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PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH

Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Friday, January 11, 2019

“The Heavens Torn Apart

Acts 8:14-17

We have in this text a true picture of spiritual power.  Magic, which is a false power not in the sense that it is necessarily ineffective but in the sense that it is a power that does not come from God, is often possessed by a single individual or a special group.  We see this in the Egyptian magicians (Ex. 7:22).

This passage deals with the power of the Holy Spirit.  For some unknown reason the believers in Samaria had not received the Spirit when they believed in Jesus.  This comes to the attention of the apostles in Jerusalem.  The apostles send Peter and John to investigate the situation.  Peter and John lay their hands on the Samaritan believers, pray over them and they receive the Holy Spirit.

We are not told of any visible effects of the Spirit coming on the people.  The focus here is not on any miraculous happening.  There is no record of any ecstatic response, any miracles or speaking in tongues.  Those responses are not precluded.  Whether they occurred or not, they are not mentioned.  That is not the focus here.  We are dealing here with the Holy Spirit, not “signs and wonders”.

The spiritual power of the apostles or the church in general does not reside in any human figure.  That power comes from Christ alone.  However it is transmitted through the church.  No single figure can speak for the church, not Peter, not John, not anyone else.  The authority of the church which comes from Jesus alone is expressed through all of its leaders and indeed members.

Peter and John do not come to the Samaritans to teach them about the Spirit.  They are not initiating a discussion.  They come to lay hands on them.  They pray over them.

This is the church in its greatest strength.  It is when we are touched by other believers that we receive the full impact of the Spirit.  The Spirit is not given to us to enable us to perform “signs and wonders.”  It is given to us so that we may know that Jesus loved us, died and rose again for us and that forgiveness and new life is found in him.  It is not enough to hear the message.  We need to be touched by other believers.  And we in turn need to be prepared to touch others.

Eternal and loving God may I be touched by brothers and sisters in Christ and so experience the power of the Holy Spirit.  May I in turn be prepared to touch others.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.