Paul Finishes His Work in Greece and Asia Minor

Dallas Willard Part 10 of 10

A study of the book of Acts for a Sunday School class at the church where Dallas Willard and Richard Foster met. Expositions of Acts 15:36-20:38


Dallas:  Today, we very briefly are going to look at some things and in more detail look at some other things, which happened in the last two journeys, which Paul made into Asia Minor and into Greece. Your lesson starts out with the closing part of the 15th chapter of the book of Acts but I am not going to attempt to deal with all of the things which occur in these chapters simply because I can’t. If you will take your outline and study it through very carefully this week, then you will have some kind of a guide as you go through these chapters. I am not going to deal with all of these things but will pick out just two or three of the instances of a sort that I want to concentrate on. [00:53]

As we look at the book of Acts, we are seeing the people who were disciples of Christ as they move into empowerment by the Spirit of Christ and then as they go across the face of the earth preaching Good News.  And we’ve observed the affect that that word had on various people and the changes, which came into their lives, and certainly this effect is not always one, which was necessarily good because the responses, which were given to the Word, were sometimes a response of hatred, a response of bitterness, or persecution. That’s always the case—it was the case then and it will be the case now.

In fact, everywhere Paul goes, you will see that dividing of a people into two classes—those who will hear, those who will see and those who will not and again, that is still with us today. When we go out to speak the word, we must always remember that it is God who is working in that Word and that He is bringing people out and others, for whatever reasons are stiffening themselves, hardening themselves, resisting Him and you should never be discouraged by that. We should never be discouraged or disheartened by that negative response. One of the things which happens when someone finally decides or sees or feels like they’ve got some good news which they are gonna share is they go to someone and the fellow pulls the plug on them. All the air goes out of their balloon because they don’t get the positive response, which they thought they ought to get. No! No, no! You go and you share the truth that you have—true to your experiences, whoever it is; you simply give it to them. Your own walk is to be in the power of His spirit, not just for that particular purpose of witnessing but for [taping disconnected and this phrase was not audible] in God. Now, whatever response they have, God will be glorified if you do it in that way—whatever response it is. [3:09]

Paul had gone across Asia Minor preaching, or across the main part of it and in his second journey, he goes with Silas. Barnabas and he had had a little spat and apparently it was a pretty serious argument. They decided that they shouldn’t work together anymore and so Barnabas chose John Mark over whom they’d had the fight, and sailed off to Cypress and other points unknown. Paul chose Silas and took out to visit the churches in Galatia and Colossae where he had been before on the first missionary journey.

Now, they went through those same cities in central Asia Minor and they moved on towards the west and as they go along, you find that Paul feels impelled not to preach the Gospel in Asia. You remember that Asia is not what we today think of Asia but its sort of the southeastern point of what we today call Asia Minor. [4:11]

One of the main cities there was Ephesus. He’s going to return to that later and have a tremendous ministry there but for the time being, he feels impelled to go elsewhere. So he goes northward. He tries to go eastward back into Bithynia, back by the Black Sea but there somehow he feels resistance so he turns to the west and slightly to the south and winds up down in Troy on the coast of the Aegean. At this point there he is stopping, praying—see, many of the places Paul went through, he didn’t minister in. Many of them he just went through; he traveled through or he came and he was with brothers and he stayed but he didn’t go out and minister. It seems that this was the case of what was happening at Troy and at night, he had a vision of men of Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us” and he followed this vision and this is the first journey. [5:12]

I want to talk briefly about what happened when he got there because I love this story of what happened at Philippi. I love it not just because of the earthquake and all that sort of thing. That’s wonderful, but I think it’s just marvelous to watch the simple way in which Paul went about preaching the Gospel.

Now, Philippi appears to have been a town in which there was no synagogue. That didn’t slow Paul down for a moment. He knew that wherever he went, there were going to be people reaching out after God and so he would take that place that they were reaching out; whatever it was and he would begin there so what was the place here? What was the place here? The 12th and 13th verse (in Acts 16), “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia . . . .”—the chief city in that part of Macedonia—“ . . . and a colony: and we were in that city.” Note the “we” here; Luke was with him now. Luke was at Troy apparently and went with him at least over into Macedonia and then perhaps into Troy.

So this is the first one of the “we” passages in Acts where Luke himself seems to have been accompanying him. “ . . . and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the Sabbath (day) we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont (accustomed) to be made . . .” There was a place of prayer and Paul went to that place of prayer; “ . . . and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.” I love this verse because it is a classic illustration of the simple beginnings of the Gospel. [7:08]

So when Paul was going about to do the work of God, he didn’t have to worry about an advertising agency or public relations or anything of the sort. He could just take the smallest, simplest beginnings and speak and God would work there. Now, he spoke at this meeting by the riverside. Prayer. We don’t know who was there.  We don’t know if they were Jews, or Gentiles or one or both. It would have to be one or the other because of the exhaustive classes but we don’t know if they were Jewish or not. It may very well have been. It may have been that this was a group of people who just simply hadn’t had time or not the money to build a synagogue and so they had started having meetings down at this place of prayer at the river. [8:05]

However that may be, there was a woman there from Thyatira, a business woman. It is important to understand this because Paul, you see, is looking for a place to base his operations in that city or we should say, God is looking for a place for Paul to base his operations and he finds this woman Lydia. Now, Lydia is from Thyatira, which is back over in Asia Minor. She is a seller of purple, isn’t that what it says? “. . . a seller of purple . . .”—that’s fine cloth, isn’t it, I guess. She was a worshipper of God and she heard of us.

Now, who opened her heart? The Lord opened her heart. Open heart surgery—here by the riverside and “ . . . she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” (Acts 16:14) This is just like watching—you ever watch on film a rosebud unfold? You know, where they take these pictures and they speed them up and you can watch the rose unfold. The mystery of God working in the soul is just like that and you can’t take your fingers and pry a rosebud open and get it folded out right. It just grows and that’s the way God works in the heart.

She attended. She just listened; that’s all. She just listened “And when she was baptized.” That’s the next line, isn’t it? “ . . .and her household . . .”—it’s not only she believed, but her attendants; the people who worked with her. Now household didn’t just mean kids; she might not even have been married but at any rate, people who were around her in the house, they too attended, they too were baptized.  “ . . .she besought them (us) saying, (see, this is the next step) if ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” (Acts 16:15) [10:29]

See, Paul had nothing. He had no contacts. He just walked into town. He began to preach the Gospel and the Lord opens hearts and the Lord opens homes and now he has a base of operation—a home, a well known business woman in the community has been converted. Her household—he’s got a place to work from. [10:57]

Now, next day; as they go to the same place of prayer where Lydia was converted, there had been a young woman who had a spirit of divination. Divination means what? Fortuneteller, right? Fortune telling? And she made money for her masters by telling fortunes. She had these guys who sort of owned her and she began to follow Paul and Silas about saying, “these are servants of the most high God.”

Well, you know, again, in our “publicity hungry” day, you might think this is the next best thing to a neon sign—advertising your wears—but Paul did not need that kind of advertising. You know the old saying, “With friends like this, who needs enemies?” And Paul didn’t need the endorsement of a local witch doctor or whatever it was in order to preach his Gospel. In fact, that endorsement would be a hindrance; he didn’t want to associate with that at all. And so, at one day, he turns around and he rebukes the spirit, which is in her and called that spirit out and she is changed. [12:29]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Oh, well. White and black are seldom totally excluded and there is no one who is totally wrong and no one who is totally right in this world.

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Oh, yes! When Satan came to Jesus, he said the right things. He said the right things; just for the wrong purpose and that’s where we get into it, you know. We have so many people who will say the right things for the wrong purpose. Just like the people when Jesus came, a common response of those people who were possessed of spirits before Him was to announce that He was the Son of the Most High God. Remember, in one case, one said, “Son of the Most High God, why do you torment me?” See, they recognize—no matter how possessed or ridden or downtrodden a person is, it’s his perceptions of many things are still about God and I think this is just the case here. [13:46]

This grieved Paul and he turned around and he commanded the spirit, In the Name of Jesus to come out of her. You know, sometime I would like to spend a whole hour or two just talking about what that was like. I mean, how these things happen. What do we suppose, you know he did when he turned around? Did he wave his hands, snap his fingers three times or what? How did he feel? What was going through his mind when he did these kinds of things because I have a feeling that we tend to assimilate this sort of act with something which Houdini or the Great Blackstone or whoever it was, the magician might do—with all the waving of hands and handkerchiefs and just what was it like for Paul to turn and command a spirit in the name of Jesus to come out of a person? Well, I hope you will think about it. As I say, I would like to some time spend a little time talking about that and comparing passage to passage and looking into our experience on the matter to see what that might have involved. The effect was that the spirit came out! [14:56]]

Now, when Paul did that, he ran up against some hard economic facts. [He laughs.] They had to close The Sports Academy. They had to go home and say, “Now what are we going to do for a living? We can’t use this poor girl anymore so what are we going to do for a living?” I imagine they weren’t happy.

Paul ran into this all the time. You remember the big riot in Ephesus later on? Over what? Well, some of the idol makers were going out of business because of Paul’s preaching and people were not buying all of these silver idols anymore. So, they decided that they’d better do something about this. This looks subversive; this is contrary to the Roman way of life—and so on and so on. Well, that’s what happens here, see—we get a trumped up charge. [15:56]

Now, the truth of the matter is their hope of gain was gone. Their hopes of gain were gone so they caught Paul and Silas and threw them into the marketplace and said, “This guy has taken away our living.” That’s not what they said, was it? They started talking another line and they are condemned in their own heart about why they are doing this so they don’t say that. They say, “. . . These men being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and they teach customs, which are not lawful for us to neither to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” (Acts 16:20&21)

See, it’s contrary to the Roman way of life. Well, that was enough to get the multitude up and they rose together against them and “ . . . the magistrates rent (took) off their clothes and commanded to beat them. . .” and threw them up into the innermost prison. Why? They don’t know. Who are they? Well, they don’t really know that either, but this sounds bad. They are against the customs. [16:53]

Do you notice that word custom? And do you remember that this was the charge against Stephen and against others? They are doing contrary to the customs—the customs and these old subtle ways of sin, which form so much of the structure of any given society are things, which lead people to kill others. It’s like in certain tribes in Africa when there are twin children born; you cannot save those lives. It’s one of the worst things you can do is to save those lives. You have to kill those children. Why? Well, because of their religious beliefs about what a person is and what a soul is. You have to kill them and many missionaries got in great trouble with some of those tribes because they tried to save those kids. Those customs are just customs and of course the customs are always so closely identified with what makes us “us” and what makes us best. That’s why we run into trouble. [18:04]

So, the customs got the multitude up and they threw them in jail and what was Paul and Silas’ response? Well, I tell you, you would think they were nuts. They don’t seem to have been the least concerned about how they were going to get out of this mess.

See, they weren’t living on their own charge. So, they didn’t have to take care of things like that and so they didn’t know how it was going to turn out. They had no idea what was going to be the upshot but I think by this time, you could count on that Paul had pretty well gotten the message that no matter what was happening, the Lord was going to bring glory out of it for His sake. No matter what was happening, He was going to bring it out. So, why not sing praises? So, prayer and praises went, didn’t it? Now, they didn’t think they were going to have to get up early in the morning and go to work so they could stay up late and pray and praise, you know? [19:21]

So, they were up praying and praising and all of the prisoners were listening. They hadn’t heard of anything like that. They had heard people come in there and cuss and kick the walls and abuse everyone in sight and do all sorts of evil things, but boy, this got their attention. [He laughs.] This really got their attention. They hadn’t hurt people. Thrown in jail, prayed and praising! Oh, I am sure they had heard the kinds of prayers, which are interspersed with curses.

You know when people get in trouble, they pray in one breath and cuss the next breath but this was interspersed with praises. Prayer and praises! Singing praises! Now, I don’t know whether Paul and Silas were much in the singing department but at least they could make themselves heard and give a joyful noise forth and after awhile, something happens. There is a great shaking takes ahold of the place somehow. The doors are opened; the bands are loosed and this scares the jailor half to death because he knows if these prisoners get loose, it’s his life for their life. So, he runs in trembling and falls down.

I would imagine you know that he had done some listening to these strange jailbirds too, wouldn’t you? That he had been sitting out there listening—maybe he didn’t want to—maybe he wanted to stop his ears up. He had been hearing this too so he was ready for the invitation and it came and he ran in and he said, “ . . . What must I do to be saved?” [21:08]

I don’t know whether he meant to be saved from my superiors for allowing this earthquake to happen or whether he meant what must I do to be saved? What must I do to have my heart right with God? But Paul doesn’t fool around with the lesser matters, he goes right to the important thing and he says, “Just ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house’ too.” [21:36]

Now, you see, he could speak that to the jailor because he had already gotten the content over in his prayers and his praises I’m sure. I’m sure the jailor didn’t say, “Well now, who is this Lord Jesus Christ?” He already knew. He had just had a four or five hour sermon in Psalms or something of this sort. But, he knew! When Paul says to him, “Just turn your life over to the Lord Jesus and you will be saved and your house,” he was ready for it.

Well, this is a wonderful story of deliverance. My main point in stressing it this morning, because I want to go on very quickly to the proceedings of the city of Ephesus for the remainder of this period—my main point in stressing it is to just call your attention to how in our lives and in our work for the Lord, God can take the smallest, most insignificant thing—a bunch of women down there at prayer—Paul goes down and speaks to the women. It all starts right there. When we are dealing with efforts, when we are considering our work or our life, we don’t want to despise these small things. [22:59]

You see, one of the things which defeats this is we want to do the big things first; and that is never God’s way. I often think that with reference to the spiritual life, people are like a person who wouldn’t take a trip because they can’t travel the last ten miles first. You just have to take the step that is in front of you and go forward trusting God and as you go along, you learn, thank God you can’t take those last ten miles first because it will tear you to pieces if you have to. You couldn’t do it. You just take the step that is in front of you and you go there—the step that is in front of you and you take that one, in faith and that’s what Paul did in his work. That’s true whether it’s building a church somewhere—a church building—or whether it’s undertaking the sort of thing that Paul had with a mission in an unknown place. That’s true. For example, you may in this community; you may feel some work that is laid upon you in this church. Just take a small step; make a small beginning and trust God. [24:14]

If you have the spirit of abandon to God, which you see here in Paul and Silas, then He will be with you, you see? That’s what He said, “I’ll be with you always, even unto the ends of the world.” And, when He’s with us, then He makes the work grow; we don’t. It isn’t us and one thing that Paul has very clearly in mind, when he turned around to rebuke that spirit in that girl was that it wasn’t his work. It wasn’t his tribe—Jesus—God was the one that does the work. It’s His work and that’s why He said, “In the name of Jesus.” [24:58]

See, Paul lived and worked on behalf of Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus Christ worked with him. Now, if Paul had been working in himself, we would see happen to him exactly what happened to the seven sons of Sceva in Ephesus, which we are going to look at in the 19th chapter. [25:19]

You remember that in that passage there, people heard about what Paul was doing and there were some Jewish exorcists—the Sons of Sceva—they decided this is a good thing. You know, we can add this on to our business and really make it zing. We’ve been clicking out spirituality all along; now, we will just use this additional little seasoning that Paul has brought to town and we will sprinkle a little of that on. So, they went into this fellow and they thought that they would try that out and they said, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, ‘Out.’” The man looks at them.  “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?” [Laughter] And it says he leaped upon them and they fled out naked and wounded. [Laughter] But, you see, these fellows weren’t in business for Jesus. They were in business for the Seven Sons of Sceva.

When Paul went, he was in business for Jesus, not for Paul and that’s why he could say, “In Jesus’ name.” That’s what it means to say, “in Jesus’ name,” because you see, the seven sons of Sceva used the name of Jesus over that guy. They used the name but too bad. That’s just empty words. The substance is the life lived on behalf of Jesus. When we pray in Jesus’ name: when we do things in Jesus’ name—what we are saying is, I’m praying this for the sake of, for the behalf of and for the cause of Christ. I am doing this for His cause, not for mine. [26:49]

One reason why many people are continually frustrated here is because they never get over this idea that we pray for ourselves for our own sake—that we work for ourselves, for our own sake. We don’t! We don’t! We work for the sake of God and for the sake of our neighbors, not for our own sake.

Now, when we do that, we are taken care of. We are taken care of. See, we don’t have to worry about ourselves. Jesus had that all settled. His teachings are very clear and he passes it on to us. We simply go forward day by day and we trust the God who sends clothes for the flowers and sends the rain upon the just and the unjust and as Paul said, “Having food and raiment (clothing), let us there with be content—food and clothing for today because you can’t eat food for tomorrow, can you? You eat food and wear clothing each day—day by day. We just take this day by day and be content. That’s all we need and the rest of it is for God—the rest of it is for our neighbors.  This is how we live in love and in the Spirit of love and we have the power of that Spirit when we do so. We build a community of believers in which, as we grow and are mulled together by the Spirit, then we begin to exhibit the gifts of the spirit and each of us individually of course are those who bear the fruits of that spirit that indwells us. [28:26]

So, as you look at your work and at your life, remember the case here of the little things that begin with a meeting down by the river and ends with an earthquake and don’t devise your own advertisement. Don’t write your own script. [28:42]

I want to move on quickly now to Ephesus and really, I am moving all the way from the second missionary journey to the third and on your—as you look at your outline, the middle of page 21, the Arabic II, Paul’s Third Missionary Journey. I am skipping some lovely things to talk about; most important I think, I will at least call your attention to is the mission to Athens on the bottom of page 20. I have here outlined the argument, which Paul gives as he went to Athens and spoke with Herm Athena, the philosophical society as I call it; and he gives an argument here.  I’ve broken this argument down to some extent. You might look at it. It’s at the bottom of page 20 and the top of page 21 of your outline. I think it’s a very interesting argument and I’m not over-passing these things because they are not interesting or important. [29:39]

I want to go now to Ephesus on the third missionary journey. You recall as I stated at the outset Paul felt on the second journey that he should not go into Asia, the named city of which is Ephesus and he went northward into Macedonia around into Corinth.

Now, as he returned to Jerusalem from Corinth, at the end of his second journey, he stopped by Ephesus with Aquila and Priscilla. Aquila and Priscilla he seems to have met at Corinth. They had a tent making business established and Paul was an old tent maker from way back. He believed in making his own living and providing for himself and giving to others and so he went into business with them sort of and he worked there in Corinth all this time as a tent maker. [30:20]

Now when he goes back, Aquila and Priscilla, for whatever reasons we don’t know accompany him to Ephesus and he stays at Ephesus just a few days, speaking in the synagogue of the Jews. They are so attracted by what he wants to say that they want him to stay on but he says, “No. I’ve got to get down to Jerusalem for the feast and I’m going to leave” and when he comes back now—we don’t know who was with him really on this second trip. He may have just been by himself. Silas sort of disappeared. We know that Timothy is still somewhere around in that part of the country—certainly, Luke is. Apparently, Luke was staying at Troy during all of this time and he rejoins Paul later on but he comes over land, through Asia Minor, again through the Galatian cities of Derbe, Lystra and those other cities of Iconium, Antioch and Pisidia—and instead of turning more for south the way he had before, he goes straight through to the coast into the town of Ephesus. [31:31]

While he had been at Antioch and Syria, this magnificent person Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, an Egyptian Jew had come to Ephesus and Apollos was preaching a “halfway” Gospel, I guess you could say. He had been very impressed with the ministry of John the Baptist, as many Jews had and he had also it seems, been impressed with the fact that John the Baptist had a sense that Jesus was the Messiah and it seems that he came into town preaching the baptism of repentance and the Messiah-ship of Jesus.

This is a very interesting verse—the 25th verse of the 18th chapter (of Acts)—“This man (Apollos) was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila . . .” Now, you may think it strange, you see if you hadn’t seen what was happening here and realized the relation of the Jews to the Christian church and to the synagogue. See, Aquila and Priscilla still attended the synagogue. They were Christians. They were not just halfway Christians. They were spirit-filled Christians—spirit filled Christians—and they were attending the synagogue and in comes Apollos, speaking boldly and they say, “How about having dinner today with us?” [33:25]

That’s from the teaching ministry of the body early on, you see. In the body, we assume that those like myself would stand up to talk still have a lot going and we assume that if I’ve really got anything to teach in the spirit of Christ, I’m going to be teach-ABLE, see? I’m going to be teachable by the most inconspicuous member of the body and if I’m not open to receive that, I’m not a minister; I’m a fool and please, I mean that just as harshly as it sounds. If I’m not open to receive instruction from the most inconspicuous and smallest member of the body of Christ, I’m not a Christian minister, I’m a fool because I don’t understand the elements of the faith—the elements of the faith, I do not understand. [34:23]

Apparently, both of these parties had the right spirit. Aquila and Priscilla were ready to teach and for all of his boldness and fervency of spirit, Apollos was ready to learn and it says, “ . . . and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:26).

Now, if you were to take an English class, someone might say to you, “Perfect does not allow of comparative degrees.” You know? It does. It certainly does and that’s what happened here. Apollos had a lot to give and he had a lot to get. He had a lot to give and they took him home and they gave him more to give. “ . . .expounded  unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia . . .”—that is the lower tip of the Grecian Peninsula—“ . . .the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him, who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” [35:41]

Now you know that this is one of the main preoccupations with Christians in those days was to go around and find the Jews and show them that their own scriptures thought that Jesus was the Messiah. And this was a main line of business for ministers, especially in those days and Apollos was very effective in this because now he seems to have been working in the power of a spirit, which he had hitherto not known. [36:06]

This is a very good and important scene because you see, when you have those of us who are teaching and preaching an incomplete and imperfect gospel, we make incomplete and imperfect disciples. Hmmmm? And not just Apollos—well, apparently some other people had been making—because now, Paul is coming to visit the church of Ephesus for the first time and it seems like that in this church for the first time it was really driven home to Paul that there is more to teaching and so on than just evangelizing. The work of the evangelist is important but it’s not self-contained. It won’t do the job by itself.

Now, Paul comes into Ephesus and there is already a body of disciples there. “And it came to pass that, while Apollos was at Corinth, . . .” he had left and Paul came in now from the east—“ . . . Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” (Acts 19:1&2) We have heard about repentance. We have heard that Jesus was the Messiah. We believe that. You mean there is something more than that? You mean that there is a spirit, which is supposed to come into our lives and actually make a difference? Are they supposed to give us fruits and gifts which are not our own? Hmmm? Paul “said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.” [38:08]

Now, on the subject of baptism, which is an important subject and it’s listed in the 6th chapter of Hebrews as among the rudiments of faith, you want to think these things through and you want to try to understand, “Well, this is an important passage.” Paul says, “. . . John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance . . .”(Acts 19:4)  See, baptism means a number of different things and the baptism of John was repentance. You remember, when the people came out, he said, “You, Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites—go bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and then come out and get baptized.” In other words, “go get the reality and then come and we will talk about the symbol.” It was a baptism of repentance that they should believe on Him which should come after him; that is on Jesus Christ. Turn from sin and be saved. [39:05]

To be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus didn’t mean the same thing. To be baptized in the name of the Father and Lord Jesus means to put on Jesus. That baptism is a symbol of immersion in the Spirit of Jesus. That’s Christian baptism and the reality corresponding IS surrounding, filling, baptizing, whatever you want to call it—of the Spirit—that is, your life is enveloped in the Spirit; the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit, which has the power and purity of Jesus, which leads us into that as a King. Not as a result of great efforts you know—straining our muscles and nerves and all that sort of thing. That won’t work. That’s the reality that first comes to Christian baptism. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:5) And Paul is going to baptize them and he gives them the realities and both at the same time. “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them. . .”—we talked about that earlier so I won’t stop and belay over that here—“ . . . the Holy Ghost came on them; (and they did two things) and they spake with tongues, and prophesied . . .” [40:28]

That is, their minds and their bodies were taken over with a Spirit, which gave them utterances—ecstatic utterances—now, whether the prophecies were in other tongues or what, we don’t know. This is just one of the manifestations which comes upon people who are possessed by the Spirit of God.  Not all people, but some.

Remember, the gifts are not for all. The gifts are for some but fruits are for all allowed but the spirit divides unto the bodies several of the gifts and as He gives you one, take another, and another and of course, some people have them in common but no one has all of them and everyone in the body doesn’t have the same. That’s Paul’s teaching. If you have that, well, you would have a body, which just consisted of ears or little fingers or hearts. When we have a body, we have different members—different members that have different functions. That’s 1 Corinthians 12:14 if you are referring to that. [41:46]

This is very important to be clear but it’s important in this context to simply see that when Paul laid hands upon them and prayed for them, it’s just to remind us.  Now, remember what I told you before. It’s very important to keep this in mind because the gifts can mislead us so severely.

The gifts do not cure all the problems. The gifts do not guarantee you that you will be happy for the rest of your life. The gifts won’t cure everybody else’s problems. It won’t straighten things out in the church or in your family. Listen, you can speak in tongues and be in a horrible mess. You can even heal people and be in a horrible mess. If you are wanting your life cured, don’t look for the gifts; look for the fruits. The fruits cure the life. Remember what I said, “The gift is an external imposition.” We can tie 15 million apples on a peach tree and it would still be a peach tree but when that fruit comes out of the limb through the blossom and through the little fruit; and as it grows, you can know it’s an apple.

The fruit is an inward welling up of what is inside, and if you want your life cured, don’t look for the gifts, look for the fruits.  You can have visions. You can dream dreams. You can prophesy. You can heal people. You can do all sorts of interesting things and not even be right with God.  You may question that; that’s fine. I don’t ask you to accept anything I say, at least until you delve into it. [43:30]

Gifts can be very misleading but the fruits never mislead anyone. They never mislead anyone—the fruits are the substance, but the gifts are very encouraging and they are very useful and they are very good and the Lord help us if we have to get along without them. So, we want the gifts but remember that the gifts are for the purposes of the Lord and the body. They aren’t for our purposes. They are for the purposes of the Lord and the body and they will not replace the fruits.

I think if I had to mention one thing which has harmed more people in the last seventy five to eighty years where there has been quite a Pentecostal movement of many, many shades and colors in many, many places, it is that failure to see that the gifts will not replace the fruits. They will not do the work of the fruits and this is why many people have got the gift and it has destroyed them and not only destroyed them but it’s made life miserable for their family and for their church and everyone who knew them and it has come to the point sometimes where there’s just a great stench to high Heaven because someone got a gift of some sort and it blew their head all out of proportion. It just shot everything. [44:58]

Paul was working mightily in this group for a long while now and he spoke in the synagogues for awhile and as usual, about three months, in the 8th verse of the 19th chapter (of Acts) as usual, some were hardened; they rejected him and in the 9th verse he went aside and he went over to the school of Tyrannus and he disputed daily in that school. That is, he was there preaching and teaching and refuting whatever came up, you know for two years. For “. . .two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia . . .”—now, remember Asia is a small province. It isn’t large. It doesn’t take in Burma and China and all those other places. “ . . .all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.” In other words, Paul didn’t wrought special miracles, God wrought by the hands of Paul. “So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” [46:11]

I must say something about all of this because it has given so much trouble to so many people and there are misunderstandings of it even today. I think the principle is just very simple and that is, that there was used in this time, in any community where people were very well acquainted with Paul because remember now, this was—in previous verses, it talks about his work was known and how the word went out and everyone was informed about what was going on and apparently there was the use of some of his bodily garments. Things that had been around him were taken from him and taken to people who could not come to him and these were used as a means of establishing helping the faith of people who were sickly.

There was nothing magical about those handkerchiefs, you know. They’d sprinkle a little holy water or something of that sort on them. It wasn’t the handkerchief. It was the person’s association with the belongings even of this man in whom God worked powerfully. It helped the faith of those who were to be healed. What healed is the faith. What healed was the power that was in Paul and the faith, which is in the hearts of these people.

These handkerchiefs were just a little intermediary, which was nothing but a means of helping the people who had needs to visualize more strongly, to feel more strongly the reality of the power of God in this man Paul. That’s all, so let’s don’t get worried about that—about the handkerchiefs you know and start thinking that this was some kind of black magic. It’s not. It’s a very simple principle. We all use this in other connections also. We use articles and pictures and things from the ones we love to bring them closer to us. Now, whether it’s right or wrong or very effective in your case or not, it’s still of God and it is still effective for some people. That’s all that was happening here. [48:11]

Paul really—as he goes forth in his ministry of power, you see, any time the Spirit of God moves in power, it’s going to get a lot of “takers” who aren’t there for the right reasons. Remember what happened in Samaria? Simon Magnus? Remember Simon Magnus? You know, he was in the business too. He was in the business too and he thought this would be nice to add this to his stock.

Simon Magnus offered money to Peter if Peter would give him the power he had. You know, it was just like paying for a cake recipe from one to another. Well, give me your phone number. And see, magicians to this day buy tricks from one another. That can be pretty expensive if they are good tricks. People are thinking this way. There are always people around when there is something moving who would like to “co-op” that and take it over and use it for their own purposes. See? Now that’s what was happened here. [49:20]

Exorcism is a very old sort of occupation and the Church of Christ were the first ones to engage in this and “certain of the vagabond Jews”—exorcists. What is an exorcist? Well, he’s a conjuror. Exorcism consists of one of two things—either what I call in general, calling of spirits. Now, it may be calling them out of a person or out of the depths, you know of wherever they hang out but it’s calling spirits forth. I mean there are people who practice this here in the San Fernando Valley. You know the part, I’m sure and we know of this today. Exorcism is simply the invoking of spirits. [50:06]

These fellows took it upon them, which had evil spirits—“ . . . to call over them which had evil spirits in the name of the Lord Jesus saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus, I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?”

That’s beautiful! And you know, I could stop here and we could preach and think a long time just about this one verse because even if we aren’t calling it out over people who are possessed of the devil, when we are using the name of Jesus, the question never escaped the question, “After all, who are ye?” On who’s hook are we living? Or what use are we making of the name of Jesus? Who are you? This is one of the best questions in the Bible? “ . . . Jesus I know, Paul I know but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15) [51:11]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: He was mixed up, huh? “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”  (Acts 19:16) Tore their clothes off of them; beat them up; bloody nose; twisted their arm, cracked a few fingernails and a few other things. They knew that they had been in the presence of something. They’d better stop going around the whole countryside. “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” (Acts 19:17)

Now, when we start to misuse the name of Jesus, one of two things will happen. Either we are so far out that it’s not going to make any difference anyway and we sort of sleep along mumbling the word or if we get to folks enough to where we apt to misuse it, then somebody is going to get hurt. Someone is going to get hurt. [52:18]

Remember, Jesus told the story about a man who had an evil spirit and he was cleaned out and cleaned out and swept and varnished—just left empty—and seven? Wasn’t it seven spirits? Seven more spirits worse than the first came back and inhabited that house. Alas, “ . . .the final plight of that man became worse than the first.” (Matthew 12:45) When we are dealing with these things, we are dealing with things that are extremely important and dangerous and unless we come, really in the Spirit of Christ, we have NO protection. We have no protection. We are terribly vulnerable. [53:08]

We are vulnerable on the physical level, on the spiritual and personal level, and it’s only as we stand in the Spirit of Christ that we have protection—not just from being leapt upon and wounded and clothes torn off of us—that’s relatively small but the people in Ephesus realized that they were dealing with something of much greater proportions than this.

They realized it seems that black magic was wrong and that exorcism and all of this fooling around with spirits and so on was wrong. Now, why was it wrong? Well, not wrong in itself: there is nothing wrong with the spiritual world in itself and there is nothing wrong, I guess with magic. The trouble is, like everything else; it is either good or indifferent.  When it is blocking the subjection to the purposes of human beings who are willing to use others for their own purposes to get their own way, then it’s wrong! And magic and exorcism and spirit-ism are simply a continuation of the old process—the old pagan process—of creating supernatural powers, which we can subject to our wills. [54:31]

You remember our discussion on the 2nd chapter of Romans—the perversion of God, which is made when men take Him and turn Him into some kind of creature, which they can manipulate. “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:19) Another version says about $10,000 worth before inflation and that was quite an amount. “And so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:20) Paul had a great time here in Ephesus. [55:11]

I want to go on hurriedly now and just spend a few moments on this last session. After he had been there for this 2 ½ year period, he had gone through a riot, which you can read about in the last part of the 19th chapter (of Acts).  He made a trip around to Macedonia back to visit the churches, which he had established before and all the way down to Corinth. He spent awhile there in Corinth, turned around and came back and visited those same churches again on his way back to Jerusalem now and as he goes, he doesn’t have to spend time in Ephesus and Ephesus is a little ways off and as he approached, he called the Ephesians elders to meet him out on the sea coast as he goes by. So, they come to meet him. [55:53]

Beginning at the 17th verse of Acts 20, there is one of the most beautiful passages that I know of anywhere in literature. He calls the Ephesian elders and when they come to him, he says to them, “ . . .Ye know, from the first day that I came to Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons.” He says you know my life. You know what I am. He didn’t appeal to someone else. He said, “You know me. You know what I—you know what I am.”

“Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, (best read “trials” usually in the King James Version where it says temptations, it means a trial) which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house . . .” (Acts 20:19&20) That is, he just got right in with the families. He not only had public meetings. He was well known around the kitchen tables in Ephesus.

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there. Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” (Acts 19:21-23)

Now, I hope you did memorize this verse. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 19:24) That’s Paul’s war cry. None of these things move me. It doesn’t bother me at all. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” I think a lot of people just think he is “whistling through his hat,” you know, when he said that. “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” [58:05]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Not at all! Not at all! He really meant that. Now, he says—he gives a charge to the Ephesian elders, which I want to read with you, and I think I’ll probably add to it. The charge is given in 1 Peter, the 5th chapter. [He says this 1 Peter scripture reference but it’s Acts 20:28.) He says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves.” That’s where he starts. That’s the first thing to take heed to, isn’t it? Not to others but to yourselves. “Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all of the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers.” (Acts 20:28) —Episcopates—is the Greek word—this is where we get our Episcopalian term. Elders very often is Presbutynoffs—which is Presbyterians. So, you see, we have these Biblical people-Biblical denominations—Episcopalians and Presbyterians. There are Greek words to go with it. [59:14]

Now, note that the Holy Ghost did the appointing. The Holy Ghost did the appointing and the reason he appointed was to feed the church of God, which he had purchased with his own love. And Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Son of Jonas, loveth thou me?” “Yay, Lord.” “Feed my sheep.” Three times he said that. “Feed my sheep.” “Feed the flock of God.” “Feed my flock.”

Who is an overseer or an elder? I might try to tell you that me and Dick and Ollie Harris are the overseers around here. NO! By God’s grace, we are overseers, but we are not THE overseers. People who are overseers are simply those who are in position to feed the body of Christ. They all have this responsibility. [1:00:22]

Now, notice this that Paul clearly lays out “ . . .that after my departing (he is gone) shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves . . .” (Acts 20:29) There is going to be a two fold attack and remember he says this earlier on in the book of Acts—a two fold attack—one from outside and one from inside. People from inside are going to arise and they are going to attack the church. “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God . . .” Now, this is what Paul trusted his spiritual children to.  He charges the overseers in the group but he doesn’t trust them.

Listen to all parts in this Studies in the Book of Apostolic Acts: Journey in the Spiritual Unknown series