Summary: : Accepting the Great Commission requires following the directives of Captain Jesus.
The Gospel According To Star Trek
Text: Acts 8:26-40
1. Illustration: If you've ever been a fan of the sci-fi show Star Trek then you are familiar with the quote that opened every episode. "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before."
2. In many ways being a Christian is a lot like being on Star Trek, because we are called by Jesus to boldly go where no one has gone before.
3. In order to accept this mission requires...
A. Being Willing To Obey
B. Being Sensitive To The Holy Spirit
C. Being Willing To Seize The Moment
4. Let's stand together as we read Acts 8:26-40.
Proposition: Accepting the Great Commission requires following the directives of Captain Jesus.
Transition: To accept the Great Commission means...
I. Being Willing To Obey (26-28).
A. So He Started Out
1. Evangelist Charles Finney noted this about obedience and sacrifice, "Revival is nothing more or less than a new obedience to God!"
2. Philip was open to whatever God directed him to do. This can be clearly illustrated in his encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch. Luke starts out by saying, "As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
A. At this point "an angel of the Lord" spoke to Philip telling him to go toward the south to the desert road going down from Jerusalem to Gaza.
B. "Desert" also means "deserted, abandoned, desolate." Here, the emphasis is that the area was largely uninhabited.
C. The Bible tells of angels appearing to people comparatively few times. Yet they are often present and function as "ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14).
D. However, since they are spirits, God has to give them a physical form temporarily in order for them to appear and speak to people.
E. There may have been a special reason for sending an angel. Philip was in the midst of a great revival in Samaria.
F. It probably took something unusual to get him to leave the crowds and go down to a seldom-used back road. Some take "desert" to refer to Old Testament Gaza, the most southern of the five cities of the Philistines.
G. About sixty miles southwest of Jerusalem, it was destroyed in 93 B.C. In 57 B.C. a new city was built nearer the Mediterranean Sea.
H. The road to old Gaza might be called the road to desert (deserted) Gaza.
I. To go there must have seemed unreasonable, but the desert road may have reminded Philip of Isaiah's cry, "'In the desert prepare the way for the Lord'" (Isa. 40:3) (Horton, Acts: A Logion Press Commentary, 170).
3. In total obedience, Luke tells us that Philip "So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah."
A. God was leading him, for at the very time he reached the Gaza road, the chariot of an Ethiopian eunuch was approaching.
B. In ancient times, most officers in palaces were eunuchs. He was a highly placed officer, a member of the court of the Ethiopian queen Candace and "in charge of all [her] treasury."
C. We might say he was a member of the cabinet and would compare to the secretary of the treasury, but with full responsibility for the care and disbursement of funds.
D. This eunuch had come a long distance "to Jerusalem to worship."
E. Though he was a God-fearing Gentile or a convert to Judaism, because of his being a eunuch he could go only as far as the Court of the Gentiles.
F. Even so, he purchased the scrolls of Isaiah to take back with him. These were hand-copied and extremely expensive in those days. Usually a whole synagogue would join together to buy one set, which they would keep locked up except for use in the worship and in the synagogue school (Horton, 171-172).
G. However, the most important thing to see here is Philip's obedience to the Angel's command. None of the rest of the story takes place if Philip doesn't do as he is directed by the Angel.
B. To Obey Is Better
1. Illustration: Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back to drink.