The Church Searches for Better Programs; God Searches for Better People

17

July 19, 2019

Acts 8:18-25

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

CONSIDER THIS

Yesterday we met Simon the Sorcerer. He provides us a good case study. Here’s what most interests me about today’s text. He thought they wanted or needed his money; that he could buy the Holy Spirit. He didn’t realize God wanted his heart. Watch Peter’s response:

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

The late great Methodist revival leader, E.M. Bounds once said, “The Church is looking for better methods. God is looking for better men.” (better said, “better people.”) Simon the Sorcerer was in search of a better method for his sorcery. God was in search of a better man in Simon.

For the past twenty years I have served the mission of Asbury Theological Seminary. We have a very unusual and unique mission. We are “a community called to prepare theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled men and women to evangelize and spread scriptural holiness throughout the world through the love of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father.”

Look at the progression—theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled. While it is not a neat and tidy process, there is a sequential dynamic of being informed, reformed, and infused. We tend to want to skip the middle movement of being sanctified, or re-formed. The Holy Spirit wills to do his work in us before he does it through us. We must grow in a mature expression of the fruits of the Spirit, which is the work of sanctification, before we can move into a mature expression of the gifts of the Spirit, which comes through continually being filled. All of this works to the end of the Spirit’s work, which is to evangelize and spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.

Did Simon the Sorcerer get with the program and become Simon the Servant of the mission of Jesus in the world? We don’t know, but because of Peter’s bold invitation to repent and reform his way, we know he had a shot at it.

Theologically trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled—this is the sacred ambition of the Word of God and may I dare say, the bold ambition of the Daily Text. It’s our way of bringing the seminary to you. After all, the little known meaning of the word seminary is . . . wait for it . . . Seedbed!

THE PRAYER

COME HOLY SPIRIT!

THE QUESTIONS

How do you see this sequence of the Spirit’s activity in your life—informed, reformed, infused? Does it ring true to your experience?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Unlike so many who attempt to use their money to get what they want (demand) in the church, Simon apparently repented when he heard God’s word through Peter’s rebuke. It’s a story of repentance and redemption as much as it is a story of sin and rebuke.

  2. It seems that what Simon sought most was power. How easy is it for the Christian to mistakenly believe that because God is all powerful, that we can wield that power for our own selfish means? We see it in politics all the time. We can also see it in the setting of the church. Don’t we sometimes seek to “buy” power with our good works or our sacrifice of time or money? Jesus said we are to be humble servants, not exalted examples of moral perfection. I think this is a real temptation today, to be noticed rather than to labor in the trenches with God, with no human recognition for our sacrifices. Simon lacked a transformation, he was still seeking the recognition he craved in his unconverted life, not realizing that being recognized by God as a child of God called him to a higher, and more humble purpose.

  3. Simon in the NT and Balaam from the OT have a lot in common. Balaam was a “prophet for profit” and Simon was a wannabe “prophet for profit”. If either were alive today, they would be televangelists!

    Love Seedbed, by the way. 🙂

    • Thanks Betty for your good word about Seedbed. A “prophet for profit,” — true oxy-moron. Kind of like a lady-mud wrestler. ;0)

  4. Many Simon’s live with us today. They want to try this thing called “faith” but are scared about letting the old ways pass away to make room for the new. Trusting in the Lord is the first step to a fuller life, but for many it is a scary.

    • I think Kristi has a good summation of Simon. Simon’s final response could be a sign of repentance, but yet, Peter instructed Simon to pray and Simon responds with “You pray”. My question is, did Simon participate in the laying on of hands and receive the Holy Spirit–I tend to think not; thus he went part way but not all the way.

  5. I love Simon’s tender heart. He sought a gift with his understanding in his own flesh and when he was held accountable his tender heart did not harden but he cried out for mercy. That’s how I want to be when God shows me something new.

    • Did Simon repent? I don’t think we know from the text. He asked Peter to pray that Peter’s words would not come true. Peter said that his money should be destroyed along with him. We really do not know if he truly repented or not. This is a very interesting text.

  6. Simon believed and made the mistake of thinking the Spirit was for sale – as in “I need me some of that Spirit”
    And Simon he recognized the power of a Spirit filled ministry – and even after Peter confronted him – he still wanted to access it to for “his sake” by asking Peter to pray for him and almost demanding one last favor/ blessing. I am not able to conclude that he ever repented even though the “they” might indicate he joined them in the ministry.

  7. Losing oneself seems to be a major battle in the American church. Even many of our popular Christan songs are more man centered than God centered – ‘what He did for me’ versus who He is. I hope that as a people we begin to be more concerned with honoring God than having a co-dependent enabler God. God deserves better than our dispairs, our doubts, our depressions, our impatience, and our self-centeredness!

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