We looked last week at the gift of the Holy Spirit in, among others, Acts 8:14-17. The Thursday reading in Acts to start today’s message continues the saga.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! ESV
The Greek word Peter used was a form of apoleia which means damnable, perdition, hell. Peterson uses the bluntest language in his translation. “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!” Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! MSG
We church people like to clean up the dirty parts of the Bible, but we need to remember that Peter and John—and their brothers—were fishermen before they became professional holy men. They knew how to speak plainly, and Simon defiantly needed plain talk.
Now there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. CJB This is the message in today’s reading. Look a few lines above; God’s gift! Let’s clear up some confusion. It is a gift from God, but the Holy Spirit delivers it.
God’s presence in this world is in the form of the Spirit. It is not something we can fully understand or explain. Let’s say that God is too large to fit into our universe—which is only 93 billion light years by our best measurements—so He enters the universe as a Spirit instead of as Himself. We cannot see God, nor can we see the Spirit, so God also sent Yeshua who gave us a picture of God in miniature. To know Yeshua is to know the Holy Spirit of God.
I think the biggest question for today is, how can I know what God has given to me? What are my gifts? What does God want me doing?
For most of us, the gift is not wrapped in glittering paper with a big red bow. We tend to look at our own lives and say, “I can’t do anything.” Part of that is that we compare ourselves to people we know. He preaches so well, she sings like an angel. Forget that. You have a gift, maybe more.
When I entered college, I planned to become a forester for the National Parks or the US Forest Service, so I started a study of botany. I eventually learned that my brain does not retain details all that well, a real handicap for a scientist. Given the details, I can process the big picture.
So, I changed my major to history. I know, detail again, but for some reason, I can remember names and events, if not dates, reasonably well. While in school, I became the pastor of a small church—without the benefit of seminary—so I decided to take my history degree to seminary. But, that detail thing jumped up again. I took three semesters of German and found that despite my ability to speak and read the language, I could not remember the words. Seminary expected me to read—and remember—Greek or Hebrew.
So, I spent 37 years teaching history and American Government to high school students.
Have you guessed my gift?
If you ask me where to find, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men;” I would have to do a computer search (Luke 5:10b). But I can give you an analysis and theological discussion on it.
That scientific training has not been wasted. I learned to look at what the text says, not what I want it to say. I study word by word in the Hebrew or Greek to dig out details and nuance. I do that with the help of interliner Bibles you can find online and the trusty Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. I also own several study Bibles as well as encyclopedias and commentaries. After years of study and self-training, you can now read my commentary.
That’s my gift. What’s yours?
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.