Philip and the Ethiopian

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Question: Did the Holy Ghost guide Philip to a man of Ethiopia?

Answer: The Spirit guided Philip to a man of Ethiopia, and Philip headed the prompting and taught this man about Jesus. Consequently, the man asked to be baptized.

Acts 8:26-39

26 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 (go down to the Gaza Strip.

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia(a nation in eastern Africa), an eunuch (a man who had been surgically rendered incapable of fathering children) 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,

28 Was returning (the eunuch was returning home to Ethiopia, from Jerusalem), and sitting in his chariot read Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot (go over to the chariot where the man is reading the scriptures).

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? (How can I understand Isaiah unless someone helps me?) And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this (Isaiah 53:7-8), He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered (asked) Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? (Please tell me. Was Isaiah speaking of himself or of some other man?)

35 Then Philip opened his mouth (started talking), and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. (Philip used the Isaiah verses to teach the eunuch about Jesus.)

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Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

...My message today focuses on the importance of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Our Father in Heaven knew that in mortality we would face challenges, tribulation, and turmoil; He knew we would wrestle with questions, disappointments, temptations, and weaknesses. To give us mortal strength and divine guidance, He provided the Holy Spirit, another name for the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord. By divine assignment, He inspires, testifies, teaches, and prompts us to walk in the light of the Lord. We have the sacred responsibility to learn to recognize His influence in our lives and respond.

Remember the Lord’s promise: “I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” I love that assurance. Joy that fills our souls brings with it an eternal perspective in contrast to day-to-day living. That joy comes as peace amidst hardship or heartache. It provides comfort and courage, unfolds the truths of the gospel, and expands our love for the Lord and all God’s children. Although the need for such blessings is so great, in many ways the world has forgotten and forsaken them.

Each week as we partake of the holy sacrament, we make a covenant to “always remember him,” the Lord Jesus Christ, and His atoning sacrifice. When we keep this sacred covenant, the promise is given that we “may always have his Spirit to be with [us].” How do we do that?

First, we strive to live worthy of the Spirit.

The Holy Ghost accompanies those who are “strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day.” As the Lord counseled, we must “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better,” for “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.” We must always try to obey God’s laws, study the scriptures, pray, attend the temple, and live true to the thirteenth article of faith, “being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and … doing good to all men.”

Second, we must be willing to receive the Spirit.

The Lord has promised, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” I began to understand this as a young missionary in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. One hot July morning my companion and I felt prompted to look up a Temple Square referral. We knocked on the door of the Elwood Schaffer home. Mrs. Schaffer politely turned us away.

As she began to shut the door, I felt to do something I had never done before and have never done since! I stuck my foot in the door, and I asked, “Is there anyone else who might be interested in our message?” Her 16-year-old daughter, Marti, did have an interest and had fervently prayed for guidance just the day before. Marti met with us, and in time her mother participated in the discussions. Both of them joined the Church. Resulting from Marti’s baptism, 136 people, including many of her own family, have been baptized and made gospel covenants. How grateful I am that I listened to the Spirit and stuck my foot in the door on that hot July day. Marti and a number of her dear family members are here today.

Third, we must recognize the Spirit when it comes.

My experience has been that the Spirit most often communicates as a feeling. You feel it in words that are familiar to you, that make sense to you, that prompt you. Consider the response of the Nephites as they listened to the Lord pray for them: “And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.” They felt in their hearts the words of His prayer. The voice of the Holy Spirit is still and small.

In the Old Testament, Elijah contended with the priests of Baal. The priests expected the “voice” of Baal to come down as thunder and light their sacrifice with fire. But there was no voice, and there was no fire.

On a later occasion, Elijah prayed. “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” Do you know that voice?

Thomas S. Monson - small.jpg

President Monson has taught, “As we pursue the journey of life, let us learn the language of the Spirit.” The Spirit speaks words that we feel. These feelings are gentle, a nudge to act, to do something, to say something, to respond in a certain way. If we are casual or complacent in our worship, drawn off and desensitized by worldly pursuits, we find ourselves diminished in our ability to feel. Nephi said to Laman and Lemuel, “Ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel [the] words.” ...

Fourth, we must act on the first prompting.

Remember the words of Nephi. “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless,” he said, “I went forth.”

And so must we. We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes we rationalize; we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts. When we begin to second-guess, even third-guess, our feelings—and we all have—we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if you will listen to the first promptings, you will get it right nine times out of ten. Now a caution: don’t expect fireworks because you responded to the Holy Ghost. Remember, you are about the work of the still, small voice....

First promptings are pure inspiration from heaven. When they confirm or testify to us, we need to recognize them for what they are and never let them slip past. So often, it is the Spirit inspiring us to reach out to someone in need, family and friends in particular. “Thus … the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things,” points us to opportunities to teach the gospel, to bear testimony of the Restoration and Jesus Christ, to offer support and concern, and to rescue one of God’s precious children.

Simon Dewey

Simon Dewey

Think of it as being what is called a first responder. In most communities the first responders to a tragedy, disaster, or calamity are firefighters, police officers, paramedics. They arrive with lights flashing, and may I add, we are so incredibly grateful for them. The Lord’s way is less obvious but requires just as immediate a response. The Lord knows the needs of all His children—and He knows who is prepared to help...

If we pay attention to the promptings that come to us, we will grow in the spirit of revelation and receive more and more Spirit-driven insight and direction. The Lord has said, “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good.”

May we take seriously the Lord’s call to “be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.” He leads us by the Holy Ghost. May we live close to the Spirit, acting quickly upon our first promptings, knowing they come from God. I bear witness of the power of the Holy Ghost to guide us, guard us, and ever be with us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 107; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 23; Excerpts from April 2017, General Conference, “Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.