Who Wants to Stay Lost?
Acts 8: 14-25
SIMON had used his sorcery to lead the people to think of him as the great one. Philip came to Samaria & began preaching concerning the kingdom of heaven. Men & women were being baptized. Simon heard Philip preach & was likewise baptized into Christ. But just because one has been baptized into Christ does not mean that he will not be tempted. Three truths catch our attention in Acts 8:14-25.
I. THE UNUSUAL FELLOWSHIP (8:14~17)
A. Look at what was taking place:
1. The apostles were in Jerusalem. A message came that peo-ple were being baptized in Samaria.
2. The apostles began to say, "We must do something to insure the stability of the new converts in Samaria.'' Thus, they commis-sioned Peter & John to see that the Holy Spirit is given to some of the converts of this area so the church will remain stable in its infant stage.
a. That s what we do when we continue to help young churches&.
3. These brethren did not want anyone who had been baptized to miss the blessing they had received. That is unusual in itself.
a. Sometimes we say, "He has just been baptized. We can't let him do anything." Instead of wanting to incorporate the new Christian into our fellow-ship, we say, "let him prove himself."
4. They wanted these new converts to know that they were an integral part of the church fellowship. They were telling them, "You are of equal rank with all of us. We want to impart to you that which we have received."
B. In this unusual fellowship these apostles went to them.
1. Whether a congregation on a foreign field or a new Christian next door, our job is to go to them& meet their needs, train them for service...
2. In Rom. 14, the stronger brother in the faith is admonished by Paul to give his consideration to the weaker brother in every thing he does.
a. He declares, "If it is going to offend my weaker brother, then I would not eat any meat at all."
b. Gal. 6:1 says, "Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted."
c. The stronger, more mature Christian is admonished to be a leaning post, a tower of strength; the weaker is to reach out for that strength.
d. The weaker brother is thus assisted in his spiritual growth. Imagine elders and deacons saying of some brother who is floundering, "That is his business, not ours. He never has called on us or come to us."
e. The leadership has a responsibility to go to that brother, encourage him, and share with him the spiritual strength that is theirs after years of Christian living.
f. These apostles shared their greatest spiritual blessing with these new converts. They shared the Holy Spirit with them.
g. You and I must share the H.S. that is in us! The experience of growing in faith and Spirit.
II. THE UNFAITHFUL MEMBER (8:18-23)
A. Within this unusual fellowship, a member became unfaithful.
1. Simon had been enjoying a great position among the people. He had been sitting on a pedestal for a while in Samaria as the great one. He was the one who had the answers.
2. When he was converted to Jesus Christ, he found himself in the shadow of Philip.
3. He still had the idea that greatness is bound up in power and wealth. a. :., he said, "I want the best of two worlds. I want Christ in my life, but I also want to be known as the great one. I want the respect of God & the adoration of men. I want to have my name in the headlines & also in the Book of Life."
b. V. 19 says, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." He is thinking, "I can have my old position of respect back, but I'll be a Christian."
B. By the gift of the Spirit that was in him, Peter was able to read Simon's heart & lay before him the truth that he could not serve two masters.
1. Can a Christian fall from grace?
2. This example shows one can fall away from the grace of God after coming into it. Some say that one cannot apostatize from Christian ity. They say, "It is irrelevant how one lives for he is going to be saved. If he isn't living up to the Christian life, he wasn't saved to begin with."
a. But vv 12 & 13 say, 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 & women alike. & even Simon himself believed; & after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; & as he observed signs & great mira-cles taking place, he was constantly amazed.
b. When these people received the Spirit of God by the laying on the hands of Peter and John, were they saved or unsaved people?
c. In vv 12 & 13, the same statement is said of these people as is made of Simon. Simon did exactly what the other people did.
d. They believed & were baptized; he believed & was bap-tized.
e. If you doubt Simon's conversion, you will have to doubt the conversion of all of them.
f. Something is said about Simon that is not said about the rest of them: "He continued on with Philip." Simon believed, was bap-tized, & "continued on with Philip." Was he never saved in the first place? g. To say so would not be consis-tent with what the Bible teaches. h. :., one can be saved by grace & then so sin as to be lost again.
j. Gal. 5:4, "You have fallen from grace." Some people say Christians cannot fall from grace. Someone is wrong. I will go with Paul & the Bible.
III. THE UNDERSTANDING LORD (8:24, 25)
A. We have an understanding Lord. I think this illus-trates more than anything else in the Bible that God is on my side. God is not a wrathful stepfather, just waiting for me to make a mistake.
1. In 2 Pet. 3:9, God isn t willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance.
2. The desire of God's heart is that every human being abide in His grace & know His favor, peace, strength, & joy.
B. Joel 2:12-14 Yet even now," declares the Lord, "return to Me with all your heart, & with fasting, weeping, & mourning; & rend your heart & not your garments." Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious & compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness, & relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn & relent, & leave a blessing behind Him, even a grain offering & a libation for the Lord your God?
1. In Israel's darkest hours, the prophet of God pictured God as kind & loving. He is concerned & wants you to change, not just superficially, not in the ceremonial rending of the garment & tearing of the mantle, but in the rending of your heart.
2. It is not any wonder then that David would cry out, "God is respectful of the contrite spirit and the broken heart." How God looks for & anxiously awaits the penitent sinner's return unto Him!
3. Surely Luke 15 is alive in your mind. That boy went into the far country & wasted the father's substance in riotous living.
a. The father, upon seeing him afar off, ran, fell upon his shoulders, kissed him, & said, "Put on his hand the ring of authority, a robe on his back, & sandals on his feet. This, my son who was dead, is now alive. He was lost but is found. Kill the fatted calf. Let's rejoice and be merry."
b. These passages tell us of a loving God who has provided the way for His unfaithful child to return to Him.
C. That is the illustration I see in Acts 8. It is not one of sorrow, remorse, & pain over a member who has veered off the course, although that is included.
1. The love of the Father will understand, forgive, & receive him again.
2. When one becomes an unfaithful member, we ought to go to him & make him aware of his sins.
a. Peter said that his heart was not right with God and man.
b. It is evident that Peter laid out before him what the alternatives were, for Simon cried out, "'Pray . . . so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me'" (8:24).
c. Peter had told him of the consequences of his action.
d. Simon said, "Pray for me. I'm willing to repent."
e. In James 5:16, James says, ":., confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."
f. I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
D. This is the 2nd plan of salvation that God has revealed in the Bible. It is for the Christian who gets off the path. I can see no reason for God having inspired such a plan if the possibility of falling did not exist.
1. v 25 says, "And 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."
2. After they had dealt with the problem, they went back to the work at hand.
a. The Christian is not to worry all the time about sin.
b. He is to be concerned about righteousness.
c. I John 1:7 puts the positive thrust to the Christian life: "But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."
Let us repent of all sin in our lives. If your sin has been of a public nature, allow the brethren to pray for you as Simon urged those brethren to do for him.
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