Saturday, December 15, 2012

We have been given the message....

"Now an angel of the LORD, said to Philip, 'Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.  This is a desert place.  And he rose and went.  And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure.  He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  And the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go over and join this chariot.'  So Philip RAN to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?'  And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?'"  Acts 8:26-31

I love this story in scripture.  An angel of the LORD speaks to Philip. And from what I understand from scripture, angels are pretty amazing.  They are God's servants who carry out some of God's plans on earth; bring God's messages to people, carry out some of His judgments; battle demonic forces; protect God's people; and generally patrol the earth (Luke 1:11-19; Acts 12:23; Daniel 10:13; Psalm 91:11-12; Zech. 1:10-11).    But it is to be Philip, not the angel who was to go to the Ethiopian in a "desert place" and tell him about Jesus!!!   Acts 8:35 "...Philip opened his mouth and beginning with this Scripture (scripture the eunuch was reading,Isaiah 53:7,8) and told him the good news about Jesus."

Philip proclaiming the Gospel in Samaria after Stephen's stoning which scattered many believers from Jerusalem, and there was much persecution...and an angel of the LORD interrupts Philip telling him to travel south, to a desolate place.  Philip obeys, and once there he sees the Ethiopian eunuch.  The Spirit of God then says "Go over and join the chariot." And catch this, Philip RAN!!  He runs to him and overheard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?"

"And he said, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?'  And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:  

'Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter 
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, 
so he opens not his mouth.  
In his humiliation justice was denied him.  
Who can describe his generation?  
For his life is taken away from the earth.'

And the eunuch said to Philip, 'About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?'  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus."

Could not the angel have told the Ethiopian about Jesus?   The Spirit of God gave that charge to Philip.

There are people much like the Ethiopian who don't understand the Scripture, and they don't know Jesus - "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be save." (Acts 4:12)."   And there is no one else, not the angels, who have been given that charge....that commission, that command to proclaim the good news about Him, other than His people - Christ followers.

Some say a "godly life" should serve as a witness...but "Without words, what can our actions point to but ourselves?  A godly life cannot communicate the incarnation, Jesus' substitution for sinners, or the hope of redemption by grace alone through faith alone.  We can't be good news, but we can herald it, sing it, speak it, and preach it to all who listen.  In fact, verbal communication of the gospel is the only means by which people are brought into a right relationship with God." (Ed Stetzer Preach the Gospel, and Since it's necessary, Use Words)

The Apostle Paul in Romans said:  "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'"  Romans 10:13-15