God’s Spirit is Moving
Turn to Acts 8:26. I love Acts. It’s our history and heritage as believers. The theme of Acts is The Message and the Movement and the Ministry of the Kingdom. We see God’s Spirit moving! What happened then is still happening today throughout the world. I’ve been a part of this church for 18 years and we’ve seen God do incredible things, and I believe He has even greater things in store for us!
At this time in the book of Acts, the church is growing (Acts 2:41). But in Acts 7, we see Stephen put to death after being appointed a church leader (Acts 6:3-5). Aspiring to be a leader in the early church looked different. When Stephen was put to death (the first martyr) a great persecution began against the church (8:1). Saul (Paul) was dragging followers of Jesus out of their homes and creating a great scattering. They were trying to stop the movement, but this actually spread it. Jesus had promised this in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses [the Greek word martys or “martyr”] to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The persecution caused people to flee, but also led them to new people to share Jesus with (Acts 8:4). Philip, a newly appointed leader, fled to Samaria and began sharing Jesus (Acts 8:12). God was moving (physically and spiritually, and causing much rejoicing [Acts 8:8]). Revival broke out and many were falling in love with Jesus.
I. Philip was led by God (the Holy Spirit) to the Ethiopian
Acts 8:26-28 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. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority…had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah…
Philip was leading a revival in Samaria, and then in middle of it, God said go to the desert. He was obedient and like Jesus, Philip was willing to leave the crowds and go after one lost soul.
I’ll be honest, as a pastor I wonder if I would’ve gone. BUT, God had a divine appointment!
Philip heard, “arise and go,” so “he arose and went.” – Could this happen to you today? If God were to speak to you while at HP, Dutch Bros., or OSU, to arise and go to that person sitting by themselves, would you? We have opportunities every day and we can pray and walk in the Holy Spirit!
You never know who God is preparing! God had a man from Ethiopia waiting for Philip. The man was on a spiritual journey and had traveled 200 miles to Jerusalem to worship, and he was heading home still empty and unsatisfied. He was a concerned seeker, searching for something greater. Much like today, when there are a lot of religious people that read the Bible, seeking truth, yet do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ. They’re sincere, but they’re sincerely lost and need someone to show them the way. There are 4,000 international students from 110 countries at OSU, some from Beijing – 5,520 miles away. People from difficult-to-reach countries are coming to us.
The Ethiopian represents an entire nation (ancient Nubia – southern Egypt). What if Philip hadn’t gone? Today there are about 7.7 billion people on earth – 3.19 billion unreached. Forty-two percent of world has yet to hear. That’s 7,151 people groups (different languages and cultures). See https://joshuaproject.net/progress/1. In the U.S. it is said that we have an average of eight bibles per home, yet how many of us are bible-literate? At any level, there are people in our city that are ready for the life, love, and hope of Jesus.
II. The Ethiopian invites Philip to explain the Bible
Acts 8:29-31 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?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
Verse 29: The Spirit speaks to Philip and again he responds with obedience! *Side note*: It’s easier to hear God as you exercise obedience towards Him. I believe the fruit of faith in God is obedience to His Word. We’ve been teaching our children Claire and Caleb that delayed obedience = disobedience.
Verses 30-31: “Do you understand what you are reading?”…“How can I, unless someone guides me?” I wonder, of the people we collectively know that DON’T know Jesus, how many would actually consider reading the Bible with us if we’d ask? I believe we’d be surprised. You don’t have to have all the answers to read the Bible with someone (if you don’t have an answer to a question, tell them you’ll research it and get back to them). God’s Word is so powerful. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
The Ethiopian was ready to receive the truth and invited Philip into his chariot. Many people are in the same boat. They’re ready to know Jesus but have no one to show them. God is long-suffering and He wants none to perish – He’ll even use dreams and visions. However, He longs for you to share as He brings people to you. Time is short. We are 7 days closer to eternity than we were last Sunday.
III. Philip begins with Isaiah and preaches Jesus to the Ethiopian
Acts 8:32-35 The place in the Scripture which he read was this [Isaiah 53]: “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?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
The Ethiopian was reading Isaiah 53:7-8. This is an incredible passage. If you’re not familiar with the Bible, many would assume this passage is in the New Testament but it was actually written in 700 BC.
Verse 35: Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this scripture, preached Jesus to him (similar was said of Peter in Acts 10:34).
Philip was living with purpose.He’s really one of the first cross-cultural missionaries and he models to us how to live on mission and reach others with the love of Jesus.
- Be led by the Spirit (pray and obey) – seek to do God’s will!
- Meet people where they are and ask questions (build a bridge).
- Open your mouth (don’t give into fear). You don’t have to hit a home run.
- Open the scriptures (use the Bible and give them Jesus, not religion).
Philip didn’t go to seminary – he knew his Bible and he’d experienced Jesus. The pressure was not on him to convert the Ethiopian. God draws people to His Kingdom and He does the work, but He longs to partner with us in this work (don’t take it personally if it doesn’t always go well). You don’t have to be perfectly polished. I believe as long as your motives are pure and your desire is for people to find the life, love, and hope of Jesus, you can’t lose (1 Peter 3:15).
IV. The Ethiopian responds to the Gospel (he believes and is baptized)
Acts 8:36-38 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. 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.
Philip was being obedient to what Jesus told His followers to do before He left the earth.
Matthew 28:18-20 All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go [as you are going] therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
The command was given to the disciples, but it’s applicable to ALL Jesus followers. Every Christian is to make disciples! It’s not called The Great Suggestion and it’s not just for the pros. In fact, in the Greek, there are three present participles (words formed from a verb, but used as an adjective): Going – Baptizing – Teaching – these are all active verbs. Inferred: “when going” or as you go, make disciples!
It says go and do what? Proclaim Jesus is Lord and Savior to ALL. Baptizing and teaching people to follow Him. Don’t be afraid, He is with us always as we obey and follow Him! Philip was obedient to the great commission, and the Ethiopian responded. He was willing. If you never talk about Jesus, never ask those around you if they’d like to follow Him, chances are you’ll never see anyone respond to Christ in faith.
The Eunuch responded with belief and obedience, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” and in effect, ‘I want to be baptized and publicly declare this to the entire caravan.’
V. Philip mysteriously departs from the scene
Acts 8:39-40 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 until he came to Caesarea.
Verse 39: The Spirit snatched Philip. He was miraculously led to the Ethiopian, and he even more dramatically leaves the scene. He vanishes and finds himself with a new audience. Everywhere Philip went, he simply couldn’t contain himself (even in a new city 60 miles away). Philip was following Jesus and the Holy Spirit was leading Him. Everywhere he went he shared and testified of Jesus! (Acts 21:8 – 20 years later he is again in Caesarea, a man of good reputation, full of the Spirit, and full of wisdom [Acts 6:3]).
As a Christian, are you willing to go where the Spirit leads you? God’s Spirit is moving! Many of you are living on mission…keep going! Keep praying for the unsaved. Jesus is worth it.
Maybe you haven’t put your faith in Jesus in such a way that you are saved.
Verse 39: The Ethiopian “went on his way rejoicing.” When you realize you can be freed from the penalty and power of sin, you cannot contain yourself! We’ve all sinned and fallen short, yet God in His mercy sent His Son to die for us all! Rejoicing is natural for those who find Jesus (Acts 8:8).
- Mary said, “my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” – Luke 1:47. When she found out that she’d give birth to Jesus, she rejoiced. Mary needed a savior too!
- When the wise men found Jesus after years of searching, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy…they fell to the ground and worshipped Him.” – Matthew 2:10
- A tax-collector and sinner named Zacchaeus received Jesus gladly in Luke 19.
- When a sinner comes to Jesus, not only will they experience joy, but God and the angels do as well. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10
Maybe you’ve put your faith in Jesus but you’ve been thinking that you’re not good enough or that you’ve messed up too many times. Remember He took our shame to the cross – confess your shortcomings, get back up, and begin walking by faith!
Maybe this is new for you and maybe you’ve never considered Jesus. He sees you, He loves you, and He wants a personal relationship with you. Surrender your life to him right now, repent of (turn away from) your sin, and believe the good news. The Bible says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).