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May 3, 2015 - Acts 8.26-40

“It’s Not Our Idea”

Acts 8:26-40

May 3, 2015

 

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

 

Birthday Party and Michelle Smith

 

Been in church a long time – easy to get cynical.  Evangelism for instance.  Million more in ’54.  Bold Mission Thrust.  “I Found It!”  New Life 2010. 

 

Our Biblical text is an evangelistic story.  Every good story it seems has a central character:  Oliver Twist, Superman, Erin Brockovich. 

 

Who is the central character here?  Here we have two candidates that come to mind:  Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

 

Tell story:  Here is Philip, a disciple of Christ, poor, Jewish, nobody in society.  Led into the desert by God (please note this was not Philip’s idea), go down this road and wait.

 

Then we encounter bachelor #2, the E.E.  He is an Ethiopian, a eunuch, government treasurer, official, rich, powerful.  As different from Philip as could be.

 

The meet and it is a model for evangelism.  Reading Isaiah, Jesus’ favorite prophet.  Makes the connection of Jesus to the OT.  Then all of a sudden, right there in the middle of the desert (remember?) is water.  He is baptized, Philip is whisked away, and our story is done.  So who is our central character? 

 

Seems like we have over looked someone.  How did these two people get together?  How did we end up in the desert?  How did the pool of water end up there at just the right time?  The Holy Spirit! 

 

 

I think the reason that our evangelistic programs don’t do what we design them to do is not because they are bad programs.  They fail from lack of support.  People in the church just don’t really get behind an evangelistic or outreach effort like they ought to – that’s why the SBC didn’t get a million more in ’54, so why don’t people get behind these things and support them?  Not because they are poorly designed.   Not because they are complicated or impractical.  It is because they might actually work.  The “wrong people might make it into the church.”  The eunuchs, lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes.  Or today, we would say, the gays, the liberals, the drug addicts, and the homeless. 

 

Please remember that this evangelism stuff isn’t our idea.  It’s God’s Idea.  Even back in OT.  We get nervous about what would happen if we really took God’s invitation to all seriously.  After all, we have to draw the line somewhere, right?  Folks, it’s not our line to draw.  That’s God’s line, and God needs no help.  You and I should be concerned about your line and my line.  That means you about yours and yours alone, and me about mine and mine alone.  If Philip had judged this man before this encounter, we would not have this text.

 

Let’s remember that the church is a work of the Holy Spirit and not the other way around.

 

Spurgeon quote: This is a miracle of mercy indeed, for, I say again, there is nothing in the heart by nature that can at all please the Holy Spirit, but there is everything there that can grieve him. The Spirit would beget in us repentance for sin, but the heart is hard as a stone. The Spirit would work in us faith, but the heart is full of unbelief. The Spirit would make us pure, but the heart is fond of sin. The Spirit would lead us towards God, but all our passions incline us to run away from Him, and to run to everything that is contrary to him. Yet doth the Spirit of God come and work in us while our heart is nothing but chaos, and our nature is full of darkness. For this wonderful mercy, let us bless and love the Spirit of God.

 

The Holy Spirit led Philip into the desert.  The Holy Spirit invited the E.E. to be met by Philip, and was leading him through the prophet Isaiah.  Where would we be as the church if we really let the Spirit guide us and draw others into our church?  I’ll tell you – we’d be a church where the lost find Jesus, where broken hearts are mended, where shattered lives are restored, where the Spirit of God flows like water from a faucet.

 

The problem is, we don’t understand that everyone is invited.  Often, we see the wrong person coming down the stairs, and we say “Hey!  I didn’t invite you!”  And then our mother leans over our shoulder and says to us “I know you didn’t, but I did.”  Now let’s get on with the party.