Lessons from Philip
John Telgren

The book of Acts is not merely a book of history about people long ago, but an account of how the church continued to fulfill the mission of Christ. The accounts included in the book are not exhaustive or random, but are there specifically to instruct, encourage, motivate, and shape us into God"s people.

The book of Acts shows how the mission was passed from Christ to his Apostles to the church. In chapter eight, the church was scattered by persecution and those who were scattered went about everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8.4). So, even though Christ"s Apostles initially continued the mission of Christ, they were not the only ones to do so. It was the church that went about preaching the word. Therefore, as we continue to read chapter eight, we need to keep in mind that these stories of taking the Gospel beyond Jerusalem were not isolated events of specialists, but examples that illustrate what everyone was doing.

Therefore, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch is not just a story for Sunday School about some people long ago, but an example for all of us to learn from. With this in mind, here are some lessons that the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch teaches us today about sharing Jesus with others.

1. God"s leading. Throughout the chapter, Philip follows God"s leading in sharing the Gospel. It is not our man-made mission, but the mission of God we are fulfilling when we share the Gospel.

2. Overcoming barriers. Since the man in the chariot is an Ethiopian eunuch, Philip had to overcome some ethnic and social barriers in sharing the Gospel with him. We also need to overlook ethnic and social barriers. After all, God so loved the world, which includes all humans.

3. Enthusiasm. Philip shows his enthusiasm by "running" to the chariot. Sharing the Gospel is one of the greatest and most fulfilling ministries we can be involved in, especially when someone obeys the Gospel.

4. Open people. God led Philip to focus on people that were open and ready to hear. We need to be sensitive to when people are ready to hear the Gospel and share it with them.

5. Start where people are. Philip did not use a one-size-fits-all method. The Eunuch was struggling with the meaning of a passage in Isaiah, so Philip began with this and connected it to Jesus. When we share the Gospel, we need to begin with where people are.

6. Come along side. Philip sat next to the Ethiopian in the chariot. There is no indication that Philip was talking down to the Eunuch, but was sharing what he had learned. It has been said that evangelism is merely one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.

7. Goal of new life. The Ethiopian submitted to Christian baptism and received the joy of new life in Christ. The goal of sharing Jesus is not to increase church attendance, finances, etc. The goal is for them to find new life in Christ.