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Samaria: The Widening Stream

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 14, 2020 8:00 am

Samaria: The Widening Stream

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 14, 2020 8:00 am

"Kill them all, that will stop the spread of this evil." This was the plan used in Jerusalem two thousand years ago to stop the spread of Christianity. It didn't work. The enemies of Christianity have used intimidation, threat, force, imprisonment and death to stamp out the Church.

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Killed of all that will stop the spread of this evil that was the plan used in Jerusalem 2000 years ago to stop the spread of Christianity. It didn't work.

The enemies of Christianity have always used intimidation threat, force imprisonments, and death to try to stamp out the church, welcome to the Bible study out the radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act likely this week will see how persecution doesn't stop the truth of Christ's resurrection, but actually spreads the good news will also be three very interesting people.

Philip, who spread the gospel Saul who sought to destroy the church, and Simon the magician who tried to bind the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now let's listen as Dr. Boyce teaches from acts chapter 8. One thing the Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples before the crucifixion and is being taken back to have a notice that after he was gone. The time would come when his enemies's would persecute them and even kill them. Thinking that by killing them they were doing God a service I'm sure they apostles in the early disciples remembered that. And yet it still must've been quite a shock to them and a blow to the whole community.

When Stephen is out standing Lehman and beacon was martyred for his faith was bad enough that he was such a distinguished man, one who had proved himself so pious and strong and effective in his ministry and useful in the church, but in addition to all that he was the first one after Jesus Christ himself to die, and the trauma of loss of Stephen must've spread over the whole church. Moreover, as we find moving on to chapter 8 chapter that follows the story of his stoning that persecution of Stephen's martyrdom was only the signal for a wide outbreak of persecution against the church as a whole mallard in persecution before already seen that the apostles who had been doing the bulk of the preaching and where the focal point of the church's mission came into conflict with the Sanhedrin they call the man they demanded that they stop preaching.

They refused to do it release them because they really did know how to oppose what they were doing when they began to preach again. They all demand and so on. They finally ended up beating them and threatening them, but again they let them go all that persecution everything we have seen in the book up to this point was against the apostles that is against the leaders now for the first time as we read this, we find that the persecution broke out not only against the leaders of the church, but against the church as a whole.

Now suddenly you see everybody is affected so you have the death of Stephen, and now the outbreak of widespread persecution.

Moreover, if I could make it even worse the first time we find all of the leaders of Judaism United together in opposition read carefully you'll find out that that wasn't true before this, the apostles, when they were called in said we're here because we are preaching the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection. As we know it was something in which the Pharisees believed that the Sadducees did not. So when the apostle said, we are here to preach the resurrection. Even though the Pharisees did like the idea that it substantiated the claims of Jesus and they were in opposition to Jesus joining with the Sadducees at that point to try and have Jesus remove this was nevertheless a point that came as a division between these two bodies please. Two groups of leaders in the Jewish nation later. Years later, the apostle Paul did the same thing because when he was called before the Sanhedrin. He said it's in the matter of the resurrection that I called in question before you this day, and immediately they fell in the squabbling between themselves because the Pharisees said there was a resurrection and the Sadducees were the modernists of the day said there was not to say something is happened in the meantime. And what happened was the spread of the gospel among the Hellenists. The election of these Greek speaking Greek Christians who were Jews in the sense that they had been sympathetic with Judaism and entered into the worship of Judaism, but were Greek and background the spread of the gospel among them the election of people from their number is leaders in the church is all the early deacons were and that especially this great brilliant sermon of Stephen before the Sanhedrin just before he was martyred. I pointed out when we were studying that even though we went through it very quickly and had many many verses last week that Stephen it would seem was at this point even more perceptive than the apostles because the apostles were still thinking as Jews. They were still attending the temple worship. They were going through all the rights of Judaism.

Later on, this became a problem for them at this point and seem to see any difficulty there at all, but Stephen the Hellenists. A person with the Greek and Jewish background. Immediately, it would seem perceived that all these Julius take accretions to Christianity were destined to pass away any new well as Jesus Christ said would happen, that even the temple itself would pass away and it was on my ground that it was all before the Sanhedrin, that is, he was brought to trial on the same basis. The Jesus Christ was brought to trial is that of Jesus. He subverts the law and he setting about to destroy the temple and a lot point you see not just the Sadducees who are opposed to the resurrection with the Pharisees to who were very defensive of the law were up in arms. What I'm saying at this point of the narrative. Things are really getting back is been a martyrdom martyrdom has triggered a widespread persecution and the agents of that persecution now are not only Sadducees were opposed to the doctrine of the resurrection, but the very powerful pharisaic party as well and is one thing more.

I suppose at the time, those who were involved didn't quite gain the force of this but Luke is writing later and he knows and his readers are reading it later and they know that this man Saul only introduces here as an agent of the persecution became the first really great deadly enemy of the church.

Not much is said about him here. He was simply there says getting approval to his death, but when Luke writes this, you say rights of knowing full well that everyone who reads it as he himself knew this man. Saul went on from there perhaps were to understand this. Perhaps he was behind that persecution. At any rate, he channeled it and intensified it to such an extent that not only were the disciples scattered as the text says they were. But actually when after the as they were scattered and was persecuting them, hounding them to death now. So something interesting about Saul in verse three says, Saul began to destroy the church eat ravish the churches what the word actually means, and it's worth pointing out here.

I don't always point out that matter. Greek tenses and such, but that tense of the verb, ravish or destroy is an imperfect tense. What that means is he went on ravaging it was ravaging it and he kept on ravaging it.

Sometimes I think is appreciative as I am of the new international version that in an attempt to render it and idiomatic English. They lose something. I think that's what they do here it says but Saul began to destroy the church. I think they mean what I mean but I don't think that quite conveys the idea just sounds like Saul started in to make trouble with real ideas that he continued to make trouble, is making trouble and he continued to make trouble, and he was going to keep making trouble. The reason I make a point of that you say is that as Luke tells the story all this trouble. He was making was ineffective. He was setting out to destroy the church. He was focusing the persecution he was making sure that it kept going. He was intensifying up with a morning did it. What a bore gospel spread because those were persecuted and says were scattered throughout all Judea and Samaria, and even be on and everywhere they went, they planted the seeds of the gospel to give you another little detail verse for those who had been scattered, preach the word of different words in the Greek language for scattered somewhere and simply, mainly were scattered abroad as wallets like you'd scatter something to the winds and it's gone. But that is the word is used here this word is used in the sense of scattered in order to be planted on the Hebrew language. There's that great were just real means that scattered but also planted.

It's what God said he did with Israel. He scattered them, but that he was going to plant them in their landlord is the same Lords Jezreel flats.

The case here. The disciples were scattered as a result of the persecution. This is what the leaders intended get them out of here. Get them to go in all different areas break up this movement that's going on, but all I did by scattering them was plant them in all the places to which they were scattered wherever they were planted and says they preached word. I guess that's a point which is worth pausing to say is that true view wherever you have found yourself whether scattered by some intentional means or simply move because that's the way our society functions that you actually been planted there you put down roots to bear fruit for Jesus Christ.

You preach the word bear the witness. That's what they were to do, see if that's the case then even the worst things that happen, as was the case here actually served to advance the cause of Christ. See Paul later writes in the book of Romans. In the eighth chapter all things work together for good to them that love God and this is an example of that. Even the persecution in the stoning of Stephen you say yes, but who wants to be stout, while nobody, of course, and who wants to be scattered well.

Most people don't want to be scattered you say well does that work together for good in the answer is yes not always the good. As we perceive it. Not only is the good that we want, but it works for the good, because it's the good of the gospel to the kingdom and where that prospers we prosper because we are citizens of that kingdom. And that's the way we need to think about these things. So as I say is this chapter begins we have on the one hand, this great picture of persecution intense in all its forms against the entire church but on the other hand, we have this marvelous working out of the grace of God as those were scattered serve only as vehicles of the communication of God's truth. Now the focus in terms of people changes now shifts this man fill up the next in line of the distinguished deacons were elected to chapter 2 before Stephen was the first was eloquent and he was martyred.

Now it would seem the mantle of leadership among this body of the deacons passes to Philip and he begins to minister in America. Samaria is a word that you're writing about in our minds. At this point because if we think back to chapter 1. Recall that that was the outline with the expansion of the Christian missionary enterprise that Jesus gave his disciples said in acts 18 you will be my witnesses. After the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will bear witness in Jerusalem is what they been doing and then he said in Judea and Samaria and under the uttermost parts of the world. When we were looking at that verse way back to the beginning of the studies I pointed out that those words Judea and Samaria, probably to be taken together. Speaking of one entity you see a good tickets is describing four things, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria on the uttermost parts of the world, but I suggested that is probably Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and then the regions beyond. I say that not only because that's one way in which the text can be read but because that's the way Luke develops it in the unfolding of the history of the church in the book of acts up to this point after the end of chapter 7 you had the preaching of the gospel in Jerusalem and have been very effective. Thousands of believed and were told that many hundreds walked into the city in order to be with the apostles of the experience the healing so they were doing in those days without chapter agency. As a result of the persecution is great change in what happened. The gospel begins to expand on the place and expands into is Samaria. Later we get back to Judea, is it's not quite the order you would expect you to expect Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Romans that you had Jerusalem then you have Samaria and Judea and suggested there to be taken together at any rate, that's what happens in Philip you see is the instrument of this right missionary outreach you say at this point. Here are the Christian apostles teacher versus the deacons going out to carry the gospel to a new region.

Certainly when they go to a new area.

They should use new methods is not what our sociological courses would teach us. You have to understand the people to whom you go. You have to present things in their categories.

This is the time for a great reinterpretation of Christianity is, we begin to involve Gentiles server half Gentiles half Jews and Samaria or whatever in the missionary outreach. Well, that's the way we might think. But when we see Philip going out to preach. We find very explicitly that he does exactly what the apostles and the others of the doing all along: verse for those who had been scattered, preach the word wherever they went.

In verse five says Philip, giving a specific example now of those were scattered abroad went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed Christ. In other words, he preach the gospel in the gospel centered in Jesus Christ and that's what they'd been doing all along.

I was talking about that this morning when we were dealing with Paul's statement of the gospel in Romans 116 and 17. We were talking about why the apostle was not ashamed of the gospel that we saw that one reason why he wasn't ashamed of it is that it is in the preaching of the gospel of the power of God is known that's how God's chosen to reach people through preaching a formal why and also by extension, the testimony of Christian people in all circumstances, because that's what's being talked about here. That's where the power of God is known. That's where transformations take place in the preaching of the word, and that's what Philip did and God blessed it is.

We say people began to believe in this city of Samaria and eventually other places. The remainder of the chapter goes on to tell us about his ministry to the Ethiopian, which suggested already, now that gospel is expanded beyond Samaria and Africa to the south.

Interestingly, Philip is what is doing this as we read this if you think of evangelism in terms of going out beyond where you are and is missionary evangelism.

Philip was the first missionary evangelist later on is called an evangelist in the 21st chapter verse eight Philip the evangelist, it's the only time an accident, but he is specifically called evangelist. Certainly Paul was he was a missionary, but dearer Philip is called an evangelist and it's interesting that this man Philip was a layman, it's worth reflecting on that. At least I do when I come across something like this has always seemed to me when I think in terms of those who have been particularly effective in speaking to others about Christ that generally has been layman.

We don't often think that way we think that you go into the ministry and one of the things you can do in the ministry is the an evangelist.

Certainly there are ministers who are evangelist my experience, it has been that those who are most effective is evangelist Sir Lehman. I don't think that's an accident, because although it's true that there are some ministers who are evangelist. Generally, the task of the ministry is not a taxable evangelism ally don't want to be misunderstood on that.

You can't preach or teach the Bible without it being evangelistic Bible always centers in Jesus Christ. You don't understand it and let's understand how it is bearing on him and his message with chiefly the task of the minister is, as Paul says in Ephesians 2 equipped the charts of the church may do the ministry that includes a ministry of evangelism so ministers job really is to teach the Bible and then those who were taught, particularly those who have the gift of special gift that we should all be witnesses, but those who have a special gift of evangelism or to exercise that in effective ways they go out others in any rate, that's what Philip did not told much about Philip don't know where he got his instruction. Perhaps he was even a disciple of the Lord we don't know that. But that doesn't suggest that I would think that he probably learned at the feet of the apostles. They had talks. Todd is Jesus a top down. Learned it now betook this message that they had taught him and he was ready to bear it in other places, God blessed them, says not only did many here believe that says it got even bless them with the ability to do miraculous signs. This is particularly significant in view of the story that follows because one of the reasons. Perhaps the chief reason that God allowed Philip to do these miracles is the sake of the impact it had on this man's assignment was a miracle worker wonderland but a charlatan and who had impressed the people of the city.

Samaria.

This is where the story moves next begins to talk about him and this man Simon is really interesting.

Interesting, because he somewhat of a puzzle. We know it's a charlatan that's a ways introduced as a full, people had magic tricks. They went about doing his magic tricks. As a result of them.

They thought that he was some great person. People says in verse 10 gave them their attention and exclaimed this man is the divine power known as a great power was a great title use for himself.

It was like Blackstone, the great Simon the magnificent.

That was the way he styled himself and he was making a great impact in the city of Samaria until Philip came and then you say for the first time in his life. He began to see a power that really did accomplish the things it seemed to accomplish. When Simon was doing his magic tricks, he was is pulling people that he was well aware of the fact that he was fooling people now suddenly here was Philip not operating in a way Philip was operating trying to draw attention to himself, but rather speaking of someone else pointing to Jesus Christ in the power of this, Christ the power of his spirit.

He was healing people. All these regular goals are being done evil spirits came out of many, many paramedics and cripples were healed was great joy in that city.

Something that Simon never seen before and sort of professional way. Simon was most impressed and he said to himself. I'm going to advance my profession. If I'm going to recapture the following which I've had up until now I better get this power that Philip pass. What makes this so puzzling is verse 13, which says Simon himself believed and was baptized and I raises the question. Was he actually a believer was his baptism a meaningful baptism or was he just carried on professing something that really hadn't happened in his heart. I suppose the clear disposition is on the side of the fact that he was no true believer, but you can make a case on the other side you like to read the commentary to find that the commentaries always make a case on the other side. Even if you don't want to hear it, but that's what they do and they suggest for some reason that nothing that is said later about him necessarily excludes necessarily excludes the fact that he might've been a true believer. What is true. Peter says he might perish. And that's pretty strong language. But Peter also says you have no part with us in this and it's interesting that that is the same price to Jesus and using Peter in the upper room and Peter said to Jesus, when he wanted to wash his feet know you will never wash my feet. I don't want you to do that that's improper Jesus unless I wash your feet, you have no part in me same pharmacy and yet Peter was an unbeliever. He was just out of the will of God. He was in understanding things and as possible possible that this man Simon was a believer will be just so poorly informed, and so bound by the way of thinking that had characterized his life all those years up to that point was is way off base year and Peter was rebuking him as a believer I say that's possible. And yet, as we read it. It would really seem that this was merely a case of one who had been exposed to the preaching was impressed by the miracles wanted to calm and be part of it and tap into the blessing, but without that real transformation of the heart that gives evidence of the fact that he been born again. You can of course applied is either way.

If this man Simon was saved really born again then this is a warning against what in the history of the church has come to be known as simony that's term that is based upon his name. It's wanting to buy God's blessings think that you're going to get God's blessings because you have sufficient means to pay for them. We think that is sort of an old-fashioned idea that ideas Simon a week think all that something that characterized the Middle Ages when people tried to bite people favors or by their way to heaven by paying a certain amount to get them out of purgatory and it's true that is certainly an illustration of it, but I daresay we had the same thing today. We had a way of thinking today that you can only raise enough money somehow. You can have the blessing of God. Many, many Christian ministries operate that way. Only he can raise enough money, then we can do all the things that are necessary to be done in order to show the really blessed by God in achieving things in know I as much as other people and organizations realize that you do need money to do work and I'm involved in some measure in raising up for a number of different organizations, but all the tragedy.

If we ever begin to think that we get the blessing of God by buying I how much we have God really blesses his church revival sweeps over his people.

It's always in unexpected ways and is never connected how much money you have just got chooses to do it and so his spirit moves in his people are revived and from beyond the walls of the church people thronging and because the spirit draws them to find what is happening in that place and that's what we are so lacking in today we are rich in things, but poor in soul and as I say this man. Simon was a true believer then this is a warning to us about trying to purchase God's favor.

On the other hand, if he was no believer but thought he was that that's a warning to anybody who thinks that just because you make a proper profession and go through motions that are expected of Christians that therefore you're all right at something that church needs to hear today. I remember about 20 years ago when I was working for Christianity today in Washington. Carl Henry, who was really a very effective Christian statesman trying to bring different branches of the church together data series of parallel articles accompanied by an editorial in Christianity today which he pointed out an anomaly regarding baptism. He said that those who practice infant baptism were tending to downplay it in their churches because so many disagreed with the practice while on the other hand, those who believed in adult baptism and not infant baptism were tending to baptized the children earlier and earlier for the sake of gaining new members in the churches in order to satisfy the expectations of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and I was a Baptist minister like about Baptist churches. I don't know anything about that aspect of them that was his judgment and his point was the two are coming together, but all the wrong reasons you say. The point I'm making is that something like that happens in other churches as well. We are often so interested in getting members in our churches. We make the demands for membership almost meaningless.

And so as long as a person will cause her to say if you write things we say, well brother you're all right be baptized in their member of the church and then we add them to the roles we say well we increased 13% last year. The year before that will increase 10%. Things are really going well. Report this, we say well is not great how God is blessing is not necessarily the work of God that were doing. I sometimes think that when we treat membership in the church that easily. What were really doing often is inoculating people against the real thing is they think that because they made a profession and because they been baptized as well with our souls.

Actually, they may not be born again.

They may still be under the judgment of God. It's interesting to make a comparison between our churches function today in terms of membership and how they did and what was probably the strongest age of the church in America back the days of Jonathan Edwards when the Puritan movement in this country was strong churches were not a large percentage their membership was a large percentage of the country. Membership is greater today in terms of the percentage of the country, but they were strong churches. Someone has pointed out that today if I church has membership of 2000 people they probably know where about 1000 door and about 500 come to church, but in the days of the Puritans if they had 500 members, 1000 were in church so they were having a profound impact in the lives of 2000 say I perhaps in some way been wondering a bit astray this matter. Assignment. But I think that's a valid application. Simon came saying all yes I believe and the set I want to be baptized so executives profession brought we can see the heart.

All we can do is judge of the basis of the profession is what Philip did and he was baptized but he probably is. I suggest was not saved now in this discussion he had with Peter after Peter and John were dispatched from Jerusalem to go up to Samaria and see what was going on. He expresses his desire to receive the Holy Spirit and he says this is where the idea of Simon comes from. He says here I'll give you money if you lay your hands on me so that I may have the power of imparting Holy Spirit others.

He wanted to be able to do miracles in the spirits power. He was willing to pay for the way he was treating the Holy Spirit. There is not altogether different from the way many Christian people think about the Holy Spirit in the churches.

Many people think about the Holy Spirit's power and therefore if you want to have power in your life thing to do is get more of it. Now they probably aren't suggesting that they pay for rich but for all sorts of ways of getting it, their churches will tell you how to get it certain things you go through certain things you can do so. This power is thinking becomes yours and you can use it to integrate your life overcome the problems you have at work to live victoriously or whatever it may be one of the great principles we have to understand when we are dealing with the stock of the Holy Spirit is of the Holy Spirit is not in the Holy Spirit is not just the power Holy Spirit is a person. Holy Spirit is God.

When you get that clearly in your mind. The Holy Spirit is a person rather than a power that you see the object of our relationship to the Holy Spirit is not. We might have more get so we can use it, but rather that he might have us and use us. That's what Simon didn't understand but it's the way the Holy Spirit operates the proper contrast between the story and ask ages what you find in the 13th chapter relaxes a little bit longer. In verse three where it says while the disciples were worshiping in Antioch and were fasting, the Holy Spirit said Holy Spirit is taking charge. Holy Spirit says, set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I've called them at this point. As a result of the direction of the Holy Spirit, the great missionary expansion of the church through the apostle Paul commences. Think about that you think about the third person of the Trinity.

Do you think of him as a power somehow you should get use anything of him as God wanted to have you and use you. Well I come to the end of the story at the point at which it ends is with Peter's words to Simon Peter tell Simon repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart, for I can see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin. And Simon says pray the Lord for me. I asked the question, how does that sound in your ears.

Pray the Lord for me.

Does that sound pious sort of thing ministers here all the time to talk to somebody and they settle pray for me. Pray for me. Now I don't want to be misunderstood. It's good to pray for people and if somebody says stability well. Pray for me. I try to do that I don't always write it down and remember to pray for them all the time but I try to pray for them on the spot immediately afterwards and try to acknowledge that request they say. Pray for me. I do.

The point I want to make your you say is that Simon according to Peter's judgment was caught up in wickedness captive to sin. Full bitterness and Peter's words to Simon were repent below wickedness and pray to God you pray, repent of your wickedness and pray so that point for Simon to say to Peter what you pray for me right for me is not a pious thing at all what we would call in colloquial English copout.

He was refusing to do what he should do when was passing the buck to Peter you do that with other people do pass the buck you pass the buck to your elderly pass the buck to your friend.

You pass the buck deer minister. Lots of people pass at the movie they think summarizes all their problems and I can't do it I getting solve my own, alone, solve all of their problems save that's not what Peter Santos Peter says if you're sending it's up to you to repent of the sin and if there's prayer needed. You are the one above all should pray and in that order. So you don't come to God with your sin and side. Now I want to do certain things for me. The Bible says your iniquities have separated between you and your God.

That's why he is here is happy and he cannot hear others ears heavy in itself is alarms we could cannot say. But your iniquities have separated between you and your body, cherishing senior hearted stress related blasphemy. The things that you can claim the promises of God, solve all my problems.

It doesn't work that way as they become repenting of the sin you said all like the prodigal son. I was sinned against heaven and against you sinned against God and against others as well because sin always affects other people who come acknowledging that and then praying and praying as the publican did God be merciful to me a sinner. Well, as Peter says, who can tell the God will forgive you clench or will restore you and save your soul. This is no accident that here or at the very beginning of the section of acts that tells us of the expansion of the gospel beyond Jerusalem and Samaria, and the regions beyond. It brings in this story of the man Simon in order that we might ask, are we like that we believed in word only, or has God changed our hearts. We hasn't changed our hearts will read repent of our sin, we come to when we ask for forgiveness in order that we might find it in Jesus Christ, his pray father, we thank you for the truth of this chapter and indeed all the chapters of this book in this marvelous Bible that we are given that we are to make our constant meditation day and night as to form our way of thinking and guide our lives. Inform and direct our actions by we thank you for the teaching of this section that we have studied tonight with all its different applications to the way the churches run in the way the gospel spreads in the message itself and our response to the message OR father. Don't let it be true, be gracious to us, gracious, teach one to let it be true that that someone here just his mental assent to this event goes out of lives wickedly. Our father by your spirit was the spirit of holiness by clear the way Jesus Christ as a way of obedience and purity and holiness and righteousness, branch genuine repentance of sin.

True faith in Christ and ability to walk and continue walking in the way everlasting. We pray the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

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