Make your life His | Wayne Massey

Acts 8:4-40

Philip in Samaria

4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

Simon the sorcerer

9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practised sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, ‘This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.’ 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptised. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’

20 Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 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. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’

24 Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.’

25 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.

Philip and the Ethiopian

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means ‘queen of the Ethiopians’). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.

31 ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.’

34 The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?’ 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.


Make your life His

George Muller said that 'The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.' That sounds very positive, but we need be aware that sin will prevent that happiness. John Owen knew that, nearly 500 years ago, and said: ‘be killing sin or it will kill you’.

How can we set about ‘killing sin’? There are three steps we can work on.

  1. We can let our life teach us where our weakest points are.
    • How we react when life hits us hard, or even when someone pushes our buttons, can show us what’s going on in our heart. Life for a Christian is no different in some ways – the same disasters strike us, whether illness, redundancy, the end of a relationship… But life is also very different because we have been made new. So it can come as a shock when we respond in the bad old way – like it’s ‘all about me’. That’s when we discover that the Gospel needs to go deeper for us in that particular area.
  2. We can let the Cross change us.
    • Rag’n’Bone Man sings: ‘I’m only human after all. Don’t put the blame on me.’ We are indeed only human, but unfortunately the blame is on us all, because we walked away from God.
    • The Ethiopian had been stuck, searching for the truth but being perplexed by what he found. When Philip explained how the Scriptures showed Jesus as both the King and the one who suffered and died to set us free, he responded wholeheartedly and asked to be baptized. He made a complete turn of direction – in other words, he repented. 
    • When we recognise we are stuck and need a rescuer, we too can repent, and then the power of the Cross is let loose in our lives. This is something we can do constantly – after all, we tend to get stuck quite often. So we turn to Jesus in worship and prayer, not from a sense of guilt but in recognition that he loves us.
  3. We can let others challenge us.
    • We can’t do it alone and we are not meant to. When Peter tells Simon that he needs to repent and find forgiveness, this is a powerful message because he had lived it out himself. He had denied Jesus publicly but then had been forgiven and restored. 
    • When a friend challenges us from their own experience and knowledge, it can be very powerful. Our society tends to favour ‘tolerance’ instead, but that is no match for genuine relationships based on love where we can be honest and call each other out where necessary. It means trusting one another and being humble and vulnerable. Jesus models this to us as the king whose humility and vulnerability had the power to set us free.
Wayne Massey