May 21, 2023: An Ethiopian is Baptized- Acts 8:29-40
Why do we study the Bible? It is an incredible book written by magnificent authors. It contains flawless wisdom, science, history, world government, the arts, music, biography, and personal narratives. It’s authoritative, accurate, and precise in its record-keeping and predictions. However, these are not the reasons why we should study the Holy Scriptures. Unlike any other book ever written, the Bible contains the truth written under the influence of the Holy Spirit, which can deliver a message from the Creator of the Universe allowing men and women to enter into a relationship with Him and to be granted eternal life in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible is a living book. Far from out of date, it is still being fulfilled. The Bible is a spiritual book, the meaning and the application are only understood through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is an eternal book. When the very elements of this earth are burned with a fervent heat, when the sun, moon, and stars no longer shine as they do now, and for all eternity, the Holy Bible will stand, even when all that we know no longer does. The encounter between the Ethiopian government official and Phillip is the story of someone who is wrestling with the word of God and a believer, sent by God at just the right moment, who can reveal the Savior embedded in every line of it. The key that unlocks the fullness of scripture is Jesus Christ.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
Before the Ethiopian man asked for help, God provided the answer. “Go near, and join thyself.” Philip was obedient to the Spirit. He didn’t walk up to the Chariot and invite him to church. He walked up to the chariot and listened.
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
This man was a seeker, he was trying to understand a passage from Isaiah which spoke of the fact that the Messiah would suffer. It makes sense to us that God would send His Son to rule and to judge, even to destroy a wicked world, but it is almost humanly unimaginable that He would send his son to suffer silently in order to save it. Philip offers a simple question, “Do you understand what you read?” No, nor did the nation of Israel understand. No one understood until Isaiah’s prophecy took the form of a baby in Bethlehem’s stable. Not until the man who calmed the wind and sea, the miracle worker, the bodily fulfillment of the Word walked among them perfectly, and ultimately, not until they peered into an empty grave. The plan of God is beyond all human wisdom, beyond comprehension, until you are introduced to the living Jesus. He is both King of Kings and Lord of Lords as well as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
When the eunuch asked if he could be baptized, Philip made the qualifications clear. First, you have to believe with all your heart. It is interesting that the man he is witnessing to is a Eunuch. Eunuchs were physically set apart for the service of their king. In every way, his life had been a complete whole-hearted dedication to his master. In the same way, in order to be baptized, a believer must first be a born-again believer, dedicated to the Lord. Baptism and all Christian obedience follow an acceptance and confession of Christ as Lord. Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17.
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
Baptism is, in many ways, a victorious and oddly humbling experience. It portrays the Gospel of Jesus in a dramatic and beautiful way. Standing in the water, we identify with Christ lifted up on the cross, immersed under the water, we picture Him laid in a tomb, and reemerging, we show the power of His resurrection, the conquering of death, hell, and the grave. When we are baptized, we submit our literal bodies in obedience to God. We allow others to take us down into the water and bring us up. It is an act of surrender. It’s an admission that we are relinquishing control to God over our entire being. It’s also a victory shout, prophetic in that because Christ lives, “I can live also.” Jesus was the first to rise, but those who believe will rise with Him. I can picture them going to the water. I can picture the eunuch, whose questions have been answered in Jesus, with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes. I’m sure Philip stood in awe of the gospel being received by a non-Jewish man, this was all new and thrilling to witness. This was God building His church.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
Do you marvel at the fact that God cared so much about a single man that He sent Philip directly to him? Philip was on a mission to preach the gospel, but God had him take a detour because God is as concerned with one as he is with millions. We see numbers in a vastly different way, God is a God of infinite love and compassion. He knows each one of us, and His love and mercy are astounding. I would love to know how many the eunuch baptized. I'm sure he returned to his country and shared Jesus with those who would listen.
But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Whether to one person or before thousands, God has called each of us to spread the good news of Jesus. Our success is not measured in multitudes but in the sincere acceptance of the message by those who will surrender their lives to God. Let’s take a lesson from Philip as we attempt to bring our friends and loved ones to Christ.
Step one: Listen!
God will open a door, but we have to listen before we speak. Jesus is the answer to every need, but we need to take time and know what it is that the unbeliever in front of us is struggling to understand.
Step two: Instead of being caught up in theological debate, cultural correctness, or doctrines of the church, show them Jesus.
From Genesis to Revelation, the book is about Him. The deepest questions in the human heart are really desires to know they are loved, forgiven, accepted, and have a purpose. Because of Christ, we can answer those questions with confidence.
Step three: Wait for them to respond to Christ, not to us.
The Ethiopian eunuch asked, “why can’t I be baptized?” It’s all too common for us to put on a high-pressure sales pitch and get frustrated when non-believers don’t respond to our appeal. The Spirit has to draw them. He has to reveal the truth to them. God has to save them. The hard part is the patience it takes to keep our mouths closed and let God work. I’m responsible for being faithful to share the word of God, and I’m not responsible for how others respond to it. Trust God and His Word.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!