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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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GOD FOR SALE?

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. (Acts 8:9 ESV))

In the region of Samaria, there once lived a man called Simon the Sorcerer. He astonished the people of this province with his magic. As a matter of fact, the people called him the “great power of God. Simon loved power and the ability to manipulate others.

Simon trying to buy the gift of GodOne day a man by the name of Philip arrives. He was a Christian from Jerusalem. Philip preached the good news about the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. Seeing the many amazing miracles which were done, many proclaimed their faith in Jesus and were baptized. Simon also claimed to believe and was baptized as well.

Hearing of the work being done by Philip, the church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria. Peter and John laid hands on the new converts and the Holy Spirit fell upon them in power (A second Pentecost?) Simon was amazed.

Simon was envious and wanted to control the Holy Spirit to use as he desired. Simon coveted this ability of the Apostles and offered them money to share this ability with him. He desired spiritual authority for his own ends. Peter responded:

“May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” (Acts 8:20-23 ESV)

It is evident that Simon was not a true convert. His heart was not right before God. Neither are the hearts of many in our churches today. The warning is clear. If you believe you are a Christian simply because you have said the right words and gone through the motions, your heart may still not be right with God. Too often, belief in God consists of the attitude that He is like Santa Claus. This is not the God of the Bible. Many people see God as the key to material prosperity. This is not the God of the Bible. Some attempt to remake God in their own image. This is not the God of the Bible. Others believe they can manipulate God for their own ends. This is not the God of the Bible. How often have you seen the bumper sticker, “GOD IS MY COPILOT”? This too, is not the God of the Bible. God alone is in absolute control and does not need our advice or permission. He rules absolutely.

Like so many in our churches today, Simon wanted a very large cup of God’s blessings and power with only a very small teaspoon of God. Which do you want?

ARE YOU TRYING TO MANIPULATE GOD?

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. (Acts 8:18-21 ESV)

Samuel A CainSimon desired the ability to lay hands on people so they would receive the Holy Spirit. However, he tried to buy the gift of God with silver from men who had received it by grace. Peter then told Simon that his heart was not right with God. Simon was a master manipulator who tried to manipulate God with a bribe to His servants. His effort failed because God cannot be manipulated. Continue reading

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