Despite facing persecution that led to imprisonment, murder and consistent oppression, the church endeavored to spread beyond the walls of Jerusalem. Though the message of God has been received by thousands of Jews, a sense of urgency takes hold. The desire to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to those outside the first covenant drives a young man named Phillip. Much like his martyred friend, Stephen, Phillip is a fiery evangelist from the next generation of believers. He has been taking care of the needs of widows and other less fortunate in Jerusalem, but a pull from the Holy Spirit inside him leads him on a journey to Samaria…
A Good Man With Faith
Phillip was a man of good reputation. It’s what got him the opportunity to serve in the early church (Acts 6). However, with the amplification of persecution in Jerusalem and Judea, the church had hit a crossroads. It could stay hidden and hope for the season to pass, or it could fight back. Phillip chose to fight. However, he did not pick up a sword or shield made of metal. He took the testimony of Jesus Christ and his faith into battle.
When we desire to be used by God, we must not think in terms of practicalities. God isn’t looking for a well-oiled machine to take His message to the masses. He desires a passionate soul, a voice ready to proclaim the gospel and a heart and life full of faith. It doesn’t mean that being prepared or organized is a bad thing. Having Bible Study tools, an idea of the region/people to whom you are looking to witness, and a plan for what to do once you get people interested are great. However, the best laid plans fall apart without first having the spiritual preparation and foundations present. God would happily use men and women who only had their faith and testimony than a mega church that was spiritually hollow (Judges 7).
Heeding the Call
Phillip was this man. He had the absolute integrity of a righteous life. He served humbly in the Kingdom of God, not worrying about titles or privileges but souls and their development. As the church came under attack from Saul and the Church was dispersing in fear, Phillip set his path to Samaria (Acts 8:1-5). He didn’t run and hide in a basement. He went and started preaching in public about Christ. He didn’t bring a team with him. He didn’t map it all out. He simply responded to the attacks of the enemy with an all assault on the stronghold of the world. The people of Samaria unanimously responded to his message. They saw the miracles that God worked by his hands – something he had never done before (8:6-7). He brought joy to a joyless city (v. 8). The people of Samaria had been ostracized from society and treated like dogs by the Jews and insignificant by the Romans and Gentiles. To Phillip, they were valuable. They were valuable because Jesus sees all people as valuable and Phillip understood that truth.
God has a plan waiting for all of us. All we have to do is reach out and grab it. Phillip didn’t wait or hold off when times got tough. He knew that God wanted to do great things through him and he set out to accomplish that Commission. We must recognized that God desires for us to do a great thing: The Great Commission. When we acknowledge and take hold of that calling, God will do mighty acts through us. Through our faith, righteousness and desire to serve, we will be used in ways we never expected or hoped to be. People will respond because they see our actions, they hear our words and they are both different than what the world has to offer. The world’s actions are cruel and calculating. The actions and words of a true believer are gracious and selfless.
It's Not About Me
Phillip led a large group of people to be baptized (8:12, 16). This led to Peter and John coming in to pray for the newly baptized to receive the Holy Ghost (vv. 15-17). Here Phillip could have gotten angry. It was he who had risked everything to bring the message of Jesus to Samaria. He could have been jailed, tried and murdered just as his friend Stephen had (Acts 7). However, Phillip stepped aside without a fight or a plea for acknowledgment. He knew it wasn’t about him. It was about God.
When we get on fire and being used by God, it’s easy to start believing our own hype. The devil will try and whisper into our ear that it’s us that are doing the great works. When someone comes in to help or check us in our endeavors, we will react poorly if we succumbed to that temptation. However, if we hold true to our purpose and the whole reason we are doing this work, it won’t matter who steps in to serve or who gets “credit”. As long as they are God ordained, it’s all for God’s Kingdom. Who cares where the credit lays?
God Wants Me To Go Where?!
Phillip’s commission wasn’t done at Samaria. God had more plans for him. He sent an angel to speak with him and directed Phillip to the middle of the desert (8:26). This was not a highly populated area like Samaria. Chances of finding more than a handful of people were slim. Yet Phillip arose and immediately went the way the Lord desired (v. 27).
We may be in the middle of a powerful move of God and seeing lots of people saved and taught in the way of discipleship. When the trappings of success surround us, will we choose to follow God when it looks like he is leading us to a desert place? Will we go where God wants even though it doesn’t look like there is much to it? Will we trust God or our own understanding? (Proverbs 3:5)
Phillip’s journey led him to one man (8:27-28). The man was attempting to read the Book of Isaiah, though he was having trouble understanding it (v. 31). Phillip was impressed by God to go to him and Phillip responded by running to him and engaging him in conversation (vv. 29-30).
Here is the perfect depiction of passionate witnessing. Phillip obeys the leading of God to go where God desires him to be. He sees a man who is hungry for God and the Spirit inspires him to engage that man. He doesn’t casually saunter over or dance around the topic. He rushes to the man and immediately wraps him up in conversation. We may not have the privilege of stumbling across someone attempting to read their Bible in public (though it still happens). It may be that we see a downtrodden face, a broken cadence or wearied stride in the grocery store, coffee shop or even in the car or bus seat next to us. It may be that we are in church and that hungry person is thinking about heading to the altar but unsure of themselves. Having the presence of mind to recognize people in need is easy when we have the Spirit leading us and speaking to us. We just need to open our ears and eyes to what God has to say and show. Then, when we encounter it, we must move to engage that person and speak Christ into their lives. It could be that we ask them about their day and even mention we noticed they looked down or worried. When we start engaging them where they are at as Phillip engage the man where he was at, they’ll open up and that is our opportunity to present Jesus to them.
The Message that Matters
And that’s exactly what Phillip did next (vv. 30-35). He told the man that what he was searching for in the scriptures was already here. Jesus Christ had come and the opportunity to receive Him and His Spirit was now at this man’s feet. He also talked about salvation because the man desired to be baptized (vv. 36-38). The two things that Phillip discussed with this man were first Jesus Christ and who he was to this man and second the method and importance of salvation.
When we get the opportunity to engage someone about their situations, difficulties and trials, we must always let them know that we have the answer: Jesus. We may not be psychologists, doctors, counselors or financial gurus. However, we have the One who can deliver them from what they are facing. If we will present Christ with the passion and honesty that Phillip did, those people will be open just as the man in the desert. However, we must not miss out on the opportunity to share the most important thing that Jesus has to offer: salvation. There is no other name under heaven whereby we might be saved (Acts 4:12). Salvation is key. Without it, all the problems this person is facing will continue to resurface and overwhelm them. With it, though, whatever they face in the future will be buffeted by the very Spirit of God that resides in them.
Becoming the Person God Wants Us To Be
Phillip’s journey to bring the gospel of Jesus beyond the walls of Jerusalem is remarkable. However, it is also very simple. He saw the battle that faced him and chose to run head long into the battlefield. He brought the message of Christ to people even though his own friend had died doing the same thing. He allowed God to do things in and through him that had never been done before and gave God all the credit for it. He stepped aside when God sent others to assist in spreading the gospel. He went out from a hotbed of revival to an isolated place because God said, “Go.” He brought the message of Jesus and salvation just as vigorously to the one as he did to the multitude. Phillip did this because he had sold out to God long before. He had committed to living a righteous life and serving in the Kingdom however and wherever he was needed. God saw this good and willing servant and called him out to do His purpose. When we follow the same path, God will call us to the same mission!
We hope you enjoyed this Episode of Acts. Tune in next week over on Patreon as we go to another expansion of the gospel message in the Bible and how it should inspire us to act today. Until then, God bless and keep searching.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.