God’s Word for You
Acts 8:12-13 He believed and was baptized
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, January 9, 2020
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.
There are several things to notice about this important passage.
1, Faith (the belief of the people) came as a result of the means of grace, in this case the preaching of the gospel.
2, Baptism is a sacrament. In children and new converts, baptism creates faith and forgives sins. It is the means through which the Lord Jesus loves his church the way a husband loves his wife, giving himself up for her “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26).
3, The content of Philip’s preaching is described as “good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.” In Jesus’ preaching, the kingdom of God stands for the way God gathers people into his kingdom, which involves both the preaching of the law and the preaching of the gospel, since this leads to repentance. The gospel alone gives the comfort of the forgiveness of sins.
4, The “name of Jesus Christ” includes everything that the Scriptures say about Jesus. This means how he was promised by the Old Testament prophets, how he is truly God, how he became incarnate as a human being through a miracle in the womb of his human mother, how he perfectly obeyed the law of God, and how he took up mankind’s sins and suffered and died to atone for them. Also, the name of Jesus is proclaimed in his resurrection from the dead and in the assurance that we, too, will rise physically from the dead, on Judgment Day.
5, This is the first passage of the Bible where women are specifically named as also receiving baptism (later we will also see Lydia baptized in Philippi as well as the family of the jailer of Philippi, Acts 16:15,33). Before this, under the Old Testament law of Moses, only men and boys were circumcised. In their culture, a girl was instructed by her parents and was under the care and custody of her father until she married (Numbers 30:3-5; Deuteronomy 22:13-17). Now that circumcision has ended as a means of entering into the kingdom of God, both men and women are baptized; there is no distinction of genders in the entrance into God’s family of believers, just as there is no distinction of race. There is, however, still a distinction of religion, which some theologians have actually stumbled over and have fallen into the most ancient of sins: idolatry. The only path to heaven is through Jesus Christ. Jesus confessed this faith in his prayer: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:3-4).
13 Even Simon himself believed and was baptized. Then he kept close company with Philip. As he saw the signs and great miracles that were performed, he was amazed.
What do we know about Simon’s faith? Luke tells us plainly, “He believed and was baptized.” We must take this at face value as the judgment of the Holy Spirit. He did indeed believe. But it sometimes happens that a believer is pulled away from his faith by the love of the world. This happened to one of Paul’s companions: “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone” (2 Timothy 4:10).
Luke shows us what fascinated Simon so much: “the signs and great miracles that were performed.” Help up against the great miracles of God, the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus for our forgiveness, Simon was swayed by simple miracles of healing and casting out demons. He wanted people to be in awe of him. He wanted the spotlight for himself; he didn’t want to shine the spotlight on Jesus.
Simon’s story isn’t over, but let’s remember some important things about faith and the knowledge of the Bible. Faith comes by hearing the message about Jesus (Romans 10:17). Faith consists of knowing what Christ did, and more than this, it consists of accepting or grasping it to ourselves as our own salvation. “God wants us to believe him and to accept blessings from him; this he declares to be true worship” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession IV,228).
Rejoice in your faith, in your baptism, and in your Savior Jesus. What a blessing it is to be certain of our place in heaven because of our Lord’s tender love, actively at work for our eternal good.
Pastor Timothy Smith