Summary: So what does Scripture say is necessary for a person to be saved? What are the non-negotiables, the things that don’t require any interpretation? Well, as always let’s go to the source of all matters of Christian faith and practice, the Bible. And let’s n
There was man named Simon who was a sorcerer or magician in Samaria. People thought he was great and he thought he was great. But then Phillip comes along, a nobody really, and he preaches the good news and also did many signs and miracles. And in Acts chapter 8 it says after seeing all this, even Simon believed and was baptized, and continued to travel around with Phillip after he saw what was happening. Was Simon the sorcerer a believer here? It says he believed, he was baptized, and he followed Phillip around.
The Apostles heard about all this stuff that was happening in Samaria so they sent Peter and John (the Big Guns) to check it out and pray that these new believers would receive the Holy Spirit. That seems kind of odd doesn’t it? But it appears at this early stage God wanted to assure the Samaritans and later, other Gentiles that they were truly part of the covenant and full members of the church by having the Apostles who they would have known, come and do this. It would be like the Pope baptising you instead of your little church pastor.
Now Simon sees that when they lay their hands on these people, the Holy Spirit falls on them, and it doesn’t say he received the Holy Spirit, but he does say, please give me this power so I can make the Spirit fall on people too. I’ll even pay you to give it to me. Peter immediately rebukes him saying “may your silver perish with you, you have neither part nor followship in this matter, because your heart is not right before God, you are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity”. “Hey I was just asking”. Simon is devastated by these words and he pleads that they will pray for him that these nasty things Peter said would not happen to him.
Now let me have your attention. Let’s say a young woman brings a boy to church because her parents will not allow her to date a Non-Christian. There’s an altar call and she nudges this guy saying “here it is go up”. So he does and he looks back at her thinking great I’ll finally get to date this girl, so he gets on his knees and prays the prayer with the pastor. He gets back to her and says, “Ok can we go out now”? Well, no you need to get baptized next week at the Baptism service.
He goes Ok then can we go out? He goes and gets dunked in the water the next week, and now her parents say, OK you can date him. Would that work for you moms and dads? Is this guy a Christian just because he said he believes and got baptized? Is he really saved knowing what his motives were?
Back to Simon. He sees all this cool stuff Phillip and the Apostles are doing and sees that you have to believe this message and be baptized so he does, because he wants to be part of the cool stuff going on. Someone detects that he’s in it for the wrong reasons and does he repent? No, he asks Peter to pray that the bad stuff that is coming because of his greedy heart won’t happen to him. Is Simon a saved disciple of Christ?
“Well, we really can’t know what’s in a person’s heart, only God knows”. Really? If I am a baptized believer and I continue to cheat on my wife, go get drunk every weekend, work at a job where I am consistently dishonest to make more money. Would you say you don’t know the state of my heart? Folks regardless of what we say and do to become “Christians”, if the heart isn’t right can we have assurance of our salvation. The truth may be only myself and God know my heart completely, but if we intentionally continue in disobedience and sin, Scripture makes it pretty clear we have no part in the Kingdom.
Well, was Simon saved? I don’t think so and let me give you a little bonus, no extra charge. In the Apocryphal book the Acts of Peter, which is not scripture but seems to have a lot of accurate substantiated historical information, this story is completed, because we hear nothing more of Simon in the Bible.
Simon, after what we just heard is trying to prove himself to be a god, he levitates way up into the air. The apostle Peter prays to God to stop his flying, and he immediately falls breaking his legs "in three parts". The previously non-hostile crowd then stones him. Now gravely injured, he had some people carry him on a bed to a doctor and it says he died "while being sorely cut by two physicians (surgery)".