June 22, 2010 David Balzer

Acts 19: What’s in a name?

What’s in A NAME? My name, David, is Hebrew for BELOVED. Which I guess I am – certainly by God, and maybe by a few others as well. So, there’s some significance there. But I’m not sure about a few of you others.

Gordon – great hill

Ross – headland

Dean – valley

Lachlan – someone from Norway

Not much significance there. But there are OTHER names that can mean something quite significant, can’t they? We’ve already heard this morning about SAMUEL. And how significant it was for Brett and Helen.

Samuel, or Shemu-el, is Hebrew, and means “heard by God”. And he really IS an answer to prayer.

But what about the name of JESUS? It’s Greek for Joshua, which is Hebrew. And Joshua means GOD SAVES. Which is why, when Jesus was born, the angel said to Joseph, “You are to give him the name JESUS, because he will SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS. (Mt 1:21)

So there’s definitely something significant about the NAME OF JESUS.

But when we come to the Book of Acts, Luke seems to be using the NAME of Jesus is A DIFFERENT WAY. Let me show you what I mean.

  • You can be REPENT and be BAPTISED in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (2:38)
  • A lame man is commanded to WALK in the name of Jesus (3:6)
  • And by FAITH in the name of Jesus, he DOES (3:16)
  • There is NO OTHER name under heaven given to men by which we must be SAVED (4:12)
  • The apostles TEACH in the name of Jesus (4:18)
  • And they SUFFER DISGRACE for the Name (5:41)
  • Paul is God’s chosen instrument to CARRY JESUS’ NAME to the Gentiles (9:15)
  • And he and Barnabas RISK THEIR LIVES for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (15:26)
  • And then an evil spirit is CAST OUT in the name of Jesus Christ (16:18)

And then we come to today’s passage in Ch 19, where it’s used another FOUR times.

  • The believers are baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus (5)
  • The Sons of Sceva try to INVOKE the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed (13) “In the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches…”
  • And then many held the name of the Lord Jesus IN HIGH HONOUR, and confessed their evil deeds.

And so Luke seems to be using “The NAME OF Jesus” as short-hand to mean something like “THE KINGLY AUTHORITY, POWER AND REPUTATION OF JESUS.”

It’s the sort of thing we hear when a policeman bangs on a door, “Open up in THE NAME OF THE LAW.” In other words, by THE AUTHORITY of the law.”

Or we might talk about how a businessman has A GOOD NAME in the industry. His REPUTATION is first-rate.

You can see THAT sort of use in v27. Demetrius is revving up the crowd. The problem when people start honouring the name of Jesus. Have a look at v27. “There is a danger that our trade will LOSE ITS GOOD NAME”.

But, for Paul and his co-workers, it’s the name of JESUS that matters. THE KINGLY AUTHORITY, POWER AND REPUTATION OF JESUS. That’s what they’re working at proclaiming. It’s why they TRAVEL. It’s why they SPEAK. It’s why they suffer BEATINGS. So that people will recognise it. And choose to come under the kingly authority and power of Jesus Christ, too.

So let’s have a look at how that happens here in Acts 19.

1. Baptised into the name (1-7)

Paul arrives back in Ephesus. It’s the start of his THIRD missionary journey. You can see the map there in your newssheets.

And he finds a group of men who SEEM to be followers of Jesus. But something’s not quite right. They don’t quite ring true as Christians. So Paul puts a test question to them. There in v2. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

Because all the way through Acts, the evidence that someone’s a Christian/ is the presence of the Holy Spirit – seen in speaking in tongues. It’s the definitive proof. Like back in Ch 10 when Peter and his Jewish mates tell the gospel to Cornelius and his Gentile mates. Ch 10 v44.

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

The Holy Spirit is God’s seal of ownership on his children. Whoever has the Spirit belongs to him. And if you don’t, you’re not one of God’s.

So that’s the test PAUL wants to use with these people he’s not too sure about. (Whether they have the Holy Spirit).

And when they say they’ve never heard about the Holy Spirit. Paul has to ask them another question. V3. Then what BAPTISM did you receive? Because the two go together. The washing with WATER, and the washing of sins with the Holy Spirit – which is what the water POINTS TO. The sign and the things signified are connected.

And so, with Samuel, we’ve baptised him this morning. And our prayer is that the SIGN will be accompanied by the REALITY. That God will work in Samuel, and fill him with his Spirit and wash him clean. And that might happen in TWO years, or TEN years. Or maybe even LONGER.

But that wasn’t the case with these men. Somewhere along the line these men only got HALF THE FACTS. They only received the baptism of John. A baptism of repentance. But they didn’t yet believe in the one John was pointing to – Jesus.

Which Paul tells them they need to.

And once they find out all the facts, v5 tells us they were BAPTISED INTO THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS. Which is a bit of a funny expression. It COULD be translated “baptised IN the name of Jesus”. We’re a bit more used to that. Which would mean something like baptised BECAUSE OF THE AUTHORITY AND WORK of Jesus. That the cleansing that baptism POINTED TO/ only came through the work of Jesus.

A bit like when we PRAY/ IN THE NAME of Jesus. We’re praying BECAUSE OF the access to God/ Jesus’ gives us.

But baptism INTO the name of Jesus has the idea of being admitted into the kingdom of King Jesus. Like a citizenship ceremony. Being initiated into the group of people who recognise and submit to the authority of Jesus. Who take on as a title “CHRIST-IANS”. Those who carry the NAME of Jesus.

And BOTH are certainly true. When Paul had baptised them, we read he placed his hands on them, then the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

12 men who’d moved from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of King Jesus. Who’d been baptised INTO HIS NAME.

2. Extraordinary stuff (8-12)

Next up, we see what Paul did to make the name of Jesus known. Preaching in the synagogue again. And then, when he’s booted out, in the local public hall. And he kept it up for TWO YEARS, so that EVERYONE IN THE AREA heard the word of the Lord.

That’s what it means to teach and preach IN THE NAME OF JESUS.

But that’s not ALL. There’s some EXTRAORDINARY STUFF that happens. Because Paul’s working with the authority of Jesus – in his NAME.

It took some pretty astonishing miracles to make an impact in Ephesus. It had a reputation for its magicians. And secret rituals. Powerful stuff. Both Jewish and Gentile.

But look at what happens around PAUL. V11.

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.

Which ONLY happens because it’s GOD’s authority. With MY hankie, the only thing you’d catch was a serious DISEASE. But with Paul’s hankies, you’d catch HEALING. OR even FREEDOM FROM DEMONS!

The EXTRAORDINARY power of the NAME of Jesus.

3. What the name ISN’T (13-16)

And there’s a few who want to get in on the action. A piece of the power. But all they do is show what the name of Jesus ISN’T. V13.

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.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15[One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house and bleeding.

It’s a bit like electricity. If you know what you’re doing, and you’re QUALIFIED, electricity can do powerfully good things. But if you’re NOT qualified, you can do an awful lot of DAMAGE.

For those who are QUALIFIED, the name of Jesus is the key to the authority of JESUS HIMSELF. Authority over sickness or demons.

To be QUALIFIED to use the name, you need to be BAPTISED INTO the name. To be part of the kingdom of King Jesus.

Which these guys WEREN’T. The seven sons of Sceva – it sounds like their STAGE NAME. But when THEY try their new trick, they’re in for a surprise. “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches…” they chant.

At which point the demon says, “Jesus’ name I know. And Paul too. But who are you guys?” And he beats them up.

Because the name of Jesus isn’t a magic word that gives JUST ANYBODY the power of Jesus. It’s the front door key for those who are IN Jesus’ kingdom. They can open the door FROM THE INSIDE so OTHER PEOPLE can COME IN. Can experience the power of Jesus. But there’s no keyhole on the OUTSIDE.

The name of Jesus isn’t a magic word. It’s the authority of Jesus that’s only available for those who are UNDER his authority. And it only works because it’s Jesus himself who authorises it.

4. The name held in high honour (17-20)

And when the story becomes known around Ephesus, we read in v17 that THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS was held in high honour. In other words, people recognised that Jesus had authority, and deserved the honour and allegiance of people.

Which is more than just an intellectual assent. To honour the name of Jesus means to SHOW THAT IN YOUR LIFE. To repent. To turn around from following your OLD ways. And begin following Jesus instead. Look at it there in v18.

18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.  20 In this way the word of the Lord        widely and grew in power.

That’s getting rid of the OLD way of life. those things that threaten your NEW loyalty to Jesus. Because you can’t serve two masters.

What do YOU need to burn to show your allegiance to Jesus? To honour Jesus NAME?

Dave Ayling, the Doonside High COBIS worker, has had a BURNING at his youth group just like THIS one. Where young people were challenged to get rid of the things that were holding them back. That were leading them astray. That were drawing their allegiances away from Jesus.

And so, they burned magazines, and DVD’s, and music.

What do YOU need to throw on? The TV program, or even the TV. The computer. The sharemarket advice. The overseas holiday brochure. Your career aspirations. Your cosy, comfortable retirement plans?

To be baptised into Jesus’ name means you’ve moved camps. Crossed over. Changed nationalities. And so your allegiances need to change too.

And see what that means? There in v20. “In this way the word of the Lord        widely and GREW IN POWER”.

The power of the gospel is seen in the changed lives of people. People who are living under the authority of Jesus. Who claim the NAME of Jesus.

5. Who’s name is greatest? (21-41)

The last section shows who’s name is the GREATEST. Plenty of gods in Ephesus. In particular, a huge temple to Artemis, or Diana.

And when the name of Jesus starts to grow in honour and reputation, then the trade in temple trinkets starts to suffer. Demetrius starts a riot. Listen to what he says. V25.

“Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. (that’s his REAL concern) 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that MAN-MADE GODS ARE NO GODS AT ALL.

That’s the choice. Lumps of metal, with wobbly legs. Made from moulds or with a hammer and chisel. That sit in the corner and get rust on them. Or the REAL God, who sent his Son Jesus to conquer and sin. And whose name has power over demons and sickness.

Of COURSE Paul was teaching that man-made gods are NO GODS AT ALL. Which means the temple trade was losing its GOOD NAME. It’s reputation. But not only THEM. V27.

Also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

When people understand the TRUTH and POWER of Jesus, then pretenders just fall by the wayside. When the name of JESUS is being HONOURED, then of COURSE the names of the temple and the false god will suffer.

And so, the riot is nothing more than PROOF OF THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS. Because there’s no case to answer.

The one who’s name Paul preaches/ is the one who has authority over evil spirits. Over sickness. Over lame men. And over the independence and pride of humans, who recognise their need. And submit to Jesus. Who bow the knee before the one whose NAME is the only one by which we can be saved. And who are baptised into the NAME of the Lord Jesus.

Honouring the name

Is that something YOU’VE done? Do you bow your knee before King Jesus?

He’s the one who’s defeated sin and . Who lives NOW at God’s right hand. And who will one day return to judges. HE’s the one with power over sickness and demons.

And he wants YOUR allegiance. Will you DO that? Will you do what the Ephesians did? They held the name of the Lord Jesus in high honour. They openly confessed their evil deeds. And they publicly committed to making a new start.

But that’s not just something you do ONCE, but EVERY DAY.

At the beginning of each day, do you make the conscious declaration to make it JESUS’ day? To reaffirm that you are HIS? That your thoughts and words and actions might be those of someone who is HONOURING the name of Jesus?

At the END of each day. Do you review your day? Confess your sins. Renew your commitment to honouring the name of the Lord Jesus.

If you’ve been baptized INTO the name of Jesus, then you need to be LIVING as a citizen of his kingdom.

The news has been filled this year with Rugby League players giving the NRL a BAD NAME. Whether it’s Andrew Johns abusing a touch judge. Or Gordon Tallis throwing a beer glass at a waiter. Or the assaults or the headbutts. Or the drunkenness. The list goes on and on.

But the sad news is/ the media ALSO loves it when Christians are found out. Not honouring the name of the Lord Jesus. Through moral failure. Fraud or ery. Or hypocritical behaviour. Or foolish comments or actions.

Our job is to be honouring the name of the Lord Jesus. And causing OTHERS to do the same. Because that’s God’s desire for his world. That EVERYONE would honour the name of his son Jesus. Phil 2:9-11

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and GA VE HIM THE NAME THAT IS ABOVE EVERY NAME, 10 that AT THE NAME OF JESUS EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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