Summary: The same offer of salvation made to Simon is made to you: REPENT and pray to the Lord to be FORGIVEN.
Are You For Real?
On June 13, 1994, Nicholas Barclay who is pictured here was playing basketball in a local park in San Antonio, TX. Then, he was gone. For over 3 years he had not been seen or heard from. Then, amazingly, his family received a phone call from authorities in Spain saying that Nicholas had been found, in Spain, having been kidnapped and abducted. His older sister quickly purchased a ticket, flew to Spain where she was reunited with her brother. He was given a US passport, flew back to San Antonio where he was reunited with the rest of his family. A local Television news station picked up the amazing story. Watch this:
As amazing as the story was, unfortunately, it wasn't true. French-born serial child impersonator Frederic Bourdin - who was 23 years old - had convinced both Spanish and American authorities and the family that he was the then 16 year old Nicholas. For the next five months he lived with the family, road the bus to school and lived out the lie. It was during that news interview that a local private investigator who had been hired by a national TV news magazine saw a picture of the actual Nicholas Barclay in front of him and the imposter being interviewed and realized they had different ears. Nicholas had an attached ear lobe and the imposter did not. Once he was found out, it made National News. Watch this:
How's that for a mother's nightmare on Mother's Day? As we continue our Sunday morning sermon series through the book of Acts we find ourselves in chapter 8. This morning we're going to read and study about another imposter who was welcomed into the family - the spiritual family known as the church. His name was Simon. As we consider Simon's counterfeit faith and how he was initially received as part of the family of God, it poses a question for all of us - Are You For Real? Are You For Real? Is your faith the real thing, or is it a counterfeit faith?
9But 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. 10They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Now let me give you the background to this account we find here in the Bible. The book of Acts is the story of the early church. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the church in Jerusalem exploded with growth and influence. 10's of thousands of people were being converted, were baptized and were joining their lives with the throng of followers of Christ.
This began to upset the religious establishment in Jerusalem such that they began to persecute the church. It started off with insults and threats, but then escalated to imprisonment, beatings and then they killed Stephen, one of the leading members of the Christian movement. After his execution at the end of chapter 7, wholesale persecution - led by one Saul of Tarsus - came down hard upon the church. Luke says he was "ravaging" the church, ripping it to shreds. This forced the scattering that we studied last week at the beginning of chapter 8.