Faithlife Sermons

The Means to an End

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Intro - Hollywood made $11.4 billion last year between the U.S. and Canada. We enjoy a good spectacle. As many of you could guess the highest grossing films were science fiction with superheroes and fantastic battles. We will debate at times and imagine what it would be like to be one of those characters. What if you were Iron Man or a Luke Skywalker?
TR: Well we have someone here in Simon who was such a spectacle but it didn’t turn out so well

The Spectacle

The spectacle of this world is intoxicating but the power of God is sobering
The people were beside themselves with the power that Simon displayed
Simon was a man that practiced magic or sorcery. He had become quite famous for it garnering the attention of everyone around.
He adopted a moniker for himself, calling himself “Great”....Simon the Great.
The people watched him in amazement and astonishment, perplexed at how he did his wonderous works and without question it filled Simon with purpose.
Attention is an odd thing, it both identifies those who it captures and those who it is directed toward.
What captures your attention? Whatever it is, it speaks something about you. Simon had these people enamored, baffled and out of their mind with his spectacles.
The people fumbled over themselves to see the next event, trick or display. Notice though that none of his tricks apparently helped them. Because it was Philip who healed the lame or paralyzed.
In addition, the demonstration led them to trust in Simon, a mere man, exploiting them. His power was a means to an end, his fame, and his fame was the means for him to feel important.
He used them, as do all entertainers to some degree, to fulfill some desire within him. After all what is an entertainer without a crowd?
Story of Malachi being taunted by the kid who brought more food. Malachi’s first response was to bring more food as well. Instead we talked about how he using things to feel important.
He used them, as do all entertainers to some degree, to fulfill some desire within him. After all what is an entertainer without a crowd?
How do YOU identify your importance? What makes YOU special? For Simon it was magic, for others it is money, beauty, their job, car, marriage, education, career. What makes you valuable?
Simon coveted that attention, it identified him, but now had been one upped.
Simon was lost without this fame…what are you lost without?
So when people turned from worshipping Simon to trusting in the Gospel, he didn’t know what to do, so he joined them, no doubt attracted by the signs and wonders being performed.
Philip came and conducted signs as well but unlike Simon’s signs, these signs had a message and a lifestyle attached to them.
People started switching up on him. Investors would describe it as a “market change”. So as with any common entrepreneur, Simon went with the market.
Story of Blockbuster putting out boxes to rent DVDs. They attempted to adjust to a market that had already passed them by.
People turned to Philip and his signs and wonders, so Simon did too, astonished by the spectacle and fleeing from his shriveling clientele base.
Many of us have done this, turned from the engagement of the world, previous things that enamored us and instead began to follow something else.
While it may not have been the spectacle of magic it was no less intoxicating. It kept your attention.
Some of you all had a level of peace in the world that you weren’t satisfied with so you turned to the Gospel. Others had diminished satisfaction, relational happiness or social interactions.
You thought, similar to Simon, maybe the Gospel could save the spectacle that was your life.
See the “market shifted” on us and when our drug, entertainment or solace of choice dried up or became insufficient we looked to the Gospel.
TR: However, the real question is are you turning to the spectacle or the source of the Gospel?

The Source


The power of the Holy Spirit is personal and pure, Simon missed that.
Simon mistook the power of the Holy Spirit as being another trick
The Apostles Peter and John came and laid hands on the people of Samaria and they “received the Holy Spirit”. This more than likely meant that they began to speak in tongues
Side note: Acts has a unique tendency at key moments to state someone believed but hadn’t “received the Holy Spirit” yet until Peter shows up to speak and/or lay hands on them.
It is commonly thought that this was so that the Jews, through the character of Peter, could witness that in fact all people of the world could trust and be united in Christ just as they were in .
This is not meant to be a doctrinal norm, that only people that speak in tongues are saved, as we can see in the very next section with the Ethopian eunuch that we’ll be speaking about next week.
So when the apostles laid their hands on folks Simon had discovered the secret to regaining his fame. It was these guys who could show him how to do it.
So the power wasn’t a means to God but was a means to FAME! To regaining his identity!
When you mistake the sign as being the substance you also miss the source
We commonly do this when we depersonalize something. We can then shape it to our agenda, our goals.
Using a chair to fit my agenda. It has no feelings and its purpose is whatever I give it. To either sit on, stand on, link together and make tunnels or a bridge. It conforms to my goals, it is a means to an end of either helping me rest, increase my height or tool for my entertainment.
The power of the Holy Spirit isn’t a trick. It is the power the leads to a radically changed heart, not a fix to an otherwise okay life.
So many people have come to the church with alterior motives. They want a better marriage, more obedient children, want to feel a certain way, not feel alone anymore or be at peace.
This walk will NOT consistently grant you those things. Have you read some of the marriages in the Bible? Some of the children from people like David? Read how depressed some of the prophets were or the people that betrayed Paul?
So why come to this thing if the situations that it puts you in are just as bad if not sometimes worse than what you had when you were in the world????
Because your heart has been changed and you LOVE GOD!!!! Not the work of His hands but you love HIM!!!
Stop trying to get Him to fit your agenda....He is a person and not a power to possess.
Simon mistook the power of the Holy Spirit as being corruptible
Simon thought he could acquire this power, regain what his heart was really after, through money. In doing so he revealed his heart.
When you try to fit God to your agenda and realize you can’t it causes you to respond emotionally. For Simon it was fear. For others it is anger. For others it is confusion or frustration.
In any case one thing you realize is that the God you’ve come into contact with is not the God you had imagined.
Simon realized he didn’t know this God to such a degree that even if he prayed it wouldn’t do much good so instead he asked for Peter to pray for him.
The power of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be purchased or earned. It is only something that can be given and the most miraculous sign He gives is that of a changed heart.
He is pure. He searches the depths of your soul and like the people that turned from Simon to the Gospel Philip preached, He turns you from the affections of this world to the things of God.
Don’t have it be lost that in this passage we’re speaking about Samaritans who were a despised half-breed race. They were half-Jew and half-Gentile.
In many ways they were arrogant, setting up their own temple to worship in and rejecting anything outside of the first five books of the Bible, which Jews called the Torah.
See like us they had to modify God because it’s clear He only wanted a temple in Jerusalem but instead of conforming to that, they just cut the book out that said it and believed something else!!
But God is not able to be changed! He can’t be modified!!! He has His own agenda
And yet here God is not only humbling Simon, after he had humbled the Samaritans with their need to repent, but also humbling Peter and John by showing them that indeed God will redeem people from all backgrounds.
But it won’t be because of money, heritage or behaviors. It will be because they trusted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
The Jesus who was made a spectacle by hanging on a cross to atone for sin. So that we could access the source of life and flee the bondage of sin which results in death.
Sometimes we do come to God for the wrong reasons, sometimes our behaviors don’t match what we profess. But God is in the market of reconciliation!
Humble yourself to the God of Scripture, not the modified God of this culture or the God that fits your agenda, desires and passions. Trust in the God who redeems purely and powerfully!
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