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What a Mighty God We Serve!

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1. He can drive out every disease (vs. 8-12). -Miracles come from God's power -Miracles are God's prerogative 2. He can expose His enemies (vs. 13-16). 3. He can transform everyone who turns to Jesus (vs. 16-20). -What happens when people turn their lives over to Jesus? [1] His name will be magnified. [2] His disciples will be multiplied. [3] Our lives will be purified.

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What a Mighty God We Serve!

The Book of Acts - Part 68

Acts 19:8-20

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Revised July 21, 2018

BACKGROUND:

*Remember that here in Acts 19, Paul was on his third missionary journey. His team was reaching many people in the city of Ephesus. They saw the Hand of God at work in miraculous ways, and this reminds us that our God is the Mighty God! Let's get started by reading Acts 19:8-20.

INTRODUCTION:

*What a mighty God we serve! He is the "Almighty God." This is the "El Shaddai" name for God that is found 48 times in the Old Testament. (Variations of this "Almighty God" name are also found 9 times in the New Testament.)

The "El" part of this name speaks of the Lord's strength. "Shaddai" tells us that the Lord is "most powerful." And the root word for "Shaddai" carries the ideas of burly power with the ability to devastate and destroy His enemies. Our God is "The Mighty God!"

*The LORD first revealed this name to Abraham in Genesis 17:1-2, and there the New Century Version says:

1. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty. Obey me and do what is right.

2. I will make an agreement between us, and I will make you the ancestor of many people.”

*Rick Stacy explained, "Let me fill you in a little about Abraham. Here was a man of great faith. He worshiped the one God – El. This he did in a world that had as many gods as they had tent pegs. And they lived in tents.

*God made a covenant with Abraham. A holy promise that he would bless Abraham with a son and from that son would come so very much. Great numbers of children would come. Great nations would be built. Great Kings would be born and rule. But most of all there would be one through whom all the families of the world would be blessed and saved. From Abraham would come the great Messiah and the King of Kings.

*Now Abraham was 99 years old, and God promised him that he would have more children than the sand on the beach or stars in the universe. That was a little tough to accept at face value, not just for Abraham but also for Sarah. In fact, when Sarah heard this news she laughed! (1)

*But our God is the Mighty God! And in Genesis 18:14, He made it clear that nothing is too hard for Him! Tonight's Scripture helps us understand just how mighty He is.

1. First our Mighty God can drive out every disease.

*Verses 8-12 confirm this great truth for us, where Paul:

8. . . went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.

9. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

10. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

11. Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul,

12. so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

[1] Wow! -- Those were amazing miracles, but notice it wasn't Paul's power. It was God's power.

*In vs. 11, "GOD worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul." Any victories we will ever have must come from God Himself. They will never come through our own virtue or abilities. As Jesus said in John 15:5, "Without Me you can do nothing."

*But all things are possible with God. He has just as much power today as He ever did. And what power He has! As vs. 12 says, "The diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them."

*John Phillips explained: "Such was the effect of the handkerchiefs and aprons Paul wore as he worked to make tents. No need to go to a doctor, no need to enter the hospital. Sicknesses of all kinds were simply healed. Coughs and cancer, angina, arthritis and appendicitis, toothaches and tummy aches, lupus and leprosy, mumps and measles, dropsy, diphtheria, or deliriums -- it made no difference. The diseases departed and that was that." (2)

[2] We can absolutely depend on God's power, and we must. It must be His power. But it also is His prerogative.

*It's God's exclusive right to choose how He will act in any given situation. Notice that vs. 11 says God worked "unusual" or "special" miracles by the hands of Paul. Why does he call them "special," "unusual," or "extraordinary miracles?"

*One reason why is because this kind of miracle would not be something the Lord would do in a common or casual way, even if we wanted Him to. God is infinitely wise, and it's His prerogative how and when to do these amazing things.

*John Phillips pointed out that one reason for these special miracles was to confirm that Paul was truly an Apostle. And that must be why the Book of Acts contains so many parallels between Paul and the Apostle Peter.

*For instance, Luke records in detail Peter's first sermon, and he records in detail Paul's first sermon. He names Peter's first Gentile convert, Cornelius the centurion, and he names Paul's first Gentile convert, Sergius Paulus, governor of the island of Cyprus.

*He shows how both men went to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. He tells how both healed a lame man. Luke recounts how both were imprisoned and miraculously released. He tells how both were visited by an angel.

*He shows how Peter was led by a vision to open the door of the church to the Gentiles. And how Paul was led by a vision to open the door of the European continent to the church. Luke tells how both men were once worshipped by some Gentiles and how they reacted. He tells how both were beaten.

*He records some of Peter's miracles, and he records some of Paul's miracles. He tells of the miraculous influence of Peter's shadow and of Paul's handkerchief. He records how Peter raised Dorcas from the dead, and how Paul raised Eutychus from the dead. (3)

*There are many other parallels. And we can see why Luke and the Lord would want to confirm the Apostleship of Paul. For example, Paul was not one of the original 12. As Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 15:8-9:

8. Then last of all He (i.e. Jesus) was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

9. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

*On top of that, the Lord knew that Paul would author at least 13 and possibly 14 of the 27 books in the New Testament. For this same reason, the Lord also led Peter to confirm the writings of Paul.

*In 2 Peter 3:14-16, God's Word says:

14. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;

15. and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

16. as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

*There are probably many other good reasons why God worked special miracles through the Apostle Paul. But God's power is His prerogative, and we can certainly trust in both His power and His prerogative.

*All good things are possible with our Mighty God! He always has been, and He always will be a miracle working God! On December 10th, 2008, I was waiting at St. Francis while Mrs. Jesse Williams was having back surgery.

*Her husband Tom and daughter Sue began to talk about their years in Ruston, where they went to Southside Baptist. The conversation turned to a terrible wreck involving the pastor and his wife. A delivery truck had run a stop sign and smashed into the side of the pastor's car. It killed a friend riding with them, and seriously injured both the preacher and his wife.

*Her pelvic area was completely crushed, but the people of the church began to pray, and God worked a miracle. In one x-ray the ball of her hip-joint was shattered. But in the very next x-ray, it had all come together whole.

*Of course, God doesn't always heal people. If He did, Heaven would be a pretty empty place. And Christians, this world is not our home. But God did work a miracle for that pastor's wife.

*Sue said, "It was the first miracle I had ever seen." And that thought blessed my heart, because it reminded me that more miracles are on the way: Physical miracles, and infinitely more important spiritual miracles. Miracles of salvation and lives being changed. The Lord is still in the miracle working business today, because all good things are possible with Him!

2. Our Mighty God can drive out every disease. He can also expose His enemies.

*One of the most helpful things God does in this Scripture is pull back the curtain to let us see how our invisible enemies work. That's what the Lord did in vs. 13-16, and it's very important to us because His enemies are also our enemies.

13. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.''

14. Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.

15. And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?''

16. Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

*A.T. Robertson tells us that these Jewish exorcists traveled around from place to place like some modern fortune-tellers do today. They were especially addicted to practices with spells of sorcery connected with the name of Solomon.

*They heard what Paul said about the name of Jesus and treated Paul's words as a magic charm or spell to drive the evil spirits out, with some pretty devastating results." (4)

*There are a lot of important lessons here about our invisible enemy. One is that we must not take the devil lightly. The occult is not something to play around with. Spiritual warfare is not something to take lightly, and the name of Jesus is not a lucky charm.

*On top of that is the fact that our enemy is diligent: He is always busy trying to do all the harm he can in our world. He is determined. He doesn't give up easily. He is deceptive. No doubt those seven sons of Sceva thought they were going to prevail. They were sadly deceived about the things of God.

*Our enemy is also destructive. Those men were wounded badly. And our enemy is a double-crosser. Satan always double-crosses his followers. The sons of Sceva found this out in a very painful way.

*The best news here is that our enemy is defeated! In vs. 15, the evil spirit said, "Jesus I know." Oh yes, they knew Him well, so James 2:19 tells us that "the demons believe and tremble!"

*In these verses, our Mighty God exposed both the evil spirits and the false healers. All good things are possible with God!

3. He can drive out every disease. He can expose His enemies. And He can transform everyone who turns to Him.

*God Almighty wants everyone to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ. This is the heart and soul of our mission as a church. Turning your life over to Jesus is the most important thing anyone can do. And we see this happening in vs. 16-20.

16. Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

17. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

18. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.

19. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.

20. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

[1] What happens when people turn their lives over to Jesus? -- First, His name will be magnified.

*After those false healers were exposed as helpless against the devil, vs. 17 says, "This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified."

*Magnify the Lord! That's what King David urged us to do in Psalms 34:3, when he said: "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together."

*Magnify the Lord! That's the Virgin Mary did when she went to see her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1. There in vs. 39-50, God's Word says:

39. Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah,

40. and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.

41. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

43. But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44. For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.''

46. And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord,

47. and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

49. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

50. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation."

*God wants all people to magnify the Lord, and that's what will happen when people turn their lives over to Jesus.

[2] His name will be magnified. -- And His disciples will be multiplied:

*So vs. 18 says: "Many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds." Many had believed. They had trusted in the Lord, and what He did on the cross for us! They were saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

[3] When we turn our lives over to Jesus, His name will be magnified, His disciples will be multiplied, and our lives will be purified.

*We can see this happening in vs. 18-19:

18. Many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.

19. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.

*Elmer Towns said, "The total value of the books destroyed was 50,000 pieces of silver, with each silver piece probably worth a day's wage. Based on a 6-day workweek, those books were worth 160 years of labor!" (5)

*New believers were making a clean break with their past. And it cost them, but they didn't care, because they found something much better in Jesus!

*When people turn their lives over to Jesus, His name will be magnified, His disciples will be multiplied, their lives will be purified, and in vs. 20, there was a great result: "The word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

CONCLUSION:

*That's the kind of victory God wants His Church to have today! And we can have it because we serve the El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty!

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "God Almighty Series" by Rick Stacy - Genesis 17:1-2; Ruth 1:20-21 - 11172003

(2) Adapted from EXPLORING ACTS by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Power over disease - Acts 19:12b

(3) Adapted from EXPLORING ACTS by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - "Special confirmation - Acts 19:6-7

(4) Adapted from WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas Robertson - Act 19:13

(5) THE TEN GREATEST REVIVALS EVER - FROM PENTECOST TO THE PRESENT by Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter - Servant Publications Ann Arbor, Michigan - Copyright 2000

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