Our conversation around the latter part of Acts 8 now takes us to examine the chief players in this unfolding drama.
There are four:
The angel - space does not allow me to explore this most glorious piece of the text, yet we do it at our peril. Simply stated angels are still catalysts in the global gospel outworking. They are God's to send not ours to commission. They are there to minister to the believers [Heb 1:14 - 2:4] not our servants to direct. However we have to be somewhat humble enough to say we do acknowledge their presence and role but do not fully understand it - are we ready enough to embrace them?
The Holy Spirit - We simply cannot live without him. This new creation story is supernatural. It is not improving the old me with some extra morality. It is me recognizing that I was dead in my transgressions and sins and have been born again to a new life by the Spirit. Then living this new life, is only possible through the empowerment of the Spirit. Being co-laborers in the kingdom, we can only uphold our part of the story by "being filled by the Spirit... led by the Spirit... live in the Spirit... with the fruit of the Spirit... operating in the gifts of the Spirit..."
The Ethiopian Eunuch - this is a remarkable man. He travelled from modern day Sudan to Jerusalem and "still haven't found what he was looking for." In him we see
* An educated seeker - reading and desiring to find answers
* Even being a foreigner / alien did not prevent his hunger from wanting salvation
* Being wealthy and influential were not deterrents to asking humbly for help
* Possible religious rejection [he would not have been able to enter the temple] was not going to stop him pushing into God
* His sexual identity was not a hinderance from finding a messiah who could make sense of his situation...
There is so much more to say about this man, but enough to say, there were many reasons why he could have disengaged from this story, but he chose to overcome them all, for he knew there was a savior worth pushing all these aside for - to travel thousands of miles to find.
Then Philip - Up until these last two chapters, the church was about the apostles did. Then deacons are appointed and Stephen gets stoned and we know that the game has changed:
* Philip was probably a business man - few were salaried by the church in these early days. God still loves using the ordinary person who sees their whole lives as a gospel adventure collaging all the pieces into a single entity;
* He was a good father who raised his daughters to love the church and flow in the gifts. We read in Acts 21:9 that he had four unmarried daughters who prophesied;
* He was a bible lover as he was able to explain the texts to the eunuch;
* And he was an evangelist. This is the first time this most noble office is reported in the early church. This piece is important because up and till that time the apostles have been the loud voices and big names of the early church. However God makes himself clear as this was not his plan. The apostles stayed in Jerusalem while "Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word" Acts 8:4. Now we see all believers preaching the word, not just the apostles. We also see that we need more than one or two gifts for the church to advance but all five of the Ephesians 4 gifts to pioneer the new frontiers.
Everything is different in the church from this time forward. That is why this is a game changer. The church then and longingly today needs all believers on divine gospel assignment. Then we need all of the five fold gifting involved to get the global job done...