BIBLE STUDY LESSON # 20...February, 21 , 2010
“Jesus I Know, Paul I Know, But Who Are You!"
Acts 19: 11 - 15...Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 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. 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 exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
As I prayed about this weeks study I already knew in my heart the way that the Lord was leading me but I had drawn a big mental block and I was stuck in neutral. My first thought of a lesson title was “Where Has All The Power Gone”? The power I am speaking of is the power of God. For a long time now I have read and studied the scriptures and was in awe of the power of God and how he worked through many of his servants that we read about. When I would compare that awesome power to the power that the Church today is walking around in, there is no comparison. We talk about God’s great power but we see little evidence of it. I hear many Christians today saying things like, “This is the way it was done in the early Church and that is why we do thus & so”. Even though I agree that we should be following and getting back to the examples of the early Church leaders that we have gotten away from, I still find myself wondering, “Where Has All The Power Gone”? Does God do things different today? Has God’s power diminished over the past two thousand years? Has God just abandoned us? I think we can all agree that the answer to all of these questions is NO! Here is Scripture proof…
Hebrews 13: 8...Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Ok, now that we have established that Jesus never changes, that he is the same today as he was in the early Church and since the beginning of time, we have to ask ourselves the question…Who Changed? If his power is not as evident today as it was back then, why not? If we agree that God’s power and the way he operates has not changed then that only leaves one other option…It is the vessels in which he worked his power through that has changed! You know, the best way for me to wake up in the morning is a strong hot cup of coffee. Today, I pray that a strong hard slap in the face of truth will wake us up from the slumber that is preventing the power of God from being used the way he wants it to be used.
As I pondered over this question of “Why Is God’s Power Not The Same As It Was In The Book Of Acts”, I started reading the above scripture and verse 15 rang out like it never had before to me. “Jesus I Know, Paul I Know, But Who Are You”! Let’s go over Acts 19: 11 -15 so my point can be made…
God had been doing many miracles through and by the hands of Paul. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul’s body were even brought to the sick and diseases were healed and evil spirits cast out by them. Then some Jews who went around casting out evil spirits liked what they saw as the power of God worked through Paul. So they said, Hey, let’s copy what he is doing and saying and we will have this same power. So they said, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul Preaches, I command you to come out”! That is when the evil spirit spoke and said, “Jesus I Know, Paul I Know, But Who Are You”! This is what happened next…
Acts 19: 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.
These men found out that by using the name of Jesus alone was not enough to possess the power of God that was moving through Paul and other true believers such as Peter, John & Phillip. I believe that one of the reasons the Church today does not display this same power that the early Church did is because we are trying to do the same thing these Jewish exorcist’s were doing. Instead of truly possessing the power that God wants to show through us, we instead are riding on the coat tails of those that possessed that power before us. These Jewish exorcists did not want to commit totally to God to possess his power, instead they wanted to take the shortcut. There are no shortcuts to God my friends. I believe the “Church” today is leading a defeated life in Christ because of our lack of commitment to seek out the true power that God has available to us. Just like these Jewish exorcists, we are overpowered by the evil around us instead of overpowering that evil with the power of God.
What kind of power are you talking about Tim? Well, I’m glad you asked, let’s see what kind of power that Jesus said we would have, or should have…
John 14: 12...“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Acts 1: 8...But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Now for a quick recap of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and the things he did. Keep in mind that Jesus said that we would be able to do greater works than him. Jesus came out boldly against sin, did many signs and wonders, fed four and five thousand with a few loaves and fishes, healed the sick and raised the dead. Now the question is, did the early Church equal or exceed the works that Jesus did? Let’s find out…
Acts 3: 1 - 10...Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Notice one thing here in this verse, as John and Peter passed by this man who had been lame since birth, the lame man wasn’t looking to be healed. He was a beggar who sat at the Temple gate every day and sustained himself by the generosity of others. I hear it said many times over that our Faith to be healed is a determining factor in the way God heals us, but this mans faith had nothing to do with the healing he received. He reached out his hand towards John and Peter expecting to receive money. Peter then said, “ Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”. Notice Peter didn’t start quoting healing scripture to the man, slap him on the head or even start screaming for those evil spirits to come out! In a calm but bold voice he simply spoke the healing power of Jesus Christ into this man and with no fanfare at all, the man was healed. Much different from the “Power I see at work today in the Church”. We like to think God needs us to help him with his healing power when in fact nothing could be farther from the truth. When we insert ourselves as a “necessary medium”, we diminish God’s power because all of that glory that would come from a healing, goes to us instead of him. You who claim to have been given the gift of healing, try walking in and speaking the power of God, then I will believe.
Acts 9: 32 - 35...Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Notice once again, Peter did not try to bring attention to himself during this healing but brough all attention to Jesus Christ. “And Peter said, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you, arise and make your bed”. The result of that statement was…”So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord”. You see, it wasn’t just about healing a lamed man, it was a miracle being done in front of them so that they would believe. Because Peter announced, “Jesus the Christ heals you”, the people knew that it wasn’t Peter doing the healing it was Jesus. The people didn’t fall down, worship or turn to Peter, they turned to the Lord. Far cry from the “Preacher Worship” that comes from the so called healings of today. Today’s healings require a twenty thousand seat auditorium, bright lights, t. v. cameras, love offerings and hero worship for the “Healing Man”. Why are these “Healing Ministry Preachers” not walking in to a Children’s Hospital, A nursing home or Cancer ward to use their gifts? Why does a circus atmosphere need to be created for the power of God to come alive and be used? Peter didn’t seek recognition, fame and fortune or even take a love offering. But he was walking in the true power of the living God, not a proxy power.
Acts 14: 8 - 10...And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.
Now in this case a mans faith to be healed played a big role in him being healed. “Paul, observing him intently and seeing he had faith to be healed”. But once again, there was no laying on of Paul’s hands that made this healing possible. The mans faith and the “Spoken word” was all that it took. Something very interesting happened after the man was healed though…Let’s read on…
Acts 14: 11 - 18...Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.
In all of the excitement and astonishment of the cripple mans healing, the crowd started giving Paul and Barnabas all of the credit even going as far as calling them God’s. “ The God’s have come down to us in the likeness of men”! They even tagged them with the names of God’s and brought oxen to the gates of their temple to do sacrifices to them. Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and ran in just in time to stop them proclaiming that they too were just men. In many of these healing Ministries of today, not only do they not rush into the crowd to stop them from giving them undue praise, but they welcome it with open arms, I mean, who’s going to give an ordinary “Man of God” millions of dollars to play with.
Acts 16: 16 - 18...Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.
Once again the “Spoken word of God” was all that it took for this spirit to be driven out of this possessed girl. Paul didn’t tremble and shake while yelling “Come out you evil spirit”! A simple but bold command was all that it took. He didn’t dance around the stage drawing attention to himself, he simply had had enough of this spirit interrupting the work that God was trying to do and he commanded it to stop and leave. No slapping on the head and yelling at the spirit, just a bold command as he Walked in the true power of God.
Acts 8: 9 - 13...But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Here is yet another example of the power of God that was being manifested in the lives of those in the early Church. Philip was preaching the word of God and many miracles and signs were being done through his ministry. The result of this “power of God” was that many who were unsaved, were saved and they followed after the power, not the man. Even Simon the sorcerer realized that his power was nothing compared to the power that worked through Philip, he was then Baptized and followed. Where are the signs and wonders today? If the power of God that brought about these signs and wonders back then were happening today, you would surly be seeing it on CNN and other news outlets. If the lame were truly being healed and the dead were being raised, nothing would be able to silence such wonders and miracles. Speaking of raising the dead, we know that Jesus raised the dead but did the Apostles? Let’s read…
Acts 9: 36 - 43...At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.
Acts 6: 8 - 10...And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.
Now to me, this is what the true “Power of God” is all about and more importantly what is missing in the “Power” we claim to walk in today. First we see that Steven was full of faith and power and he did great signs and wonders among the people. How do we know that Steven wasn’t preaching in his own power? I love this…”And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke”. When someone is walking in the “True Wisdom and Power of God”, the hearers are not able to resist it. I don’t know about you but I can turn on Christian programming and Ministries on T.V. and I find myself resisting on a constant basis. The power of God is not working through these men and women like it was in the early Church. They are simple men teaching simple man made or false doctrines that have the Godly power of a gnat. When you get the time, please read all of Acts chapter seven and see the power that Steven displayed right up until the time he was stoned. WOW, giving your life up for the Gospel, what a concept.
Now, since we all know of the signs and wonders that Jesus did in the four Gospels and we now have a very good Idea of the works of the early Church, let’s compare them for a moment. So when Jesus said this…
John 14: 12......“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Did the “Church” equal or surpass the works that Jesus did? They boldly proclaimed the Gospel and spoke out against sin. Many signs and wonders were done, the lame were healed and even the dead were raised. Many were saved as a result of the works that God did through them. So I think we have to say yes, Jesus knew that their works would equal his works and they did. But, Jesus also said that they would do “Greater Works” than him…So did they? Well, I am of the belief that nothing we could ever do could ever surpass that of the Son of God. I think what Jesus meant by that was that his Ministry was a mere 3 ˝ years and our Ministries and that of the apostles would cover a much longer time span. I mean Jesus died in what we recognize as 33 AD and John didn’t write the books of John, 1st , 2nd , and 3rd John and Revelation until between 85 - 95 AD. So John’s Ministry lasted for more than sixty years after the death of Christ. The Church on a whole has had over 2000 years to exceed the works that Christ accomplished in just 3 ˝. We also must remember that the Ministry of Christ itself was limited only to the Children or tribes of Israel and not to the Gentiles whereas our Ministry ( The Church ) is to the whole world.
Now as I compare the works, signs, wonders, miracles and power of Jesus’ Ministry and that of the early Church to the Church today, I see no resemblance at all. Here is the Power that we are walking around with today. When a “Man of God” supposedly gets a word from God to share with the people, the first thing he does it write a book and sells it. These “Ministers” tell us that God has given them this life changing message that we all must hear and for $29.95, you can hear that word. I guess those of us that are poor are just out of luck. Can you imagine Paul, Peter or John after writing down what God had told them to write then coming out to the people like the Ephesians and telling them, “Here is the word of God for you Brothers, and for ten sheckles and two turtle doves from each of you, I will share this word with you? We have turned God’s Church into a business or a dog and pony show at best. Everything we do now happens in the confines of the four walls of the Church. If you’ll notice in almost every scripture above in the book of Acts, the works of the Apostles were being done out amongst the unbelievers. In almost every instance given of signs and wonders being done in the early Church, people turned to the Lord in droves. Do you see that happening today and if you do, what signs and wonders proceeded it? Have you ever witnessed someone who was crippled from birth jump up and run around after a man of God just spoke the word? I haven’t. As I said above, why aren’t these “healers” today walking into cancer centers or Children’s hospitals or nursing homes and healing the really sick? Why do they need the trickery and illusion of television for their healing power to come alive? I think 20/20 and sixty minutes has exposed many of these so called healers as frauds haven’t they? But we keep following them shouting their praises and adulation and keep pouring money into their ministries until they have enough to build their third mansion. When did the word of God become a piece of merchandise to be bought and sold for redemptions worth? When did we the Church become so blind that we can’t even recognize the wolves that clamor after our souls and pocketbooks? When was the last time that you saw a Minister of God walking around in such Godly power that through his ministry someone was raised from the dead? But Tim…God does not raise people from the dead today nor are we supposed to try! Really? When Jesus sent the twelve disciples out on their first solo mission this was the command that he gave them…
Matthew 10: 1 & 7 & 8...
1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
7 & 8...And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
So we are commanded to raise the dead. Through Jesus and the Apostles the dead were raised. Where has all the power gone today? The power we are walking around in is so weak, we can’t even raise a ruckus let alone raise the dead. Do you see a resemblance between the early Church and the Church today? I sure don’t! If I am missing something please, someone point out the error of my way, but keep in mind I want proof not just another fairy tale story.
As I pointed out earlier, I hear Christians claiming that they are living and following after the example of the early Church. Even though I see little evidence of that, I want to point out something that took place in the early Church that I’m sure most Christians would balk at if the Church of today moved in that direction. Let me introduce you to such a crazy tradition by giving you the scripture first…
Acts 2: 42 - 47...And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Acts 4: 32 - 37...Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
See what I mean? Can you imagine this outlandish idea being put before the Church of today who has fell in love with the world and with money? You know, I have been listening for thirty five years or so, on and off to many, many messages from the pulpit and have never heard this subject broached. You see, in the early Church everyone sold their possessions and put the money in the kitty. Everyone had everything in common. The rich could not assert their power over the poor because they were all equal. The rich could not feast on pheasant while the poor man lived on grub soup. Nobody lacked for anything because everything was sold and distributed to everyone as they had need. They were all equal and of one mind and that goal was to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine such a “heresy” creeping into your Church? God forbid we have to give up our worldly possessions to better serve God. Do I think that this change could ever occur in our Churches today? No I do not! I do think it would put us on the right track to finding that missing power today’s Churches lack. Evil is not afraid of us, Demons tremble, but only when laughing themselves silly at the pathetic power in which we approach them. Do Demons run when you arrive, or do they look at you and say…Jesus I know, Paul I know, But Who Are You?
If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, pray with me wherever you are. Pray with a sincere heart and God will reach down from heaven, forgive your sins and give you new life….Lets pray…
Father God, I come to you in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place on the cross. I know I am not worthy, but I ask you today to forgive me of my sins (confess your sins to him now) and give me a new heart. I make Jesus the Lord of my life from this day and forward. Teach me how to love the God way, so I can love others. Teach me your Word and show me the purpose you have for my life. Thank you for forgiving me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray…Amen
If you prayed that simple prayer with a sincere heart, your eternal destiny has been decided. God tells us that he takes that sin and casts it as far as the east is to the west. So forget the past and press on in your new walk with Christ. Remember that this is only the first step to Eternal Salvation. You now need to study God’s word, live your life for him and let your good works in Christ testify to the world of the new creature you have become. Now go shout your new found faith to the world as confession of Jesus Christ is part of your salvation. If you need help, or need a Bible, please contact me through the group…Tim
Please go to our group page and leave your comments and thoughts. Click the discussion tab, find this lesson or any topic for that matter, then post your thoughts. I’d like to encourage each of you to get more involved in the group discussions…I would also like to once again encourage each of you to write out your testimonies and send them either to my FB inbox or my email address... TBarrett8@carolina.rr.com
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