Sermon – What makes you a Christian? (Acts 8:26 – 8:40) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 57 of 70

What makes you a Christian?

Ben Read, Acts 8:26 - 8:40, 19 March 2023

At this special occasion - a baptism service, where four of our youth were baptised - Ben preaches to us from Acts 8:26-40. In this passage we see Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunach - and what it really means to be a Christian today.


Acts 8:26 - 8:40

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

  “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
    and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he opens not his mouth.
33   In his humiliation justice was denied him.
    Who can describe his generation?
  For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

(ESV)


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

At chapter 8, weing from verse 26. Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, goes south to the road, the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he started down. And on his way, he made an Ethiopian UNIC, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the khandakim which means Queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and On His Way Home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.

The spirit told Philip, go to that chariot and stay near it. Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. Do you understand what you are reading? Philip asked, how can I? He said, I miss someone explains it to me.

So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the passage of scripture the unit was reading. He was laid like a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before we cheer it is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation, he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants for his life was taken from the earth?

The Eunuch asked Philip, tell me please, who is the prophet talking about himself or someone else? Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. And as they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the UNIX said, look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized? And he gave orders to stop the chariots, then both Philip and the UNIC went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the unit did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotis and traveled about preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Cesarea. This is the word of God. Thanks very much, Kim, and good evening. Welcome from me.

My name is Ben, 1 of the pastors of the church, but also 1 of the youth leaders. And it's just such a joy guys to hear your testimonies, honestly. The amount of hours that people have poured into you guys and prayed for you in that back kitchen, after soul, after rooted. We're in there, the leaders were praying for you that the seeds that were sown in your hearts would grow into faith. And it's just so good to hear that that's happened.

And that's happening for the rest of you guys as well. By the way, we pray for you every Friday, every Sunday. So what a joy, thanks Thank you. Thank you father for that. Let's let's pray.

Ask for the Lord's help. This is his word. God's word. He speaks to us through this. And he wants to speak to us now.

So let's pray that he'd give us his to hear him. Father, thank you so much for this wonderful occasion. Thank you for the church family that we have and we enjoy here. Thank you for adding to our number in these young people. Thank you that they have come to see with their eyes and their hearts.

Who the Lord Jesus is? What he's done for them, though they don't deserve it. And how much you love them. I pray that you would do the same tonight for us all that as we hear From your word now, you would give a size to see the lord Jesus and hearts to love him and to feel and to know how much you love us. In We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

Amen. Alright. So this is a story that's really happened. It's in the book of acts in the bible. And I've chosen this tonight because here we've got a really clear picture of what baptism is.

So what we're going to see in this pool in a few moments time. You know, what is going on there? I think here in this passage that we've had read out, we see what it's about. And we see why we do it, why do we do this thing, this ceremony, why do we do it. And we have a character here who's an Ethiopian eurethic, which to put it by lemons, he can't have children.

He is unnamed. We don't know his name. But it's interesting that, though he's a eunuch, He's reading this passage from Isaiah that talks about a suffering sacrificial lamb who had no descendants. And so he feels something of this person that he can relate to. Here is another man who has no descendants.

And there's something about him that I wanna know about. It's interesting. But anyway, we've got this guy, this Eunuch, and he's got the old testament. He's coming home from Jerusalem, even though he's from Ethiopia, he's traveled up to Jerusalem, which is where the temple is. And that's he's he's gone there to worship to do various things.

And he's on his way home and he's reading the old testament. He's reading the old testament. So he's got the scriptures He knows something about God because he's come to Jerusalem to worship God, and he's got the old testament scriptures. I actually think he's he's a little bit like someone who's grown up in a Christian household. Because someone who's grown up in a Christian household has parents who have told them about God.

Someone who's grown up in a Christian household has got a bible probably given to them at some point and they're reading it. I mean, this guy is reading the bible by himself. He's doing a personal bible study. What else have they they've heard? They've heard things about God.

They've been sent to Sunday school. How many times were you guys sent? To church or sent to Sunday school if even if you didn't want to. Here's this guy. He's going to the temple.

He's like he's like someone brought up in a Christian household. And just like Aidan Bell, he's a very good boy. A very good boy, this guy. He we told a few things about him. We told he's an important official, and he's in charge of all the treasury of the Condace So he's quite important this guy.

This means he's worked his way up. He's he's ticked all the right boxes. He said the right things. He's He's pleased to the right people. He's not put a foot wrong.

He's a good little boy. He's been it's like he's been bought up in a Christian household. And he's like a good little boy. But I wanna ask, is that what makes you a Christian? Are you a Christian simply if you've been bought up in a Christian household?

Are you a Christian simply if your parents are Christians? Are you a Christian even if you read the bible like this guy was doing? And want to know more about it. Is that what makes a Christian. If you're good your whole life and you work hard and you don't swear and you don't sleep around and you follow all the rules, is that what makes you a Christian?

Well, the answer we get here is no. And actually, that's what we've heard from these guys tonight. Being brought up in Christian households is not what made them Christian. We see that in verse 30. Have a look at verse 30 in your bibles.

Philip ran up to the chariot and he heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet and Philip passed Philip passed him says, do you understand what you were reading? How can I, he said, unless someone explains it to me? So he invited Philip to come up and to sit with him. So here's this guy. He's more it's like he's been bought up in the Christian household.

He's got the bible. He's reading the scriptures, but he doesn't under stand it. Being a Christian is not just a lifestyle that you live out because your parents have have shown you that way of life. Then a Christian isn't just simply doing good things. Being a Christian is understanding who Jesus is knowing what he's done for you and then responding in faith to that knowledge.

I don't know if you thought, you know, Christian's here. I wonder, do you sometimes feel, oh, I don't feel like a very good Christian today. I don't feel that close to God. Christianity is not a feeling only religion. It's a it's a religion based on knowledge of who Jesus is and what he's done for you.

And then saying, I believe you. I wanna follow you. I know in my heart that this is what you've done for me. That's what being a Christian. Is all about.

And we see that here in this passage. So if you look again at versus 31 to 34, Have a look at this. How can I he said? How can I understand what this bible is, unless someone explains it to me? So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him, and this is the passage of scripture that the unit was reading.

He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb before it's shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation, he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.

The unit asked Philip, tell me please, who is the prophet talking about? Himself or someone else. Then Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. Now I'm 1 of the pastors of this church. I pray regularly that would give me opportunities to to share Jesus with people.

Sometimes it's very hard. You're just having a conversation with someone about the weather or about whatever. And you're thinking, I would be great to try and introduce them to Jesus here and you're trying to wiggle in and trying to change the subject and other times it's on a plate for you. Like right here, this guy is reading the bible and he says, could you please explain to me what's going on here? It's absolutely amazing.

We had an elderly downstairs neighbor passed away a few years ago. We were in her garden having a drink with her 1 evening. And it was coming up to Easter and she asked her, she said why is Good Friday called Good Friday when Jesus dies on that day? Why do you call it Good Friday? And I thought, thank you, Lord.

And that's what's going on here. Philip must have been over the mood with this opportunity. Someone says, can you come and explain it to me? And so he jumps in the chariot and he starts with the exact passage that this guy is reading and he explains from good news about Jesus Christ. And so what is that good news?

What is that good news about Jesus? Well, you see it here. Look at verse 32 again. He was led like a sheep to the slaughter as a lamb before it shearer is a silent so he did not open his mouth. The good news about Jesus Christ is that he is the sack professional lamb, the sacrificial lamb who dies in place of the sinner.

So I don't know if you've seen this week that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin. Which is hilarious on the 1 hand because they can do nothing about it. They can't go and get him and arrest him. They've they've looked at the war crimes and they've said guilty but they can do nothing about it. Well, God, as we've heard, stands in his courtroom and he looks at us, he looks at you, and he says guilty.

Guilty for turning away from me and I'm the life giver. Guilty for accepting all the goodness that I've given them in their lives, friends, family, food, jobs, homes, clothes, all the things we enjoy, but turning away from the 1 who gave them to us, guilty. And sin our hearts that just spew out selfishness when God made us to be selfless and love others. Guilty. But here's a bad news.

God can do something about it. He is not powerless like the ICC is with Putin. God can do something and he is going to do something. The payment for our sin for our guilt is death. That's why there's death in this world.

But here's the good news. Jesus Christ is the sacrificial lamb who dies in our place. You see, in the old testament, they would bring lambs. When they sinned, they'd bring a lamb without defects. It was pure.

It was spotless. It was perfect. And they would kill that lamb. And as they saw the blood running out of of its of its body and its life pouring out on the floor, they would know that that lamb has stood in place for them. Well, that's Jesus Christ.

That's what Jesus has done. He's come. It's not an animal that God offers us. It's a he. Look at it again verse 32, he was led like a sheep.

It's not a sheep that God provides. It's a person And his name is Jesus. He's the son of God. It's not just a perfect lamb God provides. It's his perfect darling son.

And that's who he sends as the sacrificial lamb to die. God doesn't just look at Putin. And say, doesn't matter what he did. I'm gonna forgive him. God doesn't look at your heart and the things you've done and say, doesn't matter.

I'm gonna forgive them. He deals with his anger for these things, but he pours his anger on Jesus instead of us. That's the good news of about Jesus Christ. Because Jesus died, we don't face God's judgment. It's poured out on him And that's the good news that Philip would have explained to this UNIC as they're traveling along.

You see, where had the unit just come from? He'd come from Jerusalem. He'd just come from the temple, and he'd probably offered some sacrifices there. He probably said the right things, done the right things, all the religious things, worn the right stuff, spoken to the right people, he probably done all of that, but none of that made him right with God. It's Jesus, who's death, that's washed him of his sin and brought life, and that's what baptism represents.

We're gonna open this up in a few moments and we're gonna see the baptism. And what's going on here is a representation of what Jesus has done for us because First of all, Jesus died and with whom our sin was paid for. And so in a sense, we have also died with Jesus. Our sin was taken by him and our old selves die with him. And so what's gonna happen is the young people are gonna be put into the water.

It's like they're going into the grave, into the ground. But Jesus didn't stay dead. He rose to life again 3 days later because he paid the penalty. There was no more judgment to be paid. He'd done it.

He said, on the cross, it is finished. And so he rises to life again, and that's what's gonna happen to young people. We're not gonna hold you, aid it, and Nathan, underneath forever. This is not your death day. Don't worry.

This is your baptism. You're gonna go under the water. You won't be able to breathe, but you're gonna come back up again because Jesus rose from the dead. And so that's the first thing that baptism represents dying and being raised raised to life again. And the second thing is washing.

This is like a bath. You guys stink. I know that. Amy, you smell lovely. Jamie, I'm not sure about you.

This is a bath in a sense. You're gonna be plunged into water and it's as if all of your sin is washed away. By the blood of Jesus. And you'll come up smelling absolutely delightful and fragrant. That's what Jesus has done for you.

And so as Philip is explaining all of this to the UNIC on the charrier, they come across some water and the UNIC interrupts Philip. He says, stop to stop, here's some water. What will stop me from being baptized? Look at a look at verse 36, as they were traveling along the road, they came to some water, and the UNIX said, look, here is water. What can stand in the way of me being baptized?

What can stand in the way of me being baptized? You see verbs 37 there's in a little sort of bracket. You you might look down to the bottom of the bible and you'll see it. So some manuscripts include here. Philip said, if you believe with all your heart, you may.

Now that's that's helpful. So what will stop you from being baptized? Well, believe will stop you. If you don't believe, That stops you being baptized. But if you believe if you believe everything that I've just said to you is true, if you believe that Jesus did die for you and he has washed you if you believe nothing can stop you being baptized.

And so he says, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God verse 38, and he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the UNIC went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. Philip baptized him. See, look over 39 as well. When they came up at the water, the spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away.

It's very odd. And the unit did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. You see, remember he'd just gone to the temple and none of that had done anything for him. He'd gone to the temple, done all the religious stuff. None of that had worked.

He was going home, not rejoicing. But when he hears about Jesus, then he goes home rejoicing. Then he says, finally, I know my sin has been dealt with. I know that I'm washed clean and he goes away rejoicing. He knows he's right with God.

He's alive in the spirit. And that's what makes him a Christian. That's what makes someone a Christian. Not that their parents told them about Jesus, not that they were sent to Sunday school, not that they have a bible, but that they believe that Jesus is who he said he is and did what he said he was gonna do. Baptism is the response of faith in Jesus if you believe in all your heart you may.

That's what makes these 4 young people Christians, that they've heard, they understand, they believe, and they rejoice. They rejoice. And so I want to finish by saying to you for being baptized. I want you to remember this day Where are you? 1, 2, 3, 4, remember this day.

Yeah? Because Satan is gonna spend the rest of your lives attacking your faith. And whispering lies into your ears that you've sinned again, that you aren't right with God. He's gonna hold up the law against you and say, look at all these ways you failed because you are gonna fail. Some of you sooner than others.

Naomi may be in 30 years when she commits her first ever sin. These guys in 2 minutes. Yeah? You are gonna sin. And Satan is gonna accuse you.

He's gonna say, look at you. You're filthy. You were washed on that day, but you've got filthy new again. That's what he's gonna say to you. And he does that so you panic and you try and do good works again to wash yourself up.

I was speaking to some guys at Uni. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing a talk there about Christianity. And some some people from a different faith came up to me. And and I said to them that Satan has created lots of false religions, but Jesus is the true god. And they said, well, why would Satan come up with religions that are all about being good.

Why would Satan come up with with religions that are about being charitable? That doesn't sound like something Satan would do. And I said, no, that's exactly what Satan would do. Because none of those things can make you right with God. And that's what he wants you to think But actually, there's only 1 way to be right with God.

And that's faith in the lord Jesus that he died, that he washed you. And so here's a verse. That Satan might whisper in your ear. It's 1 Corinthians 6 9. It says this, do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

It's true by the way. Wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God. But here's verse 11. And that is what some of you were that you were washed. You were sanctified.

You were justified in the name of the lord Jesus Christ and by the spirit of God. And this baptism today is a sign of that work that he's done in you. So nothing special is going to happen here. You're not being saved by being in this water, but this is a reminder of what Jesus has done for you when you put your faith in him. So remember this day.

We do that. And as you do that, you will go on your way rejoicing. And that's what the Lord wants for you. He wants you to to to live your life joyful, rejoicing in your salvation, in the sun that he sent to die on the cross for your sin. So let's pray shall we.

Further, we thank you so much for the sign of baptism. For what we're reminded of as we see it performed. We thank you that we're reminded of the death of the lord Jesus, the lamb who died to take away off sin. But not just died, it was raised to life again. And Lord, as these young people go into the water and come up out of it, We thank you that that's a picture of the new life that they have because of what you've done.

Thank you also for the picture of washing. That as they go into the water, it's a picture of them being washed from all of their sins and impurities. Father, this is something we could never do ourselves. But we thank you that because of the lord Jesus, that is what you have done for us. Please protect these 4 young people.

Keep them from going back to good works as a way to be right with you. Keep them from falling into the trap that they've fallen away from you. Help them to remain rooted in the gospel, which teaches them that the lord Jesus has washed them has sanctified them, has justified them because of their faith in him. And for anyone here who does not believe, lord open their eyes, please. Give them give them a heart that desires this same washing, this same new life.

And for those of us who do believe help us to leave this place rejoicing, just like this, Eunuch. And we pray all of this in Jesus' name, amen.


Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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