Acts Devotionals

Paying the Price

Some people are attracted to the Christian Church because they feel ministry, especially pastoral ministry is an easy job. From personal experience, being a pastor is taxing, hard labor if the pastor is diligent. It is not a 9 to 5 job! At best it is between 60 to 80 hours a week. It takes its toll on one’s family, health and certainly is not a get-rich-quick career. It is a calling that is totally dependent upon the goodness and provision of God.

Having said that, there are many in the Christian Ministry who ought not to be there. Some are Christian but not called and others are neither called nor Christian. Both these might be in ministry but “have no part or share in this ministry”! Our passage about Simon the Magician continues:

Ac 8:21 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. Perhaps he will 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 When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

1) Simon did not belong in the ministry. Peter told him this. Apart from not being called, his heart was not right before God for two reasons. The first was that he was not converted to Jesus Christ. He was spiritually dead. His heart had not been touched by the Holy Spirit. He was not born again. The second was that his motive for wanting to be part of the ministry was for self-gain. He saw the Christian ministry as a springboard to riches. A serious problem facing the Visible Church is that some offering for fulltime ministry are not Christian or have the wrong motives. Just as some want to be in ministry to access wealth quickly, others enter the ministry to prey on people sexually. If the heart is not right with God, spiritual fruits will be lacking and this is true today. In general, look at the Christian Church, I don’t refer to the numbers or the music or the singing or the size of the buildings … no, rather I refer to the spirituality. What has happened to the theology, doctrine, passion for the Bible, memorizing Bible verses, prayer (the prayer meeting is the measure of the Church!), evangelism, involvement in missions, etc. As you evaluate the real spirituality of the Church, the love for Jesus and the obedience of holiness making in some Churches you find these seriously lacking … and the reason is the pastor ought not to be in the ministry. He has no part of it because his heart is not right with God! We need to pray for those in leadership positions in our Churches. We need to ask God to give them wisdom and discernment, enabling them to examine men who offer for pastoral ministry (or any other fulltime ministry) as well as ladies who offer themselves as Children Workers, Ladies Workers or Admin Staff. May God grant such people great discernment to filter out those God is not calling.

2) Simon needed full, genuine and credible repentance. Although stern, Peter did not desire that Simon perish, yet with warning about eternal death he said:

Ac 8:22 Repent of this wickedness.

These words tell us without any hesitation that Simon, although believing the Gospel Message and having been baptized was not born again. He was spiritually dead even though agreeing with the Message of the Cross and being initiated into the Christian Faith. This is the main issue in the words … “Your heart is not right with God.” This is one of the most serious problems in the Church today. There are pastors and Christian Workers as well as Church Members who are spiritually dead. Their hearts are not right with God and they need to repent. The concept of “repent” is underrated and often misunderstood in the Church. As a seventeen year old who was conscripted into the then Defense Force, we needed to drill until we dropped. They would march us towards a barbed wire fencing around the parade ground. At the last minute, before the troops in the front of the squad hit the fence they would shout the command … “About Turn!” To break the squad would be to disobey a lawful command. We were marching towards danger and when the command came to “About Turn” … we turned 180 degrees and marched off into safety. That is the meaning of repent. As a lost sinner you are marching towards the danger of eternal hell and punishment and God commands you to repent … you turn around 180 degrees and march towards the safety of a loving, caring, forgiving, gracious God. You turn away from eternal disaster to eternal life. You commit to ceasing the old lifestyle of wickedness and willful sin and commit to grow in holiness, righteousness and blamelessness. This is a serious matter because it means forsaking the old lifestyle and sinful morality and all the offerings of the world and agreeing to a new lifestyle and morality, controlled and governed by King Jesus … who is seated, ruling His Kingdom in righteousness. Please take a few moments to reflect upon yourself. Have you repented properly?

3) Simon needed to pray to God for help. Note … the text says … pray to the Lord. The “Lord” is Jesus … who is the eternal God. No one is able of him or herself to repent. This is totally outside of the human nature’s capability! Only through divine help is it possible to repent from wickedness and sin and turn to Jesus and follow His Gospel requirements. This is only possible when asking God to help because the act of repentance leads to godliness and we need God to be part of our godliness making. Look at this:

Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.

Once the hope of eternal life is possessed and enjoyed, godliness is a fruit. Briefly, no prayer, no repentance, no salvation!

4) Simon needed to understand that “repentance and prayer” were not an easy key towards God’s forgiveness and salvation. Peter says … Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. God sees the heart and God knows the motives. Only once He sees the genuine heart will He pardon sin and save. Peter was not God but the spiritual insight he received from God enabled him to discern Simon’s true carnal nature. When you read verse 24 you realize that we are not told whether Simon was forgiven and saved. If you the reader need forgiveness and salvation, pray earnestly until God helps you repent truthfully and saves your soul.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You care for lost souls so much that You sent Your Son Jesus to pay the sin price and for sending Your Holy Spirit to help us repent and believe. Save souls please. Amen.

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