TOAM08 – Terry Virgo on Philip (Acts 8)

This is the final set of notes I will post. But come back over the next week or two for a series of video interviews, and over this weekend for some notes from other talks Driscoll will be giving around London. As mp3s are posted, we will also be adding download links to the individual summary pages, but you can also check online or subscribe to the podcast.

The final main session of the Brighton Leaders’ Conference was taken by Terry Virgo. More posts from this conference can be found on my TOAM08 label page. You can download the mp3 of Terry’s talk or listen to it right here:

Terry Virgo Terry began by thanking us for the great personal affection of which he was very aware yesterday. He then read almost the whole of this interesting chapter in Acts 8 on the character of Philip, the only named evangelist in the New Testament.

Both Stephen and Philip are introduced as men who are playing their part in a rapidly growing church. Terry described Stephen in his first talk on Tuesday. Today he completes this mini-series with a look at Philip.

There seems to be two halves to the description of Philip. In the first half he is in a domestic scene looking after the needs of widows. Foundations must be built into lives before they can have a public ministry.

This evangelist wasn’t a loner with a ministry. He was known and loved in a local church. He wasn’t isolated. He wasn’t someone who just hadn’t fit in so decides to leave the church to “go and do his evangelism thing.” Rather notice what is said about him. He’s selected by the church. He has a good reputation. When the church wants someone reliable, his name comes up. He was recognized for being “full of the Holy Spirit” when thousands were full of the Holy Spirit. He somehow stood out in that way, suggesting, incidentally, that there are degrees of being full of the Spirit. He was gifted, but he didn’t push for his gift; he served, took his place so others could get on with their ministry. He didn’t demand to be recognized. He was willing to take a lower profile, to put God first.

Later on, he goes and preaches. The Apostles come and he doesn’t tell them to “get out of here,” he receives them. They came to bring the Spirit’s fullness and to remove someone who was getting too much profile. In our family life, we should teach our kids to be team players. Don’t insist on your own way. Don’t just “let them do their own thing.” Prepare them for the kingdom. Ephesians 4 says that the gifts are given to equip the saints so that they may become mature. A mature man looks like Jesus — someone who knows he has come from God and is going to God, and yet he washes his disciples’ feet!

Through love become one another’s slaves. Don’t take the attitude, “I’m not appreciated here so I’ll go somewhere else where I am appreciated.” Be a team player. His household was good. His daughters later are described as having prophesied regularly. [Incidentally, as a side note apart from what Terry actually said, it struck me once again as I was listening that there is no record of these daughter's prophecies being viewed as Scripture, and they are not recorded in the Bible. It still surprises me that some people persist in seeing all prophecy as equivalent to Scripture.]

Back to Terry. These daughters were not rebellious, but full of the Spirit. They were respected. They had been taught to listen to him. Must have been good relationships and an honoring of women. Philip had an exemplary home. It’s such a joy to have children of whom you can be proud.

Together on a Mission 2008Suddenly things change. Stephen is martyred. Philip moves into his second half. God in his sovereignty scatters the believers that the world may hear the gospel. Philip is alive to the opportunity. He knows God’s will. He follows the prompting of the Spirit. He is gospel intoxicated, not waiting for an official strategy. He goes with what God is doing. He is willing to move. He shares and takes every opportunity to speak. Philip heralded the good news. He preached Christ. What Christ did he preach? Not just enough to make vague statements. What kind of Christ should we present?

A Jesus rooted in Old Testament revelation.
The eunuch was reading Isaiah 53, which was, of course, something of a gift. Tim Keller says people are reacting to abstract theologizing that’s not rooted in the truth. We need to be assured of the message we have. This passage is classic and about the atonement. We must focus there, we must preach the cross. Don’t abandon that as our central theme. The cross didn’t need much description in those days, everyone knew what it was like. These days we need to explain it. We must break through that film that comes on people. We should publicly placard Christ crucified. God’s fury against sin was dealt with. We must feel it strongly. Let the cross captivate our hearts.

A Jesus with the good news of the kingdom of God. Philip was speaking of a phenomenal event. Jesus is the Messiah, the one God sent. He is raised and seated on high ruling and reigning. They glory in the resurrection. They proclaim that the tomb was empty. It’s not just a case of a man whose teachings were so great that “the dream lives on.” His death may have looked as if he were a fraud, as if it’s the end, without the resurrection. But he’s not only alive, he’s reigning. He is the Son of God with power.

A Jesus who had not lost his power to heal.
Philip is preaching and we see amazing things happen. The crowds heard it and saw it. These two men are provocations that our hearers also see the mighty implications of this Jesus being alive, being raised from the dead. Terry encouraged us to get behind Lex Loizides and the Front Edge program. Jesus is alive. Terry realized recently that he’d never taught on healing all these years. He was challenged to proclaim this and teach about this biblical Jesus. Speak about the Bible Jesus. Faith arises, hearts are stirred. “He preached Christ, not healings and miracles” say some commentaries. But it’s amazing at the end, so they were baptized. But then the text doesn’t mention baptism. He must have mentioned baptism then, just didn’t record that he said that. So he proclaimed the sort of Christ who can heal the sick and oppressed of the devil. He presented him as he was in the Bible. People got healed because he told people what Jesus was like and what he did. He didn’t present substitutionary atonement alone, but spok
e of other things that Jesus did. In Galatians it is Jesus who supplies the Spirit to them and performs miracles among them. In the gospels he is either healing, coming from a healing, or about to do one. He is performing healings all the time. To preach Christ without even mentioning it is to preach an incomplete Christ. Jesus is still the same, yesterday and today and forever. Often uncomfortable with the teaching of those who go for healing. Well then it’s time for US to preach it like it is and go for it!

A Jesus who expected a whole hearted response.
He baptized them. For joy he sells everything to get the pearl. We need to be absolutely besotted with Christ and the kingdom. It is vital.

A Jesus who could bring joy to the city.
Mark talked about the cities yesterday. Church planting is not just going up the road to the next town. We need to go for it. God wants our tragic cities with their multiple problems. The gospel must break out in our cities. Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit.

A Jesus with the nations in mind.
The nations come to our cities. We must be on our toes. God wants to go to the ends of the earth.

When I write these notes, I do sometimes slip in things that strike me, so please understand they are never meant to be accurate transcripts. One thing strikes me about this passage, which Terry didn’t have to say, speaking as he was to a room full of charismatics — healings and miracles are not enough. Baptisms and repentance are not enough. It is so striking that none of those things particularly impressed the magician, Simon. It is surely one of the most obvious demonstrations that the receiving of the Spirit is not meant to be a private intimate secret affair that even the recipient might not realize it has happened. No, the man who had seen all those miracles was only impressed when the Apostles came, laid hands on people, and they received the Spirit. We are not told here exactly what happened. But it was enough to make this man offer money that he could also impart the Spirit. If it had been us, many of us would instead have offered money to be able to heal people! Whatever your theology of the Spirit is, make sure you have room for a dramatic encounter that somehow is so visible and impressive in its results that it is more dramatic even than healings. We have to expect an anointing of the Spirit that is tangible and vivid and has dynamic results.

Back to Terry. We also see here the need to be like Philip, who was eager to bring in someone from outside. We need to be those who ask for people to come from the outside, to ask for help. We need people who are like Stephen and Philip, who can say with humility, “It’s not mine, it doesn’t belong to me. It’s God’s ministry.”

Philip is whisked off from the multitude to one guy. He has a passion for the crowd, but also for the individual. He is not caught up in the moment of high profile.

Terry then spoke of how some leaders get as far as they can go in their gift and they have to make room for someone else to take over and take the lead. That takes a humble heart. It’s not failure. You can be fulfilled by doing this. Make room. I want you to move in and take over! That’s a difficult thing for a pastor to say. We need to hear stories that people in the churches have stepped down. It takes a lot of grace to do that. Wives can be jealous for their husbands. Be flexible, be humble. Stephen lost his life, Philip laid down his life so others could play their role.

What comes first is the kingdom. It’s about being besotted with Jesus. Having a passion for him. Let’s talk about the WHOLE Jesus, the Bible Jesus. The one who began to work, and is still working today. It will be hard, it will be tough. But let’s go for it! As we have as our motto on all of our literature at Jubilee Church, “It’s all about Jesus.”

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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