Laymen, Pt. 1

Acts 6:2-7“Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (KJV).

I want to talk to you about laymen who are full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and especially I want to talk about Philip. The words “full of faith” mean “having a strong grip on the gospel truth.” The words “full of the Holy Ghost” means “full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit.” The seven men chosen by the apostles were this kind of laymen. The meaning of the names of the seven also gives us a glimpse into their character. You are what your name means. “Stephen” means “a crown.” He was soon martyred and received his crown. “Philip” means “a lover of horses”; i.e., the race. A race was set before him and he won. “Prochorus” means “leader of the dance, leader of praise.” “Nicanor” means “(untimely, unplanned) victory.” “Timon” means “honorable.” “Parmenas” means “one who abides.” “Nicolas” means “a conqueror of people.” History teaches that he may have started the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

These laymen were designated by the apostles to a meal distribution work which was separate from the preaching work of the apostles. In Acts 6:1, a conflict arose in the church because some people were being neglected. The seven were chosen to administer to the needs of the congregation. In Acts 6:2-4, the apostles inadvertently drove a wedge between the laymen and the leaders. I do not believe that they did it deliberately and intentionally. However, a dangerous heresy began to divide the Christian church that only the leaders could preach the word and operate in the spiritual realm. Laymen (laity) were to operate in the lesser role, the natural and material. Serving tables is a spiritual work too. Jesus fed multitudes. It was part of His gospel. Jesus did not separate the material from the spiritual, but most churches today follow this division.

Philip… Acts 8… He started his ministry by serving the people of the congregation and ended up serving people of the nations. The Holy Spirit chose Philip to be the one who first preached beyond the walls of Jerusalem  by going down into Samaria. Philip, who had the task of serving tables assigned to him, brought the secular and the spiritual together again. He joined serving tables to evangelism. Both were part of the gospel message. Jesus fed, taught, healed, and preached–this is the work of the kingdom of God. Philip also bridged another gap or wall of separation. There was a wall of separation between the Jews and Samaritans. John 4:9… “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans“ (KJV). Jesus had appointed the apostles to go to Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). The apostles stopped at the wall and stayed in Jewish territory only. Acts 8:1… “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Why didn’t the apostles scatter? It was a layman like Philip who sowed the seeds of Christianity in Samaria. Philip was a layman big enough in spirit and attitude that he arose to meet the needs of a scattered church. Philip was sensitive to the Spirit at the moment of opportunity. The persecution drove the saints abroad, and Philip went to Samaria. There he preached Christ (Acts 8:4-8). God shows up in places that we often think that He should avoid. We know that Jesus was with him because “signs” followed his preaching (Mark 16:20). What a great revival, a true city-wide revival…

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

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