'How can I
22nd April 2021
...Go and make disciples...
26 'Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip,
"Go south to the road - the desert road -
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."
27 So he started out, and on his way
he met an Ethiopian eunuch,'
The story in the growth of the church
in Acts of the Apostles today tells
of Philip's meeting with the Ethiopian
on the Jerusalem - Gaza road.
How did he get there?
He was guided by an angel.
We might think that the first Gentile convert
(specifically mentioned in Acts)
would have been won by an apostle.
He had been up to Jerusalem to worship
the God of Israel there.
And yet he was not saved in Jerusalem,
but in the desert.
And rather than being "led to the Lord"
by one of the apostles there in Jerusalem,
or even by Peter or John in a Samaritan city,
he was converted through Philip,
who was divinely directed to him
in that remote desert place.
How strange the ways of God are!
The salvation of this Ethiopian eunuch
was clearly a matter of divine election
and calling, as was the choice of the
human instrument (Philip)
a part of God's sovereign will.
Now what is the point of this story?
Why does Luke include it in the book of Acts?
What does he want us to get out of this
inspired story - since (as Paul says),
"all Scripture is inspired by God
and is profitable for teaching, for reproof,
for correction, and for training in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete,
equipped for every good work"
....(2 Timothy 3:16)
How does this Scripture equip us
for every good work?
I think the answer is that the story of Philip
and the Ethiopian eunuch teaches us
one of the ways God uses to evangelise the world.
I say "one of the ways God uses" because
it is clear from the book of Acts that a lot of
evangelism was done without an angel of the Lord
having to tell the Christians to do it (e.g., 8:4).
It's what one does if one loves Jesus
and loves people. You tell the good news.
Jesus already gave us a command about it
in the Great Commission
'Go and make disciples of all people'
... Matthew 28:19
and since there is no teaching anywhere
in the New Testament that says this work of the Lord
is limited to the time of the book of Acts,
we should assume that one of God's ways today
of building his church is to give direction
to his people in extraordinary ways
as well as more ordinary ones.
God guides us, through his Word,
through other people, through dreams.
He specifically and undeniably guides
men and women to do what they
would not have ordinarily have done;
and God guided Philip to set aside
his Samaritan ministry for a time
and to go to this remote place so
as to bring about the conversion of an African.
This guidance was necessary because
Philip would have never chosen
to do this on his own;
yet in obeying God the Gospel
was spread into Africa.
Just as God used Philip to reach this Samaritan city,
he used many of the others who fled from Jerusalem
to avoid the persecution of Saul and others
to spread the gospel throughout the known world.
It may not seem like a very pious kind of guidance -
this flight from persecution -
but God succeeded in putting men and women
where He wanted them.
Is God offering a breakthrough in
our lives and in the life of our church
especially in the ministry of evangelism
if we were more like Philip
"full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom."
Are we where God wants us?
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'God has spoken by his Prophets'
by George Wallace Briggs
via the link shown below.