The Individual Writ Large
A Sermon on Acts 8:4-12
Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.
Simon the Magician Believes
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. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (ESV)
The Gospel is given for individual salvation, but it has implications for the whole world. With Acts 8:4-12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how nations and societies will never be good and upright until the individuals who make up these societies and nations are transformed. This is why people who say things like, ‘Christianity is about world peace’ and ‘we should not be concerned with individuals, but with societies’ misunderstand the message of the church as seen in the Bible and particularly in the Acts of the Apostles. For the apostles did not tell the Roman Emperor what to do, nor did they start a protest. But they proclaimed the Kingship of the crucified and risen Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who died so that men would be saved from the wrath of God and made right with God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, there is no other message that can save men. Not the message of the humanist who sees men as good by nature, not the message of the philosopher who thinks that by using right reason men will be able to stop all war and evil. No, it is only the message of Jesus that offers any hope for this sin-filled world.