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Sunday, August 28, 2016 pm                                                Evangelism 2016

WHY STOP THE CHARIOT?

Acts 8:26-39 records the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.  Briefly retell the account.  As Philip is preaching Jesus to him, the eunuch sees a body of water and asks to be baptized.  After confessing Jesus as the Son of God, he commanded the chariot to stand still.  Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he was baptized.  Coming out of the water, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing.

This past week I came across a lesson based upon this account entitled, “Why Stop the Chariot?”  (Sermons for the Seed Sower, Johnie & John Isaac Edwards) That is a good question with some thoughts for us to consider.  Tonight let us consider some of these things.  This lesson is a basic lesson appealing primarily to those who have not obeyed the gospel.  While most here are Christians, I present this to give us another approach in studying with people.   AND as we shall see, application can be made to Christians as well.  This is part of our fourth Sunday night studies dealing with evangelism. 

 I.                     If what men say is true, there is no need to stop the chariot.  Men say:

a.       As long as you are good, honest and sincere you will be saved – this dismisses the importance of obedience.  Hebrews 5:9 tells us that Jesus became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.   Paul’s honesty and sincerity was not enough to save him – Acts 26:9 – Paul thought he must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus; 1 Timothy 1:12-13 – he did it ignorantly, thinking he was helping God
Jesus even warned His disciples of this in John 16:2 where he warns them they will pay a price to follow Him by those who “think he offers God service…”

b.       As long as you are “spiritual” you are fine – with more and more believing that God accepts all faiths as long as you believe in Him (and some might say, Jesus in some way). 
Jesus was clear in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”   Acts 4:12 tells us there is salvation in no other name but Jesus.
Furthermore, to know Him is to obey Him – 1 John 2:3-4, 5:3 – we love Him by keeping His commandments. 

c.        The Bible is just a guide with suggestions – attacks on scripture (outdated, flawed, a general guide for you to interpret however you want), etc.  2 Peter 1:3 – He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. 1 Thessalonians 2:13, it was welcomed as the word of God in truth. 
1 Corinthians 14:33, God is not the author of confusion!

d.       We are saved by faith alone – we ARE saved by faith (through God’s grace - Ephesians 2:8-9), but nowhere does it say we are saved by belief alone!  James 2:24. See also vs. 19.
Hebrews 11 describes the type of faith we need – a faith that obeys God (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).

e.       The “sinner’s prayer” is how you are saved -

f.         You can wait to be baptized until later, because it is not essential to salvation – 1 Peter 3:20-21, Mark 16:16, Acts 22:16, etc.

g.       Sprinkling or pouring are acceptable forms of baptism – Romans 6:3-4, we are buried with Him through baptism.  ALSO, the very word “baptize” means to dip, immerse, etc.  “plunge, dip, wash…” (BDAG)

 II.                   Why you need to stop the chariot

a.       Because life is uncertain – you are not guaranteed another chance!  James 4:14, Psalm 39:4-5, “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
James 1:9-10, “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

b.       Because your soul will spend eternity somewhere – Matthew 25:46, John 5:28-29 – Jesus Himself said the dead will the raised – both the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 16:26 – what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

c.        Because a day of judgment is coming – Hebrews 9:27, Acts 17:31, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

d.       Because you must obey the gospel to be saved – 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, Hebrews 5:9

 III.                 YOU are the one who must stop the chariot

a.       Notice who stopped it (Acts 8:36-38) – the Eunuch took the initiative.  He commanded the chariot to stop!  He saw his need, the opportunity to fulfill that need. 

b.       Obeying the gospel is your choice.  When it comes time to obey the gospel, YOU must make up your mind.  No one can do it for you.  No one can force you to obey.  We see this throughout Acts in various examples of conversion.

c.        Others can teach you and seek to influence you but ultimately it is YOUR decision.  You have to live with the consequences of your decision!

 IV.                 When should you stop the chariot?

a.       As soon as he heard what he needed to do he responded at the next opportunity – Acts 8:34-36.  Philip heard about Jesus (a message that included baptism) and learned that he needed to change.  He didn’t hesitate.  Just like the brethren on Pentecost, he was “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).

b.       Now!  For the reasons previously mentioned, when we learn of a need to change, we need to respond NOW!  2 Corinthians 6:2 tells us, NOW is the day of salvation.   Eternity is too long to wait.
Even Paul was told by Ananias, “Why are you waiting, arise and be baptized….” (Acts 22:16)

 V.                   Have you turned your chariot around?

a.       IF this chariot represents your life, you stop it so that you will get going in the right direction.  Just like the Eunuch stopped the chariot and obeyed the gospel.  The result was that he began going down a different path, a new path.   2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things have passed away, behold, all thing have become new.

b.       Sometimes Christians return to the world and its ways – Luke 8:14, like the soil with weeds, the cares of this world choke out the word.  Hebrews 2:1 – they drift away. 
The Bible is clear that we must remain on the path to heaven – Matthew 7:13-14, 1 Corinthians 924-27 describes the race we are in and how we must run to win.  This includes saying on the path.
When we veer from that path we are in danger! 

c.        If so, we need to stop it again!

                                                   i.      Don’t listen to the reasoning of men – “once saved, always saved”, “God will overlook my sins”, “my good outweighs my bad”, etc.

                                                 ii.      Stop it for the same reasons you stopped it in the first place – your life is STILL uncertain and you will spend eternity somewhere.  Don’t let the latter end be worse than the beginning – 2 Peter 2:20-22

                                                iii.      YOU need to stop the chariot again, and turn it back around!  That is what repentance is about – Acts 8:22, cf. 2 Cor. 7:9-11, etc.   Get back on the strait and narrow road 1 John 1:9.

                                                iv.      You need to stop it NOW!  YOU need to repent and pray for forgiveness.  To delay repentance will not make it any easier in the future.  Anyone who has struggled with sin knows this.  Make up your mind and resolve to move forward on the right path.  Rom. 12:1-2

 Conclusion: After the eunuch was baptized, he got back on his chariot, but things were different.  He went on his way rejoicing.  As you consider the road you are on, are you able to rejoice spiritually?  If not, STOP your chariot right now!  Think about it!