Summary: Taking a look at the ministry of one of the pioneers of the new covenant church.
PHILIP THE EVANGELIST
INTRODUCTION: Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he left his disciples with their mission statement-go into all the world and preach the good news. The new church had a new mission-go and make disciples. Here we are nearly 2000 years later and the church’s mission hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, though, according to a survey conducted by the Barna research group, only about half of born again believers feel a sense of responsibility to share their faith. That’s not good. As the old church heads into a new year it’s a good time to renew that old mission. It’s a good time to remind ourselves of what’s most important; what our priority is as a church; as a Christian. So today, we are going to look at one of the pioneers of the new church that Jesus started and see how he fulfilled the Great Commission. Let’s take a look at the ministry of Philip the Evangelist.
1) Philip the Deacon Acts 6:1-7. There was much to do in the church. The apostles were busy preaching and teaching and couldn’t be torn away from that to do some of the other important things. So, seven men were chosen to take on these ministerial tasks and Philip was one of them. He was one of the first Deacons of the church. Deacon means servant or helper. We are all called to be servants in general but to be a Deacon meant you were commissioned to serve or help in a specific and sacrificial way.
We will see later that Philip became an evangelist but it’s important to see how things started out for him. He was first chosen to be a Deacon before God called him to be an evangelist. That’s how it is; that’s how it was for me. Before I was called into ministry I was a Deacon at NSCC. We may be gifted to be an evangelist, preacher, teacher or whatever, but are we first and foremost a servant?
Philip began his powerful ministry by performing the menial task of distributing food to widows and others in need. Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to serve regardless of the need? Are we among those who are simply happy to help? Or are we Christians who only want to be involved in the things that are more noble; the duties that would receive greater recognition?
What we need to realize is that Philip serving in this capacity no doubt laid some pretty important groundwork for what he would become. With him having a servant’s heart people would see the example of Jesus as he talked to them about Jesus. And this probably played a big role in people’s willingness to believe what he was preaching. They saw the proof of Jesus’ love through his service.
2) Philip the Evangelist Acts 8:4-13. In Acts 21 Paul was on his missionary journey heading back to Jerusalem. On his way there he stopped and stayed with Philip. Only he wasn’t a Deacon anymore. Acts 21:8, “Leaving the next day we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.” Evangelism comes from the prefix ev meaning good and the word angel meaning messenger. So, evangelizing means sharing the good message; sharing the good news about salvation through Jesus.
Let’s take a look at how Philip went from Deacon to evangelist. [set-up] Stephen was performing miracles and some members of the synagogue didn't like that. They couldn't win their arguments against him so they hauled him in front of the Sanhedrin. When Stephen pointed out some of their wrong behaviors they were infuriated. and when Stephen looked up and said he saw Jesus at the right hand of God that was the last straw. They took him out and stoned him to death. Right after this happened there was a great persecution and the whole church (except for the Apostles) were scattered to other lands. And Saul (before he was Paul) went around trying to destroy the church by having believers put in prison (1-4). This is what caused Philip to be in Samaria.
[read 8:4-13] This showed us two things about Philip: first, he was willing to evangelize under any circumstances. For a lot of us, such a great persecution would’ve caused us to be silent about our faith. But Philip was willing to risk ending up like his friend Stephen. Philip was bold and courageous and his passion for the spread of the gospel superseded his concern for his personal well-being. What about us? We might not be facing death but we are facing persecution of some sort. Are we keeping silent because we are afraid of getting laughed at or yelled at? When persecution comes are we tempted to go into self-protective silent mode? Are we saying to God, “if this is what I have to go through when I’m doing the right thing then forget it; I’m not going to allow myself to be mistreated”? We need to be more like Philip who didn’t allow persecution to deter him from the mission.