A Tale of Two Gospels
- David Fairchild
- Jul 15, 2007
- Series: Acts
Last week we looked at the result of God-ordained persecution. We're told that all "who were scattered went about preaching the word" wherever they went (v. 4). This is incredible because at this point it wasn't only the apostles; it was those who were scattered.
Phillip the evangelist, one of the seven chosen to wait tables in chapter six was so changed by the Gospel that traveled to the main city of Samaria and with word and deed he brought the Gospel of Christ to a people who were previously his enemies.
Phillip's deeds of healing and care caused the Samaritans to listen to his words. The result of his ministry was an outbreak of "joy in the city" (v.8).
This is important for us as a church to understand. All of us who have been scattered by God are now carriers of love and mercy, grace and compassion to those who may have previously been our enemies.
The way we are going to see a movement of God in San Diego which lifts the entire city, which raises the water level so all boats are lifted, is if there is a combination of word and deed flowing from our lives and ministry.
It's easy to get distracted by the miracles Phillip performed. We've been saying that we shouldn't insist that all miracles have ceased and we shouldn't insist that we must repeat these miracles in the same way.
It is simply this: a Jew who previously would have tried very hard to keep himself clean by disassociating from people like the Samaritans was so moved by God's grace for him that when he came to the city, he saw the physical misery all around him and worked to heal them with Gospel hands. He saw the spiritual bondage and worked to heal it with the Gospel words.
San Diego has the same needs as the Samaritans. Our city is waiting to see a) Christians having compassion on the suffering and physically broken, and, b) changed lives of people who through Christ have been emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually freed by the truth of Gospel we speak. Until these two come together, we may never get the hearing Phillip did.
Does the act of adopting children who are without resources, different, and socially outsiders qualify as a direct testimony of the words of the Gospel? Yes. The Vega family is proving to the city through their hands the truth we proclaim with our lips.
Many may profess Christ as Lord and Savior but it will only be those who possess Christ who will be powerful witnesses to a watching world.
This morning we're going to look at two men who made two professions of faith which resulted in two baptisms but only one truly knew Jesus.
Both were professors of Christ but only one was a possessor of Him. Both claimed to be born again but only one truly was. Both claimed to believe the Gospel, but only one believed THE Gospel. Both claimed to have faith but only one had saving faith. Both heard the Gospel but only one truly believed it.
The purpose of this study is to determine if we have genuine faith or nothing more than a wasted faith. In looking at these two men, Simon the Sorcerer and the Ethiopian eunuch, we are going to see a stark contrast in the way they view self, the way they view God, the way they view Christ, and the way they view the Gospel. These two different views outwardly seem the same but inwardly are totally different.
What these men believed has two different consequences and my prayer is that as we focus in on these two we'll be able to discern whether or not our faith is saving faith or wasted faith. Do you profess AND possess Christ?
Two Professions of Faith and Two Baptisms
Both the sorcerer and the eunuch professed belief in Christ.
Verse 13: "Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed."
Verse 36, 38: "And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?' 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him."
Is it possible to profess Christ, get baptized, and not possess Him? The answer according to Christ is yes.
Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
What does it mean to do the will of the Father?
John 6:29: "Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'"
We live in a nation which is filled with professors of Jesus. 80+% of Americans claim to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet when we look closely at how they define belief and what it is they believe about Christ and His Gospel, we are left with a single digit percentage of those who actually appear to possess Christ as Lord and Savior. We live in a nation of Simons who believe something called "the gospel" and believe in someone by the name of "Jesus," but are not true children of God because they have believed in another gospel and a different Jesus. They've believed in Simon's gospel, not Christ's.
There are many that will say, "Lord, Lord" to whom Christ will say, "I never knew you." Meaning, that there will be a large host of people that profess with their lips and assent with their minds that Jesus is their Lord and Savior but who have no love for Him, no true belief in His Gospel on His terms, and therefore do not have a saving faith.
Though both the sorcerer and eunuch believed, only one believed out of love for God. These two kinds of faith produce:
Two types of repentance
Two views of self
Two views of God
Two views of Christ
Two Types of Repentance
Verses 21-24: "‘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.'"
2 Corinthians 7:10: "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
These two kinds of repentance are to be carefully distinguished from each other; though they are often sadly confounded. Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all repented. But their repentance was the remorse of natural conscience, not the godly sorrow of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. They trembled before God as an angry Judge, but were not melted into contrition before Him as a forgiving Father.
They neither hated their sins nor forsook them.
They neither loved holiness nor sought it.
How different from this forced and false repentance of a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God; that true repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that holy mourning which flows from the Spirit's gracious operations!
A Faulty View of Self
Verses 9-10: "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
Simon's view of himself was that greatness resided in himself. This is why we never see him repenting but rather continuing to walk only in an elevated view of himself.
A false faith in a false gospel begins with a false view of yourself. When you think that greatness lies within you and you simply need someone to unlock your potential, you'll never see a need for a savior. You assume goodness and greatness about you, so why would you need the goodness and greatness of Christ? You assume righteousness resides in you, why would you need the righteousness of Christ?
Scripture does not flatter us in this way. It says:
Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately sick; who can understand it?"
Romans 3:10-12: "as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'"
Self is the first citadel of the soul against which Grace directs its battery.
Self righteousness, Self trust, Self glorifying, must yield to the humbling, emptying power of the Spirit.
Self must be mortally wounded before Christ lives in us. The two sovereigns cannot reign at the same time and upon the same throne.
Self righteousness, Self glorifying, Self seeking, must fall when Christ enters triumphantly to set up His kingdom, to erect His throne, and to subjugate all the powers and faculties of the soul to His own holy and gracious supremacy.
Oh what vigilance it demands, lest this wretched self in us obtain a partial, or even a momentary, ascendancy!
The two principles; Self and Grace, are in deadly antagonism the one to the other in the regenerate.
In proportion as Christ lives in us, Self dies!
-Winslow, "The Nature and Source of Spiritual Life"
2 Corinthians 12:11: "I am nothing."
This was Paul's highest attainment in the knowledge of self.
To be a daily pauper living on alms is humbling to proud nature, which is always seeking to be something, and to do something.
If this self-nothingness was wrought in us, we would be spared much pain, in wounded pride.
People are building up religion all over the country, but there is not one of a thousand who has yet learned the first lesson--to be nothing.
Of all this noisy crowd, how few lie at Jesus' feet, helpless and hopeless, and find help and hope in Him!
If you can venture to be nothing, it will save you a world of anxiety and trouble! But proud, vain, conceited flesh wants to be something . . .to preach well, to make a name for one's self, and be admired as a preacher.
1 Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the worst."
Eph. 3:8: "I am less than the least of all God's people."
If we have an incorrect and false view of ourselves we're going to have an incorrect and false view of God and our need for a savior.
A Faulty View of God
A Faulty View of Christ
A Faulty Gospel
Two ways to be accepted
- It is believed that this is the same Simon that later moved to Rome and founded a sect of Christian Gnosticism.
- It is believed that this eunuch was responsible for introducing the Gospel to Africa. Years later Ethiopia and Nubia would become a nation that professed Christ as Lord and Savior.