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This is the tenth sermon in our series on the book of Acts on “The Gospel Goes Out”. Preacher: The Rev’d Adam Lowe. Bible Reading: Acts 8:2-25
Next Steps this Week
BIBLE READING: Acts 8:2-25
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS
CONNECT: What is one story of the Bible that you could know better in order for you to be better prepared to share the Good News?
Are you ever in danger of seeing God simply as a means to get what you want?
How have we benefited from the early church being scattered?
READ Acts 8:1-13
What are the two main results of Stephen’s stoning? Does this surprise you? Why or why not?
Why do you think Luke doesn’t spend a lot of time describing the types of persecution that they endured? What does Luke really want us to take notice of?
In the face of severe persecution, do you think this would spur you on in proclamation?
Why is it such a significant move that Philip (and the pair of Apostles) go to the Samaritans?
How does this remind us of who the Gospel is for? Do you think we ever arbitrarily limit who we are willing to proclaim the Gospel to? What might help us overcome this?
What did Philip actually preach to the Samaritans? How was this confirmed through signs?
As people’s attention was commanded by the signs, how did it compel them to believe the message? How did the sign help communicate the message of God’s Kingdom?
Why is the news of Jesus and God’s Kingdom inseparable?
Why had the people been ‘following’ Simon? What changed? How is this a conversion?
How is becoming a Christian a total conversion and not just something we ‘add in’? How does baptism illustrate this complete change in who we are and what our lives are now about?
READ Acts 8:14-25
What was Simon hoping to buy? Why did he want this power?
What does Simon’s request show us about the condition of his heart?
Do you think we can ever be more interested in escaping God’s judgment than receiving his pardon?
Do you think that we can ever be in danger of bargaining with God or trying to use God to get what we want? Why is this such a perilous position to put ourselves in?
APPLY This Week: Tomorrow, how are you part of the Gospel going out to the ‘ends of the earth’?
Heavenly Father, thank you for your amazing love and desire for the Good News of your Kingdom and of your Son to go out to the ends of the earth. Please help us to point to your Kingdom and proclaim Jesus wherever you have placed us, everyday of our lives. Amen.
On Your Frontline This Week: As you plan for Easter (and maybe holidays too), are there opportunities to invite people to consider the claim of Jesus’ death and resurrection?
FOCUS Weekend Away
As we seek to grow as Disciple Makers, we’re going away for a weekend (May 31 - June 2) to Coolum Beach. This is going to be a great time together, with people of all ages and from all three congregations. As you think about growing in your living out of the Gospel, please prayerfully consider coming along. For more info and to register: stbarts.com.au/focus
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