Saturday, August 27, 2011

Evidence of Fruit = Result of Obedience

I have been on a journey through the Book of Acts for the last couple of months.  As I have been going through it the progress has been slow, but very insightful.  Here are some insights from Phillip's work and ministry as recorded in Chapter 8.

The first part of the chapter talks about Phillip’s missionary journey to Samaria.  During his time of ministry there many miracles happened, demons were cast out and people were healed.  There were many that were baptized and came to know Jesus because of Phillips evangelistic efforts.  Due to the success of what was happening in Samaria, the apostolic leadership team in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to bring completion to the team in Samaria.

VS 14-17: Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.

There are a couple of things that stand out in this first section of the chapter.

1.       There are some that say that there is only one filling of the oly SpiritHHoly Spirit that happens at the time of conversion.  However, in this section of Scripture there is definite evidence of people coming into relationship with Jesus and being water baptized and then later being baptized with the Holy Spirit.  Here is proof that this can be two separate events.

2.       It shows that while the work of an evangelist is important, there needs to be other ministry partners that function in other levels of the five-fold to bring balance to the ministry.  Also that there needs to be relationship with the leadership that brings a level of accountability to the teams. Expanding the team with the other members brings strength and allows everyone to function in unity.
1 Corinthians 12:28:  (NASB) And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

Ephesians 2:19-20: (NASB) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone
Ephesians 4:11-12: (NASB) And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ

It is interesting that after Phillip had a victory in Samaria, the apostles were sent in to make a further difference.  The apostles, or apostolos in the Greek, were ones that were sent in after a military victory by the Romans. Their mission was to change the culture in the area that was just conquered to match the culture of the emperor.  Apostles in God’s Kingdom in this case were sent in to Samaria to help adjust the culture to one that aligned with The Kingdom. This also freed Phillip to go on to his next assignment.

The second half of chapter 8 tells about Phillip being sent via the Holy Spirit to minister to and evangelize the Ethiopian eunuch. This shows the diversity in Phillips gifting.  When he was in Samaria he was reaching the masses in a powerful way, performing miracles etc. However, with the Ethiopian he is ministering one on one; he is investing time and knowledge. He sat in the chariot and took the Ethiopian through the Scripture and showed him Jesus through the Scripture which led to his conversion and baptism. Some say that there is a correlation between the Ethiopians conversion and the spread of Christianity to and through Ethiopia. What is evident in both events is Phillip’s being able to function in his gifts and that he was readily obedient to the Holy Spirit’s guiding. In fact, after he finished baptizing the Ethiopian the Holy Spirit took him to Azotus and he continued to evangelize as God led him.

The moral of the story:
You can never underestimate the amount of fruit that will be produced when you are obedient to do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do, when He tells you to do it; and when you are fully functioning in your gifting and in your God given identity there is nothing you cannot do.

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