He seems to have accepted his position in life without bitterness. Romans chapter 8, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin. He condemned sin in the flesh.
So there we have what the law could not do. The law could not really bring this eunuch into the temple, but the grace of God brings him all the way into a relationship with Christ. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Acts.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 8 as he begins his message, Placed to Preach. Beginning at verse 26, 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 under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship. Was returning and sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the spirit said to Philip, Go near and overtake his 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. The place in the scripture which he read was this. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before its shearer is silent.
So he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation, his justice was taken away. And who will declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. So the eunuch answered Philip and said, I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this?
Of himself or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning at this scripture preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water.
What hinders me from being baptized? 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. So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. And 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 in Azotus, and passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. Placed to preach. Well, we've been going through this eighth chapter, and one of the dominant thoughts that came out, at least for me, and the message that was entitled, persecuted to preach. Then last session in this eighth chapter, it was power to preach, and now he is placed to preach this particular servant of God, Philip.
And it just kind of flows. As I am a Christian, I want to reach lost souls. I don't want to be persecuted to preach, but if I am persecuted, still going to preach. And there is a mild persecution taking place now in this country, and so we are still persecuted to preach.
Nonetheless, don't let it shut you up. This book of Acts centers on doing for the kingdom of God, and the salvation of souls. That's what it's going to focus on throughout.
It is not a patch-me-up kind of a book, it is a use-me-up kind of a book. It is about living life while serving God, and it has to do with preaching the gospel. In this book, we come across Christians and non-Christians alike who have people problems, just like me, but the Christians are still working for Christ nonetheless, in spite of the problems. We look now at that 26th verse, again, now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, arise, go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.
This is desert. Well, here it is an angel speaking to this servant, Philip. Angels are created beings. In Ezekiel 28, God speaking to the prophet about angels says, you were the anointed cherub, created, you were created.
So let's not suppose that they are self-existent. They are created beings, Satan being one of them. Satan is not the opposite of God. Satan is a created being used by God, and his end is sealed. He is doomed.
But until the day of execution of his sentence, he makes havoc of everything. So here, again, in verse 26, of the seven leaders appointed in chapter 7, two have an outstanding fame attached to them, Stephen and Philip. Stephen's death caused the Christians to scatter, and in so doing, they spread Christianity. His death caused Christianity to scatter, and in so doing, Christianity spread throughout the region. Philip, his life, not his death, his life caused unbelievers to hear the gospel and then further spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. You read this book as a believer and you want this.
You want this action. You want this power to preach. You want to see souls coming to Christ.
It's very difficult. It's impossible to find out who God has been working on and to lead them to salvation until God reveals them, and that is the lesson we're getting out of this section. Philip, incidentally, preached amongst people who otherwise were avoided by his fellow Christian Jews.
Not intentionally, it was just a matter of the culture. Few of the Jews thought to go to Samaria. Few of them would have been picked and called to go to an Ethiopian eunuch.
They stayed within their communities. That will come out later as we go through the book of Acts, and that's an interesting feature that in this man was what God needed to send him anywhere that he wanted to send him. Stephen is a type of the church at Smyrna.
They're in Revelation chapter 2. Faithful unto death, Jesus said to that church, and that was Stephen. Philip is a type of the church at Philadelphia. To that church, Jesus said, I have set before you an open door. Well, sometimes we Christians today fall into the category of Stephen and we become martyrs. We suffer or die for the Gospel. Or we can be like Philip, where the Lord sets before us an open door and we are faithful to the word of God.
These interesting comparisons and parallels, the allegory that belongs to these lessons, they are to make us better. We have the Christian language, you know, for the edification of the body of Christ. Well, that means to make it better, to make the body of Christ better at doing work for Christ.
Stephen was a full man, we're told in the scriptures, but Philip is a busy man, not a busy body. And we will see him preaching his way all the way up to Caesarea, over 70 miles of just preaching wherever he went. Because when you lead somebody to Christ, you know, it's like, I want another. I'll have another, Lord, send me to another.
This is the excitement that goes with this. I don't know how many years you've been in Christianity, but you may come to a point where you're not excited, not as you used to be, maybe a little disillusioned. You need to fight that. You need to take it back. Don't stand for your flesh shoving you around without resistance, without standing up to it and getting stale and needing to be refreshed, a part of the Christian experience. Don't be surprised. Don't think God has walked away from you. Just deal with it.
And if you do deal with it, you will reap the rewards. Stephen did not get to live long enough to act out his Christianity in his older years, but Philip did. And we'll catch up with him again in the latter chapters of Acts, and there he is still being an influence for the Lord. It says here in verse 26, saying, this is what the angel said to Philip, arise, go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. Well, remember, the Ethiopian, he had gone to the temple to worship. He's coming back home now to Ethiopia.
And this is a main road. He reminds us of Elijah being repeatedly sent to Ahab and to Ahaziah, you know, go to Ahab and tell him. And well, we're seeing some of that here with Philip. This angel who's a messenger of God, he cannot give the gospel, but Philip can.
Of all the men in Israel, Philip gets the call to minister to the Sumerians, to the Ethiopians, as I mentioned a few minutes ago. And at this point, this is all he knew. Arise and go down to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.
That's all the information he got. He had to trust God and go by faith before he got step two. Moses, when Pharaoh was telling Moses the conditions, well, Pharaoh was saying, well, if you're going to go to the wilderness, you've got to leave your livestock behind. And Moses said, our livestock also shall go with us. Not a hoof shall be left behind. You've got to love Moses.
He's just so articulate there, is he not? Not a hoof shall be left behind. You parents, when you take all your kids in the car, you can say that. All of you in the car, not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some... I hope there's nobody real sensitive, you know.
It's like, too bad if you are lighting up. Anyhow, for we must take some of them to serve Yahweh our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve Yahweh until we arrive there. And so there's another indication of God's faithful servant being instructed what to do, but not getting all the information, just stepping out in faith based on his initial leading. And I think a lot of churches, a lot of Christians avoid the book of Acts because they don't like the concept of being led.
They feel like they're smart enough to figure everything out on their own. I don't know. I don't know what's going on with that, but I know this. In the book of Acts, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the children of God, said Paul to the Roman church. Again, I can't find lost souls on my own. I'm supposed to be ready when the Lord brings me in front of one. God must send me, and that lesson's flying off the page, and it comes in steps in this case, this leading of the Holy Spirit and his permission, this reoccurring theme in the book of Acts. Peter was told by an angel to go stand in the porch of the temple and preach the Word, the words of life.
Philip here is told to go to Gaza. Peter later will be told by the Spirit to go to the house of Cornelius. There will be others involved in getting Peter there, those men from Joppa. Anyway, the leaders of the church in Antioch will be told by the Holy Spirit to separate Paul and Barnabas with the work of ministry. And then Paul and Silas, they will be forbidden to go to Asia and Bithynia with the Gospel. Can you imagine telling a Christian today, you can't go there to preach the Gospel? You're not going to preach in the Word of God. Who are you to tell me?
So here's Paul and Silas. They wanted to go into Asia, and the Holy Spirit made it clear that's not what they were to do. No. Okay, we'll go to Bithynia. No, you can't go there either. Well, what does that leave? Manhattan.
Restaurants are there. Anyway, Psalm 37 verse 23, the steps of a good man are ordered by Yahweh, and he delights in his way. So as a Christian, get used, get used to being led and not moving until you are. I mean, there are some times it's obvious.
I mean, it's just clear. But there are other times, it's just that I have no leading to do this. And I want to remind you, when you begin to live that way, you will offend fellow Christians. What could be wrong? Why won't you do this? Pastor, we want you to do this. I have no leading to do that.
Well, what could be wrong with this? I mean, it's a beetle feeding ministry. We've got to feed the beetles. And it's just such a godly thing. Anyway, this is desert, he told right out. Philip would have known that. No boundaries on preaching the gospel, however. There are barriers. There is timing and restrictions of the Spirit as just mentioned.
And there is preparation. What good would it have done if Philip got there and didn't know what to say? Couldn't answer the questions. Who does this man speak about? Himself or somebody else?
What if he said, I don't know? Philip was in this great movement there in Samaria and he's redirected elsewhere. What a flexible spirit that is. And so, the desert.
The desert where life is both scarce and struggling. He is to go to this Gentile caravan and be ready for instructions. Human reason would have balked. It would have said, wait, look what's happening in Samaria. People are getting saved here.
The Samaritans. He wants me to go to the desert. So he leaves the 99 for the one. That principle is employed here.
Not always, but it is here. God will send us to places where we would otherwise not go. But he can only do that if he finds a willing heart. Verse 27, so he arose and went.
There's that willing heart. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch, great authority under Candace, queen of Ethiopians, who had charged over her treasury and had come to Jerusalem to worship. Well, remember earlier in this chapter in Samaria, Simon the sorcerer, or magician really, sought to have God work for him out of ignorance. Philip is here seeking to work for God. So he arose and he went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, another Gentile that is being brought to Christ.
Now, there were other Gentiles. Nicholas, we read about him in chapter 6, a proselyte of Antioch, likely from that region, well, from Antioch. It's in Syria. But here, this is an African, this Ethiopian man that is being pursued by this servant of God. At this time in history, Ethiopia's northern border touched the southern border of Egypt. Today, the Sudan is there and you've got to go further south to get to Ethiopia. The Candace is a title like Pharaoh or Caesar. That's not her name. She's probably coming from the region of Khartoum, which is not Khartoum.
That would be all folks. But this is in the Sudan today, about 300 miles away, and a hard ride too. There's not any little rest stops on the way and things like that. This is a large caravan, soldiers and servants. Those who are hitchhiking along could be a hundred people in this. This chariot he's in is large enough to have seats. Not all chariots are just, you know, two wheels. Some of them were four-wheelers.
Some of them were large two-wheelers. But anyway, it's a sizable chariot. And this Ethiopian is a convert to Judaism. So he's looking for God. That's why he was in Jerusalem like Nicholas. Although as a eunuch of great authority, he's a big shot.
There's not a little position. He's a gentile and he's a eunuch. That's really not going to go well for him. He's going to look down upon when he gets to Jerusalem.
Now he's returning. But eunuchs were denied full access to the Jewish temple. But they were never denied full access into the kingdom of heaven. And Isaiah makes that clear.
And he seems to have accepted his position in life without bitterness. Romans chapter 8, for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin. He condemned sin in the flesh. And so there we have what the law could not do.
The law could not really bring this eunuch into the temple. But the grace of God brings him all the way into a relationship with Christ. The one preacher said, one very good preacher said, not me. I know when I say a very good preacher, you immediately think of me because of my humility. But anyway, God does not love populations but people, not masses but men.
I agree with that. I mean, he loves the individuals, not the groups. Although groups are made of individuals, he can love a group of them at one time. But God singles us out.
This Ethiopian is singled out. So when you are leading someone to Christ, you know that God singled them out long before you got there, even from the foundations of the earth. Romans 3 23, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
This was a trustworthy man. His position in a pagan government did not stop God from reaching him. God knew he was ready because the Spirit was working in him and that's the only way people come to Christ. Verse 28, he was returning and sitting in his chariot.
He was reading Isaiah the prophet. Verse 29, then the Spirit said to Philip, go near and overtake his chariot. Well, no one stumbles into salvation.
Even if they think they do, they do not. God is the author and the finisher of our faith. He not only designs it but he follows it through to the kingdom of heaven, to when we are in heaven. Philip is told to share Jesus and Christ is already at work in the man's heart.
Jesus said this, my father has been working until now and I have been working and that is true to this day. God wants all people saved but they're not all going to get saved and yet this is what the Lord wants. All can get saved who want to. 1 Timothy, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2, 4. Here in verse 29, then the Spirit said to Philip, go near and overtake. In verse 26, remember it was the angel. Now it's the Holy Spirit.
That's how this is unfolding for us. Go near and overtake his chariot. I mentioned that this is a sizable chariot, probably a four-wheeler.
Specific and clear instructions. Catch up and join up with this person in the chariot. I think Philip knew when he saw the caravan who these folks were. I think he knew that these were Ethiopians headed to Ethiopia. One factor for him, verse 30. So Philip ran to him and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah and said, do you understand what you are reading?
You got to look at that zeal. He's excited. He's acting on orders. He knows where he belongs like Elijah knew he belonged with Elijah.
He's excited. So Philip ran to him. When those things are in the scripture like this and your eye catches them, it's intentional. The author and finisher of your faith is working in your life, saying something to you to get you to be better, to get me to be better at what we do as Christians. And so here, Philip not only had he made a pledge of allegiance to God, he is acting on his pledge. And you know, that's a big thing. Later, Paul's going to write to the Corinthians. You know, you pledged to help. Don't embarrass me. Don't do this. This is your opportunity to act upon what you said you would do.
And they did. Well, this Bible of ours, because we read here in verse 30, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. Well, the Bible is the road of knowledge to God.
Of course, that road is loaded with robbers. We've got to be careful of that. You know, you go to send our Christian children off to universities and they hear the professors begin to coin phrases as though they created light. And if the child is not ready for this, you're going to get sucked in. If this is just going along with the story, if you've got a non-believing professor and he's saying, well, this is called so-and-so when people do this. And the child is like, wow, that's interesting. There's a name for this. Like, shut up. So what there's a name for it?
Is there a solution for it? So we're just, one of these phrases, and look this one up, if you'd like, and see how goofy it is that they've come up with. Microaggression.
What is that? Is it so teeny, the aggression, that you can't see it? So this is not aggression, is it?
And it's like, you can't win. You agree with me, but you really don't. And so they come up with these phrases, they coin these things, and people are supposed to be impressed.
Wow, they're pretty deep. They put a name on a behavior. I should listen to everything this person says. And they forget all about their Christianity, and they start drinking the Kool-Aid, and the next thing you know, they're atheists. Or doubting the faith.
Instead of standing up and saying things like, what? Where'd you get that? You just made it up? You and your buddies just made this up? I know, you can't do that when you're 17, 18 like that.
But at my age, you certainly can. Anyway, I feel myself getting in the flesh. I don't know if it shows, but inside, anyway, coming back to these things, Jesus said, you search the scriptures, for in them, you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of me. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston, of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. It's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com, or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
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