Monday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 8:14-25

Not for Our Worldly Enrichment

I have heard testimonies of Christians who testified that when they first came to saving faith in Christ Jesus, they looked upon their salvation as, well, “fire insurance” or perhaps as a “ticket to heaven.”  It was only by maturing in the faith that they came to see that salvation is so much more – that it’s really about God and not ourselves.  This is what Simon Magus did not know.

But before we tackle that topic, we have something to address at the beginning of this passage that makes us stop.  The mother church at Jerusalem had received word that the Samaritans (of all people!) had received the faith.   Therefore, the Jerusalem church dispatched Peter and John to verify, but more important, “pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  The apostles then laid their hands on them and thereby bequeathed the Holy Spirit unto them.  Wait a minute.  Was the Holy Spirit not given to them already?  Why was he not given until the arrival of Peter and John?  We did not see this on the day of Pentecost, nor do we see this at the house of Cornelius when the Spirit fell while Peter was preaching (10:44-48)?  (There is a parallel case in 19:1-7, but we leave that for now.)  How are we to understand this passage?

We know that no one comes to saving faith in Christ Jesus unless the Holy Spirit first convicts that one of his need for salvation (John 16:8-11).  The Samaritans came to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit on their hearts, as with everyone else.  But it seems that they did not yet have the fullness of the Spirit, his visible presence, or his gifts.  We cannot know why God would alter the rule of His way of doing things; He is God and can do as He sees fit.  Some suggest that the apostles’ coming to the Samaritans from Jerusalem was to lend credibility to the event and cement the relationship between the two warring factions, Jew and Samaritan, so that they were now one body in Christ Jesus.  In other words, God was healing the rift between these ancient brethren through the gospel.  I like the sound of that.

Back to Simon who wanted to “obtain the gift of God by money,” Peter had some harsh words.  Of course, we profit from our salvation: What is greater than eternal life under the rule of Christ.  But salvation is the means whereby God brings us back into loving fellowship with Him, not a means for our worldly enrichment.  And the greatest gift of all is the Holy Spirit, himself.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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