Friday, March 9, 2012

Acts 8:20-21

Summary retelling of Acts 8: 20-21:

Peter rebukes Simon for missing the point that he cannot buy God’s power.  In fact, Peter condemns not just Simon but his money, too!  Peter is quite clear that Simon’s heart is not in the right place.  Since his heart is not in the right place Simon has neither “part nor lot” in the kingdom of God.

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
Trying to buy God’s power is really missing the point.  It isn’t even so much that Simon appears to be looking to use God to gain a profit.  Sure, that’s bad.  But what Simon is really getting chastised for is completely missing the boat about grace.  Nothing we do can bring us into a relationship with God.  Nothing we do can cause us to deserve any kind of recognition (much less forgiveness!) from God.  God has every right to completely ignore us and abandon us to our evil nature.  By trying to buy the power, Simon is showing that he has not even remotely come close to understanding grace.  Without understanding why it has to be a free gift, we cannot really understand our depravity.  If we don’t understand our depravity, we don’t get the whole spirituality thing at all.  (Depravity means “corruption.”)

Do you understand your depravity, or is it something you push into the corner because it makes you sad to think about?

Second Thought:
The effect of Simon having his heart in the wrong place and missing the point about grace implies condemnation.  Peter is clear on this.  If Simon continues on this path, even though he has heard about God he will perish.  This grants us access to a very important point: Knowledge of God does not equal love of God.  Believing that there is a God does not guarantee salvation.  After all, James 2:19 reminds us that even demons believe that God exists – and surely they have no part in God’s kingdom!  Believing God exists is one thing, understanding our depravity and why we must rely upon God is completely another thing.  Understanding our depravity leads us to humbleness before God.

Does this paragraph scare you at all?  If so, why?  If so, where can you go and get answers to understand why/how you really can be saved into eternal life?

Third Thought:
Peter uses two words when talking to Simon that seem to mean the same thing.  Peter says both “part” and “lot.”  If I have a part in something, we might be able to also say that I have a lot in it.  However, they don’t mean exactly the same thing.  A part simply means that I may partake, but my exact share is a bit undefined.  A lot simply means that I may partake and the amount of my partaking is precisely defined.  So what Peter is telling Simon is that people of faith have this double dynamic at play in their life.  We have a predefined lot in Christ – we will have eternal life with God.  However, the scope of that eternal life has some elements that are not predefined.  While we may have eternal life, our place within the kingdom is for God to determine.  It is neat to see and understand this aspect of guarantee play together with a sense of unknown in faith.

How does it make you feel to know that eternal life is a guarantee for all people who are genuinely in Christ? How does it make you feel to know that your exact role in the kingdom is still undefined?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 8:22-25
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