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Acts 19:1-20

The Impact of Revival

  • Jean Marais
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • July 02, 2023

We see in chapter 19 that the message and the power of God can bring transformation to whole cities and regions.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Impact of Revival
Acts 19:1-20
July 2, 2023

As we get to Acts 18 and 19, we find Paul going from Athens to Corinth where he spends a great deal of time teaching the word of God. God tells him to ‘not to be afraid any longer but to go on speaking and not be silent, for I am with you.’

This  implies that some fear might’ve crept into Paul’s life. Up to now, Paul has known much adversity. Almost every time he shares the gospel he gets into trouble.

But God encourages him, telling him not to be afraid promising that in the city no man will attack him. So, he stays there another 18 months teaching the word of God. Some accusations are brought against him, but God is true to his word and no harm comes to him.

After this, he returned to Antioch where he remained for a while, and then set off on his third missionary journey which takes him to Ephesus.

These two cities, Corinth, which he was ministering in, and Ephesus, were very large cities. We pick up from his letters to the church of Corinth and, to some degree Ephesus, that there were a lot of perverse and worldly things prevalent in these cities with debauchery, idol worship, and even temple prostitution.

The question is, how can the church be born and survive in such a cultural climate? The answer is that this is exactly where the church should be. The light shines the brightest in the darkness.

The truth is that the things of this world do not satisfy but dry out the soul and make it thirstier for real life. There is no real lasting satisfaction in worldly things, as it slowly kills the soul. Only a living relationship with God can fully satisfy.

What we do see when we get to chapter 19 is that the message and the power of God can bring transformation to whole cities and regions. We will see how God powerfully moves through Paul by his teaching the word of God and God performing miracles through his hands.

Many studies on this section focus on the miracles and signs. Are these still applicable today? Where should our focus be?

We are also living in dark times where society has become perverse, so there is much we can take from this study and apply it to our lives. I believe that we can live naturally supernatural lives and that God wants to stir revival. This means living by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to such an extent that it becomes our ‘natural’ way of living, not living by the dictates of the flesh, but of the Spirit of God.

This, however, only comes from living in and from a personal relationship with God.

I. Receive the Fulness of The Gospel

When Paul arrives in Ephesus, he meets some disciples. Now they are possibly people who were taught of Jesus by Apollos. Apollos was a disciple of John the Baptist, and as such he was teaching Jesus as the Messiah, but without the full knowledge of the gospel which he later hears from Priscilla and Aquila more clearly.

So Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit, but they say that they’d never even heard of the Holy Spirit. He then explains to them the full gospel of Christ and that Jesus said that He would send his Holy Spirit to teach them all things.

They were then baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, which would mean the way that Jesus taught them to baptize people: in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

After this, he laid hands on them and prayed for them, and they received the Holy Spirit and started prophesying and speaking in tongues.

A. Receive the Holy Spirit

  • We need to realize that we do not just follow a dead religion, but that we are in a living intimate relationship with God. This is made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

  • We received the Holy Spirit the moment that we put our faith and trust in Jesus and are born again. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. These men that Paul met were already believers in Jesus Christ. Yet, there was a moment when they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  • We discussed this in length when we studied Acts 1 and 2, but it’s important to reiterate that Jesus said that streams of living water would flow from our innermost being.
  • If water baptism gives us a picture of being saturated and being immersed in water, water being above, underneath, and all around us, then this is a great picture of the surrender that we should have to the Holy Spirit which is also called baptism in the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit should be saturating our lives, us being led, supported, empowered, moved, and directed by the Holy Spirit.
  •  It is important to cultivate a consciousness of the fact that the Holy Spirit is living within us. In the busyness of life, we sometimes forget it.

Romans 8:11, But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

  • This is a fact and not based on feelings. It is based on trusting God’s word. I have heard many people say that it doesn’t feel like the Holy Spirit is living in them. The just shall not live by feeling but by faith. We trust what God said and He cannot lie. That settles it.

Illus. Let’s say someone gives you a house. You move in, but you have this feeling that it is not your house. Even the title deed is signed over to you, but you still feel it is not yours. You have all these fearful thoughts. What if this person takes it back? What if I am out on the street with nowhere to go? No matter how many times this person tells you that it is secured by contract, put in your name, and no one can take it from you, you still live in anxiety and fear.

  • Most people will say this is ridiculous. Of course one will believe it when the contract is signed and ratified by the authorities. All that’s left would be to be very joyful and thankful for this amazing gift.
  • The promise that we have of salvation and the promise of God’s presence living in us through His Spirit is much surer. It is ratified by a new covenant through the blood of Jesus by a Judge that cannot lie, God the Father. Your feelings don’t change the truth. All that is left is to be joyful and thankful for this amazing undeserved gift.

Illus. In this illustration though, you can choose not to believe it, set up a tent in the backyard, and never enjoy the blessing of the gift you received.

  • It is the same with the Holy Spirit. He wants to lead, support, strengthen, etc. but if you ignore Him and never receive, or even worse resist Him, you will never experience the blessing of His presence. He will not force Himself on you.
  • You need to surrender to the Holy Spirit to fill and flood your life.

Illus. Just like water, you can drink some water and the water will be in you, but when you are baptized in the water, the water holds you. You surrender control to be taken where the water takes you.

Illus. Ezekiel 47 gives us a picture of surrendering to the Holy Spirit…

Romans 8:14, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

B. Be Available to be used

  • The Holy Spirit is not ‘something’ to experience to make me feel warm and fuzzy. I have heard many people say, for example, the worship was so wonderful today. We could feel the Spirit of God in the place. That is great, but some can get so focused on the feeling that they want to use the Holy Spirit as a feel-good quick fix.
  • Although we sometimes experience wonderful times of joy, peace, and love when the Holy Spirit moves over our souls, it should not be the main objective. The Holy Spirit has two primary objectives in our lives.
  • First is character transformation.

Galatians 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

  • Secondly, He empowers us to be effective in ministry, impacting those around us.

Acts 1:8, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

  • We are not to be reservoirs that need to be filled so that we can have a great time having a spiritual ‘swim in the lake’ of our fullness. No, we are to be conduits for the Spirit of God to flow through, work through and impact others.

John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 

  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit are received to edify and build up the church, making us effective in what we are doing.

1 Corinthians 14:12, So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

  • Verse 10 -We see this active in Paul’s life. His focus was to, by the power of the Holy Spirit, teach and instruct people in the word. He continued this for two years in Ephesus. To such an extent that ALL who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews, and Greeks.
  • Think about this for a moment. That was quite an area to cover. And without television, radio, or the internet. The news of the gospel was spreading, and I believe not just through Paul’s teaching, but through those who came to faith in Christ through his teaching. This is the impact of revival.

II. Pursue God

  • One of the traps people fall into is that they start pursuing miracles and gifts, instead of pursuing God. We must set up guard rails and keep the main thing the main thing.
  • Paul even says this when we look at 1 Corinthians 12-14 which deals with the gifts. Let me show you a more excellent way…Love.

A. Live from Relationship

  • Our focus should be on our personal relationship with God, growing into the image of Christ, being strengthened in our faith as we grow through the word, being available to be used by God.
  • People sometimes lose focus and start to chase the ‘hand of God’, in other words, what He can DO for you, instead of pursuing the ‘heart of God’, growing in an intimate relationship with Him.
  • It is in these types of scenarios that the gifts and power of God are applied out of context which can result in manipulation and sensationalism.
  • Verse 11 – we find these extraordinary miracles God was performing at the hands of Paul. First of all, the focus is on GOD performing these miracles, not Paul. God was touching people through Paul as an instrument.
  • It was not Paul’s power to wield as he pleased because he was not the source of the power. It was God.
  • We then read that handkerchiefs were even carried from Paul’s body to the sick. The diseases left them, and evil spirits went out.
  • These are quite peculiar and spectacular miracles. We cannot limit God and he can do mighty things beyond what we can explain or understand.
  • What I do not read though, is that Paul started the handkerchief ministry and marketed it to the people; exchanging their idols for handkerchiefs.
  • It might have been something that started by ‘accident’, someone taking a handkerchief from Paul’s workshop as he was busy, and then getting home, a sick relative might’ve used the same handkerchief and was healed. Just like when a dead body was ‘by accident’ thrown on the bones of Elisha and the dead person came to life.
  • These were such incredible miracles that Luke could’ve spent multiple chapters discussing these miracles if it was the point, but it is played down by being noted only in two verses.
  • The point of it being mentioned we find from verse 13 onwards. It was mentioned to show the contrast between Paul and those who were trying to use the name of Jesus as a ‘magical spell’ without being in a relationship with God and knowing God’s heart; the seven sons of Sceva.
  • The city was a city with many superstitions and occult practices. There were many using magical spells as a source of income, so this probably is what the seven sons were doing as well.
  • I love this telling response from the demon out of the man: “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”  I am sure he knew who they were, but what he was saying is that he recognizes Jesus and the authority of Paul in the name of Jesus, but who do you think
  • The sons of Sceva are then beaten by the possessed person, fleeing as he tears the clothes off their bodies.
  • Reading this can stir fear, but it should not in a child of God. If the Spirit of God is living inside of you, then greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. In the name of Jesus, every enemy must flee.
  • In fact, we need to realize that the fullness of God’s power and holiness is living inside of us. No evil can exist or come near the holiness of God.
  • That being said, one cannot exercise authority over the enemy if there is an area in your life where you have surrendered authority to him. That is why the Bible teaches us…

James 4:7-8, Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 

  • I am not talking about temptation, because that we will always have. In the temptation we need to submit to God and his truth, and then we can resist the devil and he will flee from us.
  • If one, however, willingly resists the Spirit of God, choosing to live a life surrendered to the enemy you have no authority over him.
  • The point the story is trying to make is that it is all about relationship. God was using Paul in this way to draw people into relationship with Him. The miracles and the signs and the wonders were not Paul’s focus, as all his writings to the churches testify.
  • Our focus should be to keep growing in a deeper intimate relationship with God and growing in our faith. We should then be available for God to use us as He pleases, but it should not be the focus.
  • Even if He never uses us like He used Paul, it should still be fine. Many who chase after these things do it with the wrong motives.
  • We must remember that it is God’s power that He distributes to whomever He pleases for His purposes.

B. Lay down what hinders

  • Verse 17 – the result of what happened to the seven sons of Sceva was that what happened became known to all. Great fear fell on everyone who lived in Ephesus, and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was magnified.
  • Once again, it was not Paul’s name that was magnified, but the name of Jesus Christ.
  • Many who believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing all their evil practices. Many brought books of magic and began burning them. Even the idol merchants grew very angry because the gospel had a devastating effect on their sales.
  • Revival has the effect that one wants to purge your life from that which hinders you from a deeper relationship with God. These people did not just pack away their magic books in case they might need them later in life. They burned it, breaking with it completely.
  • Understanding the spiritual realm, they knew that you could not have allegiance to two powers. One you will hate, and one you will love, as Jesus also said about God and Mammon. They also understood that it is futile to be allegiance to a vastly inferior power compared to the power of Jesus Christ. It was a no-brainer.
  • I believe that God is also calling all of us, no matter where we are in our spiritual walk, ever deeper into a deeper relationship with Him and devotion to Him. To lay down the things that are hindering, hungering for revival.
  • We can all sense and see this world growing darker. Not only the physical, but we can sense demonic oppression in the spiritual realm. Even those dark things that used to be done in the darkness and on the fringes, like the occult, spiritism, and Satanism are now openly practiced and celebrated.

Illus – Just recently the Satanist wanted to open satanic clubs in the primary schools in Hillsboro.

  • This age we find ourselves in should not stir fear in us, as we have already established that greater is He that is in us. What it should do is shock us out of complacency.

Isaiah 59:19, When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

  • In the middle of the darkness light shines the brightest. It might look like the enemy is coming in like a flood, but God is lifting up a standard against him.
  • We must remember that the enemy has already lost. The end of time is already written. We are already more than conquerors and on the winning side.
  • But we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness in the spiritual realm, and as such, our fight is in the spirit.
  • This does not mean that we should become demon hunters, looking for devils and fighting devils everywhere. What we should do is be focused on our relationship with God, throwing off everything that is hindering, and be available for Him to use however he sees fit.

Acts 19:1-20    NASB

19 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether [a]there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized [b]in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the [c]people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in [d]Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

11 God was performing extraordinary [e]miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. 13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it [f]fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So [g]the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.


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