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The Impact of Jesus' Name

Date: Jun. 15, 2014

Author: Bob Henkins

Acts 19:1-22

Key Verse: Acts 19:5

“…the name of the Lord Jesus.”

A friend of mine when he entered college had high hopes that his life would make an impact on the world, that somehow he would make a difference and be remembered for his achievements. This got me to thinking, what kind of legacy will be left behind when I leave this world? How will I be remembered? If we’re lucky, maybe we’re remembered positively. When Michael Jordan was playing basketball, people in Chicago loved him, but outside of Chicago people thought that he was a complainer. They thought he would whine about something until he got his way. But now, twenty years later people think of him as possibly the greatest play that ever lived. [But then there is the matter of his personal life] Maybe we could be remembered for our intellect that led to a great discovery such as Alfred Nobel who discovered dynamite. However in 1888 when his brother Ludvig died, several newspapers published obituaries of Alfred by mistake. One of them in France said, “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (“The merchant of death is dead”) Horrified at this, he didn’t want to be remembered that way, Alfred Nobel created the Nobel peace prize. What about you, after you’ve left this world, how will you be remembered? Even with great human achievements people’s lives, our names, last but an instant the timeline of life. However there is one name that has changed the world forever. There is one name that is above ever other name, that is Jesus. And through today’s passage we’ll see the impact of Jesus’ name. (Baptized in Jesus’ name, Preaching in Jesus’ name, misuse of Jesus’ name and honoring Jesus’ name)

Take a look at verses 1-7. “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 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.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 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.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.” In the first part of this passage when Paul gets to Ephesus he runs into twelve men whom he calls disciples. Which is great except for one thing. The problem surrounding these men was similar to that of Apollos when he first came to Ephesus (Acts 18:25, 26). In that case, it was Priscilla and Aquila who took him under their wing and instructed him in the way of the Lord. They taught him he about Jesus. And that’s what is going on here. These men don’t really know Jesus because they haven’t been baptized by the Holy Spirit. But this brings up some questions, how could they be called disciples, essentially Christians, and not know Jesus or have been baptized by the Holy Spirit? Is that even possible? Who here has heard about D. L. Moody? We have the Moody church, radio and Moody Bible Institute all founded after the late great Moody. Let me read to you what Moody’s son wrote about him.

“The year 1871 was a critical one in Mr. Moody's career. He realized more and more how little he was fired by personal acquirements for his work. An intense hunger and thirst for spiritual power were aroused in him by two women who used to attend the meetings and sit on the front seat. He could see by the expression on their faces that they were praying. At the close of services they would say to him: “We have been praying for you.” “Why don't you pray for the people?” Mr. Moody would ask. “Because you need the power of the Spirit,” they would say. “I need the power! Why,” said Mr. Moody, in relating the incident years after, “I thought I had power. I had the largest congregations in Chicago, and there were many conversions. I was in a sense satisfied. But right along those two godly women kept praying for me, and their earnest talk about anointing for special service set me to thinking. I asked them to come and talk with me, and they poured out their hearts in prayer that I might receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. There came a great hunger into my soul. I did not know what it was. I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.”

Then the book tells of the great Chicago fire, of D. L. Moody's relief work, the building of the north side tabernacle, and of his visiting in the East to secure funds for his work. Then the narrative continues: During this Eastern visit the hunger for more spiritual power was still upon Mr. Moody. “My heart was not in the work of begging,” he said. “I could not appeal. I was crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world -- it would be as the small dust of the balance.” Notice in the above account, in the words of D. L. Moody himself, that while he had great joy in the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him in power, yet the principal result was:. “The sermons were not different: I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted.” D. L. Moody himself made much of this doctrine that Christians should be filled with the Holy Spirit, or baptized with the Holy Spirit, as he himself often put it.”

Later in his life, D. L. Moody wrote this in an article, “In some sense, and to some extent, the Holy Spirit dwells with every believer; but there is another gift, which may be called the gift of the Holy Spirit for service. This gift, it strikes me, is entirely distinct and separate from conversion and assurance. God has a great many children that have no power, and the reason is, they have not the gift of the Holy Ghost for service. God doesn't seem to work with them, and I believe it is because they have not sought this gift.

In the opening of the eleventh chapter of Luke we find the disciples asking Christ to teach them how to pray. After doing so he goes on to explain it, and in the ninth, tenth, and thirteenth verses says: “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth .... If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him!”

Now the lesson to be learned from this is, that we must pray for the Holy Spirit for service; pray that we may be anointed and qualified to do the work that God has for us to do. I believe that Elisha was a child of God before Elijah met him; but he was not qualified for the work of a prophet until the spirit of Elijah came upon him. We have to ask for this blessing, to knock for it, to seek for it, and find out why it does not come. If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we have some hidden sin, God is not going to give us the baptism of power. We are not as “an empty vessel”; we are not ready to receive the blessing, and so it doesn't come.”

And so it was with these 12 men in Ephesus, when Paul prayed for them, and baptized them in the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon them in power just as it had during Pentecost and they were given the gift of tongues and prophecy. “Tongues” is the ability to praise God in a foreign language. (Acts 2). “Prophesying” is the supernatural gift of explaining the scriptures and predicting future. Here we see the power of the name of Jesus to bring the Holy Spirit and unite these men as a team for the glory and good work of God.

“Now let’s take a look at verses 8-12. “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 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. 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.” From this passage we see the power of Paul’s preaching in the name of Jesus. As was Paul’s pattern, whenever he came to a new city he went to the Jews first in their synagogue. He taught them about Jesus who is the promised Messiah. And it seems the Paul had pretty good success here because he went every Saturday for 3 months. Usually they kicked him out before this. They began to attack “the way”. This is what Christians were known as before they were Christians. “The way” comes from John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is through Jesus that we can know our Father God. (And since it’s Father’s Day today we can honor our heavenly Father) In that passage Jesus reveals the authority of his name. He says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

However they refused to believe. This is what is known as “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”, that Jesus spoke about (Matthew 12:31). If someone denies Jesus long enough, their heart “hardens” to a point where they can’t believe and unfortunately this is the only unpardonable sin in the Bible. Since their hearts became so hard, there wasn’t anything else left for Paul to do. So he left them. To me this is a scary thought. If we continue to harden our heart so hard, eventually Jesus will leave us alone. He’s not going to force himself upon us. But when he leaves us, that’s it he’s gone. PLEASE, I IMPLORE YOU, DON’T HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AGAINST JESUS!!

Thankfully the story doesn’t end there, actually it this is the beginning because moves his daily discussions to a public lecture hall called Tyrannus. [makes me think of the T-Rex] Paul rented out the hall for 2 years and held discussions every day from 11am to 4pm. In that culture people worked mornings and evenings and took the afternoon off, similar to the Spanish siesta. Paul used that time to teach the Bible. And God used this time amazingly. Not just their community, but the whole region was impacted by Paul’s preaching in Jesus’ name. In Rev. 2 & 3, there are 7 churches mentioned. They were founded during this 2-year period. Imagine what it would be like if we had daily discussions here at IIT and the result was that big churches were founded in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa came to hear the word of God. If you notice, Paul focused his ministry on major cities, urban areas. These were the areas with the most people, because he wanted to reach the most people. It makes sense. These were the areas that gave the most influence to the surrounding areas because these are the places where the laws are made, the hubs of transportation, education and media. If you want to make an impact, we have to follow Paul’s example. That’s why our ministry focuses on college students, the future leaders of the world. And what an impact Paul had, “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.” Jesus told his disciples that if they believed, they would do even greater things than he did.

Take a look at verses 13-16. “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 the 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 Paul I know about, 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.” In this part we see the misuse of the name of Jesus. Ephesus was renowned for being a center for magical and occult practices. The practice of magic was everywhere. It was a part of the fabric of common people. This reputation was perpetuated in part by what was called the “Ephesian letters” which were really six names that were thought to have protective power to ward off evil spirits. They were like magic words. There was even a story about an Ephesian wrestler who traveled to Olympia to compete in the Olympic games. This wrestler wore an ankle bracelet with these six names on it and was undefeated at the games. But when one of his opponents discovered it and protested, the officials made him take it off. The Ephesian wrestler then lost to three consecutive defeats further adding fuel to the power of Ephesian magic. The seven sons of Sceva apparently had some success driving out demons using magic words. They also knew that Jesus’ name had power and so they thought they could add it to their tool box of magic words like the “Ephesian letters”. The more tools you have, the better oof you are, so they tried to use it like “Abracadabra”. But the problem was they didn’t know Jesus personally. They tried to drive our a demon like Paul ….. saying, “what he said,” but one day when they were using it, the demon spoke directly to them. Imagine their surprise. They would never forget that day when the demon possessed guy did his best Jason Bourne impression on them, hitting them so hard their clothes fell off. The spirit knew of Jesus and his power. And because of Jesus, he knew of Paul as well. But he didn’t know any of the seven sons. This reminds me of what Jesus told his disciples, ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mt 7) Here I want to stress the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just because we can do good things for Jesus doesn’t mean that we’ll get into heaven. It’s only when we confess Jesus as our LORD and SAVIOR and have a personal relationship with him can we be truly saved.

Even though Sceva’s sons failed still Jesus was glorified. Take a look at verses 17-20. “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 what they had done. 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.” Everyone heard about what happened to Sceva’s sons and a new respect and awe for the name of Jesus sprang up. Jesus’ name began to be held in high honor and half-hearted believers who practiced sorcery in secret came out and publicly confessed their sins. This was real repentance with restitution. People just didn’t say, “I repent,” actions accompanied their words. The got rid of what was making them sin and burned their books and scrolls which was valued at 50,000 drachmas, or days wage. The 2013 U.S. average wage is about $40K or about $770/wk about $153/day. This would add up to about $7.6 million dollars in today’s standard. These people didn’t go out and steal someone elses items, they gave their own items. This means they focused on their own sins, not pointing out other people’s sins. At this point we have to ask ourselves, do we have anything in our lives right now that we need to repent of and get out of our lives? DO you have anything hidden that you don’t’ think anyone else knows about? God knows about it. It’s time to confess our sins to one another as the Bible says and turn from our sinful ways. When we do, when we take that risk, God uses it for his glory and others put their trust in Jesus.

In today’s passage, we learn about the power of Jesus’ name and the impact that it has upon our world and those living in it. If you want to make a positive lasting impact in the world, we need Jesus in our heart. Not the fake, self centered, arrogant type of Christianity, but real, repentant, God fearing, people loving sincere belief in Christ. Then God can use us for his good purpose and do amazing things through us. I pray that God may richly bless you.

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