Scattered Seeds: Acts 8 (3)
Pray Psalm 130.7, 8.
O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
Sing Psalm 130.7, 8.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Hope in the Lord, with Jesus is love!
Plenteous redemption abounds in His face.
He will redeem us, who rules from above;
He will forgive us by His grace.
Read Acts 8.1-13; meditate on verses 9-13.
1. Who was Simon?
2. What happened to him?
Read and meditate on Acts 8.9-13.
Card tricks? Bogus fortune telling? Delphic double-speak? Did Simon have others working with him to pull the wool over the credulous Samaritans’ eyes? We don’t know. Simon was impressive, to say the least (vv. 9, 10). But even Simon was boggled and amazed by what he heard and saw in Philip. So amazed, in fact, that he “also believed” and “was baptized” (v. 13). The amazerwas amazed, and he put his trust in the Lord, or so it seems.
The signs and wonders that clustered around those early believers weren’t merely healings and deliverance from demons. The love which shone out from the Christian community in Acts 6 was a sign that created wonder and conversion to Christ on the part of many. Philip’s witness – bold, effective, accompanied by good works – was a sign of the Kingdom that caused even Simon to wonder and be amazed.
Simon’s power may have been occult in nature. He may even have known a few sleight-of-hand tricks, or how to manipulate the natural world to produce a “wonder” (remember those science class experiments?). We don’t know. But he knew his “power” (v. 10) wasn’t really “the power of God”. As we shall see, Simon wanted the power but not the Lord – the gifts and benefits, but not the Giver and Benefactor.
He’ll have Peter in his face over his self-centered “faith” in Jesus.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Simon’s situation is a sad one. He had experienced much acclaim through his “astonishing” deeds; and his heart must’ve soared with hubris because all gave him “heed” saying he had “great power” (Acts 8.9-11).
But oops. Now someone new had rolled into town and caused “great joy” because of his good works of healing in Samaria (Acts 8.8).
The thing was, Simon was also amazed at the good works Philip was doing because he knew they were real, authentic, and true. Jealous? Probably. But amazed. Truly (Acts 8.13).
The lesson here for us is clear. We can be amazed at the Gospel. We can get baptized. We can attend church.
We can even be a full-fledged member of a church. But unless we heed the words of Stephen, we will not have made the complete turn to following Jesus. Merely mostly following.
Stephen said to the church leaders of his day, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your father did, so do you” (Acts 7.51).
There is a further step that we all must take to truly be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. He told us Himself: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28.18-20).
And, “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1.8).
And, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth…He dwells with you and will be in you.” (Jn. 14.12, 15, 16, 17)
We don’t want to be like sad Simon—almost there, almost powerful, almost useful.
We want to be complete in Christ. (Col. 2.10)
Full of the Holy Spirit and power!
1. How can you know whether your faith in Jesus is true and genuine, or whether it’s like Simon’s?
2. What would you say are the identifying marks of one who was “merely mostly following” Jesus, but not a true disciple?
3. What can believers do to help one another love Jesus and keep His commandments?
… we see thereby how mighty the truth is, there is also set before us an example of constancy in Philip, who, though he saw no way, yet doth he set hand to the Lord’s work with a valiant courage, waiting for the success which God should give. And thus must we do, we must valiantly attempt whatsoever the Lord commandeth, even when our endeavors seem to be vain. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Acts 8.11
Pray Psalm 130-1.6.
Thank the Lord for His forgiveness. Wait on Him to help you prepare for the day ahead, that you might serve Him well in all you do.
Sing Psalm 130.1-6.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Out of the depths I cry to You, Lord!
Lord, hear my voice; have mercy on me!
Who can resist Your powerful Word
if You should mark iniquity?
There is forgiveness, Lord, with You,
that we may fear before Your face.
I wait for You; in Your Word most true
I hope to find renewing grace.
More than the watchmen wait for the day,
eagerly seeking the morning light,
I wait for You and earnestly pray,
hoping in You with all my might.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.