On Better Methods vs. Better People


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 8:18–25 (NIV)

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. 


Yesterday we met Simon the Sorcerer. He provides us a good case study. Here’s what most interests me about today’s text. He thought they wanted or needed his money; that he could buy the Holy Spirit. He didn’t realize God wanted his heart. Watch Peter’s response:

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

The late great Methodist revival leader, E. M. Bounds once said, “The church is looking for better methods. God is looking for better men.” (better said, “better people”). Simon the Sorcerer was in search of a better method for his sorcery. God was in search of a better man in Simon.

For the past twenty-three years I have served the mission of Asbury Theological Seminary. I served as dean of the chapel for the first eleven years and the past twelve as the founder and president of Seedbed. The seminary has a very unusual and unique mission. I think it’s why I’ve stayed with them so long. We are “a community called to prepare theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled men and women to evangelize and spread scriptural holiness throughout the world through the love of Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the glory of God the Father.” It is unique in the world of seminaries and if you are looking at seminaries, start with the mission of the school. Seedbed is our effort to extend this mission beyond graduate students and into the lives of everyday Christians. 

Look at the progression—theologically educated, sanctified, Spirit-filled. While it is not a neat and tidy process, there is a sequential dynamic of being taught, transformed, and infused. We tend to want to skip the middle movement of being sanctified, or transformed. The Holy Spirit wills to do his work in us before he does it through us. We must grow in a mature expression of the fruits of the Spirit, which is the work of sanctification, before we can move into a mature expression of the gifts of the Spirit, which comes through continually being filled. All of this works to the end of the Spirit’s work, which is to evangelize and spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.

Did Simon the Sorcerer get with the program and become Simon the Servant of the mission of Jesus in the world? We don’t know, but because of Peter’s bold invitation to repent and change his way, we know he had a shot at it. 

Theologically trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled—this is the sacred ambition of the Word of God and may I dare say, the bold ambition of the Wake-Up Call. It’s our way of bringing the seminary to you. After all, the little known meaning of the word seminary is . . . wait for it . . . seedbed!


Lord Jesus, I am your witness. 

I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness. 
I receive your love and release my selfishness. 

Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.


Are you actively opening your life to the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in you? How do you remain captive to sin? What step is the Spirit calling you to take next in the transformational process? 


Every day we sing a hymn together on the Wake-Up Call audio edition/podcast. Get your Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise at the Seedbed Store today.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

6 Responses

  1. I’m very thankful for this outreach from ATS, aka Seedbed. It has provided me with the infancies on sanctification that was lacking in my former denominational upbringing. I know that through this daily, deeper contemplation of God’s word here at Seedbed that I’m moving toward reaching the goal of my transformation into the image of Christ more than I once was. Maybe it’s because of my personality type, but I still seem to lack the intimate experience of the Spirit’s presence that some of your readers have expressed. He mainly manifests Himself to me in particular Scripture passages that come to mind. Just this morning while in prayer and meditation, the theme expressed in 1 Peter 4:1-17 was brought to mind. There, we are warned to prepare, for the time has come when God’s judgment will begin with God’s household. The Bride of Christ will be purified.

    1. You are not alone Bob. I struggle with the same thing, but I pray in the name of Jesus you experience the overflowing presence of the Spirit this morning. Amen.

  2. Turn down
    The temptation
    To not step up
    To God’s plate,
    The Cross of Christ.

    As I lay sleeping,
    I suddenly woke up
    With a call to repentance
    Forming in my mind.

    When your choices
    Knock you down
    Choose to back up
    And to get back up.
    Don’t just lay around
    And wallow in sin
    Until you drown
    With your heart
    Not right with God.
    Turn around,
    Step up,
    And stand firmly
    With Christ
    On solid ground
    At the Cross.

  3. Would you care to clarify/expand on the “…grow into” and then “move into” in the 3rd paragraph from the end? I’ve been working on it, but not gotten very far.

  4. Oh, boy! How could I have missed it…I see now that you speak of the fruits and then the gifts. Duh! I get it!
    Sorry to have wasted your time.

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