#carmelprays – Acts 8:1-25
Opening Song: Still
Read Scripture: Acts 8:1-25
This passage opens with the early church facing great difficulty. They had lost Stephen, were facing fierce persecution and were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (v1). In this difficult time, the early church continued to “[preach] the word wherever they went” (v4). We can relate to this in a small way in this season when the church is also physically scattered. The early church shows us that difficulty and distance should not detract from the work of God. We are to continue evangelising even if it is difficult and even if we are scattered.
Philip stands out as a faithful example of evangelism. Philip travelled almost 40 miles from Jerusalem to Samaria to preach the gospel. This was noteworthy given that there was great hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews looked down on the Samaritans because of their race and avoided them where possible. Despite this, Philip lovingly and faithfully travels a great distance to preach the gospel to them. God rewards this by allowing Philip to perform wonderful signs, drive out spirits and bring great joy to the city (v7). We should aspire to be like Philip. Are we willing to go the distance for the gospel? Would we reach out to the outcasts and downtrodden? Let us pray for soft hearts that love the gospel.
The last account in this passage deals with Simon Magus, a sorcerer who masqueraded as a genuine believer. Simon had access to the apostles and even travelled with them. However, he made crucial errors that prevented him from becoming a true believer. First, Simon had an egotistical view of himself. He practiced magic that “amazed all” and earned him the title “Great Power of God” (v9-10). He believed he was someone great and delighted in the attention it brought him. Second, Simon had an erroneous view of salvation. There is no evidence that his “belief” causes any change in his life. Instead, he fixates on the “signs and miracles he saw” and hopes to be able to perform the same acts (v13). Third, Simon had a false view of the Holy Spirit. Simon sees the apostles laying hands and giving others the Holy Spirit and so he offers them money (v18-19). In doing this, he shows that he treats them as nothing more than fellow magicians. He is negotiating a price at which he can have access to their tricks. He does not see the true value of the Holy Spirit and cheapens the Holy Spirit by attempting this purchase. Fourth, Simon has a wrong view of sin. Peter sees through Simon, condemns him and encourages him to repent of his wickedness (v20-23). Simon’s response to this is telling. He does not repent. Instead, he asks Peter to pray that these consequences do not befall him. He is fixated on getting relief from temporal consequences. Again, he misses the true message of Christianity.
Simon’s story stands as an important warning to us. In contrast to Simon, we must have a true view of ourselves. We are nothing great. We are all sinners who need a Saviour. We must see salvation as deeply life changing. We must see the Holy Spirit as one of God’s greatest gifts to us as we live life here on earth. We must see sin as serious and respond in repentance. Do you have a right view of all these things?
Pray in Response
Gracious and loving God, I thank You for saving me and giving me new life. I thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit which empowers me to fight sin and to value Christ correctly. I thank You that even though I am a sinner, that I am saved and no longer condemned.
Father I pray that You teach me to have a correct view of myself. Help me to see that I am nothing great. Help me to see that apart from Christ I am hopeless. Help me to be a faithful servant like Phillip. I know that I do not have the strength to do this on my own. I pray that through the Holy Spirit, You empower me to serve You and live for You daily.
Response Song: The Power Of Your Name
By Darren Sim