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March 12, 2021 3:00 am
Book of acts tells us about turning the pool babe award by going out into the desert is obedience resulted in a life-changing experience for an Ethiopian official today on Truth for Life. Alastair Begg teaches us how God uses unexpected encounters to reach others with the gospel. I invite you to turn with me, purposefully, briefly, to acts chapter 8. All we have here is the record of an unexpected encounter that ended up radically changing one man's life is really a bit light life in general. Isn't that something that we never planned on turns out to have quite amazing ramifications and in certain cases. In reading this passage.
Some of us will be able to identify with some of the principles that were involved in the way in which this man came to understand who Jesus is and then in turn was prepared to let everybody know that he was happy that he had become a follower of Jesus. There are two individuals into whom were in it, we are introduced in the first of these is Philip Philip. We read in the beginning of the chapter has had a unique opportunity that is a marriage that is a result of the persecution that the church is facing and Philip. While he certainly not the apostle Paul or Peter or anyone else has been given a unique role at that point in time in the lives of people and were told that in verse five he went down to the city of Samaria, and he proclaimed to them the Christ and not only did he do so, but he did so with great effectiveness and effectiveness. That was due to the work obviously of the Holy Spirit and you will see that there was something of a kind of evangelism explosion that took place verse six and the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip and so you have this record at the head of the chapter of the way in which crowds are gathering. The gospel is being proclaimed and Philip is being mightily used and then you come to verse 26 and we discover that he is given a reassignment and he is approached by an angel of the Lord. If you read this text carefully, you will notice that Angel and then spit it are used almost interchangeably, and it's not worthy of five further consideration is simply a way of making it absolutely clear that God directed Philip in a very singular way to do what he then went on to do and the angel the Lord said to Philip rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert place and he arose and went so it is significant reassignment every so often I talked with some of you and you are facing the potential of reassignment or you have been reassigned. We meet people Sunday by Sunday who have as a result of a reassignment fund themselves here in Cleveland and Parkside church and in many cases one would go to it with a great sense of anticipation and joy. And while there is no doubt that Philip went obediently. There is nothing for us to suggest that it would not of been quite a challenge to him. After all, do you want to preach effectively to large audiences where crowds of people are listening to your every voice or heard you want to go here to wear to the desert.
What's in the desert desert and out what one of my doing, they are not telling you what you're doing there.
I'm reassigning you to a desert place lease and well as opposing is a reason that I'm supposed to be here and then maybe you find himself saying I wonder if I got my wires crossed. I wonder if somehow or another I misinterpreted the word of the Lord to meet.
I wonder if I'm supposed to be in this strange place. You see, God was actually ordering his steps and one of the questions that emerges when you study a passage like this and it will be true as we go on to think in terms of the one to whom he speaks is this question do we really believe that God directs our steps, not just the God rules the universe not just that he sustains it by the word of his might, but he actually directs our steps he plans are way and he positions us, so another words Philip does not find himself in this situation reassigned by chance but he finds himself there by divine appointment. Many of our friends and neighbors from different backgrounds and perspectives would have nothing to say about that except they would find it quite ridiculous and unbelievable.
Rather, they would say things just happen. It's a strange world and we can explain many things many times, but as we study the doctrine of providence together. We've learned together that God is at work always, and in a variety of circumstances that the circumstances of Phillips life could not be viewed in isolation the circumstances that the church was facing could not be viewed in isolation from what was about to unfold. For surely the persecution and the destruction of Stephen was something from which people would inevitably have recoiled the fact that the church was then to be scattered out from Jerusalem would so easily be regarded as a negative thing but just when we thought everything was going to be wonderful here in Jerusalem look what's happened now and in the case of the Philip himself. Just when I was being useful to you, Lord Jesus. Just when I was preaching and end being able to address these crowds now look where I am you needed to realize that and so do we, that God is at work you see in a variety of life's what what is reassignment met for Philip was not ultimately about Philip and one of the problems that I face. Maybe you do too, is that when I try and explain my circumstances in the immediacy and I working if you like from epicenter here.
I almost inevitably get it wrong because really what is going on with me may have very little to do with me at all and that was true in Philip's case if he'd said surely I would be more useful here. Surely there surely that it would have been understandable but he would've been wrong guarded order the steps and just when the dust began to kick up and he realized that there was some action going on. We are introduced to this Ethiopia.
He arose and went. And there was an Ethiopian eunuch court official of Candace, the Queen of the open Ethiopians so another words, this fellow is a significant fellow. We know that it is unlikely that he would have gone up to Jerusalem just like on his own for somebody of such stature from Ethiopia to move around would have been to move around with his own entourage and we are told that he had made his way there and fight. We are told that he had gone there to Jerusalem to worship, why wonder what was it the trigger that was at that in the scattering of the believers. Something had slipped out. Something had become apparent to him, something within him that had said are some of said here tonight, I discovered a longing within me for something that I could not find her dressed in Ethiopia. Maybe somebody said to them you know if you're ever to think of going to Jerusalem.
There's a there's a holy city up in Jerusalem. There are people there who believe in a God I don't know what happened when he got there you go to the temple and look around, he presumably was involved with other people. He would be a high-ranking official, he would've peers, perhaps in the business world maybe meet some people for coffee and as they talk. He keeps hearing the name he keeps hearing this, Jesus name. Who is this Jesus. He keeps hearing that they worship God. The Jews that he meets believe the worst of the living and the only true God, the God of Abram, Isaac and Jacob, and he says you know that's why I'm up here.
I'm trying to find this God. Where can I meet and by the time his visit is over. He's back in his chariot with his quest unfulfilled.
Now, how in the world did he get old, of Isaiah who said to him you should read Isaiah, somebody must.
Somebody said if you're really interested in looking for God.
Read the prophet, the prophet Isaiah.
He talks about God.
So he takes it with him and ICE makes his journey in his chariot, seated in his chariot. We are told he was reading the prophet Isaiah was not merely chance that he laughed at the time the needed but he was reading Isaiah and not just reading Isaiah, but reading this particular section of Isaiah and all of this unbeknown to Philip, who still overhear sort of waiting his next assignment and as the chariot begins to come towards him and presumably more. Besides if he does have an entourage. The word is then given to go over and join this chariot.
I can't wait to talk to Philip about this. I is this amazing stuff go to the desert okay alright I'm here now what hang on. I'll tell you, go over and join the chariot, you mean you just want me to walk up to the chariot any young girl go over to the chariot and as he goes over to the chariot. The fellow in the chariot is reading. He's not reading Plato he's reading the Bible and then Phillips and himself.
This is remarkable in that he says what is that I just read like a lamb to the slaughter whole he says of all the things he's reading. He's reading one of my favorite chapters. I think I'll just ask. So Philip ran up to hearing them and he said do you understand what you're reading. Of course he didn't understand but you don't just ask sort of people and chariots if they understand me and you assume the understand this a big guy with a chariot to understand know if this fellow had a fathead he was certain, excuse me, but he didn't because he was looking for God, and he said I can understand this unless somebody helps me.
Here's a thought at a time when not one document of the New Testament had been written include an evangelist have been given a better text out of the Old Testament to preach the gospel to an Ethiopian Chancellor of the Exchequer do you actually believe in chance do you believe that God orders your steps. Do you believe that when you get us when you get a pickup from the airport in Huber that it is a chance occurrence or do you believe that it is a divine appointment. Do you believe that the person in the grocery store with whom you have the opportunity to spend some intimate moments. Now as you wait painstakingly to come down. Having already for the third time tried to dodge the line and chosen the worst possible line. You believe that the person who is actually there is thereby chance to do this is a great quest and the answer is clearly no.
And no one says Calvin, who was puffed up with confidence in them and confidence in their own intellect will be readily taught and so having said no.
I could use some help her thesis get this is super and he invited Philip to come up and sit with him is so good. I Jansson now is in the chariot receiving a semimilitary sentence of this is unbelievable.
Go to the desert under run up to the chariot.
I did and now here we go. Some of you watch that thing with that Jewish comedian don't comedians and cars getting coffee. How about Christians in cars sharing Jesus. You see here's the thing. The greatest impact of Parkside church extended out from here into greater Cleveland and beyond in this nation is actually not as a result of the proclamation that comes over the radio thankful as we are for that but is, as a result of individual Christians in cars and buses on planes and trains sitting down not by chance next to people who if we scratched it's a little may discover that they are actually on a quest for something to answer the deepest longings of their life and they don't even know what it is they're looking for and they invited you to sit beside your other grade prerequisites that an inquiring mind and a prepared heart and a ready answer. Now the passage he was reading was this and then wonderfully. Who is he talking about.
He says himself about someone else and then Philip opened his mouth and beginning with the Scripture. He told him the good news about Jesus. Just as straightforward and as simple and as profound as that is began with the passage explained to him all that was involved in that. Here he said was the way in which sinful man was to be reconciled with God. Here is a righteousness that comes from God through faith in Jesus for all who believe. Here is the story of one who is a substitute and a Savior.
And I wish I had the record of his talk.
I like to use it beginning with that passage.
He told him the good news about Jesus and he must've told him that the appropriate response to the story was baptism and it is by his own initiative. The UNIX initiative, but the baptism takes place.
See, here is water. What strange thing for people to say here this fellas got in the space of about 25 minutes and some of your hear your mingle in the space of 25 years you want to follow Jesus you I want to follow Jesus. He says I get it now. The missing link. I found it. You've explained it to me up there. I sold the temple stuff. I saw some of the sacrifices going on, but I couldn't put the pieces together. But now you've explained. Now I understand that this God has provided a Savior in the person of his son and that I may embrace the Savior, and frankly, if I do that are prepared to let the whole world know what it cost he says what what would prevent me from being baptized while actually quite a lot of things the fight that he had already you, behind all from Ethiopia who would go back to Ethiopia would say hey you're not going to believe for this guy did what he was up there. He is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He's in the Department of the Treasury. You know what he did he met a fellow there who told him about Jesus. He believed in Jesus and we all stood around and watched as he got completely drenched. The two of them went down into the water and came up and his life will never ever be the same again nor will yours if you read the Bible, discovering that Jesus acknowledge he is the Savior that you need entrust your life to him and let the whole world know that your unashamed is a great end to the story is in the spirit of the Lord carried Philip away rolled Philip were we going next is going to play skull is Otis.
He found himself a visit with us to fill his left government is is that what a journey this is and what was and any past is there while I'm here now. Summers will preach the gospel is what I do is terrific, but any related the unit, so I'm no more and went on his way rejoicing is fantastic. Isn't actually when he had went back in verse eight, is the same response. So there was much joy in that city. So what you have whether Philip has a congregation of crowds or only one he is the same message that is Jesus, the response to his proclamation is the same response. Faith and baptism and the result of it is the same result that it was great joy in the city and that the unit went on his way rejoicing.
I wonder did he have eventually recourse to turn to verses five and six of Psalm 13 when he got home and he was beset by those who began to challenge his newfound testimony when he took the words of the psalmist to himself. But I have trusted in your steadfast love. My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me. We don't know another thing about this Ethiopian fellow, abusive, or you going to do in in in a new heaven and a new earth. While I can spend a significant chunk of eternity just following my fertile imagination and trying to find out whether any of this stuff that is conjectural for me has any basis in reality.
What a thrill will be to find out of the fellow from Ethiopia went back and he was greatly used of God that his wife became a follower of Jesus, his children, his grandchildren started and it an evangelism course and he had a seminarian who in the world knows what it all happen. Just because one guy when he was told to get out of here and go there when and no matter how he felt about the reassignment he did what he was told and no matter what came his way. He said I tell you what I'm going to tell people about Jesus loved ones tomorrow.
Christians in their cars, sharing Jesus forget the comedians in their cars, drinking coffee, that's fine. I like that to.
But this is a great opportunity to be worth actually becoming a taxi driver just for the privilege of evangelism. Well, a brief prayer. Thank you thank you that the Bible jumps out at us. Thank you that in a record like this were reminded again of your wonderful providence in our life. You open doors you close them. You move as she retainers help us Lord to realize that your work in all of the circumstances and that they're not isolated from one another that unit work in a variety of life's and that what you're doing with eyes me have little to do with arson much to do with others. Thank you for the obedience of Philip, thank you for the clarity of the gospel. Thank you for the way you take individuals like this Ethiopian man and so stir his heart and till the soil that he is ready when the evangelist appears we will rejoice with him and with one another in the wonder of our salvation.
We pray in Jesus name, amen. Story about the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian official makes us grateful for the creative ways that God uses unexpected encounters to impact lives and inspiring account from today's message on Truth for Life with Alister back as we think about encouraging encounters with others. I will make you aware of an opportunity to form some new friendships with other believers while sharing a remarkable adventure this summer.
Alister will be teaching the Bible on board a cruise ship to Alaska. This is gonna be a memorable experience that can include time in God's word each day and worship led by Grammy award winner Laura story you can find out more about the trip. Book your ticket today go to deeper faith cruise.com or call the cruise line directly at 855-565-5519 before we close.
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Hope you're able to relax and refresh.
To be sure to join us Monday as we begin a new series opening the pages of Luke's gospel preparation for Easter Bible teaching of Alister Bay is furnished by Creek for life learning is