Summary: Exposition of Acts 8:5-25 about the false profession of Simon Magus, and some indicators of true faith
Text: Acts 8:5-25, Title: The First False Believer, Date/Place: NRBC, 12/30/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Talk about Dr Bennett and tell of his estimation of the greatest heresy plaguing Southern Baptists today. Talk about the list of names that need to be removed from off of our church roll, and all the stories I get of family members “who are saved, but…”
B. Background to passage: Immediately following the death of Stephen the disciples were scattered out from Jerusalem by persecution surrounding Stephen. And this scattering takes one of our newly appointed deacons to Samaria to preach the gospel. This was a bold move considering the history between the Jews and Samaritans. However, it yielded much fruit as well as the beginning of the ingathering of non-Jewish people into the kingdom of God. We see signs and wonders attesting to the gospel there and the direct link they exhibit toward evangelism. We have a lack of power, just as we have a lack of treasure. And just as Jesus said would happen, as the gospel seed was scattered there were some that never believed and some that believed for a while. And not counting Judas, we have the first false profession of the church era detailed in the NT. Let me preface my other remarks by saying that it is not completely our job to decide whether or not other are truly saved. However, the bible gives ample warning about the things that accompany salvation, not only so that we can have inner peace and security, but so that we can assure and warn others with truth.
C. Main thought: the truth that false believers are fairly common in the church ministries needs to be taught as a necessary corollary to eternal security of genuine believers.
A. Unreliable Indicators of Saving Faith (v. 13)
1. Here we see a couple of things that sometimes we attribute to genuinely saved people that may not be good indicators of that salvation. First we have a profession. It says that Simon believed too. Maybe he said he believed, maybe he prayed a prayer or walked an aisle, but in some way, he followed the crowd and professed faith. To believe in vain, means without the proper purpose or object. Second, we have ritual. Simon was baptized and began to follow Philip. He recognized true power having been a magician most of his life. Thirdly, we see amazement. Simon was enamored with the power and the signs and wonders.
3. Illustration: we seen many people get saved at 13, 14, 15, after having been baptized at 8 years old, millions of people in America go through religious motions periodically, and it eases their conscience, tell about Kathy Lebel and her husband and daughters that almost got saved, tell about Glenn, Danny’s friend who was baptized and left,
4. It is surely no surprise to you that everyone who says they are a Christian is really not a Christian. Many have believed in vain. Profession is not necessarily possession. This is why we should be careful in assuring someone of their salvation too quickly and without examination. Testimony is great, but it must be accompanied with other biblical realities within the life of the person professing. 2) Religious rituals like baptism, church membership, communion, church attendance, prayer, bible-reading, etc. are not conclusive evidence of saving faith. You can do these things and not be saved. In fact, Jesus says that there will be many that do. You have probably know several people who have been baptized in the wake of a revival or crusade, and then you never see them again. Or they could be the people that you sit beside on a weekly or monthly basis. Good, moral, church-going, red-blooded S. Georgians. They just don’t know Jesus, but because they say that they believe and come to church, they feel fine, even though there is no living relationship with Christ. 3) And finally there are those who put their faith in a lot of things besides Christ alone. They want the benefits, healing, miracles, relationship fixes, social standing, financial help, business contacts, the soothing of their conscience, without the relationship with Jesus, without repentance, without sacrifice, without realigned priorities, without cost. And of course, with the excesses of the charismatic movement there are many who are affixed upon the miracles and signs and wonders that can occur with a relationship with Jesus without faith in a Jesus who might not do any miracles at that time in their life. The bottom line is that we must stop fooling ourselves and falsely comforting others whose lives in no way reflect Christ, or His transforming grace. We must warn those who are lost and think they are saved. We must recommit to biblical view of salvation, rather than an American one.