I’ll keep this simple today. As I concluded in my earlier teaching on baptism, we sometimes let the concept become too complicated, too divisive.
An angel of the Lord told Philip to go south toward the road leading from Jerusalem to Gaza. Philip heard and headed that way.
Who was at work? God, of course, specifically, God expressed as the Holy Spirit.
There, Philip saw an Ethiopian court official, a eunuch, one who was at least seeking what it means to follow the One True God. Possibly, this foreigner had converted to Judaism. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home he was reading the writings of the prophet Isaiah, seeking understanding.
Who was already at work in this court official’s life, long before Philip arrived? The Holy Spirit, drawing this man closer to the truth.
Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and ask the man, ‘If your chariot crashed and rolled over on you tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?’ ”
Wait a second—that’s not right. Spirit-led evangelism isn’t that difficult or in-your-face. The Spirit simply told Philip to go to the man, to take some simple steps in the right direction. When Philip did, he asked the eunuch a mild question: “Do you understand what you are reading?”
The official replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”
Who opened the door to a deeper conversation? The Holy Spirit, of course, working in the one needing a deeper relationship with God.
The passage the official was reading is a prophecy of the Savior, Jesus Christ, someone Philip had known personally. Who was with the prophet Isaiah centuries earlier, revealing truths about the one to come? Who works through these writings even today to reveal God to those who read God’s word?
Could it be the Holy Spirit?
And when the official asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else,” who was prodding the eunuch to open the door to the gospel even further?
When Philip proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ, who do you suppose gave him the words? When the official asked for baptism, and they went down into the nearby waters, who was at work in that sacramental act? Was it Philip? Was it the eunuch?
Do I really need to repeat the answer again?
All of what we sometimes call our “efforts”—outreach, evangelism, conversion, baptism and continuing works—are ultimately dependent on the Holy Spirit, who has been at work, is at work, and will continue to be at work in our lives.
Trust that truth enough, and there’s no telling where we may be sent to proclaim the good news, baptizing people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.