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The Good News and Our Part in Sharing It, or Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch – Acts 8:26-40 Today, I want

to share with you a very touching story that shows how God loves people of all nations. If you are here today from another nation, or if you want to know the true God but aren’t sure how to do so, please pay close attention. 26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (NLT) The Holy Spirit instructed Philip in his ministry. Philip had been chosen by the apostles to help distribute food to the widows in Jerusalem. He was one of seven deacons, full of faith and the Holy Spirit (see Acts 6:5). When the disciples were scattered because of persecution, Philip traveled to a city in Samaria where he healed many people, drove out demons, preached the Good News, and baptized people. He was fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus had given to the disciples. Now, the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip, telling him to take the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. Sometimes, God speaks to us a specific instruction. It may sound strange and push us outside our comfort zone, but we must be ready to obey. Other times, we do not have a special instruction, but we simply follow the teachings of Jesus that are already laid out for us in the Bible as best we know how. These are our standing orders. No matter what, our desire is to do God’s will. We should say, “Lord, no matter the circumstance, help me to be your hands and feet.” Philip had not planned for the persecution in Jerusalem, nor had any other of the disciples. Acts 8:3 reads “But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.” But this did not deter the disciples. Acts 11:19-20 says “Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus.” Sometimes, God will give us a specific, clear message about what we should do next. We need to learn how to hear God’s voice! We must listen and obey! But, other times, we have only the instructions of our Lord laid out in the Bible. Circumstances may not be favorable and it seems that everything is against us. We may wonder, “Well, God did not speak a specific word to me. Maybe it’s just best that I hold back for a while.” What we can learn from the example of the early church in Acts is that they pursued God’s will relentlessly. If they received specific instructions from the Holy Spirit, they followed those. If, however, they had no updates, they followed their standing orders from the Lord. We can see how God turned around the plans of the enemy, using the persecution in Jerusalem to spread the gospel faster and further. The key is that we have willing hearts that are fervent to do His will!

John Wesley wrote, “Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergyman or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth.” 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. This man was from Ethiopia in Africa, more than 1,000 miles away! He was an official who controlled the royal treasury in that kingdom, a powerful and important man. But, he had traveled up to Jerusalem to worship God at the temple. The religion of the Jewish people was unique. It was an ancient religion, even at that time. The Jews worshiped the One God, the “I am who I am,” beside whom there was no other god. This one true God had chosen the nation of Israel, not because they were worthy, but because of His favor on and promise to their ancestor, Abraham, whose name means “father of many nations.” The His relationship with Israel, God intended to bless all nations. This religion was unique in the Roman world, where every local people worshipped their own pantheon of gods who often were as capricious and petty as humans. Everywhere the Romans went, they identified local gods with their own pantheon: Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Venus, Mecury, Minerva, Vulcan, and others. In this syncretistic world, the Jewish people stuck out. They did not carve images of their God. They didn’t even speak His name aloud. They knew they were made in God’s image, and that God was not made in their image. This Ethiopian believed in the one true God and wanted to know more about Him. In Jerusalem, this man obtained a scroll of the book of Isaiah the prophet and was reading it aloud as he traveled home. He wanted to know about the one true God, the Creator, the source of goodness, light, and truth. His worldly position, his wealth and power, the philosophers in Alexandra in Egypt, none of this filled the God-shaped hole in his heart. How God loved this man! Maybe you don’t come from a Christian family. Maybe you come from a far-away country and are here because you want to know about God like the Ethiopian eunuch. God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you! Hebrews 11:6 says “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Do you know why God chose Abraham? Not because Abraham was circumcised or followed the Law of Moses—all that came later! God chose Abraham because Abraham believed God. He didn’t just believe that God existed, but that everything God said was trustworthy and good, and worth risking everything for. You may not know much about God, but you know that there is a God, that there is such a thing as goodness and truth that is not just a

social construct or chemical reaction in our brains. This God whom you seek loves you and wants to have a relationship with you! 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. God loved this man and so sent Philip to him. Brothers and sisters, what an honor to be used as God’s ambassadors! God uses people like you and me to do His work. We have the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us. We don’t have to be specially skilled or knowledgeable, only let us be willing. God can use anyone who is willing. In fact, God often uses the weak, the foolish, and the despised things of the world. Don’t worry too much about what people think or say about you. If we are truly following God’s way, people will say, “Don’t be so naïve” or they may laugh because God’s work does not seem impressive to them. 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. 32 The passage of Scripture 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. The eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah the prophet. Jesus Himself read from this book when speaking about Himself. Amazingly, in 1947, sheep herders in the desert discovered a complete scroll of Isaiah. This was one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is amazing that this scroll, which was from 100 years before Jesus, is the same text that Jesus read, the Ethiopian eunuch read, and that we read today!

http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah The passage that the eunuch was reading prophesies about the righteous servant of God who takes the sin of all the people upon himself. Isaiah 53:1-9 1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? 2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. 3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 Unjustly condemned, he was led away.[b] No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream.[c] But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. 9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. This passage foretells the suffering of Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for our sakes. Each of us had gone astray, each to our own way. Our sin separated us from God and we were lost and without remedy if left to ourselves. But because God loved us, He sent His son to die for us so that the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and we are healed by His stripes. 1 Peter 1:10-11 10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. Peter says that Isaiah knew what was to come, but did not know the time and the circumstances. But now, this salvation has been revealed! Philip shared the good news about Jesus with the Ethiopian eunuch and I am sharing it with you! Will you return to your Creator? He is not far away, but He is close and waiting for us to turn to Him. What is really holding you back? Is it really pride, the insistence that you can do everything on your own? Is it really fear that God is not as good as people say? We must make a decision. Before, we had no choice, but God made a way. He intervened to save us from sin and death. He made it so that we have a choice—we can repent and trust Him, or we can reject Him and His salvation. 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. Once he understood this Good News, the eunuch decided to accept what Jesus had done for him. He gladly repented and received the free gift of forgiveness from God. Because of this, he was eager to undergo the baptism that outwardly confirmed his inward change. Christians have two ceremonial practices handed down by Jesus. These were practiced and handed down by the earliest disciples: baptism and communion. “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took break …” (1 Cor 11:23) These signs are important, but only because they signify or remind us of the thing itself. Baptism does not make you clean, but repenting of your sin and dying to your old life and sinful nature, and living in the new resurrection life of God—this is what makes us clean. Communion does not put you into a right relationship with God, but acknowledging the sacrifice of Jesus and therefore forgiving those who have sinned against us even as God forgave us—this puts us into a right relationship with Him. The question should not be “Should I get baptized?” or “Should I receive communion?” Rather, the question should be “Have I repented of my sin and turned to God?” and “Am I in a right relationship with God? Do I acknowledge that we who are many make up one body of Christ, and that to hold unforgiveness against my brother is to dishonor the body of Christ?” But the eunuch had made this inward change, and he joyfully performed the outward sign. You must make a decision. If you are seeking the true God, then what is finding Him worth to you? Isn’t it worth everything? What good is the entire world compared to knowing your Creator?