Holy Ghost Power
(Helpful to Sunday School Lesson of February 1, 1920, Acts 8:4–39)
“Scattered abroad.” This sounds like a calamity; but what looks like a calamity to the world is God’s method of sowing the seed. Men who knew nothing about seed would say the farmer is throwing it away as he reaches into his bag and scatters it abroad; but it will come up if it die and bear much fruit. Persecution has always been followed by power in the Church. They put Jesus to death, but fifty days from His death one hundred and twenty were filled with Him and went about doing the things that He had done before. They put Stephen to death and Paul sprang up.
The eagle breaks up her nest and pushes the fledglings forth. Do not be afraid of the circumstance that seems to be breaking up your nest or pulling your life out of its regular groove. God will make it a blessing.
“And there was great joy in that city.” Think what joy there would be in this city if the unclean spirits were cast out of men and women that were possessed with them, and they that were palsied and they that were lame were healed! “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Are we not becoming such an ease-loving pleasure-loving generation even of Christians that the fruit which comes from a dead life is not manifested? Our God has always been a miraculous God. He calls Himself “The God of Isaac”—Isaac, that so miraculously born child. “Be not faithless, only believe.”
“This man is the great power of God.” Here God brings the contrast between the real power of God and this man, Simon, who has bewitched the people. The antichrist is to come with signs and lying wonders and come in his own name, like Simon. O let us come these days in the power of our risen Lord to show up the sorceries, the witchcraft, the isms of our day.
But Simon differs much from the antichrist. Simon believed, and this is why we should have great courage. There are many who are being deceived now and bewitched, even leaders of modern isms, who, if we are filled with the fullness of the Holy Ghost and present the true Word of God to them, will leave their sorceries, their witchcrafts and isms and find joy and power in Christ, and follow after the people of God wondering at the things that are done. They will go through just such a time as Simon went through. When the Holy Ghost came upon these believers who had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he wanted that this power should be given him. Power was still the big issue with him, signs were still prominent in his make-up. He had been convinced that his power was as nothing compared to the power in this Christian faith; but as yet he had not seen himself lost and undone. Peter rebuked him and Simon repented, crying unto the apostles to pray for him.
“That they might receive the Holy Ghost.” Here was a crowd of men to whom Jesus had been preaching, and they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; but they had not received the Holy Ghost. Jesus said, “The world cannot receive the Holy Ghost,” but these men were in position to receive Him as a person, the great Third Person of the Trinity, who is the giver of all the gifts—the Comforter, the One who baptizes men into Christ and calls those who are baptized into Christ into service and equips them and fills them. How many powerless lives there are today calling themselves Christians? They need not be powerless: He has the power, this blessed Holy Ghost.
The disciples rebuked Simon because he thought he could buy this blessed power of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be bought; it cannot be worked for. To the yielded heart God gives the Holy Ghost in His fullness.
“Reading Esaias the prophet.” There was Philip and the eunuch, miraculously met. We must believe in the miracle-working power of the Holy Ghost to bring the worker and the sinner together. Jesus met the key to a village in the woman at the well. When she was converted the village was stirred and others met the Lord that she had met. The Holy Ghost still guides us to the heart that is needy and ready for His work upon it. Let us trust Him even before we teach the lesson, to prepare the hearts of those in our classes so that Word and heart may meet together in the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” What a pitiful statement this is! How many there are in this very city and close at our very hands who are struggling to find the light; but there is no man to guide them. There are hundreds of thousands of children in this city of two and one-half million souls, who never darken a Sunday School door. Can you not ask the Spirit of God to help you find a way to bring them the Word of God? While the Lord is reaching out after them let Him scatter you abroad throughout this great city to find those who know nothing of this great Saviour.