An Honest Seeker

An Honest Seeker                 

    When you read Acts chapter 8, it is easy to see why the Lord called Philip away from preaching to many people in Samaria to preach to one man, a man from Ethiopia traveling home from Jeru-salem down a desert road.  Luke’s in-spired account of the brief encounter of these two men is a tribute to God’s Providence in bringing the gospel to the honest seeker of truth and salvation.

  The Ethiopian possessed so many qualities that made him ready to receive and obey Philip’s message about Jesus:  1) He had reverence for God- look at the long trip he made from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship (over 2,500 miles in a chariot -8:27); 2) He had a desire to know the Word of God- he was reading the Scriptures on his way home (8:28);  3) Though he was a man of great authority, in charge of the queen’s treasury (8:28); he was humble enough to admit that he did not understand the Scripture and to ask Philip to explain it to him; and 4) he was open-minded as he waited for Philip’s explanation, ready to consider what he had to say (8:34).

   As we examine the conversion of the Ethiopian to Jesus, it is my prayer that you will enter into this study as the eunuch did with Philip - with reverence for God, with a desire to know the Word of God, humble, and open-minded to consider an explanation of the gospel of Christ.  Are you like the Ethiopian, an honest seeker of truth and salvation? ...

“From this Scripture”                 

   Would you be impressed, if you read a document dated in 1320 that foretold accurately the life story of someone who lived in your lifetime?  Certainly you would have tremendous interest in both the document and the man.

   If you can in any way conceive of the excitement of hearing such predictions fulfilled, then you can put yourself in the Ethiopian’s chariot seat as Philip began with Isaiah 53, the passage that he did not understand, and preached to him Jesus. (Acts 8:35)  Isaiah penned this Scripture some 700 years before Jesus came to earth. Yet, he so vividly painted the portrait of His life.  Philip, in preaching to the eunuch, laid the events of Jesus’ life alongside Isaiah’s predictions, showing how He fulfilled them.

   Philip told the Ethiopian how God sent Jesus into the world, but man did not appreciate who He was.  “He was despised and rejected of men” (Isa 53:3).  This rejection reached its climax when Jesus was put to death on a cross in order to be “wounded for our trans-gressions” (53:5).

   As Philip related Jesus’ supreme sacrifice, he no doubt emphasized how willingly He submitted to this agony, “as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb” (53:7).  He added how humilia-ting it was for Jesus, who did not have any sin, to be shamefully crucified be-tween two thieves and so “made his grave with the wicked” (53:9).  He then recounted how Jesus was buried by a rich man in his tomb, fulfilling what Isaiah said about being “with a rich man in his death” (53:9).

   However, Philip’s story of Jesus did not end in a cemetery.  He joyfully proclaimed that, just three days after Jesus “rendered Himself as a guilt offering”, He rose from the grave, “prolonging his days”, living to see the result of His work and “be satisfied” (53:10-11).

   What a thrilling story from beginning to end!  Jesus fulfilled all the very specific predictions that Isaiah made 700 years before He entered the world.  He became the Savior of the world, and the Messiah (Christ or King) that the Scriptures had long anticipated.  But, Philip’s preaching did not end at the conclusion of his explanation of Isaiah 53.  His preaching did not stop until he had made personal application to his Ethiopian student.  You, too, must continue to “ride in the chariot” until you hear how this message about Jesus applies to you …

“Preaching Jesus”                              

   As the chariot rolled down the road toward Gaza, Philip continued to “preach Jesus” to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:35).  As they came to a body of water, Philip’s preaching led his student to say, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized” (8:36)?

   If someone truly “preaches Jesus” to you and you are receptive to the message, then you, too, will be led to ask the same question.  If not, whoever has been preaching to you has not fully preached Jesus.  Notice the following inferences we may make about  “preaching Jesus” from the Ethiopian’s question to Philip:

  1.   “ME”:  “Preaching Jesus” includes making personal application.  Philip had to talk, not only about Jesus, but also about the Ethiopian.  It is clear that he showed him that he was a sinner and that Jesus died for him.  And, Philip not only proved that Jesus is the Messiah or King, but he convinced the eunuch that he should submit to the Jesus as his King and to His conditions of forgiveness.
  2. “FROM BEING BAPTIZED?”:  “Prea-ching Jesus” includes preaching baptism.  If this is not so, then why did the eunuch ask what he did when they came to the water.  Philip obviously had taught him not only that Jesus was the Lamb who was slain for his sins, but that he need to be baptized to wash them away (Acts 22:16).
  3. “LOOK!  WATER!  WHAT PREVENTS ME”:  “Preaching Jesus” includes preaching the urgency of baptism.  Philip must have emphasized that baptism should be done right away.  Or how do you explain his attitude, “Here is a place where I can be baptized.  Why can’t I be baptized right now, without delay?”

   Baptism is not a religious ceremony to be scheduled and performed a few times a year.  It is to be done imme-diately after a sinner comes to faith in Jesus (compare Acts 16:33).  This only makes sense.  Why would anyone want to stay in their sins for a moment longer than they had to once they learned how they could be forgiven?

   Apply Philip’s preaching of Jesus to yourself.  Do you believe Jesus is the King?  If so, have you always obeyed His law or have you sinned?  Have you been baptized to obey the King in order be saved from your sins?  If not, are you ready to “stop the chariot” and be baptized right away?  If not, why not? ...  

Are You Honest?

  The Ethiopian commanded the chariot to stand still and he and Philip both went down into the water and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:38).  This makes it clear that baptism is immersion in water, not sprinkling or pouring for they both went “down into the water.”  When they both came up out of the water, the Spirit caught away Philip and the eunuch went on his way home rejoicing, for he was now saved (8:39)

    As we pointed out in the beginning, the Ethiopian is an example of an honest seeker of truth and salvation.  All who approach the “good news” of Jesus as he did will imitate his attitude and his action.

   Perhaps before you read this bulletin no one had ever “preached Jesus” to you as Philip did to the eunuch.  But now Jesus has been preached to you, beginning with Isaiah 53.  If based the evidence of Isaiah’s fulfilled predictions you believe that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ or King), but you have not been immersed in water, why not do it TODAY and go on your way rejoicing? 

P.S.  If we can help you in any way concerning your salvation, please call, write, or email.