"So the Word of the Lord was growing mightily" – two different responses to the Word of God
"And he (Paul) entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly (God's Word) for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God (teaching/preaching God's Word). 9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily (through God's Word) in the school of Tyrannus. 10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the Word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:8-10)
Here in Acts 19 we see two different responses to God's Word:
1) Confession of sin, deliverance, love for God's Word and worship of Jesus – "and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing." (vv. 17-20)
2) Hardened, disobedient, speaking evil of believers (v.9), rage, confusion, worship of false gods and money; a very close description of the unbelieving world today. (vv. 23-29) – "About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. 24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; 25 these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. 26 You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. 27 Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence." 28 When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29 The city was filled with the confusion." (vv. 23-29)
Maybe Paul began his two-year course at the "University of Tyrannus" with Psalm 19:7-11 where God (through His servant David) extols His Word to us. Let's look at what God Himself says about His Word:
7 "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring (or converting) the soul." – God's doctrines in the OT and the NT are perfect, complete, nothing left out and nothing to be added, to turn a man away from sin, back to God and to restore his soul to look more and more like Jesus. The OT Law drives us to Jesus and the gospel draws us to His embrace of forgiveness and unconditional love forever. 21 "The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:21-24)
"The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." – God's Word bears witness that God Himself is the Author as when Jesus would say "truly, truly (or verily, verily – KJV; e.g., John 3:3) I say unto you." In other words, you better believe it is true and it is sure, certain, solid truth that you can stand on. All other ground is sinking sand. And the simple (humble-minded, teachable) disciples can be made wise and can learn the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of the world. "At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." (Matt. 11:25-26) "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." (1 Cor. 20-21) When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil man did not become smarter (Mr. Jobs) but dumber and especially morally.
8 "The precepts (or statutes) of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart." – In His Word God tells us what make us right with Him (righteousness) and when we please Him it brings us joy. So we go from conversion, to a restored soul, to becoming wise, to rejoicing in the Lord.
"The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." – God's truth has no error whatsoever; it is pure milk and meat, not spoiled by sin and lies. And it cures the moral blindness caused by sin and gives us discernment of good and evil. "For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! 14But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice (by obedience to God's Word) to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law." (Heb. 5:13-14)
9"The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever." – This describes the effect of God's Word; rightly fearing God, meaning I put no confidence in my flesh and consciously realize how desperately I need God to know what is wise and to know I need His power within me to live it out. Thus the fear of the Lord cleanses me from the love of sin as I walk the narrow road that leads to life and joy versus the broad road of autonomy that leads to destruction and misery. The fear of the Lord has eternal blessings that last forever and ever; it endures forever.
"The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether." – This speaks of God's razor-sharp justice. His Word is true, righteous and just as a whole and in every jot (every iota) and tittle (even every accent mark). Earthly judges may be bribed but …"Far be it from you (God) to do such a thing-to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen 18:25)
10 "They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb." – Here we see both profit (gold) and pleasure (honey) in God's Word.
1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
3 and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds victory in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair-every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you. (Prov. 2:1-11)
11 "Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward." – Notice that only the "servant" pays heed to the Words of His Master, King Jesus, and avoids the costly pain of disobedience and gains the great reward of "keeping them" (obeying God's Word and warnings). The rewards are both now (inner peace from a clear conscience before God and man – Acts 24:16) and more so, for all eternity. "Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:17-18)
20 "So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing." Note the contrast between those who let God's Word prevail over them and those who rebelled against God's truth: Confession of sin, deliverance, love for God's Word and worship of Jesus; versus hardened, disobedient, speaking evil of believers, rage, confusion, worship of false gods and money. It reminds me of the two kinds of wisdom seen in James 3:13-18; the wisdom of the world, the devil and the flesh or the wisdom of God: 13 "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (through knowing and obeying God's Word). Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Rom. 12:1-2) As the Word of God comes in and we let it prevail over us, it drives out the world, the devil and the flesh. May we be Men of the Book.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. Please ask someone to slowly read Psalm 19:7-11 (NASB version as in your lesson). Read a verse and pause in silence for a few seconds. If you hear a word or phrase that blesses you, or challenges you, please share this with your table group.
2. Now do the same for all of Proverbs 2.
3. Now do the same for James 3:13-18
4. And now do the same for Romans 12:1-2