1. A Sovereign Hand (verses 25-33)
2. A Soft Heart (verses 28-35)
3. A Saving Response (verses 36-40)

After our service this morning, we will be having a baptism service. It will begin at 3pm at Rock Cut State Park. Those being baptized will be baptized in Olson Lake. We will be doing what baptism is. Those being baptized will tell the world what Christ has done in their soul, and will follow often Him in obedience. I would encourage all of you to return home after our service this morning grab a bite to eat and come on out to Olson Lake for our service there. It promises to be a wonderful time.

In light of that event, I would like to preach this morning from Acts, chapter 8, where we see an example of New Testament Baptism. In this chapter, we see a man coming to faith, identifying a body of water, and being immersed into that water as a sign of his faith in Christ. Let's begin by considering the text before us this morning.

Acts 8:25-40
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.

But 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, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" And he said, "Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 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?" Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 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. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.

This is one of the greatest stories in all of the Bible. It's great because you can see the Lord's working in the lives of people to spread the message of the gospel to build His church and to bring great glory to Himself. All of that is compacted into these words. This story illustrates God's sovereign hand in saving a soul. This story illustrates a man's soft heart to receive the gospel. This story illustrations what a saving response to the gospel looks like.

By way of outline this morning, I want to point out to you three elements of saving faith that must always be present for someone to know the Lord.

First, I want for you to notice, ...
1. A Sovereign Hand (verses 25-33)

Before anybody is ever saved from their sins, there needs to be the working of God's sovereign hand, preparing the hearts of those who believe. Before anyone comes to saving faith, God needs to be at work. He must soften the hearts of those who will hear the gospel. He must also be stirring the hearts of His people to share the gospel.

We see the Lord stirring in the heart of the messenger in verse 26, "But 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.)"

At the moment when God called Philip to go on his journey, Philip was enjoying the fruit of some very fruitful ministry. Earlier in this chapter (in verse 5), we read of how "Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them." And when he was proclaiming Christ to those people. The crowds were paying attention to his words (verse 6). Miracles were taking place through him (verse 7). "There was much rejoicing in the city" (verse 8), as many were being healed of their diseases. Many were believing Philip's message concerning the good news about the kingdom of God (verse 12). Even one of the city's most notorious sinners believe Philip's message and was baptized (verse 13).

So great was the activity there in the city that the apostles in Jerusalem got wind of what was taking place and sent Peter and John down to pray for them (Acts 8:14-15). Verse 25 records their return trip back to Jerusalem. And on the way, they were making stops in many of the villages of Samaria and were preaching the gospel.

In the midst of this most fruitful ministry, the sovereign hand of the Lord steps into the life of Phillip, through the words of an angel, and directs him to leave the flourishing ministry in Samaria to head to a lonely, desolate place: the road to Gaza.

Now, this Gaza is the same Gaza that we often read about in the newspapers. It's part of the West Bank, where the Palestinians live today. Gaza is located on the Mediterranean Sea, about 50 miles southwest of Jerusalem. As verse 26 indicates, the road traveling there is a desert road. In fact, almost every road south of Jerusalem is a desert road. Indeed, it's a lonely place. It's not a fertile place. It's not a busy road.

Humanly speaking, it's difficult to understand why it is that God would call Philip to travel that road. He had been enjoying a fruitful ministry with many coming to faith in Christ. But now God called him to the desert, when there was nobody around.

But, Philip was obedient to the voice the of angel. The angel had told him, "Get up and go south" (verse 26). And verse 27 records, "So, he got up and went." What a great model for us. When God says, "Get up," let's be about the business of getting up. When God says, "Go," let's be about the business of going.

Now, we don't know how far down the road Philip got before he met an Ethiopian eunuch (verse 26). Perhaps he met him just as he was leaving town. Perhaps he met him a few miles down the road. Perhaps he met him half-way to Gaza. But, somewhere along this road, Philip encountered this man.

It would have been an unusual sight. First of all, the chariot would have been unusual. Most would walk or ride a donkey or camel down that road. Only a few would be traveling by chariot, perhaps governmental soldiers, or the wealthy, or (as in this case), the dignities of state. Not only was the chariot unusual, but the man inside the chariot would have been unusual. His skin color wasn't the olive toned skin that most of those in the region had in those days. This man was from Ethiopia. And thus, he was a black man. Thirdly, this man was a long way from home. He was from Ethiopia, just south of Egypt, more than 1,000 miles from Israel. It probably took this man 2-3 months to travel this journey each way.

We read there in verse 27 that this man was "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." This explains why he was traveling in a chariot. He was a high ranking official in the Ethiopian government. He was the secretary of finance for all of Ethiopia. He had tremendous influence. He had tremendous resources at his disposal. Perhaps he was on a buisness trip on behalf of the queen.

Verse 27 also explains what he was doing so far away from home. We read that "he had come to Jerusalem to worship." He was making a religious pilgrimage to worship the Lord. Like any other nation, Ethiopia was entrenched in idolatry and a multiplicity of gods. But, somehow and in someway, this man become a believer in the God of the Israelites. He was traveling to Jerusalem to worship.

When we pick up the scene, he's returning from his trip and heading home. Verse 28 says, "and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah." This shows the man's further interested in the God of Israel. He was reading the book of Isaiah! The very fact that he even had the book of Isaiah was amazing. In the days of the apostles the Scriptures were an expensive commodity. They were written by hand. They were certainly difficult to obtain. Somehow, this man from Ethiopia had been able to obtain one. Perhaps it was a political gift given to Candace for the libraries of Ethiopia. At any rate, the Eunuch was taking advantage of his time and was reading it in the chariot.

We see the sovereign hand of God further guiding Philip in verse 29, "Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join this chariot.'" When God's hand is upon the life of a man, he doesn't merely set the wheels in place and let him go and do his thing. Rather, when God starts a work, He completes it. When called Philip to go down to that desert road, he didn't leave him alone. Rather, God directed his steps to the man with whom he had a divine appointment.

Again, I love Philip's obedience to the call of God. When God called him to join the chariot, Philip ran up to the chariot. And what Philip found in that chariot shows God's sovereign hand at work. Look at verse 30, "Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet."

At first glance, we might see this as being a bit strange. When you are in your car reading, how many of you read out loud? In our day and age, we don't read out loud. We read to ourselves. But, in a day in which literature wasn't so available, it's different. When everything was hand-written, reading out loud was the custom. Augustine, the early church father, once told of an encounter that he had with Ambrose, of Milan. With amazement, Augustine wrote, "As he read, his eyes glanced over the pages and his heart searched out the sense, but his voice and his tongue were silent." [1] This is an amazing thing, because it simply didn't happen in the ancient world. You didn't read with your mouth shut.

And here, the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading Isaiah the prophet out loud, so that Philip, who had ran up to the chariot was able to hear and discern what it was that he was reading. In verse 32, we find out what exactly this eunuch was reading. "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 relates His generation? For His life is removed from the earth."

Perhaps you might recognize these words. They don't come from some obscure portion of Isaiah. Rather, they come from the heart of the epistle. They come from chapter 53, which points to Jesus as clearly as any other portion of the entire Old Testament. I don't think that it was an accident that the eunuch was reading these words just as Philip was coming upon the chariot. I believe that it was the sovereign hand of God preparing the way for the gospel to be received in this man's heart. God is the One "declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure';" (Is. 46:10). This divine appointment with Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch along the desert road to Gaza at the precise time when the eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53 was no accident. It was declared by God from ancient time, and He brought it to pass.

And when you happen to encounter some evangelistic situation, don't ever think that it merely came by chance. These sorts of things come by sovereign design. The people that you meet this week don't come across your path by chance. They come into your life according to the working of God's sovereign hand. And it may just be that this week you will come across an Ethiopian Eunuch, who has questions about the Bible. And it may just be that you are Philip, who needs to bring the gospel to them.

When my wife was in college, she was on a skiing trip with some friends from U. C. L. A. They had traveled up the mountains to ski at Big Bear Resort. Coming home that evening, the weather was bad and the roads were slick. Ahead of them was a car that had slid off the road and was stuck in the ditch to the right. And their car also slid off the road into the same ditch and actually hit the car in front of them. The accident didn't cause any harm to either vehicle, but they had to wait for help to arrive. As Yvonne recalls, it was hours until help came (there were no cell phones in that day). The car that they hit was driven by a young woman, about 20 years old, who was really scared. Yvonne and an other gal who had gone skiing with her had a chance to talk with her and share the gospel with her, and demonstrate before her a trust in God in the middle of adversity . Eventually, she began attending church and became a Christian. She then married a Master's Seminary graduate and joined with him in ministry.

Her life was changed forever when she was sitting in her chariot, and someone came up and spoke with her. Now, you can call these things a "coincidence," or, you can see the sovereign hand of God at work in her life, bringing those with a message of hope to her in her need, and so causing her car to get stuck in the ditch. And that's exactly what we see here in Acts, chapter 8. We see, (1) A Sovereign Hand (verses 25-33). But, we also see (in my second point), ...

2. A Soft Heart (verses 28-35)

For saving faith to take place, not only does there need to be a sovereign hand at work, but there also needs to be a soft heart, ready to hear the message. Back in verse 28, we see the eunuch reading the prophet Isaiah in his chariot, it indicates that this man had a heart the Lord.

This man's interest in Isaiah wasn't merely an academic interest. I believe that he really wanted to know the truth about God. I say this in light of the dialogue that takes place between this man and Philip in verses 30-31.

Acts 8:30-31
Philip ... said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' And [the eunuch] said, 'Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?' " And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

You can see his teachability all over these verses. First of all, this eunuch is reading his Bible. Second, he's reading an important portion of the Bible, a passage which is central to its meaning. Thirdly, when approached by someone who questioned him about what he was reading, he wanted help. He wasn't ashamed of what he was reading. Nor was he proud, thinking that he can figure it out on his own. Fourth, the invitation that this eunuch extends to Philip also shows his teachability. He knew that he needed help and was willing to ask for it. Here was someone who might help him, and so he invited him to come and sit with him. The clear assumption is that this eunuch wanted Philip to come and teach him about the meaning of what he was reading.

When he got into the chariot, the eunuch had his question ready to ask. Look at verse 34, "Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?" This question is a very good question. It is a question that is still asked of Jewish people today: "Who is Isaiah 53 talking about?" I think that the eunuch had learned about this question during his time in Jerusalem.

Think about the Jerusalem that the eunuch visited. It was a Jerusalem saturated with Judaism. The temple was there. Sacrifices were being offered. The entire Jewish system of religion was in place and functioning. Pharisees and Sadducees were doing their thing. People were doing and going, Rabbi's teaching.

But, that wasn't the only thing going on in Jerusalem. Several years before the eunuch had visited Jerusalem, there had been a great stir in the city.

A certain man had arisen, claiming to be the Messiah. He was called by many, the King of the Jews. He had a great following of people. John the Baptist, one of the greatest prophets that Israel had ever known, testified about this man, that He was the Christ (John 1:28; 5:35). This man claimed that He was sent by God (John 5:38). This man claimed that He was the one who fulfilled the Scriptures (John 5:46). Now, He had been condemned to death by the Jews. They convinced Pontius Pilate to crucify Him, which he did.

But that was only part of the stir. Before this man was crucified, He had told His followers that He would rise from the dead and conquer death. Many of His followers saw Him after he had risen from the dead. And these followers went into Jerusalem and began proclaiming that He had risen from the dead. They literally "filled Jerusalem with [their] teaching" (Acts 5:28). Thousands of people had believed their message (Acts 2:41; 4:4). A big persecution arose against these people, and they scattered throughout the world (Acts 7:1).

Now all that happened several years before this Ethiopian Eunuch came into Jerusalem to worship. Though years had past, there was certainly still a stir in the city.

A modern day illustration might be 9-11. How many years ago did the act of terrorism that brought down the two World Trade Centers in New York happen? It was almost 7 years ago, in 2001. And how often do you hear anybody mention 9-11? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? Nobody really has to take time to explain what took place, because all of us have the images burned into our minds of the World Trade Centers on fire.

Now, I want for you to imagine (if this were even possible), someone living in America, who had never heard of what took place in New York, nearly seven years ago. As references would be made to 9-11, I believe that there would eventually be a host of questions. "What is this 9-11? Is it a convenience store, like 7-11? You keep talking about it. What is it?" I'm sure that someone would be willing to explain what took place. I believe that this is a bit similar to what was taking place with the Ethiopian Eunuch.

Perhaps as he was in the temple worshiping the Lord, he overheard some Jewish people talking about Isaiah 53. Perhaps he heard a Rabbi teach from Isaiah 53 in the synagogue and he detected that there was a greater issue going on. Perhaps he had heard about "Christianity," but didn't know much about it. But somehow he linked it to this portion of scripture.

I believe that something like this took place to compel this man to be reading Isaiah 53. He genuinely wanted to know what these words meant. His inquiries were real. He had a soft heart.

But, the eunuch wasn't the only one in the chariot with a soft heart. Philip was very open to the leading of the Spirit. Look in verse 35, "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him." Philip was open to the Spirit of God moving him to preach the gospel to this Eunuch. He began right here in Isaiah 53 that the eunuch was reading.

Notice, that he did this without notes. He did this without any sort of preparation. I'm sure that he looked at the text and sought to explain it. Philip may well have said, ...

Mr. Eunuch, These verses don't speak about Isaiah. Nor do these verses speak about the nation of Israel. Rather, they speak about Jesus.

Do you know about Him? About five years ago, they crucified Him just outside the gates of Jerusalem. He had committed no crimes, but, they still killed Him. He was gaining a following and the Jews were jealous (Matt. 27:18). So, they brought Him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor at the time, and demanded that they crucify Him (Matt. 27:22). But, Pilate repeatedly told the crowds, "behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him" (Luke 23:14). When the crowds kept demanding that they crucify Him, Pilate said, "Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death" (Luke 23:22). So, Pilate handed Jesus over to be scourged and then to be crucified (Matt. 27:26).

The amazing thing is that through all of His intense suffering, He was silent. Never once did He stand up and say, ... "Hey, let's stop this injustice! I'm not guilty! Let me explain." Rather, He silently bore all of the afflictions He faced. And in so doing, He bore our sins upon His shoulders. Thereby, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. And those who believe in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.

Now, Mr. Eunuch, don't you see how this is exactly what Isaiah 53 is talking about? Isaiah talks about a sheep that is led to slaughter (verse 32). - With these words, Isaiah takes the imagery of the sacrifices that you saw taking place in Jerusalem just a few days ago in the temple. But, it's clearly not a sheep that Isaiah's talking about. He's talking about a person. He's talking about someone who would sacrifice his own life for the sins of others. This is exactly what Jesus did.

Look there at the next phrase that you were reading, "And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He does not open His mouth" (verse 32). This was true of Jesus. Never did anybody suffer as He did. Never was anybody as silent in His suffering as Jesus was. This portion of Scripture fits exactly what you just read in Isaiah 53.

The next verse that you read talks about His cruel death. "In humiliation His judgment was taken away." When being beaten, he was mocked as being a king. The soldiers spit upon Him. When Jesus was upon the cross, all were humiliating Him. They were wagging their heads at Him. They were taunting Him. They were saying all sorts of evil against Him.

The next verse speaks about the blindness of those who put Him to death. "Who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth" (verse 33). Nobody who put Jesus to death really thought that He was the Messiah. "If the rulers of this age ... had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8). But, Jesus was the Lord of glory.

Now, Mr. Eunuch, let me show you what the rest of Isaiah 53 says about Jesus. Just continue on with your reading of Isaiah 53. We see in verse 9 that is says, "His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth." When Jesus died, He died as a common criminal. But, one of His disciples, a certain Joseph of Arimathea, who was a rich man, took the body of Jesus and set it in his own tomb. Thereby, Jesus was with a rich man in His death.

Look down in verse 10. There, we see that God had planned this from the beginning. "But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief." One of the things that we often hear is that God would never have His Messiah die! The Messiah was supposed to lead us to victory! He isn't supposed to die. But, Isaiah 53 can't be more clear than this. God was planning to crush the Messiah. He was planning on putting Him through such painful agonies. Because, it's the only way that our sin can be forgiven!

Look at the next phrase there in verse 10, "If He would render Himself as a guilt offering." That's exactly what Jesus was. He was our perfect guilt offering. "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). But, when a perfect man comes and lives among us and dies a death in our place, He can take away our sin.

Look back at Isaiah 53:4-6. These words describe what was taking place upon the cross.

Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His 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.

These verses interpret the death of Jesus. Think about how many times that they say the same thing, He Himself bore our griefs. He carried our sorrows. He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. By His scourging are we healed. The LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. Jesus bore the punishment that our sins deserved. If you believe and trust in Him, you can know and experience the lifting of your sin off of yourself and onto Him.

Mr. Eunuch, These verses don't speak about Isaiah. Nor do these verses speak about the nation of Israel. Rather, they speak about Jesus."

But, that's not where Philip ended. It says in verse 35 that Philip merely began with these Scriptures. The implication is that he went beyond these verses to speak of others. Perhaps he continued saying something like this, ...

"Mr. Eunuch, please realize that it's not only Isaiah 53 that speaks about Jesus. You have the scroll there of Isaiah (what a treasure!!!). Jesus is all over Isaiah!

Let's look over to the beginning of the scroll. It says in Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin will be with child and will bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

Mr. Eunuch, This describes exactly the birth of Jesus. His mother, Mary, was a virgin when she conceived a son. The angel, Gabriel visited Mary when she was engaged to be married with Joseph. But, this angel told her that before the wedding day, she would conceive a child of the Holy Spirit. Gabriel said, "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:32-33). This is exactly what was prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin will be with child and will bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

Mr. Eunuch, do you know what Immanuel means? It means, 'God with us.' That's who Jesus was. He was "God with us."

A couple chapters later, in Isaiah 9:6-7, you can see this described.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Do you notice what these words say about this child that will be born? He will be called "the Mighty God," the "Eternal Father," the "Prince of Peace." But, this child is the Messiah. Therefore, this child must be God. That's who Jesus was. He was God in the flesh.

Perhaps you remember in Isaiah 6:3, when the Seraphim (each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew) called out to one another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.". This holy one was Jesus. This is what Jesus taught when He walked on the earth (John 12). He's the one to whose knee we need to bow (Philippians 2:9-11).

Mr. Eunuch, the Scriptures are clear about these things. If you turn over to Isaiah 11, there you will see it prophesied that, ...

Isaiah 11:1-2
A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

If that describes anybody, it describes Jesus. Never was there a man of such wisdom as Jesus. He was greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42). Never was there a man of such understanding as Jesus. He knew the hearts of every man (John 2:24). Never was there a man of such counsel and strength. He defeated death and the devil (Heb. 2:14-18). Never was there a man of such knowledge. Even as a young child, he confounded the wisdom of the religious leaders (Luke 2:47). And Jesus was from the line of David. There is no doubt about it. The genealogical records are stored in the temple. We can go and trace both lines of Mary and Joseph. He was the son of David, exactly as the Scriptures taught.

In 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 89 both teach of God's faithfulness to the line of David. When the patriarchs were blessed, it was the tribe of Judah that the lion was prophesied to come.

At this point, I could see Philip going beyond the book of Isaiah and speak of other passages of Scripture that point clearly to Jesus.

Mr. Eunuch, Jesus is our God and Savior. You might ask, "Now, how does the root of Jesse fit with Jesus, the Son of God?" Psalm 110 answers that question. Do you remember that Psalm? David wrote it. In verse 1, David wrote, "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'"

The great question that comes out of that Psalm is this: "If the Messiah is the son of David, how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord'?" (Matt. 22:43). The only way that makes sense is if the Messiah is "Immanuel," God with us.

Mr. Eunuch, it was necessary that our Messiah die. Do you remember what Psalm 118:22 says? "The stone which the builders rejected, this has become the chief corner stone." This describes Jesus exactly. He was the choice stone, but was rejected by the builders.

Mr. Eunuch, do you remember Psalm 2? In that Psalm, "the kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed" (Ps. 2:2). The religious leaders have always raged against the LORD and His Anointed. It was nothing new for Jesus, the Messiah to be rejected. But, later on in that same Psalm, the Lord declares, "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain" (Ps. 2:6).

Mr. Eunuch, of course the Messiah had to suffer. Of course the Messiah had to die. The glories would come later. All of the prophets knew they, "They made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Peter 1:11). The issue was that they simply didn't know when the sufferings would come and when the glories would come. The glories overshadowed his suffering. So, they had a difficult time seeing the sufferings.

They say that hindsight is 20/20. In this case, looking back, you san see that the Scriptures were anticipating Jesus. But, His death was the very means through which He would be victorious. Think about the very first Messianic prophecy. It comes in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head; and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Satan would deliver a flesh would. But, Christ would deliver a death-blow. But, Christ would deliver a death-blow. And that's what Jesus did. Satan may have put Jesus to death in the body. But, in the Spirit, Jesus came to life (1 Peter 3:18).

Psalm 16 prophesied of His resurrection. David wrote, "You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will you allow Your Holy One to undergo decay" (Ps. 16:10). Even Isaiah 53 itself speaks of the resurrection of Christ. Look there in verse 11, "As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied;" This verse comes right after Isaiah speaking about the death of the Messiah. But, after the death of the Messiah comes the life of the Messiah! He will see His soul and be satisfied.

Mr. Eunuch, I would urge you now to believe in Jesus. "There is salvation in no other name than the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:12). "Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men everywhere that they should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

Mr. Eunuch, will you follow the Messiah? I repented of my sin and have come to be a follower of Christ. Jesus instructed us to "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19). Are you ready to become a follower of Jesus?

The good news of this story is that Mr. Eunuch responded! For saving faith to take place, there must be (1) A Sovereign Hand (verses 25-33); (2) A Soft Heart (verses 28-35); and ...

3. A Saving Response (verses 36-40)

The eunuch's heart was extremely soft. He responded right away to Philip's call to believe. He believed. Look at what happened in verse 36, As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"

This is a saving response. Apparently, included in Philip's preaching of Jesus, he mentioned baptism. Perhaps Philip told the Ethiopian Eunuch about Jesus' final instructions to his disciples (as I mentioned above from Matt. 28:19). Perhaps Philip preached as Peter did, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38). Perhaps Philip used words similar to what Ananias told Paul, "Brother Saul, receive your sight, ... get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (Acts 22:13, 16). However he heard of the need to be baptized, the eunuch was ready to respond. It demonstrated his soft heart.

In verse 37, Philip clarifies the requirements for baptism. They are belief. Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And (the Ethiopian Eunuch responded), "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (verse 37). [2]

The only requirement for being baptized is that you have placed your faith in Christ. You don't have to perform religious works to be baptized. You don't have to earn it through a series of classes that you take. You don't have to give money. You simply need to believe in Jesus. after all, that's what baptism is. It's an opportunity for you to tell that world that you are a follower of Christ. You are dunked in water to demonstrate how your sins have been washed away through faith in Him.

Isn't this what we see Philip and the Eunuch doing in verse 38, "He ordered the chariot to stop and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him" (verse 38). This is as clear a proof as any in the New Testament, that baptism in the early church was by immersion. Both Philip and the Eunuch went down "into the water." But, the baptism of the Eunuch went further. He was "dunked." He was "immersed." He was "submerged" into the water.

On this desert road, it was a bit unusual to have a pool of water sufficient for this task. That's why the eunuch was quick to point it out the way that he did. Look! Water!" (verse 36).

The application does come to you this morning. Here's a great opportunity for you to be baptized if you have never been baptized before. This afternoon, you have that opportunity. There still is time to be baptized. If the Lord is tugging at your heart, because you haven't been obedient to him in these matters, come and talk to me. You have had many opportunities, but this is one more.

In verses 39-40, we see the sovereign hand of the Lord come up again. (and this is a bit strange). These verses read, "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. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea."

Azotus was some 20 miles north of Gaza. Caesarea was another 50 miles north of Azotus. Now, we don't know exactly what happened. It may have been a totally miraculous experience. One minute, Philip was coming out of the water and the next minute, he was walking the streets of Azotus. It may also have been that Philip was guided by the Spirit at that moment to take the road to Azotus, straight west, rather than continuing south to Gaza.

We may not know exactly what took place, but we do know that God's sovereign hand was removing Philip from this Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip was no longer needed. He had delivered the gospel to this man, who would carry it back to Ethiopia. The Bible is silent on whatever happened to this Eunuch, but Irenaeus, writing some 150 years later wrote that he became a missionary influence to his own people in Ethiopia.

The key to his future ministry (without Philip) is found in verse 39, "He went on his way rejoicing." This is the response of all believers in Christ: joy. It's not joy in following a man. It's not joy in following some ideas. It's joy in following the Savior. Do you know this joy?

Are you following the Savior? Do you have saving faith?

This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on July 6, 2008 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.

[1] Augustine, Confessions, 6:3.

[2] The oldest of the ancient manuscripts don't contain this verse. When Luke wrote down the book of Acts, he may well not have written these words. They may have been inserted later. But, it doesn't matter much, because they are true.

[3] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, chapter 12, paragraph 8.