Yes! Amazing things happen when we obey God and are in tune with the leading of His Spirit. Acts 8 tells the fascinating story of how simple obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit changed the course of history.
Philip’s Ministry in Samaria
Christians in Jerusalem faced severe persecution because of their faith in Jesus (v1). It was a difficult and trying time for all the believers as they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (v1b). Believers’ homes were searched, and many of them were put in prison (v3). And yet, those who escaped to other places began to boldly preach Christ. During this tense situation, Apostle Philip was in the city of Samaria, where he preached the Gospel.
Apostle Philip had a wonderful ministry in the City of Samaria. The people in the city paid attention to Philip’s message about Jesus (v6) as it was accompanied by many signs and wonders (v7). The people of Samaria received the Gospel. Further, many in Samaria received the Holy Spirit (v15) when Peter and John prayed for them (v14).
Interestingly, the Samaritans, who were long considered “mixed race”, were now part of God’s family. So Philip was probably wide-eyed when he saw the Holy Spirit coming down upon the new converts (v17) in Samaria.
Philip’s Ministry to the Ethiopian official
Apostle Philip was prompted by the Holy Spirit to the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza (v26). Just then, an Ethiopian was returning from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot” (v29). Philip implicitly obeyed and, with a quick sprint, caught up with the chariot. The Ethiopian was a high-ranking official who served Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia as her chief Treasurer.
The Ethiopian was a seeker of truth. Interestingly, the high-ranking official read aloud the prophet Isaiah’s scroll as he returned home (v28). He was also curious to know and understand the meaning of the prophecy. The Apostle proclaimed “the good news about Jesus” (v. 35b). As a result, the Ethiopian official received baptism in Jesus’ name and became part of God’s kingdom.
Lessons to learn from Philip’s Encounter
1. God draws the unlikeliest of persons to Himself.
Firstly, we learn that God draws even the unlikeliest of persons to Himself. Our responsibility is to simply proclaim Jesus Christ in obedience to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. Apostle Philip was then sent to preach the Gospel to the unlikeliest of persons. The high-ranking Ethiopian official was a Eunuch and a gentile. Therefore, he was easily the unlikeliest of persons to find God’s favour.
Philip obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. As a result, the Ethiopian official received the Gospel and became a disciple of Jesus Christ through baptism. So there may be somebody around us who is waiting to hear the Good News about Jesus.
2. We must be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Second, the angel asked Philip to “get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (v. 26). Unless, Philip had a living relationship with the Holy Spirit, he would have easily pushed away from the command from the angel.
We must develop an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit to listen to and obey Him. The Holy Spirit will speak through the Scripture or the circumstances, and we should allow Him to work His will in our lives.
We should welcome God to reshape and renew our perspective. Otherwise, we could block God’s plans and hinder His Ministry through our lives. We may not know the impact we are leaving on that person’s life. But if we obey and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name, our God will use the person in His time for His kingdom.
3. Our obedience can bring greater blessing
Philip proclaimed the Gospel to the official and baptized him. Thus, he was not biased against the Ethiopian official as an “outsider”. History records that Ethiopia was one of the first regions in the world to officially accept Christianity. Christian faith in Ethiopia dates back to King Ezana of the ancient kingdom of Aksum, who first adopted the faith.
Many people trace it back to this Ethiopian official who accepted Christ. Philip had just one brief encounter with the official, not knowing what kind of impact he would leave on the individual or his country. We must be willing to share our faith even with those we do not like to talk to or feel comfortable with. We may not know what our God will accomplish down the road through this one person we are ministering to.
It’s the Holy Spirit who sends us to them because they may be the one who will change the whole household or the community s/he belongs.
Are you sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Are you willing to share the Gospel with that one person to whom God’s Spirit is sending you? Maybe your Ministry or even your life is there for the sake of that one special person.
Let’s consider the responsibility set upon us!
Photo by Giorgio Parravicini on Unsplash