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 performed, he was amazed. – Acts 8:9-13
Some time ago I went to visit a church member who was contemplating an action that was contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I walked in the door, he asserted, “I know why you’re here, and I’m not changing my mind.” At that very moment, I knew he would change his mind; sometimes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I was confident that he would fall back into the arms of Jesus and the Good News of life, salvation, forgiveness and grace through faith alone. By the end of the evening it was as I had thought. He gave up his wayward plan and remains a faithful member of that congregation to this day.
I don’t take much credit for that outcome. I certainly did use the knowledge of the Bible, faith, and the issue at hand that God had given me. I engaged him straight on and even offered a story about the very negative results another person had experienced when he had followed the path this church member was contemplating.
But only God has the key to people’s hearts. Only God can turn a man back to himself. He does it through means: the word and sacraments, and the conversation and consolation of brothers and sisters in Christ.
So it was with Simon. He was a powerful and influential fellow. He wowed the crowds. He made an impression. But God touched his heart with the Good News of Jesus and he was changed. He was brought to faith. He was saved.
Simon will yet undergo further refining. His faith is not perfect. He has some very rough edges to smooth off. There will come a moment when he is on the brink of condemnation – even after his conversion. But for now we can rest in the joy of Simon’s salvation. He was really someone until he learned of the real Some One: Jesus Christ.
Is there someone in your life for whom you are praying that God will turn the key of his or her heart? Might you speak to him with the confidence of God’s intent and power undergirding your words of grace and truth?