A Useful Vessel

Acts 8:26-40 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”

A careful study of Acts 8 reveals “A Useful Vessel” named Philip. He was useful in waiting on saints (see Acts 6:1-5) and witnessing to sinners (Acts 8:5-6). He was a vessel marked by spiritual power and special power; “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8). While he seldom caught the attention of the world; he was well known in the courts of heaven. When considering the life of Philip as seen in Acts 8, I noted three elements that served to help make him a useful vessel.

I noted that Philip was sensitive in his hearing; “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip” and “Then the Spirit said unto Philip” (Acts 8:26 & 29). When I speak of being sensitive, I am not just making reference to the hearing, but also the heeding! Speaking unto the Jews, Jesus emphasized this truth when He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). James also developed this truth when he said, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Those that serve as useful vessels not only comprehend by hearing, but conform by heeding! Philip was atone to the voice of the Master; he could said with the youthful Samuel; “Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth” (I Samuel 3:9).

I noted that Philip was submissive in his heeding; it is not just the subject of heeding, but it is the spirit with which he heeds! He was a servant no matter what their rank, disciple or widow, no matter what their race, Jew, Samaritan, or Ethiopian, and no matter what the region, city or desert. While others possessed the spirit of man, “To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain” (James 4:13), Philip possessed the spirit of the Master, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Philip found his satisfaction in submission!

Lastly, I noted that Philip was scriptural in his heralding; “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). He was scriptural in his schooling, “at the same scripture.” Philip had a grasp on the Word of God! Speaking as a mentor, the Apostle Paul said to the youthful Timothy; “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Philip was scriptural in his subject, “preached unto him Jesus.” Knowing the importance of this truth, the Apostle Paul said, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (II Corinthians 4:5). There is a reason for that; “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Philip proved to be a useful vessel because he was sensitive in his hearing, submissive in his heeding, and scriptural in his heralding. As a useful vessel equipped with the heart of a servant, Philip could say, “Here am I send me.”