September 22, 2019 Gospel Conversation in the Kingdom of God

Gospel Conversations in the Kingdom of God

In Philippians 2.7, Paul infers that all mankind are servants of God, with Jesus as our example (see John 1.14Leviticus 25.42, 55Psalm 119.91, 125 also). The Centurion, whose servant Jesus healed by spoken word, describes the attitude of a servant, in Matthew 8.9. [His words present the interesting question: are your words your servants?] Servants are important for accomplishing the work of the Master.

Deacon Philip was such a servant. He is introduced as a man with a “‘good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom’” (Acts 6.3). He is called “the evangelist” (Acts 8.5, Amplified Bible, 2015) because he went to a city in Samaria after Stephen was stoned to death for his witness to Jesus (Acts 6.8-7.60). There, he preached John 14.6, that Jesus is Lord of All and proved his words with miracles (Matthew 10.7-8). “For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8.7-8).

Then, he heard his Master’s new assignment: return to Jerusalem and walk down the road in the hot desert between toward Gaza (Acts 8.26). While walking Southwest from Jerusalem, Philip was passed by many travelers, including a royal official from Ethiopia. As he passed by, Philip’s Master instructed him to run alongside and listen (Acts 8.27-30).

“‘Do you understand what you are reading’”, was the question prompted by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10.19-20). Thus, began another Gospel Conversation (Acts 8.6-8). Philip did not have to create the context; the Holy Spirit injected him into a context of time, location, and person chosen by the Holy Spirit, not by happenstance.

So, Philip began at the location of the Ethiopian official’s query and revealed the past, present, and future of Jesus (Acts 8.35). The Holy Spirit knew the official would be stumped by the passage and wanted him to clearly understand the message he was to take to Queen Candace and her royal court. Thus, the Gospel of God’s salvation through His only Son was spread into Ethiopia.

Philip, then, baptized the treasury official by immersion into“‘the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’” (Matthew 28.19; Philippians 2.9-11Hebrews 13.8). The Greek word for baptism is baptizo and is contrasted from another word for baptism, bapto, which is practiced by some denominations. Baptizo means to submerge, like one would a cucumber into a briny solution until it becomes a pickle. Bapto means to wash, like one would a cucumber from the garden before serving it for dinner (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, g0907 and g0911).

Thus, another of Philip’s assignments was complete, but there were more to come. Suddenly, Philip is in Azotus (Greek; Ashdod, Hebrew; Acts 8.39-40). [Some say that this was the second act of teleportation in the Bible. The first was recorded in John 6.16-21I might proffer Luke 4.30 and John 8.59 as others.] Philip preached along the coast until he arrived at Caesarea Maritima, which was or became his residence (Acts 21.8). [Apostle Paul would be brought for trial at Caesarea Maritima because it was the capital of Judea and residence of the Roman governors (‘prefects’-Pilate, AD 26-36 or ‘proconsuls’-Felix, AD 52-60). Caesarea Maritima had been constructed by Herod the Great. It was the largest artificial harbor on the eastern Mediterranean Seacoast (Amplified Bible, 2015, Note).

How did Philip know the bidding of the Holy Spirit? Acts 6.3 reveals his abiding relationship with Him. Consider God’s reminder of this reality in Haggai 2.5, referencing Exodus 19.4-6, 45-46; 33.12-14; 34.8-9. Jesus reminds us of this in John 14.26 and 16.13-15.

Paul’s encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 5.17 (“pray without ceasing”) probably described Philip’s continuous dialogue with the Holy Spirit. Philip had learned to walk with his “Parakletos” (Greek for “Helper” {John 14.16}; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance g3875). This is God’s encouragement through Jeremiah 29.12-13 for understanding His plans (verse 11) for us.

Solomon gives some practically to this in Proverbs 24.3-6. This was the observable “good reputation” of Philip that was the result of the Holy Spirit giving wisdom for applying knowledge to which He has given understanding (Acts 6.3). Philip’s “good reputation” was the product of his “praying without ceasing”. The Holy Spirit led him to the knowledge he needed (John 1.9); He gave Philip understanding of this knowledge; then, He taught him how to apply this understanding with wisdom into the specific context. A good reputation in a Samaritan City, along a desert road, and from Azotus to Caesarea Maritima.

The Holy Spirit directs us to locations and for purposes of His choosing. We are servants of Most High God (Philippians 2.7)! Philip was prepared. Be prepared, for we never know when the Holy Spirit will say, “go down this street/aisle and you will meet someone with a question for which I will give you the answer.” A Gospel Conversation!

Knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and salvation are for those who obey. Note God’s emphasis of obedience in Jeremiah 7.23 NASB: “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you..’” “‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you’” (Psalm 32.8). ““Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left’” (Isaiah 30.21).

This is just like Jesus told Nicodemus: “‘The wind blows where it wished and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” (John 3.8). You are born of the Spirit (John 3.16; 14.6). Be led by the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God (Romans 8.14).

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L Painter, 2019

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