9. I Believe With All My Heart!
At last the time had arrived for Philip to speak.
ACTS 8:35 NOW DEMANDS OUR ATTENTION (NKJ) Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
Philip was not in a hurry to begin speaking. Therefore at first he simply walked beside the carriage and
listened. The questlon he asked was intended to lead to a discussion with the Ethiopian. Philip first wanted to hear more from this man. He wanted to get to know him better.
Now the moment had arrived for him to open his mouth. The Holy Spirit had provided him with an excellent opportunity to explain the message of salvation to the high official, and he had to use it correctly.
Many people who wish to witness for Jesus fall into the temptation of either keeping quiet all the
time, or talking the whole time. Philip stood under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore he did not give in to either of these temptations. He first listened to God, and then to the person with whom he had to do. At the right moment he began to speak.
Jesus Christ is Our Message
We read that Philip proclaimed the good news of Jesus to the official. We can appreciate his keenness very well, since this was what the Lord had commanded him to do.
of Jesus cannot simply tell any old story. He has to speak about Jesus. Jesus and his saving work is the main message of the Bible. And this must be the chief contents of our witness.
The Bible speaks about this very clearly. The night Jesus was born, the angels of the Lord brought a very important message to the people. That message was meant for us as well, and so we must listen to it attentively.
LOOK UP LUKE 2:10-11 IN YOUR BIBLE
Complete the following sentences with words which occur in the Bible.
NKJ Then the angel said to them, "Do not be ____________, for behold, I bring you ________ _________ of great joy which will be to all people.For there is born to you this day in the city of David a ___________, who is Christ the Lord.
The angel could say nothing else, because Jesus Christ Himself is the main message which God wants to convey to the world. Therefore the Old Testament speaks about Him, the New
Testament introduces Him to us, and all the prophets, apostles and witnesses speak of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Whenever we are called upon to bring the message of God to other people, we must do the same. There is but one message. It is the saving work which Jesus Christ did on earth. Every witness must therefore stress the following matters:
* The people to whom we speak must be helped to realize that they are sinful people. They can, by themselves, do nothing to be saved from
sin and to find true happiness in their lives.
* Jesus Christ is the only Savlour. He alone can rescue us from our sins. He died in our place to pay for our guilt
* The true searcher must be helped to accept this message. He must open his heart to the working of the Holy Spirit. It is only the Spirit of God who can help you acknowledge Jesus as your Saviour.
The Greatest Question of All
The Bible tells us little of the discussion between Philip and the official
from Ethiopia. All we know is that he made known to him the good news concerning Jesus Christ.
We also don't know how long the discussion lasted. However, we can assume that Philip tried to put the message as fully and clearly as possible to this man from Africa. The man would soon be leaving the country. Therefore the opportunity had to be used to the full.
What we do indeed know is what the Black man's answer was to this message. And what a marvellous answer it was!
READ IT FOR YOURSELF IN YOUR BIBLE
Look up Acts 8:36-37. Fill in the missing words from the verse:
(NKJ) Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What ___________ me from being ______________?" Then Philip said, "If you __________ with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I __________ that ___________ Christ is the __________ of God."
The carriage came to water. This appears to have been a little river which
had to be forded.
It is clear that Philip had spoken to the Ethiopian about the meaning of baptism. (We are going to say more about this in the next lesson.)
When the Ethiopian saw the water, he thought that this was simply an excellent opportunity to be baptized. And so he asked Philip: "What is to keep me fron being baptized?" Philip answered this question with another question. And this is the greatest question that can ever be put to anybody. "Do you believe
Philip emphasizes in this that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important matter in the life of a person. The Ethiopian did not need to answer any question about his place of origin. It didn't matter if he was a Jew or an African. It didn't matter about his status. The only thing that mattered was his attitude towards Jesus Christ.
It is the same still today. The great matter around which our life turns, is the question of whether we have
accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour, whether we love Him with our whole heart and serve Him with all our powers. It makes no difference to what nation we belong, or what our status is. Neither does it matter what our work is or how much money we owe. The only thing that matters is this great question to which we should be able to give the right nwer: "Do you believe whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"
A Miracle Takes Place
Listen to the
marvellous answer which the high official from Ethiopia gave without hesitation: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
The miracle has taken place. A miracle about which the prophet Isaiah spoke many years previously. Let us look at what he said:
TURN TO ISAIAH 55:10-11
God is speaking about His own Word. Complete the following sentences by writing in the missing words from the Bible:
(NKJ) "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from
heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My ________ be that goes forth from My ___________; It shall not return to Me __________, But it shall accomplish what I _________, And it shall _________ in the thing for which I sent it."
The Word of God has once more accomplished the purpose of God. A man had come to repentance. He confessed his faith in Jesus Christ!
It is God alone who through the working of his Holy Spirit can bring a man to faith in Jesus Christ. So there were not only two people in that carriage. With Philip and the Ethiopian there was also the Holy Spirit. He had not only led Philip to this man. He led this man from Africa also to Christ!
For many people faith is an unclear and unintelligible matter. Therefore we must now explain to one another what faith really is.
A person can sit in front of a delicious plate of
food and still die of hunger. If he makes no attempt to put the food into his mouth, he cannot be nourished by it. It is the same in religion. It does not help simply to have the gospel of Jesus Christ placed in front of you. If you do nothing about taking in that spiritual food, you will die of hunger. Faith is the hand which reaches out to put that food into your mouth.
In order to believe, you must understand the Biblical message correctly. In Romans 10:17 these words appear:
"We conclude that faith is awakened by the message, and the message that awakens it comes through the Word of Christ." You therefore have to know that the Lord Jesus is your Saviour. You must understand that He has taken your sins upon Himself. That He has paid your debt upon the cross. That He has ransomed you from the hands of Satan when He laid down his life on the cross. If you don't understand this you won't believe it.
However, faith is something more than knowledge.
There are people who understand the gospel, but don't yet believe it. Something must still be added. A person needs the knowledge and he must trust that the message is true, that it is meant for him and that it can make his whole life new.
This is why the man in the carriage could say "I believe!" He understood the message of Jesus. Philip explained it to him. He also trusted that Jesus had paid for his sins. He had the desire for this salvation. And he was happy that he now
had the opportunity of accepting this in his life.
Suddenly Christ became everything to him. In Jesus he found salvation, peace, happiness and the new life!
He had searched for a long, long time for happiness and joy. The religion of his own land could not provide it. The Jewish religion was also unable to satisfy him. But now he met Jesus. All at once he realized that this was the true message of salvation and so he cried out with heart and soul: "I believe!"
Questions to Answer
1. Who is the most important person about whom the Bible speaks?
2. Why is He so important?
3. What is the most important question every person must answer in his whole life?
4. One accepts Jesus as one's Saviour through faith. What two things go to make up a true faith?