by Roger McCay
8 September 2019
Sermon Passage: Acts 8:26-40
Link to Audio Version
In comic books, radio, television, and movies over the last 81 years, the world’s greatest comic book hero has been rushing to the rescue of kittens, stopping mad scientists, and flying to save Lois Lane. When Clark Kent hears a call for help, or he sees a situation where only he with his special powers can do what is needed … Well, you know what he says: “This looks like a job for Superman!” Then he rushes into a phone booth, changes with super speed and then blurring with red and blue splendor comes out of it with an “Up, Up, and Away!” as he flies off to save the day.
In our passage today, we see Philip respond to a call, in order to help a man who desperately needed it. He didn’t run into a phone booth and change into a bright outfit to go save the day. But he did move out rapidly, dropping everything, going to the scene in order to bring what only a disciple of Jesus Christ could bring—the saving message of the gospel.
Philip’s example is one for all Christians. This is because we have the only saving hope for the world, and we are called to share this good news with the lost. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, lives are changed when we fulfill our calling to do this, for as Paul tells us in Romans 1, “The gospel is the power of God to salvation for all who believe.”
Yet, even knowing the power of this gospel, sometimes Christians still hold back and do not follow the call to actively engage in situations where the gospel message could save lives. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why we miss these opportunities. Perhaps the most fundamental reason is that we sometimes simply fail to hear the call to share the gospel message with the lost (those who do not know Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior).
Let’s look again at vv. 26-27a.
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went.
What we know from the previous passage in Acts is that Philip was involved in an important Christian ministry in Samaria, and was the chief evangelist. There he was very busy telling people about Jesus and was seeing droves of people come to the Lord. And then this call comes!
Out of the blue an angel tells him that he needs to pick up and head to a certain place along the road from Jerusalem to Gaza that is in the desert! Never mind that he was doing important work and was busy and successful for the Lord where he was. No, he was told to get moving. And the angel didn’t even tell him why he was to go or what he was supposed to do when he got there. He just knew he was called to go.
Now, Philip could have objected. “I’m too busy now.” Or, “Why? I don’t see…?” Or, “Send someone else.” Or, “Why the desert?” But, Philip trusted that God knew best. So, he followed the call to go.
Would you do that? Would you drop everything and follow God’s call even if it is personally inconvenient?
Listening to the promptings of the Spirit of God is essential to our following after God’s will. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit and has certain callings and duties for the Lord. Not all of us have the gift of evangelism, of course, but we all are gifted by the power of the Spirit in some way, as part of the body of Christ, in order to participate in his work in this world. Even if your gift is not evangelism, it could be that you will still be called, at some point, to share Christ with others.
Don’t say to yourself that there are certain things that God will not call you to do. Which might be a temptation, perhaps, because you consider yourself weak in an area. Don’t let your weakness stop you! Don’t try to stifle the Spirit! Jesus told the Apostle Paul that his power is made perfect in weakness. It is not in your power that his will is accomplished; it is in his power.
“But how can you know God’s will is?” you might ask. Romans 12:1-2 speaks to this question:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
If you are a Christian, you are to live as a Christian—a disciple of Jesus Christ. Discerning God’s will in an ethical situation is one way to do this. Another way is discerning his will for your service to him. So, make yourself available to his will, and listen for his calling. He may not send an angel to tell you exactly where to go. But the Spirit does speak in subtle ways, and you must be open to the message and seek his voice.