Sunday, March 18, 2012

From Acts to Revelation Part 21 – Philip and the Ethiopian

From Acts to Revelation
Part 21 – Philip and the Ethiopian
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

In today's news, we read that Pope Shenouda III, who was the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Pope, died today. There are currently 10 Million Coptic Christians in the world.

Ethiopia is approximately 1,000 miles south of Egypt, where we will see Philip begin traveling towards.

Today's scripture will show us how obedience will allow God's leading in our life, and how a person who is truly seeking the Lord, will find Him.  We also see the Apostles continue with water baptism as an outward expression of a spiritual truth, this coming before the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as well as how the Teleportation we watched for years on Star Trek is not only probable, but is actually possible, fitting into the physical laws God has placed on this universe.

Acts 8:26-40
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
   “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Up to this point, we have seen;

ñ Philip already traveled from Jerusalem to Samaria to help the Disciples there preach about Christ.

ñ An Apostle was needed, probably because of Simon the Sorcerer, who had tricked the people into thinking he was a powerful wizard.

ñ After Philip arrived, the miracles, signs, wonders and healing that always follow an Apostle, proved that his teaching was of God, and the Samaritans believed, and were baptized.

ñ The scriptures tell us that even Simon believed and was baptized.

ñ After this, the Apostles Peter and john came to teach and baptize them in the Holy Spirit.

ñ Simon offered to buy the Holy Spirit, and Peter told him, although you confessed Christ, and were baptized, you are not part of this ministry (saved), because your heart is not right with God. Repent of your sin, you are full of bitterness.

ñ The Apostles continued back to Jerusalem, preaching Christ all through Samaria.

1.      Philip was obedient to Christ, going to Samaria.
1.      We cannot expect God to give us another Word until we “do” the one He has already given us.

2.      Our obedience to God's instruction is the road to His leading.

3.      Obedience is the “narrow path”

2.      An angel of the Lord now leads Philip to Gaza.
1.      vs 27 shows that Philip immediately obeyed.

3.      Philip meets an Ethiopian along the way.
1.      He was probably celebrating the “Feast of the Tabernacles”, or feast of tents as it is called, which is celebrated around October.

2.      He seems to be a gentile proselyte, or gentile who converted to Judaism.

3.      He was reading the Book of Isaiah.

4.      This is would be the very first Gentile to convert to Christ!

1.      The scriptures show us a couple of things here
1.      First, it was possible for a Gentile to convert to Judaism and worship God in the Old Testament.
1.      Even then, God was trying to reach people and have a relationship with them

2.      Secondly, a Jew, whether by birth or conversion, who is TRULY seeking the Lord, will find Him!
1.      We see God bring Philip to this man who was the treasurer to the country of Ethiopia.

2.      Philip invites, the Ethiopian accepts
1.      True witnessing, an invitation is given, then accepted
2.      Philip teaches of Christ and the New Covenant
3.      What naturally follows is baptism

1.      Why is this story right here in scripture?
1.      I believe it is because we just saw Simon, who confessed Christ and get baptized, yet was not saved because his heart was not right with the Lord.

2.      Here, we have a man who in contrast, his heart IS right with the Lord, but he has not confessed Christ or been baptized.

3.      Neither of these to men, Simon nor the Ethiopian, having part of the salvation formula, were saved, but only having a form of religion.

2.      Philip gives the Ethiopian what he gave Simon, the truth
1.      Simon's heart, unchanged, he was not saved.

2.      The Ethiopians heart was already right with the Lord, hearing the truth, he confessed Christ, and immediately wanted baptism to show the world outwardly what had taken place spiritually.

1.      Science fiction in the Bible?
1.      vs. 39 we see when the Ethiopian was baptized and came up out of the water, Philip had been suddenly taken away by the Spirit of the Lord.

2.      Philip was instantly teleported nearly 20 miles away!

3.      Is this real? Can this be?
1.      YES.

2.      I believe the Bible is;
1.      the inerrant Word of God

2.      the Truth

3.      God does not lie, if the Word says it, it is true!

3.      Hard to believe?
1.      Fans of science fiction like Star Trek with teleporters, Quantum leap with time traveling devices, or classic books like H.G. Well's The Time Machine,  have readily accepted bending space and time to travel through time and over far distances instantly.

2.      I believe that this is possible, because the Bible says it is.
1.      Whether or not we ever master it as humans is debatable, but the fact remains, the Holy Scriptures says that it is possible.

3.      God, when creating our universe, and everything in it, implanted certain physical and quantum laws.  Some are bendable, some are unmovable, and some are immeasurable.

4.      The Conundrum of Quantum Physics
1.      I do not believe that science should ever be used to prove the Bible, but the Bible should be used to prove science.

2.      Hundreds of scriptures, which at one time dismissed by science, have later been proven true as we advance in our understanding.
1.      You may be surprised to learn that the Bible revealed that the earth is round. Job 26:10, Prov 8:27, Isaiah 40:22, Amos 9:6. Today, we chuckle at the people of the fifteenth century who feared sailing because they thought they would fall over the edge of the flat earth. Yet the Bible revealed the truth in 1000 B.C. 2500 years before man discovered it for himself!

2.      In various verses, the Bible says the earth is round and hangs in space. It took a long time for science to catch up and reach the same conclusions. Copernicus made the discovery in 1475. But the Bible always knew. Here are two related Bible verses that were written more than 2500 years ago, and more than 1000 years before Copernicus:
3.      "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth..." (Isaiah 40:22,NIV). (By the way, the Hebrew language at that time did not have a word for "sphere," only for "circle.")

4.      "He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing" (Job 26:7, NIV).

3.      So, the Bible will always prove science, not the other way around.

5.      God wrote the code we are living in
1.      He designed and built everything we call this dimension, or universe, and everything in it.
2.      He also designed it in a way that some laws which appear to be set in stone, can be manipulated.
3.      Light is actually particles, and can be bent.
4.      Water, which seems to be liquid, can be manipulated into a gas or solid form by altering other laws around it, such as temperatures.

6.      Teleportation is real, and Philip experienced it first-hand

If you wish to be lead by God's Holy Spirit, you must first OBEY what He commands.

When you do, He will lead and guide you.

Outward confession and expression is part of the Christian faith, and we should continue in the practices.
If one is truly seeking the Lord, God will make a way for them.

Finally, teleportation is a fact, although we have not mastered it, God says so.