Life Changing Faith ~ Acts 8:25-40 New Living Translation
25 After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the Good News.
26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
32 The passage of Scripture (Isaiah 53) he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
33 He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?”
35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?”
38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing.
40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.
The Pastor and the song leader were not getting along
It was spilling over into the morning worship service
The Pastor preached on being willing to change
Song leader sang ~ I shall not be moved
Next Sunday the pastor preached on Being a giver
The song leader sang ~ Jesus paid it all
The next Sunday the preacher preached on Not gossipping
The song leader sang ~ I love to tell the story
Finally Pastor resigned
“Jesus brought me to this church and Jesus is taking me out of this church”
Song leader sang ~ What a friend we have in Jesus
The amazing thing about these early Christians is that they faithfully preaching of God’s WORD wherever they go.
They were always preaching. They went everywhere preaching. And when they were done there ~ they went somewhere else and preached ~ daily.
He never had to ask: “what does God want me to do”?
It WAS “Where shall I preach?” ~ They KNEW what to do.
Acts 1:8 NLT “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere …”
The Spirit of God had filled them and when you’re filled you speak the Word with – boldness, Acts 4:31. And that’s what they kept doing; no matter where God put them they did it.
Romans 1:16 NLT, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile”
Now in this encounter with the Ethiopian we see some great things.
Since the Old Testament ~ God’s plan had been to reach the world with His Saving Truth ~ and from the beginning ~ God designed it for the Truth to come through Israel ~ the Jews
God did not design it for Israel to be a reservoir ~ a holder and keeper of Truth
No ~ God designed His PLAN for Israel to be a channel for the Truth to flow though
God did not design His PLAN for Israel to be His pet ~ so they could be God’s favorites ~ so they could sit back and gloat in pride that they were chosen and better than every other nation
God saw Israel as a vehicle to reach the world, but Israel kept up clogging up the channel. Israel never did the job God designed them to do ~ and that was reach the world with His Truth.
Imagine what must have gone on in heaven ~ when finally ~ God’s Plan was being spread ~ what God wanted from the beginning ~ through ~ this thing known as “the church”
AND to make it even more remarkable ~ when they stepped out and started preaching God’s Truth ~ they reached out to the Gentiles.
The foundation of Heaven were rocking when FINALLY the Truth of God was being preached and souls were being SAVED
In the Old Testament, Israel was supposed to reach the Gentiles but they got trapped on two extremes: (1) a nationalism separatist concept where they didn’t want Gentiles horning in on their God. They liked the fact that God was their God and they didn’t want any Gentile knowing Him.
OR (2) they corrupted their own faith by worshipping Baal.
It was either “we are special and you are not invited” or “we are lost in paganism.” There was no any happy medium.
Heaven must have been rocking the day ol Philip went where God’s Spirit told him to go and reached that first Gentile
Eusebius the historian records, “This Ethiopian, according to the tradition of the Abyssinian church became the founder of the church of Jesus Christ in Africa.”
And what seemed like an insignificant little move ~ opened up and spread the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ for the continent of Africa.
This man had the faith that saves.
This is one of those messages that just kind of leaps off the page at you with spiritual lessons.
But there are three things that I want you to see under this concept of the faith that saves.
#1: the faith that saves must have the proper preparation
#2: the faith that saves must have the proper presentation
#3: the faith that saves must have the proper response
BOTTON LINE: If the preparation is right, the presentation is right, you get the right response.
If it is to be real saving faith – if a person who puts his faith in Jesus Christ ~ if it’s a real new birth ~ authentic salvation ~ preparation has to be right.
8:26 “And an angel of the Lord spoke unto Philip saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south’.”
8:29 “Then the Spirit said unto Philip ‘Go near and join thyself to this chariot’.”
From these 2 verses we see the PREPARATION is the work of the Spirit of God.
LESSON: salvation is the work of God’s Spirit ~ Salvation is God’s work ~ Salvation is not man’s work.
Nobody deserves salvation. Nobody earns it. Nobody discovers it. God chooses to do a miracle in a person’s soul and changes it from darkness to light
1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man.” a man apart from God, a man in rebellion, man dead in sin, man without spiritual capacity – just man in his naturalness. “Receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. They are foolishness unto him.”
They just don’t make sense at all. That verse should give you CLARITY. How often have you looked at the world and said ~ how can they not desire God?
“Neither can he know because these things are spiritually discerned,” and he is spiritually dead.
SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS: man cannot approach God because of his own naturalness he is spiritually dead.
SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS: 2 Corinthians 4:3 “If our gospel be hidden it is hidden to them that are lost in whom the God of this age” – who’s that – “Satan.” “…has blinded the minds of them who believe not lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine unto them.”
SUMMARY: SO they’re blinded by their naturalness and they’re blinded by Satan himself.
KEY: it is the work of God’s Spirit who breaks through the barriers of spiritual blindness.
John 14 Jesus says to His disciples, “When I go away I’m going to send a comforter unto you, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive. They can’t see Him, neither do they know Him.”
REMEMBER: God’s Spirit works in the soul ~ All that the Spirit is, all that the Spirit does ~ is outside the observation of the unsaved because they are blind.
This fact is why we PRAY for the salvation of the lost ~ WHY? because they are blind to Truth ~ and ONLY God’s Spirit can enlighten them.
John 6:44 Jesus “No man cometh unto Me unless the Father” – what “…draws him.” It is God’s Spirits work to shatter the barrier of blindness that is put there by Satan.
NOTICE: God’s Spirit is moving Philip AND moving the Ethiopian ~ into a divine appointment
“And an angel of the Lord spoke unto Philip.” ~ “Hello Philip”
“Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza which is desert”
Gaza was a city of the Philistines that was originally built as a fortress.
The road ran right through the middle of Gaza from Jerusalem to Egypt ~ and the road ran right through Bethlehem ~ and was a heavily traveled road.
NOTICE: God did not tell him what he was to do once he got on the Gaza road? Because Philip KNEW what to do. HOW? Because they ALWAYS did the same thing ~ they PREACHED Jesus
He just said, “Go, Philip, you know what to do when you get there. Just do what you always do.” It’s amazing how many times Christians need to be reminded of what we’re supposed to do.
8:29, have you ever come away from a conversation saying, “Oh you know, I should have witnessed to that person?”
Its is kind of a nice way of saying, “I forgot,” when you know in your heart you didn’t forget at all.
You know yourself better than that. You just really didn’t have the boldness to do it
8:29, “Then the Spirit said ‘Philip. Go near and join thyself to this chariot’.” Now, I don’t know how many chariots went by, but God pointed out this chariot and said: That one, Philip; get in !
LESSON: God uses human instruments. But we only participate.
The salvation of one sinner is worthy of the attention of Almight God.
Faith in God ALONE ~ saves ~ but God’s Spirit does His work. He sets everything in motion, and shines God’s light ~ illuminates ~ your soul and reveals your lost condition and need of a Savior
#2: preparation – NOTICE: the submissive will of Philip.
The Spirit does the work ~ but He needs a tool.
TRUTH: God initiates ~ we participate.
You are a tool in the hand of Almighty God ~ NEVER confuse yourself with the artist.
God’s Spirit is the artist. He is the craftsman. You are only the tool; but you are a tool. It’s nice to be a tool, isn’t it? And so we participate. Ephesians 2:10
God’s Spirit always uses human tools, always.
But there’s a qualification to be used, and that’s holiness.
8:27 – I like this – here’s Philip: “And he arose and went.”
It does not say he fasted & prayed for three weeks; he just went.
Philip did NOT argue or negotiate with God
Philip stayed in good spiritual shape ~ ready for God to use at a moment’s notice ~ God wanted him and Philip didn’t argue. He arose and went.
That is humility.
Philip was in the limelight in Samaria. There was a mass of people coming to Jesus Christ, but he was going to go down, not really knowing probably at this point what he was going to do, and winded up talking to one man.
To drop everything and head for the desert seemed absurd at a time in Philip’s life when he was experiencing popularity and success
REMEMBER: God not only calls men unto salvation ~ He also calls the tool ~ a tool to bring the lost to salvation.
8:29 – “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, ‘Go near and join thyself to this chariot’” – watch – “And Philip” – what’s the next word – “ran.” Isn’t that terrific?
Have you ever thought what you’d do?
FACT: Boldness belongs to Spirit-filled people.
Acts 4:31 “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with” – what – “with boldness.”
Philip preached everyday ~ everywhere he went ~ so Gaza was JUST another opportunity to preach ~ so he RAN to the opportunity God offered
Want to be HAPPY: (pray) “I will always do God’s Will”
A WORD on God’s WILL: if you do God’s will EVERYDAY ~ in ALL aspects of your life ~ when God a work for you that will require a GREATER measure of FAITH ~ it will just be another day ~ because you are ACCUSTOMED to obeying God’s Will
God used Peter to reach Cornelius ~ God used Paul to reach the jailer ~ God used Paul to reach those in Caesar’s household.
God will use YOU to reach people
LESSON #3: There are (a) preparations: both the work of God’s Spirit preparing the heart and mind to RECEIVE God’s Truth; (b) preparation: of God’s Messenger the HUMBLE submissive will of a man, (c) and preparation: in drawing the Ethiopian into WORSHIP
Something had to be going in the Ethiopian’s heart or he would have just kicked Philip out of his chariot
Something was going on in his heart. He was searching for the true God. 8:27, “And he arose and went 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 to worship was returning and sitting in his chariot, read Isaiah the prophet.”
OBSERVATION #1: This man was searching for God.
He was from Ethiopia. Ethiopia today was a small country. Ethiopia in that day was all of Africa south of Egypt. It a was a massive kingdom. It was everywhere from the Red Sea to the great deserts to the west of Africa, and from Egypt clear to the south as far as things went was under the control of Ethiopia.
The king of Ethiopia was considered to be a god.
In fact, he was said to be the son of the sun S-u-n.
And as a “god” he considered too sacred to take care of the menial, secular functions of royalty.
So, the king did nothing but sit around and have everybody worship him in Ethiopia, and the queen mother ruled in the secular functions of the kingdom.
And the king mother title was Candace; that is not her name, that is a title like pharaoh is a title
So, this queen mother who ruled the country really was in charge, though behind the scenes was her son who was seen as some kind of a god.
Well, this man worked for the queen. He was a eunuch of great authority ~ the supreme authority in a kingdom as vast as the majority of the continent of Africa. He was some kind of an individual.
Not only that; he was in charge of all of the treasure, which means he kept the purse strings for the queen. He was trusted, respected, and honored.
The bible also says that he was a eunuch. Now a eunuch is a designation of a man who has had his male organs removed.
They did this to the individuals serving in the harem ~ for obvious reasons.
READ: Deuteronomy 23:1 God’s view of this pagan practice
NOW this man had honor ~ prestige ~ unlimited wealth ~ power ~ was an empty man ~ he was not satisfied
He was searching for God
This trip ~ was 1200 miles ~ a long trip, and all desert ~ this man was HUNGRY for God .
OBSERVATION: He had a searching heart.
And that’s the kind of heart God honors ~ God meets the searching heart. That’s a heart that was PREPARED to meet God
This man’s journey took him through Jerusalem.
What he found there was wealthy temples focused on EMPTY ceremonialism ~ EMPTY ritualism ~ EMPTY cold formality.
He never found anything to fix up the gnawing hunger in his heart.
So he left Jerusalem with nothing more than when he had come.
But, he was STILL seeking and that’s all God asks.
He had responded to the Spirit of God’s touch in his heart because even the natural man doesn’t seek ~ Romans 3, “No man seeks after God.”
The Spirit of God had already sprung a leak in his naturalness so that there was enough light coming through that he could begin to search for the light and move toward it.
TRUTH: God will meet the searching heart.
2 Chronicles 19:3, “’There are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the idols out of the land and has prepared thine heart to seek God’.”
2 Chronicles 30; “The Lord God pardons everybody who prepares his heart to seek God.”
Hosea 6:3; “Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord.” If you really pursue Him, He’ll be found.
Jeremiah 29:13; “And you shall seek Me and find Me when you shall seek Me with” – what – “all your heart.”
If you really want to know God’s will you can know it.
If you’re really hungry, God satisfies the hungry heart.
OBSERVATIONS: HE had God’s Word (Isaiah 53) in hand
From the time that he left Jerusalem to the time he got where he was down there by Gaza about sixty miles he could have read most of the book of ISAIAH
Everything comes together. That’s no accident. That’s the Spirit of God coordinating everything. All the pieces are coming together, and the final piece in preparation was the revelation of the word in his hands.
LISTEN: if a man really wants to know the truth of God he needs to open the bible and God will reveal it to him – if he’s got a searching heart.
John 5:30; Jesus says to the Jews, “Search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life and they are they which” – what – “…testify of Me.”
John 5:46 Jesus says, “You, if you really believed Moses you’d accept Me because he wrote of Me.” Search the scriptures.
ILLUSTION: Acts 17:11. Just listen. I’ll read it. “Now the people who got saved at Berea,” it says, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind.” You see, they were searching.
“They received the Word with all readiness of mind even they searched the scriptures daily whether these things were so.”
They were honest, open minded ~ searching. What happened?
“Therefore, many of them” – I love it – “…believed.”
When they searched it out, they saw it was true.
He read ISAIAH 53 out loud. “Do you understand what you are reading?” “What a terrific opening. Are you getting the message, friend? Boldness. He just moves right in there. The eunuch was ready.
8:31, “And he said, ‘How can I except some man should guide me’?
Have you ever gone up to somebody to introduce Jesus to them and their response is, “YES ~ tell me how to be saved”
Philip runs up and says: Do you understand what you’re reading? He says, No, I need a bible teacher. Is there one around? Well, it just so happens. It is fantastic how sometimes God prepares.
There are times, when God puts you in a place and it’s ready.
The Spirit’s done His preparation.
And then if there’s no personal response ~ it’s because the presentation wasn’t right.
So what about when something doesn’t happen and you’ve presented Christ ~ Maybe you had a good presentation but the Spirit of God wasn’t done preparing.
This guy was ready. He says, “Yeah, if you can find me a bible teacher.” How often do you run into a bible teacher in the middle of the desert? Here he was. It must have been exciting as Philip jumped up in the chariot and they began to talk.
3 keys to the effective presentation. (write these down)
#1: Focus on scripture.
He said, “I need to have you guide me.”
It’s the same word used in John 16:13 for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He teaches the Word to us.
I need somebody to teach. Don’t you love a humble, teachable attitude? You know what the bible says in Psalm 25:9? It says, “The meek shall He teach His ways”.
It’s hard to teach proud people. They find it easy to apply God’s Word to everyone but themselves
It’s so easy to teach people who are so ready and so meek and humble and teachable. This guy was ready.
And so Philip is just going to base this thing on the word, and it just so happened that this fellow was reading – by the guidance of the Spirit of God – the right chapter of Isaiah 53:32. “The place of the scripture which he read was this. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.” He’s talking about the Messiah going to die, “And like a lamb dumb before his shearer He opened not His mouth.”
Remember, Jesus on His trial said nothing.
And he says, “I don’t understand this,” verse 34, “The eunuch said, ‘I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself or of some other man? I read this but I don’t have the key to unlock it’.”
Philip took his opportunity and he taught him the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
8:35, “Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same” – what – “scripture.”
All effective evangelism is done at the scripture.
#2: Start Where They Are
Philip started at the same scripture that this man was reading. What does that mean? That means you start where they are.
How many times have we gotten into a situation and imposed ourselves on the situation?
Philip just slid into Isaiah 53 so beautifully. He says, “Oh, your problem is Isaiah 53, let me explain that to you,” and away he went.
THATS’s why there’s never any end to the study of the word of God.
Paul said to Timothy, “Timothy, you know a lot but you don’t know enough, study to show yourself” – what – “proved unto God a workman that needeth not to be” – what – “ashamed.”
Philip just glides into the situation, he says, “Oh, Isaiah 53; I’ll explain it verse by verse.”
THAT’s what real evangelism is.
This guy was a guy who knew the bible and he could pick a man wherever he was on a one-on-one basis and communicate from that point the gospel.
That’s root evangelism. He could speak to the masses, but he could also communicate one-on-one ~ where any man was. He was the complete evangelist.
EXAMPLE: If you’re going to get a Jehovah’s Witness and you’re going to share Jesus Christ with him, start where he is.
Philip was ready with Isaiah 53. And so he sat down there in that little old chariot and he just worked through that passage with this eunuch.
This ability is classically illustrated in Jesus. Jesus met the woman at the well, and she was talking about water. Where did He start? Water.
He met Nicodemus. He started where Nicodemus was and away they went. Jesus did that with everybody.
He was the Master of taking the given situation and turning it to Himself.
The apostle Paul was good at it, too.
He says, “To the weak, I become weak; to the strong I become strong; to the Jews, I become as a Jew unto the Law; to the ones who aren’t under the law I become as one not under the law; I become all things to all men that by all means I may save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:23 “I do this for the gospel’s sake.”
SUMMARY: The Spirit of God has done all the preparation. I want to make sure that when the presentation comes I’m the tool that can be used. It’s so important. That’s evangelism. Peter put it this way, “Always be ready to give to every man a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
You ought to have something to say to every man wherever he’s at. The presentation of the gospel is constructed on God’s Word.
#3: Introduce Jesus
He preached unto him Jesus.
That proves he was Spirit-filled, because in John 26 and 27 the bible says that the Spirit would come and announce the things of Christ. Preach Jesus.
The reason that people reject Jesus ~ is He hasn’t been well enough presented ~ so that they really understand who He is.
Trumbull, one of the greatest soul-winners said, “I promise from this day forward every time I have the opportunity to introduce the topic of conversation it will always be Jesus.”
And he spent his whole life developing ways that he could inject Jesus Christ into every conversation and present completely the person of Christ.
What do you think he told him? How to be saved.
He went through the substitutionary atonement in Isaiah, and announced the whole truth of Christ: salvation.
Philip didn’t talk about the church.
He didn’t talk about religion.
He talked about Jesus, and he talked about how to be saved.
True evangelism presents the whole doctrine of salvation.
You know what else Philip even taught him? About Baptism.
You say, “Is Baptism important?”
It must be. Philip taught him about it.
Is it important for salvation? No.
But it’s important for the confession of salvation publicly.
The preparation was right; the presentation was right – quickly and we’ll just look at it; look at the personal response – when those two things are right, it happens.
8:36, “And as they went on their way they came unto a certain water,” just so happens out in the middle of the desert there’s water.
“The eunuch said, ‘Look water, this is unbelievable, terrific. What does hinder me to be baptized’?”
What does that prove? That proves the personal response, number one; faith, he believed.
He was ready to go the whole way. His faith was real.
He wanted to be baptized.
What hindered him? Nothing hindered him, nothing at all.
8:38, “And he commanded the chariot to stand still and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.”
First thing – faith; second thing – confession. He confessed his faith because of his obedience.
8:37 This became the formula for baptism of the early church, “If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest,” and then the person being baptized would answer, “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
But with this man, it’s rejoicing. I love verse 39, “And when they were come up out of the water the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, the eunuch saw him no more.”
That was a miracle.
Why did God do miracles in those days? To confirm what? To confirm the Word.
He did a miracle; and that confirmed the Word, and you know what else it probably did?
Established a foundation for that eunuch to preach all the way to Ethiopia ~ and found the 1st church of Jesus Christ in Africa.
And Philip, who was going to be maybe worried about walking back through the desert ~ didn’t have to walk back. “Philip and the Eunuch and he baptized him” – and I like this – “then the Spirit caught him away and he went on his way doing” – what – “rejoicing”
“But Philip” – guess what he did? “Was found at Azotus” – and this up the coast, Azotus, Ekron, Jamnia, Lydda, Joppa, Antipatris, Caesarea – all the way up the coast the Lord just kept depositing him wherever he wanted him.
Look at this, “But Philip was found at Azotus and passing through he” – did what? What did he always do? It never was a question of what he did; it was only where he did it.
The faith that saves, faith that really saves.