Who Are You?
INTRO: Good morning. Our text for today will be in Acts 19:1-16. I'm going to start with a story. A number of years ago a man was sitting on a park bench when a little boy of about five sat down near him and started looking at what appeared to be a most prized possession, a watch. The man said to the boy, "My, what a good looking watch," "Does it tell you the time?" "No sir," replied the boy; "you’ve got to look at it." I suppose this story looses it’s effect a little today where there are watches that indeed do speak the time.
My point with this story is that God's truth is everywhere, but you must look for it and at it, to see it. When it comes to the Holy Spirit and identifying if a person possesses Him or not, apart from the Fruit of the Spirit, there is no physical way of knowing.
Last time we ended with a quick look at what Luke records in Acts 19, and we saw Paul addressing that very question, do you posses the Holy Spirit? Acts 19:1-2 - “... while Apollos was at Corinth, 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."
Luke tells us that from Corinth, Paul went on to Ephesus where he met a group of disciples and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. If you recall from last week we saw that Apollos knew a lot about the Scriptures, and he taught about Jesus accurately, but he hadn’t been taught about baptism for the forgiveness of sins. When Priscilla and Aquila met Apollos they took him aside and taught him the way of the Lord more clearly. We found that described in Acts 18:24-26.
I. Now in Ephesus Paul finds some people who may have been taught by Apollos prior to the time he learned of the baptism commemorating the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. Luke calls them Disciples.
A. Paul asks them if they have received the Holy Spirit and they answer by saying they did not even know there was a Holy Spirit. Then Paul asks another question in Acts 19:3-4 - “Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they reply. Paul said, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
B. The failure to know about any gift of the Holy Spirit pointed out that something was missing in the instructions they had received, so Paul asked, “Into what then were you baptized?”
C. John told people to repent, be baptized, and believe on the Christ who would follow him. Then Jesus came, He died, was buried, and resurrected. But before He ascended back to heaven He clearly commanded everyone in Mark 16:15-16 -, “... Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
D. In Acts 2 we see people being obedient to those commands. Acts 2:38 - “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
E. Those that heard Peter’s sermon had heard the gospel and believed, asking what they should do? In other words, for those who would be Christians, belief in Jesus should come before they have repented and been baptized under the authority of His name for the remission of sins. It’s amazing when you speak to some people today about baptism. They will gladly tell you that they were baptized or Christened as a child and think that that baptism is their ticket into heaven.
II. I should mention that there are some religious groups who only baptize in Jesus Name and not in “the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. But remember what Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” People need to remember that there are not many baptisms that a person is to receive to be saved, the Bible tells of only one. Paul reminds us of this fact in Ephesians 4:4-6 - “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
A. When a person studies the scriptures one of the questions they need to ask themselves is; “Was my baptism, the one baptism which Paul speaks of here?” Because if it was not, that person needs to do what the disciples at Ephesus did in Acts 19:5-7 - “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”
B. Luke tells us these disciples were re-baptized under the authority of Christ. Paul then laid his hands on them and they received miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit which enabled them to speak in languages they had never studied and they proclaimed God’s will.
C. This brings the question to mind; “Are there any today whose baptism was so defective or inadequate that they should be baptized again "into the Lord Jesus"?” The answer without any doubt whatsoever, is yes.
D. We should understand that not all baptisms are scriptural. The Christenings or baptizing of a child is very popular in today’s society. But the problem with that is that a child doesn’t have personal faith. Jesus says in Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
E. If someone was baptized as a child, they didn’t have much say in the matter even though their parents may have been sincere in their thinking. When the child is grown up, able to have personal faith, and is able to decide for themselves, then they need to submit to Christ and be baptized according to scripture.
F. Millions today have never in any sense obeyed the apostolic injunction of Acts 2:38 to “Repent, and be baptized”. That passage makes it absolutely clear that the convert must consciously, and of their own will, submit to Christian baptism. If infant baptism were adequate, then baptism without faith, confession, or repentance would be valid also.
III. True baptism reflects a person’s understanding that this ordinance pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we are told in; Romans 6:3-4 - “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
A. Then over in Colossians 2:12 – we read; Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. In other words the sinner is buried in and raised from water, just as the Lord was buried and then raised from the dead.
B. There are also some people who are baptized without repentance. If a person was baptized without genuine repentance, then such a baptism is useless and one would have to question the motive behind the person’s actions.
C. You also can’t have a baptism without faith. If a person is baptized without a sound faith basis, baptism becomes only a useless ritual.
D. Some religious groups believe that Jesus was a good man but they deny that Christ is God in the flesh and yet, for various other reasons, they desire baptism. Folks, no baptism grounded upon such a counterfeit faith can be considered a genuine baptism.
E. Then there are those who are baptized without any purpose. If a person has submitted to baptism for some purpose other than that which is supplied in the Bible then in reality they have not obeyed the Lord. This would include those whose baptism was an action initiated by others, not themselves, or whose baptism was, in their hearts, undertaken for any unscriptural purpose, such as
1. Merely going along with the group,
2. Primarily to please parents, husband, wife, or other persons, or
3. Any purpose other than that of surrendering the soul to the Lord as commanded in the gospel and for the purpose of coming "into Christ," receiving the forgiveness of sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit.
F. Baptism is never defined in the Bible as “an outward sign of an inward grace” as some like to say.
G. Finally there are those that are baptized not for the remission of sin but to become members of a denomination. That is not what we are told in Acts 2:38.
IV. Baptism is not a mere representation of redemption for those already saved. We’ve already seen the purpose for baptism in Acts 2:38, for the forgiveness of sins. Or as Luke tells us in Acts 22:16, to have sins washed away. Baptism according to Romans 6:3-4 and Galatians 3:26-27, places a person “into Christ” or into his “body” according to 1 Corinthians 12:13.
A. It is at this point that a person is saved according to Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21. When you think about it, a person’s soul is too valuable, the plan is too simple, and the remedy too easy to access, for a person to “gamble,” hoping that a former “baptism” will be alright.
B. I would think that if there is any question in a person’s mind regarding a previous “baptism,” they should be safe and do it right. Now I know I’m preaching mostly to the converted, but folks, there are a whole lot of people out there who think they are right with God yet have had a baptism which wasn’t Biblical. Why are people so skittish about something so simple?
C. I earnestly pray that all who hear or read this will ask themselves in all humility, "Was I Scripturally baptized?" If the answer is negative, the re-baptism of these twelve disciples at Ephesus, long ago, provides an inspiring example of what should be done. There was nothing wrong with their baptism, except that it had been for the wrong purpose; but that was enough to invalidate it. 169 times, in the writings of Paul alone, the New Testament uses the expression "in Christ," "in Him," or its equivalent. That says as loudly as it possibly could that this purpose of Christian baptism is absolutely vital and should be honored.
V. After baptizing anew the twelve men, and passing on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, Paul leaves them and goes into synagogue. Acts 19:8-10 - “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” [KJV]
A. Luke tells us that Paul entered into the synagogue to boldly teach the Jews about the gospel. If you recall back in Acts 18:19-21 Paul had already taught in the synagogue in Ephesus and had been urged to teach further. But he had left for the feast in Jerusalem and he promised to return and teach some more if it was God’s will.
B. We see here that it was God’s will for him to return and teach more. On this occasion, he reasoned with them for three months and persuaded them about matters concerning the kingdom of God. As usual we have those who will listen and those who won’t. Folks, it’s all about free will. God is not going to make a person believe.
C. I’m reminded of William Holman Hunt's famous allegorical painting "Christ the Light of the World". Hunt represents the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20 - “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” According to Hunt: "I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be a divine command, and not simply a good subject." “The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing "the obstinately shut mind". [William Holman Hunt Artworks – The Art Story].
D. We should realize that our Lord never destroys the will, but provides to us, though the gospel, the knowledge we need to make us willing. It is always "Whosoever will". In Revelation 22:17 - we read; “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” [KJV]
E. It is our decision that secures – or - loses our salvation. We know that there are people who do refuse to accept. Look at; John 5:40 - “... ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” [KJV] When Jesus was heading towards Jerusalem He looks on and says in Matthew 23:37- , “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” [KJV]
F. God is willing, it’s people that are not willing. These Jews, who Paul was preaching to, are the very same way. Some of them became hardhearted and chose against the way of salvation and so Paul withdrew with the disciples to continue teaching in the school of Tyrannus. That is where he continued to instruct anyone who would listen over the space of some two years.
VI. The effects of Paul’s teaching radiated out to all of Asia. Paul had previously been forbidden to preach in Asia according to Acts16:6. Now much fruit was born for God in that region. In fact, many scholars believe his teaching helped to establish the seven churches to whom Christ wrote in the Book of Revelation chapters 2&3. We should note though, that even though Paul was a great preacher of the word, he always remembered whose Name holds the power. The Name of Jesus.
A. What Luke records next is a powerful lesson which we must never forget. Acts 19:11-16 - “... God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits 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? 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.”
B. Luke says that God caused great miracles to be worked through Paul. Even to the point where pieces of cloth, like a handkerchief or apron, which had touched his body could be placed on the body of the sick, and diseases or evil spirits went out.
1. Then Luke tells us that there were some wandering Jewish exorcists that tried to capitalize on the power of God that they had seen at work through Paul.
2. Particularly, the seven sons of Sceva who attempted to cast out an evil spirit by calling on the name of Jesus’ whom Paul preached. The spirit recognized both Jesus and Paul and asked, ‘who are you?’ Then the spirit caused the possessed man to leap on, overpower and strip them, so that they ran away wounded and naked.
C. There’s a powerful lesson to be learned here. Our name cannot save anyone. Our name doesn’t frighten people or demons. Nor does the name of any preacher or church leader. But make no mistake about it folks, all hell is afraid at Jesus’ Name. That’s because our name hasn’t been exalted, Jesus’ Name has. Our name isn’t above all other names, Jesus’ Name is. People are not going to bow down when they see us, but they will bow down to Jesus. People are not going to confess our name before the Father, but they will confess Jesus’ Name before Him.
D. Philippians 2:9-11 - “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
E. The lesson is clear, no man has a right merely to appropriate the name of Jesus’. I do not doubt that many today are guilty of doing that same thing. There are those who say, "I am a Christian," yet really have no right to such a claim. How does one become a rightful and lawful wearer of the name of Jesus? In this very chapter it is declared that men were "baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:5); and the Scriptures reveal no honorable alternative to that means of being entitled to His Holy Name.
VII. There is another important point we need to understand here. The use of Jesus Name in our prayers and in our words is not some magic formula which God acts upon. It’s not the ‘name’ of Jesus that works in a mechanical way over the powers. The name is not a ‘key’ of some sort. If we are channels of His power, it is not because we know of His Name but because we know Him and more importantly we are known by Him.
A. Regretfully there are religious people who claim they drive out demons and heal in Jesus Name but there is a problem with that. If you ever see one of these, note that most of them need a big audience and you will see that what or who is really being glorified, is everything except God.
B. Jesus says in John 10:27 -, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” The problem that many people have is that they only know the Name of Jesus; but they don’t know Jesus. All they are interested in is the power and not the relationship.
C. Jesus tells us in; Matthew 7:22-23 - “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
D. What does scripture say? It says many will do things in Jesus name, but Jesus does not know them for they are not His. Then I have a question. Why does Jesus not know them? Look with me at Matthew 7:21 – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” He that does the will of my Father, the will of God. Ok, then, how does one know what is the will of God?
1. A young man went into a church and started praying. He was so anxious to find God's will for his life that he took a piece of paper and wrote down all the things that he was going to do for God. Then he started to pray that God might reveal to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.
2. That is not the way God wants us to find His will. All He wants of us is to obey the gospel and our name will be added to the Lamb’s Book of life. Then, if we live faithfully studying God’s word and letting His word work in our life, God will fill in what His will is for us. The evil spirit knew Jesus and knew about Paul who was following the example of Jesus in doing the will of the Father in heaven. We must never forget that we are in a world of two forces, good and evil.
VIII. Someone once said to me that the reason that churches are not full of people is because people don’t believe in heaven. Well, the truth of the matter is the churches are not full of people because they don’t believe in the hell. The world has created its own gospel of love, peace, joy, and prosperity but left out things like hell and damnation and the consequences of a sin filled life.
Let me finish by suggesting that each one of us here today, needs to ask the question, who am I? Am I a person who needs to be baptized for the right reasons? Am I a person who knows Jesus’ Name but doesn’t really know Jesus and doesn’t really know what His voice sounds like? Whose will am I really doing? My own, the will of a preacher, some leader or the will of our Father in heaven? What is your heart telling you today?
Let me encourage you to seriously think about these questions, because I don’t want you to go through your religious life thinking that God is going save you from the fires of Hell where the demons don’t even know your name. But more importantly where Jesus doesn’t know you at all.
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
# 647 – Almost Persuaded
Reference Sermon: Mike GloverPrint
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