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Accept No Substitutes

The devil wakes up and works over some greedy brothers. Too little, too late.

Acts 17

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27

This week’s video is presentation 17 in our study of Acts. In it we review the ongoing work of Christ as it becomes established in churches, such as those in Jerusalem, Corinth, and Ephesus. You can view it by clicking here (scroll down to Lesson 17).

Read and meditate on Acts 19.11-16.
This episode provides a bit of comic relief from the excitement of the fast-spreading Gospel. It also reminds us that the ongoing work of the Lord does not escape the attention of spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. We need to prepare for these, too.

For reflection
1.  Like Simon in Acts 8, these sons of Sceva were just looking for some “edge” for themselves, something to bring a little more glitz and bang to their exorcising business. Should we expect to see people like this today, trying to use the Gospel for their own peculiar interests or advantage? Explain.

2.  The comic part is not that they get drubbed by the evil spirit for their self-serving attempt to capitalize on the name of Jesus. The comic part is the evil spirit itself, the devil’s representative on earth. What are some ways today we might expect to experience spiritual adversity in the ongoing work of the Lord?

3.  Remember: The Gospel has been going forward everywhere, on all fronts, with almost no resistance from the devil, so it seems. The demon in the little girl in Philippi? Toast! Jesus has the devil on a leash (Matt. 12.22-29), and the more Paul and the others preached and made converts, the angrier the devil became. How shall we reconcile the teaching of Matthew 12.22-29 with Peter’s warning in 1 Peter 5.8 and Paul’s comments in Ephesians 6.12?

4.  The devil could do nothing to stop the spread of the Gospel. He was beginning to look bad in front of his fellow demons. But when these opportunistic exorcists tried to make some purchase with the name of Jesus, the Lord gave one of the devil’s minions some leash, and he whacked these guys a good one. Is this a victory for the devil, or merely a pyrrhic victory? Explain.

5.  The ongoing work of Christ continues amid a ferocious spiritual warfare, and Luke doesn’t want us to forget this. He could have reminded us in some more fantastic way – complete with spinning heads, projectile vomiting, and things that go bump in the night. But why lead us to think the devil has any power to terrorize? Why not remind us with a vignette highlighting the haplessness of the devil and his cause? Well done, Luke. Spiritual warfare is serious business, but they who believe in Jesus know how to handle the devil and his ilk. How would you counsel a new believer to prepare both to recognize and fight the good fight in our spiritual warfare?

Not even the power of the devil can hold back the ongoing work of Christ. Herod couldn’t. The religious leaders and philosophers of the day couldn’t. Angry mobs couldn’t. Nothing can stop the progress of the Kingdom of God (cf. Dan. 2.44, 45; Is. 9.6, 7). So why are we seeing so little progress in the ongoing work of Christ in our day?

Closing Prayer
You have given a banner to those who fear You,
That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah
That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and hear me.
God has spoken in His holiness:
“I will rejoice;
I will divide Shechem
And measure out the Valley of Succoth.
Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine;
Ephraim also is the helmet for My head;
Judah is My lawgiver.
Moab is My washpot;
Over Edom I will cast My shoe;
Philistia, shout in triumph because of Me.”
Who will bring me to the strong city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Is it not You, O God, who cast us off?
And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?
Give us help from trouble,
For the help of man is useless.
Through God we will do valiantly,
For it is He who shall tread down our enemies.

Psalm 60.4-12

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book,
The Kingdom Turn (click here).

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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