Review of last week’s lesson. Philip and Simon.
The Unstoppable Gospel does not make its way only to cities. Sometimes it heads to much less populated areas.
Today we are going to be following the Unstoppable Gospel on its next stop. But this time, it doesn’t head to a big, populated area like Samaria, but somewhere a little less so. Before we do that, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Story
Account starts in Acts 8:26: An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
A couple of notes:
“An angel of the Lord.” Incredible messenger! Angels glow. Angels are bathed in clean white. Angels shine like the sun. When an angel appears, it is obvious. Obvious it’s an angel and obvious it is from God. The appearance of an angel teaches us that this is not a feeling. Not a hunch. Not some weird dream. It’s a very clear directive from the angel of the Lord.
Go South…towards Gaza. Remember Philip was in Samaria. That was to the North of Judea. Gaza is south of Judea. This is a long journey. 150-mile foot journey to be exact. There would have to be a very impressive destination if I was going to walk 150 miles. (Doritos factory? Super Bowl? Something like that…)
Go…to the desert road. A few things make this request a bit strange. The last place Philip went was a city in Samaria. Cities have lots of people. Cities have a lot of opportunities to share the Gospel. Here? The Spirit wants Philip to head to “some desert road.”
Isn’t this a strange request? The Holy Spirit wants Philip to walk hundreds of miles in order to get to some unnamed desert road where very few people are traveling.
Who would follow such a request?
He trusts God.
He trusts God’s plan.
He trusts that if God wants him to walk 150 miles to some unnamed desert road, he should walk 150 miles to some unnamed desert road.
As Philip gets to walking. It becomes clear to him why God wanted him to on that unnamed desert road:
As he’s walking.
As he’s thinking.
As he wiping the sweat away from his brow.
As he stops to rub his feet – 70 plus miles completed.
He hears some noise in the distance.
It’s a low rumbling. Maybe it’s thunder.
Philip looks and sees a cloud of dust coming his way with a silvery, glistening metal in front.
It’s a chariot.
The kind of ride ridden by only the wealthiest.
As the chariot approaches, Philip notices the insignia on the side of the chariot.
It’s a royal chariot.
It’s a royal chariot from the country of Ethiopia.
The man sitting in the chariot – not the driver – but the passenger in back – looks very impressive.
He has royal insignia on his clothing.
He has royal insignia on his headgear.
He has royal insignia on his jewelry.
Philip steps out of the way.
It’s nice to see some other signs of life on this road, but…he’s royalty. I’m not. He won’t want anything to do with me.
And…right about the time Philip is ready to let him pass by without so much as a head nod…
The Holy Spirit speaks:
“Go to that chariot and stay near it.” (v.29)
Really? I’m just me. Just Philip. I’m dirty. I’m dusty. I’m a commoner. I am hardly dressed for a meeting with nobility.
You are the Holy Spirit so…
Philip approaches the chariot. And as he does so, he notices that the man is reading something.
He squints at the back of the scroll and notices a title on the seal – to help identify the scroll --
It says, “Isaias.”
“Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” the Ethiopian ruler said, “Unless someone explains it to me.” (v.30)
And the Ethiopian ruler commands the driver to slow down.
He swings open the door to the chariot.
He holds out his jewel studded hand to Philip.
“Join me. Teach me. Please.”
And Philip did.
He taught him about the Scripture in question.
He taught him that Jesus was the man the Scripture was talking about.
He told him how Jesus was like a lamb who was sent to slaughter.
About how Jesus was silent and willingly went.
About how he had his glory cut off.
About how he was shaved of his joy.
About how he was deprived of justice.
And about how Jesus did this for the Ethiopian eunuch.
About how Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for his sins.
About how the Scriptures prophesied and predicted this.
About how the Scripture from Isaiah isn’t the end.
About how three days later…Jesus came back to life!
About how God loved that Ethiopian Eunuch very much.
About how the wealth and jewels and status of this world would mean nothing compared to the incredible riches of God’s forgiveness, eternal life, and peace with God that lasts forever.
About how royalty on earth does not translate to royalty in God’s kingdom.
About how…faith in Jesus does.
And the ruler?
He believes. And he says:
Look! There is some water. What can stand in the way of me getting baptized? (v.36)
And they stopped the chariot.
And they got into the water.
And Philip poured water into his head and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
And the Ethiopian smiled.
He had been a part of nobility.
He had been a part of royalty.
He had been a part of the Ethiopian government.
Now he was a part of God’s kingdom.
II. The Gospel is Status-Less
This lesson is very important to our understanding of the Gospel, because it teaches us a very important lesson about status and the Gospel.
If you are successful by this world’s standards,
If you think you got there by yourself,
If you think you’re super impressive,
Do not forget:
You still need Jesus.
Because all the money in the world,
All the accolades at a company,
All the trophies from your peers will not stop God from judging your sins.
Here’s the truth then:
The Gospel is Status-less. No one is above the Gospel
Not your boss.
Not being cool.
Not being popular.
Not the president.
Not the guy with 2,000 Facebook friends.
Everyone needs the Gospel.
Everyone needs a Savior.
And if you aren’t the boss,
If you don’t feel cool,
If you aren’t popular,
And barely have 50 Facebook friends…
You need the same Savior.
And have the same Savior.
The Gospel is Status-less. No one is below the Gospel
When you realize that.
When you humble yourself.
When you seek God’s mercy, the Gospel bestows on you a status higher than anything you could imagine:
You are given the status of God’s eternal child.
The Ethiopian eunuch was high ranking. He was used to people doing whatever he told them to do. But…when he hears what God did for him. And what God wants him to do. He listens. He gets out of the chariot. He goes into the mucky, dirty, ‘’some water.” To be baptized.
He doesn’t wait for a big celebration.
Some impressive looking river.
A chance to make a royal show of it.
He knows he’s a sinner.
He knows he needs a Savior.
He humbles himself, believes and is baptized.
As a believer, you have that same status.
As an unbeliever, God wants to give that status to you.
Believe that the status God gives is the only status that matters!
III. What Now?
1. Avoid Same Status Sharing
Because our world is very status oriented.
Ever play apps like Bejeweled? Or Words with Friends? Or Subway Surfers? They’re just fun little games on your phone – but they have been enabled with the ability to share your status! The ability to put your ranking on Facebook. The ability to let everyone know that – HEY! You might be a C.E.O. at Lenovo, but I just added 12 chickens to my farm on Farmville!
Status is so important to this world.
And the devil will use this to play tricks on the way we perceive status that will affect the way we share the Gospel. He’ll make us think that person is too far above us or too far below us.
Especially in a few areas:
Financial Status. This was an issue at Jesus time, before Jesus’ time and it’s still an issue today!
It leads people to think things like: It looks like they have a lot of money, don’t bother them. There must be a rich church they can go to.
It looks like they are too poor, don’t bother them – they wouldn’t fit in here. UGH!
Financial status has nothing to do with whom we share the Gospel with.
Jesus told a story about a wedding banquet and how the one who threw the party invited rich and poor alike to his party. The point? Jesus invites all to his party.
There is no cover charge.
There is no required dress.
There is no down payment necessary.
Jesus paid our way in.
Jesus paid for others too.
Jesus wants us to share the Gospel with them regardless of status.
Age Status. Sometimes we think: “My kid doesn’t have the status of adult. They don’t have the status of ready. They don’t have the status of old enough to hear God’s Word.”
Jesus said, “Make disciples of all nations.”
Notice there aren’t status qualifications.
Are your kids a part of all nations?
Then share the Gospel with them.
Tell them of their Savior.
Bring them to church.
Teach them to be in church.
Have them baptized.
Give them Jesus and give them the status of being a member in God’s kingdom.
Christian Status. This is the most foolish of all. But I think it’s way too real.
Because we tend to think about adding to this church – and I know it, I’ve heard it.
It’s as if we have this checklist:
Are they WELS? I’ll totally invite them to church. Are they Christian? I’ll consider inviting them to church.
Are they unbelieving? No way am I inviting them to church.
Aren’t we missing the POINT when we think like that?
Jesus didn’t say go and hang out with the people that are already my disciples.
He said, “Go and make disciples…”
The implications? Make disciples of non-disciples.
Share the Gospel with those who don’t know the Gospel. The Status of Gospel believer is not a requirement for hearing the Gospel.
In fact, the status of unbeliever is all the more reason for sharing the Gospel.
2. Be Confident in Your Status
Because you might say, “I’m not impressive like Philip. I don’t have a high paying job. I don’t make a lot of money. I don’t have fancy clothes. I don’t own a 3-piece suit with one of those skinny ties and fancy scarves that you put in the right breast pocket. I can’t share the Gospel!”
But you’d be wrong.
What qualifies you for sharing the Gospel is not some kind of outward status.
It’s the inward promise of status as God’s child.
You have that. You have that status as God’s child. You are qualified to share the Gospel.
Your status is not what brings people into God’s kingdom.
God’s Word does.
God’s Word is God’s Word – there is no higher status.
You’ve got God’s Word? Then you are qualified to share in the work of the Gospel.
That’s what Philip did. He unleashed the Unstoppable Gospel and the Holy Spirit brought the Rich, Ethiopian Ruler to faith.
That same Gospel works for you. Amen.