one of my favorite Ecuadorian pastors. We were
visiting one day and I asked how his work was going.
With excitement he told about a new church plant in
Tampala. One day he saddled up his mule and was on
this way to visit one of his mission churches at
Porvenir. As he rode along he came to a fork in the
road. One way went to Porvenir and the other to
Tampala. The old stubborn mule wanted to go to
Tampala. Jorge did not have any work in Tampala. He
said he got off the mule pulled him, beat him, and
tried his best to coach the mule to go in the
direction of Porvenir. To no avail he climbed on the
mule and they headed to Tampala. As he rode along he
prayed, "Lord, I do not know anyone in Tampala. I
have no place to stay. I do not know where to begin
visiting in this community. I don't have any
contacts. You lead me and bring me in contact to
people whom you have chosen. Lord, I need a place to
stay this week, and a place to preach. Lord, I pray
that the first person I see will be open to renting
me a room and provide meals. Lord, everything is in
your hands. Use me for your glory."
When he arrived in
Tampala the first person he saw as a man sitting on
his front porch. He introduced himself as Misael.
Jorge introduced himself and said, "I am an
evangelical pastor and I came to visit your town and
preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I need a place to
stay this week and a place to hold meetings at
night." Misael jumped to his feet and said, "I am
believer. I listen to H.C.J.B, the Voice of the
Andes and one day I put my trust in Jesus Christ as
my personal Savior. Come, you are welcome to stay
here in my home and hold evangelistic meetings here.
I have been praying for years that God would send
someone to our town to share the Good News of Jesus
Jorge and Misael went out
visiting Misael's friend and neighbors. The first
night his house was full and twelve people made
professions of faith in Christ as their savior. Each
night individuals placed their trust in Christ as
the only means of salvation. By the end of the week
thirty people made decisions for Christ and a new
preaching point had begun.
One man and an old
stubborn mule were available to God to be used for
His glory. You could almost say any ole mule will do
when he is available to God.
God is looking for a man,
a woman, a teen who will make themselves available
to do His bidding. When God invites us to join Him
it will always cause us to stand back and say I saw
God do it! It will be beyond us. It will be
something that only God can do.
We see this in Acts
chapter eight. Stephen had just been murdered by
religious leaders in Jerusalem. The rabbi "Saul was
in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And
on that day a great persecution arose against the
church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered
throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except
the apostles" (Acts 8:1, NASB95). Unless otherwise
noted all Scriptures are from New American Standard
Bible, 1995 Update.
Devout Jewish Christians
buried the first Christian martyr, Stephen (v. 2).
"The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church," is
a keen observation held down through the centuries.
Stephen's death marked the beginning of persecution
against the Jerusalem church. F. F. Bruce draws the
conclusion that "it was the Hellenists in the church
(the group in which Stephen had been a leader) who
formed the main target of attack, and that it was
they for the most part who were compelled to leave
Jerusalem (cf. 11:19f). From this time onward the
Jerusalem church appears to have consisted almost
entirely of 'Hebrews'" (The Book of Acts, p. 174).
This would appear to be true at least until A.D.
135. When Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as the
Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina, the church of
Jerusalem was completely Gentile Christians.
This scattering or
dispersion brought about the fulfillment of the
promise in Acts 1:8. "You will receive power when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"
(Acts 1:8). Beginning with Acts 8:1, the church at
Jerusalem is no long the center of attention. God
dispersed His people among the gentiles. In fact,
the church is scattered to other areas.
G. Campbell. Morgan
observed, "Whenever the Church is governed from
Jerusalem, or from Rome, or from anywhere else other
than Heaven, it is hindered and hampered and
prevented from fulfilling the great functions of its
life" (Acts of the Apostles, p. 195).
Persecution spread the
church like wildfire. It has been suggested that
there were 25,000 Christians in Jerusalem at the
time of Stephen's death (H. C. Lenski). Saul was
dragging off men and women and putting them in jail.
He was "ravaging the church." The Greek word for
ravaging denotes a brutal cruelty. It is used of
wild animals such as lions mangling a body. The
figurative language is powerful. Saul laid waste the
church like a wild animal. He was trying his best to
destroy the church. He dragged some away by force
and kept on handing them over to prison. It was
something he continued to do until God intervened
and saved him. Sad to say there are people who hate
the name of Jesus and all that He stands for. Some
are filled with the same kind of "zeal" as Saul.
"Persecution never for a
moment weakened their consciousness of Christ or
their loyalty to Him. . . . The one thing
persecution can never do for a true witness, is to
blur the vision of Christ or change the loyalty of
the witness to Him" (Morgan, p. 201).
Evangelist Experienced God at work in His life (Acts
What was the response of
the church to this persecution? Did they cower and
go into hiding? Did they reject the name of Jesus?
No, the persecution ignited an evangelistic fire.
Luke, the physician and ancient historian tells us:
"Therefore, those who had been scattered went about
preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). This has happened
down through the history of the church. When
everything is peaceful the church becomes
complacent. When fires of persecution sweep over a
land the church comes alive and God uses it to His
glory. "Those who had been scattered went about
preaching the word." They became heralds announcing
the Good News of Jesus Christ. The word for
"preaching" (euaggelizo) is used five times
in this chapter (vv. 4, 12, 25, 35, 40). The word
means to bring or announce good news. It is the
divine message of salvation, the Messianic message
of sovereign saving grace. They proclaimed the
message of salvation with full authority and power.
Persecution scattered the church like seed blowing
in the wind. The word for "scattered" is used to
disperse, to sow in separate or scattered places.
They were driven out of town, and everywhere they
went they proclaimed as heralds the gospel of
Christ. Perhaps we in the United States need a
little of this incentive in our day.
God had a chosen
man for a special witness.
God always has His man or
woman whom He has chosen to be His witness. "Philip
went down to the city of Samaria and began
proclaiming Christ to them" (Acts 8:5). Philip was
that man. He was available to God. He was one of the
seven deacons we met in Acts 6. Philip the deacon
was an evangelist. When a person makes himself
available to God, God will take that person and
fashion him and perfect him and equip that person to
accomplish the task God has for him. All a person
has to do is make himself available to God. He will
put your right where He wants you and equip you.
When God calls a person to be His witness He will
equip you and provide all that you need to
accomplish that mission. When God calls He equips
and provides according to His good pleasure.
"Jews have no dealings
with Samaritans," wrote John, but the Christians do.
Philip went to Samaria and "began proclaiming Christ
to them" (v. 5). He began to preach Jesus the
Messiah, the anointed of God, and kept on at it.
Saul was the instrument of persecution, but Philip
was the witness to the Samaritans.
God has a prepared
people for a prepared message.
Not only has God a
prepared person to do the witnessing He also has a
prepared people to respond to the message. God
prepared a people to respond to Philip's message.
"The crowds with one
accord were giving attention to what was said by
Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was
performing" (Acts 8:6). Philip went about preaching
and the audience kept on listening eagerly to the
things he said. Their mind was focused on it. They
were spellbound by the Word of God. The multitudes
were listening to the message declared by Philip and
they came to a saving faith in Christ. The church
did not have the New Testament Scriptures at this
time so the "signs" or mighty works were external
attesting "signs" confirming that the message that
he announced was legitimate.
"For in the case of many
who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of
them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had
been paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was
much rejoicing in that city" (Acts 8:7-8). The
"unclean spirits" (akathartos) are the
unclean, impure vicious evil spirits. By the power
of God they screamed and came out. This in contrast
to Simon the magic man we encounter in Acts 8:9-24.
The healing took place by the power of the Person of
the Holy Spirit. May I remind you the Holy Spirit is
a person, not an "it." Simon's understanding of the
Holy Spirit is like many in our day. They think of
Him as a power, and they want more power as if they
can get more of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is
a divine person. He is God. He is a member of the
holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God
the Holy Spirit. It is important that we clearly
understand that we cannot get more of Him, but that
He might get more of us, and use of to the Father's
glory. Philip did mighty signs because the Holy
Spirit was in control of His ministry.
Literally, that city was
graced because of the preaching of the gospel. You
want to clean up a city; that is the way to do it. I
have watched for fifty years what happens when
people hear the gospel and respond to its message.
Lives get cleaned up as a result of people putting
their faith in Christ. Quichuas in Ecuador would
drink up every dime they made during the week in a
drunken rage on Saturday, and unfit to work on
Monday. In their drunkenness they would beat their
wives and children. I have seen on many occasions
women walking along a highway almost dragging their
drunken husbands home. Then the gospel came and
lives were changed. Instead of drinking they built
homes, purchased land, and educated their children.
The love of God made a difference in their lives.
They were healed.
"When they believed
Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of
God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being
baptized, men and women alike" (Acts 8:12). This was
a crucial moment in the expansion of the Gospel out
from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Samaria
becomes a new center for the Gospel to radiate
outward. There is the fresh outpouring of the Holy
Spirit and incorporation of these new believers in
the body of Christ.
This new work of
evangelism and church planting received special
assurance that they were fully incorporated into the
church just like the believers in Jerusalem. The
confirmation of this assurance was when they
experienced the signs when John and Peter arrive
from Jerusalem. In verses 14-17 the regeneration of
the Holy Spirit and faith are not in view. That had
already taken place as recorded in v. 12. This was a
time of new beginning in a new geographical area
fulfilling the great commission in Acts 1:8. The
reception of the Holy Spirit was attended by
external manifestations similar to Acts 2. Here was
the confirmation that this new work among the
Samaritans was by the hand of God. It was a
legitimate new ministry fulfilling God's promise. It
will happen again when the Gentile ministry is
commenced in Acts 10 in the home of Cornelius.
G. W. H. Lampe notes,
"The imposition of hands is then primarily a token
of fellowship and solidarity; it is only secondarily
an effective symbol of the gift of the Spirit; it
becomes such a symbol solely in virtue of being a
sign of incorporation into the Church of the Spirit"
(The Seal of the Spirit, p. 70).
"If confirmation by an
apostle were necessary for the reception of the
Spirit, we should have expected to find further
references to so important a matter in the New
Testament. . . . In other places in Acts, too, there
is no suggestion that apostolic hands were laid on
converts before they received the Spirit. Nothing is
said about that being done to the Pentecostal
believers in Ch. 2, to the Ethiopian chamberlain
towards the end of Ch. 8, to the household of
Cornelius in Ch. 10 or to the Philippian jailor's
household in Ch. 16." The only exception is possibly
the Ephesian disciples in Ch. 19. "In general, it
seems to be assumed in the New Testament that those
who believe are baptized have also the Spirit of
God. Cf. Rom. 5:5; 8:9-11; 1 cor. 6:19; 12:3-13;
Eph. 1:13; 4:30)" (F. F. Bruce, Acts, p.
It is interesting that
Philip is the only person in the New Testament who
is actually called an evangelist (Acts 21:8). The
"evangelist" is one who brings good news. He is a
herald of salvation, the bearer of good news. He was
a layman and a deacon (Acts 6:5) in the Jerusalem
church. Some of the most winsome and effective
evangelists I have ever met are laymen. They just
made themselves available to the Lord, and share His
sovereign grace. God chooses and brings together men
who love Christ for our evangelism teams and we go
door to door sharing Christ.
The apostle Peter and
John went down to Samaria to investigate what was
happening when they heard the Samaritans were coming
to Christ. The apostles spear to have regarded it
their duty to exercise supervision over the progress
of the gospel. "So, when they had solemnly testified
and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back
to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many
villages of the Samaritans" (Acts 8:25). God had a
prepared people to hear prepared preachers.
God has a prepared
people to respond to your witness.
God puts us in the right
place at the right time.
God led me to the rural
town of Zapotillo, Honduras. I went searching for a
place to take a medical dental evangelism team in
2003. After travelling all day I saw a sign along a
winding dirt road that pointed to a school. When I
got to the school it was a two room school with two
teachers. I was greeted with this vivacious
talkative teacher who became animated when she
inquired what this griengo was doing at her school.
I was looking for a school with 10 to 12 class rooms
to use for a medical team. She got even more excited
with all four hands moving as she talked. "You just
have to come to my school. We have great needs in
our community." I told her my team was too big for
her small school. "Then you have to go to Zapotillo
and talk to my mother who is director of the
elementary school there. She will work with you." I
did, and when I left Zapotillo that afternoon I had
the sense that this was where God was at work. I
took a medical-dental-evangelism team later that
year to Zapotillo. The next year I began teaching
seminary extension classes at Danli, Honduras, and
made a trip one afternoon out to Zapotillo to visit
the mother and daughter teachers. Sitting on their
front porch they told me, "See that piece of land
across the street. We want a Baptist church here in
Zapotillo preaching the same message you preached
when the medical dental team was here." I saw God do
it. I challenged my students to visit Zapotillo and
begin a preaching point there. Later, I took two
more medical dental evangelism teams there to
follow-up on the witnessing. Then the Lord provided
funds for a building, a parsonage and the work
continues to this day with a strong church
witnessing to the community. I can stand back and
say I saw God do it. He opened the door for a
witness to the people whom He had prepared to
receive the message. God prepares His people for a
prepared people who will respond to the gospel. Are
you that person?
Evangelist Shared the Gospel with an Ethiopian (Acts
God prepared the lay
evangelist Philip to share the gospel with a foreign
dignitary who was visiting Jerusalem. This gets
exciting because this is the way God works. This is
the normal Christian life. Observe the strong
emphasis on the leading of the Holy Spirit in this
Philip heard God
He sensed the leading of
the Holy Spirit and he yielded to His inner witness.
He simply made Himself available to the Lord and
obeyed. "An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip
saying, 'Get up and go south to the road that
descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This is a desert
road.) So he got up and went; and there was an
Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen
of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her
treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship"
(Acts 8:26-27). This Ethiopian man was an important
man, the treasurer of the Queen. He held an
important, powerful position in the government of
Ethiopia. "Candace" was a hereditary title of the
Ethiopian queens. He was in charge of all of her
treasure. The man had been to Jerusalem to worship.
He was probably a "god-fearer," a Gentile who
worshiped Israel's God, but had not become a full
convert or "proselyte."
Philip overcame the
cultural and racial prejudice of the Jewish people
against Gentiles and eunuchs. The Gentile could only
go so far in the temple court, and as a eunuch he
could not fully participate in the temple worship
(Deut. 23:1). Christianity removed this barrier just
as the Old Testament prophets foretold (Isa. 56:3-7;
1 Kings 8:41-43).
Every believer is being
touched and protected by angels all the time. They
are all about us ministering to us (Heb. 1:14;
13:2). Luke mentions angels in four places in Acts
(Acts 7:30-38; 8:26; 12:7-10, 23).
What is God saying to you
through His Word? "If you have trouble hearing God
speak, you are in trouble at the very heart of your
Christian experience," observes William Blackaby.
Philip had the deep
conviction that God was leading him to go to a
desert road. I can hear the professionals saying,
"Wait, that is not good use of a church planter's
time. That is not the way we do it. Go where the
crowds are; there are no people in the desert. We
have our proven methods of church planting."
But it is God's way. Find out where God is at work,
and get in the middle of it. He is sovereign, and He
knows what He is doing, and how He wants to do it.
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides
in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart
from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). "For my
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your
ways my ways, declares the LORD" (Isaiah 55:8, ESV).
There is something astounding about the sweet, quiet
whisper of God's voice. At that point we may not
understand everything completely, but our
responsibility is to obey Him.
I go into some
congregations and the music is so loud that you
cannot hear God speaking. They drown out the still
small voice of God's Spirit. They have the idea that
the louder the music and the speaker is the louder
God speaks. It is so loud you cannot hear the soft
whisper of God's voice. There is a lot of emotion,
but no Spirit. You cannot sense His peace, His
presence with all that noise.
Philip sensed the
presence of God. The Spirit of God whispered in his
heart, "Go." "And he arose and went." The imperfect
tense in the Greek stresses the importance that
Philip was to get at once and keep on going. Verse
27 tells us there was prompt obedience to the
Perhaps you are a single
and you are afraid of the loneliness of going out to
serve by yourself. There are no desert roads when
the Spirit of Christ is with you always. His angels
accompany you and there is no loneliness in
fellowship with Him.
God had a prepared man.
He also had a prepared heart ready to listen and
believe the messenger.
The Ethiopian eunuch had
been to Jerusalem to worship the LORD God, "and he
was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was
reading the prophet Isaiah" (Acts 8:28). God had
prepared his heart for the message. He is riding
along reading out loud the Scriptures. Reading in
the ancient times was almost always out loud.
There is the perfect
preparation and perfect timing of the Holy Spirit.
"Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join
this chariot'" (Acts 8:28-29). Philip is sensitive
to the Holy Spirit and available.
Philip was ready to
witness (Acts 8:30).
The adventure of the
Spirit-filled life is much that is ordinary, yet
touched with the flame of God's presence. The Holy
Spirit directed Philip to approach the man in the
chariot. "Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah
the prophet, and said, 'Do you understand what you
are reading?'" (Acts 8:30).
Philip took the
initiative to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
You can open the conversation by asking, "Have you
come to the place in your spiritual life where you
know when you die you will go to heaven?" Then
listen carefully to the response and give the person
plenty of time to respond. Most of the time I ask
the question: "What is your personal relationship
with Jesus Christ?"
Depending on the response
I will respond with the suggestion of Donald
Barnhouse. "Let's suppose you died today and stood
before the Lord God and He should ask you, 'Why
should I let you into My heaven?' What would you
say? How would you answer Him?"
That is the best
spiritual value clarifier I have ever found. What is
your relationship with Jesus Christ? Upon what or
upon whom are you placing you trust for salvation?
Philip heard the man
reading the Scriptures from Isaiah 53:7-8 and he
asked a simple question, "Do you understand what you
are reading?" God was preparing the man's heart by
placing in his hands the very heart of the gospel in
the Old Testament. Isaiah 53 presents Jesus Christ
as the suffering servant who came to die for our
God opened the
heart of the Ethiopian (Acts 8:31-34).
The Ethiopian dignitary
was honest. He said, "'Well, how could I, unless
someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to come up
and sit with him" (Acts 8:31). This is when
witnessing is easy. I love it. God opens the doors.
God prepares the hearts. God is at work in the
individual. God's Word penetrates the mind and the
heart. God brings the man to a saving relationship
with Himself. You can only stand back and say I saw
God do it. You are only an instrument, a voice in
"Now the passage of
Scripture which he was reading was this: 'He was led
as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its
shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth. In
humiliation His judgment was taken away; Who will
relate His generation? For His life is removed from
the earth.' The eunuch answered Philip and said,
'Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this?
Of himself or of someone else?'" (Acts 8:32-34).
"Now the passage of
Scripture" he was reading was from the scroll of the
prophet Isaiah. The scroll was made of papyrus
leaves glued together to form a sheet and each end
was fastened to a stick. The reader would
simultaneously roll and unroll the ends to find the
passage he wanted to read. The Ethiopian had
probably purchased the entire text of Isaiah which
was a very costly investment. He was reading the
Isaiah 53. His eyes were focused on verses seven and
eight. The wording of this passage in Luke is
exactly the same as the Greek translation of the Old
Testament (Septuagint, LXX). We know Jesus Christ
only through the Scriptures. We would see Jesus! The
great prophets spoke of the suffering of Christ and
the glories to follow (1 Pet. 1:11). Everything
Jesus did according to His messianic mission is in
terms of this prophecy.
"He was led as a sheep to
slaughter" This passage and its context is a
messianic passage that clearly speaks of the life
and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Suffering
Servant of Isaiah. Change the pronouns in Isaiah
52:12-53:12 from first and second person to Christ
and you have the full meaning of the passage. Christ
was led as a sheep to slaughter. Jesus was arrested
in the Garden of Gethsemane and led to the house of
the high priest for trial. Jesus said He came "not
to be served by others but to be a Servant, and to
give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
"As a lamb before its
shearer is silent" Jesus "did not open His mouth."
He remained silent at the trial (Matt. 26:60-63).
Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world (John 1:29, 36). He was without blemish
and a perfect sacrificial sacrifice that God
provided (1 Pet. 1:19). Only one individual down
through history fulfills the function of an animal
that is sacrificed. He is Jesus. How can He suffer
so many things and be counted as nothing unless He
the Son of man be also the Servant of Yahweh?
"In humiliation His
judgment was taken away." Why? He was deprived of
justice. The trial before Pilate and Herod was
unjust. The humble silent lamb was sacrificed at
"Who will relate His
generation? For his life is removed from the earth."
The NET translates: "Who can describe his posterity?
For His life was taken away from the earth." Who are
the descendants of this man? However, Jesus' life
came to an untimely end without descendants, or did
it? Jesus said in John 12:32, "And I, if I am lifted
up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself"
(John 12:32). Every born again believer in Jesus
Christ is one of His descendants. This humble
Ethiopian man has come to Jerusalem seeking the LORD
God and He has found Him in the person of His Son,
Jesus Christ. Philip got out of the way and pointed
him to Jesus through the Word of God.
without resisting the Lamb of God was led away to be
crucified. "He [Jesus] was led like a sheep to be
slaughtered; and like a lamb that is dumb before the
shearer, he [Jesus] does not open his moth" (NEB,
the emphasis mine). Justice was denied Jesus. The
judgment was executed upon Jesus as our substitute.
He rendered the full satisfaction and atonement for
our sins. All the claims against the righteousness
of God were satisfied in His atoning death. Jesus
paid in full the demands of a righteous God against
If one of your friends or
acquiesces asked you this week that question how
would you reply? Let's say a friend at work or a
neighbor said to you: "You are always going to
church. What makes it so special? Why do you go?"
How would you respond? Or if they ask, "You are a
religious person. I have watched you and see how you
treat your family and live. What makes you so
special? What is it about you that makes you
different?" How would you respond? Or perhaps, "You
know, I was bored the other night and I flipped
though the channels and saw Billy Graham preaching
and listened. He talked about death and heaven. How
can I know for sure that heaven is real and God can
save me?" What would you say?
God is at work in that
person's heart. And you and I had better have the
right answer. Eternity depends on it.
Jesus to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:35).
"Then Philip opened his
mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached
Jesus to him" (Acts 8:35). Philip clearly identified
Jesus as the suffering Servant of Isaiah.
Philip told the man about
Jesus, and explained to him that Isaiah was speaking
of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the
world. Christ was led as a sheep to slaughter. Jesus
was the lamb before the shearer who was silent. He
did not open His mouth. In humiliation His judgment
was taken away. For His life was removed from the
earth. Why? Why did this happen to Jesus? The
prophet Isaiah wrote 750 years before the coming of
Christ: "But He [Jesus] was pierced through for our
transgressions, He [Jesus] was crushed for our
iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell
upon Him, and by His [Jesus] scourging we are
healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each
of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has
caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him
[Jesus]" (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus alone took up
our infirmities and carried our sorrows, and was
pierced for our transgressions, and crushed for our
iniquities. The Lord laid on Him all of our sins and
He died for us. "The wages of sin is death." Jesus
died our death.
Jesus died as your
substitute. He bore the penalty of your sins. He
died in your place on the cross. "And there is
salvation in no one else; for there is no other name
under heaven that has been given among men by which
we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." "If you
confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe
in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you
will be saved" (Romans 10:9). You can have that
perfect peace with God and assurance of your
salvation right now. "Therefore, having been
justified by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have
obtained our introduction by faith into this grace
in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory
of God" (Romans 5:1-2).
Philip pleaded for
a personal decision (Acts 8:36-39).
"As they went along the
road they came to some water; and the eunuch said,
'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?'
And 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.' And he
ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down
into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he
baptized him. When they came up out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the
eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way
rejoicing" (Acts 8:36-39).
Remember, they are in the
desert. Gaza was the last watering place before the
desert on the road from Jerusalem to Egypt. The
Ethiopian put his trust in Jesus, and they arrive at
a rare watering hole in the desert precisely when
the man is ready to be baptized. The work of the
Holy Spirit is all over this passage. God is at
The unusual expression
"Spirit of the Lord" suggests the idea that both the
Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus removed Philip, and
did it suddenly and miraculously. Philip was
literally snatched away or taken away by force
(harpazo). It was a sudden action. In some
miraculous action Philip was taken bodily away and
transported to Ashdod. "Philip found himself at
Azotus." The action of the Spirit reminds us of 2
Kings 2:11 when Elijah was carried away. He preached
the good news in all the cities along the way until
at last he reached Caesarea. He just kept on doing
what God called him to do. He kept telling people
about Jesus. Caesarea was a large Greek speaking
city, and this seems to be the place where Philip
settled down and continued to minister.
The Holy Spirit is still
conducting missions in the same manner as revealed
in Acts 8. The Holy Spirit went ahead of Philip
preparing the lost man to receive Jesus Christ. The
Spirit of Christ commanded His servant to leave the
multitudes in the city and go to a desert road where
He had prepared a man to listen. When He opens the
door, no man shuts it, and when He shuts the door,
no man opens it. He still opens the doors, and when
we enter the door He opens He has people ready to
listen and believe on Him.
demonstrates implicit and immediate obedience to the
words of Jesus. "Look, here is water; what hinders
me from being baptized?" Because he believed on
Jesus Christ as his Savior he wanted to obey Him and
be baptized by immersion in water. Baptism is a
personal identification with Jesus Christ. It is a
testimony before men that Jesus Christ is your
personal Savior. The person being baptized is
bearing witness of everyone observing that he has
believed on Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Verse 37 is the
Ethiopian's public confession of his new faith in
Jesus Christ. It probably reflects the Christian
confession in the early church. "I believe that
Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
Philip knew his Bible,
the Old Testament. Can you take your Bible and share
Jesus Christ with your lost friends. The whole Bible
talks about Jesus in both the Old and the New
Testaments. Begin right where the inquirer or seeker
is and preach Jesus. How difficult it must have been
for those who read the Old Testament to understand
the prophecy regarding the Suffering Servant of the
LORD before Jesus came, but how simple and easy for
us who have seen the One who fulfilled it. How easy
it is to understand the prophecy now that it has
been fulfilled in the person and saving work of
Jesus Christ. Our job is to go out and tell it. "The
preaching of the cross is to them that perish
foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the
power of God."
Did the water save the
Ethiopian eunuch? No. Did the baptism by immersion
save him? No. Did church membership save him? No.
Jesus did, and Jesus alone. Jesus said to his
disciple Thomas, "I am the way, and the truth, and
the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me"
"Therefore everyone who
confesses Me before men, I will also confess him
before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever
denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My
Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).
What is your personal
relationship with Jesus Christ? If He were to ask
you why He should let you into His heaven how would
One final word:
Responsibility is written all over this chapter. "If
Christ is hindered, it is because some Philip is not
willing to go!" (Morgan, p. 219).
If you need help in
becoming a Christian here is A Free Gift for You.
Title: Acts 8:25-40
Philip – the Lay Evangelist