Acts 8:4-25

Acts: The Story Continues  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:54
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We are in Acts 8 today. Let me ask you something: what keeps you from believing the gospel? What keeps you from embracing it with your whole heart? Is it what you do? Is it your sins? Is it society? What is it? We are going to be looking at the Gospel today. We are going to see that: The Gospel is Unstoppable The Gospel Outshines the Lies The Gospel Unifies The Gospel Reveals our Idols The Gospel Changes our Hearts Let’s get started. Last week, we read about the death of Stephen and how that was the flashpoint for two things: the open persecution of the church and the scattering of the Church. Now we read: Acts 8:4-8 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city. The persecution did not stop the church, the scattering only fueled the spread of the gospel. See I think Luke wants us to see something: On the heels of pentecost and the first sermon: So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Act 2:41) As the church began to be knit into a family: Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Act 2:46-47) As the church faced its first external opposition: And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Act 4:31) As the church faced its first internal opposition: And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, (Act 5:14) After the apostles’ first beating: And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Act 5:42) After the church’s first internal schism: The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. (Act 6:7) And now with the first martyr, the imprisonment of believers and the scattering of the church. The Gospel doesn’t stop, the people of God don’t stop, the Gospel keeps being spread, and people keep believing it. Remember Gamliel’s warning? If this is of God, you can’t stop it. This Gospel that we believe is Unstoppable. Why? Let's keep going. The Gospel Outshines the Lies Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, "This man is what is called the Great Power of God." And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed. (Act 8:9-13) Who were the Samaritans? • Jewish half-breeds • Had their own temple • Their own take on Messiah • Kind of like Mormonism or JW’s Occult They were accepting the occult as the manifestation of God’s power. And yet, the power of Philip’s words and the power of God through him revealed the lies they were believing. Showed that whatever power Simon had paled to the power of God. Do you believe the gospel is powerful enough to convince those believing lies or those seeking power in the occult? How? The Gospel Unifies Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (Act 8:14-17) Now there are different explanations of this passage. • Second working of the spirit • Insufficient belief But the rest of the Bible is pretty clear that when you repent and believe and follow Jesus the Holy Spirit is part and parcel with that deal. That is what it is to be a Christian. So, whats going on? Picture the situation: Renegade Samaritans Holy Jews Always wondering, is it genuine, is this the power of the Spirit or a counterfeit By waiting for the Apostles to come, the Spirit was confirming their salvation to both the Samaritans and the Jews; so there would be no confusion, no division. We both have received the same promised gift of God, we are no longer enemies but family. In prepping, I found this little gem: When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" (Luk 9:51-54) The Gospel Unifies But how? How can the gospel unify people who have hated each other for so long? The Gospel Reveals Our Idols Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone 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 no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. "For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity." (Act 8:18-23) Here is where we are going to set up shop for a bit. We see Simon sinning, we see that he misunderstands the gospel and the gift of God. But, you know what blows me away? When Peter rebukes him he doesn’t end with vs 22. He ends with verse 23. Look at Simon’s life and what we know of it: Power Occult Yet peter says that isn’t the root of the issue: He is enslaved to bitterness. How does bitterness have anything to do with the above? Luke doesn’t say. Instead he leaves us to ponder on that. Peter is given insight and he says that there is a sin below the sin. The bible uses this language a lot: Roots and fruit, water from springs Jesus says: "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Mat 15:18-19) Do you remember the questions I asked at the beginning? Our problem is not the things we do or say. It is not these sins we see. It is that in our hearts are not right. We are reading a book on the gospel in our GC Heart Idols We don’t believe the Gospel and experience God’s work in our lives and in the lives of those around us because our hearts are turning away from finding our satisfaction in God and turning to find it elsewhere. These deep heart idols promise to give us something and we act to obtain those things or react to not receiving them with sin. Let’s take a look at an example from this book: Read The surface sin, the thing we see Gossip flows out of where we are trying to find satisfaction (heart idol). Alcoholism Workaholics Rage Abuse Rape Anxiety Racism Lies Cruelty Paralyzing fear These are not the issue. They are the fruit of the deeper heart idol. They enslave us, bind us tightly, and poison us. The Bible often talks about liberty and freedom, but this is the freedom it is talking about. Freedom from these deep seated heart issues that control and destroy us and we don’t even know it. Simon is not a man to be condemned for being insincere in his faith, but rather he is supposed to be a wake up call for us. A spotlight revealing our true problem. Our behavior won’t change, our lives will not be filled with true joy in the gospel, until we see the deeper problem. The Gospel Changes our Hearts But Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me." (Act 8:24) When confronted with his sin and his heart idol, Simon repents. Luke makes no further commentary on this and I don’t think we should either. He shows what our response ought to be: repentance. The beauty of the Gospel is that it has the power to change lives, to bring true and lasting joy to our hearts. Psalms 51:10 2 Cor 5:17 Gal 2:20 Ezekiel 11:19-20 36:25-28 This is what fuels everything above. The Gospel doesn't just reveal our sin, it reveals our brokenness and gives us the power to change. This is why it is good news, we can be freed from the destructive and abusive power that our heart idols hold over us our hearts can be changed. This is why Jesus died in our place, so he could give us the spirit and through that spirit a new heart. This is why the Gospel is unstoppable, where the power comes from to outshine the lies, how the gospel unifies us. So what do we do: Repent • Not remorse (I can't believe I did that) and resolution (I promise not to do it again) • But realize (I did do that) and repent (Lord forgive me, you are my only hope) Believe • See the lie and how it fails. • See Jesus • Look to how God or what he says is true about you and Believe that it is true. Rejoice Share So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. (Act 8:25) And back to the beginning, the nobodies went sharing the gospel. Philip, not an apostle, brought the gospel to the hated samaritans. You and I are the ones who are to bring this good news of freedom to our world. Communion Let's finish on this. Pls stand. 2 cor 5:17-21
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