Summary: The great need in all of our lives is a source of power. We need that power to face temptations, bear burdens, and to be effective witnesses. We can find that power in Jesus.
GOD’S POWER CAN BE YOURS
INTRO: Two ministers were talking about the kind of Sunday morning we all have sooner or later. The alarm did not go off. Various domestic crises occurred. The traffic was unusually heavy. Finally, when he arrived at the church, he was late and someone had his parking space. With his frustration level at an all-time high, he walked into the hallway where a zealous young Christian confronted him with the question, "Are you a Spirit-filled preacher?" He said that he gave the most honest answer he could give at the time. He replied, "I ought to be." We ought to be. We really ought to be.
Years ago the gospel was preached by Philip in Samaria, and great numbers were won to the Lord. Among those who made professions of faith was a magician named Simon. Later, when Peter and John came to investigate the revival in progress, Simon was greatly impressed with the power of the Spirit in their ministry. He requested of them, "Give me also this power" (v. 19).
The great need in all of our lives is a source of power. We need that power to face temptations, bear burdens, and to be effective witnesses. We, too, need to say with Simon, "Give me also this power."
Certain conditions must be met, however, if we are to experience this power. Simon’s request was never granted. How can your request be granted?
I. BY EXALTING CHRIST.
Before he responded to Philip’s preaching, Simon was "giving out that himself was some great one" (v. 9b). At the base of his request seems to be that yearning for his old place of prestige and power.
Within all of us is the tendency to exalt ourselves rather than Christ. The tendency from the Garden of Eden until now has been to want to be gods rather than to exalt God.
This attitude is out of harmony with the work of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the Spirit is to point to Jesus (John 14: 26b). Philip was a man who was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5), and he "preached Christ unto them" (Acts 8:6, 35).
The mark of a Christian who is controlled by the Spirit is one who is supremely concerned about exalting Christ, not himself.
He is like a spotlight that draws attention to the one it is focused on, not itself.
II. BY WANTING THE SPIRIT FOR MINISTRY.
Simon seemed to have wanted the power of the Spirit as an end in itself. It would have been like a new possession which he could have enjoyed. He did not mention a new mission that he might be about to undertake. He did not seem to have a great burden for the people across the Jordan or in the Greek world or even across the street.
The Holy Spirit is not given just for the personal enjoyment of Christians. He is given to empower us to minister to others. Jesus said, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8). That is always the pattern.
ILLUS: Harry Emerson Fosdick spoke at the dedication of the new building of Riverside Church in New York City on Feb. 8, 1931. He said to his people, "If in that new temple we simply sit together in heavenly places that will not be wonderful, but if we also work together in unheavenly places, that will be." The Holy Spirit always desires to move us out into ministry.
III. BY SUBMITTING TO GOD.
Simon was a magician. He was accustomed to using certain formulas to manipulate the forces of nature and to produce the desired effect. He wanted to manipulate the Holy Spirit in the same way (see v 19).
Some try such a magical approach to the power of God—carry a certain object, repeat a certain formula, and God will have to respond in a particular way.
The whole approach is wrong. What is needed is submission to the will of God. The Holy Spirit is not some power which we can summon at our command. He is the Lord, who summons and commands us. We do not get the Spirit. He gets us. The way to have the power of the Spirit in your life is to pray, "Thy will be done."
IV. BY ACCEPTING GOD’S FREE GIFT.
Always before when he wanted a new trick or a new power, Simon bought it from some other sorcerer. He assumed that he could do it now, for he sidled up to Peter and said, "How much for the Holy Spirit?" (see v.18).
A persistent feeling exists today that everything has its price. Do you remember the old story about the guy from Kentucky telling the Texan that there was enough gold in Fort Knox to build a fence around Texas? The Texan replied, "Why don’t you go ahead and build that fence; and if we like it, we’ll buy it." There is that mentality today.