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THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Evening, August 8, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him" (Acts 8:31).


This man was a eunuch from Ethiopia, in Africa. The original word "eunuch" clearly implies the incapacity and mutilation involved in castration. This eunuch had risen to become the chief officer of Candace, the queen of Ethiopia. The Jews did not permit men to be made eunuchs, but it was common in the Gentile world to place them in charge of harems, and also to place them in the most important posts in a monarch's court. Tradition gives this man's name as Indich, and says that he was the first preacher of the gospel in Africa, and that, from his preaching, grew the Ethiopian Christianity that remains to this day in that country.

There are several things about the eunuch that are very important, and full of lessons for you tonight. I will mention three characteristics about this man which led to him becoming an important figure in early Christianity.

I. First, he was very serious about the things of God.

Look at verse 27.

"And he [Philip] arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship" (Acts 8:27).

This verse shows how seriously the man looked for knowledge about God and salvation. He went to great trouble to convert to Judaism, in the hope that this would help him find God. That would mean that he went through circumcision, by Jewish law. It would also mean that he "kept kosher," eating only the food prescribed by the Jews, prepared in the way they demanded - no easy task! It was also his search for God that led him to make a long, arduous journey, through the Sinai desert, to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, so he could worship in the Jewish Temple.

All of this shows that the man had a strong desire to know God more fully. He was no "joker" about religion. It meant everything to him. Not only did he go through all the trials I have mentioned, but he also did two other rather difficult things. (1) He learned Hebrew, so he could participate in the Temple worship; (2) This also shows that he had given up the false religion which prevailed in Ethiopia at that time. This probably cost him a great deal as well. His parents, friends, and people in the court where he worked, would have scorned him and given him trouble for doing such a thing, that seemed bizarre and strange to them - converting from his ancestral religion to the religion of a foreign people, the Jews. But these obstacles, and hindrances, and troubles were not enough to stop this zealous man in his search for God and salvation.

May I ask you if you have anything approaching that kind of zeal for knowing God? I am very much afraid that, if you do not, you are not much of a candidate for true Christianity. "Jokers" who fool around about becoming Christians never find salvation. I dare say that you will not find salvation in Christ unless you have some of the zeal and fortitude this man displayed. Jesus said,

"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).

The eunuch strove with all his might to enter at the strait gate. He worked at it. He even had to learn Hebrew so he could participate in the Temple worship. He strove with all his heart and mind to find God. No wonder he was converted to Christ a short time later, and went on to become a gospel preacher.

There are several young people, and others, here tonight who should follow his zealous example. If you do not seek the Lord Jesus with all your heart, you will not find Him. Jesus said,

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

If I were you, and I were unconverted, I would follow the eunuch's example for the next two weeks, to prepare yourself for the gospel preaching at our camp. This is a good opportunity for you to be saved. I would stop watching all video movies and all videos of any kind for the next two weeks if I were unconverted. I think you should spend your evenings reading the Bible and praying for your soul, instead of running around at night because you have a break from school. Others, who are already converted, may go out at night. But you who are unconverted should re-read Baxter, do all your Old and New Testament readings, and spend a good deal of time alone in prayer, preparing your soul to be saved at camp.

You can't just walk into the camp unprepared and unconcerned, and expect much of anything to happen regarding your conversion. Prepare yourself now, as the eunuch prepared himself by zealously praying and reading the Bible.

II. Second, he was a serious Bible student.

He had learned the Hebrew tongue so he could worship in the Temple. He must have spent hours poring over the scrolls of the prophetic writings, studying the Scriptures, meditating on them, and praying for enlightenment from them.

And this was good preparation for him. The Bible gives this prayer of David,

"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18).

The eunuch must have prayed like that as he read the Bible. He may well have prayed those very words from Psalm 119:18.

"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18).

The word "law" here is a synonym for the Bible.

If you don't pray for God to help you, and spend much time reading the Scriptures while you pray in the next two weeks, I don't believe you will be converted at camp. I don't think you can go to camp all full of video movies, running out on Friday night through the city to "relax from studying" and expect to be spiritually ready for salvation in Christ when you get to camp.

You are going to have to follow the eunuch's example and spend a lot of free time in evenings at home reading Baxter, catching up on your Bible reading, and praying for the salvation of your soul. If you don't do that, you will go to camp unprepared, and it will be just  another  summer  camp.   You  will  leave  it  as  lost  as  when  you  came,  like  you  did  last  year.

Now, I am reasoning with you. Do you want to leave camp at the end of that week as lost as you are now? If you don't, then now is the time to shut yourself up at home every night and read those books, Baxter, the Bible readings, and pray hard for God to convert you. You must begin doing that tomorrow night, and continue each and every night until we go to camp, if you have any desire at all to be converted. Don't watch any TV either for the next two weeks, and no video games at all. It will pull your mind and heart away from being prepared. This, of course, does not apply to those who are already converted, although I hope they will spend extra time in prayer for conversions at the camp.

III. Third, he did what the preacher told him to do.

Philip ran alongside the eunuch's chariot as he read from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked him, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30). The eunuch answered in Acts 8:31. Let's stand and read that verse aloud.

"And he [the eunuch] said, How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:31).

You may be seated. That was a very wise statement.

The great Puritan preacher Richard Baxter said,

If you think you can read the Bible and be saved without going to church to hear the preacher, isn't this horrible pride in you - to think you are able to understand the Word of God as well without a preacher as with one? When Philip asked him whether he understood what he read, the wise eunuch said to him, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:30-31), and yet you think you can read the Bible and be saved without a preacher! If you don't think you need to hear the preacher, you must think you are smarter than God, who sent the preacher to guide you (Richard Baxter, in A Puritan Speaks to Our Dying Nation, edited by R. L. Hymers, Jr., Hearthstone, 2002, p. 94).

Some of you, who are from new-evangelical backgrounds, have an opinion that is the opposite of the great preacher, Richard Baxter, and your opinion is different from that of the eunuch, who said,

"How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:31).

Instead of proclaiming yourself saved on your own, you should seek out the pastor or a deacon, and let this man lead you into a clear understanding and experience of conversion. That is the Biblical way, and I hope you will be wise enough to follow the eunuch's example.

Now, if you would like to speak with us about salvation through Jesus Christ, please step to the back of the room after we sing several stanzas of the last hymn on your song sheet. We will go to my office and discuss salvation in Christ.


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Kyu Dong Lee: Acts 8:26-38.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"What Will You Do With Jesus?" (by Albert B. Simpson, 1843-1919).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him" (Acts 8:31).

I.   He was very serious about the things of God, Acts 8:27;
Luke 13:24; Jeremiah 29:13.

II.  He was a serious Bible student, Psalm 119:18.

III. He did what the preacher told him to do, Acts 8:30-31.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."