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Summary: This is part one of a three part series examining the life of Phillip and the characteristics that the church should look for when considering a lay person for a leadership role.

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THE DEFINING OF A LEADER- Series Title

PART ONE IN A SERIES OF THREE

“A DEDICATED PARTNER IN THE WORK” - Sermon Title

Acts 6:1-7 • ©Larry L. Thompson (2002)

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. [2] So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. [3] Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them [4] and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." [5] This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. [6] They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. [7] So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

Introduction:

No church can be effective in ministry and in growing both numerically and spiritually without the intentional development of spiritual leaders. Over the next three weeks I am going to take the life of Phillip and instruct our church in the importance of your spiritual growth, maturity and the development of your personal leadership in the Body of Christ. I want you to pay close attention and take careful notes in this study because I need you, this church needs you and more importantly Christ has called you to mature in Him and use your spiritual gifts to help provide leadership in this part of the Body of Christ where you serve.

Biblical Background of Text:

The church is still very young but growing VERY FAST. Last count was 5,000 men whom theologians claim could have easily been 15 to 20,000 members including the women and children. Consider also the lack of ability to communicate. Attempting to spiritually feed the church while also dealing with the sin in the Body and trying to satisfy the administrative needs was impossible. So we see the church INTENTIONALLY ORGANIZING to meet the needs of the Body.

The catalyst for the organization was a compliant on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.

Satan would love to disrupt the CHURCH and this was his third attempt when the church was so very young and attempting to establish for the purpose of fulfilling Christ’ great commission. It should be noted this was Satan’s third attempt to destroy or at least cripple the new church.

1. Through persecution in Acts 4-5 which actually only accelerated the growth according to Acts 4:4: “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.”

2. Through sin in the Body in Acts 5:1-11 but again God stepped in and judged Ananias and Sapphira. However, once again this attack only resulted in seeing the explosive growth of the church continue. Acts 5:14: “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”

3. Through dissension in Acts 6:1-2. Satan sought to create dissension within the church. A church racked by internal conflict will find its message lost in the conflict and its energy dissipated. The church with dissension will focus on itself will find it difficult to reach out to the lost world. Before the church could evangelize the world, they would have to deal with any division within their ranks. This dissension was the need that spurred the church to further organize and define and identify leaders within the Body.

As often happens in the church, dissension began as a relatively insignificant issue. The Hellenists complained that “their” widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. The Hellenists were Jews that were Greek speaking and so immediately there is a racial and cultural difference in the Body. This is indicated by “THEIR” widows were being overlooked. One of the important factors that we understand in the Body of Christ it is NOT ‘us and them.’ We may be different in color and different in culture but we all have the same Father when we have been redeemed by the BLOOD of the LAMB. There is only ONE CULTURE in this Body and that is the culture of Christ.

The Apostles listened to the complaint and then offered a solution for organization to the Body. Notice what they said in Acts 6:2: “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” The Greek word for tables is trapeza, trop’-ed-zah; a table usually for food; also a counter for receiving money.

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