Faithlife Sermons

God's Gracious Pursuit (Pt 4): Conclusion

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Looking at both the Eunuch's conversion, and Philip's faithful witness, we see both the grace of God in our own lives and the great calling we have as His witness to the lost and dying around us.

Read Acts 8:26-40
When I first studied this passage, I was deeply impacted by God’s relentless, pursuing grace in send Philip after this Eunuch with the gospel.
Grace = undeserved favor: seeking , drawing, enlightening/illuminating, conversion/regeneration, preservation/carrying.
I now realize, that this word was mostly for me. And as I have struggled to proclaim it to you these past few weeks, it just felt forced. I realize what I had done was not simply preach this text and for that I apologize.
So, rather than continue to struggle through, piling on devotional truths to the story, (no matter how true or helpful they might be), I have decided to close this series of the Ethiopian Eunuch with two simple, over-arching truths that are clearly evident from the passage.

A Reason for Rejoicing

Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch
v.35, 36, 39
Rejoice with the Eunuch (and with all who profess Jesus as Lord!)
Conversion/Regeneration = inward, spiritual change wrought by God in the soul, bringing new attitude, new sensitivity to sin and desire to please the Lord
*John 3:3-8, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Romans 8:16, 1 Peter 1:23, Titus 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17
Inward change not always easy to detect. We cannot see the heart, but we see indications of it.
Ex. Wind (John 3), Ms. Sherry had gall-bladder removed, to us she looks the same. Those closest to her might notice certain foods affect her differently, etc. but not always easy to tell that something happened inside.
What are the outward indications of conversion? Ultimately, fruits of the Spirit and Perseverance in the faith, but initially - Desire to be baptized and Joy in the Lord!
Love for Jesus and desire to be obediently identified with Him (v.36-38)
1 Peter 2:7 NKJV
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,”
When you know the forgiveness of your sins, and the great cost paid to secure it - Jesus becomes precious to your soul!
The second indication we have is found in v.39 - He rejoiced in the Lord!
John 16:22 NASB95
“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
1 Peter 1:8–9 NASB95
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
Suddenly in Christ the Ethiopian Eunuch’s seeking had turned into satisfaction. His confusion was now understanding. His longings, His unease, His guilt all replaced with peace and gratitude in Jesus, His Lord and Savior! He could not help but rejoice!
We, too, can rejoice when we see indications of God’s grace
That’s what you do when the lost thing is found!
Ex. my earbud.
A lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son!
Luke 15:7, 10, 32! All heaven rejoices - so should we!
Note on v.37 - This verse is not in the earliest manuscript copies that have been found. It is important that we understand this.
The ability to detect such changes and additions based on the manuscript evidence and actually helps us get closer to the original text of scripture - It gives us greater confidence in the bible that we hold in our hands.
Take out v.37 and it really changes nothing as this expression is the normal Christian profession of faith (See Matthew 16:16, John 11:27)
These variants simply add details that parallel other NT passages. While unnecessary and unoriginal, their inclusion or removal from the text changes nothing in what the Bible “teaches and affirms” especially in it’s primary message of redemption for mankind through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark 16:9-19, Matthew 17:21, and John 5:3-4 are some notable examples.
Another example of how God uses the supernatural and the natural to bring about His work!
(Ex. God can heal illness, but in His providence He has enabled mankind to learn and develop technology to bring healing. Similarly He can use academia and manuscript evidence to reveal more clearly what His words to us are)
We have a good, trustworthy copy of the Word of God!
Either way (with or without verse 37), the Ethiopian Eunuch demonstrated His faith in Jesus Christ, and we can rejoice in the conversion of every lost sinner saved by the gracious actions of a loving, pursuing God. But God uses means, which brings me to the second point...

An Example of Obedience

Philip’s Faithful Witness
v.26-27, 29, 35, 38, 40
Acts is the story of the Christian witness and Philip’s witness serves as an inspiring example to us, that we may seek to obey God in our own calling and gifts
Witness requires action (on God’s part and ours!) - The command to go - v.26
Simple obedience: Love God. Love neighbor. Share Christ as God gives ability and opportunity.
Read Ephesians 4:4-7, 11-13
Some are called to go and serve in the frontiers of Christianity where the church is not yet established
Some called preach, and to lead in the church
All called to exercise their gifts to grow in their own faith and help others grow in theirs - being and making disciples.
God is supernaturally building His kingdom. He uses seemingly ordinary means to accomplish His great redeeming work.
Angel tells Philip to go / He goes (v.26-27)
Spirit tells him to join the chariot / he runs up and starts a conversation, eventually preaching Jesus to the Eunuch, and baptises him in the water along the way (v.29-39)
The Spirit of the Lord snatches Philip away to Azotus (Ashdod) / Philip travels on, preaching the gospel in each city on his way to Caesarea (v.39-40)
God supernaturally called and equipped Philip. But what was Philip’s part? To go, to have a conversation, to explain the scriptures and preach Jesus, to baptise and keep the cycle going. Philip did what most any believer in Christ is capable of!
Our part - How are we connected to the ongoing work of God’s redemptive plan?
By faithfully preaching and teaching the message of God’s Word
By being and making disciples
By supporting ministries and missionaries
By faithfully preaching and teaching the message of God’s Word
This takes work, and focus. It takes accountability and study. Spiritually empowered, but ordinary work!
Includes all!
It takes more than just the Pastor/Primary preacher/teacher. (Beware of wrong view of what we’re doing here this morning! Not passive!)
When it comes to the proclamation of the Word of God, you are an integral, active participant!
Prayer for the Preacher, and for preparation of hearts
Study of the scriptures that you may be like the Bereans
Listening and desire to obey what God is saying
Evaluation and feedback - Is the message clearly communicating the meaning behind the passage and why it matters for the church?
Spiritual work is going on, God will do His part. We get to take part in that!
We need Pastoral oversight and to have unity in what we are teaching, but we need more voices teaching the message!
Voddie Baucham: Three legged stool in Titus (Pulpit, Older, Parents all teaching the truth in unity)
Brothers and Sisters, we need to be people who seek to learn and teach the Word of God in light of the Gospel!
Parents, we are called to teach these truths to our children and our grandchildren.
By being and making disciples - discipling. Committing to growing by God’s grace, both personally and as a covenant community!
Matthew 28:19 NASB95
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
By spending time with believers, with a focus on growing in the knowledge and likeness of Jesus. Involves personal devotion and discipline, and helping others in their growth.
While COVID has definitely made this more of a challenge, we need to each one of us, be actively engaged in discipling and investing in the mission of the church.
To this end, I am looking to start a book study in March to get us thinking about what it means to be a disciple, and how that relates to being part of God’s witness in the local church.
“The Compelling Community” Dever and Dunlop - More to come this week
Desire to work through several others, including subjects such as discipling, evangelism, prayer - all with a focus on how these disciplines relate to life together and our mission as the church of Christ.
By intentionally spending time with unbelievers for the purpose of sharing about God and His redeeming work in sending Christ His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
By supporting ministries and missionaries who are involved in that work across the state, nation and world!
This means praying for, giving to, and even serving with missionaries and fellow churches in a concerted effort to further the gospel in areas that don’t have ready access to the church and it’s message of redemption!
See how to give handout
Freeway ministries in Springfield
Camp David of the Ozarks
House of Samuel or Seed Ministry abroad
And don’t forget - Rejoice in Redemption!
Close and Pray
Note on cynicism vs rejoicing
Beware of skepticism and cynicism! Rejoice, then prayerfully walk with them and watch for fruit and growth (importance of the church). Yet still rejoice and celebrate!
Our part:
Right teaching - True to scripture, gospel emphasis, etc.
Right practice: Personal holiness, Loving discipleship, accountability and discipline
leave the rest to God, rejoicing at every opportunity!
(See Matthew 13:24-30)
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