Money Can’t Buy God’s Love
We, like Simon, sometimes confuse God’s grace with our transactional culture. Blessing, forgiveness, love - these are things that cannot be bought or sold. They must be received from God as the gifts they are and shared with one another.
Before reading today’s passage - read Acts 7-8:8. This will introduce you to one of the most important characters in the book of Acts and the New Testament: Saul (who will become Paul)
Acts of the Apostles 8: 9-40
9 Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great.’ 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16(for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, ‘Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ 20 But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! 21 You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.’ 24 Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.’
25 Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
Simon is described as being “Great” because of the magic he could do. Philip is not proclaimed great, but people believed because of him. Which is better to be great of to be believed?
Whom is affected by Simon’s greatness? Whom is affected by Philip’s evangelism?
For Simon - they saw the signs and then called him great. For Philip, they believed and then saw the signs. Is there a significance in this difference?
Why do you think Simon got baptized? Why did he choose to follow Philip?
According to Peter, what did Simon do wrong? What are times or occurrences when you or someone you know (or heard of) made a similar mistake?
What are the things in life that we cannot buy?