Sunday School Material 10-21-12: Simon Wants to Buy Power

(Acts 7:51-60; 8:1; 10/14/12)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that Simon is rebuked, while the Gospel continues to spread. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to keep working on spreading the Gospel.

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Body:

Read Acts 8: 9-11

I. Wrong Faith. Simon was a noted sorcerer in Samaria. In the Sunday School material the people followed Simon and thought very highly of him. He was known for boasting of himself being someone who was great.

Applications –

- Gimmicks and long track records. Notice in vss. 9-11 of the Sunday School material, we see that the people were following after that which was ungodly. Perhaps, the people were attracted to the fascinating and entertaining gimmicks.

Perhaps, they thought that since they had been doing it for so long, they must be doing it right. As believers, we should be careful about chasing after fascinating and entertaining gimmicks. Up under all of the style and glamor, we must check the substance of what is being presented.

The fact that something has been going on for a long time doesn’t make it right. Let’s work on harnessing our attraction to gimmicks and to that which has a long history. We need to be looking for God’s will and work, which is going to be in line with God’s word.

Read Acts 8:12-17

II. Right Faith. When Philip preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a number of those who used to follow after Simon began to follow after Philip. In fact, Simon began to follow after Philip.

In the Sunday School material the church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to confirm what was going on in Samaria, and they laid hands on the people, so they could receive the Holy Spirit.

Applications –

- Sharing Jesus. Notice in vss. 12-13 that the Gospel won a number of the people and arguable the sorcerer. The word will work, if we work the word. That is, if we keep telling people about Jesus and showing how He has changed our lives, the word has the power to change people.

It can change the “ordinary” and those who seem to be the “hard cases.” Let’s make sure we keep sharing the good news about Jesus, in word and deed.

- Receiving the Holy Spirit. Notice in vss. 14-17 of the Sunday School material that the Holy Spirit seems to be received by the people in Samaria, as a result of the Apostles laying their hands on them.

Especially Baptist Christians would interpret this text to mean that God is showing us that the same Holy Spirit that was given on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem, is being given and received in our text.

Evidence of this being the same Spirit is that representatives of those in Jerusalem are being used in the out pouring – the Apostles. This interpretation is opposed to the continued need to have an Apostle or anyone to lay hands on you today, in order to receive the Holy Spirit.

We believe that when a person accepts Christ as one’s savior by faith that one also receives the Holy Spirit. Notice further that there is no mention of anyone speaking in tongues, in this text.

Let’s work on helping people accept Christ as savior and trust God to place the Holy Spirit in them. The greatest evidence of having the Spirit is not who laid their hands on you, but it is our loving one another (see Jn. 13:34-35).

Read Acts 8:18-25

III. Misguided Faith. In our Sunday School material when Simon saw the Spirit being given by laying hands on a person, he offered money to be able to do the same.

He was rebuked for having an ungodly heart, by Peter. And then he asked the Apostles to pray for him to avoid punishment. The text ends with Peter and John preaching their way back to Jerusalem.

Applications –

- A godly heart. Notice in vss. 18-21 that Simon tried to buy the power to give the Holy Spirit. On one hand, it is bad that he thought that such a spiritual gift could be purchased like a piece of jewelry.

But on the other hand, he did understand that giving was a part of being used by God to do extra ordinary things. In this regard, Simon embarrasses those who want to have seats of leadership in the church (i.e., gift), while robbing God of His tithes and offerings (i.e., giving).

Let’s work on having a godly heart. A godly heart doesn’t try to buy God’s favor, but it does believe in giving as God has prospered.

- Rebuking Simon. Notice in vs. 20 of our Sunday School material that Simon is rebuked. If the church is going to be a place of decency and order along with a place of spiritual growth, there must be discipline.

Good things should happen, when people do right. And bad things should happen, when people do wrong. The reason for having the idea of sustaining church discipline in the Baptist Church Covenant should be obvious.

Let’s work on keeping God’s church both orderly and focused on living by God’s will. This application calls for leaders to lead and followers to follow and support leadership.

- Responding to godly rebuke. Notice in vss. 22-24 that rebuke aims at repentance. Rebuke doesn’t aim to simply make a person look or feel bad. On one hand, as those who administer rebuke and discipline, we should keep our aim in view.

Think about how chastising a child is not about simply administering pain, but it is pain for the purpose of trying to get the child to do right. On the other hand, if you are the recipient of rebuke or discipline, the godly thing to do is to repent – start doing right.

To fight against godly rebuke or discipline is to fight against God, which is always a losing battle. Let’s work on responding to godly rebuke with repentance.

- Keep sharing Jesus. Notice in vs. 25 of the Sunday School material that the focus on preaching and ministering continued. The devil tries hard to get the people of God distracted from their primary duty to keep blowing the trumpet about Jesus, in word and deed.

We must fight the temptations to be distracted. This should be the concern of the pulpit and pew. There are those who will hear the Pastor better, some will hear a peer better, and some will hear a combination of the two better. Let’s work on continuing to share Jesus through word and deed.

Conclusion: Let’s work on continuously spreading the Gospel. God has much for those who obey His will.

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