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Do Not be Mislead by Faith

LUKE (Acts 8:9-25)
6/30/2008


Worldwide Outreach Teaching School

www.WorldwideOTS.org

Meiman Lai Saidi

Friday, May 2, 2008, web. 6-30-08

 

題目: 誤導信仰、不能得救 (Don’t Be Mislead by Faith that Does Not Save)

Scriptures: Acts 使徒8:9-25

Songs: 1. Reborn Can See the Kingdom

            2. Praise God, He Heals Me and Cleanses Me.

經文: 使徒8:9-25 “有一個人,名叫西門,向來在那城裡行邪術,妄自尊大,使撒瑪利亞的百姓驚奇;10無論大小都聽從他,說:“這人就是那稱為神的大能。”11他們聽從他,因他久用邪術,使他們驚奇。12及至他們信了腓利所傳神國的福音和耶穌基督的名,連男帶女就受了洗。13西門自己也信了,既受了洗,就常與腓利在一處,看見他所行的神蹟和大異能,就甚驚奇。14使徒在耶路撒冷聽見撒瑪利亞人領受了神的道,就打發彼得約翰往他們那裡去。15兩個人到了,就為他們禱告,要叫他們受聖靈。16因為聖靈還沒有降在他們一個人身上,他們只奉主耶穌的名受了洗。17 於是使徒按手在他們頭上,他們就受了聖靈。18西門看見使徒按手,便有聖靈賜下,就拿錢給使徒,19說:“把這權柄也給我,叫我手按著誰,誰就可以受聖靈。”20彼得說:“你的銀子和你一同滅亡吧!因你想神的恩賜是可以用錢買的。21你在這道上無分無關,因為在神面前,你的心不正。22你當懊悔你這罪惡,祈求主,或者你心裡的意念可得赦免。23 我看出你正在苦膽之中,被罪惡捆綁。”24西門說:“願你們為我求主,叫你們所說的,沒有一樣臨到我身上。”25使徒既證明主道,而且傳講,就回耶路撒冷去,一路在撒瑪利亞好些村莊傳揚福音。

 

Introduction

Television interviewer and journalist Larry King one day described three farmers who gathered daily in a field during a horrible drought.  And the farmer Senior Pastor, Keith Parmelee, who preached at the Trinity Church of Nazarene in Monterey Park, he said, every day the three farmers were down on their knees, looking upward, and praying that the skies would open and pour forth a much-needed rain.

 

Unfortunately, the heavens were silent, and the petitioners became discouraged, but they continue to meet every morning to lift up their request to God.

 

One morning an uninvited stranger approached and asked the men what they were doing. They respond, "We’re praying for rain."
The newcomer looked at each of them and shook his head, "No, I don’t think so."

The first farmer said, "Of course we’re praying. We are down on our knees pleading for rain. Look around; see the drought. We haven’t had rain in more than a year!"

 

The outsider continued to nod his head and advised them that their efforts will never work. The second farmer jumps in and says, "We need the rain; we aren’t asking only for ourselves, but for our families and livestock." The man listens, nods, and says he still isn’t impressed. "You’re wasting your time," he says.

The third farmer can’t take any more, and in anger he says, "Okay, what would you do if you were in our shoes?" The visitor asks, "You really want to know?"


The three landowners answer, "We really want to know! The guest announced, "I would have brought an umbrella!"

 

Ø      Faith vital (充滿活力的) in a person’s life, but true faith (信仰、信心、信實) causes action.  Faith is so important to the life of a Christian.

Misdirected faith can lead a person on a path totally unexpected.

In today’s portion of scripture we are introduced to a gentleman by the man of Simon who practiced sorcery (法術).   Initially, Simon appeared to be a true believer. Even someone as discerning as (能認識) Philip accepted as such and baptized him.

Luke even goes on to say in verse 13 that Simon followed Philip everywhere.

Simon exhibited three marks of a genuine (真正的) believer:

  1. He believed. 2. He was obedient in baptism. 3.Discipleship – he followed Philip

      4.   He attempted to buy the ability to give the Holy Spirit to someone that the true state of his heart was revealed.

You have to ask the question, “Where did Simon go wrong?”

How did one who came so close miss out on true salvation?

Faith must be grounded in the truth, even if at first you don’t understand it.

Proverbs 3:5

Simon’s faith was grounded on everything but the truth.

There were four glaring (亮光), massive (魁偉的)  faults in Simon’s thinking and see how people today wrestle with the same four areas.

1.  First, Simon Had a Wrong View of Self:

     An incorrect view of humankind keeps many people out of the Kingdom.

  • The view that a person is essentially good causes a false sense of security.

It causes them to think that God applauds their good deeds

 

  • Those that don’t see themselves as sinners will see no need for a Savior.

 

Simon, through his use of sorcery, had everyone in Samaria believing that he was someone great. In fact they said “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” In simple terms Simon was claiming deity () for himself.

And as long as Simon believed that he was God, or nearly God, he could not come to a proper sense of himself.

Ø      People must see themselves as lost, weak, and helpless without God before they can be saved.  Without this realization that we cannot save ourselves we will stay locked in pride’s grip (緊握不放).

 

Ø      Pride is a very powerful thing.  It is called by many people deadly sin.  One commentator wrote that “pride is an easy sin to indulge in (擔迷…在其中), since it does not entail (傳留) the loss of public reputation, prestige (名望), health, or wealth associated with other socially unacceptable sins.”

 

                    Bible has much to say about the evil of pride.

ü       There they cry out, but he does not answer,
because of the pride of evildoers
.  (Job約伯35:12)

 他們在那裡,因惡人的驕傲呼求,卻無人答應。

      虛妄的呼求,神必不垂聽;全能者也必不眷顧。       

 

ü      To fear the LORD is to hate evil:  I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (Pro.箴言8:13)     

     敬畏耶和華,在乎恨惡邪惡。那驕傲、狂妄並惡道,

      以及乖謬的口,都為我所恨惡。

 

ü      The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
 Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
(Proverbs箴言16:5) ‘凡心裡驕傲的,為耶和華所憎惡,雖然連手,他必不免受罰。

 

ü      If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Gal. 加拉太 6:3) 人若無有,自己還以為有,就是自欺了.

 

ü      In one of the most powerful invitations to sinners James wrote in James 4:6: But God gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."

神阻擋驕傲的人,賜恩給謙卑的人。” (James 4:6)    7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  (James 4:6-10 NIV) 但他賜更多的恩典,所以經上說:“神阻擋驕傲的人,賜恩給謙卑的人。”故此,你們要順服神。務要抵擋魔鬼,魔鬼就必離開你們逃跑了。你們親近神,神就必親近你們。有罪的人哪,要潔淨你們的手;心懷二意的人哪,要清潔你們的心。 你們要愁苦、悲哀、哭泣,將喜笑變作悲哀,歡樂變作愁悶。務要在主面前自卑,主就必叫你們升高- 雅各4:6-10

 

ü      Only the humble, those aware of their inadequacies and shortcoming, have that sense of lostness that drives a person to God.

Jesus says in his sermon on the mount that it is the poor in spirit, not the proud in heart, who will experience saving faith.  A broken and a contrite (後悔的) heart coupled with a longing for forgiveness, will prepare a person’s soul for salvation.

 

II. Second, Simon Had a Wrong View of the Salvation:  As amazing as Simon’s magical acts were, they were no match for Philip’s Spirit-given power. 西門看見使徒按手,便有聖靈賜下,就拿錢給使徒,“把這權柄也給我,叫我手按著誰,誰就可以受聖靈。”彼得說:“你的銀子和你一同滅亡吧!因你想神的恩賜是可以用錢買的。’- 使徒8:18  

As Philip began to preach the message about Jesus Christ a revival occurred in the country of Samaria.  His message turned the people around and brought them to Jesus.

 

And the message he preached was a very simple two part message:

1.      The kingdom of God and His sovereign rule over all creation

2.      The name of Jesus Christ by whom the people could be saved.

 

And as it says in verse 12 Philip’s preaching was effective because as Luke shared they believed and they were baptized.

 

As more people believed Philip’s message less people followed Simon and then eventually Simon himself began to follow Philip.  But as we will see Simon had other reasons for following Philip.  Simon had a wrong view about salvation.

He saw salvation as a purely external matter, as an additional act in his life instead of the total transformation of his whole person on the inside.

 

Faith that does not transform your life is not a saving faith.

ü      Saving Faith is A PERSONAL REBORN and make you a new person.

John shared about people’s faith in Jesus when he wrote:

Now while he [meaning Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.  (John 約翰2:23-25 NIV) 當耶穌在耶路撒冷過逾越節的時候,有許多人看見他所行的神蹟,就信了他的名。耶穌卻不將自己交託他們,因為他知道萬人;也用不著誰見證人怎樣,因他知道人心裡所存的。

 

Simon was amazed and believed in the signs that he saw Philip perform but his belief was not in the One whose power was behind them.

 

Ø      True salvation is not mere profession or ritual (教會儀式) act. 

It is the divine transformation of the soul from love of self to love of God; from love of sin to love of holiness.

 

III. Third, Simon Had a Wrong View of the Spirit:

 

The Apostles were excited about the fact more people were being saved and brought into the Kingdom of God.

They were being faithful to Jesus’ instructions before he ascended into heaven.

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

 

But on the other hand some were probably saying “Well, there goes the neighborhood (or the kingdom), the Samarians are moving in.

 

Many Jews still viewed them as half-breed outcasts (被逐出).

 

Ø      God was showing the Church and the world that His Holy Spirit was available to all who believed in Jesus Christ.

 

And Luke is teaching his readers then and us today the importance of having the Holy Spirit within one’s life.

 

We are taught to fear God (which we should); then we are taught to repent and believe in Jesus (which we should)

 

But many pastors and churches stop there rather than going to the next step and say “you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit!  Too many people drift out of the kingdom because they try to live a Christ-like life without the Holy Spirit.

And I believe we (meaning the Church) have just as much responsibility for their failure as they do.

 

Why?  Because we probably didn’t explain the Holy Spirit properly and ask them if they would like to be filled with the Spirit.

 

Ø      We ask them if they want to accept Jesus Christ but we don’t inform them about His Spirit.

 

I’ll will be honest and tell you that it is not easy to live in God’s kingdom; in fact on our own it is impossible.

That is why God sent the Holy Spirit, so that we could live in His kingdom.

 

Simon thought he could buy the Holy Spirit, but no one has enough money to buy what God will give freely.

Ø      There is nothing you can give in exchange for the Holy Spirit other than your old life.  God takes your old sinful life and exchanges it for a Spirit filled life.

 

The last wrong view we discover about Simon today is that he had …

IV. Fourth and Last, Simon Had A Wrong View of Sin:

Look back at what Peter says to Simon after he asks for the ability to give someone the Holy Spirit. 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. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.  (Acts 8:20-23 NIV)

 

Peter challenges Simon to have a correct view of his wicked sin. He wants Simon to see his actions for what they are and to turn away from them. He wants him to repent.

 

Ø      Repentance involves a person turning 180 degrees from sin and to God.

God and sin are completely opposite from each other.

 

That is why if you are truly repentant you can’t move partially away from sin; you can’t turn 90 degrees, or 120 degrees, or even 179 degrees:  It must be 180 degrees; the complete opposite.

 

You turn from what you are doing and follow the way God instructs you.

 

The problem we have is that we have watered down the understanding of what sin is.

We don’t want to address sin as it truly is because most of us would discover that we are still sinning. We try to lower God’s standards rather than ask Him to raise ours.

Ø      What is sin? “人若知道行善,卻不去行,這就是他的罪了。”(雅各James 4:17)

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

In simple terms sin is not doing what God has asked you to do.

 

 God doesn’t point out our sins to us so that He can punish us; He makes us aware of them so that we will turn from them.  He says “That is sin, don’t do it.  I am a holy God and I expect my people to be a holy people.”

Ø      According to Luke, Simon doesn’t repent but asks Peter to pray to God on his behalf so that Simon wouldn’t suffer the consequences Peter spoke of.

There was fear of God but no willingness to change.

And Luke left this story open ended.  We don’t know what happens to Simon.

Luke did this purposely because he didn’t want us to stay focused on Simon but to begin thinking about ourselves.  He wants us to reflect on what are our views are about self, of salvation, of the Holy Spirit, and of sin.

Are you more in line with Simon or God?

 

Closing:

Where the faith grounded in truth would lead us?

It leads us to live eternal life with God and to live life as God intended us to live.

And Luke explains that these are two separate parts:

 

First, in order to be assured of eternal life with God all one must do is:

  1. Recognize the truth that you have been living a life of sin and that you are on a direct path to hell.
  2. To repent of your sins and ask God for forgiveness
  3. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has paid the price for your sins.

If you have done this Jesus says to you just as he did to the one thief on the cross, “you will be with me in paradise”

 

Ø      But what do we do while we are waiting to go to heaven?  Do we just sit here and joyfully shout “I’ve got my reservation in heaven.  Jesus is preparing a room for me in God’s mansion”?

Second, God wants us to be active while we wait. Ask the Holy Spirit dwelling you!

Too many people believe that God’s kingdom is not experienced until we get into heaven.  I’m here to tell you that God’s kingdom is wherever Jesus Christ is present.

 

  • And God expects us to live within His kingdom here on earth as we would in heaven. But we can’t do it on our own; we need the Holy Spirit within us to live the life God calls us to.

 

  • Have you received the Holy Spirit into your life?

 

Now some of you might say that this is a foolish question, I must have the Holy Spirit because I accepted Jesus Christ.  

  • But how many of you feel frustrated as you try to live the Christian life?  Maybe discouraged, or defeated?  You know God is asking you to live your life one way but you keep going back to your old life.  Could it be because you are trying to live this life on your own abilities rather than with the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • You have the joy in your heart about what God has for you in heaven but no joy in your life on earth.
  • I would be negligent before God if I didn’t end today’s message with asking you “have you received the Holy Spirit in your life or are you trying to do it all on your own?”

There may be some here who have lived their whole Christian life and never were asked “have you received the Holy Spirit in your life”?

 

Some of you might ask “I don’t know, how does one know if they have received the Holy Spirit”?

Good question, it may have happened without you knowing. Apostle Paul says that the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. We can have that assurance that we have the Holy Spirit.

 

If you do not have that assurance I invite you to pray that God will fill you with His Holy Spirit.  Yes, it is that easy! God makes His Spirit available to everyone that asks for it. God will cleanse you of your old sinful nature and fill you with His Spirit. How do you know this?  By faith in God’s word!

 

Let’s Sing and Pray: Praise God! He Heals Me, Cleanse Me.


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