The earliest believers suffered persecution–a man of God, Stephen, was put to death. Though scattered, they continued to share about Jesus, the Master, who gives to all of us breath.
We read on…of the evangelist, Philip, in the book of Acts and chapter eight. His desire to share about Jesus was greater than any fears he might have had for his own fate.
He’d gone to the city of Samaria and preached there, doing many miraculous signs. He had cast out demons and healed the lame, leaving a very joyful city behind.
Having heard of the new believers in Samaria, Peter and John had arrived as well. They prayed and laid hands on the believers–and upon them, the Holy Spirit fell.
An angel of the Lord then instructed Philip, to head south on the desert road…that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza, where he saw a man soon, and his journey slowed….
Philip walked alongside the man’s chariot, at the Holy Spirit’s leading. This man was the treasurer of Ethiopia, and from the book of Isaiah, he was reading.
He’d been to Jerusalem to worship and was on his journey from there of return. But, obviously, he had a hunger about God, and Philip was to help him learn.
“Do you understand what you’re reading?” Philip asked, wanting to be his guide. The man replied that he needed help, and invited him to come up and sit alongside.
This was the passage of scripture he’d been reading:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”
The Ethiopian asked Philip for clarification as to whom this text referred. Then Philip told him the good news of Jesus, the Savior–the first time that he clearly had heard.
Philip undoubtedly told him about baptism in water and of the Holy Spirit being outpoured. The man believed the gospel, and his own baptism was what he then eagerly looked toward.
As they rode along, they came to some water and stopped, because this man recognized…that it was the perfect opportunity for them to get out so he could immediately be baptized.
Regarding it, Philip said, ‘”If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”–so there was no reason for delay.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip supernaturally away. The Ethiopian never saw him again, but he went home rejoicing in the Lord that day.
P. A. Oltrogge
(…poetic account gleaned from Acts 8…)
“And then he (Jesus) told them,’Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.’
“When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.” Mark 16:15-20 NLT
“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” Acts 8:12 NKJV
“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17 NKJV
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28 NKJV
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:1-11 NKJV