Four times in Book of Acts this little phrase is repeated: “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”
We see it again in Acts 19:20.
In this way.
In what way you may ask? That’s what I wondered also.
In Acts 19:13-19 we get some background clues at to “what way” the word of the Lord was growing. In this portion of Scripture the reader discovers some amazingly miraculous events. In the midst of this grace-filled season, a few itinerant Jewish preachers tried their hand at casting out some demons (if Paul can do it, why couldn’t we?).
Well, they were in for it, that’s for sure. The demons that they assumed they could cast out actually questioned who they were. They said, “We know Jesus and we know Paul, but who in the world are these goofballs?” Then, to make matters worst, they proceeded to beat the snot out of the men, leaving them naked and wounded.
When this embarrassing debacle was posted on Twitter and Facebook (or whatever social media tools they had then), it spread like a silly YouTube video. Soon everyone throughout Ephesus had heard about the beatdown and were filled with fear.
The next few verses describe nothing short of wholesale repentance. People confessed sin, divulged secret practices, and burned stuff that they knew to be evil. It was time to clean house.
Repentance is the way “the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” In the Greek language it is called “metenoia” which means a change of mind. Repentance looks like a 180 degree turn.
Wanna keep growing? Repent often. This is at the heart of the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near” Matthew 4:17.
Why should we repent? Well, because we are sinners. RC Sproul says, “We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners.” Unfortunately one church historian has said that “…the appeal of modern evangelism is not for repentance but for enlistment.”
Sadly a large segment of the American Church has gotten to a place of wanting people to have rapport WITH Jesus rather than repent TO Jesus.
What are your thoughts about repentance?