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The Simplicity of Conversion


The Simplicity of Conversion




Acts 8:32-40, Isaiah 53.

There is a striking contrast in this passage.  It is this:

  1. The deeply profound nature of the gospel – it is beyond our understanding.  
  2. The simplicity of the gospel – it is so simple that even a child can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

We see both of these paradoxical opposites in this passage of Scripture.   


1 The Unknowable Sophistication of the Gospel! 

The Eunuch is reading. He’s tried Judaism, and had bought a scroll, but doubtless, like everyone who seeks satisfaction in attempting to keep the law, he was returning home with his quest unmet, his spiritual thirst unquenched and even more confused than when he started out on his pilgrimage.  He was in Jerusalem seeking to worship the one true God, but that his quest could never be perfectly fulfilled, because he was a gentile and because he was a eunuch.  Yet he is wealthy enough to be able to purchase a scroll – not many could do that, – scrolls of this nature were hand written, and very expensive, and usually owned only be the local synagogues, not by ordinary people.  And now, as he travels, he is reading the scroll aloud…

  • The passage he scanned.   v32-33    Now this is one of the ‘Servant Songs’ of Isaiah, where the prophet speaks of the ‘servant of the Lord’ – one who would lay down his own life for his people.  God is already preparing the Eunuch’s heart for conversion, by drawing him to the doctrines of grace.  He is learning that he is a sinner, and that One has bled and died in atonement for his sins, but who?
  • The pursuit of his soul.  It would be fair and reasonable to say that this Eunuch was seeking the Lord!  We can only seek God, when the Holy Spirit has been and is drawing us to him.   We call this ‘The Effectual Call’   
    • When we seek the Lord, we will find, inevitably, that God is already seeking for us!    Luke 19:10 
  • The Person he sought. 34-35  In his mercy, God is dealing with him.  He has got a Bible, and been given the desire to read God’s Word, and now a Christian evangelist is right here beside him to point him to the final piece in the puzzle, to complete the work that is already happening in this man’s heart; he will point him to Jesus!   

So, who is Isaiah 53 about, this sinless Lamb, given by God as an atoning sacrifice to take away the sins of others? Philip says, ‘It is the Lord Jesus Christ!’  It’s God’s Only Begotten Son, it was He who as led as a lamb to the slaughter, for he is The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world – it is he who stood, silently before the deadly Roman authorities, not resisting as the iniquitous and false death sentence was pronounced, it was he who gave his life, not for his own sins, for as Peter would explain, he was sinless, but for us, for sinners, for Philip, for the Eunuch, for you and for me.  The is the profundity of the Gospel.  That the God who created me, and to whom I owe my life and breath, the God against whom I have wilfully rebelled, and deeply offended by my sin,; the God who is so holy and and dwells in unapproachable night, who alone is good, should love me, and desire to have me in his presence!  And not that alone, but that he would go to such lengths and pay such an enormous price to win me back, that he would love me so so much that he gave his only begotten son to die on a cross to atone for my sins – how can I ever understand that?  Is it any wonder that the Ethiopian Eunuch couldn’t understand what he was reading!  After all, the peace that we have with God is described by Paul in Philippians 4:7 as being, ‘beyond all understanding.’

We sing about this too.  Charles Wesley wrote, ‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies! Who can explore His strange design? In vain the firstborn seraph tries To sound the depths of love divine! ‘Tis mercy all! let earth adore, Let angel minds inquire no more.  Amazing love! how can it be That Thou, my God, should die for me!  Even the angels can’t figure out why this Holy God should show such love for a wretched sinner.


2 The Uncomplicated Simplicity of the Gospel. v36  

The eunuch asks for baptism.  Why?  He would have known of course that baptism is a sacred Christian rite, just as the Jewish washings were a rite.  He hadn’t any great theological knowledge or understanding of the significance of baptism, he just knew that he needed, right now to identify with Christ, to declare his Christianity,  essentially, the Ethiopian wants to be a Christian, and to be seen as one.  Now, he asks the important question – is there anything that would hinder me from being identified as a Christian, a follower of Jesus – Like, how do I know that I am REALLY a Christian?  

  • Only Believe!  Now notice Philip’s answer… If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  Believe what?  Believe what he has just read – about the Saviour who has borne away all his sins!  
  • How do YOU know that you are a Christian?  The answer is really simple.  Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so. It’s not down to subjective experiences, or inner feelings or glow in the dark faces…. It’s objective, it’s outside of us, it’s the historical fact that God sent his son into the world to die for sinners…. It’s because the Bible tells me, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thous SHALT be saved!  It especially tells me so in Isaiah 53… the passage that the Eunuch was reading.   “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  It is so simple that even a little child can understand it and trust in Jesus, and be saved.  Only believe!   This Ethiopian:- Had no New Testament. No church support. No deep theological knowledge.  He knew he was a sinner, and he knew he needed Jesus.  That was enough.  Enough to believe with a simple childlike faith.  Enough to be saved! Matthew 18:3-4  

So the latest convert has come to Christ, and has been baptised.  That simple conversion is an example for all of us who would come to Jesus and be saved.   The Ethiopian Eunuch has found peace with God, in the forgiveness of his sins.  Paul wrote in Romans 5:1, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  Now he travels along on his journey, rejoicing in his Saviour!


3 Postscript.  

So what happened to Philip?  At this point Luke’s account of the early life of the church switches its focus onto another man, the persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, who would, himself, come to Christ and be saved and become the Apostle Paul.  But Philip’s ministry was not over by any means.  After the baptism, Philip went on his way, led by the Holy Spirit, making his way towards Caesarea, and as he travelled he witnessed and preached in the towns and villages along the way.  v39-40

Later, we find Philip mentioned again Acts 21:7-9 where Paul speaks of his determined journey to Jerusalem, where he would be arrested and brought before the Jewish council.  Philip had made it to Caesarea, and has settled down and has a family, four godly daughters, all of them involved in the life and work of the church.

So we have reached the end of Acts 8!  The record of Philip’s work through the providence of God in the early days of the church, is complete.

From → Acts, Bible Study

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