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Bible Search
Acts #29, pt 2 (chapter 8:25-40)
The Book of Acts
The Faith that Saves, pt 2
Acts 8:25–40
 
 
Last week we began a study of the salvation of the Ethiopian eunuch recorded in Acts 8.  This encounter between the Ethiopian and Philip is strategically placed in scripture to show us the contrast between the false faith of the sorcerer named Simon in the first part of the chapter and the genuine faith of the Ethiopian. 
 
The sorcerer was all messed up regarding the work of the Spirit, the severity of sin, his assessment of self and what salvation is all about. 
 
But with the eunuch, everything is different.  We noted there are three parts to a genuine salvation:  there is preparation, presentation and personal response.  We covered the preparation last week.  Before this man was saved, there were some things going on that were essential to his conversion.  By the way, the same things that prepared him for salvation also occur with us. 
 
First of all, the Spirit of God is at work in every genuine salvation experience.  Not only does the Spirit work to prepare hearts for salvation, he prompts willing servants to be sensitive to those who need to be saved.  In Scripture, we see both of those things happening. 
 
Not only do we need the Spirit and a servant, we need a sinner, and not just any sinner, but a searching sinner.  This man has traveled 1,000 miles to worship.  He apparently leaves without the answers he needs, so he is reading the book of Isaiah.  It is obvious he is searching. 
 
That's where the fourth component of the preparation comes in.  We have the Spirit, we have a searching sinner, we have a willing servant and we have Scripture.  So all the preparation has taken place.  And if you've ever had the privilege of being there when it all converges, you know how overwhelming that experience is!
 
I think I've told you before of leading my barber in Duncan to the Lord.  The Spirit had been preparing her hear.  When I asked her if anyone had ever shared with her the plan of salvation, she replied, "No, but I've always wanted someone to."
 
All the preparation that was needed, both with Tonia and with this Ethiopian, has taken place.  All that is needed at that point is
 
2. The Presentation
 
verses 30-35
 
I want to first say just a quick word about the contrast between what we see in the Ethiopian and what we saw in Simon, then I want to point out three characteristics of Philip's presentation. 
 
Simon was very interested in the work of the Holy Spirit.  As a sorcerer, his livelihood depended upon signs and wonders and amazing feats, and when he saw what was possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, he wanted in on it, so much so, that he was willing to purchase it.
In contrast, this Ethiopian is interested in the truth about God.  He's not sure what all that means, but he is so interested he will go to the ends of the earth to find it. 
 
And in that observation we find the first characteristic of Philip's presentation of the gospel.  If people will genuinely be saved,
 
- they must be guided to Scripture 
 
Now obviously, not everyone's interested in Scripture.  As I said last week, some won't get involved in outreach because they think people don't want to be bothered or have someone they don't know knocking on their door. 
 
Well how do you know they don't want it until you ask?  Our job is to present the opportunity.  If they’re not interested in what the Scripture says, if if the Holy Spirit is not moving in their heart to draw them to God, then we just move on to the next one. 
 
But I'm convinced there are a lot of people out there who are interested.  They are searching.  They want answers.  And they deserve to hear the truth from Scripture. 
 
I had a conversation with three young people at Carl's Jr over breakfast last week.  They were interested.  They were curious, enough so they were asking questions for which they didn't have an answer.
 
They were talking about a funeral they had attended and one asked, "So what's the difference between a preacher and a pastor?" 
I volunteered to answer their question and we had a wonderful, friendly conversation about the things of faith.  Did it end in someone getting saved?  No, but some seed was planted and they left the table with a better understanding of Scripture. 
 
And I promise you, those that are genuinely searching, they will be more than happy for someone to open up the Bible and explain it to them.  The Holy Spirit will create in them a hunger and desire for the truth.
 
This guy is sitting up there in his chariot saying, “I need to understand. I want to understand, but I don’t have anybody to guide me.”  By the way, that’s the same word used in John 16:13 for what the Holy Spirit does when it says, “The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.”
 
Just think about what we read in
 
verse 31
 
What does this verse tell us about this man?  It tells us he is humble.  He doesn't pretend to know it all or have it all figured out.  He's not saying, "You get to heaven your way and I'll go mine."  He has this humble, meek spirit that says, "I need help."
 
And Philip takes this searching, teachable sinner who is reading Scripture and helps him understand it. 
 
In verses 32-33, we are told what he was reading.
 
verses 32-33
 
Those two verses are a part of that great passage in Isaiah 53 that describes the substitutionary atonement of Christ as He was led as the sacrificial Lamb of God to the slaughter.  It’s a prophecy of the death of the Messiah. And here is this Ethoipian, reading this passage, trying to figure out what this passage is all about. 
 
No doubt, the Holy Spirit had led him to that passage and it has gripped his heart.  He is ready for an explanation of that passage,
 
And you can just sense the anxiousness as he asks Philip to explain what he's been reading.  We only have verses 7 and 8 of Isaiah 53 quoted here, but I would think he's been reading the entire chapter.  And he can't figure it out.  So he asks   
 
verse 34
 
Who is Isaiah talking about?  It this about himself or someone else?  He was reading about the Suffering Servant.  He was reading about the Messiah.  He was reading about Jesus.
 
verse 35
 
There we find the second part of the presentation.  Not only does the Spirit lead the sinner to the Scripture, but the servant of the Lord has to be able to explain what Scripture says and means.
 
That doesn't mean you have to be able to answer every question a lost person has, but we do need to be able to explain the plan of salvation and the necessity of the cross of Jesus.
 
And that is exactly what Philip does.  This man has questions about what Jesus did on the cross and Philip just picks up right where the guy is reading in Isaiah 53 and starting there, he explains the gospel.
 
Which brings up the second part of the presentation.  First, get them to the Scripture, and secondly,
 
- they must be guided to the Savior.
 
Notice the second phrase of
 
verse 35
 
He began at Scripture and preached Jesus to him.
 
Remember in John 15 when Jesus was talking to the disciples in the upper room?  He said “When the Spirit comes, He will testify to you about Me.  He will show you Me.”  Jesus has to the the center of attention.  It’s about Jesus. 
 
All the sermons in Acts are about Jesus, crucified and risen.  The put at the forefront the atonement, the message of salvation.  Even the testimony of Paul at the end of the book is given to tell about Jesus.
 
We need to always be careful that wherever we start, we get to Jesus as quickly as we can.  If you use the three-minute story, people only need to hear about 30 seconds of you and two and one-half minutes of Jesus! 
 
Don’t get too caught up in you because you’re not the issue.  It’s wonderful what the Lord has done in your life, and you can affirm that and declare that.  But a clear presentation of Christ is absolutely everything in gospel presentation.
 
Then thirdly, Philip got him to Scripture, he got him to the Savior, and thirdly,
 
- he got him to Salvation
 
He explains the necessity of Jesus being led as a sheep to slaughter.  Jesus was the Lamb of God and he was literally killed because sin demanded a sacrifice.
 
You say, “Well, people might be offended if I call them a sinner.”  Ok.  If they’re offended at that point, then this isn’t the time for their salvation.  You can’t sneak salvation in the side door, it’s got to be the main purpose that.  Jesus came to save sinners.  He came to seek and to save those who were lsot.  And a man can't get saved until he gets lost.
 
There is no salvation apart from a person recognizing they are a sinner and a sacrifice for their sin was necessary.  Philip confronted him with his sin. 
 
In fact, Philip even taught him baptism.  How do I know that? 
 
verse 36
 
Well, what does that tell you?  First of all, I think it safe to assume that the Ethiopian had a jug of water with him.  But a jug of water wasn't sufficient for baptism.  This wasn't going to be a sprinkling or a pouring.  why?  Because they don't constitute scriptural baptism. 
There had to be a pool of water if the death, burial and resurrection were going to be pictured.  And the Ethiopian understood that.  He understood it because Philip had explained it.  True evangelism takes the time to go to the Scripture, go to the Savior, and go to the issues of salvation in its entirety. 
 
So now we've had preparation, we've had presentation.  Only one thing remains for a genuine salvation to take place and that is 
 
3. Personal Response
 
There are three things that demonstrate the genuineness of his salvation.  The first one is
 
- faith
 
Even though we aren't given specific details about his conversion, notice what we read in
 
verse 36
 
Wouldn't you like to know what they talked about as the "went down the road"?  I think Philip was giving him a crash course in discipleship and what it means to be a Christian.  And apparently he began with baptism. 
 
I think Philip probably said something like, "Now whenever you get to a place where there is enough water to do it, you need to follow in believer's baptism.  It is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of this Suffering Servant you've been reading about.  It is the mark of a believer in Jesus Christ, the first step in obedience to him . 
 
And then maybe he went on to explain some other characteristics of the Christian life.  And all of a sudden they come to an oasis out there in the middle of the desert.  Or maybe God just created a little pond for this specific purpose.  How important is water baptism?  We get a little clue right here. 
 
It is so important that even when the conversion takes place in the middle of the desert, He makes sure there’s water.  And by the way, they didn't have to compromise Scripture and revert to some unscriptural way of doing it. There was enough water for both of them to get into and perform the baptism. 
 
And the evidence of this man's faith is seen and heard in his eagerness and readiness to be baptized.   
He’s ready! He is eager!  He wants to be baptized.  He wants to be obedient.  And there is no reason not to.  A few minutes before he was prevented because there wasn't enough water, but not, nothing stands in the way of him demonstrating his faith.
 
If you've got enough water, the only requirement for scriptural baptism to take place is belief. 
 
verse 37
 
This verse doesn't appear in any of the earliest manuscripts, which tells us it was probably added later by the scribes.  Maybe it was added because somebody felt it needed to be there.  But I'll tell you this:  there sure isn't anything wrong with it!  We still do the same thing today. 
 
 
 
But judging from what happens, I think it safe to assume he expressed his faith immediately demonstrated his faith by desiring to be baptized.  All he needs is some water, and all of a sudden, there it is.  So, he ordered the chariot to stop. 
 
verse 38
 
There we have the second demonstration of the genuineness of his salvation and that is
 
- obedience
 
Not only was he believing right, he is now acting on that faith.  He puts it into action and he demonstrates that faith openly and publicly. 
 
When I counsel someone about baptism, I always remind them that baptism is two things: 
 
First, it is an act of obedience.  It is doing what we are commanded to do, and
 
Second, it is the first public testimony of their faith.  It is the first opportunity to share our faith with others and we do it publicly and openly.  And hopefully every convert will not jsut do that one time at their baptism, but will spend the rest of their life just repeating those two things. 
 
Just do what Jesus tells you to do and share your faith at every opportunity you have.
 
Notice, this guy commanded the chariot to stand still.  Don't you know those traveling with him wondered what was up? 
They probably thought they were going to rest and refresh themselves at this watering hole.  How surprised they must have been when Philip and this Ethiopian wade off into the water and he is baptized. 
 
Don't you know they both Philip and him seized upon that opportunity to explain to this caravan what was happening?     
 
This is the first official baptism of somebody from the uttermost part of the earth.  We’re only in the 8th chapter of Acts, and already the gospel has gone, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.
 
So as proof of genuine salvation, there is faith and obedience.  let me point out one other thing,a nd then we'll be through for the night.
 
verse 39
 
Immediately, Philip is caught away.  Just like Elijah and Ezekiel in the Old Testament, all of a sudden, Philip just disappears and the eunuch saw him no more. 
 
And yet, "he went on his way rejoicing", and there we find the third evidence his salvation is genuine and that is
 
- joy
 
Do you remember how good you felt when yo got saved?  Have you ever been there to help someone else experience that emotion? 
 
There is nothing else like the cleansing and release that happens when a person is saved.  And the most natural response one could ever give to salvation is joy.
 
Philip gets snatched away in an amazing display of time travel to Azotus.  He started there and eventually made his way to Caesarea preaching in all the cities. 
 
But what about the Ethiopian?  He went on his way rejoicing and we aren't given any more details about his life.  One of the early church fathers named Iranaeus says he became a missionary.  Maybe he did.  There are some sections of Africa where groups of Christians claim him as the founder of their church. 
 
Maybe that's just a church tradition and maybe that tradition grew because of a real influence from this man’s life.
 
One of these days we can ask him for ourselves when we see him in heaven.  We know he'll be there because he had a genuine salvation experience marked by faith, obedience and joy. 
 
How about you?
 
Is your faith real?
 
Let’s pray.
 
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