An Apostolic Understanding – Part Fifty-Nine

As we saw yesterday – in Ephesus the Gospel went viral

“Going viral” is a phrase used in internet marketing. When people get excited about a product today, they share with their friends through social media. Those friends then share it with their friends, who share it with their friends. When this takes place, huge numbers of people can be affected in a very short time.

Normally evangelism looks like this…

Start with an evangelist. They draw the biggest crowd they can, and preach the best message they can, and some respond. This is good as people do get saved!

But evangelism in Ephesus went far beyond this

Ephesus experienced viral evangelism. As every member of the church was equipped by the fivefold ministry to heal and cast out demons, the city took notice. People who were healed or delivered got so excited that they told their friends. The excitement spread.. This is how the original small group of disciples evangelized a half-million people in two years. The good news went from person to person, and from friend to friend, to reach the city of Ephesus and every other city in the region.

Side note:

This is what happened in the United States and Canada during the Jesus Movement. In the days of the Jesus Movement, an entire generation was hopeless, living in fear, and held in bondage to addiction. Then the Jesus Movement began, and people started telling their fiends, “Turn to Jesus! Get filled with the Holy Spirit and get an instant cure for addiction.” The word spread from person to person and a great harvest came in. Some estimate that the total harvest from the Jesus Movement worldwide was over two million people.

Back to Ephesus:

As a major hub for the occult, people in Ephesus had been held in terrible bondage. Horoscopes and witchcraft might seem interesting at first. The occult may grab your attention for its novelty, but when you go far enough into it, you end up in bondage. In Ephesus the word spread that Christians had the power to bring freedom

Many times Christians today look at people in the occult as enemies. We see them as evil and dark, and this is true of some of them. But we need to remember what happened in Ephesus. The magicians and sorcerers in Ephesus were in deep darkness. They were known all over the world for their occult powers. But when they saw the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated by common, ordinary Christians, they burned their books of witchcraft and spells. Their response revealed their true motivation. Their goal was not to do evil. They just wanted to experience spiritual power and the occult was the only place they knew to find it. When they saw that the Church had a power greater than the devil’s, they were quick to shift

Many people today get into the occult for the same reason. Many who are sorcerers, witches, and warlocks today actually attended church at one point in their lives. But when they didn’t see any power in the church, they turned to the occult. For many of them, when they see a Christianity with more power than the occult, they will be quick to repent and return to the Church that Jesus is building – the new wineskin. As new wineskins are established, don’t be surprised to see people coming in out of the occult.

The regional, apostolic church in Ephesus has much to say to the Church today!