1. COMING INTO GREATER LIGHT
a. What can we learn from the step taken by certain disciples in Ephesus who came to greater light in their experience? Acts 19:1–7.
“When [the Jewish converts in Ephesus] received baptism at the hand of John they did not fully comprehend the mission of Jesus as the Sin Bearer. They were holding serious errors. But with clearer light, they gladly accepted Christ as their Redeemer, and with this step of advance came a change in their obligations. As they received a purer faith, there was a corresponding change in their life. In token of this change, and as an acknowledgment of their faith in Christ, they were rebaptized in the name of Jesus.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 285.
“It is a matter to be treated as a great privilege and blessing, and all who are rebaptized, if they have the right ideas upon this subject, will thus consider it. . . .
“The Lord calls for a decided reformation. And when a soul is truly reconverted, let him be rebaptized. Let him renew his covenant with God, and God will renew His covenant with him.”—Evangelism, p. 375.
2. TRUE VS. FALSE MIRACLES
a. Describe Paul’s work during his two years in Ephesus. Acts 19:8–12.
“As Paul was brought in direct contact with the idolatrous inhabitants of Ephesus, the power of God was strikingly displayed through him. The apostles were not always able to work miracles at will. The Lord granted His servants this special power as the progress of His cause or the honor of His name required. Like Moses and Aaron at the court of Pharaoh, the apostle had now to maintain the truth against the lying wonders of the magicians; hence the miracles he wrought were of a different character from those which he had heretofore performed. As the hem of Christ’s garment had communicated healing power to her who sought relief by the touch of faith, so on this occasion, garments were made the means of cure to all that believed; ‘diseases departed from them, and evil spirits went out of them.’ Yet these miracles gave no encouragement to blind superstition. When Jesus felt the touch of the suffering woman, He exclaimed, ‘Virtue is gone out of me.’ So the Scripture declares that the Lord wrought miracles by the hand of Paul, and that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and not the name of Paul.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, pp. 1063, 1064.
b. How was the sacredness of Christ’s name vindicated, causing many to re-examine some wrong practices in their lives? Acts 19:13–18.
“The discomfiture and humiliation of those who had profaned the name of Jesus, soon became known throughout Ephesus, by Jews and Gentiles. Unmistakable proof had been given of the sacredness of that name, and the peril which they incurred who should invoke it while they had no faith in Christ’s divine mission. Terror seized the minds of many, and the work of the gospel was regarded by all with awe and reverence.
“Facts which had previously been concealed were now brought to light. In accepting Christianity, some of the brethren had not fully renounced their heathen superstitions. The practice of magic was still to some extent continued among them. Convinced of their error by the events which had recently occurred, they came and made a full confession to Paul, and publicly acknowledged their secret arts to be deceptive and Satanic.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, pp. 136, 137.
3. SURRENDERING ALL
a. What type of steps reveal true conversion in the life? Acts 19:19, 20.
“When the Ephesians were converted, they changed their habits and practices. Under the conviction of the Spirit of God, they acted with promptness, and laid bare all the mysteries of their witchcraft. They came and confessed, and showed their deeds, and their souls were filled with holy indignation because they had given such devotion to magic, and had so highly prized the books in which the rules of Satan’s devising had laid down the methods whereby they might practice witchcraft. They were determined to turn from the service of the evil one, and they brought their costly volumes and publicly burned them. Thus they made manifest their sincerity in turning to God. . . .
“The books the Ephesians committed to the flames on their conversion to the gospel, they formerly delighted in, and permitted them to rule their consciences and guide their minds. They might have sold them, but by so doing the evil would be perpetuated. They afterward abhorred the satanic mysteries, the magical arts, and regarded with aversion the knowledge they had obtained from them. I would ask the young who have been connected with the truth, Have you burned your magical books? . . .
“The world is deluged with books which sow the seeds skepticism, infidelity, and atheism, and to a larger or less degree you have been learning your lessons from these books, and they are magical books. They put God out of the mind, and separate the soul from the true Shepherd.”—Messages to Young People, pp. 275, 276.
b. Name some ancient Heaven-sent warnings against magic and sorcery. Isaiah 47:9–14; Malachi 3:5.
“Through spiritualism many of the sick, the bereaved, the curious, are communicating with evil spirits. All who venture to do this are on dangerous ground. . . .
“The magicians of heathen times have their counterpart in the spiritualistic mediums, the clairvoyants, and the fortune-tellers of today. . . . Wherever an influence is exerted to cause men to forget God, there Satan is exercising his bewitching power.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 290.
4. “NO NEW THING UNDER THE SUN”
a. What warnings against magic (spiritualism) and sorcery are re-emphasized for our day? Ephesians 5:11; Revelation 22:14, 15.
“There are many who shrink with horror from the thought of consulting spirit mediums, but who are attracted by more pleasing forms of spiritism. Others are led astray by the teachings of Christian Science, and by the mysticism of Theosophy and other Oriental religions.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 210.
“The mysteries of heathen worship are replaced by the secret associations and séances, the obscurities and wonders, of the sorcerers of our time. Their disclosures are eagerly received by thousands who refuse to accept light from God’s word or from His Spirit. While they speak with scorn of the magicians of old, the great deceiver laughs in triumph as they yield to his arts under a different form.
“His agents still claim to cure disease. They attribute their power to electricity, magnetism, or the so-called ‘sympathetic remedies.’ In truth, they are but channels for Satan’s electric currents. By this means he casts his spell over the bodies and souls of men. . . .
“Not a few in this Christian age and Christian nation resort to evil spirits rather than trust to the power of the living God. The mother, watching by the sickbed of her child, exclaims: ‘I can do no more. Is there no physician who has power to restore my child?’ She is told of the wonderful cures performed by some clairvoyant or magnetic healer, and she trusts her dear one to his charge, placing it as verily in the hands of Satan as if he were standing by her side. In many instances the future life of the child is controlled by a satanic power which it seems impossible to break.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 193, 194.
b. What was Paul’s next goal after Ephesus—yet what complication arose in the meantime? Acts 19:21–29.
“An extensive and profitable business had grown up at Ephesus from the manufacture and sale of small shrines and images, modeled after the temple and the image of Diana. Those interested in this industry found their gains diminishing, and all united in attributing the unwelcome change to Paul’s labors.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 292.
5. GOD’S INTERVENTION
a. Describe the danger posed by the mob of craftsmen. Acts 19:30–34.
“Paul’s place of concealment was not far distant, and he soon learned of the peril of his beloved brethren. Forgetful of his own safety, he desired to go at once to the theater to address the rioters. But ‘the disciples suffered him not.’ Gaius and Aristarchus were not the prey the people sought; no serious harm to them was apprehended. But should the apostle’s pale, care-worn face be seen, it would arouse at once the worst passions of the mob and there would not be the least human possibility of saving his life.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 293.
b. How did God use the town clerk to stop the uproar? Acts 19:35–41.
“In his speech Demetrius had said, ‘This our craft is in danger.’ These words reveal the real cause of the tumult at Ephesus, and also the cause of much of the persecution which followed the apostles in their work. Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen saw that by the teaching and spread of the gospel the business of image making was endangered. The income of pagan priests and artisans was at stake, and for this reason they aroused against Paul the most bitter opposition.
“The decision of the recorder and of others holding honorable offices in the city had set Paul before the people as one innocent of any unlawful act. This was another triumph of Christianity over error and superstition. God had raised up a great magistrate to vindicate His apostle and hold the tumultuous mob in check. Paul’s heart was filled with gratitude to God that his life had been preserved and that Christianity had not been brought into disrepute by the tumult at Ephesus.”—Ibid., p. 295.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why was rebaptism appropriate for the twelve disciples in Ephesus?
2. Why weren’t the vagabond Jews blessed by using the name of Jesus?
3. What are some “magical books” that I should get rid of?
4. Which traps of modern spiritualism could endanger me personally?
5. How does God sometimes use unexpected ways to deliver His people?