What happens when people believe the gospel?
Many times I’ve prayed with people who expressed an interest in trusting in Christ and after the prayer, they look up and say something like, “I don’t feel any different.” Perhaps they are expecting a warm and happy feeling like seeing a cuddly puppy or cute baby. That may or may not be an immediate consequence of trusting in Christ.
But as Acts 19 demonstrates, there are other consequences to trusting in Christ. Notice verses 18-19:
“Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 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.”
A most basic result of believing the gospel is confession of sin and a turning away from sin. Notice that these Ephesian believers were coming one after another (they kept coming) to confess their sin — to affirm that God’s commands were righteous and their actions were unrighteous. And in conjunction with that, they were disclosing and reporting their sinful practices. Because of their conversion to Christ, they were unafraid to reveal what their sin was and unafraid to admit their guilt. And even more, they were willing to stop those sins — even at great personal cost. Rather than selling their books or giving them to others who might use them, these Ephesian converts destroyed the books so that they might never be used for sinful purposes by anyone ever again.
The work of the gospel in the lives of the Ephesian converts provides us with an opportunity to examine the effect of the gospel in our own lives:
- When I sin, am I quick to confess my sin and admit my guilt before God and those whom I sin against?
- Am I willing to identify and name my sins for what they are — even admitting them to others so they might help me in the fight against sin?
- Am I willing to radically amputate (see also Mt. 5:29-30; 18:8-9) any opportunities to continue in that sin?
There are consequences and results that come from believing the gospel. They were readily and quickly apparent in the Ephesians. Is the gospel continuing to be evidenced in my life day-by-day?