Monday, March 4, 2013

The Gospel: comparing Simon the Magician and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Jesus said that the Gospel when it goes out, will fall on varying kinds of ground. (Mark 4:3-9). The seed falls on rocky ground, thorny ground, hard ground, and good ground. Only in the good ground does the seed sprout and bear grain.

In Acts 8 we see two men receive the Gospel, and each had a heart that was different kind of ground.

Simon the Magician

"But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed." (Acts 8:9-13)

"Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” (Acts 8:19-23)

Believing by seeing

Simon said he himself was someone great. He was proud. He believed by seeing. (Acts 8:13). He tried to buy his way into the kingdom.

As a result, the Apostles told him his heart was not right before God. (Acts 8:21). That Simon was in bondage to iniquity. (Acts 8:23). They told Simon to repent. He did not repent, but only asked them to pray for him so that he could escape the consequences. (Acts 8:24). Just like Judas, who was seized with remorse but did not pray to God for forgiveness.

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”e 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Believing by hearing

The Eunuch was humble, not saying he was someone great (although he really was, unlike Simon the Magician) but answering Philip by saying he did not understand the passage. He asked for guidance in understanding it. This is humility, and he loved the word. He believed by hearing. The Eunuch stood on God's word, being baptized. The result was, he went on his way, rejoicing.

For one man, he was rebuked and in need of repentance, but refused to pray to God. He is like the "ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." (Mark 4:18-19)

In the other man, he stood on the Word of God and received it with gladness and in communion with the Holy Spirit. He is like the ground that is good, "But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20).

Seeing is not believing. Hearing is believing.

12 comments:

  1. Elizabeth, I don't know whether this is a follow-up to the movie post. But I am tracking with you completely. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 And once again we have the choice to believe and follow the scriptures - or believe and follow our own hearts, reason, logic, desires, etc. or that of the world. The world the flesh and the devil all point us away from the scriptures. We are told regularly that this or that movie is going to change hearts and bring people to the Lord. (some of these films come from Christians) All I can say is, we sure have short memories. When Mel Gibson's movie came out we were told in no uncertain terms, by Christian leadership no less, that scores of people were going to repent and believe on Christ because of that movie. If ever they should have, it would have been from that, right? With thousands of dollars spent on producing it, the quality of the acting and the directing, the energy and hype and hope put into that film....and here we are years later. Where are the people that came to the Lord through films? Where? I've never heard a word about it. But along comes another one, just few years later and once again the hype.

    I think of the story that Christ told in Luke 16 of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man in hades is having a conversation with Abraham, asking first for his own comfort and denied that, he asks that Lazarus go and warn his brothers on earth so that they will not also end up in hades.

    v. 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

    31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

    In other words, those still living have the scriptures. If they will not believe the scriptures, then they are not going to believe, even if they see someone resurrected with their own eyes. How much less will they believe by seeing a mere actor, acting out a message. We have disdained the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ contained in the word of God and are seeking every new thing, every new way. We think we know better than God. May God forgive us for our arrogance and pride.

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    1. Good trip down memory lane. I had forgotten the hubbub around The Passion. Hype...you're so right.

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    2. Seriously? You have to have a tangible number of people or YOU need to be able to know who was brought closer or was saved by ANY movie that the Holy Spirit may have worked through? On whose authority are you standing to make these judgment calls? If ONE person was brought to Christ through Passion then it was worth it!!

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    3. Amen, I agree, Anonymous! I remember I was visiting my sister and her family when that movie was out on dvd, and though not only not Christian, but my brother in law very much against religion, to the point of getting angry and abusive without cuss words, when mentioning anything biblical or of faith as a Christian, period, they rented that movie, only because 1.The hype and 2.The actors in it. It had no effect on them. I couldn't even fully watch it, while what I did see, was playing, and I couldn't watch it to the end. Because I believe the truth of it, and seeing it played out like it was, particularly when it came to the scenes of the horrific abuse done to Jesus right before and up to His crucifixion, was extremely traumatizing, heart breaking. Though it wasn't the real Jesus, though it wasn't really happening, I knew there is a real Jesus who truly went through that, and I love Him, and I think for any normal human being, such violence upon a human being is devastating, no matter who it happens upon, it just happens to often have a deeper impact when it's someone you know and love. So, I got too choked up at that time in the movie, and couldn't continue. I do my best now to not cry in front of others because more times than not, starting when I was about 3, whenever people would hurt me and I'd cry, instead of being comforted, I was laughed at and/or further abused. Having grown people do it to me too as an adult, hasn't helped any. I didn't want my family who doesn't understand God and my relationship with Him, to see me crying because it only would have acted as proof to them that I'm crazy. So I left the room, and didn't bother to ask them ever, what they thought of the movie. It sure didn't convict nor convert any of them though.

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    4. Anonymous,
      Lots of people are brought to Christ through many different means. Simon was brought to Christ. Unfortunately, their going away proved that they never wee saved in the first place. People who are brought to a DIFFERENT Christ will not be saved. The film on the History Chanel presents a different Christ. This is a tragic case of where the means do not justify the ends

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    5. Elizabeth,
      You don't have the authority to claim who is saved and who isn't...period!
      You're out of touch and I hope and pray for YOUR soul.
      You're just flat out wrong on this issue. There is only one Christ that can save that's for sure.

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    6. Yes Christ is the only One who can save. We can detect who has the Son, however, and we must, so that we can preach to them. Here are some verses to consider:

      Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life 1 John 5:21

      No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23

      Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

      They adhere to a different Gospel: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed" Gal 1:8

      And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

      People who believe, preach, share, or present a different Gospel have a dead faith that is unable to save (James 2:14, Mt 7:21-23).

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    7. Amen Elizabeth! God does NOT use man's cleaver ideas and methods to save people especially when HIS word is contorted and NOR does he use things like Ouija boards. Same goes with this movie and all who are preaching another gospel and another jesus. This movie does not present the Gospel. If it does then please show us...Please listen to Roma Downey and tell us does she preach Christ or does she preach pantheism? Does she preach repentance and point to the Cross? I don't hear the eternal Gospel coming from her lips. Hers is a New Age jesus that doesn't even exist. False made up jesus' cannot save anyone. Only the Historical Jesus of Scripture saves people.

      This does NOT mean that God cannot through all this save someone. But I know that the testimony of New Agers and the Warrenites is not what saves anyone. Theirs is an accursed gospel. They do NOT preach the Gospel-1 Cor.15.

      Anonymous said "On whose authority are you standing to make these judgment calls?" The Authority of God's WORD. Appeal to authority is valid when the authority has the knowledge and experience to back up the appeal. Seek clearer passages to prove your point

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  2. What gets me is that people defend this movie, even though it changes scripture. Do they not believe the Bible? Because the Bible relates history. Not just "Bible stories" - real history. So are you not concerned if someone makes a movie about real history but distorts the facts? What if it were about WWII and they distorted the facts about the holocaust? Would that concern you? Or would you just say, well at least they tried and maybe people will try to find out the truth for themselves? Or would you be alarmed that the truth was not being told and that people were being led astray? How much more if this is a movie based on scripture which is God's word? Not just history but God's word about actual history. Should we really tamper with that? Are you sure? It reminds me of books that have come out lately that are supposed to deal with theology but in a fictional format. So theology and fiction get all wound up in a tangle and presented as entertainment. What a damnable combination.

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  3. Hi Elizabeth! Great post. I enjoy reading your blog every chance I get. It has been helpful to me many times. I wanted to point out one thing in this post, that I imagine was probably just an oversite. The story of Philip and the Eunuch... a story I love to read! But I noticed that the verses you posted are missing verse 37. You may have just copy/pasted from a version that left it out. I have recently been made aware that the Catholic church omits this verse in "their" Bible. It is the most important verse in this section! Check out this verse from the King James or NASV, and you will quickly see why Catholics (and I think a handful of other religions omit this verse). Just wanted to make you aware! And keep up the good work! :)

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Acts 8:37 is missing from many of the newer translations such as New International Version, New Living Translation, English Standard Version (the translation I usually use), the International Standard Version, and a couple of others. The reason for this is explained below,

      "Why are the newer translations of the Bible missing verses?"
      http://www.gotquestions.org/missing-verses.html

      and MacArthur explained

      "Incidentally verse 37 does not appear in all of the ancient manuscripts, apparently added about the second century. This apparently became the formula for baptism of the early church, "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest", and then the person being baptized would answer, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God", but it doesn't appear in any of the early manuscripts a scribe apparently added it thinking that there's no statement in here of the eunuch's faith so he had to put one in but in all of the modern translations we have it's left out. It's a formula that comes from the second century, the baptism formula, very likely, but doesn't really belong. The faith of the man is assumed. If the preparation's right the presentation's right, you don't need to say anything more. And so he was baptized."

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