Skip to comments.False Conversion...Acts 8
Posted on 10/02/2010 3:08:50 PM PDT by pastorbillrandles
,i>Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were do (Acts 8:13)
It must have been heartening to Phillip, and to the new Christians of Samaria, on the day when the notable Simon the Sorcerer was converted. What a testimony!Think of what kind of impact this man will have on the community for Christ!
It was the signs and wonders of Phillip that got his attention, the dramatic deliverances from demonic possession, the undeniable physical healings, and of course the changed lives. He would attach himself to Phillip as a learner, and grow in his new faith.Perhaps he would be the one ministering in this power someday.
Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:(Acts 8:13-14)
Phillip had been teaching the new Christians about the enduement with power from on high, a baptism in the Holy Ghost as an equipping for the service of ministry, such as Jesus spoke of when he said ,
You shall recieve power when the Holy Ghost comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Judea, and Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.(Acts 1:8)
The new converts were eager to accept anything God had for them, so Phillip sent for two of the Lords own apostles, Peter and John to come to Samaria to pray for them to receive the blessing. Simon was amazed, having heard the stories of Peter and John in the preaching of the gospel by Phillip.
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.(Acts8:17-19)
As Soon as the Apostles came , Simon attached himself to them,following their ministry to the people observing every detail and inflection, amazed at the power and bearing of the servants of Christ.As the Apostles laid hands on the Samaritans, manifestations of the Holy Spirit made it evident that the Spirit had been poured out upon the new church.
Simon could contain his enthusiasm no longer, He had to have this same power! He could just see himself ministering in this power and authority! How much money do I have to pay for this gift? Name me a price!
Peters response quickly sobered him up however, for in essence Peter declared You and your money are going to hell, you think you can buy a gift from God?.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.(Acts 20:20-23)
Peter told Simon that his heart was not right and that he was on his way to hell. He had been converted and even baptised but he wasnt right with God. Simon still had the same master passion,values, worldview and desires as he had when he was yet a sorcerer. He hadnt changed and this episode proved it.Like So many of our healers and televangelists of today, he was merely a christianised sorcerer.
*He still had respect of persons. Before , he had accepted the title of Great power of God, and held forth that he was some great One. He loved the praises of men, and received the awe and accolades of the superstitious masses.
But here were even more powerful men, Phillip, Peter and John, doing things utterly amazing. He had to admit that their power was superior, he had to humble himself to them and learn. But it was still all about the praise of men to Simon.
* He still believed that Divine power was something to be put to the use of those who had obtained the ability to wield it. He wanted to buy a share of what the great apostles Peter and John had ! He was willing to pay good money for it!
* Paganism is all about power,control and human greatness. God is depersonalized, it becomes a matter of learning The Laws of faith. The titles of books such as Charles Capps Gods Creative Power Will Work For You, or The Force of Faith by Kenneth Copeland, or Having Faith In Your Faith by Hagin, all point to this pagan notion of faith and power.
Pagans dont want to deal with a personal God, certainly not the Infinite ,personal God of the Bible, who has likes, dislikes, preferences, makes moral demands, and sets the terms of life. Such a God cannot be controlled. An impersonal force, can indeed be controlled, simply by learning the secret laws of the kingdom for a mere $29.95.
Peter , in his rebuke of the Sorcerer predicted that this was The Gall of Bitterness, and the bond of Iniquity. Although strange-sounding at first, it is actually a reference to something Moses predicted of Israel, that when idolatry comes in and seduces them from God,
Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;(Deuteronomy 29:18-19)
Just as Moses saw that Idolatry would become a root of bitterness to Israel, Peter could see in Simon Magnus, that false conversion, respect of persons, love of money and greatness would become a root of bitterness to the church.
The other sign that Simon wasnt really turned to the Lord, was that when Peter warned him that his heart was not right, and that he was on the way to hell, all he was concerned with was the consequences. He had been called to repentance but wasnt interested.Peter commanded him to pray to God himself, but Simon instead appealed to Peter as some kind of mediator, to save him from hell.
Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.(Acts 8:24)
The Story of Simon is a caution to all of us, a warning that not all who believe and are baptised are really right with God, for it is a matter of Truth in the heart , humble turning unto God , and not Power, greatness and signs and wonders.
For some reason I can usually see the light of the Holy Spirit when it enters a person. It is like a spot light that moves around with the person. I’ve often asked a person who is connected..”What is it like listening to the words coming out of your mouth and learning from them?”
Several years ago I was at a Christian Businessman’s Association meeting in a local restruant to hear an evangelist speak. There were about 80 people in attendance.
I arrived late, after they had finished the meal and the group was already in the next room, seated in the chairs facing the podium where the evangelist was standing. The only seat left was all the way in front on the side of the room(like where an acolyte would sit in a church), thus my view was a side view of the minister and if I turned to my left, I could see the faces of all in attendance.
I was only about 15 feet from the egangelist, but try and try, I could not see the Holy Spirit in him. I figured it was due to my being tired as it was late on a Friday evening after I just drove 4 hrs in the dark and rain to get there.(was working out of town)
I had no problem with what he was saying, but noticed he never opened the Bible, but held it in his hand the entire time and waived it often.
After a few testimonials from people about being born again and being saved, and a few hymns, the evangelist walked back and pointed at a woman and said...”I feel the Holy Spirit moving into you. You are drunk with the Spirit.”
She fell of her chair and could not stand up. Pretty soon, he had several people in a line and waived his hand and they all fell over. People were speaking in tongues and people were interpreting.
I kept straining my eyes to see the Holy Spirit in any of the people, but there was none.
All of a sudden I realized that what I was seeing were stage hypnosis techniques, being used in the name of religion. I am trained as a stage hypnotist as part of my study and research in human consciousness patterns, but will not ever use it. Why? I don’t want people surrendering their authority to me. I could have stood up and taken over the meeting and really made it wild, but I was there to observe.
The difference between the real and fake born again is the direction of surrender.. it should never be to another human being. Only inward to God.
What I saw made me physically sick. When I left that evening, I stood in the parking lot and prayed in tears, “Why was I led here to see such an atrocity.” The answer came through immediately and very strong...”This is how the anti messiah will lead the people.
If you follow the following steps in sequence, every person in attendance will go through a physiological and psychological experience and swear on a Bible that they are born again. It has nothing to do with religion and is only a mind control/manipulation technique. (Obama used many of these same techniques (as well as Hitler) in his campaign speeches.)
Step 1. Allow the volume of your voice to go up and down. shout and then whisper. If you are using a PA system, have someone turn the volume control as well. You are locking them in on your voice.
Step 2. Tell a very sad story and then a happy story. You are getting their emotions swaying off balance.
Step 3. Induce fear, hatred, or guilt in the crowd and direct it toward one person externally or internally. You are getting the way off balance at this point psychologically.
Step 4. Offer them a way to get rid of their strong emotions. Either by saying you have the solution or by directing their anger toward another. This is why the democrats demonized Bush.
To call Simon’s a ‘false conversion’ is assuming that he didn’t repent, and pray to God, as Peter ordered him to. The Word isn’t specific to whether he had received the Holy Ghost with the other Samarirtans. I would guess that he hadn’t. His remarks show a definite mood swing from before Peter’s rebuke, to after. The former was indeed covetous behavior, but latter was one of fear of punishment. That’s conviction, which is good.
Saying that Simon didn’t follow Peter’s orders and pray to God for deliverance, is reading into the story something that is not mentioned. Asking Peter to pray for him was certainly not out of order. The writer of Hebrews asked for prayer, even though the situation was different (13:18).
In the OT, the kingdom of Judah was threatened with destruction because of it’s past sins. Hezekiah sought the Lord for deliverance from the Assyrians. He also asked Isaiah to pray for that.
Paul had a good many rebukes for the Corinthians in his first letter to them. The second letter shows that they responded positively. To ‘close the book’ on Simon, when the ‘rest of the story’ is not clear, is not sound teaching. To teach conversion to Christianity without following the plainly written commands of Acts 2:38 is very erroneous.
I do certainly agree that the ‘name it claim it’ prosperity preachers are way out of line, to put it mildly.
Peter told him his heart wasn’t right, and that he was in the gall (root) of bitterness and the Bond of iniquity- He ,like other false converts never exhibited any concern with being righteous, only with the fear of punishment.He wanted “the power”, not God himself. IMHO This story is a warning of ‘false conversion’. (Matthew 7:21)
I know that one could debate my points, but I believe it is as plain as day. There are many “Simon Magnuses” out there.
It’s a warning of POTENTIALLY false conversion. The ending is not clear. The Word goes to the effort to detail this well known man’s response to Philip’s message, saying that he ‘believed also’, and ‘was baptized’. It doesn’t say if he received the Holy Ghost also, only that he witnessed the event.
He started out right, but wasn’t YET (remember, we don’t know the ending) obedient to the Spirit, which leads us to rise and walk in newness of live. The ‘old man’ still had rule in him, and his conversion was not complete without the Spirit. Peter condemned his behavior with the threat of severe punishment. He then showed the fear of God (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom), knowing he was in dire straits, and asked for Peter’s help. The story is left off there.
There are indeed multitudes that profess to being ‘Christians’, and that they believe, but are not willing to let go of the ‘old man’. Their lifestyles say otherwise (foul language, riotous living, greed, lies, etc.), yet are nice people, would lend a hand, and so on. I work with such, and such was I, before receiving the power of the Holy Ghost. It convicts, and leads to understanding what is righteous.
Without the Holy Ghost, a conversion is not complete. Some people need a ‘smackdown’, not totally unlike what happened to Saul on the way to Damascus. That was my case, after years of being a ‘professing Christians’, and doing works that would indicate Christian behavior, yet without having received the Spirit. Deep down, I knew something was missing, but felt that I, when compared to deacons and elders in my mainline protestant church, was living a good Christian life.
When a true witness showed me I wasn’t born again the Bible way, I blew him off. It wasn’t until things in my life were going wrong, that I had no control over, that I then realized I needed that real biblical conversion found in Acts.
I’m convinced that that is why there is so much sin abounding in ‘Christian’ church bodies; people believing they are saved from sin when they still dead in sins and trespasses. These folks are not rebuked for living unrighteous lives because they are led by leaders that are not born again themselves.
I call tham ‘Ahimaaz’ messengers (2 Sam. 18); going forth with a an incomplete message that they aren’t first hand witnesses of (not born again). They take the ‘short cut’ and get to the location ahead of the true messenger, and unwittingly deceive the hearer. David referred to Ahimaaz as ‘a good man’, but unfortunately was not a good messenger in that case.
Simon wasn’t even a blind leader in the Acts 8 event, just, in my opinion, one that was not yet filled with the Spirit because his his heart was not yet willing to do it’s leading. Peter called him out on it.
Now, wouldn’t it be a surprise to someday in heaven meet Simon, finding out that he later on did repent, seek God, and found deliverance.
I Don’t see it that way at all-This is not a teaching about whether or not Simon was sanctified, Peter warned him that he was on his way to Hell!
“fear of God (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom)”
Remember, perfect Love casts out fear. I could never fear my Father. To do so would block my feeling His Love and I would sooner die than give up that feeling.
I Love God, more than I Love myself. When filled with His Spirit, it is impossible to experience fear. Since God’s Love, Agape, is unconditional and freeing, my only fear is of myself not feeling worthy of such a Divine gift and blocking myself from it.
When completely filled with the Spirit, if someone pointed a gun at my head and threatened to kill me, I still would only feel Love toward that person. Unfortunately, I am human and often fall out of that Divine Grace and need to constantly be aware when I am lost.
Jesus said to fear not those that can kill the body, but him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28) That would be God.
In 1 Peter 2:17 we are told to ‘Fear God’.
I’m all for the ‘God is love’ message, but he did said that “if ye love me keep my commandments”. Jn 14:15
It takes a balanced diet, so to speak: preaching the truth in love. Some of it may taste bitter to the natural man, but it’s good for the soul.
I have to admit that if one thug was holding a gun on me and another was raping my wife (or daughter, if I had one), the love of God would be hard to confess to.
**This is not a teaching about whether or not Simon was sanctified,**
Agreed, but “..if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. Rom. 8:9
That would explain his heart not being right.
Peter did give Simon an avenue of escape from damnation; repentance, “...that perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee”.
If Simon’s answer to Peter was, in your opinion, so inappropriate, why is there no rebuttal/correction from Peter about it? Maybe because Peter recognized Simon’s response to be a God-fearing one.
Oh well, enough on this for me. Good night, sir.
You said... “Jesus said to fear not those that can kill the body, but him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28) That would be God.”
When Jesus was accused of doing the work of Satan, his response was that a house divided against itself would not stand. God’s intent is for our souls to grow for harvest, just as Jesus explained in the tares in the wheat in Matthew 13. We are the good seeds put in the field to grow.
You said... “In 1 Peter 2:17 we are told to Fear God.”
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon for “fear” in 1 Peter 2:17
Strong’s Number: 5399
Original Word Word Origin
fobeo from (5401)
to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away)
to put to flight, to flee
to fear, be afraid
to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm 1b
of those startled by strange sights or occurrences 1b
of those struck with amazement
to fear, be afraid of one
to fear (i.e. hesitate) to do something (for fear of harm)
to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience
I think the word used by Peter would better be translated as “to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience.”
John says it more clearly:
God’s Love and Ours 1 John 4:
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[b] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
You said... “Im all for the God is love message, but he did said that if ye love me keep my commandments. Jn 14:15”
I agree. But I follow them out of Love, not fear of breaking the rules. That is what is taught in Galatians 5.
You said.... “I have to admit that if one thug was holding a gun on me and another was raping my wife (or daughter, if I had one), the love of God would be hard to confess to.”
I agree and neither am I perfect. You have just made my point as the bringing in the fear of harm to my wife or children causes me do disconnect, as fear also casts out Love. If I find my strength in God, and realize that I am much more than the hand that thinks it is the body, miracles happen!
Thank you very much for posting your comments. I found myself enjoying the thought process of responding.
Blessings be with you
**That would explain his heart not being right.**
His heart not being right would explain why he hadn’t received the Spirit.
I believe that ‘fear’ in 1Peter 2:17 is just as the Strongs definitions say it is. Sure, it probably varies in intensity.
In Phil. 2:12, Paul told them to work out their ‘own salvation with fear (Strongs 5401) and trembling.’
There is many passages in the Word that command a fear of God. He commands us to love him, and fear him. It sounds contradictory, but is no different in principle than a child having the same feelings toward his natural father.
I believe Simon displayed fear of God in his parting comment to Peter, for he was not rebuked again after that request. Whether or not he did find repentance, and prayed to God for deliverance, is not mentioned, so I don’t assume to know how his post-Peter life turned out. Some say an entire heresy arose from Simon. Maybe. Or maybe somebody’s intrepretation, long ago, created a following that built a heresy.
God’s love casts out fear of what man can do, but he does want us to fear him, as the one that can lift us up and the one that can bring us down, the Almighty.
The weakening of our justice system in punishing terrible crimes has resulted in the increase of more of the same. There is reduced fear of punishment or execution. When one believes in God, and has sinned against him, guilt, conviction, and even fear drives him to repentance.
Thank you for your thoughts on love and fear.
and the Lord bless you as well.
I think we are in agreement as fear serves to diminish self that separates us from God (i.e moves us toward the dark night of the soul and the dying daily attitude) while Love rescues us from the dark night of the soul and moves us forward in our God relationship.
Both are important in the growth process.
Please understand, I did not read and study the scriptures to know Jesus, I had a very profound experience like Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus and my logical mind could only understand what I was experiencing by studying and understanding the Bible.
Thus my statements are more experiential based than linguistic interpretation based.