Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for extending Your love and salvation to all races and all peoples. Thank You for sending the Spirit to engender faith into their hearts. And when it comes to us, thank You for not playing favorites with anyone so that our salvation rests solely on Your undeserved love. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR ALL-LOVING LORD
Text: Acts 8: 26-40
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Noah had 3 sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The modern races all descend from them. Shem’s people populated the Middle East. Ham’s progeny spread into Africa. And Japheth’s descendants settled throughout Europe. Philip was of a Greek background, so he probably came from Japheth. This Ethiopian official came from Ham. Philip was white. This other fellow was black. Notice it didn’t matter to either one. Under God’s grace all peoples become united in Christ.
Ethiopia is on the horn of Africa. It is an ancient kingdom and became Christian 1000 years before when the queen of Sheba met Solomon in Jerusalem. She took OT Christianity back with her. Over the centuries the stories they possessed from the Bible became fragmented and people needed more clarity. This secretary of queen Candace’s treasury journeyed to Judea to find out more. That’s where he encountered Isaiah’s prophesy’s written 300 years after Solomon. He’s riding in his chariot with a driver in attendance and reading from an Isaiah scroll which talks about “the Lamb of God who would die.” We know that’s Christ. Now, our lesson says that this fellow went to Jerusalem to worship. He was a believer, but one who lacked some facts. He wanted and needed more. And God miraculously provided that “more.”
God knows our wants and needs. He cares for His children whether they are: black, white, red, brown, or yellow. When it comes to salvation God is color blind. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” So, He sent an angel specifically to enlarge this fellow’s understanding and to strengthen him. They meet on the coastal road. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Philip obeyed and ran to the chariot and heard the fellow reading familiar words from Isaiah. “Do you understand what you are reading.” “How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So Philip obliged and off they trundled down the road.
In the next couple of hours Philip told him about the birth of God’s Son, His ministry of reconciliation between God and humans, and how Jesus died to take away the sins, the inner anguish, of the world. He told him all about the Gospel, the good news of salvation in Christ. Obviously the man “got it.” For when they went by some water the man asked to be baptized and Philip gladly did so. Note well that one of the sacraments is used here to confirm this official’s faith and give him added comfort of knowing that God’s hands of love surrounded him. So it is with us, too. And then, in the blink of an eye, the Spirit caught-up Philip and whisked him off to Azotus where more work, eternal work, awaited.
This is a lovely and uplifting story. It shows us many things. 1. God doesn’t care at all about skin color. “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2. The Spirit knows exactly where we are and what’s bothering us at all times. 3. God uses other believers to fortify our faith, or to implant it in our hearts. 4. This always occurs through the power of Scripture. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” 5. The Gospel, in this case Isaiah, engenders faith. “For it is the power of God unto salvation.” 6. Baptism is important because as Peter says: “Baptism now also saves us.” And 7. Everyone can use a God-provided good teacher and each of us is such a teacher. That’s why we all need to: ”Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Today in America racial divides are being promoted and used by many to drive people apart. Note well that in Christ the only divide is sin. And He has overcome it by dying to sin and for sin in order to make us alive unto righteousness! This delightful story proves it! Amen
THE peace of God….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox