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Acts 19:18-20 A Book Burning

Posted by Matt Postiff November 21, 2009 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Bible Texts 
And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practice magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

Ephesus had its share of trouble in the spiritual realm. There were men who had not heard of the gospel of Christ nor of the Holy Spirit (1-7); there were Jews who were hard-hearted (8-9); there were demon-possessed people (8:12); there were self-proclaimed exorcists (13-17); there were those who practiced the black arts (19); and there were many idolaters who worshiped the Greek goddess Diana.

Even though this was the situation, God used Paul and his friends to call many Ephesians to salvation. The initial ministry there lasted about three years (Acts 20:31). During that time, there was good evidence that those who believed were genuinely saved. One instance is elaborated in our text. The first thing mentioned in v. 18 is that those who believed came together and testified about their former lifestyle, undoubtedly magnifying God's grace as they showed what a great change had taken place in their lives.

This radical change did not only exist in the realm of theory. Rather, it led them to publicly destroy things which had influenced them. This was a way to give public testimony to God's transforming work, and to tell everyone that they rejected their former ways. The text mentions books in particular. Many books (even so-called "Christian" ones) are godless and should find no place in the Christian's library. The same principle must be applied to music or any other thing that held us before we were saved. And money is not an issue. If it is evil, no matter how expensive, it must go--and quickly.

In the end, the word of the Lord spread (v. 20). True belief and transformed practice have a way of doing that. MAP

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