Summary: Three tips on how to avoid spiritual backsliding.
August 25, 2013
You’ve Fallen …But You Can Get Up!
Opening words: The end is near. This summer we are looking at the first eight chapters of the Book of Acts. I have called this sermon series, Church Planting. So much has happened to this point. The Holy Spirit was unleashed on the world and the church was created. Lives were being changed. The disciples were transformed into apostles, who began to flex their spiritual muscle. Under their leadership individuals were healed and thousands were experiencing the power of the resurrected Jesus. The church was growing and Gentiles were being welcomed into the fold. Through the eyes of God, everything is perfect. However, perfection does not last long because the church is comprised of human beings. The church has always struggled with her human side. This morning’s story illustrates that point.
This morning’s spot line shines squarely on an individual who struggled with his human side. Let me two things about Simon. First, he is far from perfect. His was known for his use of the black arts and the church has tolerated such behavior. Second, his story is complex. Whenever, money is involved things grow complex. They key to understanding this story is distilling down to it basic elements. It is only when you look at those basic elements you begin to see the divine truth. The story of Simon is a story of spiritual backsliding. Vance Havner once said, “Most church members live so far below the standard, you would have to backslide to be in fellowship with them.” May God give you ears to hear this morning’s scripture lesson, Acts 8:9-25. Let me call this message You’ve Fallen …But You Can Get Up!
Acts 8:9-25 9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” 25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
I love this story. A faith healer stands in front of a large crowd and says, “I have two people who need healed this evening. Will the first person in need of a healing please come out! A man ran out on the stage by the name of Harry. The faith healer asked him, “What is your ailment?” Harry answered with these shuddering words, “I can’t tweek right.” He instructed him to go behind the curtain. The faith healer called out, “Will the second person in need of a healing please come out.” A man named Frank came out walking on crutches. The faith healer asked him, “Would you like to walk under your own power?” Frank answered clearly, “Yes!” The faith healer instructed him to walk behind the curtain. The faith healer looked at the crowd and said, “Would you like to see a healing this evening?” The crowd cheered their approval! The faith healer then turned to the curtain and said, “Frank, slide your crutches to me. The crutches slid out and the faith healer picked them up. He broke them into small pieces and the crowd went wild. The faith healer declared Frank had been healed. Next, he looked to the curtain and said, “Harry, take the microphone. The next word you utter will be the first clear words in your life. What do you want to tell us? Harry took the microphone and said, “Twank fell down!”