Author: Ron Graham

grace

Grace and the Ethiopian
—His response to God’s word

In this lesson we consider the Biblical account of the travelling Ethopian, to whom Philip preached about Jesus. He was saved by grace. We can learn a lot from the way he responded to God's grace.

First let's read the true story...

Acts 8:26-40

¶“26But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip. The angel said, 'Arise, and go southward along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.' (This area is deserted.) 27So Philip arose and went.” (Acts 8:26).

¶“27And behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was responsible for all her treasure. He'd been to Jerusalem to worship. 28Now he was returning; seated in his chariot; reading the prophet Isaiah.” (Acts 8:27-28).

¶“29The Spirit told Philip, 'Go closer, and meet this chariot.' 30So Philip ran to the man, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet. Philip said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' 31The man replied, 'How can I, unless someone explains it to me?' He implored Philip to come up and sit with him.“ (Acts 8:29-31).

¶“32Now this is the passage of Scripture the man was reading: 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter. As a lamb before his shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away. Who will declare His generation? His life is taken from the earth.' ”(Acts 8:32-33, Isaiah 53:7-8).

¶“34The eunuch further replied to Philip by asking, 'Who is the prophet talking about —is it himself or someone else?' 35Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, he preached to him about Jesus.” (Acts 8:34-35).

¶“36As they went along the way, they came to some water. The eunuch said, 'Look! Here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?'” (Acts 8:36).

¶“37Philip replied, 'If you believe with your whole heart you may be baptized.' The man said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' 38Having said that, he commanded the chariot to halt. Both he and Philip went down together into the water, and there Philip immersed the eunuch.” (Acts 8:37-38).

¶“39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more. The eunuch went on his way rejoicing. 40As for Philip, he was found at Azotus. From there he passed through all the cities preaching the gospel as far as Caesarea.” (Acts 8:39-40).

1 A Seeker of God’s Fellowship

¶“27And behold, there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He was responsible for all her treasure. He'd been to Jerusalem to worship.(Acts 8:27).

This man was a worshiper of God. He desired grace and, in a sense, grace also desired him. It appears that he kept the law of Moses. He had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he could enter God’s temple and offer a sacrifice. He clearly desired to be in fellowship with God. No doubt he trusted the promises that God had long ago made to Abraham.

This man was not aware that those promises had been recently fulfilled. He did not know of the great sacrifice made by Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.

Whilst this man’s pilgrimage and worship was out of date, his heart was in the right place. His faith was saving him by grace as the scripture says, “The righteous shall live by their faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Now someone might say that this man did not need to know anything more, because he was already being justified by faith and saved by grace. This salvation, however, was provisional. This man needed to be saved “properly” as it were. He was looking for the Christ but he had not found the Christ. So in that sense he needed to be saved.

What that man needed most, as he travelled along the road, was someone to tell him the message of salvation about Jesus. As Cornelius, a man in the same position, was told about Peter, “He shall tell you words whereby you and all your household will be saved ” (Acts 11:14)

In the Ethiopian’s case, the man was not Peter but Philip...

¶“26But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip. The angel said, 'Arise, and go southward along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza.' This area is deserted. 27So Philip arose and went.” (Acts 8:26).

2 A Lover of God’s Word

Philip came upon the man who was riding along in his chariot. He was reading aloud from Isaiah, and was at chapter 53

¶“29The Spirit told Philip, 'Go closer, and meet this chariot.' 30So Philip ran to the man, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet. Philip said, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' 31The man replied, 'How can I, unless someone explains it to me?' He implored Philip to come up and sit with him.“ (Acts 8:29-31).

We are then told that the man asked who Isaiah was speaking of, and “Philip preached to him about Jesus” (Acts 8:34-35).

Have you ever had the experience of not being told something you really needed to know? You say, “Why wasn't I told?” and they say, “You didn't ask.” And you say, “But I didn't know I needed to know; that's why I didn't ask!”

Fortunately, this man in the chariot wasn't in that situation. He was a lover and reader of God’s word. So he knew what he needed to know, and he asked the very best question, “Of whom does the prophet speak...?” (Acts 8:34). And he got the best answer.

Now someone might say that this man was now saved properly and completely. God had seen to it that the man found out what he needed to know. He had heard about Jesus and he believed what he heard —end of story. But it isn't the end of the story.

We have seen that this man sought fellowship with God. He loved the word of God. He now knew about Jesus, the Son of God, who became the Lamb of God sacrificed for sins. He now believed in Jesus. That is good, but is that all God, would expect of him to make his salvation by grace final? No, this man was at a critical point. His salvation was provisional. It now depended finally on what he went on to do...

3 A Doer of God’s Will

Suddenly as Philip was still teaching him, the man saw some water and wanted to be baptized.

¶“36As they went along the way, they came to some water. The eunuch said, 'Look! Here is water. What prevents me from being baptized?'” (Acts 8:36).

¶“37Philip replied, 'If you believe with your whole heart you may be baptized.' The man said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' 38Having said that, he commanded the chariot to halt. Both he and Philip went down together into the water, and there Philip immersed the eunuch.” (Acts 8:37-38).

This Ethiopian came upon an opportunity to obey what had been preached to him from the scriptures. He then rejoiced because he knew that God’s grace, in his case, had not been frustrated but had been fulfilled —and would continue to be by ongoing faith and obedience.


Another Lesson on Grace...

ico Grateful for Grace

—God saw our need of salvation and in his great love he offers it to us as a gift. How should we respond? Touch the button title to go to that lesson.

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