Summary: A sermon on corruption in the church based on the story of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. (Thanks to SermonCentral Contributors and Wikipedia

Sermon for 1/22/2006

Acts 8:4-25


In February 2001, Adam Burtle, a 20 year old student at the University of Washington put his soul up for auction on eBay. The ad read: "Hardly used. I make no warranties as to the condition of my soul. As of now it is near mint condition, with only minor scratches. Due to difficulties involved with removing my soul the winning bidder will either have to settle for night of yummy Thai food and watching Indiana Jones Movies, or wait until my natural death."

The bidding started at a nickel; his ex-girlfriend bid it up to $6.66, the mark of the "Beast." In the final hour of bidding, the price rose from $56 to $400, placed by a woman in Des Moines, Iowa…

But then eBay officials learned of the auction and removed the listing before bidding closed. EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove explained "EBay is only for pieces of merchandise that a seller can deliver to a buyer. This individual cannot deliver his soul to anyone". (EBay also forbids the selling of drugs, alcohol, guns and body parts).

People will do all kinds of things for money… some are apparently even willing to sell their souls on E-Bay


A. Start with two characters here, Simon and Philip:

1. Simon

a. Simon was a magician. Simon thought he was someone great.

c. Now I need to make it clear that this is NOT the kind of magic that we think of when we think of magic; this is the real kind of magic. Simon practiced witchcraft. The Bible does indeed teach that this sort of thing is real. The power comes from the devil.

f. Simon was full of Satan and he was full of himself.

2. Philip

a. Now Philip comes to town. Philip is an interesting contrast to Simon.

b. Philip has great power, but no one is calling him the great power.

c. There is no mentioning of Philip boasting about himself or thinking he was great. Philip did not come to town to draw attention to him; he came to preach the name of Jesus. He didn’t exalt himself but he exalted Jesus Christ.

e. Philip had the Holy Spirit. Philip had a greater power than Simon.

f. Philip was not the divine power, but a divine servant. Philip was there to bring glory to God, not to himself.

B. Simon and Philip meet

1. Simon was astonished by the great signs and miracles that Philip preformed.

2. Simon knew that what he had was nothing compared to what Philip had.

4. Simon knew that he was nothing compared to Christ.

5. Simon believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized.

6. Philip baptized SIMON—the "divine power" was baptized by the divine servant.

C. Was Simon really saved? Was he really a Christian?

1. We don’t know anyone’s heart but we see in Vs. 13 much evidence of salvation.

2. Simon believed like the rest of the Samaritans. Simon was obedient to the gospel by putting on Christ through baptism like the rest of the Samaritans. Simon left what he was doing; he left the sorcery and followed Philip. Simon was willing to set aside his desires, his way of life, to follow Philip, to follow Christ. He was willing to learn more by following Philip.

D. One problem in vs. 14- 17

1. Look at these verses. Does anybody see a problem here?

2. Now… for those of you who don’t understand WHY that would be a problem, it would help for us to go back to Acts 2 and read what Peter told the crowd at Pentecost:

Acts 2:38 says: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

3. If you want to be saved: Repent of your sins And be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ AND – when you do that You shall receive forgiveness of your sins AND the gift the Holy Spirit

4. BUT… in Acts 8 we have hundreds of people who responded to Philip’s preaching

They believe… they’re baptized and yet they don’t seem to have the Holy Spirit yet!

What’s the deal? This leaves us with only two options:

a. Either the Samaritans were not saved until Peter and John came to Samaria (EVEN tho’ they had BELIEVED and were BAPTIZED)

b. OR, something else is happening here.

10. When Acts 8:16 tells us that “the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus” it’s not trying to say that baptism didn’t accomplish anything. As Acts 2:38 tells us, the result of repentance and baptism was forgiveness of sins and the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit. What Acts 8:16 is saying is - baptism wasn’t intended to impart these dynamic gifts of the Spirit (things like tongues and prophecy) that apparently could only be received by the laying on of apostolic hands. AND that’s obviously what had happened in Samaria because Acts 8:18 tells us “…Simon SAW that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands…”

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