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                   "CONVERSIONS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                     The Ethiopian Eunuch (8:26-40)

INTRODUCTION

1. The conversions we have noted so far have involved large numbers of
   people...
   a. The 3000 at Pentecost - Ac 2:1-41
   b. The 2000 on Solomon's Porch - Ac 3:1-4:4
   c. The multitudes in Samaria - Ac 8:5-13

2. In each case, the gospel message was basically the same...
   a. Christ is proclaimed
   b. Responses called for included faith, repentance and baptism

3. Now we have the opportunity to examine the conversion of just one 
   person...
   a. A queen's treasurer, a eunuch from Ethiopia
   b. A very religious man, who had traveled a great distance to 
      worship God

4. With the account of the conversion of "The Ethiopian Eunuch"...
   a. We not only have the opportunity to confirm what we have already
      learned
   b. We can also glean a few more points regarding Biblical 
      conversions

[Let's start with a reading and review of the basic facts related to
this conversion...]

I. THE CONVERSION OF THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH

   A. PHILIP IS SENT TO THE EUNUCH - Ac 8:26-29
      1. An angel of the Lord tells Philip to go toward Gaza - Ac 8:26
      2. On the way there is a man sitting in his chariot - Ac 8:27-28
         a. A eunuch of Ethiopia, in charge of the treasury of Queen 
            Candace
         b. Returning home from having gone to worship in Jerusalem
         c. Reading from the prophet Isaiah
      3. The Spirit tells Philip to overtake the chariot - Ac 8:29

   B. PHILIP PREACHES JESUS TO HIM - Ac 8:30-35
      1. Hearing the eunuch reading Isaiah, Philip asks if he 
         understands - Ac 8:30
      2. The eunuch asks Philip to help him - Ac 8:31-34
         a. He expresses a need for someone to guide him, and invites 
            Philip to sit with him
         b. The scripture under consideration is Isa 53:7-8
            1) Which speaks of one led as a sheep to the slaughter
            2) Which describes one whose life is taken from the earth
         c. The eunuch asks if Isaiah was speaking of himself, or of 
            someone else
      3. Beginning with that Scripture, Philip preaches Jesus to him 
         - Ac 8:35

   C. THE EUNUCH IS BAPTIZED - Ac 8:36-40
      1. The eunuch expresses a desire to be baptized - Ac 8:36-37
         a. Seeing some water along the way, he wonders what would 
            hinder him from being baptized
         b. Philip replies that if he believes with all his heart, he
            may
         c. The eunuch confesses his faith in Jesus as the Son of God
      2. Philip baptizes the eunuch - Ac 8:38-40
         a. Stopping the chariot, both Philip and the eunuch go down 
            into the water
         b. Philip then baptizes him
         c. When they come up out of the water, the Spirit catches 
            Philip away
         d. Though seeing Philip no more, the eunuch goes on his way
            rejoicing
         e. Philip is found at Azotus, and continues preaching in the
            cities until he arrives at Caesarea

[One might properly wonder why the Spirit saw it fit to lead Luke to
spend so much time describing the conversion of just one person.  
Clearly there must be important lessons or principles that we can glean
from this historical account.

With that in mind, let me offer..]

II. SOME OBSERVATIONS

   A. CONCERNING PROSPECTS FOR THE GOSPEL...
      1. The Ethiopian eunuch was a very religious man
         a. He had traveled a great distance to worship in Jerusalem
         b. He was reading from the Scriptures when Philip found him
      2. In fact, most examples of conversions involved very devout 
         people
         a. The 3000 at Pentecost, who had traveled to observe the 
            feast day
         b. Later, we will study the conversions of such people as:
            1) Paul, the Pharisee zealous for the Law
            2) Cornelius, the devout Gentile who feared God and prayed
               always
            3) Lydia, a woman who met every Sabbath to pray with others
      3. From this we can glean the following...
         a. Just because one is religious does not mean they are saved!
         b. Religious people are often good prospects for the gospel!
            1) They already fear God and respect His authority
            2) As such, they simply need to be shown "the way of God
               more accurately" - cf. Ac 18:26
         c. Those who are truly seeking God's will, will one day have
            an opportunity to hear the gospel and obey it!
      -- This does not discount the fact that rank sinners are often 
         receptive (cf. the Corinthians, 1Co 6:9-11), but good people
         are usually more open to the Word
   
   B. CONCERNING WHAT IT MEANS TO PREACH JESUS...
      1. From Isaiah's "quotation" (Isa 52:13-53:11), we know it 
         involves teaching:
         a. How Jesus died for our sins - cf. 1Co 15:1-3
         b. How Jesus has been exalted by God - cf. Ac 2:36; 3:13; 
            5:30-31
      2. From the Eunuch's "question" (Ac 8:36), we know it includes
         stressing:
         a. The importance of baptism
            1) Why did the eunuch ask, "What hinders me from being 
               baptized?"
            2) Perhaps because Philip told him...
               a) What the Lord had said - Mk 16:15-16
               b) The purpose of baptism, as expressed by Peter and 
                  Paul - Ac 2:38; Ro 6:3-4; 1Pe 3:21
            -- As we have seen and will see, baptism is the expected
               response when one believes in Jesus
         b. The immediacy of baptism
            1) Why did the eunuch asked to be baptized right then
               ("See, here is water.")?
            2) Perhaps because baptism's purpose is such that one does
               not want to delay
               a) It is "for the remission of sins" - Ac 2:38
               b) It is to have one's sins "washed away" - Ac 22:16
               c) It is an appeal for a clear conscience - 1Pe 3:21
            -- Indeed, in every example of conversion found in Acts,
               people were baptized immediately, after just one lesson!
      3. From Philip's "qualification" (Ac 8:37), we know it requires
         explaining:
         a. The necessity of faith in Jesus
            1) One must believe in Jesus as the Son of God - Jn 8:24;
               20:30-31
            2) Without faith, God won't do His work in our baptism
               - cf. Col 2:12
         b. The necessity of whole-heartedness in our faith
            1) God has always required whole-heartedness - cf. Mt 22:37
            2) Without it, even those saved are in danger of falling
               away - cf. He 3:12-14
         -- Unless "you believe with all your heart", you are not a
            proper subject for baptism!

   C. CONCERNING BAPTISM...
      1. We see that baptism involves water
         a. When the eunuch was baptized...
            1) "...both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water"
               - Ac 8:38
            2) "...he baptized him" - Ac 8:38
            3) "...they came up out of the water" - Ac 8:39
         b. Later, we see the same truth expressed by Peter - cf. Ac
            10:47-48
      2. We see that baptism involves a burial in water
         a. Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water - Ac
            8:38
            1) If sprinkling satisfies the meaning of baptism, it seems
               strange that Philip would need to go down into the water
            2) Why get wet, when all he needed to do was get a handful
               of water?
         b. Baptism means "to immerse", and such requires the baptizer
            to get in the water with the one being baptized
         c. Later, Paul describes baptism as a "burial" - cf. Ro 6:3-4;
            Col 2:12
      3. We see that baptism is NOT a public confession of one's faith
         a. Some say that the purpose of baptism is to publicly confess
            one's faith in Christ
            1) Especially those who deny that baptism is for the 
               remission of sins
            2) Seeking to provide a reason for baptism, they offer this
               as an alternative
            3) But the Bible nowhere says this is the purpose for 
               baptism!
         b. If the purpose of baptism is to publicly confess one's 
            faith...
            1) Why did Philip baptize the eunuch?
               a) There was no one else around to witness the baptism
               b) They were all alone in the desert
            2) Why didn't Philip answer the eunuch's question 
               differently?
               a) He wanted to know what would hinder him from being 
                  baptized
               b) If baptism is a public confession of one's faith, we
                  would expect Philip to say he must wait until they 
                  get to town, find a church, etc.
         c. But the purpose of baptism is such that it can be done...
            1) In public or in private
            2) With thousands present, or with just the one doing the
               baptizing
         -- Later, we will see that the conversion of the Philippian 
            Jailor also involved a baptism in relative privacy

CONCLUSION

1. With the conversion of "The Ethiopian Eunuch", we are impressed 
   with the simplicity of salvation...
   a. With a simple presentation of the gospel, one can be saved after
      just one lesson
   b. Whether it is preached to large crowds or to just one person, the
      gospel is indeed God's power to save! - cf. Ro 1:16

2. When the gospel of Jesus is truly preached...
   a. The death of Jesus for our sins will be stressed
   b. The importance of baptism as commanded by Jesus will be mentioned
      as well
      1) Such that people will want to know "what hinders me from being
         baptized?"
      2) Such that people will want to baptized immediately
   c. The purpose of baptism will be properly understood, knowing that
      one can be baptized in private just as well as in public
   d. The necessity for a whole-hearted faith in Jesus will be 
      emphasized, otherwise one simply gets wet in baptism!

Was your conversion anything like that of "The Ethiopian Eunuch"? When
someone "preached Jesus" to you, were you compelled to ask:

 "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" - Acts 8:36

If not, have you considered why not?  Could it be that the gospel of 
Jesus Christ was not shared with you in its fullness...?
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