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The Birth of a New Believer

The Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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The spiritual birth of a new believer is the greatest miracle that can ever happen in anyone’s life! -- So marvel at the miracle: 1. of God’s interest (vs. 26-28). 2. of God’s intricacy (vs. 27-33). 3. of our involvement (vs. 29-37).

Notes & Transcripts

The Birth of a New Believer

Acts 8:26-37

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 5, 2014

*Our God is a miracle working God! He can part the Red Sea. He can walk on water. He can calm any storm with a word. A tiny glimpse of His infinite power is enough to boggle our minds. But in these verses, we see the greatest miracle that can ever happen in anyone’s life: The salvation of a soul, the spiritual birth of a new believer.

1. So tonight, let’s marvel at the miracle of God’s interest.

*The God of the whole universe is personally interested in each of our lives. We can see this truth in vs. 26-28, where the Scripture says:

26. Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'' This is desert.

27. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,

28. was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.

*These verses remind us that God has a passion for individual people, and not just the crowd. God has a keen interest in every single person. There was a great revival going on in Samaria, and we probably would have told Philip to stay right where he was. After all, that's where the action was. But again in vs. 26: "An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, 'Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'"

*Of course God knew that the Ethiopian would be on that road. And God cared for that man with a passion, just like He cares for us.

[1] God is interested in us, because He knows our desperation.

*God knows how desperate people are without Jesus. This rich and powerful leader from Ethiopia proves how desperate we are without the Lord. He had almost everything the world can offer. But his money was not enough, his position was not enough, his power was not enough, his prestige was not enough, and his religion was not enough. People need the Lord! Everybody needs Jesus!

[2] God is interested in us, because He knows our desperation, and He wants us to know His dedication.

*The same passion that sent Philip down to Gaza is the same passion that sent Jesus down to earth! And it's the same passion that led Jesus to the cross to die for our sins! Jesus Christ was willing to go the distance for us. He was willing to pay the full price for our sins, because He cares for us.

*As I was got ready to preach this message, I thought of a story that reminds me how much God cares for each of us. It happened on a mission trip to Ukraine in 1997. One of the highlights of that trip was getting off the ship in a town called New Kahovka. We walked about a half mile along the river bank to a place where 45 people would be baptized that morning.

*In that crowd of worshipers, I met a little old grandmother named "Vala," short for "Valentina." She must have been 80, but Vala was surprisingly strong. She had a grip of steel!

*Vala told me how she had been saved only four years before. At the time, the church was meeting downtown in a rented movie theater. One day Vala was walking down the street, and she felt someone touch her on the back. Naturally, she turned around to see who it was, and when she did, no one was there.

*But when Vala turned around she was facing that theater. And as she looked at it across the street, she felt strangely compelled to go inside. At that very time, they were having a church service. Vala stayed. And she went back. After 3 services, she received Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior!

*God supernaturally worked together with the people in that church to save that dear old grandmother. And why? -- Because God has a passion for people!

2. So we should marvel at the miracle of God’s interest. -- And marvel at the miracle of God’s intricacy.

*Our God is so awesome! He sees all, and knows all. His abilities are infinite, and His plans are perfect. Philip probably didn’t have had a clue. But God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent Philip down to Gaza.

*And God made sure that Philip got there at just the right time. Please listen to it again in vs. 27-33:

27. So he (Philip) arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,

28. was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.

29. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot.''

30. So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?''

31. And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?'' And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

32. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth.

33. In His humiliation His justice was taken away. And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.''

*The Lord timed it so that the Ethiopian would be on just the right sentence when Philip caught up with him.

*God is truly amazing in the way He orchestrates our lives. I think for example of how I met my Mary. We have been married for almost 39 years. It happened after we met in the Teacher Corps program over at Grambling. And it never would have happened, except for the fact that one day 41 years ago she turned on a car radio in Stuart Florida, and heard a commercial for Teacher Corps.

*I don’t think that was an accident at all. God is in control! We can see God's greatness in the way He challenged Job in Job 38:4-11. The New Living Translation puts it this way:

4. “Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much!

5. Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?

6. How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone,

7. While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise?

8. And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?

9. That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night.

10. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn't run loose,

11. And said, 'Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.'"

*God is awesome in His ability to control every star in the sky, every drop in the ocean and every moment of our lives. God's plan for our lives is miraculously intricate. He has been working on it since before the world began. And His plan will be perfected for all eternity.

*God reveals His perfect plan for our lives in the Bible, and it all centers on Jesus Christ. Paul summed up God’s plan for Christians in Ephesians 1:2-6. And here's what he said:

2. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

4. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

5. having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

6. to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

*That is the miraculous plan God has for all who will trust in Jesus Christ!

3. So we should marvel at the miracle of God’s intricacy. -- And marvel at the miracle of our involvement.

*It doesn't seem possible that God would allow mere mortals like us to have a part in His great plan? -- But He does! Philip reminds us of this great truth in vs. 29-37:

29. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot.''

30. So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?''

31. And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?'' And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

32. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth.

33. In His humiliation His justice was taken away. And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.''

34. So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?''

35. Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

36. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?''

37. Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may.'' And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.''

*In vs. 30, Philip asked the Ethiopian: "Do you understand what you are reading?" And in vs. 31, the Ethiopian replied: "How can I, unless someone guides me?"

*Philip guided that man to Jesus, and that’s what the Lord wants us to do! Just because somebody’s got a Bible in their house, doesn’t mean they’ve got it in their heart. And just because they’ve got some of God’s Word in their mind, doesn’t mean they understand.

*People need guidance. And if we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are the ones who can help guide them to Jesus. How are we going to do it?

[1] Well, we have to learn God’s Word.

*Philip was only able to guide the Ethiopian, because he was familiar with that key Scripture from Isaiah 53. It starts here in vs. 32:

32. . . "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth.

33. In His humiliation His justice was taken away. And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.''

*Then the Ethiopian asked the question in vs. 34: "Of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?'' What if Philip had said: "Gee, I don’t know. I never heard that one before!"

*Of course, sometimes we won't know the answers to their questions. In those times the right thing to do is simply admit it, and commit to find the answer as soon as we can.

[2] But if we are going to guide other people to the Lord, we have to learn God’s Word. We also have to listen to God.

*Philip listened to the angel in vs. 26. He also listened to the Holy Spirit in vs. 29, when God's Spirit said: "Go near and overtake this chariot." Are we listening to the Lord?

*Ray Stedman told the story about a preacher friend of his who got a strong lesson from the Lord on pride and our great need for humility. This pastor had gotten to the place where he was proud and happy with all that was going on in his church. The church was bursting at the seams, and they were engaged in a new building program. This pastor was congratulating himself on the tremendous job he was doing.

*Then he and his wife went on vacation in another city, and they visited a church with a preacher they had always wanted to hear. The other pastor preached on 1 Peter 5:5-6, where God's Word says:

5. . . Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''

6. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

*The proud preacher listened to the message with a critical spirit. He analyzed its weakness. And he thought, "You know, I could have done a much better job on that Scripture."

*The following Sunday they were in another city and visited another church. And to the proud preacher's astonishment, the sermon was on the same Scripture:

5. . . Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''

6. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

*The proud pastor listened a whole lot more carefully this time. The message hit him in a profound way. The next day, he and his wife opened a devotional book. And they were both stunned to find that the Scripture for the day was:

5. . . Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''

6. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

*Finally, the pastor and his wife really heard God's message. They both got down on their knees and confessed to God how proud and arrogant they had been. (1)

[3] If we are going to guide other people to the Lord, we have to listen to God's message for us. -- But we also have to love other people.

*We get a glimpse of Philip’s love in vs. 29-30:

29. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot.''

30. So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?''

*Philip ran to him. Yes, Philip ran because he loved the Lord. But he also ran because he loved this man. In fact, Philip loved the lost man because he loved the Lord.

*I don’t think Philip would have loved the Ethiopian eunuch otherwise. That man was a stranger. He was a foreigner. And he was a different race. But if we love the Lord, we will love other people.

*Remember the greatest commandments. From Matthew 22:35-40:

35. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,

36. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?''

37. Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'

38. This is the first and great commandment.

39. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

40. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.''

*We have to love other people, and we have to love them even when they are not nearly as far along the road to salvation as this Ethiopian. He was spiritual fruit ripe for the picking!

*That reminds me of a young woman named Wendy. One day years ago she came into my office just as I was about to walk out the door for lunch. And with obvious urgency, she said: "I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And I just wanted to know. Can you tell me how to be saved?" -- Can I? Wow! Yes! I can’t think of a better reason to miss lunch. And right there in just a few short minutes, she was saved!

*Wendy was ready. The Ethiopian was ready. But a lot of people around us are not ready. We just have to love them anyway, keep praying for them, keep trying to reach them, and thank God for the people who are ready!

*There are certainly people around us who are waiting and wondering what to do. And God want us to help guide them to a miraculous meeting with Him.

CONCLUSION:

*Coming to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the spiritual birth of a new believer. This is the greatest miracle that can ever happen in someone’s life. Trust God for the miracle. Praise Him for the miracle. And ask God to help us be part of the miracle in someone else’s life.

*Let's do that right now as we go to God in prayer.

(1) Title: His Majesty by: Ray C. Stedman - Series: Isaiah: A Short Series - Scripture: Isaiah 6 - Message No: 2 - Catalog No: 577 - Date: December 15, 1985

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