When reading the Book of Acts, it is very common to focus our attention on Peter and Paul. These two men did a great work for God as they spread the gospel and impacted the establishment of the early Church. But Acts also tells of others who are great examples of the kind of men the Church needs. 1. Stephen: Spirit-Filled Acts 6:3-5 tells us that Stephen was selected to be a Church leader because he was “full of the Holy Ghost.” He had all of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit had all of him. Rather than living under self-control, Stephen lived under Spirit-control. In Acts 7, Stephen preached a gospel message which brought great conviction upon his hearers. Their response was to attack the preacher; they “gnashed on him with their teeth” (7:54). This brutal attack on God’s man could have easily produced anger, a symptom of self-centered living. Instead, Stephen kept his focus on the Lord and knelt in prayer as he was being stoned to death. Spirit-filled men allow the Spirit of God to produce a likeness to Christ even in the most extreme circumstances. The fruit of the Spirit is the by-product of a life controlled by the Spirit.
2. Philip: Sharing
Philip never missed an opportunity to preach. It didn’t matter if it was to a multitude in Samaria, or to a man from Ethiopia. Acts 8 is a fascinating account of how the preacher left a city-wide evangelistic campaign to go into the desert to reach one man. There the Spirit led him to explain the Scriptures and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the Ethiopian “of great authority” believed on Jesus and was baptized. History tells us he was the first to take the gospel to Africa. Philip was used by God not only to bring the gospel to a city and nation, but also a continent. Sharing men take every opportunity to communicate the gospel. They are sensitive to needs around them.
3. Ananias: Surrendered
Driven by religious zeal, Saul became a real terrorist, persecuting the early Church. Then he met Jesus. Alone in Damascus, he waited for a brother in Christ to come and minister to him. The man God chose was Ananias. His assignment could have been intimidating, but his simple reply was, “I am here, Lord” (9:10). He did not argue with God, but made himself available for whatever God wanted. God’s will was a greater priority than his own. God used Ananias to assist Saul in taking his first steps as a Christian. Surrendered men yield their will to God’s. They willingly seek to find, follow, and finish God’s will for their lives. They delight in doing His will!
4. Barnabas: Supportive
Barnabas was an encourager. He had a special ability to support others in their spiritual development. First it was Saul, then the new believers in Antioch (9:27;11:23). In Acts 13:43, Barnabas persuaded believers to continue in the grace of God. When John Mark faltered, it was Barnabas who gave him a second chance (15:39). He was always “confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith” (14:22). This special ministry made him a blessing to many in their walk. Walking with God can be discouraging, causing some to want to give up. At such times, fellow believers must rally around to provide support and encouragement. Supportive ones bless others through a positive approach to Christian life.
5. Apollos: Scriptural
Apollos was “mighty in the Scriptures” (18:24). This created a fervency in teaching. But he did not have a complete understanding of God’s truth. Through Aquila and Priscilla he developed a more thorough understanding of the way of God. Equipped with the Word, Apollos had a special ministry in Achaia, as he “helped them much who had believed through grace … showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (18:27). When growth is needed, the Word becomes the source of nourishment.
True men of God are needed in the Church today. Our churches have men who are talented, educated and wealthy. They have men who can lead, organize and manage. But the biggest need is for men who can bring others closer to God. Only those who know God personally can bring others to Him.
By Tom Palmer
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org