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Acts 8 v 14 - 25

It is difficult to imagine the modern Church with all its structure and strictures being able to respond quickly and sensitively to the news which had been brought to the Jerusalem church about the work of the Holy Spirit through Philip! The nascent Church not only responded speedily, but sent Peter and John, the heads of the apostles, to investigate the news. It was a new work and challenge for them: the Samaritans had believed the message about Jesus which they had received from Philip, but had not received the Holy Spirit although they had been baptised, an interesting difficulty! Peter and John prayed for the new believers and the Holy Spirit came upon them in a similar manner to the way He had come upon those in the Upper Room at Pentecost.

Nothing is directly recorded here of the effects of the Holy Spirit's outpouring upon those present, but we read that such were they that Simon the sorcerer pleaded for the same power as the new converts had received. Sorcerers, fortune tellers, and astrologers were everywhere in the ancient world. I don't think that we can imagine just how dark things were spiritually or in terms of justice. Simon wanted what he had seen and recognised as true power. Jewish practice was to lay hands on the person who needed healing and the dominating factor into how effective that may be was the character of the one laying on their hands. We read in Acts that the apostles were held in such respect that simply to feel their hands was a deeply spiritual experience. I remember visiting the man who was to preach at my ordination some twelve years ago in Cornwall. We sat in his garden and talked and then he asked me if he could pray for me. When he laid hands on me, it was like a thunder bolt. We didn't realise but he was days from death as he died the same evening as when he preached at my ordination!

Back to Simon: he had two faults:

1. He was interested only in the power and prestige it would bring to himself.

2. He didn't understand that certain gifts are dependent on character and on what God is doing within a person and absolutely are not able to be bought!


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