Philip & the Ethiopian

Tuesday: When God Acts

Acts 8:26-40 This study shows God’s power to bless the furthering of the Gospel.
When God Acts

Yesterday we looked at how God called Philip to evangelize to the Ethiopian, and how Philip responded in obedience to God. That is because Philip knew something that we need to know and which will be very helpful in our lives if we know it: God’s ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts. How do we know this? We know it because God tells us (Isa. 55:8). This means that, although Christianity is not an irrational thing and although none of us is called to be irrational—we are to have reasons for our faith and for what we do—nevertheless, when we are engaged in spiritual work there are always going to be areas which we will not fully understand. 

Take the case of someone who is extremely effective in some particular branch of Christian work. He is the one who gets sick or dies. Do you find yourself asking, “Why that one, Lord? There are all sorts of Christians you could dispense with. Why that one? Why take the one that is so valuable?” 

Or we look at a good Christian work. It is spiritual. It is a pioneer effort in some difficult area. But that is the work that does not seem to get the necessary funds to keep going. It struggles and struggles, while another work which seems weak, superficial and unnecessary thrives. Don’t you find yourself asking, “Why, Lord? Why are those who work in difficult places struggling?” 

I can think of some answers to these questions, of course. It is good to struggle. Struggle builds character, just like tribulation builds patience. But those answers are not always satisfactory. 

The real answer from our side of things is that really there is often no answer, at least none that we can comprehend. God’s ways are just not our ways. We just do not know what God is doing. Someday we will know, I think, though it might take us an eternity to find out. When Philip was given this call, he did not know what God was going to do with him. I am sure it did not make sense to him to leave what he was doing and go to the desert near Gaza. But that is what God had told him to do; so he did it. Whenever it comes to a choice between our way of thinking and what God says, you know as well as I do that for us at least there is no real choice. We must do what God says.

Study Questions
  1. Why did Philip respond to the Lord as he did? What did he know?
  2. What Scripture passages can you find that teach us about God’s ways, His wisdom, or our need to trust Him?

Reflection: Have you been called by God to do something that to you seemed illogical? How did you handle the situation?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Richard Phillips’ message, “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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