I’ve always wondered what went through Philip the Evangelist’s mind when WHOOSH, he found himself transported to Azotus via the Holy Spirit. After sharing the Good News and baptizing an Ethiopian treasurer, POOF, “the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away” (Acts 8:39). He learned first-hand that God isn’t limited in the ways He uses His children. (The entire story is recorded in Acts 8:26-40.)
We’ll probably never share Philip’s means of express transportation; yes, there’s the rapture, but that’s a different subject! However, we can learn from Philip’s obedience to God.
Acts 8:40 records Philip preaching the gospel in all the towns near Azotus, where God whirled him away. Perhaps God knew He could count on Philip’s obedience to proclaim the Good News.
Philip not only obeyed Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel, but also heeded Jesus’ example of only acting and saying what the Father directs:
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that His command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” -John 12:49-50
Philip’s example offers us several lessons:
- We have the same Holy Spirit to teach and empower us to be an effective witness for Christ.
- Upon persecution, Philip went directly to Samaria—a forbidden place to most Jews due to prejudice—and spread the gospel. The gospel is for everyone, not for a select few.
- In the middle of his successful evangelism efforts, God’s directive for him to go south on the desert road must have first seemed like a demotion. But because of Philip’s willingness to hear God’s voice and obey—going near the Ethiopian treasurer’s chariot and engaging him in discussion—God placed a Christian (the treasurer) in a significant position in a distant country. Perhaps the entire nation was then influenced by the Good News.
- Interestingly, Philip only used the Old Testament in leading this man to faith in Christ even though Jesus is found in both the Old and New Testaments.
- Philip met this man where he was—immersed in the prophecies of Isaiah—and then helped clarify the passage as he shared how Jesus fulfilled that prophecy.
- When sharing the Gospel, a great place to start is where the other person’s concerns and/or questions lie.
- God finds great and various uses for those who obey Him wholeheartedly.
- Like Philip, we can take advantage of the opportunities God gives us through active listening and obedience.
Following God may be risky and difficult at times, but I’m sure Philip would testify: It’s worth the ride!
Next week I’ll explore some simple evangelism plans that have helped many Christians share their faith.