The average man goes about his life little concerned about what happens after death. To the few that give attention to this issue, the main problem is that of deception: self deception and a fake faith.
Most men pass themselves off as Christian because they attend church, even if it is a few times in a year. The prevalence of self-deception is hardly affected by the frequency of attendance in church programmes. On the contrary, the deception is re-enforced. The average church goer rarely reads the Bible. A good number of them have been deceived to believe they cannot understand what God is saying even if they read the Bible. Most wait for their pastors and elders to read and regurgitate back to them. Therefore where the pastor or elder is deceived, one can only imagine the depth of the deception of the average man in the pew.
The dependability of the Bible as a book we can rely on to guide us to God is re-enforced by its giving adequate prominence to errors and deception so we may know the truth. Acts 8:4-24 is one such passage. It is about who, really, a Christian is.
I ask readers to consider the details in the passage from Acts 8:5-24. Please read and study the passage. You need to know whatever comments or teachings we make is based on the text.
Phillip went to Samaria to preach and people believed his message and were baptized. They started attending a Christian fellowship. But Simon, a sorcerer, also believed and was baptized. He also was always present in the church programmes and fellowship. Peter and other apostles heard that Samaria had turned to God and they came to confirm them. Peter prayed for them and the Holy Spirit came on the believers. Then Simon offered money to Peter so he, too, might have such power to bestow the Holy Spirit on whoever he laid his hand on.
We must note Peter’s response in Act 8:20-23: “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Act 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Act 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.”
Verse 21 is of utmost importance to everyone of us. That is the main object of this website. What faith can we have that will still lead us to hell? How widespread is that fake faith? Can a man become a child of God by simply accenting to the teaching that Jesus is the Son of God without any change in the way the person thinks of sin? Is mere mental accent the same as saving faith? The question is, “What is saving faith?” What faith did Simon have that was not the kind that could have gotten him saved?
Verse 13 says Simon himself believed but verse 21 says he had no part in what was going on and that his heart was not right in the sight of God.
So, what did Simon believe? Mind you, Simon was baptized already. To all intents and purposes he was now regarded as a Christian and he obviously now held himself out to be one. But Peter said Simon’s heart was not right before God.
Baptism Does Not Save
This clarified one important issue: people can be baptized and attend church programmes without their hearts being right with God. Some compound this error by baptizing infants and telling them when they grow up they had been inducted into Christianity as babies!
Does God Know You As His Child?
Secondly, we come to the most important truth of them all: it is possible for someone to think he is a Christian when in actual fact he is not.
How do people come to this self-deception? Most people think they are Christian because their parents or guardians took them to church. This is the main avenue of self-deception. Contrary to popular beliefs, true Christianity is the only religion that cannot be passed from parents to offspring. Jesus’ statements in John 3:3-7 are enough to disabuse the mind of anyone deceiving himself on this: no one can see or enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again. Going by this Bible passage, the offspring of a pastor is not a Christian unless and until he repents of his sins and accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior when he comes to the age of accountability.
Another area of self-deception is through participation in Christian religious activities. Most people assume their periodic – or spasmodic – attendance or participation in church programmes qualifies them to recognition before God. The story of Simon in Acts 8:5-24 puts a full stop to this self-deception in the mind of anyone that cares to read the Bible. You can be a choir member or even a pastor without having a slight idea what being a Christian is. Matthew 7:22-23 re-enforces this truth. Being a pastor or even performing miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ does not impress Heaven if you are not known by God as His child.
The devil encourages this particular deception: most people think Christianity consists in what they do and not Who they trust their life on. Others think all that God requires is that you repeat some prayers after a pastor in a church programme!
People are quite eager to do things, thinking this impresses God. They forget that that, in itself, is an offense to God, Isaiah 64:6. The main message of the Bible is that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, any man can do, in himself, to curry the favour of God or make Him forgive his sins, apart from trusting in the works and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What little evidence we have unearthed on this site by correctly quoting pastors teaching doctrines that run openly against the teachings of the Bible confirm that these men and women have never met the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible in 2 John 1:9 has no other meaning: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son”.
They surely have knowledge of some Bible passages and are quite forward in founding churches. But this is not one of the criteria in entering heaven. The strait gate and the narrow way of repentance and true faith in the Saviour is.
The Devil Attends Church Programs!
Most people pay no attention to the writing in 2 Cor 11:13-15 that the devil operates in the church: as the angel of light!
The problem of Simon was that he thought he was born again while this was surely not the case. This is the case with most people in the church today, possibly including the reader. While most members of the church today may not be open sorcerers as Simon was, the deception of what they are before God is much more widespread.
In fact what we found is that the ratio of the Simons in the church today has vastly changed from one out of many to almost now encompassing the whole so-called church in most places! As Jesus foretold in Luke 18:8 “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” has never been more true.
The quote in Luke 18:8 is one that mega-church pastors would NEVER pronounce in their pulpits. ‘How can Luke 18:8 be true if we run the biggest church in the world and people are being ‘won to the Lord’ everyday through the TBN, DOVE, DUNAMIS, FAITH and DAYSTAR TV channels?’, they say. How can Paul (David?) Yongi-cho and his followers accept that this passage is in the Bible? How do you expect Bishop David Oyedepo or Pastor Enoch Adeboye, or William Kumuyi or the Pope to square this passage?
Luke 18:8 was said by God: He knew these fake churches preaching Hinduism and Buddhism would arise and deceive many about their true identities and doctrines.
The Issue Is You
The main reason God put the story of Simon in the Bible was you. It was not, strictly, about Simon or Peter or anyone alive in their time. It was about you.
Acts 8:21 was God’s response to Simon. Are you sure it will not be His response to you, too? Do you really know Him? Are you sure He knows you? Has your supposed relationship with God brought any change in your perceived awfulness of sins and an increase in the fear of God to your life? Or is Christianity and the church all about your popularity and exercise of power over others as David Oyedepo teaches?
We shall all sooner or later appear before God. Will the Lord Jesus Christ stand for you as Saviour and Advocate before the Throne of God or will He say He never knew you?