Ordinary life typically feels anything but extraordinary. Sometimes, the mundane causes us to question whether God is still working out his plan. In this message on Acts 8:26–40, Jonathan Bean reminds us that God does extraordinary work in ordinary moments. Our great God challenges us to proclaim the marvelous things he has done and is doing, for his glory and for our good.
- God is supernaturally at work in the world around us.
- God works through the power of the Spirit in us.
- God is working to bring ultimate joy to anyone who trusts in him.
- God works out his purpose for our good and his glory.
What a privilege to be sending out some of our best to go and serve among the nations. What a privilege to witness the transforming power of the gospel in the lives of those in the church. I’m thankful for where we’ve been in the Word, in the book of Acts, and how God has divinely put that together in our time together. As we’re sending out these mid-termers, we’ve been studying through what God did in the book of Acts, and how the gospel began to spread.
I’m looking forward to what God has for us. We’re going to be in Acts chapter 8, verses 26 through 40. This passage of Scripture has been very convicting in my own life this week, as I’ve been preparing for this, and I’m excited to see how God is going to use that and how He is going to use this passage of Scripture in all of our lives corporately, and the impacts that that could have literally throughout our communities, our cities, this country and to the ends of the earth. So let’s read Acts 8:26–40 together.
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. 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 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 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. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”
And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 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?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 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. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Thanks be to God for the reading of the Word of the Lord.
You know, to accurately understand this passage, we can’t just plop down in the story right where it is. We have to understand the broader story, the context, of what Luke is telling to his audience in and through the book of Acts. Luke wrote both Luke and Acts, and he was one of the companions of Paul, also a physician, so he witnessed much of this first-hand, or heard it first-hand, from those that had experienced it.
In Acts 1:1–2, Luke says, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” Then in Acts 1:8, we get a layout of the whole book of Acts, and ultimately the layout of the history of the church from then until Christ’s future return. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Luke then goes on to tell of all that Jesus continues to do through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in His followers. As we follow the story along, we get to Acts 6:1 and we find that the disciples are increasing in number despite the arrest of the apostles in chapter five. And in the next chapters we see several more kinds of conflict and barriers to the spread of the gospel.
First we see internal conflict among the believers. In chapter 6 verse 1 it says, “A complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews,” both believers, but two different backgrounds of believers, “because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” So the apostles gathered together and they come to a solution. The solution was to “pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.” And this was the duty of caring for the distribution of the bread to the widows.
So we have this internal conflict among the believers. And among those seven was Philip. He was one of those that was chosen to be in charge of the distribution of bread. But despite this conflict, verse 7, we see “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem.” So despite this internal conflict, the gospel marches on.
Next we see an external conflict. Stephen, also one of the seven along with Philip, begins to preach boldly, and he is martyred under the supervision of Saul, in chapter 6 all the way through chapter 7. And then in chapter 8 verse 1 it says this: “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” So here we see a greater conflict, a greater barrier.
But despite this great persecution that broke out, the result was this, in verse 4, that “those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” So although they were persecuted as they went, they went out preaching the Word. So the gospel continued to advance, despite internal conflict, despite external conflict. And what we see at the very beginning of chapter 8 is Example A: Philip. Not Philip, Superhero Philip, but just an example of one of those who was scattered and went about preaching the Word. So in Acts 8:5, we see “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.”
The story of Acts takes a shift now and begins to follow Philip as an example of one of those that was just scattered and went about preaching the Word. As Philip preaches, revival breaks out among the Samaritans. Samaritans! This ethnically and religiously mixed group of people, between Jewish and Gentile ancestry, that the Jews considered them to be unworthy to be a part of the people of God, yet God blessed them with Philip going and the gospel going forth in this particular place.
So the apostles sitting in Jerusalem heard about it and they sent Peter and John to go and check it out, and see what was going on, verses 14 through 25. The apostles arrive and see God at work, and they pray for them to receive the Spirit. And then in verse 25 we see, “Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”
So even those that were skeptical about the gospel going to the Samaritans—those that they would consider unworthy to be a part of the people of God—now go about returning, proclaiming the gospel from village to village among the Samaritans. The gospel overcomes divisions between Jews and Samaritans. The gospel overcomes divisions between those we might think are unworthy to receive the gospel.
All this sets up for the passage about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. To get at what God is saying to us in this text, we need to start with God Himself. We have to see what this text teaches us about who God is to accurately understand this text. And when we see and look at this text again and again, what we see is that God is clearly the divine Actor in this text. Philip is really just a bystander. He’s being used by God, but he is not the superhero of this story. Philip is just the instrument being used in God’s hand.
Look at the beginning of verse 26. “Now an angel of the Lord said….” God acts. God speaks. This is the beginning of multiple examples throughout this text of how God directly intervenes—God directly acts—in our ordinary, everyday lives. And this is what we see throughout the book of Acts and very clearly in this passage.
Acts 8:26–40 teaches us that God is supernaturally at work in the world around us.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find a picture of a God who sets everything in place and in motion, and then sits back to see how things play out. Dennis Blythe reminded us of this when he preached. Instead we see God active in our lives and active in human history—God, who is intervening in what is going on around us and in our very lives.
But this is so far from how you and I live our everyday lives, isn’t it? We function as if the supernatural does not exist. We live for only what we can see, what we can touch—only that exists. And this is what we give our time and our attention to. We can live our lives focusing on only these things. We can go to work, go to the supermarket, go to play, only focusing on the natural world, not expecting God to show up in the midst of our lives. And if God does do something supernatural in our lives, then we quickly explain it away as circumstance, or only look for a rational, logical explanation to what happened.
But this way of living does not show that we believe in a God supernaturally at work in our lives and in the world around us. Let’s take a look at the way God is clearly at work in this particular text that we’re looking at. In the second part of verse 26 we see God, through the angel of the Lord, speaking to Philip. God speaking to man. This may not seem that important, until we realize that God is speaking to an ordinary guy, somebody just like you and me.
We have to remember here that Philip is not one of the Apostles. Philip is not one of the Prophets of the Old Testament. He is only one of those that was chosen to serve distributing the bread to the widows. He is only an example of one of those unnamed people, largely, that were scattered during this great persecution, and preached wherever they were scattered. But God speaks to him. God speaks to him.
To fully understand how important this is, we have to remind ourselves of the work of the Holy Spirit throughout all of redemptive history, throughout all of the Bible. In the Old Testament, the Spirit was with the people of Israel as they looked forward to the coming of Christ, and occasionally came on a few individuals, primarily the prophets. In the Gospels we see the Spirit on Christ, accomplishing redemption—the redemption that was anticipated in the Old Testament.
Acts 8:26–40 teaches us that God ordains whom He uses.
But from the outset of the book of Acts, all the way through the book of Revelation, the Spirit is in the Church—the Spirit, as it is at work in you and in me. The Spirit is in the life of the believer. And this is a dramatic shift from the Spirit being at work in a few of God’s people to the Spirit at work in all of God’s people. You and I. So God ordains whom He uses.
And by that word ‘ordains’ I mean He chooses. God chose to use Philip. But you want to know what? If you are a Christ-follower, then God has chosen to use you. God has ordained to use you. He has ordained it that you would be an instrument in His hands. God has decreed that the Spirit is not limited to a few, but rests on all of God’s people. So God’s plan is to use ordinary disciple-makers like you and me in extraordinary ways.
Acts 8:26–40 teaches us that God orders where we go.
The incredible ways in which God works in this text is not meant to be exclusive to this text, but descriptive of how God is constantly at work in our world all around us. Not only does God’s Spirit work in us, but He even directs the details—the very details—in our lives for our good and for His purposes. He orders where we go. Look at that in this passage. He ordered where Philip would go.
Look at the specific instructions that God gives Philip in this situation. “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” It’s almost as if God gives Philip driving instructions, right down to which road and which route to take. The point that is being made is that God is not only involved in the big things in our lives, or only involved in the spiritual things in our lives, but God gets right down into the ordinary details of where we go, the ordinary details of our lives. All of what we do and where we go has spiritual implications and God desires to work in the midst of it.
Have you ever wondered why God has you where He does? Or why He sent you somewhere? See, God works the extraordinary right into the details of where we currently are. The neighborhood you live in, the job you have, the family you were born into—these are not a random set of circumstances. These aren’t happenstance. God has ordained these things for your good and for His glory.
A couple of weeks ago this became so evident, and I was reminded of this. We were out in the Middle East. We were visiting with our team leaders that work among the Baloach that live in the Middle East. So we were sitting in their living room talking, catching up, studying the Word, and I was reminded—and I shared with them—about a time years before, in 2006, that we had to leave due to persecution in the country in central Asia we working in, and we went to the Middle East.
And it was there in the Middle East that I met someone who had a burden and led me and all of us to begin praying for the Baloach people. So this burden for praying for the Baloach happened back in 2006, and began in my life and other people’s lives. When we shared that with our church planting team there, the wife of our church planter said, “Jonathan, when did that happen?” And I told her, and she said, “Jonathan, that’s exactly when I became a follower of Jesus Christ.”
It’s not a random set of circumstances. It’s not coincidence. God is orchestrating it all, and He had my family there in the Middle East at a particular time for a particular reason, and He was working in her life here in the United States for a particular reason and a particular time. And in His time He put those two things together, so that now there is a witness among this unreached people group. Praise God for what He does!
Acts 8:26–40 teaches us that God organizes those whom we meet.
God has specifically placed you in your ordinary, everyday circumstances, not by chance, but to use you in that place that He has placed you, to speak through you, to impact the lives around you. See, He’s orchestrating it all such that He organizes those whom we meet. Not just is He working in our life, but He’s also working in the lives of those that we meet.
So Philip goes down to this desert place in the middle of nowhere, and the Bible says, “There was an Ethiopian.” Oh, do we see God divinely orchestrating this situation? And we can look at that in this text. But do we look at our everyday lives in the same way? Do we think that God has divinely put people in our path every day for a reason, right down to the person we meet in the check-out counter? God is in control right now, down to the very person and people that you will meet and interact with this week.
I was reminded of this as I was studying this passage this week. I had the privilege to go and hear a friend of mine from Kenya sharing—Emanuel is his name. It’s a child that had grown up in a Compassion project in Kenya. Through this Compassion project he came to hear about the good news of Jesus Christ, through the church that was hosting this project. He became a believer, he grew in faith and knowledge of the Word and began to share and became a leader in his church and a leader in a mission movement there in Kenya. And now this summer he’s been here sharing and advocating on behalf of other Compassion children around the world.
And he had the privilege to meet a Canadian lady who 16 years ago picked up a packet with a little boy named Emanuel, who had faithfully sponsored him for 16 years, and from a distance been a part of the work that God has done in and through his life. Do you believe that we serve a God who puts people in our path, and He’s doing this for His purposes in our lives and in their lives?
Acts 8:26–40 teaches us that God orchestrates what they need.
God is so in control of all things that He orchestrates not only where we go or whom we meet, but He orchestrates what they need. Here this man, this Ethiopian eunuch, is reading the prophet Isaiah, traveling along probably a very bumpy road, reading the scroll of Isaiah—which wasn’t small. Hard work reading this big scroll on a bumpy road. God is at work in our lives, and He is working things out in their lives as well. Here on this road, on the way, by the way, away from Jerusalem, away from all the people that could answer the Ethiopian’s questions. God sends the exact person needed to explain to him about Jesus Christ. Look at that, what God does. The exact person.
Do we believe that God works like this? Do we believe that God is already at work in the lives of the people that we will encounter this week? That you may be the exact person that God has divinely appointed for you to enter into their lives at that point and potentially share the gospel? We have to start looking at the world in which we live in this way. We have to understand and first believe in a God that acts this way, a God that is at work in the world around us and the God that is at work right into the ordinary details of our lives.
Because if we don’t believe this, we’re not going to be able to change our behavior. We just try to change our outward behavior and try to share the gospel—but we don’t actually believe that God is at work in and through our lives, and then in those people that we’re going to meet. Oh, you guys know this. Anybody’s that’s a parent knows this. Your goal is not to just change behaviors. That’s just superficial. You’ve got to get to the heart of the issue. And dealing with beliefs and the heart issues changes behaviors.
And this is the way it is with sharing the gospel as well. As long as we don’t believe that God is at work all around us and He can work through us, we’re not going to share the gospel. And we just try to bring up enough effort to be able to do it. “I’m going try really, really hard!” No. We have to know and believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that we serve a God who is at work supernaturally all around us, and is at work directly in our lives. Only then will that lead to a change in our behavior.
God works through the power of the Spirit in us.
Why is this so important? This is so important because as ordinary disciple-makers, you and I, we are God’s means to accomplish His purposes in the world. Whoa, think about that! You’re God’s plan. You are God’s plan to accomplish His purposes to make disciples among all nations. See this, brothers and sisters in Christ. God works through the power of the Spirit in us, in the believer. We have power in the Spirit. Through the Spirit we’re enabled to experience the very presence of God. Through the Spirit. Through the Spirit we’re enabled to obey God’s commands. And through the Spirit, we are able to fulfill God’s purpose as being a people on mission proclaiming the good news.
We operate in tune with the Spirit.
So as we live and fulfill God’s purposes in the world, we have to operate in tune with the Spirit. For Philip to hear the direction of the Spirit, he must have been in tune with the Spirit. But I don’t want to just look at Philip here, because we have a greater advantage than even Philip had. We have the whole counsel of God with us, the Bible. Philip had the Old Testament, but he didn’t have the New Testament yet. We have the whole counsel of God with us. With the Spirit at work within us, and we have the whole counsel of God with us.
We obey as the Spirit guides us.
So we have to begin by discerning according to the Word of God that we’ve been given, and by being open to the direction of the Spirit at work in and through our lives. In line with the Word of God, then, we obey as the Spirit guides us. Now, God gave Philip very specific instructions in this passage. And we think, “Wow, if I got instructions like that, of course.” But we have to pause and really understand that these instructions made very little to any sense with the human mind. He’s in the middle of the first Samaritan revival. People are coming to faith, and he’s the man that God is using to proclaim the gospel and see all these people come to faith. And in the middle of that, the angel of the Lord comes to him and says, “Get up and go…” to a desert place, out in the middle of nowhere. “Go to the south…,” the middle of nowhere. “But, but, but, but…God? All this fruit, how You’re using me right here in the middle of Samaria.” “Get up and go to the south, to a desert place.”
What could God possibly be doing? What could God be doing here? This also I don’t believe, is coincidence. It’s divinely orchestrated. I had a call this week from some friends of ours who we worked with when we first moved out to central Asia. They helped us understand how to live in the particular city God had called us to live. But yet, because of persecution that broke out against them, they had to flee, and they went to the capital city. In the capital city, what did they do? They preached Christ, made disciples, gathered them together, led churches—until persecution broke out again.
The wife in this couple was severely beaten. She was pregnant, has a child with deformities now. They had to flee again to another city not too far away, a larger city where they could blend in, out of the country. They’ve been serving there for the last five years, faithfully waiting and hoping for the day when they’d be able to get back into their own country. What did they do while they were there? They preached the gospel. They made disciples. They gathered them together in local churches. Persecution has broken out again. And that’s why I got the call this past Saturday.
“Jonathan, I’m coming, and it’s a dire situation. We’re having to leave this part of the world. We didn’t want to, and finally have to come to the United States, probably to seek asylum, unless we can work something else out.” Severe persecution. What are they going to do when they get here? Preach the gospel, make disciples, gather them together in local churches.
Here’s where we have to remember that God orders, God directs—we don’t. “I’d rather go north,” Philip says. No. He got up and went. We don’t choose where, what and how we serve when God has directed us. Our contentment in ministry, in life, in work, does not come from where we serve or how we serve, but from faithfully serving as God directs us, from faithfully serving our God. So often in this life we’re looking for contentment in other things. We’re looking for contentment in what we do, or how God uses us, or where we are, or one day when we will become this or get to do that. Contentment lies in whom we serve. It lies in serving God. And Philip understood this.
We have opportunities to join where the Spirit is at work.
So Philip gets up and goes to a desert place. And I want us to see here, when we operate in tune with the Spirit and obey as the Spirit guides us, then we have opportunities to join where the Spirit is already at work. We have opportunities to join where the Spirit is already at work. Look at verse 29. “And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over and join this chariot.’” And then follow on to the next verse, “So Philip ran to him.”
When we know that the Spirit is at work, it fills us up with eagerness to obey, doesn’t it? Look at that. Philip running. I love that picture. When we know where the Spirit of God is at work around us, run to it. Join what He is doing in and around you. Set aside your agenda. Set aside your priorities. Set aside your schedule and join what God is doing, when He shows you what you are to do and where He is at work.
Notice though that Philip arrives and does two things initially. He first arrives and listens. Then second, he asks a question. All too often in my own life, I’ve failed to follow this. I’ve failed to listen and ask questions. I begin by speaking and trying to give answers. This summer I traveled in five different countries internationally, and I was convicted about this particular thing. So I determined to begin by listening—listening to people where they were at and asking good questions.
Oh, and you’d be amazed. This allowed the opportunity to evaluate where people were in their understanding of the gospel. I found that most people I interacted with didn’t know the back-story of how sin entered the world and why we even need a Savior. So the presentation of the gospel did not make any sense to them at all. So I began to see where I could begin, and ask questions, and begin with where people are. You need to begin with where people are around you.
We open our mouths as the Spirit prompts us.
But don’t get caught in a trap. Don’t stay there. Begin with where they are, and move them to the gospel. Don’t just leave them there. So we open up our mouths as the Spirit prompts us. Verse 35 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture [Isaiah 53, by the way] he told him the good news about Jesus.”
You know, all too often when I begin by opening up my mouth, I begin with my thoughts and my opinions, instead of beginning with Scripture. I think there’s a strong lesson for all of us as we do go about sharing the gospel. Begin with the Word of God. Open up the Word of God and let the Word do the work in the lives of those you share Christ with. Your role is not to convince people of the gospel with your persuasive arguments and your well-thought-through plans. No. Your role is to share the good news of Jesus through the Word.
We observe the Spirit working through the Word.
And then look in this passage. What a privilege it is when we do that. We have the privilege to observe the Spirit working through the Word. You can clearly see that the Spirit is working through the Word in the life of the Ethiopian eunuch in his desire to be baptized. See, he’s reading the scroll. He hears it, the Scripture is at work in his life, and he says, “Oh, I want to be baptized.” It’s a great mystery, but God works through the power of the Spirit in us, in our lives, and through His Word.
And we get more than just a front-seat in it. We have the privilege to play in the game, the privilege to participate in the very work of God. Stop and think about that for a second: you and I participating in the work of God. But we must see here that this is not all about just you and me, but about those who follow Christ and the Spirit at work in them. And there’s also something bigger going on here. There’s something much larger going on here.
God is working to bring ultimate joy to anyone who trusts in Him.
This is the key to understanding the purpose for this particular passage in Scripture, and this is a major theme through the whole book of Acts, and actually through the whole Bible. And it’s found in the question: Why would God direct Philip to leave revival in Samaria for a single Ethiopian eunuch? Why would God do that? Because God is decidedly interested in bringing outsiders into the people of God and seeing the gospel go to the ends of the earth. And the Ethiopian eunuch represents both of these. He is both an outsider and he is the “ends of the earth.”
You see, despite his devotion—evident in his going up to worship in Jerusalem, his reading of the scroll of Isaiah—because he was a eunuch, he could not fully be a part of the people of Israel. The Old Testament law forbade a eunuch from becoming a full part of the people of God. So this meant that this God-fearing Gentile was returning from Jerusalem most likely having been prevented from becoming a part of the Jewish people.
There is even a hint of this in his question about baptism. “What prevents me from being baptized?” he asks. But I want us to see that God had other plans, for him and for outsiders and for the ends of the earth from the very beginning. Just a few chapters after Isaiah 53, which is where Philip began to share the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch, you come to Isaiah 56. And we don’t know for sure if they got there, but we can presume they did. At some point I’m sure he did.
In Isaiah 56:3–5 we find this promise, this prophecy of God:
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”
Look at this promise for this foreign Ethiopian eunuch, being given an everlasting name and a part of the people of God!
That’s not all that’s going on. That’s incredible, that the gospel is for these Samaritans, that the gospel is for Gentile God-fearers—even Ethiopian eunuchs. But look at where the Spirit takes Philip after the eunuch is baptized. It says the Spirit took Philip…I don’t know how that happened. I’ve read a ton of commentaries, and I still don’t know how that happened. I don’t know if this is like spiritual teleporting or something like that. All I know is what this passage says, and that Spirit took Philip. I don’t have any more than what the Word says here.
But look at where He took him. And that’s why I don’t think he bothers to explain how He took him, because it’s more important where He took him. He takes him to Azotus. Where is that? What does that mean? This is an old Philistine city—the enemies of the Jews. So the gospel is even for our enemies.
So you see God is very much working to bring this joy to unworthy Samaritans, to unreachable Ethiopian eunuchs, and undesirable enemies—the Philistines. Let me tell you a story about how this is at work in our world today, lest we think that this is just something reserved for this particular time period. When we first moved out to central Asia, we moved into a city where there were no other foreigners living in that city. And we thought we were moving to the ends of the pioneering gospel work, where nobody else had been.
And we arrive and we get into the city, and we go around from place to place and begin to live with a local family, to learn the language and culture. And through that series of networks, we find out that God had already been at work prior to our arrival there. Funny how God does that, isn’t it? Fifteen years prior to our arrival, there was a British couple that had come, and they had had the opportunity to share the gospel to a deaf couple. They shared the gospel through their hearing sons.
Now, in this particular country, to be deaf was to be cursed. You were the poorest of the poor. “Who sinned: him or his parents?” Cursed by God. They heard the gospel, and realized they weren’t cursed, that God loved them and had a plan for their lives, and that He had died on the cross for their sins. And they repented and believed. And they said, “This is true. We have to go to every deaf person.”
Isn’t this just like God, in a country with very few known believers, some of the very first to hear the gospel were those that could not physically hear? And right in front of the secret police that did not want the gospel to spread, they had complete freedom to share through sign language. And it spread. They went to every deaf person in that city, and about half of the deaf believed. They said, “This is true. We have to go to everyone else,” and they started to itinerantly go through their ordinary lives—their impoverished ordinary lives—to follow relationships and opportunities to go and share the gospel.
And when we came alongside this group there were 35 churches among the deaf in this place, God doing extraordinary things through the ordinary. At the end of our time there, they were even sending out their first cross-cultural workers to go out and preach the gospel to a neighboring country that was even more radical in its following of Islam. Extraordinary things, ordinary followers of Jesus Christ. We have to remember that there is no one outside the reach of the mighty hand of God—no one, no matter your particular bias, no matter what you believe.
You see, this joy that God offers is even for those we may consider unworthy, like the Jews did the Samaritans. Who do you consider unworthy? “They can’t possibly follow Christ!” This joy is even for those we consider unreachable. “God can’t reach that person. Do you know how lost they are?” Who do you consider unreachable? This joy is even for those we consider undesirable. Who do you consider undesirable, an enemy? The gospel is for anyone and everyone, and can transform all of us.
See the gospel is good news—good news to anyone who will trust in Christ. You may be here today and you have not trusted in Christ. But do not reject the good news. Do not reject this opportunity. You see, Christ came to pay the price for our sins with His blood on the cross. That’s what Isaiah 53 is all about. He was willing to suffer the death that we deserved for our sins, so that we could be made right before God the Father, the Holy One.
Don’t reject this Word. You may have not received this good news because you thought you were unworthy, because you thought you were unreachable, because you thought you were undesirable. But there’s nothing you can do or could have done that is beyond the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ. I invite you, if you’re not a follower of Christ, turn and trust in Him, and I know—because the Bible tells us so—that when you do, you will go away rejoicing, just as this Ethiopian eunuch was left rejoicing. Come to Him. You will find no greater joy.
God works out His purpose for our good and His glory.
If you’re a Christ-follower, I invite you: remain steadfast in the knowledge that God is working out His purpose in your life, for your good and His glory. No matter what difficulty you may be living through, no matter what news you may receive this week, God can be trusted. You can take it to the bank. You can build your life on that foundation—God can be trusted. He is good, is working for good in your life and for His glory, both of these things at once.
And Christ-follower, wherever He has placed you, faithfully preach the Word. It is not coincidence that He has placed you right where you are. It is not coincidence that you interact with the people you interact with. As you come into contact with people this week, don’t think, “Oh, that was odd. I wonder what was going on?” God is ordaining, right down to the details in our lives. Faithfully preach the Word. Let God take care of all of that. Faithfully preach the Word.
As it says in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word.” All of us. The Spirit, the Word—preach the Word. “Be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” In everything that you go through, at every time in our lives, everywhere, and to everyone—preach the Word. This is good news. Don’t keep it to yourself.