TEXT: Acts 6:1-6; 8:5-8,26-40
The students will be able to give reasons why it is needful to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to be consecrated to do His work before they can be used extensively in His service.
Summary of Acts 6:1-6: In A.D. 34 the number of Christ's followers had greatly multiplied. Up to this time it seems that the Apostles administered all the business affairs for the Church as suggested in Acts 4:37, ". . . and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet." The Greek-speaking, non-Palestinian Jews in Jerusalem complained of unfairness. So the Apostles' answer to their complaint was to let them choose seven of their own number to oversee practical matters, men of spiritual caliber, who would be a credit to the Church.
Summary of Acts 8:5-8: The first part of chapter 8 took place in A.D. 38 and records one of the first persecutions of the Church in the stoning of Stephen and Saul's threatening and laying waste the Church. These persecutions devised by Satan to destroy the Church became, instead, an instrument of its dispersion and establishment.
Summary of Acts 8:26-40: At the height of Philip's flourishing Samaritan campaign, God called him away to meet the needs of an individual.
Gaza is approximately fifty miles southwest of Jerusalem, being situated on the great coastal highway from Mesopotamia to Egypt. It is at the edge of the desert and at the junction of a trade route from southern Arabia. The Ethiopian eunuch was converted on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. A Jewish proselyte and treasurer of Candace, queen of Ethiopia, he was converted to Christianity through Philip the evangelist. Nothing is known of him after his return to Ethiopia.
It is good, especially in the work of the Lord, if responsibility can be distributed among as many people as possible. This is sound practice for several reasons. In the first place, there are to be no "lords over God's heritage" (1 Peter 5:3), but all are to be "subject one to another," and "clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5). Like the stones that were cut and shaped in the quarries and then brought to the Temple site, the saints of God are prepared by God for a specific place in His Church. This is accomplished through the consecration of one's self to God and the seeking of His gifts and graces. All of God's people have a place in the work of the Lord. None are excluded; none are forgotten; none are to be inactive. None are considered unworthy of some place in the service of God in a capacity that fits their capabilities. Each one, then, will be rewarded for the manner in which he fills his God-given responsibility.
- What was the first recorded task Philip was asked to do for the Lord? Why was this task so important? What types of helpers are most needed in the church today?
Response: Philip was called upon to administer the physical necessities to the widows of the church and to serve tables. This task was important in that it would give the Apostles opportunity to spend their time in the Word of God and prayer. At the same time it would solve a problem that had arisen in the church. Discuss with the students why it is necessary for the ministers of the Gospel to have help in the work of the Lord. As your students discuss what types of helpers are most needed in the church today, they should conclude that every worker is important and needed. If we do our work faithfully, we will be rewarded accordingly, whatever our task may be.
- The duties to which Philip and the other six men were appointed consisted of ministering to a physical rather than a spiritual need. Why, then, would the Apostles require spiritual qualifications? See John 4:23-24.
Response: The Church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual organism. Only those who are born of the Spirit of God and are serving God in Spirit and in truth are eligible to work for the Lord. These men were called upon to serve in the church and for the church, though their tasks may have seemed somewhat menial. It is obvious that those called by God are worthy of the respect of all the body of believers. Discuss with the students that each and every call or appointment is significant and exacting. We must give our best to the work if we are to be considered faithful in it; and in so doing we will be taking a step toward greater and more exacting responsibilities.
- In your own words define the spiritual qualifications required by the Apostles for this task.
Response: Encourage your students to give their answers. Possibly they will list the qualifications given in the text: honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. What does it mean to have an honest report? No doubt it has to do with the appraisal of those who know a person. Perhaps a person did not always have an honest report, but after he was saved he became honest, and people were soon aware of that fact. Ask the students what it means to be full of the Holy Ghost. Guide the discussion to the thought that a person has not only availed himself of the graces and gifts that God has provided, but he is using those blessings. There is a difference between receiving and using the experiences that God gives. It is significant that the word "wisdom" is mentioned here in connection with the Holy Ghost. The wisdom that we must have, if we are faithfully going to execute the service of God, is that wisdom which comes from Above. This wisdom is "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17).
- What circumstances brought Philip to Samaria (Acts 8:3-5)? How did he seem to react to his circumstances?
Response: There was great persecution against the saints in Jerusalem, so they were scattered abroad. Philip seemed to make the best of an unfortunate situation and went to Samaria to preach the Gospel. Discuss with the class that often something which seems to be adverse to one's spirituality can in reality become a blessing to oneself and to others. If a person keeps himself consecrated to the Lord's will, being full of His Spirit, God is able to turn any sort of situation that He allows into a glorious result. Many have been pronounced incurably ill, only to have a divine touch and be restored to perfect health. Many have been persecuted almost beyond endurance, only to see the Lord deliver completely and to His honor.
- Philip was the first called upon to help the Apostles, and in Acts 8:14-15 we read how two of the Apostles came to help Philip. In what way did Peter and John help Philip? How did their actions set an example for us?
Response: Peter and John prayed for the new Christians in Samaria that they might receive the Holy Ghost. They also testified and preached the Word while they were there. Ask those in your class who are saved if they had help when they prayed for salvation, for sanctification, for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. More often than not those who have received experiences from the Lord had help when they prayed and were thankful for that help. Why is this so? Jesus said, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 18:19). Discuss with the class that being full of the Holy Ghost and helping others pray and receive the Christian experiences is one of the highest callings that a person can have. It takes consecration to spend the time and effort to be an effective helper at the altar of prayer.
- Give a specific example of how a person was used of God to help you.
Response: Encourage your students to give their answers. They may bring out that others have been helped through a testimony, or through encouragement to seek the Lord. Many times young people are able to influence their peers to pray through to salvation. Sick people have received healing because of the united prayers of Christians. Hopefully, your students will enter into the discussion and many thoughts will be discovered as to how an individual can be used of God to be a helper to others on the pathway that leads to life eternal.
- In today's lesson, how did being full of the Holy Ghost help Philip?
Response: The Holy Ghost first taught him, later spoke to him, then led him, gave him boldness to approach the eunuch, helped him to expound the Book of Isaiah, gave him power to be a witness, and finally guided him on to his next job. This example should reinforce the need for having the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
- Philip was living his life to be used of God when suddenly he had the opportunity to speak to one who wanted to hear the message he had. God gave him that privilege because he was living a spotless life, filled with God's Spirit. Many people have similar opportunities today only to be passed by because their ears aren't in tune with God's directing Spirit. How can you insure that you will be alert to the opportunities God sends your way?
Response: This question should cause self-examination. There is a price to pay to be used of God—it doesn't just happen. It takes consecration, dedication, practice, study, time, self-denial, and a determination to go through to the end.
Bring a set of blueprints to class. Did the finished building turn out just like the blueprints? Usually there are some changes. Discuss how, for our own good, God sometimes makes changes in the plans we have for ourselves.
Bring a school yearbook or a clipping from a newspaper about a famous person—the birth of a child, a wedding, an obituary, etc. Read of the accomplishments, honors, or awards he obtained. Has it changed your life? Do you remember him? Will he be remembered 200 years from now? Talk about the accomplishments of some of the people in the Bible, such as Philip, Peter, Noah, Elijah, John, and Paul. How has what they did hundreds of years ago affected your life today? Will their works last? Why?
Bring items to class, such as the following: a pen to represent writing ability; a musical instrument to represent musical talents; a tape recording of someone singing to represent singing ability; a set of paints and a paint brush; pencil and drawing paper; a broom. Explain that each object represents special talents God gives to different individuals.
Help your students make a checklist of talents, abilities, and special skills which they can consecrate to the Lord. Make the lists attractive enough so that the students can hang them on their bedroom walls.