Contributed by Melvin Shelton on Dec 21, 2003 (message contributor)
Summary: The persecution of the early church in Jerusalem resulted in the gospel being carried to other parts of Palestine and eventually other nations.
Acts 8:1 -- 25. 12/17/03
The persecution of the early church in Jerusalem resulted in the gospel being carried to other parts of Palestine and eventually other nations. What the devil meant for harm, the Lord just turned around for good. Some of the believers had to flee Jerusalem for their life carried the gospel to other parts of the world.
Now remaining in Jerusalem were the apostles and they continued to stay in contact with the scattered believers. It is one of those contacts we want look into tonight that involved the apostle Peter. Philip was preaching down in the city of Samaria and winning souls to Jesus. Peter was one of a two-man committee sent from the church down to Samaria to see the new believers.
The first thing we want to note is THE PEOPLE ON THE COMMITTEE. When the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, verse 14.
Philip the evangelist along with Stephen was one of the seven deacons’ chosen by the church in Jerusalem to take care of the daily administrations in the church. Philip was one of those also who fled Jerusalem because of the persecution. He went to Samaria and preached the gospel. This soon became known in Jerusalem church and they appointed a committee to visit. Peter and John were selected; both were great man of God and traveled together.
Peter and John had done quite a few things together. They were fishing partners along with their brothers, Andrew and James. Peter and John were the two running to the tomb when it was announced Jesus wasn’t there. But I think this is the last time they are mentioned as being together.
That says and little bit about the people on the committee, and next we want to look at THE PURPOSE OF THE COMMITTEE.
Now why were they sent to Samaria? Was it to spy on Philip? No! They were sent to Samaria to help the new believers grow in the Lord. They were to do some follow-up ministry. They are working with Philip, not against him. That is what ministry is about. It isn’t churches competing with one another but complementing one another. The purpose of the committee of two was to help Philip in the ministry.
But we also see in our study, THE PROBLEM FOR THE COMMITTEE.
Peter and John had not been in Samaria long before they ran into the problem of Simon the sorcerer. Look at vs. 9 -- 11, 13.
Let me say if Simon was saved, and we have to believe he was, he still had a whole lot of the flesh left in him. When he saw that the new believers received the Holy Spirit by the apostles lying on their hands, he offered them money that he could have that power to which he laid his hands on that they to might receive the Holy Spirit.
Now some believe because of his fleshly desires and most likely for his own gain, is evidence that Simon wasn’t saved. Now we have to be careful with that conclusion. If we conclude that, then anyone who evidences fleshly desires we would conclude he is not saved. And also the same one might conclude that we aren’t saved. Upon receiving salvation, the old flesh temptations still pop up. As we grow in the Lord, they are easily detected. The more we deny the flesh, the easier it gets as we stay on our journey. But keep this in mind, temptation never leaves completely.
Evidently old Simon was somebody before his conversion, or he thought, and he wanted the prestige and power in the new life.
By now, Peter had learned something about how to handle sin in the church. Peter wasn’t concerned that the man could have hit the collection with a pretty big offering. Peter did not beat around the bush with words. He was concerned with holiness in the church. Look at vs. 20 -- 23.
Upon Peter saying this we can say that at least three things were rejected. First his money was rejected. Money talks and often buys position and influence in the church. It won’t do that where Peter is preaching. He wasn’t interested in dirty money. Peter would not let his message be corrupt with the dirty money.
Secondly, Peter rejected Simons thinking. Simon thought you could buy position and power in the church. Of course, that isn’t the thinking of anyone in our churches today.
Thirdly, Simon’s ambition was rejected. Peter told Simon you don’t have a part in this ministry. Simon wanted to be an apostle and the position that went along with it. He wanted a calling that was not his. The best advice I got when I answered the call in full-time ministry is if you can do anything else and be satisfied, go and do it.