Thursday, April 9, 2009

Simon the Sorcerer

I think it's important to examine our beliefs about salvation against what the bible shows us. We are instructed in the word of God by sincere God-called people, who too often just teach what they were taught without critical examination. Let us critically examine this portion of scripture to determine if our thoughts align with the naked word of God.

Acts 8:
5. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8. And there was great joy in that city.

The people gave heed! Miracles were occurring, evil spirits being cast out... an obvious move of the power of the Holy Spirit is in evidence. Especially notice that there was great joy in that city! Is experiencing the joy of the presence of God the same as becoming a christian? No! Keep reading.

9. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
10. To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
11. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Simon was accustomed to being revered and feared. Simon became addicted to his position in the people's hearts and minds. Simon was all about Simon being looked up to. Now the people were being given a hope apart from Simon...he was being displaced in the hearts of men by the TRUE authority, Jesus Christ.

13. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Simon understood the message of the gospels facts, if not the understanding of the gospel's heart. (1 Cor. 15:1-4 explain that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ) The story was irrefutable, and verifiable by the many witnesses alive during this time. Philip's power was more than his sorcery had afforded him, so he believed the apostle Philip's words, and demonstration of power, and submitted to the facts of the gospel as being true...and was baptized in the name of Jesus (vs.16)

14. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15. Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

OK, this is where we really have to put on our thinking caps.
The city had experienced a revival of truth! They had been delivered from the evil influence of the sorceries of Simon, and had repented and experienced great joy. The city had obeyed the baptism in water in the name of Jesus! ( the trinity formula was not introduced into the church until some 300 years later). Yet the word of God says that even though all these wonderful truths were done, they had still not received the baptism of the Holy Ghost!

Romans 10:16 says there is an obedience to the gospel, and all have not obeyed the gospel. If the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of do we obey that? On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached back to back messages. First he preached the gospel- the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, then when asked what the response to that truth was, he responded with ..."repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost...for the promise is for...even as many as the lord our God shall call.

And pay attention to these words:
2Th 1:7  And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
2Th 1:8  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:9  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

The people of Samaria had received the word as true. They had repended (died to self will, accepting Christ as their lord- the DEATH part of obedience to the gospel) They had been baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of their sins ( obeying the BURIAL part of obedience to the gospel...BTW, how were you baptized). There was an obvious lack of a physical manifestation of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Apparently belief and great joy is not the manifestation. Apparently the Holy Ghost is NOT instantaneous with believing, or accepting Jesus as your saviour as taught by most evangelicals, else why did Peter and John come to lay hands on them that they might receive the gift?

18. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19. Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

Simon just couldn't give up the adulation of the masses, the power of his influence being displaced. Simon understood the story, and believed it. Simon was a real believer in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and understood that obedience to that gospel was needed. What Simon didn't understand was what repenance was. Simon never stopped wanting to keep his old life alive. He still wanted to be the center of attention, the object of peoples reverence. Simon didn't repent...he only believed! Simon was a baptized believer! Isn't that enough?

20. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Simon, you don't have any part in this new birth. Your are not a Christian...only a believer.

22. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

Simon, you are poisoned with bitterness over your loss of prestige, and influence over the people, and are in fact still in bondage to sin! Your believing hasn't saved you. Your heart is still the same. You have NOT been born again. John 3:3 says you must be born again. Being born again is not merely believing the truth. The devils believe, and tremble!

24. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

Pray for yourself, Simon. Repent! Die to the desire to have the pre-imminence in peoples minds. Being born again consists of first dying to your own ownership over your life, giving total ownership to Jesus, who purchased the right with his own blood! Then you obey the burial by being baptized by watery immersion in the name of Jesus. If you don't accept the death of your own will first, baptism only gets you wet! Only the dead are buried with Christ in baptism. Col.2:12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

After you have died, and been buried, you may receive the resurrection, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. It is the receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Romans 8:11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. This quickening is the resurrection power.

What was the manifestation that was missing in Samaria that let everyone know tht they had NOT been baptized by the Holy Ghost? On the day of Pentecost, all the believers who were baptized in the Spirit spoke in tongues. Acts 2:4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Lets look at another occurance:
Acts 10: 45. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

One more:
Acts 19:1. And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2. He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Are you "Born Again", or merely a baptized believer? Please click on the links found at the left titled "Roman Road to Salvation- in Perspective" and "The Tabernacle in the wilderness" for better understanding.

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