Commentary by Walter Albritton


October 16, 2005


The Spirit Helps Us Share God’s Word with Others


Acts 8:26-40


Key Verse: Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. – Acts 8:35


          My friend Larry Israel is a Messianic Jew. His conversion to faith in Christ was exceptional. No other person witnessed to him. He was alone, in his home, reading the Bible when God changed his heart.

          Larry loves history. For years he studied history, especially the Civil War. Wanting a new focus, one day he decided to explore biblical history. Finding no book on the subject in his personal library, he came across the Bible he had received at his Bar Mitzvah. So for the first time he began to read the Bible.

          When he got to the Book of Isaiah, he was startled by the passage in Chapter seven about a virgin who would bear a son named Immanuel. “Surely that is Jesus,” he thought.  Soon he had the same reaction while reading in Chapter nine the words, “For unto us a child is born . . . . and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

          The clincher came as he began reading Chapter fifty-three. Tears filled his eyes. Suddenly he knew that “the man of sorrows” who was “wounded for our transgressions” was the Christ! He dropped to his knees beside his chair and accepted Christ as his Savior. Without the assistance of any other man, Larry had been saved from his sins.

          Larry’s story, while unusual, is important for it reminds us that the Word of God has the power to change lives. Most of the time, God uses us, his witnesses, to confront others with the Word. But he can release the power of the Word without a messenger. Knowing this will help remember, as we witness for Christ, that the life-changing power of God is not so much in our words as it is in the Word of God. Paul understood this. That may be why he called the Word of God a sword, an instrument of power.

          Our study of Philip as a messenger sharing the Word of God will help us see ways we can improve our own witness for Christ. Consider these observations:

          1. Philip did not attempt to share the faith in his own strength. He was full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. The church had endorsed him as a man fit for service. While he had few credentials, he did have the anointing of God. Only the Holy Spirit can make our witnessing effective. Minus that, we will simply be full of hot air.

          2. Philip was prepared to witness anywhere he found an opportunity. He was ready. He was willing to be used wherever God needed him. That can be our attitude as well, once we are prepared.

          3. Philip was obedient. When the Spirit said go, he went. No argument about it. He could have said, “Lord, walking hurts my feet; I will wait until you send me a bus or a helicopter.” Are we quick to obey the Spirit? Even when some sacrifice is required? We can be.

          4.  Philip did not button-hole every person he met and dump the gospel on them. He waited for the Spirit to direct him. Note that the Spirit did not tell him to go over to the chariot and start talking but rather to make himself available. Before speaking, he listened. What good sense that makes! Most people will not listen to us until they realize we are willing to listen to them!

          5.  Philip assessed the situation so he could understand how to relate to the eunuch. He began with a courteous question. He was not abrasive nor did he speak down to the stranger.  He took the time to build a relationship and patiently waited until the man asked for his help. Philip knew he could not force the good news on the eunuch so he was content to walk until he was invited to climb into the chariot. The man obviously trusted Philip since he asked him to sit beside him.

          6. Once in the chariot, Philip showed great wisdom by waiting for the eunuch to ask him a question. It is wise not to rush into our witness but to allow the Holy Spirit time to work in the heart of the hearer. When we speak too quickly we may be answering questions that the listener is not asking. That is usually a waste of time.

          7. When Philip began sharing, he began where the eunuch was; he wanted to understand about whom Isaiah was speaking in the scripture he had been reading. Philip began no doubt by explaining that the lamb led to the slaughter was in fact Jesus, the Lamb of God. Luke sums up Philip’s testimony with these words, “he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.” We should remember that our testimony is never bad news but good news. What Jesus had done, and can do for us, is always good news.

          8. That the eunuch noticed water near the road suggests that Philip had told him about the 3,000 new believers who had been baptized on the day of Pentecost. Observe again that Philip did not tell eunuch he had to be baptized. His testimony was so winsome that the eunuch asked to be baptized. Philip’s testimony was obviously welcoming and inviting, so much so that the man wanted to experience salvation and become Philip’s brother in the family of God.

          9. Philip was resourceful and innovative. He did not send the eunuch back to Jerusalem so one of the apostles could baptize him. He had confidence in the Spirit and in himself. He must have realized that the power of transforming the heart was in God’s hands, not human hands. So he felt comfortable handling the baptism himself. We should be sensitive to the Spirit’s leadership and remember that we are servants of the God who is always doing “a new thing.” One day the Spirit led me to turn a coffee table into an altar and baptize a dying woman in her home when she asked for baptism. She would not have been able to come to church.

          10. The bottom line of this story is beautiful. The eunuch’s encounter with Philip was such a blessing that he was able to go “on his way rejoicing.” The result of our testimony should be the same as Philip’s. The object of telling people about Jesus is not to leave them feeling guilty and condemned but hopeful and excited about being loved by so great a Savior!

          11. After baptizing the eunuch, Philip went to other cities preaching the good news of Jesus. He did not feel it needful to sign the eunuch up as one of his disciples. That he was now a disciple of Jesus was what mattered.

          12. Hopefully the eunuch also began sharing the good news of Jesus. That is God’s plan – for the redeemed to tell others of the saving power of the living Christ. If Jesus has made a difference in your life, then it is your privilege to tell others what he has done for you. When you do, the Spirit works in the heart of the listener and soon someone else takes the plunge and becomes a disciple of our Lord.

          We can learn so much from Philip about sharing the gospel. May we learn it well so we too can go on our way rejoicing and telling others the story of our blessed Savior!

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