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Philip and the Ethiopian

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 17, 2020 8:00 am

Philip and the Ethiopian

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 17, 2020 8:00 am

Imagine you're right in the middle of a very successful outreach program. People are coming to Christ daily. God is blessing your efforts. Then an angel comes and tells you to leave this successful ministry and go into the desert? What would you do? Would you argue? Would you go?

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Imagine you're right in the middle of a very successful outreach program. People are coming to Christ daily. God is blessing your efforts. Then an angel comes and tells you to leave this successful ministry and go into the desert. What would you do? Would you argue? Would you go?

You're listening to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. God's ways are not our ways. We see this very clearly in the life of one of the great men of the early church.

Phillip, the deacon, also called the evangelist, as we saw last week. He took the gospel to Samarra this week. We see that in the middle of a very powerful and successful outpouring of the spirit. Philip received a very unusual command. He was told to drop all the success and go into the desert there in the providence of God. He meets one man and shows in the way. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce talks to us about Philip's trip into the desert.

We're studying the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, the second half of that chapter, a story that concerns one of the great but often overlooked men of the early church.

A man, Phillip.

His story has brought to us in this chapter in the midst of what was a great persecution of the church last Sunday evening, as we began our study of the chapter, we looked a bit at the nature of the persecution.

We saw that it was an intensified persecution over what had taken place before. Earlier, when the apostles had been preaching, the authorities in Jerusalem had been displeased and they had sent the temple guards, their soldiers to arrest the apostles and bring them before the high court of the Jews, the Sanhedrin there. They interrogated them. And when they realized that they were preaching the resurrection of Jesus, whom they had been responsible for putting to death, they forbid the apostles to preach further, let them go. When they kept on doing it, they rearrested them and then eventually beat them and then turn them loose. That was the earlier persecution by this stage after the testimony of Steven and his martyrdom. The persecution has intensified so that now it's not merely the apostles, so are being threatened and persecuted by the religious authorities, but the church at large lay people as well as what we would call the clergy. So it was intensified in that way. And then I pointed out it was intensified also because in the initial stages, it would seem that the sad Jesses, the more, as we would say, modernistic party of the Jews led the persecution it had to do with the resurrection of Jesus. And that was a direct assault on their theology. They didn't believe in the resurrection. So they led the persecution.

But now, since the speech of Stephen, in which he had shown that this religion of Jesus Christ involved the fulfillment of the law in a way that was inevitably destined to pass over and go beyond the traditions of Judaism, including the Jewish way of understanding the law and the temple worship.

And at that point, it wasn't just the sciences that got upset, it was the Pharisees as well.

So the persecution has broadened to include more people and those who are behind it are now united.

These two great sacks of Judaism draw together to try and suppress the Christian church. And then I showed that if anything could make the situation worse. There is the introduction of Saul, the chief persecutor, into the church at this time was in a time like that time of intense persecution that the churches scattered to all the areas round about Jerusalem. I pointed out that that word scattered is a word which, like the Hebrew word, just real implies not only a scattering, but a planting, because in ancient times. Same word would easily have two meetings when a farmer would go into the field, a gesture that he would use to plant is grain reaching into a sack around his neck and then throwing it out with his hand like that into the field as the same gesture you would use if you were throwing something away. So that word for scattering also is the word for planting.

And in God's providence, this is what happened to the church. The individual believers as a result of the persecution were scattered. But says SLU, who is writing the history as they were scattered, they were actually planted in all these other areas.

It has always been that way in church history.

I said in the Middle Ages, Jerome is the one who spoke at the blood of the martyrs is the seat of the church. And that is true. Or the church has been persecuted and scattered. It has always taken root and has grown up and borne fruit for eternity. Now, it's at this point and Luke's telling of the story that he introduces Philip. Philip, you'll recall, is one of the seven deacons that are elected in the previous chapter to carry on a work of service in the church in Jerusalem.

This is a great man, the only man in acts who is called an evangelist and who actually earned the title because when the church was scattered, he being part of the scattering, made his way on north into the region of some area and everywhere he went, preach Jesus.

And as a result of that, people believe first in one community and then and another, and then others believed along with them in a church was established and the movement became so great.

It was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in bringing the Samaritans to faith that finally the church in Jerusalem said, we have to take notice of this. And the apostles, who apparently were the only ones who really stayed in Jerusalem, sent representatives north to find out what had happened and authenticate what was going on.

If that were necessary. And so if they did.

Now, this chapter contains two incidents concerning Philip the first. Does this general ministry of evangelism that took place in some area, the story of Simon, a magician, has told in that context. And then there is the second story, a story perhaps for which Philip is best known. Story of Philip's witness to the Ethiopian eunuch who had been up to Jerusalem and was on his way back to his own country when God sent Philip to him. We need to think about the setting in which this call to fill up, to go and preach to the Ethiopian comes. I've already pointed out that this was a time of revival in some area. In other words, it was a time of great blessing. Phillip had been greatly used of God and to judge from the way the story continues, because this church continued to thrive, spread.

Eventually the gospel is going in other areas as well. It was not a blessing. It was on the wane, but it was a blessing that was rising. It was waxing.

Phillip was very important as a part of this.

He was a chief evangelist. Oh, it's true that Peter and John had been sent up and they did their work and then like dutiful ecclesiastical, they went back to report to the others in Jerusalem. But Philip was the man who was there in the front lines carrying on the ministry. And he was in the heart of this when the call came.

That's part of the context and then the other part of it is in the nature of the call.

Here he was in a great area, doing a great work, reaching many, many people.

And Holy Spirit comes to him as an angel of the Lord. Perhaps that was a real personal revelation by an angel. God comes to him in that context and says, now I want you to go down to the road at Desert Road that stretches down toward Gaza on the way to Egypt. The Philistine territory isn't that interesting. That God you'd call him at such a time to such a place. We're not told at all that Phillip ejected, and I don't think he did. He was a godly man and what God called him to do undoubtedly did. He did it joyfully. But if we were there, we might very well have raised some objections. I can think of the kind of objections I might have raised. I might have said, first of all.

Not now, George. Goodness gracious. Not now. There are times, Slater, undoubtedly, when we'll want to go down and evangelize that region, but not now.

We're in the midst of this great blessing in some area. We don't want to turn our back on this.

And above all, I don't want to turn my back on this because I'm the one you've set. And through him, the blessing has come. Not now, but now.

Or Phillip might very well have said, not me.

And maybe he could even have said it humbly. He might have said, Lord, I'm not the only Christian around or all kinds of Christians are capable of doing the work. I'm involved in a work here. Do you mean to tell me you don't have other people who can do it by? I mean, are all those apostles sitting down there in Jerusalem? They receive the great commission in person. Jesus told them to go and all the world and preach the gospel every good. Why don't you send Peter? Why you send John? Why don't you send some of those apostles? They're not doing anything except coming up to check up on my work and see if I'm doing all right.

I think maybe you should send them or in third place, he could have said not.

They're not they're not that desert area. Why? Nobody even lives down there. There's a desert area. I have a place to work is where the people are like right here in some area. This great city. Here's where we ought to carry on the witness only to get there in time.

I'm sure the gospel is destined to go in all the world. Jesus said so. But let's focus on the area where I am now, or if you must reach that area, do it with somebody else. That's a kind of objection we might have made. But as I say, I don't think Phillip did that at all because Phillip. Now, something that we need to know and which is very helpful as we live our lives. And it's a simple thing. God's ways are not our ways. Slots are not our thoughts. It's ways are not our ways. How do we know? He tells us so he says that God himself tells us that it means that although Christianity is not an irrational thing. Although none of us are called to be irrational.

We have reasons to operate according to reason. Nevertheless, when we're engaged in spiritual work, when we're doing God's work, there are always going to be areas of that work which we don't understand.

We say to ourselves in different situations in our lives.

Well, why does God do that? I just don't understand that. That's all right. That's just the way it's going to be. Haven't you ever ask questions like that? Here is somebody who is extremely effective and Christian work. They're the ones that get sick.

They die.

And you say, well, why that one law? I mean, all sorts of Christian you could dispense with. Why that went so valuable does.

We don't understand why it operates that way. Are we look at some work that is spiritual, some work that is pioneer work, carrying on a difficult area. And that's the work that doesn't seem to get the money. Just has to struggle long.

And then here's a work which show you look at, you're not against it. It's a Christian work. The name of Jesus is confessed freely. But really, it is so superficial and it is so redundant. Why? There are dozens of other works just like that. And if it perish from the earth, nobody would be much the poor. And yet he gets all the money.

And you say, Lord, why is that? Why do those who really want to do the work in difficult places, why do they have to struggle so.

I face that because I have to do with boards like that, and I must say I don't know the answer. I can think of answers. Good to struggle.

Tribulation, work with patients, that sort of thing.

You know, that doesn't always get to me where I'm at and I still wonder why is that? Why is that? Well, the answer really from our perspective, is no answer, though. It is a great answer. God's ways are not our ways. We just do not know what God is doing. Someday we'll know. I think might take us an eternity to find out.

Might have to ask God questions one after the other four thousand or two thousand years until we get it all sorted out. God is infinite and what he's doing is complex.

Well, I do think one day we'll know. But you see, now the point is now we don't know when Philip was given this call.

Philip didn't know what God was going to do with him. Didn't make sense. Humanly speaking. Leave that work. Go down that desert area near Gaza.

But that's what God told him to do. And so he did it.

You know, whenever it comes to a choice, not saying we should be irrational, but whenever it comes to a choice between our way of reasoning about things and what God says, you know as well as I do, that's no choice.

You would better do what God says. You read the word that doesn't seem to make sense to you. But it's what it says. You'd better do it, because that's the way in which we find blessing.

So Philip went now on the way he came to this Ethiopian eunuch. This is part of a history that might very well go back a thousand years. Ethiopia is a term given to that whole area of Africa, south of Egypt. Today, it's more limited. It's the country of Ethiopia to the southeast. But that day, it was that whole upper area of the Nile, way back at the headwaters of the Nile and beyond. And it was a broad area. The reason I say there's a history here that may have gone back a thousand years is that that's the same area from which the Queen of Sheba came in the days of King Solomon. In other words, there had already been some connection between that area of the world and the Jewish faith. Queen of Sheba was greatly impressed by King Solomon and Solomon most certainly shared with her the learning and the books of the Jews.

Who's to say over all those hundreds and hundreds of years?

What kind of remnant of the knowledge of the true religion existed there in far off Ethiopia? We don't know. We don't have any history of that. All we really have are some traditions that may or may not have any grounding, in fact.

Any rate here, the time of the early church, there was this man, this Ethiopian hope for some reason something he had heard, some tradition that had been passed down to Amber Apps. A traveler who had come by had gotten the idea that up there in Jerusalem, all those hundreds and hundreds of miles away, there was a religion that he should investigate if he was really serious about his seeking after God.

And so he made that long, long trip to Jerusalem. Now, another man wouldn't have been able to do it.

Was very hard to travel in those days, and that was a long, long way, and if he had been even a minor official in this court of Kansas, the Ethiopian queen mother, he just wouldn't have been free to make the journey. But he was an important man. He was the head of the treasury of the kingdom.

And it was a rich land because gold came from there was a rich land and it was important position. And this man, because of his position, was able to make the journey. And so he said, well, I'm just going to go up there to Jerusalem and see what I can learn. See what I can find. I find it interesting to reflect on what this man must've found when he got to Jerusalem. There's nothing in the story that indicates that he'd heard anything about Jesus. Now, maybe it's hard to think that he could be in Jerusalem in these days and get no wind of what was going on. But he wasn't Hebrew speaking, did no Aramaic. I would suppose he would know Greek and probably that's what he was reading.

Those who study textual matters closely say the way this text from Isaiah 53, which he is reading, is quoted here in the Great New Testament, indicates that he was getting it from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament and not from Hebrew.

So it's some indication that Greek, the universal language of the day is what he know. And it's quite possible, as I say, that not knowing Hebrew or Aramaic only know in Greek and being in Jerusalem or for what was perhaps a relatively short time, he really didn't know much about Jesus. But certainly he entered into the open, visible religious life of the Jews. He was a man who feared God, it would mean that he fell into the category of what the Jews called God Führer's, I hadn't entered into the fellowship of the Jews in an official way. They didn't become Jews. He wasn't circumcised.

But he was a God fearing, as one who had a reverence for the traditions of Israel, was a special place for him in the courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem. He would be in what would be called the courtyard of the Gentiles, who was able to come in there and worship and all of that. Other things were barred from it. But presumably that's what he did.

And, you know, you have to ask, what do you suppose a man from so far away from this land of Ethiopia coming to Rousselot in these days would have found in terms of the religious life of Judaism? Well, we know a bit because we have the gospels. We know what Jesus face. We know what the early apostles were facing.

We know how these religious leaders were functioning in those day is all they had the great traditions of Israel, but they had become hopelessly legalistic. They were more concerned with the jot and tittle of the law as they interpreted it, than with its spirit. And I think that man, as he came up against the legalism, must have been terribly disappointed.

A man must have said, well, we have laws in Ethiopia, too. And you don't find God through keeping laws has to be something more than this. I suspect also that he found it the religion of Israel and these days was very political.

If the Pharisees were the party that was chiefly responsible for the keeping of the law, the Sassy's were chiefly the political figures, the high priests and his family resurgences.

They were the ones who had entree into the court and the law offices of the Romans. And probably he saw that the religion of the Jews was largely political, at least among many people. They just wanted influence and power and prestige, and they wanted to keep their own privileges. And I think for that cause, he must've been quite disappointed to. So much different today. Many people go to the churches hungry, thirsting after God with a thirst that God has given them, a hunger that God has given them.

What they find is people who are concerned with rules, concerned with regulations, legalistic people are politically minded people, but they don't find the spirit of the living God.

And this man certainly had not found it, but he had found something. He found the law and the prophets. He'd found the religious books of Judaism. Now he was reading from Isaiah. So he had clearly purchased a scroll of Isaiah when he was in Jerusalem. I don't know what else he purchased. He was a rich man. I guess the Pentateuch weren't available. He would have purchased that. The books of the prophets see probably purchased that Isaiah would have been part of. He may have purchased it all, at least all that was available to him. But we know at least that he purchased Isaiah. Not much, you see in real religious life of the people. But the word of God. Did he know how valuable that was? I don't know.

Probably he was pondering over that, as he would have pondered over any other religious book would have said, well, I don't know, this trip was worth it. It was a long way. I'm going back empty. But maybe there's something in the scroll.

And so on, this long journey, sitting in his chariot, covered to protect him from the sun, he began to read Isaiah. The quotation we have is from Chapter 53. Did he start at the beginning while chapters to read? Yes.

But it's also a long journey, I imagine, is what he did. He started at the beginning.

We read about ISIS call. Here the king is iodide. I saw the Lord high and lifted up. His glory filled the temple, saw the Seraphim say, holy, holy, holy Lord, God Almighty, I think if he had read the book from the beginning and he'd come to Chapter six, where Isaiah tells of his vision, he must have said to himself.

That's what I long for. I want to know. God, the holy God. I want a vision of the one after whom my soul is thirsting. Did you read as well as he went through the book of the Sins of the People? The fact that sin bars us from God. God had given an invitation, come to me and I'll give you wine, bread without money and without price. But that the people would not call that their hearts were hardened. Did he read that? So he must have understood something about himself from the people in which he lifts.

He must have understood that although God is high and lifted up and holy, we are centers and sin keeps us from him. And that's why things are so bad. Maybe he understood that.

But you say at this point of his journey, he'd come to Isaiah, 53, and he was reading these words, he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before the shears is silence. So he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation, he was deprived of justice, who can speak of his descendants or his life was taken from the earth.

And as he read those words, he was puzzled. He said to himself, what is this? Speaking about whom is the prophet writing?

He writing about himself. It's possible to write about yourself in the third person doing that. Is he saying he the prophet Isaiah? I have been led like a sheep to the slaughter. Is he writing about that or is he writing about some other man?

If he's writing about some other man who is about whom is the prophet writing, he just didn't know.

And this is the providence of God was the moment that Philip saw this chariot approaching and drew near to it. Now there are no accidents on the life of God's people.

There are no accidents at all. Once I said to Bob Godfrey, talking about something that was spiritually fortuitous, well, it's providential. Bob Godfrey said to me, all things are providential. He was absolutely right. There are no accidents with Christians, no accidents in this world at all.

And certainly this was no accident because he came fill up at the very moment that this man had reached what many regard as the very heart of this prophecy. That is the heart of the Old Testament.

And he was wondering what it meant.

Now, Philip was a great evangelist, sometimes you think of an evangelist as one simply knows how to stand up, and when he finishes giving his message generally in simple terms, he presents an invitation all he would like to receive. Jesus, raise your hand. There are Angeles like that. Phillip was a subtle evangelist. He was an evangelist like the Lord. I wonder if he knew about the way the Lord approached the woman of Somalia herself.

A foreigner, you see.

I think he must have, because he approached this man the same way. You'll recall that in the case of our Lord's approach to the woman, he had to go out of his way to do it was another way to get up there to the north. And he said, we must go to Samarian. So he deviated and went. Mary was at Jacob's well and the woman came.

And when she came, he showed himself friendly, began to ask her questions, and finally he probed in the area of spiritual things and exactly what Phillip is doing. We're not given the whole conversation, but I imagine Philip drew near the chariot and gave a friendly greeting. And the man in the chariot gave a greeting back. I would be quite appropriate, you see, because this man would be traveling with a entourage, servants and probably soldiers to protect him and his chariot.

It would be quite appropriate when people were traveling in those days for a lone stranger, a lone traveler who would be subject to all sorts of mistreatment in a remote place by robbers and such, to draw near this kind of a chariot and fall in with a procession of they were moving in the same direction. So there wasn't anything strange about Philip drawing near. What was strange, perhaps, is that he attracted his attention to the Ethiopian.

At any rate, this man, his heart had been prepared by God. And when Philip drew near and heard it, says what he was reading, because in those days, generally, they read out loud. You know that it's a puzzle to us because we're used to reading quietly, but most days they read aloud. Part of the reason is because of the way the manuscripts were written in all these ancient manuscripts. The characters run together without periods and punctuation leaves very little punctuation. And if you've ever worked through one of those ancient manuscripts in Hebrew or another language and tried to decipher it, you know how difficult that is. The best way to do it is try to pronounce it out loud. Matter of fact, with Hebrew, in my case, even when it is divided up by words and there is punctuation, I still have to pronounce it out loud because the little characters there don't mean much to me. The way an English letter Roman letter means something. While the Hebrew characters don't mean that I kind of have to make the sounds. I look at the maime and the llama and the calf and then I go Molik and well, I know what that is. Melick means kick. Well, when I look at it, I don't always know what it is. I have to pronounce it out loud. And that's the way they read in antiquity. It's an interesting story. It concerns St. Augustine. His great spiritual father was Ambrose. And the thing that struck him when he first got to know Ambrose is when Ambrose was reading the word of God. He didn't move his lips. Goslin thought that was really striking, this man really was a reader. He didn't have to move his lips at any rate. Here was this Ethiopian reading and reading out loud. And Philip heard that and he knew what he was reading.

So he drew near the chariot and he asked the question, do you understand what you are reading? That's really a neat question. Do you understand what you're reading, how inoffensive that is? And yet at the same time, it's a very subtle but gracious invitation to explain it. If the person would really be interested in an explanation and that's what the Ethiopian responded to, he said, how can I unless someone explains it to me? So he invited Phillip to come up. And Philip began to expound the passage some years ago.

There was a director for the Campus Crusade for Christ work at the University of Pennsylvania, used to worship with us. His name was Ron Blankly. I'm sure he knew these things himself. But I had been preaching on a Sunday about the genealogies of Jesus Christ to geneology. So we have Matthew and Luke and had been showing how they actually fit together, although parts of the genealogies are different. And it sounds like two separate genealogies for Jesus. It's actually, as I pointed out, a marvelous case of the wisdom of God and drawing together two lines in Christ so that as a result he is the only possible messiah. And I'd explain that. And he had been in the service. And then the following week, he was going through the lounge, one of the student lounges of the University of Pennsylvania. And there was a young man sitting there was reading a Bible. Well, that was like the Ethiopian reading his Bible. And Ron likely went over to him and asked what he was reading. He said, I'm reading the genealogies. I'm trying to make them fit together. They seemed to be different. And Ron blankly said, and I quote, Ax each verse 30. Do you understand what you are reading?

And young students said, well, no, it's a matter of fact, I don't. And he said, you understand it. Ron blankly sat down and explained how that went together, what that taught about the Messiah ship of Jesus. And the young man became a Christian. And that encounter. That is precisely what happened here, where the Ethiopian, because he was reading that great chapter in which the Lord Jesus Christ is portrayed as the suffering servant. One came not in his glory. And he laid aside when he came in the form of a man obedient to the father, that he might subject himself to death and not just any death, but even death on a cross. To be our savior versus a follow this. These are versus seven and eight for the versus the follow this and the chapter go on to speak of.

I carry a stone when it is the strongest statement of that and all the Old Testament, how he bore our transgressions, how he suffered in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous and so on.

And I'm sure that as he began to explain this and tell about Jesus who had done this just a very short time before in Jerusalem, that Philip took the occasion to tell the whole life.

And ministry and resurrection and ascension and something of the teachings of Jesus Christ. I like to think that he got to the end and he said and, you know, just before Jesus was taken up into heaven, he said to his disciples, go into all the world and baptize those CEU believe in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

And at that point, I think the Ethiopians said because he saw water there as they were going by, what hinders me to be baptized.

There's a great verse here. Verse 35. Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him that good news about Jesus.

I wonder if you're able to do that to start with that very passage, whatever it may be. All Isaiah 53. That's a good one. But how about the genealogies? How about revelation of Genesis? Begin with that very passage. And preach the good news about Jesus. It can be done, you know, because the Bible from beginning to end is about Christ.

You don't understand Genesis one one and the beginning. God created the heavens and the Earth without understanding something about Jesus Christ, because it's through him, as it says in Colossians, that God did his work of creation.

You don't understand the end of revelation either without understanding about Jesus. Because those last words say I come quickly and the response of the heart is even so come Lord Jesus.

You see, Philip knew the word.

And so he was ready. When the man said, how can I understand it unless someone explains it to me? And so the water was there and man was baptized. I am so glad that Phillip wasn't hung up on ecclesiastical procedure. I guess that there are places in the world, maybe even Philadelphia, in which when a request like that would be made, somebody would say.

But is that according to the Book of Order, after all, baptism is a sacrament of the church and should take place in the company of the congregation. It's not a private right. Maybe the Ethiopian should have gone back to Jerusalem or some area there in the company of the people of God have been baptized. And after all, isn't that what baptism signifies? Union with Christ? Yes, but not just union with Christ. It's also public identification with the people of God.

Philip has said now, you know, it's important to be baptized, but you have to do it right.

And this is certainly an unusual case. We've never faced a situation quite like this before. Nobody on the road to Gaza in the desert has ever asked to be baptized before. I think I had better report back to Jerusalem to find out from Peter and John and the other apostles what I should do in this case.

I am so glad he wasn't hung up on those procedures. Don't misunderstand me. I think they're important in their place.

But you see one thing that happens in the churches that when we lack a sense of spiritual things, when we get our minds off or when we're just not sensitive to what God is doing, we fall back on procedure.

And I've seen that again and again. And Philip wasn't like that. He said, well, of course. Of course. And so they're in the water. Probably not much of it. As Ethiopia and this high important official on the court of Kandice, the queen of the Ethiopians, was baptized coming to God, not as the Ethiopian treasurer. The important man, but as a sinner. It was availing himself of the blood.

Jesus Christ, who had died for him as the prophet had said so many hundreds of years ago.

And what happened to him? The text says he went on his way rejoicing, Philip went on his way to Philip, had a great career after this. He went on up the coast toward the north.

He preached in a number of cities, Zoetis says, and finally he arrived in Sicily. He must have settled down there because later on an acts and the 21st chapter, verse eight, we find him again. What you find there, it's 20 years later, Paul and Lukas with him because Luke is writing in the plural. He says we are making their way back to Jerusalem because Paul is bringing the offering and that's when he's arrested and all of that. They've just said farewell to the Fijian elders. And Luke says, When we arrived in Cesario, we stayed in the house of Phillip the Evangelist. And there he is again. In the interim, he is married and he had four children, all daughters, and all of them were providences.

They followed their father at the ministry right thing. That's what happened to fill up with Ethiopian. The last we hear of him as he went on his way, rejoicing. And we think that God failed to bless him in his homeland. He didn't have a gospel that Matthew did and Mark didn't have looked and have George didn't have the Book of Romans. They weren't even written. Didn't Genesis. The minor profits, far as I know, that we may have gotten those books. But what he had was Isaiah. And by the spirit of God, he understood it because he understood that Isaiah, the Prophet, had been writing about Jesus Christ, that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ had come and died and risen again.

And he was one of his disciples. And I think he must have spoken about this and God must have blessed his witness.

And over the years, the church grew up in Ethiopia. And just like Jesus said, the gospel was spreading now into all the regions of the world, doesn't it him press you, aren't you struck by the fact of how easy it is?

For someone to come to Jesus Christ.

We think the other way, don't we? Because sometimes it's so difficult for somebody you're concerned for and you pray about and it just seems like they will not come. They cannot understand. They resist. And so on. But it isn't always that way, sometimes it is so easy because when God prepares the heart, the faith just leaps at the word and the hungering soul grass, but then clutches Jesus Christ to its breast.

That's the joy of evangelism. When you speak, you don't know what's going to happen, you may run into great opposition. That's true. We're not promised that we'll be free of persecution, but sometimes we should pray that it will be more often than it is. People have hearts prepared and they respond and they believe.

And everything has changed.

Has that happened in your life? It's not a complicated gospel. Oh, the word of God has complicated things and theology is complex, and it's a study that can occupy you for a lifetime. But the gospel isn't hard. The hardness is our hearts. And the gospel is this you are a sinner, you are far from God, you are lost. There's nothing you can do to reach him. But he has reached out to you. Jesus Christ, Jesus has died in your place, he has taken the punishment that you deserve. And he offers you his righteousness in life forevermore, it's as simple as that. And all you have to do is reach out. Empty hands, not hands that are offering God anything. What do you have to offer God?

But empty hands to take what God gives you and say has I'm sure this Ethiopian did. I. Believe these things. And I want Jesus for my savior. That's Brian.

Our father, we ask your forgiveness if an hour speech about Christian things, we make it so hard or complex. But people who need a simple gospel are confused by our speaking. We thank you. But the gospel is simple. The work of the Holy Spirit is effective. And that down through all the years of church history in this way, simple ways, you have brought sinful men and women to yourself.

We ask you to do it. Right now. The heart. Mind and life of that one.

It was far from you. But who needs Jesus?

A man and a.

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