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Chasing The Chariot
4 ingredients for soul winning and salvation:
I. A Prepared Sinner
First, we can see in verse 27 a prepared sinner. Let's call this character a VIP, a very important person. We're introduced to a eunuch from Ethiopia [ancient Nubia, s. of Egypt] who had all the authority of the Queen Mother Candice. She trusted him with all her finances. He had risen from being a slave to becoming her personal business manager, treasurer, and confidant.
We could also say this eunuch was a VRP, a very religious person. He had traveled over 200 miles one way to Jerusalem. He was searching for the true God. He must have tried the many religions of Africa. Surely, he checked out the multiple gods of Egypt. He had gone right on past the Canaanite gods of Philistia and Gaza.
But, when he got to Jerusalem, he found in
Judaism only an empty shell of religion. God had removed his presence before the
Babylonian captivity; even his Ark was missing from the Temple then. Alas, he
was returning like he came: empty, still hungry for the Bread of Life and
thirsty for the Water of Life. Again, we could say this eunuch was a VPP, a very
prepared person. The Spirit of God had been working on him to create a God-shaped vacuum in his heart that only God could fill. Now, God was obligated to respond to his cry, because God promised Jeremiah that those who truly seek him shall ever surely find him. So, we see a man who is very influential and important; he commands and it's done; he can buy anything he wants; but, he's still not happy because he's lost and undone before God. He's searching for God, but he can't find Him unless
someone leads him. Perhaps that describes you: You have many blessings in life and you've searched for fulfillment in the things money can buy, in personal companionship, or in technology. But, you'll never find fulfillment until you meet Jesus Christ.
Or, perhaps you're a Christian who's been so occupied with your own personal life that you haven't looked around to see all the people who are searching for God. They're everywhere, and the same Spirit who brought you to Jesus is trying to draw them to himself; but, they don't know how to find him. You'll find them experimenting with cults and false religions, listening to radio and TV evangelists, or reading their Bibles but not understanding what they're reading.
They need somebody to care enough to chase down their chariots and tell them the only way to lasting peace is a personal, daily relationship with Jesus. When the chariots pull up in the parking lots of our chapels and churches, what do they find? Do they find more empty rituals that don't really satisfy their longing for a personal relationship with the Creator, or do they find the Spirit of God alive and real among genuine people of faith? Jesus said, "Give ye them to eat!" You know, Christians have the franchise on the Bread of Life. If we don't distribute it, the world will never know the fullness of salvation.
doesn’t need religion, but relationship!]
A prepared sinner…
II. A Prompt Soulwinner
[Philip was in a great city-wide revival w/ thousands being saved, but he was willing to go to the 1, a black man, wealthy, and he was reading the Bible…but Philip didn’t let race, riches, or religion get in the way!]
Now, let's look at a second ingredient in salvation and witnessing: a prompt soul winner. I call our second character in the story an AARP. I doubt that Philip was old enough to be retired, but let's apply those initials to his character. I believe he was ACCESSIBLE to God. Remember, we're not talking about the apostle named Philip; we're talking about one of the first 7 deacons listed in Acts 6. This Philip was a layman, but he was accessible to hear what God wanted him to do. A lot of us are often too busy for God to get our attention. We have our minds on our family or our jobs, or sometimes we're even so busy in church that we aren't accessible to obey God. What about you? Are you accessible if God needs you?
Now, this is an amazing part of the story: Philip was already having great success preaching Jesus to the Samaritans. You can read in the first verses of this chapter that many Samaritans were getting saved. The Mother Church in Jerusalem even sent a credentials committee to check out what was happening in Samaria. But, the Lord sent an angel to tell Philip to leave his successful crusade and go one-on-one in the desert.
[why didn’t the angel just do it
himself? Because the angel cannot witness to what it means to be saved…he’s
never experienced it!]
If it had been me, I'm afraid I would have said, "But, Lord, this Samaritan revival can't continue without me! Surely you don't want me to leave a successful nation-wide crusade! Look at the potential B's I can get for you here: baptisms, buildings, and budgets!" However, God's reasons are different from ours. He needed then - and still needs today - men,
women, and young people who will obey without questioning.
Again, I believe Philip was also AVAILABLE to the eunuch - (there's the second A). Philip obviously wasn't a racist because he had been living among the Samaritans whom the Jews considered to be a lower race of half-breeds. Maybe he was the only one God could find who was willing to go and preach to a black man from Ethiopia.
Philip was also READY for the call- (the R). He was ready to go where God needed him. He could have offered many excuses not to go: "Lord, surely you don't want me to break protocol; I'm less than a private; I can't just walk up to this officer and expect him to acknowledge me. Besides, Lord, did you see the size of those bodyguards? And, look at me: I'm not dressed to meet dignitaries. Besides, those footmen are running with his chariot, and I couldn't keep up. I think somebody else could do it better, because what if he wants to argue? You know I'm afraid to witness because they might ask me a question I can't answer, and then I'd be embarrassed!"...Does that sound familiar?
However, Philip didn't do that. He was PROMPT to witness - (there's our P). Philip obeyed the Lord immediately.
Remember that he didn't see the eunuch coming toward him, the royal processional passed him; because they were both going south. When the chariot with its entourage passed, Philip heard the eunuch reading from Isaiah; and the Spirit said, "That's your cue, boy; chase that chariot!"
prepared sinner, prompt soul winner…
III. A Pertinent Scripture
For our third ingredient, we see a pertinent Scripture. The eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53. I call this Scripture: SOS for 3 reasons:
It SPEAKS OF
SACRIFICE. Verse 32 talks about a lamb being silent as he is brought
to be killed for a sacrifice. This eunuch may have offered a lamb in Jerusalem,
but it didn't satisfy the sacrifice he needed for his sins.
The Isaiah passage also SPEAKS OF SOLITUDE. Verse 33 says this human lamb experienced humiliation and solitude because he was cut off before he could have any children: "Who shall declare his generation?" The eunuch could identify with that because, as a slave, he had been emasculated to make him safe in the Queen's court. That's what a eunuch is. He lived with humiliation knowing he would never father any children.
The last SOS is that the prophecy SPEAKS OF A SAVIOR. Although the verse is not quoted in Acts 8, Isaiah 53:6 says,
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, but the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all."
This human sacrifice had died to take away sins. That's what the eunuch was looking for! So, he asked Philip who the passage was about.
Prepared sinner, prompt soul winner, pertinent scripture…
IV. A Personal Salvation
Fourth, we can see a personal salvation. When Philip began at that scripture and preached Jesus, the eunuch believed and was
saved. This personal salvation the eunuch found involved at least 2 things. First, there was BELIEF & TESTIMONY.
The eunuch found the simple end to his life-long search. He simply believed the gospel and was saved. Then, he testified of his
faith in Jesus. He was so indebted for his salvation that he would do anything to obey God. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
When they came upon an oasis, the eunuch asked Philip what would prevent him from being baptized. You see, nobody told him before he made his long journey to Jerusalem that even if he accepted Judaism, he could never become a Jewish proselyte. Only gentiles without deformity could be initiated into Judaism. He didn't qualify because of his physical emasculation! Therefore, his was a very relevant question, "Is there anything to keep me from being baptized as a Christian?" How wonderful to hear Philip say, "No, my friend; you may come just as you are. When you acknowledge my Jesus as your sacrifice for sin, you'll never be turned away." I love our slogan, that you can come as you are, and you can leave changed...and we won’t change you by making you a eunuch! [don’t add that to slogan!]
Then, the eunuch went on R&R: REJOICING & REAPING. Verse 39 says after he obeyed the Scriptures and was baptized, he went on his way rejoicing. He probably wanted to thank Philip. But, after Philip immersed him and they came up out of the water, he looked around and Philip was gone - whisked away by the Spirit to another place where they needed an unbiased soul-winner.
And the reason I said R&R, rejoicing and reaping, is because Christian tradition tells us the eunuch's first convert was the Queen Mother Candice, herself. Years later, when the first missionaries arrived in Ethiopia, they found a thriving church started by this eunuch.
Conclusion: Chase all the chariots you can find! Go up and down life's highways looking for people who need Jesus. Many will turn you down, but a lot of people are cruising out there with their hearts hungering for God. They're hoping somebody will chase their chariot and bring them the Gospel.
[based on message by Tom Lovorn]