World Evangelism 101: Wherever He Leads, Acts 8.26-40
by Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor
FBC, Spanish Fort, Ala.
Dr. Ted S. Rendall shares, “In the life story of Oswald Chambers [1874-1917] there is related the following incident. One day one of Chambers’ friends, John Cameron, spoke to young Chambers and said, ‘If you get permission to speak to my ploughman about his soul, do so.’
At this Chambers expressed his surprise that Cameron had not spoken to the ploughman himself, for he would ordinarily speak about Jesus to all sorts of men.
‘My laddie,’ replied John Cameron, ‘If you don’t know what the permission of the Holy Ghost is in talking to a soul about salvation, you know nothing about the Holy Ghost.”
Philip the evangelist, also a deacon, preached in a revival and proclaimed the gospel to a eunuch from Ethiopia. This Ethiopian eunuch was a man of great authority. Someone referred to him as the “Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ethiopia.” He was a descendant of Ham one of the three sons of Noah (Genesis 10). This is the first of three notable conversions recorded in the Book of Acts. Also in Acts chapter 9 we read about the conversion of Saul of Tarsus who was “a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin” and a descendant of Shem. Then, in Acts chapter 10 we read about the conversion of Cornelius, “an officer in the Roman army,” who was a descendant of Japheth.
In Acts 8:26-40 we find an evangelist’s encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch.
Allow me to share a pentagon of precious truth from this account.
I. The Inestimable Worth he represented.
From Acts 8:26, 39-40, we read, “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. . . . Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.”
We see his worth on earth and his worth in heaven. He was a soul for whom Jesus Christ died. God sent an angel to Philip to get him to leave a revival to meet with the Ethiopian eunuch.
Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) stated, “If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be a full reward for all our labour, for a soul is of countless price.”
Jesus asked, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37)
II. The Incomplete Worship he rendered.
In Acts 8:27 we read, “So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship.”
We read in 1 Kings 8:41, 42, “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for Your name’s sake(for they will hear of Your great name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple.”
Please note the subject of worship as we read in John 4:19-26, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” In addition, we read in John 12:20, “Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.”
Please note the object of worship as we read in Exodus 20:1-6, “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” In addition, John writes in Revelation 22:6-9, “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. ‘Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’ Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’”
III. The Inspired Word he read.
I remember an advertisement for the National Bible Week Committee in 1971 that pictured Sonny and Cher Bono with the following caption “Look who reads the Bible.” I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God!
Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:16-21, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:10-17, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Dr. Luke writes in Acts 8:28-30, “was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’”
The Ethiopian eunuch read from the Book of Isaiah one of the most quoted books in the New Testament, not yet written at that time. Remember, when Jesus went to the synagogue He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 according to Luke 4:17-18. The portion of Isaiah this Ethiopian eunuch read was Isaiah 53:7-8, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation?”
IV. The Interpretational Worry he revealed.
Dr. Luke writes in Acts 8:31-34, “And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’”
This eunuch did not understand what he read. There are certain principles of interpretation we must observe to understand what we read. First, we must have a genuine conversion, as a repentant believer in Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, namely, His death, burial and resurrection, for the forgiveness of our sins and our eternal life. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Second, we must consider the verse or passage in its context. From 1 Corinthians 2:13 we read, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
V. The Inimitable Work he received.
According to The Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, the term inimitable means “defying imitation, matchless.” From Acts 8:35-38 we read, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then 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.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”
Remember the Bible does not teach baptismal regeneration. The Ethiopian eunuch was not baptized to be saved, he was baptized because he was saved.
Dr. Richard C. Halverson (1916-1995), former Chaplain of the United States Senate, shared, “Jesus Christ did not die to save civilization. Nor to change the world. And certainly not to save the United States. He died to save a people for His name. His sacrifice was sufficient to save every human being ever born, from the beginning of time to its end. But His death works only for those who accept it, who receive it for themselves. . . .”
We read in John 1:10-13, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
I remember singing “Lord I Believe, Lord I Receive,” in a service at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, one Sunday morning after attending the Christian Life Convention at the Stephen Olford Center the week before.
Dr. George W. Sweeting, former president and chancellor of the Moody Bible Institute, explains, “To Philip, the deacon, God’s call must have seemed unusual. ‘Arise and go . . . unto Gaza, which is desert’ (Acts 8:26).
Philip had just finished an overwhelmingly successful meeting in Samaria where a great number were baptized in the name of Christ. . . . Following this outpouring from the Lord, Philip planned to continue preaching in other Samaritan villages. But God directed him to one man in the desert.”
Dr. Henrietta C. Mears (1890-1963) shares in her classic titled, What The Bible Is All About, “Philip’s convert no doubt preached the gospel in Africa. There is nothing to show that Africa previously had any knowledge of the Son of God. The gospel was on its way to the ‘uttermost part of the earth.’” This is all because of an evangelist’s encounter with an Ethiopian eunuch.
Ted S. Rendall, “Except Some Man,” Sermon Notes, (Acts 8:31)
Archibald Naismith, 2400 Outlines, Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes for Sermons, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967, 1975, 1991), #789, 135
Charles H. Spurgeon, “Wanted, A Guest Chamber!” Sermon Notes, (Mark 14:14)
Richard C. Halverson, No Greater Power: Perspective for Days of Pressure, “Think Straight,” (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1986), 230
George W. Sweeting, “Sharing Your Faith,” Sermon Notes, (Acts 8:26)
Henrietta Mears, What The Bible Is All About, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books a Division of Gospel Light, 1999), 277
Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, is author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com
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