July 8, 2021 - Acts 8:4-25
The work of the Holy Spirit is an amazing, powerful activity that has intrigued and fascinated believers and unbelievers alike. To see the ways that God demonstrates His plan and enables ordinary men to proclaim Christ with powerful results is extraordinary.
Philip was a deacon who had been selected in Acts 6 to serve and to assist the Apostles in the growing ministry that had mushroomed in Jerusalem. With the beginning of persecution and the execution of Stephen, the church scattered throughout the region and the gospel message continued to be proclaimed to all who would listen and believe. This message was heard by a powerful sorcerer named Simon in Samaria. He was struck by two elements of the gospel that cause him to consider the claims of Philip regarding Christ. The first element is the power that was demonstrated by Philip through miracles and healings (v.13). The second powerful aspect was the proclamation of the word of God that accompanied these signs. As Simon listened and watched the miracles, he made a profession of faith. He was then baptized and continued traveling with Philip until the apostles from Jerusalem came and demonstrated great power.
This new demonstration of power led Simon to offer money and to seek the power of the Spirit that was being demonstrated through the apostles. In this exchange of communication, Peter strongly condemned Simon and apparently sends him away as an unbeliever and a person still under judgment of sin. Simon asks for prayer but is not heard from again. It appears that Simon had not truly received forgiveness of sin but only had desired the power of the Spirit. His heart is revealed as seeking power, not forgiveness. Peter's words of condemnation brought the true heart condition to light.
We need to be cautious when new people make a profession of faith and come to the Lord. During revival or an emotional time of suffering and persecution people can make claims that later are revealed to be untrue. The response may be more for safety or to fulfill an urge to remain in power. Time revealed Simon's heart condition.
It is important to assist those who make professions of faith to become grounded in the truth of God's word, not just the apparent power of God's spiritual works.
Individuals who only want the power of God and not the Word of God, are at risk of not being a true part of the body of Christ. Pray for young believers you know to be grounded in the Word of God.