May 6, 2018
I Will Build My Church: Philip
Acts 8 tells the story of Philip, one of the seven men chosen by the apostles to oversee the distribution of food for the widows of the Church. After the martyrdom of Stephen, most of the people of the Church were scattered throughout Palestine. Philip went to Samaria and preached the Gospel there. This marks the first time that a new people group was reached for Christ. You could say that Philip was the Church’s first international worker!
While in Samaria, Philip encountered a powerful sorcerer named Simon. The people of Samaria were enthralled with Simon’s tricks, and gave him the nickname, “The Great Power of God.” But when he saw what Philip was able to do through the power of the Spirit, Simon committed himself to Jesus. However, he clearly had a lot of growing to do, because when Peter and John came from Jerusalem to see how God was moving in Samaria, Simon tried to buy the ability to give others the Holy Spirit by laying hands on them. Peter harshly rebuked him for his arrogance.
Simon’s humiliation is a lesson for all of us. Don’t let ego drive your spiritual journey. It’s not about you. The entire Christian life is laying down your life. Philip understood this as well as anyone. He had come to Samaria, performed signs and wonders, won converts, but couldn’t give the people the Holy Spirit. Others had to come to do that. But Philip didn’t let that get him down. Instead, he stayed humble and obedient, and because of that an entire continent was opened to the Gospel.
An Ethiopian official was traveling through the desert on his way back to his homeland when the Spirit directed Philip to intercept him. After having the Scriptures explained to him and hearing the Gospel for the first time, he believed and was baptized. To this day, Ethiopian Christians can point to this event as the defining moment in their spiritual heritage!