How should the church deal with those who crave power rather than a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ? In Acts 8:4-24, we see the apostles deal with Simon Magus, a Samaritan sorcerer in the time of the early church. We would do well to learn from their response, for false teachers and power-thirsty men and women continue to abound today.
1. “Righteous” Jews in Jesus’ day avoided Samaria when traveling from Galilee to Judea (and vice versa) by traveling on the east side of the Jordan River. They did this because they considered the Samaritans to be of lower worth due to their having mixed in marriage with the Gentile nations. Jesus, however, made a point to travel through Samaria, where He encountered the woman at the well (John 4) and offered her eternal life by believing in Him. In Acts 8, we see Philip, and later the apostles, also ministering in Samaria. Who are the Samaritans in your life who are in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ?
2. Todd referenced an article from the Babylon Bee about an unrepentant hedonist still banking on the sinner’s prayer he prayed at age 7. Do you know any people like this in your life? If so, who? How does Acts 8:20-24 help inform what a biblical response to such people should be?
3. Read Matthew 24:3-31. In this passage, Jesus warns about the coming of false teachers and the miracles they will perform “to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (24:24). Who are some false teachers you can think of? What miracles do these false teachers rely upon to sway their audience? Why is it important that we be intimately acquainted with God’s truth and power?
4. Simon the Samaritan magician lives on today in the word simony, “the buying or selling of a church office or ecclesiastical preferment” (www.merriam-webster.com). Simon was drawn to the Philip’s power rather than to the person of Jesus Christ. Where in your life are you tempted to power, rather than the person of Jesus Christ? How do you battle against this temptation? Have you shared this with a trusted friend?
5. Read Jesus’ “Parable of the Tares” in Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43. Todd said that it is not the job of the believer to see through people in order to see their state of salvation, but rather to see them through to faithfulness. Do you agree with this? How does this inform our responsibility in regard to the salvation of the family and friends we love?