WHY SHOULDN’T I BE BAPTIZED?
ACTS 8: 26-40
OCTOBER 26, 2003 (BENNETTE’S BAPTISM!)
INTRODUCTION: PROVIDENCE OF GOD
John Wesley’s father, Samuel, was a dedicated pastor, but there were those in his parish who did not like him. On February 9, 1709, a fire broke out in the rectory at Epworth, possibly set by one of the rector’s enemies. Young John, not yet six years old, was stranded on an upper floor of the building. Two neighbors rescued the lad just seconds before the roof crashed in. One neighbor stood on the other’s shoulders and pulled young John through the window. Samuel Wesley said, "Come, neighbors, let us kneel down. Let us give thanks to God. He has given me all my eight children. Let the house go. I am rich enough." John Wesley often referred to himself as a "brand plucked out of the fire" (Zech 3:2; Amos 4:11). In later years, he often noted February 9 in his journal and gave thanks to God for His mercy. Samuel Wesley labored for 40 years at Epworth and saw very little fruit; but consider what his family accomplished!
TRANSITION THOUGHT: I share this little Wesleyan truth/ history with you for a couple of reasons. One is the reality of a child saved from the fire! As I was thinking about Baptizing three of our younger ones this day, I was overwhelmed with the imagery of a child about to be consumed by a raging fire and of someone coming to the rescue to make sure that these children did not perish. David Bradshaw was one such rescuer with many others stepping in at just the right time. As I always say, it takes us all doing our part.
Another thought I had was the significance of John Wesley’s adult life. What would England have been like if John had not been saved from the fire? We will never know, but we do know that our Lord had major plans for John Wesley. We do not know yet what God will do with each of these being baptized today. Nevertheless, just as those men came to the rescue of young John Wesley, not knowing how our Lord would use him, so we anticipate with great expectation what our Lord can do with each of these being baptized today!
One last thought: Samuel called the neighbors together to give thanks for God saving all of his children! Is not this our Prayer?!?
Our text today tells a similar story of an adult finding Jesus as Lord and Savior and celebrating this great and matchless salvation through baptism.
THESIS SENTENCE: IF WE HAVE ACCEPTED JESUS AS OUR SAVIOR, WE SHOULD BE BAPTIZED!
SO, WHAT IS BAPTISM ALL ABOUT?
I. BAPTISM BEGINS WITH THE SPIRIT LEADING/DRAWING US
A. THE SPIRIT LEADS/ DRAWS US TO THE RIGHT PLACE
1. Our story is a tale of two men. Both of these men were very important to the Lord.
2. Philip was a man chosen to wait on tables, and God blessed all that he did. It ended up getting “Scattered” as seen in chapter 8 verses 1 and 4.
3. The point here is that the Spirit of God lead Philip into the desert and the same Spirit of the Lord lead the Ethiopian Eunuch to Jerusalem to Worship. 4. Did you catch that word worship? What is so interesting is that this man does not even understand why he is worshipping; he just knows he is supposed to.
B. THE SPIRIT LEADS/ DRAWS US TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE
1. On his way home, the Ethiopian Eunuch and Philip are lead to the same place at the same time.
2. Do you think this is a coincidence?
3. Philip is a major case study. In chapter 6, he is brought to the Apostles and chosen by the church to wait on table (verse 2). When the church is scattered in chapter 8 he heads over to Samaria and does some powerful preaching. In our text, he is lead to this desert road and to this man, an Ethiopian Eunuch.
4. This is a good start on Philip, but let us look at who this Eunuch is. Is he just anyone, or is he a someone?
5. He is “an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (verse 27).”
C. THE SPIRIT LEADS/ DRAWS US TO THE RIGHT INFORMATION
1. PHILIP heard the Eunuch reading God’s word.
2. THE SCRIPTURES were the focus of this entire encounter.
3. The word of God is our focus, not the opinions of man, but the very word of God. What are you focused on? If it is God’s word, He will guide you into all truth!
TRUTH: Until the Spirit leads us and draws us through the word we will not know the truth.
QUESTION: Will you ask the Spirit to lead you and to draw you to the Father found in HIS word?
II. BAPTISM BEGINS WHEN THE SPIRIT PREPARES US
A. THE SPIRIT PREPARES OUR MINDS
1. QUESTION #1: DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE READING (verse 30)? 2. QUESTION #2: HOW CAN I, UNLESS SOMEONE EXPLAINS IT TO ME (verse 31)?
3. QUESTION #3: TELL ME, PLEASE, WHO IS THE PROPHET TALKING ABOUT, HIMSELF OR SOMEONE ELSE (verse 34)?
4. QUESTION #4: LOOK, HERE IS WATER. WHY SHOULDN’T I BE BAPTIZED (verse 36)?
ILLUSTRATION: FOCUS ON THE FAMILY; A MINISTER OVER HEARS HIS DAUGHTER.
B. THE SPIRIT PREPARES OUR HEARTS
1. In verse 27, we read that the Ethiopian Eunuch HAD GONE TO JERUSALEM TO WORSHIP. You see, until he had moved toward the Lord, he was not yet ready to receive the Lord. God was warming his heart, breaking away the hardness, and placing a heart of flesh within him.
2. Not only had the Eunuch’s heart been prepared, but also God had prepared Philip’s heart so that He could share the Gospel with him.
TRUTH: ONLY THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD CAN PREPARE OUR HEARTS!
QUESTION: WILL YOU ASK THE SPIRIT TO PREPARE YOUR HEART?
III. BAPTISM BEGINS WHEN THE SPIRIT ENABLES US TO RESPOND
A. OBEDIENCE MUST BE THE RESPONSE OF THE PREACHER
1. In VS 26 PHILIP WAS SENT BY THE ANGEL OF THE LORD
2. In VS 29, THE SPIRIT TOLD PHILIP TO GO TO THE CHARIOT AND STAY NEAR IT.
3. IN EACH INSTANCE, PHILIP OBEYS THE SPIRIT!
B. OBEDIENCE MUST BE THE RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL
1. IN VS 35, PHILIP EXPLAINS THE GOSPEL, The good news of Jesus!
2. STORY WITHIN A STORY: WHO WAS THE EUNUCH?
a. HE WOULD NEVER MARRY
b. HE WOULD NEVER BE THE FATHER OF A CHILD
c. HE COULD RELATE TO JESUS BEING SILENT BEFORE THE SHEARER d. HE COULD RELATE TO HUMILIATION
e. HE WAS DEPRIVED OF JUSTICE
f. WHO COULD SPEAK OF HIS OFFSPRING?
3. JESUS WAS WHOM THE EUNUCH NEEDED: THE SUFFERING SERVANT! ISAIAH 53:3-5, 7-8: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed… He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.”
4. Jesus was redemption for this eunuch on many levels. He could relate exactly to the place of suffering this eunuch experienced. In addition, not only could he relate, he could heal. “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrow.”
5. Jesus goes beyond relating to and knowing our situations in life, He takes them upon Himself and removes them from us. He takes up OUR INFIRMITIES!
C. OBEDIENCE MUST BE THE RESPONSE OF THE EUNUCH/THE LOST 1. Did you catch the question in verse 34: “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”
2. The result is that the Ethiopian accepted Jesus as His savior.
3. What did he want to do first to proclaim that he had accepted Jesus as his Savior? He said, “‘LOOK, HERE IS WATER. WHY SHOULDN’T I BE BAPTIZED?’ AND HE GAVE ORDERS TO STOP THE CHARIOT. THEN BOTH PHILIP AND THE EUNUCH WENT DOWN INTO THE WATER AND PHILIP BAPTIZED HIM. WHEN THEY CAME UP OUT OF THE WATER… BUT WENT ON HIS WAY REJOICING (VERSE 39).”
4. THINK OF THE RAMIFICATIONS: NOW THE GOSPEL SPREAD TO ANOTHER CULTURE, ANOTHER REGION, ANOTHER NATIONALITY, AND ANOTHER PEOPLE! Acts 1: 8 sums it up for us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
ILLUSTRATION: The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn’t know what to do. Napoleon’s massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church. The pastor rose and said, "Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord’s resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us." The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.
TRUTH: Until we respond there can be no salvation and without salvation, there can be no baptism.
QUESTION: Will you respond as the people of the church in Austria? Will you realize your weakness and the power of God to defend you? Will you ring the bells of a life of surrender to Jesus alone?
CONCLUSION: THE GOSPEL WENT FORWARD. THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST SPREAD FROM JERUSALEM TO JUDEA, TO SAMARIA, AND TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH. EACH ONE REACHED ONE WITH THE HELP OF THE SPIRIT. ANOTHER PERSON WAS BAPTIZED IN JESUS NAME! THIS IS THE SPIRITS WORK: HE IS WORKING NOW: HE IS SPEAKING TO YOU! WILL YOU RESPOND? WILL YOU ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOR?
AT THIS TIME I WANT TO INVITE MRS. BOB SHIRES TO COME FORWARD…