they openly repented of their evil deeds. I remember what James taught us in James 5 when there is someone who sick or in trouble or has sinned. He exhorts us to
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (v. 16).
Confessing our sins to each other is a New Testament practice. But they not only openly confess their sinful deeds but they also publicly renounced their demonic or occult practices.
2) They publicly renounced their demonic/occult practices. Notice the value of their paraphernalia or scrolls for their sorcery or witchcraft – 50,000 dracmas or P15,000,000 pesos (P300/dailywage). This great amount of money showed the people’s bondage to secret powers and the supernatural. Even up to today, people are still fascinated and attracted with supernatural powers and dark powers.
In other words, they were delivered from their bondages. We have to consistently pursue to seek God and make this a regular part of our spiritual inventory taking. We need spiritual deliverance as well as inner healing. Many of us were exposed to superstitions as well as animistic beliefs. Being renewed and delivered from strongholds and bondages is essential for our own spiritual sake and well-being. Why is this very important? The reason is in verse 20 – the consequence of the church’s consecration.
C. The Consequence Of The Church’s Consecration
Verse 20 tells us that the church in Ephesus grew in terms of scope or coverage as well as in terms of power or influence.
1) The Word of the Lord spread widely. The Word of the Lord spread widely. The church’s consecration resulted in the expansion of the Gospel’s coverage. In fact, it was reported that the whole Roman world at that time heard the Gospel. The Gospel has gone to all known places at that time.
2) The Word of the Lord grew powerfully. Secondly, the Word of the Lord grew powerfully. It means that many people are coming to the Lord believing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This also means that those who believed are transformed by the Word of the Lord. People are changing their character, attitude, and lifestyle. The church was enjoying a high regard with the people and the Name of the Lord was respected and honored.
Therefore, a major key to a strong and a victorious faith is a consecrated life. If we, corporately as a church or individually as a believer, are to experience growth and power in our walk with the Lord, then , this is the time to consecrate our heart even our life to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now is the time to be strong! Now is the time to be holy!
This message was delivered by Dr. Valentino Natcher at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati, Philippines last February 7, 2010.