Powerful Church (20)
“So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” Once again, Paul encountered believers who lacked the power and presence of God in their life and ministry. The point is clear, the ministry is spiritual work. Let us remember that the Lord told Nichodemus, “that which is flesh is flesh, and that which is Spirit is Spirit.” This is very important. Samson was powerless when the Spirit of God left him to his own wits and devices. The best intentions of Moses led to failure and to murder. Jesus said “without me, ye can do nothing.” A church without the powerful and presiding presence of God is a pathetic and impotent “glee club.” Positive thinking is not the same as being fully persuaded that God’s Word is true and preaching repentance and faith.
“God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.” Then like now, many are more impressed with the miracles than the message. Then like now, many wanted the power in order to be “power brokers,” and the focal point of other people’s faith.
There were some who desired to take up the name and message of Jesus only to be confronted by evil spirits who asked a sobering question. “And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye?” First, let us be reminded that there are evil spirits everywhere. Woe to the church or would-be churchmen who tinkers with such holy work. “Who are you?” Should a demon ever fix its gaze on a make-believer, woe to that pretender. We may be able to fool a multitude and tickle their itching ears with eloquence of entertaining stories, but an evil spirit will not be impressed. They may in fact leap upon the impostor.
Powerful preaching results in changed hearts. No greater evidence of effective preaching was ever demonstrated than in the burning of books at Ephesus. Cleaning up dirty hearts and lives is always the proof of powerful preaching. People hearing the truth do not always burn their books of curious arts, sometimes they burn with rage and anger and instead of a revival the result is a riot. When our preaching has no effect it may be that we were alone in the pulpit.