Have you ever been in the right place at the right time? Have you chalked it up to coincidence? As you read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-40, you might say that Philip was in the right place at the right time.
I have to wonder, though, what Philip thought about his roadside encounter. Did he think his meeting the Ethiopian was a coincidence? Probably not. After all, an angel gave him directions—and Philip obeyed. Nudged by the Holy Spirit, Philip approached the Ethiopian’s chariot and heard him reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
Philip then asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
“How can I understand?” the Ethiopian replied. “I need someone to explain it to me.”
These first words that the two men exchanged are an important step in the Ethiopian’s journey to faith. They’re also part of the heart and soul of our Project Philip Bible study program.
Philip was there to explain God’s Word. He started with the words from Isaiah and continued all the way through the Good News of Jesus. With Philip’s help, the Ethiopian understood what he was reading—and believed!
When they came to some water, the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. Philip baptized him . . . and then disappeared. Yes, disappeared! The story ends by telling us the two men never saw each other again, but that Philip continued to share the Good News with others.
But the story really doesn’t end there. Acts 12:24 says, “The message of God was spreading, reaching more and more people.” God’s Word was transforming people’s lives each and every day!
God’s Word and the Spirit’s leading were the heartbeat of the story—and the heartbeat of our ministry together today, some 2,000 years later. Philip played an important role in the Acts 8 story, but the ultimate connection was between the Ethiopian and the Word of God. The same is true today. Philips all around the world are there to explain God’s Word to others so that they’ll find new life in Jesus Christ, just like the Ethiopian.
In fact, as we look back on 2017, we see another year where the Lord added many to His Church—in the right places, at the right time. Take a region in western Kenya, for example. Church leaders there always knew that having God’s Word would help them reach people in their communities with the truth of the Gospel. But they didn’t have Bibles. Today, though, they do. “God’s Word arrived by us at just the right time,” they report. “You are an answer to prayer!”
Without a doubt, the Spirit is still working and using people to spread the Gospel. God’s Spirit is leading people all around the world to help transform lives through His Word. It’s the only way—and it’s all for His glory.
It is with that vision that we move into the New Year in great anticipation of how God will work through all the Philips who are being trained today. Pray with us that we see the impact of the Word of God grow around the world.