Acts 8: 26-40Written by kathleen on Apr 26, 2015 in - No Comments
Expecting the un-expected
Here in Acts 8 the Lord placed the stories of two conversions back to back—those of Simon the sorcerer and the Ethiopian eunuch. These two men appear side by side in Scripture so that you and I can verify the reality of our salvation and thereby avoid an unexpected and tragic end. Look first at Simon’s conversion and note four characteristics that prove it was not real. Simon Had a Wrong View of Self Acts 8:9 claiming that he was someone great Simon Had a Wrong View of Supernatural Power Acts 8:18, 19 That the power could be used for personal gain Simon Had a Wrong View of the Spirit Acts 8:20 the gift of God could be purchased Simon Had a Wrong View of Sin Acts 8:24 Didn’t understand that repentance must take place Now contrast Simon with the Ethiopian eunuch and note four aspects of his conversion that prove it was real.…The Sovereign Work of the Spirit Acts 8:26 The Holy Spirit spoke as he is listening for Gods voice The Searching Heart of a Sinner Acts 8:30, 31 The Ethiopian is reading the scriptures as God’s sprit is drawing him! The Scriptural Base for Salvation Acts 8:35 The scripture is taught proclaiming Jesus The Sincere Expression of a Servant Acts 8:36, 37 The Ethiopian professes Christ and is baptized 26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. We might have thought that Philip would have objected to leaving the great success of the work in Samaria to go out to the desolate desert, but God had a plan in it all and Philip was submissive to God’s plan. Philip, whose ministry had brought about the wonderful work of the Lord in Samaria, was now being called to Gaza. “There were two roads from Jerusalem to Gaza and the way to Egypt and the Spirit commands Philip to take the one that was seldom used.” Philip is enjoying the buzz and excitement of God’s move of revival he could have protested “But, Lord, what about the posters?” “What about the book-signings? Lord, I’m so influential here in Samaria. The entire city is getting turned on to You. Why are You asking me to go to the desert? There’s nothing down there.” This is desert means that Philip’s errand was foolish from man’s perspective, but wise in God. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. What could be more foolish than to leave a place of prospering ministry and go to a less traveled road leading to the desert? Please note that the Lord didn’t say why He was sending Philip to the desert. He simply said, “Arise and go” quickly And Philip arose and went. If you struggle with finding God’s will, know this: God’s will is for you to obey what He tells you to do one step at a time and quickly. Many times He doesn’t give us the full story. He just says, “I want you to go down to the desert. And once you do that, I’ll show you the next step.” That’s why the Christian life is so exciting. We never know what’s ahead and we should expect the un-expected! The key to the exciting, impacting Christian life is to be like Philip and obey when you hear the Lord’s voice or feel His prompting—even though you don’t know the end of the story at the beginning. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. The Ethiopian was undoubtedly a successful man. Yet his success obviously didn’t answer all the questions in his life. He knew he needed some spiritual answers in his life, and he was seeking God. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” It doesn’t say, Philip said, “Okay. I hate the desert, but if I gotta go, I’ll go.” No. Philip ran. It’s so exciting to see someone full of enthusiasm concerning ministry and service. Interestingly the word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek words en and theos, meaning, “full of God.” And Philip was full! Already drawn by the Spirit, the eunuch was searching and wondering; and in the ancient world, it was common to read aloud. Philip knew what the Ethiopian was reading by listening as he read the prophet Isaiah Philip knew at that moment that God had given him an open door, a prepared heart. He knew God had arranged this meeting between him and the Ethiopian; This is a great example of how God opens doors for evangelism. God wouldn’t have directed Philip unless God had already arranged an open door. One of our greatest jobs in sharing the gospel is to simply pray for open doors. Then, having prayed for open doors, we must keep alert to the opportunities God presents. It took real boldness for Philip to go right up to the Ethiopian’s chariot and speak to him, but that is what the Holy Spirit told him to do. The Ethiopian was a rich man, a man of power, and at least in some way a celebrity. Yet Philip knew he needed Jesus just a much as anyone else. So why do we fear telling people about Jesus? Especially “important” people. We often shrink back from speaking boldly about Jesus, because the world lets us know we shouldn’t talk about such things. But does the world shrink back from cramming its attitudes and ideas down our throats? How many people are upset when all sorts of immorality and lies are forced upon believers? We should be just as bold to the world about Jesus as the world is bold to us about sin! 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” With the question; how can I, unless someone guides me? Is the proper question of anyone who wants to understand the Bible. We should never feel bad if we need to ask questions or be taught before we can understand things. “Q” is How can we get more understanding from our own time in the Bible? 2 Tim 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Diligent = constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: done or pursued with persevering painstaking attention; Regarding this passage from Isaiah 53:7-8, the Jews of that day had different ways they interpreted the identity of this suffering servant. Some thought the suffering servant was the nation of Israel itself, as Israel had suffered greatly in wars, exile, and persecution. Some thought the suffering servant was Isaiah writing about himself. Some thought the suffering servant was the Messiah, but they found the thought of this hard to accept, because they didn’t want to think of the Messiah suffering. Philip talked about more than this passage from Isaiah, but this is where he started. He started at common ground with the Ethiopian, but made his way to talking about Jesus. It was easy to talk about Jesus beginning at this Scripture! 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. The treasurer in the kingdom, this man was perhaps the second most powerful individual in Ethiopia. Evidently, he was a God-fearer who had gone to Jerusalem to worship. Very likely, it was his first pilgrimage to the Holy City. But not finding answers in the law, or in the ritualism of temple worship, he rode home in his chariot with his heart still hungry as he pored over the Scriptures. This proves to me that the Lord will do whatever it takes to reach a person who desires to know Him. On the Day of Judgment, no one will be able to say, “I really wanted to know You, God, but I couldn’t figure out how.” God will send a Philip to anyone who wants to know Him! And that Philip could be you! 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Philip insisted that the Ethiopian believe with all his heart before being baptized. In a nutshell, this describes how we should respond to the gospel: Believe with all your heart! Rom 10:9-10 For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation. TLB 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing This shows that the Ethiopian did in fact believe, and that he wanted to be baptized to declare his belief. Clearly, Philip immersed the Ethiopian in baptism. This was not sprinkling, but immersion. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. This is a strange, perhaps unprecedented event in the Scriptures as Philip is supernaturally transported to the former Philistine city of Azotus (also known as Ashdod). But a similar thing happened when the disciples’ boat came immediately to its destination (John 6:15-21), and a similar thing will also happen when the church is caught up together with Him at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Simon the magician had a Wrong View of Self, he had a Wrong a Wrong View of the Spirit and of Supernatural Power thinking that the power could be purchased and used for personal gain all because he had a Wrong View of Sin The Ethiopian eunuch asked for baptism to die to self. “Bury me in the waters of baptism,” he said. “I want to serve God. I want to submit to His authority. I want to submerge myself in His will.” He had come seeking to the Holy City being drawn by the Holy Spirit. He had left struggling with the Scriptures but found what he was looking for—not a ritualistic religion, but a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ! Now he returns rejoicing in his salvation and in obedience to the word of God.. The same Peter who saw the deception of Simon the sorcerer would later write, “Brethren give diligence to make your calling and election sure” 2 Peter 1:10. There’s nothing more important for you to consider than if you are truly saved! You may have been sitting in a pew for years—but are you truly saved? You may have been baptized—but are you truly saved?” You might be active in church—but are you sure you’re saved? Romans 8:16 declares His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God. Do you have that witness? Does His Spirit affirm and resonate in your heart, “Yes, you are My child”—or is it still a little fuzzy causing you to be unsure? If you’re not sure, take time today to let the Holy Spirit minister to you and give you His witness that you are born again. As a deacon, Philip served tables. In Samaria, he became an evangelist. In Gaza, he was removed from the public arena to minister one on one to the Ethiopian eunuch. In Caesarea, he found himself raising a family of four daughters who became prophetesses (Acts 21:9). Wherever he was, Philip flowed in ministry. I’m sure he was as thrilled serving tables as he was preaching to multitudes and as enthusiastic talking to the Ethiopian as he was raising daughters to be godly women. In your walk with the Lord and your work for the Lord, like Philip, you will go through different seasons. There will be times when you’ll wait tables and minister practically. There will be other times when the Lord might use you to speak to multitudes as you minister publicly. Other times, you will work one on one as you minister personally. Still other times, you’ll invest in your kids as you minister to your family. To everything there is a time and a purpose. Trust the Lord. Go with the flow. Walk with Him one step at a time, and He’ll lead you in paths you could never imagine. Just ask Philip! Dear people, make your calling and election sure.