Steve Wallace


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White Unto Harvest

The Conversion of the
Ethiopian Eunuch


People often comment on how much things change with the passing of time. We also see this with things found in the New Testament. Many things we find therein are very different from what we see in modern day religion. A good example of this is seen when we compare cases of conversion from the book of Acts with some modern day concepts. Let us read of the case recorded in Acts 8:26-39:

    And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he 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, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 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. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Let us now compare this account of conversion from the Bible with some commonly held beliefs in our religious world today.

  1. The Character of the Eunuch Did Not Make Him Right Before God. He had traveled many miles to worship God and was reading his Bible as he returned home. This man was religious, sincere, and good. Some might wonder why Philip was sent to him. The reason is that, in spite of his good qualities, he was lost. He was not lost because he was religious or good; he was lost because of sin. Rom. 3:23 tells us that "all have sinned." It is widely believed today that if a person is religious, good, and sincere, he is right in the sight of God. The Eunuch possessed these qualities in a way that would surpass many today, yet he was not saved.

     

  2. The Preacher Comes to Him. The Holy Spirit speaking to the Eunuch would be in harmony with many "conversion experiences" in our world today. Many people claim to have been converted by some direct, miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit. Here we have a case of conversion from God's word where both the Holy Spirit and an angel are involved -- and yet neither speak to the Eunuch. Why is this so? The Bible tells us that faith comes from hearing the word of God, not from miraculous workings or visits from heavenly beings (Romans 10:13-17; John 6:44-45). It was therefore important that Philip come and teach from God's word. We see that that is exactly where he starts, by asking, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" The Bible tells us that his message to the Eunuch was simply "Jesus."

     

  3. The Eunuch's Response. We see the results of preaching "Jesus" when the Eunuch sees water and asks, "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" Beyond noting that baptism is included in preaching "Jesus," we see that the Eunuch wanted to be baptized right away. Why is this so? The Bible is clear in telling us the purpose of baptism:

     

      "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
       
      "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (1 Peter 3:21).
       
    The Eunuch was lost in sin. The text he was reading from told of Jesus' death for the sins of man (Isa. 53:6). The Bible teaches that it is at baptism - not at the point of faith as many modern religions teach - that one receives the blessings of the blood of Christ. Therefore the Eunuch sought to be baptized on the basis of his faith without delay. Many today tell us that baptism is not necessary, and that it is alright to delay being baptized. One could not prove such doctrine by the Eunuch's response. He wanted to baptized immediately!

This case of conversion teaches us that it takes more to be right in the sight of God than just being a sincere, religious person. It also teaches us that if one is sincere and religious that person is well suited to obey the word of God in order to be saved from sin. Let us all remember as we go forth to teach others the gospel that many religions are preaching their own teaching on salvation in Christ. Stories of conversion, like that of the Ethiopian Eunuch, help us to show the lost the way of salvation in truth.



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