Torchbearers for Christ
Monday, January 22, 2018
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The Servant and The Seeker

 
In the book of the Acts of the Apostles we have the first accounts of the gospel of Christ crucified being preached. It is of interest to note that there are several incidents of divinely arranged appointments. In each case we have a servant of God who had a clear understanding of how to be saved from sin and become a Christian. It was divinely appointed that he should meet another, although not a Christian, who had a strong desire to know the Lord personally.
 
The background of the one incident we will be following was that the new church at Jerusalem had experienced fierce persecution and the Christians were scattered throughout neighbouring regions. This was surely God’s plan because, far from being intimidated, these rank and file believers “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). If we compare verse 1 with verse 4, we see that the people who were scattered did not include the apostles who remained at Jerusalem; these were ordinary, enthusiastic Christians who talked about the Lord Jesus fearlessly wherever they went. 
 
In verse 5 we read about one Spirit filled layman named Philip who did a very daring thing; he “went down to Samaria and preached Christ unto them”. This Philip was not the apostle, but the Philip of whom we read in Acts chapter 6, where he is described as an “honest man and filled with the Holy Spirit….” The results of Philip’s preaching were amazing. His ministry was accompanied by miracles of healing; people who were demon possessed, lame and paralysed were healed. Understandably, “there was great joy in that city”.
 
In the midst of this revival in Samaria, the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Arise and go towards the south unto the way that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert” (Acts 8:26). This was to be the divine appointment and the details are found in Acts 8:26-40. Philip, the servant of God, was to meet a seeker who had travelled 1,400 kilometres from his home in Ethiopia in order to worship God in Jerusalem.  This man had great authority in his home country where he was the treasurer to Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians. His desire to know God was evident. He was sitting in his chariot reading aloud from Isaiah the prophet. The Holy Spirit then instructed Philip, “Go near and join yourself to this chariot”, whereupon Philip ran and heard the Ethiopian reading from Isaiah chapter 53. Philip then asked him whether he understood what he was reading, to which the man replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” He then invited Philip to come and sit with him. It seems amazing that the passage he was reading was a prophecy about the Cross of Jesus. How perfect was God’s timing! The Ethiopian then asked Philip to explain the passage, whereupon God’s servant “began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus”.  As they went on their way they came to a pool of water and the seeker asked Philip whether he could be baptised. Philip replied, “If you believe with all your heart, you may”. The Ethiopian declared, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”. The chariot was stopped and Philip the servant of God and the seeker from Ethiopia went down into the water and Philip baptised him. The amazing conclusion to this story is that the Holy Spirit miraculously caught Philip away while the Ethiopian “went on his way rejoicing”. 
 
What can you and I gather from this story? I believe that every Christian is a servant of God and that He has a seeker with whom each of us  will be able to share the good news of the Gospel. May the Lord lead us to such a one.   
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.