Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered July 30, 2005 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Sharing the Flame

(RealAudio Version available)

It's so good to be back home with you. I think we've been gone from here four weeks! Two of those weeks we were at the General Conference, and I was surrounded one week with probably thirty-five thousand people and the next week with maybe forty-five thousand people. They were all y brothers and sisters, but, you know, I feel a lot better being here than I did being there. I didn't know hardly any of them. Even though we're all going to be together in His kingdom if we are faithful to Jesus. After that we went on a reformation trip with Elder Don Schneider. One Sabbath we spent in a cave where the Waldensians hid trying to escape the persecution of the Papacy. I prayed there and I thought about them. They were probably deathly quiet waiting for the troops to come, and praying that the troops would not find them, and the troops did find them and they all lost their lives. I thought about their courage and I wondered if I had that kind of courage. You know.

So, we enjoyed our trip together. Several people were pickpocketed. I wasn't. I'm glad for that. We had a good time, but it's so good to be back home. They've invited us to give a Sabbath School program. I don't when it is. Perhaps in two or three weeks from now. You'll be seeing pictures about our trip. We'll share it with you.

But today, we've got a Flame. It's not going. I don't know exactly how to turn it on. Does somebody know? Hey, here we go. We need to light this Flame because I'm preaching about the Flame and you can't catch the Flame if there is no Flame. Sharing the Flame is what we're speaking about today.

Have you ever met with a Eunuch? A Deacon and a Eunuch had an appointment orchestrated by God Himself. If a big bright tall angelic angel came to you and asked you to go on a remote desert road to meet with a Eunuch, would you do it? If he asks me, I might wonder, 'Why is this happening?' I might wonder why, but I hope I would go. Deacon Phillip grabbed up some water bottles and started out wondering what God had in mind for him. 'Why do I have to go out to the desert? But a Christian must be sure that it is God's will, and then be willing to do it to the full. Probably Philip caught the Flame at Pentecost. He had i, and now he is willing to share the Flame. You can't share the Flame if you don't have the Flame! And so, there goes Philip.

I'd like for you to turn in your Bible to this section of our series. We're preaching a series on the book of Acts. This is a series that I hope you will really benefit by. But, look at Acts 8:26. Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza."

Phillip was one of the seven deacons. He was appointed by the early church. He may have wish for the cool breezes atop Mount Carmel or the shade of the Mount of Olives, but that was really the wrong way to go. He could have taken the road to the shore or the Mediterranean Sea and then down the cool coast. But that's not where God sends him. God doesn't always send you where you want to go, but He sends you where He needs you to go. And so he was sent to the desert, to the heat, to the wild desolate sun-baked Gaza road. What did he do about this call? Acts 8:27 So he started out. We do not read of any hesitation. I don't read where he quibbled about it. All I read is, that he went. He started out. He did what God wanted him to do. A good Christian we need to be willing to do God's will. We need to do it quickly without questioning God. We need to just plow ahead and do what we are sure God wants us to do. Like Abraham, Philip went out not knowing where he was going or what he was going to do.

Further and further into the desert he walked. It is hot! He left the populated areas behind and goes into this remote area. He may have thought he was walking alone in the desert. He was not walking alone, he was actually walking with God. You my think, 'I'm all alone in life. I've moved to this desert of Bradley County or Hamilton County, I hardly know anybody.' Actually you may be walking with God. If you are following God's will, you are never alone. You are never forsaken. Actually for Philip , one of the greatest experiences in the entire New Testament is about to take place all becuase he follows God's will. He's not afraid to go out into the desert.

Matthew 22:9(KJV) says, Go to the highways and hedges. Well, that's where Philip went. God wanted Philip at the right place at the right time. And so, God orchestrated this dynamic meeting with an unknown person. The salvation of a critical individual for the spreading of God's work was about to take place. This individual fits into the giant jigsaw puzzle of God's global evangelism plan. He was not a key player because he not in place, but he needed become a key player, and Philip was a key man to share the Flame so that he could receive the gospel.

You know, it's hard to steer a ship when it's parked in the water. God does not choose the lazy people that are sitting in the pews twiddling their thumbs to do His work. God always chooses a busy person. And Philip was a busy man. He had a lot of things going on. God doe not choose those lazy people. You know, guidance is difficult when we are stopped with the gearshift of our life stuck in park. We need to get it and put it in drive and then God will choose us. Phillip arose and he went. It is 50 hot miles from Jerusalem to Gaza on that desert road. It's not an easy trip for him to make.

What we discover in this passage is the first of three amazing conversions.

  1. The Eunuch; he was a black man from Africa, and he represented the lineage of Ham.
  2. Saul, a Jew. Saul represents the lineage of Shem.
  3. Roman Cornelius, and he represents the lineage of Japheth.
Each of these is a son of Noah. So this is kind of interesting how this takes place. It's sort of symbolic of the gospel going to the entire world mentioned in Matthew 24:14. Here is a little nutshell that is going to hatch and encompass the entire globe.

On this day, coincidentally another man was also taking a journey into the desert. Now, look at Acts 8:27. It tells about an Ethiopian Eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. Now, Candace was the queen mother of the great country of Ethiopia with its headquarters near present day Khartoum where the Blue and White Nile rivers converge. Right at the point of the convergence is where the headquarters was. She may have been a direct successor of the Queen of Sheba.

Look at Acts 27, the last part and verse28. ....this man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot" So, here he comes from Jerusalem, he's heading home, down back to Africa. He's got a long way to go. He's sitting there in his chariot.

The awesome foreknowledge of God knew where he was. He knew of the Ethiopian's search for truth, He knew of his trip, He knew of his chariot, and God's Global Positioning System knows where he is on the road. He what page and verse he was reading in the Isaiah scroll. He's in chapter 53. He's about to come to this verse. God know all that. This Eunuch was probably reading in the Greek Septuagint, I would think. This was a rich intelligent dignitary that needs the gospel, and God knows all this information about him.

The Ethiopian Eunuch was used to the desert. Journeying South in the high heat of the desert at high noon was no problem for the African because that's where he lived. This man was an important dignitary with great power and authority in his country. He was so significant, in fact, that the Queen, Candace, had appointed him in charge of completely of her vast treasury. He was a man of respect and trust. The secretary of the treasury in Candace's for the entire kingdom. He was a man of respect. He was a man of trust. He was the secretary of the treasury in Candace's courts.

Coincidentally these two men were in the same place at the same time. It just happened to be. Philip was coming down the road. The Ethiopian was coming down the road. They converged there at a certain point. You know, I think many of the coincidences of life are not coincidences. I think they are simply God's hand on the steering wheel of your life, tweaking your direction a little bit, making your life more effective. In fact, there was a missionary that went to Africa to preach. But when he arrived in Cape Town, he discovered it was forbidden to preach the gospel in Cape Town in those days. He prayed and he thought, 'Here we have all our things, my wife and I. We've landed here. We can't preach. What are we going to do?' So, he purchased a team of oxen and a cart and he and his wife loaded all their things on and decided to push into the interior of dark Africa. He put his wife and all his goods on the wagon and started out. He had journeyed about 300 miles on rough roads and all sorts of terrible circumstances and was tired and bewildered as to God's will. One night he was camped in a remote area of the jungle and he and his wife discovered a band of Hottentots were also camping nearby. Barnabas Shaw went over to their camp and learned that they were on their way to Cape Town searching for a Christian missionary! They took him back to their village. What a coincidence! No. Actually God had been leading both groups to that exact rendevous point in the deep jungle. If you are open to God's leading, God will lead you. He really will.

When you are on vacation and you meet a stranger in need, are you open to the possibility of a divine appointment? You know, God has a divine appointment every time yo go to the village market, every time you go to the hardware store, wherever you are, there's a possibility of a divine appointment. When you drive to the store, you keep your spiritual eyes open because God has something for you every day. My wife and I went on a Reformation trip last week. I thought 'I should take a book along to read. Maybe a couple of books. I was debating on what book to take.' And I thought, 'I'll take this book on the state of the dead. Not too exciting, but I haven't read it. So I'll take that book.' One day as we were on our bus going to our next stop to Martin Luther's birthplace, we discovered that one person in our group was not a Seventh day Adventist. I didn't realize that. I thought we were all adventists. Don Schneider, the North American President was our leader, and I figured we were all Adventists. But here was a lady who was not a Seventh-day Adventist. We got to talking with her and she was hung up on the state of the dead. I asked, "Are you a reader?" She said, "I love to read." Well, just coincidentally I happen to have a book with me on the state of the dead." "You do?" I gave her my book, and she read the entire book. I will always believe that God knew of her need and directed me to pack the very book she needed in my suitcase. She read the book and just coincidentally a SDA lady just happened to live in her home town of Jacksonville, Florida where this lady lived. We made an appointment for them, and today they will be in our SDA church together, one of them for the very first time. Praise the Lord!

Was that a coincidence? I don't think so.

Look at Acts 8:29. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Now, He didn't tell Philip to just jump up into the chariot. You know, we don't just push ourselves on somebody. "You go to that chariot and you stay near it." Verse 30, Then Philip ran up to the chariot.

Now, I want you to picture that chariot, jostling along a hot desert road pulled by some sweating oxen. This royal chariot is in the midst of a procession, a procession of chariots. This is a dignitary, you know. He's the secretary of the treasury of the country of Sheba. So, there are servants, guards, attendants and drivers accompanying their faithful leader all the way back to Ethiopia. This is a procession. It's a caravan. As this caravan converged upon Phillip's path, the Holy Spirit said to him, "Run and catch the chariot." Sometimes you have to be in good physical shape to do God's will. You run up there and catch that chariot." Well, I don't know if I could do that or not. I'd try, but Philip did. Can you visualize this deacon running down the hot dusty road with his water bottles hanging on him, or whatever he had. And he tries to stay beside this dusty chariot.

That's what's going on. Phillip has got to run. Why couldn't the angel in charge of transportation just kind of float Philip on a hover board or something alongside that chariot? Why couldn't he just do that? Why must he Run? Because he's got to be at the right place at the right time. He might miss the verse. He might miss the text. Because, you see, the Holy Spirit knew the exact point for the rendezvous. The deacon must meet the Chariot at the magic moment. You've got to be there at the right time. Phillip ran for all he was worth.

The African leader has been on a pilgrimage. He'd been to Jerusalem. He'd been seeking the truth. I don't know. Maybe he was a proselyte of the Jewish faith. He was reading the Isaiah scroll. He's searching. He's studying for all the spiritual depth he can acquire. What do you read when you are on a trip? What book do you take with you? Do you take a little paper-back novel? Some untrue fiction-type thing? Here this Ethiopian Eunuch had gone to Jerusalem. What book does he take? A big scroll. An expensive scroll. The whole book of Isaiah, hand- written out. This is before Gutenberg, you know. So, here he is. He's seeking, and he's reading the scriptures. Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV, But if from there you shalt seek the Lord your God, and you will find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. If you seek the Lord, you're going to find Him.

It so happened that the Ethiopian was reading Isaiah 53. His wealth enabled him to own a personal copy of the Isaiah scroll. These things were not cheap. He had made a wise purchase. Phillip began where the Eunuch was. He didn't have the Ethiopian turn to Isaiah 1. No, he just stayed right there where the Eunuch was. And god, when He comes to you, will come to you where you are. That is the exact place God begins with us. That's what we need to do with people. God comes to you when you are hanging on the end of your rope of broken-ness, pain, loss or failure. God comes where we are. He comes to help us.

Now, what was the Eunuch reading on that day? Come to Isaiah 53:7,8 and we'll just read the two verses he was reading there on that road. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

A few years ago a little girl in a little village suffered cruel persecution in her own home because she was a Christian. She was abused for being a Christian. Her father did not like it that se was a Christian. He kept abusing her and harming her. She continued to be loyal to Jesus. However the abuse was too much for her little frame. She grew weaker and one day she died. Her suffering was over. When they came to take the clothes off her dead body they discovered a piece of paper sewn inside the front of her dress. It said: "He opened not His mouth." Acts 8:32. She had never complained.

"Jesus the lamb of God was silent before his shearers. We see Jesus abused by the Sanhedrin, ridiculed by Herod, scourged by Pilate, scoffed at and stripped by the soldiers... The dignity that comes from dress was stripped away. Only His silence clothed Him with dignity. All heaven waited to answer a slightest that Jesus may have made for help. Even a whisper would have unleashed all the forces of heaven to rescue Jesus there as He hung on the cross. One little word whispered and the Angels would have flashed down the skyways of the stars and burst upon our planet, and stamped flat the high hills of Judea, burned to blood the waters of the seven seas. They would have ushered in the battle of Armageddon then and there. But that word never came. He was silent!"1 What a statement! A great text. And this great text pointed to Jesus. The Ethiopian asked, "Who is this?"

The Ethiopian had invited Philip up into his chariot to ride along. Philip asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" The Eunuch needed a guide. He needed a Bible instructor. He needed someone to explain the Bible. As they rode along in that parched dry land, the Eunuch exhibited a spiritual thirst for the water of life for his parched heart. There are thousands of people in the world today who need evangelists and teachers to come and open the truth to their thirsty minds. And there are thousands of Philips in this world today. You might be a Philip. You might be one of those people. And you need to be willing to share the Flame that you have. You might be a global evangelist. You know, there is no need to sit around here in Collegedale.

I'm going to get real specific here. You probably moved here so that your children could attend Southern Adventist University, or Spalding Elementary or Collegedale Academy. And your kids are gone now. And you're still here. Why are you here? There had better be a reason for you to be here. Go on a mission trip at least Get your passport up to date and get ready. Go out and hold a series of evangelistic meetings. Be involved. The angel himself could have enlightened the Eunuch but God wants His people, human beings to be directly involved in soul winning. "It is a fatal mistake to suppose that the work of soul saving depends alone upon the ministry."2 You need to go. Maybe God is calling you.

Well, Philip opened his mouth and the Holy Spirit spoke through him. All that was necessary for salvation was explained to the Eunuch. I'm sure that

Ale the various things were explained to the Eunuch and finally the Eunuch said, "Why shouldn't I be baptized? Because baptism was explained to him. Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."3 Now, they didn't have 27 fundamental beliefs. He hadn't gone through 47 Bible Studies. But he believed with all his heart that Jesus was the Son of the eternal God. And he was willing to accept every other belief. And so, he wanted to be baptized.

The Bible says in Acts 8:36 that As they traveled along the road, they came to some water. Now isn't that a coincidence? There are several possible places. Where this person was baptized. A logical spot I think would be in the brook in the Valley of Elah. This is the same one that David crossed and picked up 5 smooth stones on his way to meet Goliath. 4 Goliath was killed as a stone sunk into his closed mind. The Eunuch received eternal life as the truth of Jesus sunk into his open mind on the same spot. He sealed his decision for Jesus by Christian baptism.

I will tell you that when the Spirit of God impresses you that you should be baptized you want to do as the Eunuch from Africa did. You want to stop your chariot, stop what you are doing. Get off, and be baptized. Don't ever put off your baptism. Don't ever put off the baptism of your children. If they want to be baptized, they ought to be baptized. If you kids have made a decision for baptism, you need to follow through with that. Be baptized. He did not delay. This was probably his one and only chance to be baptized because Philip never came that way again. And as far as we know, that man never came back up to Jerusalem again. That was his one and only chance. They both came up out of the water and a miracle happened. While the Eunuch was still dripping with water he looked up and Phillip had completely disappeared! In that open desert there was no place to hide. This was witnessed by the Eunuch's entire entourage.

Look at Acts 8:39. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the Eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. When you do what God wants you to do, when you're baptized there ought to be rejoicing. If you put it off , there had better not be rejoicing. There was rejoicing and jubilation.

Philip was carried quickly off to his next obligation. But now Ethiopia had a Christian Secretary of the Treasury. What a difference that made in the royal courts of the dynasty of Queen Candace. Tradition says that Queen Candace was baptized by the Eunuch. Isn't that interesting. As a result of his conversion the gospel was carried into the heart of the southern and eastern strongholds of heathenism because of this one thing.

What if Philip had not followed God's leading? Could God's work directly suffer if you do not act on God's leading? Philip was an obedient and faithful Christian. What if Philip had not gone? What if he had not run? What if he had not known Jesus? What if he had not caught the Flame? If you don't catch the Flame you can't share the Flame. You've got to have it. You've got to have it yourself. He probably became involved building up the Church in Caesarea.5 Philip was also a fine father. His four daughters were all prophetesses walking zealously in the linage of their faithful father. Philip stayed at that church for 20 years! A long time for a leader.

Do you have the Flame? Have you caught the Flame, the Flame of God? Catch the Flame of God. Fan the Flame. Share the Flame. Be willing to share the Flame? Next week is the dynamic story called: Seeing the Flame! Don't miss it!


Endnotes:

1. Exploring Acts, by John Phillips, p. 1, 1986, Moody Press, Chicago.

2. Acts of the Apostles, by Ellen G. White, p. 110, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View Calif.

3. Acts 8:37, NKJV.

4. 1 Samuel 17:40.

5. Acts 21:8,9.


Other Sources:

Exploring Acts, by John Phillips, 1986, Moody Press Chicago.

The Communicator's Commentary, Volume 5, by Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Word Books, Waco, Texas 1983.

The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, DC., 1957.

The Acts of the Apostles, by Ellen G. White, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1911.

The Pulpit Commentary, by H. Spence and Joseph Exell. Funk and Wagnalls Company, London. volume 41.

Matthew Henry's Commentary volume VI, Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania, 1935.


Hymn of Praise: #34,  Wake the Song
Scripture:  Isaiah 53:7,8
Hymn of Response: #340,  Jesus Saves
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