I was reading through the book of Acts today. Quite honestly, I found it boring the first couple times I tried to read it. I would get three chapters in, then stop. I’d pick it up again and start all over, only to do the same thing again. But after coming back to it again and again, I finally got to a point where I couldn’t put it down. Suddenly, I am completely enthralled by this book of the Bible. God does that sometimes. Funny, isn’t it?
I just wanted to share some of my favorite parts.
“11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 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.” -Acts 8:11-12
I will just stop there for a minute. To give some background, the apostles were facing huge persecution during this time. Stephen had just been stoned to death for preaching in the name of Jesus after being told by the Sadducees that he needed to stop. Christians were being thrown in prison by Saul. Every single one of the disciples had been told to stop teaching about Jesus, and the church was scattered. This stuns me, personally, because I really don’t know if I could go on that way. These were some incredible men of faith. In this passage, Philip is in Samaria. He is baptizing and teaching Samaritans. Even with all of the persecution that the church is facing, he’s continuing to teach, and the Samaritans love him. They are being baptized, they are being saved. Is God fantastic or what? He is faithful, even when things are looking absolutely bleak for His church. He takes care of His children.
I am going to skip ahead a bit to my other favorite part in chapter 8. Trust me, it’s awesome. Peter and John are sent down to Samaria when they hear about Philip, and they begin praying over the newly baptized Christians to receive 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 this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Look at what Peter’s response is:
“20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, 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 in the bond of iniquity.“
Talk about a burn. Dang. Peter is angry with Simon, but notice that he tells Simon to repent of his wickedness and pray. His reaction is a godly one. He is discipling his brother in Christ with scriptural truth. We all need people like this, but most of us don’t want someone to tell us these things. Guess what? That’s sin. What would we do if someone responded to our sin this way, and told us straight up that we’re being sinners, that we’re wicked, that our heart isn’t right before God, and that we need to repent, like, right now? We’d probably flip out and tell them to shove it, right? Well look at Simon’s response:
“24 And Simon answered, ‘PRAY FOR ME TO THE LORD, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Simon’s response is, “Hey, man, you’re right. Pray for me. I need it.” Simon is much more humble than I am. I know that if someone had responded to me that way, I would probably just stop talking to them. (At least for a while, you know, until God said, “Hey, they were right. I need to work on your heart.”)
I just find this incredible, and I’d strongly recommend the book of Acts if you’re looking for something to read. Read slowly, read carefully, and pray before opening your Bible.