5Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them. 6The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what was being said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed or limped on crutches were healed. 8So there was much rejoicing in that city.
9Now a man named Simon had previously been practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10and all the people, from small to great, were paying attention to him, saying, “This man is the Power of God that is called Great.” 11And they were paying attention to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic arts. 12But when they believed Philip as he was preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were being baptized.
5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8And there was great joy in that city. 9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Why does the church seem to be so ineffective? In the sermon “The Wrath of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that the church is ineffective because it has departed from the apostolic example seen in Acts 8:5–12. He says that the apostles boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ to all. They spoke of Christ’s death and resurrection and of His spirit-empowered ministry. They never shied away from the hard truth of God’s wrath and humanity’s sin but preached the gospel as the only way to escape the wrath of God and be redeemed. It is this message on which the early church was founded. They did not shrink from declaring the gospel to all, both Jew and Gentile. If the church is to be a light in a dark world, it must look to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the basis for the transformation and redemption of the whole world. The church has been given no other message; it has no other power than the Spirit of God working through the proclamation of the gospel in the hearts of fallen men and women. The modern church must look like the apostles and the early church in order to imitate them. The church does not need anything new to engage the world; all that it needs has been given in God’s word.
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.