Pentecost continues in Samaria!
Scripture reading for June 12th: Acts 8:14-40
Some in today’s religious community teach and believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only for the days of the early church. The apostle Peter stated in his opening message in Acts 2:38, that the gift of the Spirit was for them, their children and all who were far off–all the Lord our God would call. This promise of the Holy Spirit was initially fulfilled on Pentecost after the resurrection. Luke records the spread of this gift from Jerusalem to Samaria and then to the Gentiles. Today’s reading is about the Samaritans receiving the gift!
Luke tells us that after Stephen’s stoning, persecution caused the apostles and believers to spread out. Saul was behind some of this persecution for he was enraged at the church and sought to destroy it. He went from house to house and found believers and had them killed or imprisoned. But God is not stopped by man’s anger! In fact, during times of persecution, the light of the Gospel shines brighter through those whose faith is strong and secure!
Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed Christ there. He did many miracles and cast out evil spirits, bringing healing to cripples and paralytics. There was much joy in the community. A man called Simon was a sorcerer and boasted that he also had great power. He did magic and many had followed him, but when Philip came doing miracles, many believed in Jesus and were baptized. Even Simon believed and was baptized and followed Philip everywhere. (Acts 8:9-13)
The apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of Christ, and Peter and John came for a meeting. While there, they prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit and many were baptized as they laid their hands on them. Simon saw this demonstration of power, most likely he heard them speaking in tongues. He tried to offer money to the apostles so that he could get that ability. Peter rebuked him sharply, calling on him to repent of his wickedness, bitterness, and sin. Simon asked for prayer then as well. (Acts 8:20-24)
God’s gifts are just that–gifts! They can’t be bought, only received by faith with thanksgiving. God is no respecter of persons either. He will pour out His Spirit on all who seek!