Friday, December 28, 2012

Advent Archive: Acts 8

Acts 8 tells the stories of two men. The first, Simon the sorcerer, ends tragically, with the reader wondering whatever became of the man. The second, the Ethiopian treasurer, ends with a joyous acceptance of Christ and a changed life. The difference in outcome really has everything to do with how these two men treated the gospel. When presented with the gospel by Peter and John, Simon saw the gospel as something he could add to his repertoire of magic tricks. He saw Peter and John heal people and cast out demons. Simon coveted these gifts and viewed the gospel as his “genie in a bottle” to get him these new powers. When he found out that these powers were retained only by the apostles, he tried to purchase the powers from them with money. Inherent to his response to the gospel Simon was saying in effect, “This gospel is only good for what it can get me. I don’t want to change, I just want to add this new magic trick to my list.” Arrogance cannot receive the gospel. The Ethiopian, however, was a different story. From the onset of the story, you find the Ethiopian asking questions and inquiring about the text of Isaiah. Quickly, the Ethiopian saw his need and humbled himself. He told Philip that he needed to be changed. The gospel could take effect in his heart. It is not in the heart that contrives or seeks its own, but in a humble heart that sees God’s design and submits to it. The gospel serves in our lives to bring newness, not to ensconce the evil deeds of our past.
Food For Thought: What were the two responses to the gospel in Acts 8?