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Sabbath School Lessons on Missionaries in the Bible
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 38 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: Gifted for Service: Philip *
Introduction: How do you solve problems in the church? Is it with
gifted plans or gifted people? If you had to choose, which would be
more important? This week we study a man who was part of the solution
to one of the most explosive problems in the early church. He
apparently did well in his service to the church for God made him a
powerful evangelist. Let's jump into our study of Philip and learn
about the ideal life in service for God.
- Deacon Philip
- Read Acts 6:1. Assume I came to you with this problem.
What would be your first suggestion as to the source of
the problem and how to solve it?
- Would you first find out if the charges were true?
- Does it matter if they are true? Or, is
perception more important?
- Since they mention cultural distinctions, my first
reaction would be that this was discrimination based
on culture. Would the solution be education or
replacement of personnel?
- Let's run this through in our minds. Assume that
you begin to solve the problem by determining
whether the food distributors are discriminating
or whether the complainers are guilty of falsely
claiming discrimination. Either way, one side is
showing that they discriminate based on
ethnicity. When you figured out who was in the
wrong, what would you be facing? (One side is
going to be upset and probably claiming more
- Read Acts 6:2-4. How do the early leaders handle the
problem? (They assume the problem arises from not paying
close enough attention. They don't assign blame. They
don't challenge the complainers. They say they have more
important things to do. No one is found to be culturally
- What if the problem is cultural discrimination?
(Whatever the source of the problem, this will fix
- Have they created a committee to deal with the
- Read Acts 6:5-6. What do you notice about the names of the
new deacons? (Most of them have Greek names.)
- What do you conclude from this? (The apostles refuse
to admit there was any intentional discrimination
against the Greek Jews. However, when the church
chooses the new deacons, it chooses mostly Greek
- What does the handling of this explosive problem
teach us for our missionary activities today?
- To go back to our introduction, which turns out
to be most important: gifted plans or gifted
people? (They are both important. This is a
- Look again at Acts 6:3. Our lesson this week is about
Philip. What do we learn about him from our first
introduction? (That he is "full of the Spirit and
- Healer Philip
- Read Acts 8:1-5. What has happened to the church in
Jerusalem? What has happened to Philip? Is he now out of
a job? (With the persecution, the leaders and members fled
to other cities. Philip went to a city in Samaria. He is
now out of the food distribution business.)
- Recall our lesson two weeks ago (Lesson 10)about
Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well? Why
would Philip choose to go to Samaria? (Certainly the
Jewish authorities had little influence there. Jesus
pioneered sharing the gospel with the Samaritans.)
- Read Acts 8:6-8. The office of deacon means different
things in different churches. What did it mean in
Philip's case? (He performed miracles and brought "joy in
- What connection do the miracles have to the message?
(It caused the people to "pay close attention.")
- What lesson do we find in this or our missionary
- Read Acts 8:9-11. If you were an outside observer, how is
Simon like Philip? (He did amazing things. The people gave
him their attention.)
- How are Philip and Simon not alike? (Simon took the
credit for himself. He was "the Great Power." Philip
gave the glory to God.)
- Read Mark 16:20 and Acts 14:3. These texts say the
gospel is "confirmed" by miracles. Notice the
different sources of power for Simon and Philip. How
could you know the source of the power when the
results seem similar?
- Is sorcery confirmed by Simon's amazing work?
(Read Matthew 7:22-23. Doing amazing things is
not the test of righteousness.)
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. How does this say we can
distinguish the true from the false? (We must look at
the message of the miracle worker. Simon's message
was personal power and glory.)
- Read Acts 8:12-13. What attracted Simon to the gospel? (He
was astonished by the signs and miracles.)
- Let's skip down to Acts 8:18-23. Wait a minute! This is
Philip's new convert. How can Peter say Simon's heart is
"not right" and is "full of bitterness and captive to
- Is there a lesson in this for our missionary
activities? (Read Acts 8:24. Simon comes into the
church for the "wrong reasons." His heart is still
not right, even though he is baptized. He reacts to
Peter based on fear. Yet I believe he is on the road
to righteousness. People who want to be baptized
should be baptized. We need not wait until they are
- The Holy Spirit
- Let's go back to those verses that we skipped over. Read
Acts 8:14-16. How can Philip, a man who does great
miracles and is himself ( Acts 6:3) "full" of the Holy
Spirit, baptize without the Holy Spirit? Is this some sort
of technical failure on Philip's part? Did he forgot part
of the required message because he is new to this?
- Look again at Acts 8:15-16. The first step in
receiving the Holy Spirit is to pray for the Spirit.
- Read Acts 8:17. What additional step do we see?
- Read Acts 9:17. What procedure was used to have Saul
filled with the Holy Spirit? (In both cases we see that
laying hands on the person is the method by which the Holy
Spirit is conferred.)
- Read Acts 10:44-47. How did this group receive the Holy
Spirit? Did it precede or follow baptism? (It came before
- What do these texts teach us about receiving the Holy
Spirit? (It can clearly be something separate from
baptism. It comes in different ways. But, it is clearly
manifest in the believer. In Acts 8:14-16 it was clear the
Holy Spirit had not come on the believers.)
- What does this teach us about our missionary efforts?
(We need to pray to have the Holy Spirit be manifest
in those we baptize.)
- The Ethiopian
- Read Acts 8:26-29. How would you like to have such a
relationship with God that He points out a specific road
and a specific car for you to contact? Is such a
relationship possible today?
- We are always interested in bringing in influential
new members. How important was this Ethiopian? (He
was the treasurer of the country. If this were
America, he would be Secretary of the Treasury.)
- What does this tell us about his relationship
with the Queen of Ethiopia? (You are going to
find the most trustworthy person to be in charge
of your money!)
- What else do we know about this Ethiopian? (He was
interested in spiritual matters. He not only had
been to Jerusalem to worship, but he was reading the
Bible on his trip home.)
- Read Acts 8:30-31. What else do we learn about God's
interest in the affairs of humans? (He brought Philip and
the Ethiopian together at the very point where the
Ethiopian was having trouble understanding the Bible!)
- Read Acts 8:32-34. If you wanted to convert a Jew, with
what Old Testament text would you start? (God has arranged
for the Ethiopian to be reading the perfect text to
introduce Jesus the Messiah.)
- Read Acts 8:35-38. How does Philip begin his evangelist
efforts with this man? (He follows the lead of the Holy
Spirit. He answers the questions presented. He does not
start with a "prepared" witnessing speech.)
- Read Acts 8:39-40. Would you like to live a life in the
Spirit like Philip?
- Friend, if you would like a life in the Spirit, why not
ask God right now to use you like this?
- Next week: "Here Am I! Send Me:" The Prophet Isaiah.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.