13Now even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was repeatedly amazed.
13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
In a sermon on the authority of the believer, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks: can a person perform the actions of a believer, yet not be saved? There are many people in the church who mistakenly believe they are saved because they were born into a certain family, uttered some phrases, or even were baptized. In spite all these things, they have never truly been redeemed. These people are deceived into thinking that they are true Christians merely by their external actions. This is one of the greatest threats to Christianity in all ages and periods of history. This is no less true in the early church as seen in the book of Acts. It is there that we meet Simon the magician. He heard the gospel, confessed faith, and was baptized. Later it is revealed that he was a false convert, exposed by his desire to buy power from the Holy Spirit. This is why Christians must test themselves and examine their fruit in order to see if their faith is true and not false like that of Simon. Faith can be tested by examining not only one’s confession of faith, but the fruit of one’s life. True believers will walk in the light, submit to Scripture, and love their brothers and sisters.
- It is possible to think you are a Christian without actually being one.
- There are many reasons why this can happen:
- Being brought up in a Christian environment and assuming you are a Christian by default
- Getting caught up in a revival or religious movement and going along with the crowd
- Responding to pressure from an evangelist to make a quick decision
- Wanting to marry someone who is a Christian
- Having an emotional experience and mistaking that for conversion
- Simon the sorcerer believed, was baptized, joined the church, was amazed by miracles - yet was not actually a Christian.
- Intellectual belief and assent to the truth does not make someone a Christian.
- Feelings and emotions can be misleading and do not prove someone is a Christian.
- Baptism, whether as an infant or an adult, does not make someone a Christian.
- Joining a church does not make someone a Christian.
- Being interested in spiritual gifts and miracles does not make someone a Christian.
- The deceitfulness of the human heart and the wiles of Satan are the root causes that allow this deception to happen.
- False belief will eventually reveal itself. It did so in Simon's case through his request to buy the power of the Holy Spirit.
- False belief leaves someone unchanged at their core - as evidenced by Simon still being interested in power and self-importance.
- False belief is often revealed through a careless attitude, love of worldliness, and avoidance of persecution.
- Simon's response to Peter's rebuke showed he was motivated by fear of punishment rather than a genuine love for God.
- The state of someone's heart and their motivation for believing in Christ is what really determines if they are a Christian or not.
The Book of Acts
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.