Sunday School Material 10-28-12: Philip Baptizes a Man from Ethiopia

(Acts 8:26-38; 10/28/12)

Introduction: A key idea in today's Sunday School material is Philip ministers to an eunuch. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to minister to those we meet along our journey.

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Body:

Read Acts 8:26-29

I. God’s Appointment. In the Sunday School material an angel of the Lord tells Philip to go south. As he traveled, he ran into an eunuch. The eunuch was a religious man and was found reading from the book of Isaiah.

Applications –

- Trusting God with the details. Notice in vss. 26-27 of the Sunday School material that Philip was willing to go wherever the Lord wanted him to go, before he knew the details of the assignment.

There are many who would not have been as willing. Some want all of the details, before they take the first step. Some want the Lord, Himself, to speak to them, not an angel or messenger of the Lord like the Pastor.

The result of such resistance is that so much ministry goes undone and souls remain unsaved. Let’s work on trusting God to work out the details of our assignment. We should be willing to go wherever the Lord wants us to go and do whatever He wants us to do.

- An African man. Notice in vss. 27-28 of the Sunday School material that the man of color had an important job, could read, and had religion before being exposed to European Christianity.

The Sunday School commentator gets credit for acknowledging that the man was probably Black, since he came from Africa. However, it was disappointing to see the White image of the Black man, in the Sunday School book.

The reason these racial issues are important is because for too long White Christians have suggested that White is right and Black is inferior.

Too many have suggested that Blacks should thank God for White slave owners teaching them about Jesus, allowing them to read, and introducing them to civilization.

The truth is that people of color had civilization and religion, before they were enslaved. Christianity was in Northern Africa, before or at worst shortly after it made it to European countries.

Thus, to be Christian doesn’t mean a wholesale adoption of European culture. Let’s behave as if God is bigger than any one race or culture.

Living by this idea means that we strive to appreciate all cultural attempts to live for God through the ministry of Jesus Christ, not just the European attempts to do so.

Read Acts 8:30-35

II. Philip’s Message. We see in the Sunday School material at the Spirit's instruction, Philip goes to the chariot of the eunuch. They engaged in a discussion about how the text in question and others point to Jesus.

The eunuch understood that he needed help understanding the scriptures.

Applications –

- Seek understanding from those God has supplied. Notice in vss. 30-31 of the Sunday School material that there is a difference between reading and understanding. Furthermore, God sends Pastor-teachers to help His people understand.

Too many people go to worship but don’t go to Bible study. Consequently, too many people are reading without understanding. And without understanding, we cannot live lives that are pleasing to God.

Let’s work on understanding God’s word with the help of a God sent Pastor-teachers. No matter how great the choir sounds, the people dress, and the building looks, there should be understandable and relevant teaching of God’s word in your church.

- Helping people understand Jesus. Notice in vss. 32-35 that Philip's teaching about Jesus based on various passages of scriptures reinforce what seminarians call “the Christology of the books in the Bible.”

This is a fancy way of saying that many Christian scholars believe that every book in the Bible has something to say about Christ and His will for our lives. This Christ teaching is what is referred to as Christology.

Notice further that Philip started where the eunuch was and helped him understand Jesus. Let’s work on starting where people are and helping them understand Jesus.

Some examples of how this may work today is to help people who are searching for purpose, peace, joy, hope, or direction to see that Jesus offers all of this and more.

Read Acts 8:36-39

III. Eunuch’s Decision. In the Sunday School material the eunuch inquires about being baptized. Philip baptizes him, based on his profession of faith. After the baptism, Philip was mysteriously taken away, by the Holy Spirit.

Applications –

- Evangelizing and edifying. Notice in vss. 36-38 of the Sunday School material that believing led to baptism.

First, a person should accept Christ as one’s savior by faith and then get baptized, as a means of identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A person should not get baptized before they accept Christ as savior, because the symbolism doesn’t fit the person’s experience.

Second, as Philip was flexible enough to minister to the eunuch in a non-traditional way, believers need to be open to doing the same today.We must be more concerned with being effective than being traditional.

Let’s work on being effective in the ministries of helping people get saved, baptized, and mature in the Lord (i.e., evangelism and edification).

- Developing and being disciples of Christ. Notice in vs. 39 that the Spirit took Philip away from the eunuch who was left rejoicing about the goodness of the Lord.

First, we need to be deliberate in our ministry with people, because we don’t know how much time we have to work with them.

Second, we should help people be dependent on the Lord, instead of simply fans and admirers of us. When we are no longer with them, the Lord is still present.

Third, we should learn to rejoice in the Lord, even when people who have meant so much to us are gone. Let’s work on developing and being disciples of Christ.

A measure of our discipleship is our ability to keep serving and rejoicing when our favorite people are not present.

Conclusion: Let’s ministering to those we meet along our journey. God has much for those who obey His will.

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