In Acts 8, Philip, one of the seven Hellenistic Jewish Christians that the Apostles appointed to deal with the distribution of food was forced out of Jerusalem because of the persecution that Saul of Tarsus was creating. So Philip went to Samaria and started communicating the message of Jesus there, and all these stinking Samaritans started getting saved to the shock of the Jerusalem church.
The Jerusalem church, needing some eyewitness confirmation that Samaritans are getting saved, send Peter and John to Samaria to check it out. Peter and John show up, see that the Lord has in fact been at work in Samaria, lay their hands on those who had been baptized and they receive the Holy Spirit.
So here’s Philip with this growing Body of Believers, with this tremendous responsibility to lead, nurture, strengthen and equip these Believers. He seemed to be utterly indispensable. Yet it was at precisely this moment when the Lord called him to leave the area, and go to a desert road. Amazingly, Philip didn’t put up an argument. He didn’t say, “Lord, I’m doing great things for you here in Samaria.” He made himself available for whatever the Lord wanted him to do.
Sometime later we read that Philip meets up with, guides and baptizes an Ethiopian eunuch who was returning from worshipping the Lord in Jerusalem. The account between The Evangelist and The Eunuch is a fascinating account, but if you want to be an effective witness, if you want to be a Philip—someone who is effective in sharing the Gospel wherever the Lord leads you, please take notice of what Philip did; it’s a great model for us.
- Philip was sensitive to God’s leading! (Verse 26) Here he was in the midst of an amazing work in Samaria, witnessing all sorts of new beginnings and hundreds of lives being changed. But God called him out in the middle of a desert wasteland—and Philip had the sensitivity to go where God led. Amazing. By the way, you will find that there is a direct correlation between having the mind steeped and saturated with Scripture and being sensitive to the voice of the Spirit.
- Philip was available. (Verse 27) Philip left immediately after having received the Call. Availability is sensitivity’s twin. You can’t have one without the other. Sometimes we forget this, but everyone thinks about God. We need to be prepared and available to talk about Him. Keep praying for opportunities to talk about the Lord.
- Philip started where the man was, but he guided him to Jesus! (Verses 31-35). When you get into conversations with people, begin with what is on their mind. Listen well; even ask questions, before you start talking. Let them talk until they begin to ask questions, then you can guide them….but guide them right to Jesus. Focus on the personal relationship with Christ. I gotta tell you one of the worst things about being a pastor is hearing other pastors…I’ll turn on the radio or the TV and I’ll hear sermons on 7 ways to gain wealth, or 9 steps to a better marriage, or 4 steps to have obedient pets. But at the end of the day people need to hear about Jesus and what He has done by taking our place on the Cross. In your conversations guide people to Jesus.
- Philip used the Scriptures! (Verse 35) The passages you know will be the ones you use—so the more you know, the more effective you can be. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Philip encouraged him to trust the Lord, and trusted the Lord himself. (Verses 36,38) Philip obviously encouraged this man to trust the Lord with his life, which is why he was ready to be baptized Often times though, when we witness we sense that the situation is not ripe for a response, so we end up hoping that someday this person will be led to Christ, which is the right thing for us to hope, but we must trust the Lord to oversee the follow-up. The follow-up may be through you, it may not be through you, but trust the Lord is at work in that person’s life.