To an Ethiopian Eunuch

Acts

To an Ethiopian Eunuch

April 18th, 1962 @ 12:00 PM

Acts 8:26-35

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media
  
Show References:
ON OFF

 

 

TO AN ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 8:26-35

4-18-62    12:00 p.m.

 

 

This service is for us who are busy downtown and other invited and interested guests who would make their way to the heart of the city to share it with us.  Now if you have to leave in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a paragraph, in the middle of the sermon, or five seconds before the benediction, it is all right.  Everybody understands.  Most of us here today have noonday assignments, and this is our lunch hour.  And when the time comes for you to leave, be at liberty to do so.  You will not bother anybody, and least of all would you bother me.

The theme of this year, of the forty-third pre-Easter noonday services conducted by our church, the theme this year is "The Word of Salvation."  And I have chosen out of the Scriptures five nationalities to whom God addressed a word of salvation.  Tomorrow, To a Philippian Jailer; Friday, the day of the cross, To a Dying Thief; Monday it was To a Learned Judean; yesterday, Tuesday, it was To a Scarlet Samaritan; and today, To an Ethiopian Eunuch.  And the story in the Scripture is in the middle part of the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts:

 

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza.

And he arose and went:  and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, a man who had charge of all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem for to worship –

 

I still love the beauty of a King James sentence:  he’d come to Jerusalem "for to worship."

Was returning, and sitting in his chariot was reading Isaiah the prophet.

Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?  And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him in the chariot.

And the place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb speechless, dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth:

In His humiliation His judgment was taken away:  and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

[Acts 8:26-35]

 

The word of salvation to an Ethiopian eunuch:  "And he began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus" [Acts 8:35].

One of the curses of the Oriental harem was the ever-attendant eunuch:  an emasculated man, a dry stick, whose hope of issue and family was forever destroyed.  One of those helpless and hopeless emasculations was this eunuch.  He must have been a man of gifts; for the Scriptures say he was, in England you’d call him Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the United States we would say he was Secretary of the Treasury.  He had charge of all the fiscal financial work of the nation of Ethiopia.  He also must have been, in his despair and in his hungry-heartedness, he must have been a man whose heart was open to God; for though he lived far down in the heart of East Africa, he had become a worshipper of the God of the Holy Scriptures, and upon a day had made the way, a trek, a long journey, to Jerusalem, for to worship God [Acts 8:27], and there in the city he had possessed in some way a copy of the Holy Scriptures.  And as his charioteer drove the illustrious man back home to Ethiopia, he was reading the fifty-third chapter of the prophet Isaiah.

And God in compassion had looked upon that man in his hunger of heart and in his desperation of life, and had sent the Philip the evangelist to stand by the road along which he’d be passing by; and God said to Philip, "That is the man.  That is the man.  Join yourself to his chariot" [Acts 8:29].  And Philip, invited to be seated by the side of this illustrious Ethiopian, listened to him as he read aloud this chapter from Isaiah.  And as they read the Book, in astonishment, the eunuch said, "But I do not understand.  This One of whom God speaks as the sin-bearer of the world, whose soul is made an offering for our iniquities, is it the prophet himself he is describing, or is he speaking of some other man?" [Acts 8:34].  And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at that text and at that Scripture, preached unto that Ethiopian eunuch the Lord Jesus [Acts 8:35].  For the good news – that’s the gospel in our modern day language – for the good news is the good news of the Lord Jesus.  For the gospel is the story and the message of our blessed Lord Jesus.

In the fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, verses 1 through 4, Paul defines the gospel.  He says:  "For I declare unto you the gospel wherein ye were saved,how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; He was buried, and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures" [1 Corinthians 15:1-4].  When a man preaches the gospel, if we send out a missionary to preach the gospel, what does he preach?  He preaches the good news of the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Jesus born of a virgin [Matthew 1:23-25]; Jesus in His ministry, going about doing good [Acts 10:38]; Jesus dying on the cross for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3]; Jesus laid in the tomb [Matthew 27:58-60]; Jesus raised from the dead [Matthew 28:5-7]; Jesus ascended back up to glory [Acts 1:9], and someday, some wonderful and triumphant day, Jesus coming again [Acts 1:11].

 

It may be at midday, it may be at twilight

It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight

Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,

When Jesus receives His own.

 

Oh, joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,

No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.

Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,

When Jesus receives His own.

["Christ Returneth"; H. L. Turner]

 

"And he preached unto him Jesus" [Acts 8:35], the good news:  for the gospel is the simple story of the Son of God.  And the plan of salvation is that simple and humble thing of trusting the Lord Jesus [Acts16:31].  "And he preached unto him Jesus."

One day I took my Bible, and with a red pencil I underlined every sentence, every passage in the Bible where God tells a man how to be saved.  And after I’d gone through the whole Book, then I looked back and found an astonishing and an amazing thing:  wherever in the Word of God the Lord tells a man how to be saved, He always does it in one simple sentence; never two, in one simple, monosyllabic sentence.

For example, John 1:11:  The Lord "came unto His own, and His own received Him not."  Then the next sentence:  "But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to them that trust in His name" [John 1:12], one sentence.  John 3:14 and 15:  "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life," one simple sentence.  And the next sentence is the most famous and the most inclusive and the most significantly meaningful of all the sentences ever written in this earth; for the next sentence is John 3:16.  If you know it, you know the gospel.  If you know it, you know the Book.  If you know it, you know the heart of God.  For the message of God in our salvation is always presented in one simple sentence.  I wonder, this noonday, all of you in that great balcony, the vast throng on this lower floor, all of us here on the platform, let’s say that great, meaningful sentence together, John 3:16, everybody together:  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." One simple sentence; there’s no exception to it.

Acts 16:30:  "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they replied, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" [Acts 16:31], one simple sentence.  Romans 10: 9:  "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved," one simple sentence.  "For with the heart one believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," one simple sentence [Romans 10:10].  There is never an exception to it in the whole Word of God.  Our preachers may think sometimes they preach profoundly, and the books they write they may look upon as heavy theological tomes; but when God speaks, it will always be in plain and simple sentences that a child could understand and the least among us can respond to.

One of our Sunday school teachers said to the pastor, "There’s a boy, a teenager, and he’s not a Christian.  And the doctor says he cannot live, and he’s in the hospital.  Pastor, would you visit the boy?"  So the pastor made his way to our hospital.  And after gaining the acquiescence of the nurse, he put his head underneath the oxygen tent, and spoke to the boy.  And the boy said he realized the verdict; it was death.  And the pastor said, "But, son, you’re not prepared to die; you’re not a Christian."  And the lad said, "Yes."  And the preacher said, "Let me read to you out of my Book how a boy can be saved."  And the pastor read to the lad these sentences I have just quoted to you.  And when he got through reading, the boy looked at the pastor in amazement and said, "But sir, is it that easy?"  And the pastor replied, "Son, easy for you, but not for Him."  "In His own body He bore our sins on the tree" [1 Peter 2:24].  In that great fifty-third chapter of Isaiah that the Ethiopian eunuch was reading, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities:  the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes, we are healed" [Isaiah 53:5].

Was it for crimes that I have done

He groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity! grace unknown!

And love beyond degree!

 

But drops of grief can ne’er repay

The debt of love I owe:

Here, Lord, I give my life away

‘Tis all that I can do.

["Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed?"; Isaac Watts]

 

The great plan of salvation is trusting the Lord Jesus.  "And he preached unto him Jesus" [Acts 8:35].

I have a third great avowal:  not only that the gospel message is the simple story of Jesus, that the great plan of salvation is trusting the Lord Jesus, but a third avowal: the great act of conversion by which one is born into the kingdom of God, the great act of conversion is the committal of your life to the Lord Jesus.

One time I bowed my head and said, "Lord, what is it to believe in Jesus?  Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved [Acts 16:30-31].  Lord, what is it to believe in the Lord Jesus?"  The Lord answered my prayer with this passage in 2 Timothy 1:12:  Paul wrote, "For I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."  And that was it.  "I know whom I have believed."  And what was it to believe?  I committed unto Him, against that great and final day of the Lord, my soul, and my life, and my destiny, now and forever.  So, to trust in the Lord Jesus, to believe in the Lord Jesus, is to commit your soul and your destiny and your life to Him – you!

I was called as pastor of a church, my first church out of the seminary, in a county seat town, a lovely congregation, but one that had practically died.  And it had died because somehow the preacher, inadvertently apparently, had connotated the gospel with money.  He collected the pledges of the people.  He went around and knocked at the doors of the homes, and when people were in arrears the preacher reminded them they were behind, and asked for the money to catch up with the pledging they had made to the church.  That’s a great and colossal mistake.  And the church had died, under the impression that the gospel and the ministry and the message of Jesus was somehow equated with money.

Well, when I went to the town, there were three very prominent citizens who belonged to the church, but who hadn’t attended in years.  And I went to see those three men in an afternoon.  And to my amazement, all three men did each one a same and an identical thing.  I went in, introduced myself to this insurance man, and told him I was his pastor.  And he visited with me a moment, pulled open the drawer of his desk, got out his checkbook, wrote a check, and pushed it to me across the table.  The second man I went to was a physician, a loved doctor.  He did the same thing:  when I visited him, he opened the drawer of his desk, pulled out a checkbook, wrote a check, and pushed it across the table to me.  The third man was a lawyer and our representative in the state legislature.  He did that same and identical thing:  when I went to see him, he opened the drawer of his desk, took out his checkbook, wrote a check, and pushed it across the table to me.  In all three instances I also did the same and identical thing:  I took the check, and I pushed it back to the man across the desk, and I said, "I’m not interested in your money, and I’m not interested in what you have.  I have come for you and for your family.  Come, come, come."        

The next Sunday, when I stood up to preach in the pulpit, I looked out over my typical county seat congregation.  There was that insurance man, and in the pew by his side the whole family.  There was the doctor, and in the pew by his side his family.  And there was the brilliant lawyer, and in the pew by his side his family.  Not what we have, not what we’ve got, not what we could pay, but you:  God is interested in you.  And what it is to be saved is the committal of your heart, and your soul, and your life, and your home, and your destiny, and all you love and dream of, all of it, committing into the hands of God our Savior.  That’s what it is to be a Christian.

That’s why – you know, there are a thousand things I want to say and sometimes I’m afraid to say them lest I appear to be a foolish one who brags.  But let me say this one sentence, and you’ll understand: that’s why I love our church.  There are in this church the poorest of the poor in the city of Dallas; they come almost in clean rags.  We help them even to exist.  And there are, as you know, in our church, many that are well-to-do.  I like it that way.  In God’s kingdom, whether it’s a Philippian jailer, or whether it’s a scarlet woman, or whether it’s a learned rabbi from Judea, or whether it’s a dying thief, or whether it’s an Ethiopian eunuch – God be praised, the gospel message to them all is one of love, and that appeal of heart compassion, of interest not in what they possess, but in them.

Bear with me as I conclude.  Our great song in the eternity of the eternities of heaven, in the ages of the endless ages is the Lord Jesus:  "And he preached unto him Jesus."  And the song of songs in glory:  "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, unto Him be glory, and honor, and dominion, forever and ever.  Amen and amen" [Revelation 1:5-6].  With the apostle Paul, "We know no other thing, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified" [1 Corinthians 2:2]; the Lord Jesus, the Christ of God, our all in all.

 

I entered once a home of care,

And penury and want were there,

But peace and joy withal;

I asked the faithful mother whence

Her helpless widowhood’s defense;

She answered, "Christ is all."

 

I saw the martyr at the stake,

The flames could not his courage shake,

Nor death his soul appall;

I asked him whence his strength was giv’n;

He looked triumphantly to heav’n,

And answered, "Christ is all."

 

I stood beside the dying bed,

Where lay a child with aching head,

Waiting Jesus’ call;

I saw him smile, ’twas sweet as May;

And as his spirit passed away,

He whispered, "Christ is all."

 

I dreamed that hoary Time had fled,

The earth and sea gave up their dead,

A fire dissolved this ball;

I saw the church’s ransomed throng,

I caught the burden of their song,

‘Twas this, that, "Christ is all in all in all."

["Christ is All"; W. A. Williams]

 

"And they sang a new song, saying, Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,to Him be glory, and dominion forever and ever" [Revelation 1:5-6],  "And he preached unto him Jesus" [Acts 8:35].  Amen.

And our Lord, bless our souls as we turn to the tasks of the day with a prayer in our hearts, and a song on our lips, praising God for our Savior, the blessed Lord Jesus.  Amen.

PHILIP AND THE EUNUCH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 8:26-36

4-18-62

 

I.          The strange ways of God

A.  God takes Philip away from great Samaritan revival (Acts 8:8)

      1.  Out of the city into the desert

      2.  Philip on speaking terms with angels

B.  A heavenly purpose

      1.  A man was to pass that way

      2.  God’s care for the one, as well as the many

 

II.         The meeting in the desert

A. "Behold!" (Acts 8:27)

B.  He was a eunuch (Acts 8:27-28)

      1.  A man of great gifts; like Daniel

      2.  A man of deep heart-hunger to know God (Acts 8:27)

C.  Religion can’t bring peace to his heart

D.  The man and the messenger

      1.  He was reading aloud Isaiah 53

      2.  He was bewildered, puzzled

      3.  God in compassion upon him sent Philip (Acts 8:29, 34)

 

III.        The delivered message

A.  Addressed the man thing – Jesus (Acts 8:35, Romans 3:23, 6:23, Ezekiel 18:20, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Romans 4:25)

B.  The eunuch asks to be baptized (Acts 8:36-38)

C.  Happy, exultant

      1.  The preacher withdrawn (Matthew 17:5, 8)

      2.  We look down the road (Acts 8:39)