…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
There’s real money, … and there’s fake, counterfeit money,
genuine goods, … and deceptive imitations,
… all for a fast buck.
Jesus warned about false prophets,
“Beware of false prophets who come
disguised as harmless sheep
but are really vicious wolves.”
Mathew 7:15 (NLT)
Paul & Peter shared about false teachers, false brethren, false apostles (2 Peter 2:1, 2 Cor 11:13, 26)
How does one discern them?
Is being a believer and having been baptised enough ?
Is there a right and wrong desire for God’s power / anointing, authority ?
Let’s explore Acts 8 to find out and uncover:
** God’s power / ministry through Philip
** Counterfeit power
** Simon meets Philip’s ministry
** The truth about Simon, … Simon meets Peter’s ministry
** Peter’s advice to Simon
God’s power / ministry through Philip
Acts 8:1, 2, 4-8 (NASB)
1… And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.
4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. 6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was much rejoicing in that city.
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
There was a great persecution, and the early church witnessed the first martyr for Jesus — Stephen.
As a result, the believers in the early church scattered went about preaching the word, … they kept on sharing the good news of Jesus beyond Jerusalem, despite the challenges.
Philip proclaiming Christ,
the people in Samaria heard and saw the signs
— many who had unclean spirits, were set free, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice
and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed
Result: much rejoicing in that city, they believed the good news of Jesus Christ
as people were visibly physically & spiritually set free by the authority of Jesus name.
The truth of God’s word changes lives.
God’s power, … always points others to Jesus!
The content of Philip’s message:
Philip was preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 (NASB)
Result: they believed, they were being baptized
Its important to note: The crowds with one accord were giving attention to
what was said by Philip,
as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing
The crowds were drawn to Jesus Christ whom Philip preached,
Attention was not drawn to Phlip, .. but to Jesus.
After this exhilarating ministry of God to a whole city with great crowds, Philip’s next assignment was:
26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying,
“Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
This is desert.
27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia …
Acts 8:26,27 (NASB)
from crowds, .. to a dusty, deserted, dry road in the desert
to minister to just one person.
Philip obeyed, submitted, .. he arose and went (action)
Philip’s ministry was led by the Holy Spirit,
whether to large crowds, .. in a city,
or just one person in the desert.
He wasn’t swayed by fame,
rather, he was constantly listening to the Holy Spirit to direct him.
Certainly, Philip’s ministry was not to bring glory to himself.
Philip was faithful in both great and small things.
After ministering to the man from Ethiopia, Luke records,
40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through
he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
Acts 8:40 (NASB)
In Philip’s life, … ministry, preaching the good news of Jesus was a lifestyle,
rather than a duty, or a scheduled activity,
or when he’s on some stage or podium,
whether to many in a city,
… or to just one person on a dusty road in the desert.
Philip ministered personally to each one.
Acts 8, begins with,
… At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem …
Acts 8:1 (NASB)
Before this story, in the previous chapter (Acts 7), Philip’s friend, Stephen was martyred.
In the days of Acts and even today in some regions & countries, … to minister God’s word, … involves great personal cost, … and sometimes even one’s life.
On a side note, … the big picture,
God’s hand was, is and will be at work, .. whatever the situation:
persecution of disciples in Jerusalem, … martyr,
disciples scattered to Judea Samaria,
… revival in Samaria
… even more followers of Jesus !
Who is Philip ?
one with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom … (Acts 6:3 [AMP])
Character, integrity, … full of God’s Spirit and wisdom from God’s Word.
Who is Simon?
Acts 8:9-24 (NASB)
9 Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts.
Other translations: magic — sorcery (NKJV, NIV, HCSB)
Simon was involved in magic sorcery,
he was attributed with the Great Power of God by everyone in the city. Though, behind the slick & polished facet, … a counterfeit deception.
He astonished the people with his magic sorcery,
They were paying attention to him
because for a long time he had mystified and dazzled them with his magic (AMP).
Simon held the people in the city spellbound by his magic sorcery; he had influence over the people of the city.
Simon even had a title bestowed by the people upon him — the Great Power of God, … a spiritual celebrity
He claimed to be someone great — pointing the people to … Simon, himself
The people in Samaria were giving attention to him — Simon.
(Although not stated in the text, Simon probably benefited personally from his fame.)
Result: people were astonished & dazzled at Simon’s magic sorcery, the people gave attention to Simon. The people followed Simon.
Summarizing, … the contrast between Philip and Simon:
Philip’s crowd was drawn to God’s Word & His manifested power,
Simon’s crowd was drawn to his astonishing magic sorcery.
In Philip’s ministry, the people were visibly & tangibly changed to honor Jesus.
For Simon’s magic sorcery, the people were astonished and dazzled,
… however, changed lives?
In Philip’s ministry, the people drew attention to what Philip said, i.e. God’s Word.
In Simon’s magic sorcery, the people’s attention was drawn to Simon, himself.
Simon meets Philip’s ministry
Acts 8:12-13 (NASB)
12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.
13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized,
he continued on with Philip,
and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place,
he was constantly amazed.
13… he followed Philip everywhere,
astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. (NIV)
Seeing God’s power at work in transforming lives physically & spiritually,
… Simon, himself was constantly amazed at the signs and great miracles taking place
Simon encountered a power that he had not known or seen before, … a more awesome & amazing power than what he was capable of through his magic sorcery.
a similar situation in the Old Testament:
10 … Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials,
and it became a snake.
11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff
and it became a snake.
But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
Exodus 7:10-12 (NIV)
Simon believed, and was baptized.
Simon followed Philip everywhere, … he went to all of Philip’s meetings
and was constantly amazed,
as he observed signs and great miracles taking place
As Philip shared the gospel with powerful miracles and signs to Samaria,
Simon’s fame in the city diminished, … as people turned to Jesus,
the true Great Power of God
The truth about Simon, … Simon meets Peter’s ministry
Acts 8:14-24 (NASB)
14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
For the believers in Samaria, the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they (including Simon) had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (i.e. water baptised)
When Simon saw a visible & tangible sign that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands,
he made his request to Peter and John,
“Give this authority to me …”
On a side note, although what Simon saw when the Spirit was bestowed,
was not recorded in Acts 8, there’s a good likelihood that its speaking in tongues — as witnessed on 3 ocsasions, Acts 2, 10 & 19.
… “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
2 Corinthians 13:1 (NASB)
Simon’s request to Peter is interesting.
Simon did not first seek to receive the Holy Spirit himself !
he sought for what he thought was ‘even greater’,
the authority so that
“… everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit”
Simon so badly wanted this power, this authority, this ability,
he offered the apostles money.
Simon wanted power & authority,
… without first receiving the Holy Spirit himself.
He wanted authority, … power, influence, control
… more than the Holy Spirit.
Simon saw power, authority, … signs, miracles through Philip, Peter & John,
he was astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw
Simon craved it, … coveted it … for himself.
Perhaps, … possibly,
may be the reason why he believed,
WIIIFM — what is it in for me?
Furthermore, Acts records Simon followed Philip everywhere after he believed.
… was Simon really following Jesus, … following God’s word?
was he just drawn by the signs and miracles through Philip?
Desiring a piece of the action?
“Give this authority to me as well, ..”
Jesus pointed out:
“… For the mouth speaks
what the heart is full of.”
Luke 6:45 (NIV)
Thus, by listening to one’s words,
what one treasures, .. what one is really passionate about …
one’s character .. is revealed.
Thus, Simon’s request .. revealed what was in his heart.
“… everyone on whom I lay my hands
may receive the Holy Spirit”
Simon’s request almost sounds like the tail wagging the dog.
The Holy Spirit is sovereign, and all things are received by His grace and mercy.
When the Gentiles first received the Holy Spirit at Cornelius’ home in Acts 10,
no one prayed for them.
Simon offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well … ”
Simon wanted to pay Peter and John to impart to him the same authority they had.
However, Simon did not see that Peter & John’s authority came from Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Simon wanted the power, the authority, … and he wanted it badly.
Simon offered to buy the mantle of spiritual authority/ministry from Peter,
… spiritual ability/credentials, … honor.
Simon reduced God’s grace, and Christ’s sacrifice
… simply to a trade, .. a financial transaction,
reduced to earthly € £ $ ¥ .
Thus, if Simon can buy this,
then, .. others can also buy from Simon,
(a traded commodity)
Simon (& others like him)
sought to buy authority and power through whatever means.
However, they had little desire to live their lives according to God’s word, and allow God’s hands to mould their character into men and women of God.
Btw, Simon’s action is the origin of the English word, … simony.
Therefore, Simon’s focus was not on the Lord and His kingdom,
rather, his was a me-centered request.
From Peter’s reply to Simon, … Peter revealed to Simon that the kingdom of God does not work this way.
Acts 8:20-24 (NASB)
20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you,
because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
21 You have no part or portion in this matter,
for your heart is not right before God.
22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours,
and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.
23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”
24 But Simon answered and said,
“Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Somehow, … the Lord
was totally missing in both Simon’s requests to Peter;
Simon asked Peter about purchasing the authority, and in the end he asked Peter,
“Pray to the Lord for me yourselves .. ”
Leaving one wondering about Simon’s prayer life.
Thankfully, … unlike Balaam in the Old Testament, and Judas in the Gospels,
Peter refused Simon’s enticing bribe :
21You have no part or share in this ministry,
because your heart is not right before God. (NIV)
Peter was 100% bought and redeem by Jesus and His precious blood,
any buyout from anyone was not possible.
Not for sale, .. at any price.
7 And as you go, preach, saying,
‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.
Freely you received,
Matthew 10:7, 8 (NASB)
Grace: Freely you received, … freely give
Thus, Paul wrote:
… we are not commercializing God’s word like so many others.
we speak with sincerity in the Messiah’s name,
like people who are sent from God
and are accountable to God.
1 Corinthians 2:13 (ISV)
commercializing God’s word, other translations:
— market God’s message for profit,
get rich from preaching God’s message,
peddling the word of God (HCSB, CEV, NASB)
Simon’s offered to purchase the gift of God,
the authority, … possibly apostleship.
Perhaps, … to maintain & enhance his claimed to be someone great in the city?
Reclaim his status in the city, as someone great, the Great Power of God ? His old pursuit?
Dazzling the people?
Peter used the phrase gift of God — i.e. freely given & received,
… why would Simon think of paying ?
repent of this wickedness
Peter invites us to search our hearts …
why do we want spiritual power & authority?
… what’s the intention of our heart, … the motivation for the request,
in Simon’s case — wickedness (κακία, in the Greek – malice,wickedness, evil);
implying something sinister brewing in Simon’s heart.
look at me,
look at him, … look at her,
look at Jesus !
How’s our hearts? Are our hearts right before God?
Do we think we need to earn the gifts of God?
Are we looking for shortcuts?
Do we pray, .. personally spend time with God regularly?
God’s power points to Jesus, Himself,
not to us.
Jesus said, “The Spirit of truth will bring glory to Me (Jesus) …” John 16:14 (NCV)
In God’s mercy, Peter graciously ministered to Simon,
to help Simon, … to restore Simon.
Peter’s message to Simon was respectful, gracious, clear and concise,
having himself experienced Jesus restore him
& his love for the Lord (after denying Jesus).
Galatians 6:1 (NLT, MSG)
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin,
you who are godly should gently and humbly help
that person back onto the right path.
And be careful
not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin,
forgivingly restore him,
saving your critical comments for yourself.
You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.
Through a word of knowledge, the Holy Spirit gave Peter insight about Simon,
“I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity”
The Holy Spirit sees and knows all things.
God loves us too much … to leave us the way we are.
Outwardly, Simon looked like any believer —
baptised, .. attending the meetings, activities/rituals, .. speaking the lingo,
by the Holy Spirit revelation,
Peter saw what was in Simon’s heart,
gall of bitterness … the bondage of iniquity
full of bitter jealousy … are held captive by sin (NLT)
poisoned by bitterness … bound by iniquity. (HCSB)
Bitterness in the Greek, πικρία
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God;
that no root of bitterness (πικρία) springing up causes trouble,
and by it many be defiled;
Hebrews 12:14, 15 (NASB)
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness (πικρία).
Romans 3:14 (NASB)
Bitterness, bitter jealousy that poisons, cause trouble, and many be defiled amongst God’s people,
than building trusting friendships in the grace of God,
pursuing peace with all men.
Iniquity in the Greek, ἀδικία — injustice; morally, wrongfulness (of character, life or act)
poisoned by bitterness, full of bitter jealosy
Simon himself was not free, … he was under bondage of iniquity,
held captive by sin,
How could Simon help set others free ?
In short, Simon had the seeds to mess up others in the body of Christ.
Can he truly be trusted with God’s delegated authority & power?
your heart is not right before God
Although Simon believed and was baptised,
his heart was not yet yielded to God’s Word & God’s love.
Living in Samaria, Simon would have understood what God required of him, … i.e. God’s standard of righteousness and Law.
Peter’s advice to Simon was
change your heart! turn away from this evil thing you have done (NCV)
and pray the Lord’s forgiveness,
i.e. get his heart right with the Lord.
Luke, the author of Acts did not give further details of what finally became of Simon.
Simon’s thirst for personal power,
the condition of his heart — bitterness & iniquity,
and from his previous magic sorcery, where he drew attention to himself,
is in direct contrast with what God’s power is about.
God’s power flows from God’s love and compassion.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd,
he had compassion on them
and healed their sick.
Matthew 14:14 (NASB)
2 If I have the gift of prophecy
and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, (all awesome gifts, power)
do not have love,
I am nothing.
5 … love is not self-seeking …
1 Corinthians 13:2, 5 (NIV)
God’s power gives Glory to the Lord,
God’s gifts are for the benefit and blessing of others,
… a gift from God,
freely given by God’s grace and mercy,
Rather than, for the benefit of the person through which God’s power flows through.
Peter’s advice to Simon
At a personal level, Peter’s counsel to Simon demonstrated:
Ephesians 2:8 (NASB)
For by grace you have been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God
Romans 6:15 (NASB)
Shall we sin
because we are
not under law
but under grace?
May it never be!
The balance between law and grace in the New Covenant through Jesus.
Saved by God’s grace & mercy through faith,
no one can live above God’s law & truth.
25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying,
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 And He (Jesus) said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?”
27 And he answered,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind;
and your neighbor as yourself.”
28 And He said to him,
“You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-27 (NASB)
do this and you will live
Eternal life is to be lived out in our daily lives in love.
Peter’s final words to Simon was to repent affirms what John wrote:
1 John 1:5-10 (NASB)
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that
God is Light,
and in Him
there is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him
walk in the darkness,
and do not practice the truth;
if we walk in the Light
as He Himself is in the Light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus His Son
cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin,
we are deceiving ourselves
and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned,
we make Him a liar
and His word is not in us.
By Jesus blood, and God’s grace,
we can be restored in our fellowship with the Lord,
walking in His light, His truth, His word.
Thank God, our fellowship with the Lord can be restored.
He is faithful and righteous
to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And if we decide not to confess our sins
and not practice the truth
then, we are deceiving ourselves,
His word is not in us
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
Psalm 86:11 (NRSV)
As we end Simon’s story,
this story, … raises a few questions.
Besides the apostles, did anyone else prayed for others to receive the Holy Spirit?
Who can receive God’s power to minister?
How should we approach the Lord?
How did Jesus define authority?
Besides Simon, were there others like him in the Bible?
Simon’s issues, … did Philip’s preaching miss something?
How do we safeguard ourselves ?
We’re quickly explore these questions in the concluding sections of this post.
Believe, baptised, enough?
Simon’s encounter with Peter demonstrates that having believed and baptised, … one has to continue in following Jesus and His Word, … and allow the Lord to work in areas of our heart to honor Him.
You believe that there is one God. You do well.
Even the demons believe—and tremble!
James 2:19 (NKJV)
i.e. even the demons believe there is one God,
however, … they only tremble.
Satan quoted from God’s Word, in tempting Jesus. (Luke 4:1-13),
however, … Satan did not submit to God’s word.
Thus what’s key is our heart, … change from the inside out,
rather than outward religious practice, … or ecclesiastical authority.
Paul & John wrote,
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live your lives in him,
7 rooted and built up in him,
strengthened in the faith
as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6, 7 (NIV)
28 And now, dear children, continue in him,
so that when he appears
we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 2:28 (NIV)
How should we approach God with our prayers?
Let’s consider Simon’s request in the light of what Jesus taught.
14:13 Whatever you ask in My name,
that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14:14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
14:15 “If you love Me,
you will keep My commandments.
15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 14:13-15, 15:7 (NASB)
In presenting our requests to God, consider:
Does it glorify Jesus?
Is it aligned with the character of Jesus?
Are we abiding in Jesus, abiding in God’s Word?
God is not an ATM, … with pin-code ‘Jesus’.
God’s promises are conditional, … not blank cheques.
Others like Simon?
Looking at the bigger picture:
The Old Testament records
the story of Saul, …though anointed,
failed to walk faithfully before the Lord and died in battle,
and the generation that left Egypt, … though chosen,
failed to enter the promise land, dying in the wilderness.
Called, .. anointed, .. chosen, … yet missing God’s purposes,
lost in the wilderness.
The Gospels record the case of Judas. Acts records the case of Annaias and Sapphira in the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 5), and Simon in Samaria (Acts 8).
Revelation 2 and 3 records a false prophetess, and warnings to five of the churches to repent.
God takes His Word and commandments seriously
from Genesis to Revelation.
Thankfully, in God’s mercy, if we falter,
like David and Peter who contritely repented,
and the prodigal son who returned back to the Father,
… God is gracious and merciful to restore us.
Thus Peter said to Simon,
Change your heart!
Turn away from this evil thing you have done, (i.e. repent)
and pray to the Lord.
Maybe he will forgive you for thinking this
Acts 8:22 (NCV)
Like the prodigal son, the ball was in Simon’s court to decide, & choose,
as Joshua challenged the people:
choose for yourselves today whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15)
Paul reminds us to be careful how we live,
6 Now these things occurred as examples
to keep us
from setting our hearts on evil things
as they did.
12 So, if you think
you are standing firm,
that you don’t fall!
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful;
he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted,
he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 corinthians 10:6, 12, 13 (NIV)
In view of Simon’s issues, … did Philip’s preaching miss something?
Like Philip & Peter, … our role is to share/minister the truth of God’s Word.
Sow the seed of God’s Word as clearly as possible.
And like the parable of the sower and the seed, … the same message generates different responses from the hearts of listeners.
Eg. Saul heard Samuel’s teachings and prophecies.
The generation that left Egypt heard Moses’ teaching God’s Word,
and saw God’s power manifested.
Paul wrote of about his co-worker, Demas, who served alongside Paul,
because he loved this world,
has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. …
2 Timothy 4:10 (NASB)
Even though we may be listening to the same message,
its not uncommon to find listeners conclude
different emphasis, reactions, points of views, and interpretations.
Thus, its wise for us … to heed Paul’s exhortation & example:
Our life compass:
Study and do your best
to present yourself to God approved,
a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed,
accurately handling and skillfully teaching
the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP)
Our daily life:
25 All athletes are disciplined in their training.
They do it to win a prize that will fade away,
but we do it
for an eternal prize.
27 I discipline my body like an athlete,
training it to do what it should.
Otherwise, I fear that
after preaching to others
I myself might be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:25, 27 (NLT)
Thus, .. preach to others,
preach it to ourselves,
practise what we preach.
Substitute ‘you’, ‘they’,
… and say ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘me’,
a good reminder,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1,2 (NASB)
God’s authority & power
God’s power flowed through the Philip, Peter and John,
by the Lord’s authority delegated to them.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:17-20 (NASB)
17 These signs will accompany those who have believed:
in My name
they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
20 And they went out and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them,
and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.
Acts 1:8 (NASB)
8 but you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; …
In the authority of Jesus name,
“in My name
will accompany those
who believed …”
Submit yourselves, then, to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (NIV)
To minister in God’s authority & power,
firstly, involves our own submission to God’s authority,
— He is Lord.
Jesus said … “… I am with you always …”
as we walk in His light.
Thus, our part
is to believe God’s Word and God’s power, (see also Matthew 22:29)
submit ours lives to His authority,
pray in the authority of Jesus name,
and follow the early disciples lead,
they went out,
… they preached everywhere.
God’s faithful partnership with us:
the Lord worked with them,
and confirmed the word
by the signs that followed
The signs confirmed
the Word of God,
… as witnessed in Gospels & Acts,
in Philip, Peter and John’s ministry.
those scattered went about preaching the word.
Philip went down to Samaria began proclaiming Christ to them
… they heard and saw the signs which he was performing
the Lord worked with them,
For we are God’s fellow workers;
you are God’s field, God’s building
1 Corinthians 3:9 (NASB)
Praying for others to receive the Holy Spirit,
… did only the apostles prayed this?
In Acts 9, in Damascus, we read of a disciple, Ananias,
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 9:10, 17 (NASB)
Ananias wasn’t an apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher or pastor,
… a disciple, … like you & me,
Ananias prayed for Paul to receive the Holy Spirit, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
How Jesus defined authority in His kingdom?
Is it about positions?
42 Jesus called them together and said,
“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their high officials
exercise authority over them.
i.e. hierachical, control, top-down, driven
43 Not so with you.
Instead, whoever wants to become great among you
must be your servant,
44 and whoever wants to be first
must be slave of all.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)
Not hierarchical, .. not control, .. not driven.
by God’s grace,
God’s authority & God’s gifts flows through humble service to others in God’s love & compassion, a servant attitude, following Jesus’ example.
Can we safeguard ourselves from Simon’s ways?
4 Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself
unless it abides in the vine,
so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit,
apart from Me
you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me,
he is thrown away as a branch and dries up;
and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
John 15:4-6 (NASB)
Even though Simon believed, and was baptized
the intention of his heart was not in the right place.
Simon sought for the gift — the power, the authority.
Let’s seek the Giver, … the Holy Spirit.
Simon was seeking for people to give attention to him,
Let’s seek giving attention to Jesus.
Simon wanted to buy God’s authority,
God’s riches are freely received by grace,
through the Holy Spirit,
as we abide in Jesus,
maintaining our hearts right with Him,
through prayer and abiding in His Word,
just like Ananias, the disciple of Jesus.
Freely you received,
Thus, as we minister and serve others,
as we desire God to co-work with us,
and see His power and authority divinely manifested in our midst,
… let’s yield our hearts to Him.
Not to us,
O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness,
because of Your truth.
Psalm 115:1 (NASB)
Empowerment of the Holy Spirit is for who?
… (the Samaritans) they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:17 (NIV)
In Acts 6 & 8, we read of Philip & Stephen, anointed by the Holy Spirit in Samaria — many believed, many healed, and many set free in Jesus name.
(Philip & Stephen were not part of the original 12 apostles of Jesus.)
In Simon’s case of magic sorcery, power was vested only upon
one person, or a ‘chosen‘ few,
… ‘special‘ individuals, spiritual celebrities,
Jesus warned us,
23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’
do not believe him.
24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise
and will show great signs and wonders,
so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
25 Behold, I have told you in advance.
Matthew 24:23-25 (NASB)
Rather than independent & stand-alone ministries, … sited at particular places,
in Acts 8,
we find Philip, John and Peter worked as a collaborating, complementing mobile team in ministry, with various gifts,
i.e. interdependence, mutual accountability, led by the Holy Spirit,
leading others into God’s kingdom, and equipping them to love and serve Him.
Reading again Philip’s ministry in Samaria in Acts 8,
proclaiming Christ to them … they heard and saw the signs which he was performing … many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed … much rejoicing in that city …
they believed … the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ … they were baptized
Its similar to Jesus’ ministry
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Mark 1:32-34 (NIV)
In Acts 9, we read of a disciple Ananias who healed Paul of his blindness and prayed for him to receive the Holy Spirit.
In God’s kingdom, the Holy Spirit is given to all who believe to empower us all to minister the good news of Jesus,
… like Ananias, Philip & Stephen, … like Peter,
i.e. decentralized, distributed peers across the whole earth,
giving glory to the Lord.
A collaborating, complementing body of many parts in mutual interdependence & accountability.
The Spirit of truth
will bring glory to [glorify; honor] me (Jesus) …
John 16:14 (EXB)
17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
Acts 2:17, 18 (NASB)
young, old, .. men,women, .. free, slave, .. educated, illiterate, .. priest, prostitute, tax collector, .. whatever background, ethnicity, socio-economic class, age, gender, etc ….
8 but you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
Acts 1:8 (NASB)
On the day of Pentecost,
38 Peter said to them,
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is for you
and your children
and for all who are far off,
as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
Acts 2:38, 39 (NASB)
Praise God! Amen.
Jesus summarises it well in the sermon on the mount
15 “Beware of false prophets who come
disguised as harmless sheep
but are really vicious wolves.
16 You can identify them by their fruit,
that is, by the way they act. …
20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit,
so you can identify people by their actions.
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’
will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Matthew 7:15, 16, 20, 21 (NLT)
45 A good person produces good things
from the treasury of a good heart,
and an evil person produces evil things
from the treasury of an evil heart.
What you say flows from
what is in your heart.
Luke 6:45 (NLT)
Eg. Philip, was known as one with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity],
full of the Spirit and of wisdom … (Acts 6:3 [AMP])
i.e. character, Christ-likeness
In the things we read, the stories we hear, the people we follow,
its wise to heed John’s advice
Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits
to see whether they are from God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1 (NASB)
Jesus said regarding the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth
13 But when the Spirit of truth comes,
he will ·lead [guide] you into all truth. …
14 The Spirit of truth will ·
bring glory to [glorify; honor] me (Jesus)
John 16:13, 14 (EXB)
When discerning true or counterfeit ministries, .. consider:
Honoring God, … or honoring a person/s?
Honoring God’s Word or … man’s words?
Does it emphasise power, signs, miracles, … over obeying Jesus and His Word?
Is the Word of God preached?
How much of the content is the Word of God?
Is the good news of Jesus preached?
Is the kingdom of God preached?
Inspires fear of unfolding worldly events, … or faith in Jesus?
Religious works, … or walking with Jesus in His grace?
God’s justice, … balanced with God’s grace, mercy & love?
Empower others ? or dependency?
Does one leave a meeting astonished, dazzled, … or a conviction upon one’s heart of God’s Word by the Holy Spirit, to be more like Jesus?
Accountability, governance ?
Is the person’s walk consistent with the Word of God?
Does the person sow bitterness, contention, disunity within the body of Christ?
Are people’s lives changed to align to God’s word and blessing, as an outcome of the ministry?
Is God’s grace freely received, … or reduced to a financial transaction?
Is the emphasis on God’s glory, … or self-glory?
Jesus cleansed the temple of merchants. and money changers (Mathew 21:12,13)
(merchandising the gospel, .. selling indulgences, .. etc)
The Message version of Matthew 7:13-23 summarises it well,
Matthew 7:13-23 (MSG)
13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God.
The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas
for a successful life
that can be practiced in your spare time.
Don’t fall for that stuff,
even though crowds of people do.
The way to life—to God!
—is vigorous and requires total attention.
15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot,
dripping with practiced sincerity.
Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other.
Don’t be impressed with charisma;
look for character.
Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.
A genuine leader will never exploit (manipulate)
your emotions or your pocket.
These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.
21-23 “Knowing the correct password—saying
‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me.
What is required is serious obedience
— doing what my Father wills.
On a final note, note that Luke did not elaborate on the source of Simon’s magic sorcery.
Let’s follow Luke,
… let’s major and focus on Jesus .. & magnify Him!
“ … it is possible to run a church and all of its activity
without the Holy Spirit.”
— A W Tozer
Simon’s story is the origin of the English word, simony — the act of selling church offices and roles, and also extends to other forms of trafficking for money in “spiritual things”. (Wikipedia)
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
February 12, 2017
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License