All Saints’ Sunday Acts 8
Christians, what do you want? Being involved in the life of this living church we know following Jesus is important. As we follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit sends us wherever we are needed. When we go where the Holy Spirit sends us we find four type of people.
The first type of people we will meet are the religious persecutors. They don’t want to change their ways for they see their way as the right way. The second type of people we will meet are the crowds who want to be baptized. This type of people see miracles happen and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. The third type of people we meet are the unregenerate baptized. They believe in Jesus, but they have not experienced a new birth from following Jesus. The fourth type of people we meet are those religiously curious. These people know what devotion to God is, but they are ready to respond whenever we tell them about Jesus.
Christians, what do you want to do when you meet these four type of people? I am hoping that we want to act like Philip. When Philip and other Christians were being persecuted, they scattered across the countryside. This forced the Philip and the Christians to speak about Jesus in places they had not yet spoken about him. Philip and the other Christians will have future run-ins with Saul and the religious persecutors. As we are reading this story we realize that Saul is already forgiven for the death of Stephen. Saul just doesn’t know what is ahead for himself. It will be good for Saul and the church. For now, any thoughts of revenge or retribution toward the religious persecutors will be set aside. Why do set aside these thoughts? We know God will have vengeance upon those who persecute God’s people.
So, we get to deal with those who want to be baptized and those who get baptized and have not changed their ways, and the religiously curious. Philip encountered these last three types of people when he followed the lead of the Holy Spirit. All along Philip was speaking about the Messiah and performing signs. I hope we can be like Philip. I hope we can speak about the kingdom of God and speak about the name of Jesus Christ. Look what happens when we speak like Philip!
A. Philip proclaimed the Messiah (8:1-13)
1. Persecution ramped up in Jerusalem
2. The disciples were scattered to Judea and Samaria
3. Saul led the persecution by dragging men and women to prison
4. The scattered disciples kept on speaking the word
5. Philip was one of the scattered disciples
6. In Samaria, Philip spoke about the Messiah and he did many signs
a. Demons left the possessed and the lame walked
b. Samaritans were considered half-breeds, not completely Jewish
c. Yet, they responded to the word and were baptized!
d. These are the type of people who want to be baptized and follow Jesus, and like Philip we welcome these people
7. Simon the Great (a magician) believed and was baptized
8. Up to this point, Philip has been successful in preaching about Jesus and adding to the number of those who believed. Joy was found in the Samaritan city when demons were driven from people and the paralyzed or lame were healed. Christians, is this what we want? Do we want people in the Twin Counties to believe in Jesus and be baptized? If that is what we want, then I hope we can speak about Jesus Christ. The crowds in the Twin Counties won’t believe until they hear us speak about Jesus. Even then, some will be like the third type of people we encounter. That’s right, some will be baptized but will not have changed their ways. It may not be that we confront this type of people, but someone else will confront them.
B. Peter and John were sent to confirm the reports coming out of Samaria (8:14-25)
1. The apostles heard what the disciple Philip was doing
2. Philip had baptized the Samaritans in the name of Jesus only
3. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon the Samaritans
4. Once the apostles laid hands on the baptized Samaritans, they received the Holy Spirit (we now baptize in the name of the Father, Son, & the Holy Spirit, plus we lay hands on those who profess faith in Jesus)
5. Simon offered to pay for the power that came from the Holy Spirit!
6. Peter rebukes Simon!
a. You can’t get God’s power with money
b. Your heart is not right with God
c. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord so you may be forgiven
d. You are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness!
e. Simon asks Peter to pray for him, yet we do not read of Simon repenting
7. Oh, if Simon would have changed his ways. We don’t know if he did. We don’t read in the New Testament anything more of Simon. We do read that the good news of the kingdom of God continue to spread. The ones who are unrepentant seem to be left behind. What about us, is it time for us to be rebuked? Are we in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness? If we are like this, then we can repent. John Wesley, in his sermon “New Birth,” described those who are baptized and have not experienced the new birth as servants of God. The idea is when we do not yet express belief in Jesus, we are merely creatures. Yes, we are created by God, but we do not follow God. When we are baptized, God is laying his claim upon us. There is the hope at this point that we have repented of our ways and are ready to follow Jesus as a child of God. This regeneration as a child of God comes as the Holy Spirit lives in those who repent of their ways and are baptized. The unrepentant baptized are servants of God and not yet children of God. It is when God changes us, we have a new birth, that we are children of God. This means we want to change when we repent. I sure hope we have repented of our ways and not just wanting someone to pray for us so that we do not perish. Yet, we know there are religiously curious people, the 4th type of people we encounter when we speak about Jesus.
C. Though ostracized, the eunuch wanted to be baptized (8:26-40)
1. The Holy Spirit led Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch (a castrated man who was not allowed to worship in the Temple)
2. The eunuch was reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah
3. The eunuch was curious to whom the author was writing
4. Philip explained the prophet was speaking of Jesus!
5. The eunuch was baptized and he rejoiced because of what he discovered
6. Philip continued to follow the Holy Spirit, all the way up the coast to Caesarea. It was by divine appointment the eunuch met Philip, was baptized, and became a child of God. There are religious curious people today who want to hear what the Bible says. We are the people to tell them about Jesus! I sure hope that as we encounter the religiously curious they hear about Jesus from us.
As children of God, that is what we do and who we are. We speak about Jesus, baptize people in Jesus’ Name, and lay hands on them so they may receive the Holy Spirit! When we are speaking about Jesus and performing miracles, we encounter four type of people.
The first type of people we will meet are the religious persecutors. They don’t want to change their ways for they see their way as the right way. When we encounter persecution, we keep our faith in Jesus, and let God have vengeance on those who harm us.
The second type of people we will meet are the crowds who want to be baptized. This type of people see miracles happen and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. We get this type of people baptized and help them understand how we live as children of God.
The third type of people we meet are the unregenerate baptized. They believe in Jesus, but they have not experienced a new birth from following Jesus. For the unregenerate baptized, we rebuke them so they may decide to repent. Otherwise they may continue to live as servants of God. They may stay in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness. Or they may repent and become children of God.
The fourth type of people we meet are those religiously curious. These people know what devotion to God is, and they are ready to respond whenever we tell them about Jesus. Then we and they can celebrate the salvation we are receiving from God.
Christians, what do you want? I sure hope we want to follow the Holy Spirit as we live as children of God. If we don’t want that, then let us repent and become children of God!