Reading through the Bible together
The Holy Spirit takes center stage in the two stories that comprise the bulk of Acts 8. In the first story, Simon the sorcerer is baptized after Philip leads an evangelistic series in Samaria, and he subsequently offers money to Peter and John for the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter’s reply to Simon’s attempt to bargain with God is unequivocal and serves as a stern warning to us, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!”
Chances are that we have also sought to buy a gift from God. We may not have given a cash-stuffed envelope to the pastor with a demand for the Holy Spirit’s power. But we may have placed money in the collection plate and confidently thought that God was now obliged to bless us with something. Or perhaps we thought that God owes us something in exchange for our good deeds. We may believe that God owes us joy, peace, or prosperity because we keep the Sabbath, honor our parents, and don’t steal. But our righteousness is like filthy rags to God.
Later in Acts 8, the Holy Spirit tells Philip to speak with an Ethiopian eunuch, the powerful chief of the Ethiopian queen’s treasury. It’s fascinating to see how the Holy Spirit works on people’s hearts. In response to the Ethiopian eunuch’s bewilderment about who is being described in the book of Isaiah, Philip “opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35). Philip helped the Ethiopian to see from Scripture that Jesus was the Messiah. The Ethiopian was convicted by the Holy Spirit, and he immediately requested baptism, saying, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
After the two came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit caught Philip away, and the Ethiopian “went on his way rejoicing.” Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. The wealthy Ethiopian did not try to buy it.
“Dear God, mold me into becoming more like the Ethiopian than the sorcerer. May I search the Scripture diligently. May my heart be convicted by the Holy Spirit daily. May my character be cleansed by the water of Your Word. And may I go on my way rejoicing in You today. Amen.”
Andrew McChesneyNews Editor of the Adventist Review