We had six, or perhaps more individuals today who have chosen to brave the weather conditions and be Baptised.
Six people who testify to the most dramatic transformation a person can ever have, to go from death to life. A light has sparked in them that has brought them overwhelming joy and it’s a testimony those who are closest to them can see and have witnessed.
They have been SAVED.
It’s an expression that understands the just condemnation each and every one of us deserved for our sin.
When the jailor of Acts 16 cried out saying “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”, certainly the single most important question that anybody could ever ask, he was given the answer,
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
The name of Jesus Christ is the name above all names. No man can come to the father but by him, he is the way, the truth and the life, all who have believed on his name shall not perish but have eternal life.
He is the one who died for their sins, it’s in his name each of these individuals have believed, and now all of them have eternal life. NOT FROM WHAT THEY HAVE DONE, NOR FROM WHAT THEY DO, but simply because they have believed with all their heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Which leads us to our text this morning.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
The passage in Acts chapter 8 gives an historical account of a wealthy and important man, an official who had taken his journey into Israel and had previously arranged for the purchase of the word of God. Unless the man had remained in the city for some months before, we must assume that its purchase must have been previously arranged.
A private copy of the Hebrew Bible would not have been inexpensive and so it seems evident he was a man of means and wealth
We are not told in the scripture how much of the Old Testament he took with him, we know only of a certainty of the book that he was reading the book of Isaiah, for we have the same copy in our own bible.
We know also that the copy we have is precisely that which he was reading a the time of the first century, how do we know this?
In 1946 an account is given of two cousin teenagers, shepherds with a small flock of sheep, herding them in the area of Wadi Qumran, near the Dead Sea in Southern Israel.
One of the cousins threw a rock into one of the caves and, hearing the breaking of a clay pot, went to investigate the source of the sound. In that first cave he discovered a number of large clay jars containing leather scrolls, another 10 caves would be found with more earthen vessels containing a total of some 850 manuscripts.
The Scrolls were written by a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. They date as far back as the 3rd Century BC.
The cave Muhammed ed-Dib cast his stone, is known as ‘Cave 1’, it was in this cave that a full copy of the book of Isaiah was found and is today housed in a building known as “The Shrine of the Book” in Jerusalem, Israel.
What is fascinating is that this copy of the book of Isaiah is some 900 years older than the oldest copy we had at the time, in fact, it was already OLDER than the copy the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading when Phillip met him. What we have today is a translated replica of that which was found in that cave, and that which this official was reading in his chariot.
Now it is the place where he was reading that was more than a little coincidental.
Out of the 66 chapters of the book of Isaiah, he happened to be reading chapter 53.
Though it was originally written some 700 years earlier, the physical events of this chapter had occurred only a few months earlier. And at the very time of his visit, Saul of Tarsus had just overseen the beginning of the first persecutions and the death of the first Martyr recorded.
Verse 4 tells us that afterword those who have witnessed Christ went everywhere “Preaching the word”.
Was this passage mentioned by those around him when he visited Jerusalem? Did they point it out to him?
OR had he begun reading some time earlier that just happened to fall upon chapter 53 when Phillip drew near?
We don’t know.
But we do know that in Isaiah 53 there is Someone Declared, and Phillip sees it as his duty to Revealed that Somone, and the Eunuch believes the Gospel and becomes Someone Saved.
IN this first point all I desire to do is to bring to you that same declaration of this person that the Ethiopian Eunuch read some two thousand years ago. What we read this morning is exactly what he was reading then, only he was reading it in the Hebrew Language and we in English.
Because the declaration needs to be clear, I want to be sure we recognised who the pronoun of chapter 53:2 refers to, so we will take the text from Isaiah chapter 52:13
Isaiah 52:13–Isaiah 53
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
This is the ancient declaration of a man whom God would give to mankind for the purpose of restoring mans relationship to him.
He bore OUR sins, OUR griefs, Carried OUR sorrows, Wounded for OUR transgressions, Bruised for OUR iniquities; he becomes the chastisement of OUR peace; “and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa 53:4-5).
It is any wonder this high official wanted to know who he is.
… of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Acts 8:34
Who could do such a thing as this? Who could achieve it? What kind of a man can atone for the sins of all the people on earth? This cant be just any man, surly this needs to be The Son of God…who else could do so?
The man would need to have the means!
For me to claim I could FREE THE WORLD OF DEBT, you must believe I HAD THE MEANS.
If I didn’t have the means with which to pay, you would simply remain in debt!
You might THINK you are debt free, believe yourself to BE debt free, or even FEEL debt free, but the time to pay your debt will still come nonetheless, I would need to own the world to forgive the debt of the world.
Jesus Christ is GOD the Son,
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
The Bible reveals to you and I that;
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The “Wages”, death is what we earn by sin. The verse makes clear that this is the just reward of us all, we all deserve death as the correct rate of pay for the sin we have treasured up.
But it doesn’t end there, there is a possible exclusion in the very verse;
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The eunuch had seen his sin in the ancient text of Isaiah, he was convinced that if the passage were true he needed to know of who this is, what is his identity? … of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Acts 8:34
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
Isaiah 53 has Someone Declared, but leaves the identity of the individual in question. It gives ALL the circumstances that surrounds him;
It tells of him silent as a Lamb before the shearers, just as Jesus was silent before his accusers.
It speaks of him being despised, rejected, unesteemed in his death.
It tells he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and it gives the purpose as that of a vicarious suffering and death, a death that would not be for himself but for others, for you, for me and for them!
It tells of his DEATH, but also Of his grave with the wicked. Christ was hung on a cross between thieves.
No, the text does not reveal him, but the circumstances testify of him.
Isiah wrote of what seemed to be a contradiction, for he said
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;
It was not till this very time that that, after he hung between thieves, he would be buried in a rich mans tomb.
No, Isaiah does not reveal him, history did and so too the balance of the scriptures that Phillip led him through.
And if it was ONLY the book of Isaiah, it would have been enough.
He would have know the Christ was born of a virgin spoken of in Isaiah 7:14.
That he would have a Galilean ministry shining a light in the darkness in Isaiah 9:1-2
That he would be a child born and a son given, that he would be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father and The Prince of Peace in the sixth verse of that very same chapter, in Isaiah 9.
Now we begin to see the means of the man revealed.
Though I can not pay for the debt of ANYONE ELSE a great RICH man can, though I can not pay for the SINS of ANYONE ELSE, THE MIGHTY GOD can, THE EVERLASTING Father can!
Though I cant offer eternal peace to any man THE PRINCE OF PEACE CAN
Phillip would have told him from this same book, if he had no other book but Isaiah, that the way of Christ would be prepared, and that it WAS indeed a voice crying in the wilderness that announced his coming saying “Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3
HE would have told him of John the Baptist, who became that very voice crying in the wilderness.
Phillip may have shown the man that Christ was the heir to the throne of David in Isaiah 9:7, 11:1 & 10.
That his back would be give to the smiters, that he would be spat on, that they would pull off the very beard from his cheeks in Isaiah 50:6
That his very form and appearance would be disfigured torment, “marred more than any man” we are told in Isaiah 52:14
That Gods spirit would rest on him in Isa 11:2
That the gentiles would seek him Isa 11:10
That he would heal the broken hearted in Isa 61:1-2
He would also come to judge the world in Isa 11:4-5
And on top of all the things spoken of, as him being our substitute, bearing our sins, taking our guilt in Isaiah 53,
And that’s just if he stayed in the book of ISAIAH, what about all the other Old Testament books that describe him?
All this and yet perhaps never once leaving the book of Isaiah, he didn’t need to .
All this would find that same SOMEONE REVEALED as …Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. Acts 8:35
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
A fundamentally important question is both asked and answered in this passage.
The testimony that is before you is the account of a great man in the eyes of the world, he is the treasurer of the accounts of the Queen of a nation, a rich man, an honoured man, a man of means, but with all his greatness he stands naked before a Holy God knowing certainly that he stands condemned.
All his greatness and any of his goodness would stand for nothing in the day his judgement comes. He know at death his judgement comes.
The Bible says
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Now, seeing that a way has been made for him, seeing that God himself came as man to pay for the sins of man, to take upon himself the judgement appointed to man, and make a way for man to be saved, this great official takes hold of eternal life with both hands and asks if there is ANY HINDERANCE for him to be Baptised.
Phillip testifies to but ONE requirement, thereby EVERYTHING ELSE IS A HINDRANCE, there is but one and ONLY one requirement;
Phillip answers this man the question that leads to his salvation, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
THERE IS NOTHING ELSE
If you believe, if you believe that Christ died for you, if you believe that he is the son of God, if you believe he is the LORD, if you trust in him and not yourself, if you believe that “by hisstripes you are healed” then you may be baptised.
This man understood that, should he enter eternity without Christ, he would be damned for his sin.
NO other has the means to pay for his sin.
NO OTHER HAS even claimed to pay for his sin.
NO other is spoken of coming for that very purpose.
If salvation is NOT through the name of THIS man, to whom shall we go?
When Jesus asked his disciples if they were offended in him and if they will also go away, Peter answered for them all saying;
68 … Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Death is the door through which eternity is entered, and he would fear to be as the other rich man Jesus spoke of in Luke 16;
22 And … the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, …
And two thousand years later, he is still there.
Perhaps he heard that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, that for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mt 19:24)
Turn to 1 Cor 1:26
Perhaps he heard that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (1 Cor 1:26-29)
But this ‘mighty’ man, this ‘noble’ man chose that “foolish thing”, he chose that “which is despised” of men and he accepted that “no flesh should glory in [God’s] presence”, he knew he could not save himself
And thanked God that the text did not say “not ANY mighty, not ANY noble”, but not MANY.
Like Queen Elizabeth the first, he was saved by an “M”.
And so he testifies to Phillips in that incredible verse Acts 8:37;
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
There is ONE thing ONLY that currently stands between you and eternity, it is death.
Death is the door under our feet that takes almost all of us by surprise.
It is God alone that bears us up, our own weight presses us downward.
Are you safe?
Are you saved?
This man spoken of in the text is SOMEONE SAVED, Why;
I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Because he believed what was REVEALED about that ONE person DECLARED in the book of Isaiah, written some 700 years earlier, testifying to events that occurred in his lifetime, and so he believed the Bible is true.
There are a multitude of events occurring in OUR LIFETIME testifying to the Bible as true.
ARE …..YOU… SAFE?
ARE….. YOU …. SAVED?
With all that you have prepared in life, with each and every day working to prepare for your retirement, are you prepared for death?
YOU being able to retire is NOT inevitable.
YOU getting married is NOT inevitable.
YOU buying a home is NOT inevitable
Neither is reaching your next birthday.
Will you, like this noble man of Ethiopia, like the six people to be baptised shortly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?
Or will you remain HINDERED?
There are quite a number of people who are going to be Baptised this afternoon. I HAVE SPOKEN TO them personally and do not believe there is anything that hinders them to be baptised.
I will be asking if there be anyone else.
But let me ask you that same question asked of Philip…. What doest hinder you to be baptised?
(A) Admit yourself as a sinner
(B) Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins
(C) Call on him to save you as we pray.