The Review and Herald


March 2, 1911

The Gospel in Samaria


After the death of Stephen, there arose against the believers in Jerusalem a persecution so relentless that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Saul “made havoc of the church,” entering into every house, seizing men and women and committing them to prison. Of his zeal in this cruel work, Saul said at a later date: “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison.... And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” That Stephen was not the only one who suffered death may be seen from Paul's own words: “And when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 1

This persecution was followed by great results. Success had attended the ministry of the word in Jerusalem, and there was danger that the disciples would linger there too long, forgetful of the Saviour's commission to go into all the world. They began to think that they had a work to do in Jerusalem in shielding the members of the church from the snares of the enemy, forgetting that strength to resist temptation is best gained by active service. Instead of educating the new converts to carry the gospel to those who had not heard it, they were in danger of being satisfied with what had been accomplished. To scatter his representatives abroad, where they could work for others, God permitted persecution to come upon his church. Driven from Jerusalem, the believers “went everywhere preaching the word.” Thus began the fulfillment of the prediction of the Saviour, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 2

In Samaria the believers were not persecuted. Christ's words to the Samaritan woman had borne fruit. After listening to his words, the woman went to the men of the city, and said, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” They went with her, heard Jesus, and believed on him. Anxious to hear more, they invited him to their city, and begged him to remain with them. For two days he remained in Samaria, and many believed on him. RH March 2, 1911, par. 3

Among these Samaritans the followers of Christ, at the time of the persecution found a safe asylum. The Samaritans welcomed the Saviour's messengers, and the disciples gathered a precious harvest from among those who had once been their bitterest enemies. “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits ... came out of many; ... and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 4

While Philip was still in Samaria, a heavenly messenger was sent to him to show him his next work. The evangelist was directed to “go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza.... And he arose and went. RH March 2, 1911, par. 5

“And, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a 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.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 6

The Ethiopian could not understand the prophecy that he read, and the Spirit directed Philip to go and teach him, saying, “Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” Angels of God were taking notice of this seeker for light, who was being drawn to the Saviour, and who did not make his position an excuse for refusing to accept the Crucified One. RH March 2, 1911, par. 7

As Philip drew near, he asked the eunuch, “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,” and explain the Word of God to him. The scripture that he was reading was the prophecy of Isaiah relating to Christ: “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.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 8

“Of whom speaketh the prophet this?” the eunuch asked Philip; “of himself, or of some other man?” RH March 2, 1911, par. 9

“Then Philip ... began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 10

“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. RH March 2, 1911, par. 11

“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. RH March 2, 1911, par. 12

“But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 13

This incident shows the care that the Lord has for those who are seeking for truth. The Ethiopian was a man of good standing and wide influence, who, when converted, would give others the light. God saw that he would exert a strong influence in favor of the gospel, and by his Spirit he brought him into touch with one who could guide him into the light. RH March 2, 1911, par. 14

When God pointed out to Philip his work, the disciple did not say, “The Lord does not mean that.” No; “he arose and went.” He had learned the lesson of conformity to God's will. He realized that every soul is precious in the sight of God, and that angels are sent to bring those who are seeking for light into touch with those who can help them. RH March 2, 1911, par. 15

Today as then angels are waiting to lead men to their fellow men. An angel showed Philip where to find the Ethiopian, who was so ready to receive the truth, and today angels will guide and direct the footsteps of those workers who will allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify their tongues, and refine and ennoble their hearts. The angel sent to Philip could himself have done the work for the Ethiopian, but this is not God's way of working. It is his plan that men are to work for their fellow men. RH March 2, 1911, par. 16

In the experience of Philip and the Ethiopian is presented the work to which the Lord calls his people. The Ethiopian represents a large class who need missionaries like Philip,—missionaries who will hear the voice of God, and go where he sends them. There are many who are reading the Scriptures, but who can not understand their import. All over the world, men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in. RH March 2, 1911, par. 17

The missionary spirit needs to be renewed in our churches. God designs that life-giving beams shall, through the individual members of the church, shine forth to the world. Receiving light from the source of all light, his people are to reflect that light to others. But this can be done only as the church draws near to God, and lives in close connection with the Giver of life and light. The purity and simplicity of Christ, revealed in the lives of his followers, will witness to the possession of genuine piety. The believer who is imbued with a true missionary spirit will be a living epistle, known and read of all men. RH March 2, 1911, par. 18

God's workers must be ever on watch, ready to speak a word in season to those who are searching for truth. They must be wholly consecrated to the service of the Master, that they may be quick to understand what he wishes them to do. They must take advantage of every opportunity to win souls to the Saviour. RH March 2, 1911, par. 19

The Holy Spirit will guide and direct those who stand ready to go where God calls, and to speak the words he gives them. The humble, patient, Christlike worker will have something to show for his labors. Every one who goes forth seeking to do his best will have the support of the One who can supply all his necessities. The great Master worker will not leave him alone. The mightiest man on earth is the man who prays in sincerity of soul. Such a one grasps the arm of infinite Power. It is close communion with God that qualifies his messengers to subdue the opposition of the enemy. God calls for consecrated workers, who will be true to him—humble men, who see the need of evangelistic work, and do not draw back, but do each day's work faithfully, relying upon the Lord for help and strength. RH March 2, 1911, par. 20

Though you may be weak, erring, sinful, the Lord holds out to you the offer of partnership with himself. He invites you to come under divine instruction. Uniting with Christ, you may work the works of God. “Without me,” Christ said, “ye can do nothing.” Through the prophet Isaiah is given the promise, “Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” RH March 2, 1911, par. 21

Ye churches of the living God, study this promise, and consider how your lack of faith, of spirituality, of divine power, is hindering the coming of the kingdom of God. If you would go forth to do Christ's work, angels of God would open the way before you, preparing hearts to receive the gospel. Were every one of you a living missionary, the message for this time would speedily be proclaimed in all countries, to every people, nation, and tongue. This is the work that must be done before Christ shall come in power and great glory. I call upon the church to pray earnestly, that you may understand your responsibilities. Are you individually laborers together with God? If not, why not? When do you mean to do your Heaven-appointed work? RH March 2, 1911, par. 22