Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our Far-reaching Salvation (Acts 8, Part 3)

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Here's part 3 of my notes on Acts 8:26-40.

The man asks who is Isaiah talking about, but this text makes us ask: who is the man reading Isaiah? He is an Ethiopian and a Eunuch. Which isn’t just incidental but something important. And it’s inconceivable that Philip when he was explaining Isaiah 53 wouldn’t also have glanced down the scroll to Isaiah 56:3-8.

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.”
4 For thus says the LORD: “To THE EUNUCHS who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 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.
6 “And THE FOREIGNERS who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

Foreigners were kept at a distance from God – as this Ethiopian would have experienced when he visited the temple in Jerusalem. Eunuch’s were even more excluded. The Eunuchs were outsiders and dry trees – castrated, impotent, but through the gospel – no more! Though they don’t have their own sons and daughters they gain a better name in the gospel. No more cursed but blessed. They’ll be more fruitful than if they had sons and daughters. Once excluded from God’s house – something this man on his way home from Jerusalem would have been acutely aware of now “gathered to God’s house, a house of prayer for the nations”

A foreign Eunuch is the epitome of the outsider. What good news it was for him to hear from Philip the good news about The Servant who suffered to bring life to people like himself. Picture the joy as he sees in his heart that even he can now be gathered in to God’s people. Spirit-filled missionaries take the good news about the humiliated Saviour to outcasts – this is our mission Cardiff CU. We have good news for all peoples - this is no sectarian, western 'religion' - God's plan has always been for the whole world.

It is though a hard pill for those who are self-respecting, religious and confident in themselves, those who presume God would accept them – how humiliating to have a humiliated Saviour. But to the life-less how wonderful to hear of the potent Father who will give life to the dried up, the Father who is a fountain of life for them with abundance of life for the nations. The dry and life-less are immersed in the water. This is why Jesus came. What’s the outcome? V39: Joy! And so it should be!

Those who see the Humiliated Saviour in the Scriptures and hear that he is Saviour who makes the dry become fountains of life and the excluded welcome – how could we not be joyful?!

Spurgeon preached on this passage: "if you have read the Scriptures with a clear understanding, they have made you glad, for this eunuch "went on his way rejoicing." The man who gets up from reading his Bible, and says, "I am a believer in Jesus; what a solemn thing it is!" and then goes forth with a pious resolution that he will make everybody as miserable as he can all the day long, needs converting again."

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