Today is Tuesday, September 26. God desires to reclaim all of creation to himself, starting with Jerusalem and then Judea. Now in Acts we are crossing a border to encounter the Samaritans, a people with only the faintest memory of Israel’s faith. What does Jesus mean for them?
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ When you first came to faith or understood your faith for yourself, what was the most important thing about it? Was the different from your parents or friends?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid; but you have promised to pour out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and supplication. Deliver me from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your truth; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.
DISCOVER [Acts 8:4-25]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.
_ Why has the Church scattered out from Jerusalem?
_ Who is Phillip? What is his role?
_ What made the city so joyful?
9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 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. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
_ What could Luke mean by ‘practicing magic’?
_ What is different about the way Phillip performs signs, and Simon performing magic?
_ Why did Simon become a disciple and get baptized?
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received 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.” 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.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
_ What appears to be Jerusalem’s role in this first generation of the Church?
_ Who are Peter and John?
_ We see several times in Acts this distinction between baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being communicated by the Apostolic laying on of hands. What might this mean?
_ What does Simon attempt to buy? How to the Apostles respond?
_ How does Simon respond to this admonition?
+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience? (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Have I sought positions of authority in the church with my wealth, social status, experience, or education?
_ Have I seen others doing this and said nothing?
_ Have I seen the power of God at work? If so, have I been baptized as these Samaritans were?
+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?