Summary: Learning how to be the church in today's world through learning from the book of Acts.
We live in a time in history where religion and spirituality seems to be at an all-time high. Everyone seems to have some sort of religious belief system – even if it’s something they found on the internet or something they made up themselves.
And to go along with all this spiritual searching is an endless parade of so-called religious authorities peddling their own form of answers to cosmic questions.
But just because someone says it ‘works’ for them, just because you bought a book at a Christian bookstore, just because someone says they’re a messenger of the Truth, doesn’t make it so. There are plenty of imposters out there leading people away from the Truth. 
[Mormons, JW’s, Kaballa, Scientology, etc.]
There are plenty of imposters out there leading people away from the Truth. Could you recognize them? Could you tell whether someone is true or false?
 Well this morning we’re going to look at a story about a missionary and a magician from Acts chapter eight. And as we examine the differences between these two miracle workers, it’ll help us be better equipped to recognize the true and false in our world today.
[Read Acts 8:4-13.]
So we have Philip, one of the seven men elected to care for the widows in the church, scattered because of the persecution that had broken out against the church. So he goes down to reach the Samaritans for the Lord. Philip was the church’s first real missionary and God gave him an incredible ministry of healing and evangelism there.
In that region there was also a worker of miracles named Simon - a man who used magic and sorcery to amaze the people. Simon came across the ministry of Philip and he himself was amazed at the miracles that Philip performed. So it says that he believed and was baptized and even started hanging around with Philip.
Sounds like Simon might have given up his sorcery to truly follow God. But the next few verses show us that his heart never really changed. 
[Read Acts 8:14-24.]
Incredibly strong language from Peter who immediately recognized Simon as a fake. You see, Simon just seemed to be amazed at Philip’s and the Apostles power to work miracles. He saw this as a new way to impress the people who called him “the great power of God”. So he thought he could purchase this power from the Apostles.
And even after Peter rebukes him for this, he doesn’t seem to humble himself and repent. He asks them to pray that nothing happens to him as they said.
Just because someone labels himself as a Christian doesn’t make it so. Just because someone says a prayer and gets baptized doesn’t mean they were sincere. Many people have made false claims of Christianity for selfish reasons. Simon is an example of this.
You know this Simon was believed by the early church fathers of the first and second centuries to be the one who tried to introduce the heresy of Gnosticism into the early church. And sadly, his false teachings led many people away from the Truth of Jesus Christ. If people would have just asked the right questions about this man, they would have realized that he was in fact a false teacher. So as we compare Simon to Philip, let’s ask a few questions that will help us detect the true and false teachers in our world today. Question number one:
 What did they do to draw a crowd? How did Philip and Simon get the people’s attention? Well, they worked miracles. Philip worked miracles by the power of God and Simon worked miracles through magic and sorcery.
Now we know from Scripture and even life experience that God is in the miracle-working business. God can, does and will do the miraculous in and through His people.
But what about magic and sorcery? Does that have any real power in the world today? Let’s not kid ourselves friends, demonic forces are at work today and can enable people to do supernatural things. Demonic forces can captivate people, but ultimately lead them into bondage. We don’t know what kind of miracles Simon was doing here, but they were amazing enough that the people called him “the great power of God”.
So both men were performing miracles amongst the public. But how did these miracles affect the people?  Well, Philip’s miracles brought deliverance, healing and joy. Simon’s miracles only brought astonishment.
[Read Acts 8:6-11.]
I think that both of these men got plenty of “oohs and ahs” when they’d perform a miracle. I think that the people were just as amazed to see a lame man walk as they were to see Simon do one of his tricks. But the difference is, with Simon that’s all you got. All you got with him was a show. All you came away with was a story to tell.