Friday, August 8, 2014

Simon is Saved

9 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. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 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. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles [2] performed, he was amazed.
(Acts 8:9-13 (ESV)
Simon the magi. This wasn’t David Copperfield type magic. This was the kind of magic that makes your skin crawl when you happened to visit a Santeria shrine. Coincidently, the word that is used here for magic is the same word that gives the title “wise men” to the visitors of the Christ child. For the most part men like this would be star gazers who would come up with horoscopes for their patrons. A practice that is still popular among many. But Simon would have been locked into the practice of many different forms of black arts and witchcraft as would have been popular in the area of Samaria, a region populated by foreigners after the conquest by Assyrians. They would have brought many animist type beliefs and practices. Simon would have been a practitioner of this sort of thing.

He seems to have lost his clientele. When Philip begins preaching the whole city begins to be baptized. And Simon himself believes and is baptized. The story goes bad for Simon after this. He won’t retain the faith. But for now he believes and continues with Philip. It seems he has put himself under the tutelage of Philip, perhaps being trained for the ministry. Some would say that since he loses his faith later on in the story he never really believed in the first place. I would just like to point out, that isn’t what scripture says about Simon. Calvinists are always bothered by this. They don’t like that a person can lose their faith, it means their salvation isn’t secure, and then no one can know they are saved. I don’t see how their solution to the problem resolves anything. Followed to the logical conclusion I can’t know that I have faith in the first place, I can’t even know that I am saved right now. And that is the problem for Calvinism.  As it is, sure I can lose my faith. But at least for now having been baptized into Christ I know that I do believe and that I am saved, even as I know that Jesus died for you. And these are things the Calvinist can’t say. 

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