Published May 21, 2009
Acts 6:2-3, 5a; 8:4-8, 26-31, 34-35; 21:8-9
Related Sunday School, Lesson Bible Studies for Life, May 31
Say “evangelist” and names like Billy Graham, Billy Sunday, and Dwight Moody might quickly come to mind. Each of these men shared the good news of Jesus with others. But before any of them there was Philip.
Evangelist is a term used rarely in Scripture and only once identifies an individual – Philip (Acts 21:8). Luke, introducing Philip the evangelist, distinguishes him from Philip the disciple by separating the two groups. Philip the disciple being in the “twelve” (v.2) and Philip the evangelist listed with the “seven” (v.3).
Philip dedicated himself to sharing the good news of Jesus. However, Jesus made it clear He expected every believer to be an evangelist (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Everyone who claims redemption through Christ does so because someone shared the good news of Jesus with them. Yet, many Christians never share their faith with others.
Be willing to serve - Acts 6:2-3, 5a
From the Holy Spirit’s arrival (Acts 2:1-4) and Peter’s preaching (Acts 2:14-39) at Pentecost the church began to grow (Acts 2:41, 47b; 5:14). Then as now, as the crowds grow, so do the challenges. From the start the church sought to care for and meet the needs of each other.
In Acts 6:1 a complaint is brought by some of the Greek-speaking Jews that “their widows were neglected the daily ministration” of food. To remedy the problem the Apostles suggested that the church “look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom” (v.3).
Agreeing with this suggestion, the congregation chose seven men whom they felt exhibited these qualities. These men did not seek this place of service. Rather, under the Holy Spirit’s leadership, the place of service sought them. Those who will serve God’s people must be ethical, “of honest report,” spiritual, “full of the Holy Ghost,” and have practical “wisdom.”
I have observed the way many churches select leaders. Frankly, many times the process and criteria we use today pales when compared to this text. To omit any of these qualities then or now would be to invite discouragement, further division, and possibly even the demise of the church.
Preach Christ - Acts 8:4-8
Because of persecution believers were “all scattered throughout the regions” (8:1). I’m sure none of these believers enjoyed being persecuted, yet because of it, God took what was meant by the enemy to silence the sharing of the good news, and used it to promote sharing over a much larger area. This literally was the beginning of the fulfillment of Jesus’ parting words (Acts 1:8).
What would have happened without the persecution? In my life, though certainly absent of the kind of persecution they knew, I sometimes become complacent about sharing Jesus. In many churches we celebrate our salvation and congregate with the saints, but fail to have the conviction and compassion of Christ for the lost just outside our door.
Philip, like Jesus before him (Jn. 4), went where others might not go, Samaria (v.5). Jews and Samaritans held each other in open contempt.
It was a God thing to cross this cultural and racial barrier. Philip’s preaching was simple, clear, convincing, and “multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken” (v.6). With a willingness to listen to God, move from our comfort zone, and simply share Jesus, God can transform not only individuals but entire communities (v.8)!
Explain the scriptures - Acts 8:26-31, 34-35
God will use a person who is willing to serve anyone, anywhere, and follow the Spirit’s leading. Though involved in a great evangelistic happening “an angel of the Lord spoke, saying, ‘Arise and go southward to Gaza’” (v.26). Apparently Philip, without hesitation, obeyed. As he journeyed, he encountered a “man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority” (v.27) who was reading from Isaiah 53.
Philip came and asked if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian said he didn’t understand and asked Philip if he would explain. This was an ordained opportunity to share the gospel!
As we share Jesus we will encounter people who do not understand. Satan’s tactics are to blind eyes, harden hearts, and dull ears (Jn. 12:40). We must be willing to lovingly and clearly explain the truth of Scripture; the Holy Spirit will open eyes and ears and soften hearts, eventually resulting in salvation and obedience.
The challenge in my life is to be aware of the opportunities God puts before me to share and then to have the courage to speak.
Share your faith with your children - Acts 21:8-9
Philip sought to share Jesus both publicly and privately but he apparently was also careful to share Jesus at home. Philip settled in a home at Caesarea about 60 miles from Jerusalem. It was a place where he had preached almost 20 years earlier (8:40).
I imagine it was a home where both believers and nonbelievers were always welcomed. We are told in this text that Paul and his company stopped to visit for several days following their third missionary journey.
Often the most neglected and challenging people to share the gospel with is our family. It must have brought joy to Philip seeing his daughters not only expressing faith in Christ but also following his example of sharing Christ with others.
The high point of my ministry was to see my daughter Jessi trust Christ as her Savior and to baptize her into His body. By slowly and clearly explaining the scriptures, answering questions, and looking for opportunities to share, I was able to one night see her pray asking Jesus to save her. There can be no greater joy for a person than leading a child, grandchild, or family member to the Lord (3 John 4).
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