Acts Devotionals

Miraculous Happenings

There are so many “fake miraculous happenings” performed or written about that one wonders whether it’s man’s vivid imagination or the devil’s cunning or both. Often claims are made that the miraculous is happening at a certain establishment (a Church or some other place) or by a certain person. Some have performed thorough forensic investigations into these claims and find little or no substance of actual divine miracles being done. My reason for starting this way today is to remind us that the miraculous that is attributed to God, is of God alone. Man might be the agency through whom He works, but it is His omnipotent power which is unleashed to do the extraordinary. We read again:

Ac 19:11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

1) The unusual divine power God released was released and worked through His servant Paul.

(1) Handkerchiefs refer to sweat-cloths or a bandana wrapped around the head to soak up the perspiration caused by the piercing heat.

(2) Aprons refer to material wrapped half way around the body positioned in the front of a person. The material could have been leather.

Both items could have been have been associated with Paul working in the tent making business. Some suggest they were and these were used to touch his body and taken to people where healings and exorcisms happened, then brought back to him and the procedure repeated. It seems more likely that these items belonged to others, touched Paul and taken far and wide to be used in healings and exorcisms.

(3) We need to understand that as F. F. Bruce puts it … “No intrinsic healing efficacy is ascribed to these things; the healing efficacy lay in the powerful name of Jesus.” The same would be true of what happened with Peter:

Ac 5:15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

We also find something similar happening with Jesus:

Lk 8:43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

In each case, we must rely heavily upon F. F. Bruce’s comment above. God used unusual methods to do unusual things through His set apart men, like the apostles, Peter and Paul. The association was always in and through and because of the mighty name of Jesus, with the objective of authenticating the Gospel Message of the Lord Jesus Christ! Again, today, although God is well able to perform the unusual and miraculous today, He authenticates the Gospel Message through The Bible, His Holy Word. The reason we must affirm what happened was to authenticate the Gospel Message is because of the worst disease that was healed. Look at our text again:

Ac 19:12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

These items were taken to the sick … and their illnesses were cured … and the evil spirits left them. It does not read … “and those indwelt with evil spirits found these evil spirits leaving them”. Rather, the illness was associated with the evil spirits. As the items were presented to them, because of the association with the mighty name of Jesus, the evil spirits left them. The word “left” means departed. The Greek actually means “escaped” from them. Such illness or disease, caused by evil spirits … and then departing … provides striking proof of the Gospel’s Divine Authority. I am not suggesting that all illness is demonic (evil spirit) related. Sometimes in the present pagan world this is true but not always. When people live is idolatry, venerating the created, the mystic and the made up … demonic possession or oppression could cause serious debilitating health issues. Should such people submit to Jesus Christ through genuine repentance and faith, their health will return to them because with His presence the evil spirits shall depart. I need to pause here and mention that if a Church is not Christ Centered and Christ Focused, based fully and totally upon the inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God, then mystic and foreign ideas will creep into that Church’s beliefs and practices. The same is true with individuals.

2) Seeing the power of the name of Jesus. Our son-in-law was innovative, creating a system relating to “ChatGPT” which streamlines particular business procedures, speeding up the gathering of information. One of the partners in the business he works for wants to patent the concept which will add value to the company. Idea theft is rife throughout the world. Patenting your ideas might cost money but certainly has advantages for personal benefit and gain. Nothing is patented in Christianity. Not the Bible, not the Faith and not the outworking of Christianity flowing from the Bible and the Faith. (I do not refer to a Bible translation that is copyright … or even Christian books, videos, etc.) Some saw what was happening “in and through and because of the Name of Jesus” could gain them prominence and money, and so tried to copy it:

Ac 19:13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”

(1) The meaning behind “some Jews” is a person who wanders around without any fixed address. The idea here seems to be a sort of tramp, sponging on others. They followed a tradition common in Judaism of exorcising demons.

(2) They thought they could piggy back on Paul’s healing and exorcism ministry with some sort of gain in mind.

(3) The word “tried” is a good word because it captures the Greek’s meaning of “attempt”. They sought to copy what Paul was doing. They did not succeed, though they tried.

(4) Using the name of Jesus as a magic word. They, although not believers in Jesus, called on His name as the authority behind which they tried to exorcise demons. Look at the wording they used … “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” They had no personal knowledge of Jesus, neither were they commissioned by Paul to assist him. What they were into was blasphemy and slander. They were fraudulent and were serving the evil one who controlled the evil spirits.

Perhaps not with the same wording, but the same concept, people try to use the name of Jesus or relics to further their cause or purposes without a personal relationship with Him at all. They are false prophets and teachers and we will do well to avoid them. On Saturday afternoon as we were working in the library at home, we saw two Jehovah Witnesses approaching the front door. Our daughter was very brave, opened the door, heard their greeting saying they have some exciting news about Jesus to share. She explained to them who we are … believers in Jesus Christ and kindly, sent them on their way. This is the same misuse of the name of Jesus. They do not believe He is God, one with the Father and Spirit. This means what they say about Him is questionable and likely blasphemous! Just because people use the name of Jesus does not make them out to be true disciples of the King, ready to lead you to heaven.

Lord, help us to be cautious about whom we listen to and about what they teach. Help us to remain true and faithful to the Word of God by honoring You by remaining true to it. Amen.

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