I wonder if Philip was surprised by all the things God did through him. Back in chapter six of Acts he was just helping hand out alms to widows, waiting on tables as the apostles called it. He had just be elected a deacon in his church. It was a nice job, pretty easy, not a big deal, not to demanding. You know how some people think about deacons. They are sort of junior elders, they are the lower tier of spiritual leaders. Deacons is for the younger men, those starting out, like apprentices. But clearly God doesn’t look at it that way. Deacons are spiritual leaders gifted and equipped for important spiritual work. There is nothing second class about it. There are different roles and responsibilities, just as there are differences between men and women, husbands and wives, pastors and lay people. We should celebrate and honor the differences without ever slipping into suggesting one is better. In chapter 8 of Acts Philip has been used of God with great power and influence. Philip is the one who spreads the Gospel to Samaria and to Africa. He wasn’t an apostle, he wasn’t a professional evangelist, but God doesn’t just use pros. By His Spirit’s power and gifts, God can and will and wants to use every one of us for His glory and the blessing of others. Be open, be willing, be ready. Don’t despise the gifts he has given you. God loves to glorify Himself through what seems weak and foolish. Pray and ask Him to use you.
Last week we considered the persecution that followed in the wake of Stephen’s death, the first martyr of the early church. This morning we come to consider the first missionary of the early church. The ancient church father, Tertullian, once wrote, the more you kill us the more we will multiply, every drop of our blood will spring up, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundredfold (Apology, ch. 50).
John begins verse 7 with what sounds like discouraging news. There are many deceivers who have gone out into the world. He doesn’t want believers to be naïve about how many, they are not rare, but commonplace. Don’t be discouraged about all the false teaching in the church in the world. Jesus said again and again there would be false angels, false spirits, false apostles, false teachers, false evangelists, false missionaries, false shepherds, false messiahs, anti-christs, wolves in sheep’s clothing. There is nothing new here, no surprises. This is the work of Satan, it has never ceased and won’t until Christ returns and puts an end to it. The enemy never rests and the enemy is very subtle. Our world is filled with thousands of cults with millions of followers, false religions, liberal theologies, and worldly ideologies. There are over five thousand cults with millions of followers. Many of them once attended a church. But we need not fear, “And though this world with devils filled.” Jesus is on His throne and He will not be overthrown and the gates of hell will not prevail against His blood-bought Church.