A Journey Thru Acts 36: The Love of God (8:26-40)

hand of Jesus (10-17-17)

We’ve been digging into Acts 8:26-40–please click HERE for the passage–for the last three posts as we’ve discussed the question,

“What is the Good News about Jesus Christ
that Philip shared w/the Ethiopian eunuch?”

We’ve dug into the Bible to learn
God’s diagnosis of our spiritual state
& God’s cure for our spiritual state.

We’ve also looked at personal questions to reflect on flowing from this passage.

This post, let’s dig into the Bible to gaze at the love of God, the deep compassion and sacrificial commitment/dedication of God—Him going all the way—to save sinners like us–the Gospel.

I have to think that at some point in his conversation with the Ethiopian, Philip stopped & said, “Look, let me tell you about the Lord Jesus. He found me & chose me even before I found & chose Him, & I’ve been blessed to be with Him from day one.

Let me tell you what He’s like:

  • His facial expressions,
  • tone of voice,
  • His character,
  • what it’s like to look into His eyes & have Him look so deeply at you that you know He knows everything about you in an instant, a beautiful & humbling full scan of your soul.

Let me tell you of His determined hatred for sin &
deep compassion for sinners
that would suffer so much in our place…”

We must do this, my friends, we must continuously look to the Bible to gaze at & be amazed by the love of God; we must know this compassion of God if we’re to truly explain the Good News about Jesus Christ to others…

Though all non-Christians are spiritually blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4); John 9:35-41),
even most Christians (myself included!) still have spiritual cataracts,
clouding our faith and vision of the LORD,
fogging our ability to see and be amazed by His glory & His amazing compassion.

Like test-lenses at the optometrist—better now, clearer now?—let’s look to a few Bible passages & ask/trust the Holy Spirit to make clear & bring into focus the crisp Blu-ray of the compassion & commitment & sacrifice of the LORD:

1. Abraham & Isaac: Personal sacrifice because of love.

Genesis 22:1-14: Some time later God tested Abraham.
He said to him,“Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said,
“Take your son,
your only son,
whom you love—

and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.

We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

[Goodness–look at how Abraham viewed this command of God. As gutted as Abraham must have been, as excruciatingly painful as it must have been for him to even get this far in his obedience to the LORD, Abraham saw his situation from the LORD’s eternal perspective: it was an act of worship to the God by Abraham, as is all of our obedience when it flows from faith in Christ, no matter how painful that humble obedience is. Wow.

And look at the amazing faith in the LORD that He blessed Abraham to have: Abraham told the servants that WE–Abraham AND Isaac–would come back to the servants. WOW! Oh my goodness such faith that his obedience to the command of God would not mean the end of Isaac! God would make a way, even though Abraham couldn’t see it!

Oh earthly death and the grave are not the end of all who are in Christ-God has made a way!

Oh the spiritual death of all who are not in Christ, oh the seemingly hopeless situation is not hopeless–God has made a way in Christ–THE WAY and the Truth and the Life!]

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, 

[Just as the Lord Jesus Himself would carry His wooden cross, the beams of wood that He would be nailed to and sacrificed on…oh the staggering and humbling and amazing compassion of God for us sinners!!!]

and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together,Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

 “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
And the two of them went on together.

[Pointing ahead many years to the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross!
Oh the love and compassion of God!]

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Oh loved ones, God the Father spared Abraham from personally sacrificing his only son Isaac.

Yet God the Father did not spare Himself from Personally sacrificing His only Son the Lord Jesus Christ. If the above passage was excruciating for Abraham (who didn’t have to go through with it!), may the Holy Spirit bless us to imagine and be staggered by how excruciating it was for God the Father to actually go through with pouring our His wrath against sin on His Son Jesus on the cross.

THAT is what Philip told the Ethiopian–THAT is the Gospel, loved ones, the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ…oh the love of God…

2. Jacob & Rachel: Backbreaking work because of love.

Genesis 29:18,20: Jacob was in love with Rachel & said [to her father Laban],
“I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

…So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel,
but they seemed like only a few days to him
because of his love for her.

Jacob wound up working 14 years to marry Rachel—backbreaking farm labor—& yet they passed quickly for him because of the future joy of being united to Rachel in marriage!

Even more amazingly, the Lord Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Hebrews 12:2)—He gave Himself up to suffering & humiliation & death for the joy of spreading the fame of His Father & being united to His people in spiritual marriage, saving us from our sinfulness & adopting us into His family forever!

The love of God!

THAT is what Philip told the Ethiopian in Acts 8,
THAT is the glorious Good News about the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

3. Joseph & his brothers: Undeserved forgiveness because of love.

Genesis 45:1-15: Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” 

But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” 

[Yes! Before we receive Christ Jesus, we have terror of God, we resent His authority and power and responsibility to eventually judge us & banish us from His presence forever…

But the love of God draws His people close to Him to forgive & restore & make new & transform & adopt us into His family forever! YES!]

When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

[Oh how the compassion of God provides for all who receive the Lord Jesus as Savior & King, brings us out of our spiritual country–our beliefs and goals and way of life apart from Him–and brings us near to Him in His family to have new beliefs and goals and a new way of life, to provide for us and sustain us and forgive us through His Son, otherwise we will become destitute and not survive the spiritual famine of this world…]

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen.

And bring my father down here quickly.”

Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him , weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

[Oh how God responds when we cry out to His Son Jesus in repentance, in faith, for mercy, for new life! Oh the celebration, oh the tears of the LORD at every individual person who was spiritually dead in sin but now is spiritually alive in Christ, at every individual who was spiritually lost & orphaned but now is spiritually found & adopted into the family of God! YES!]

Genesis 50:15-21: When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 

16So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

[Again, they realized the horror of their sin and were understandably afraid of getting what they deserved! Oh how the love of God brings us to this point as well…

…but He doesn’t leave His people there! He moves us from terror of Him to trust in Him–look at how imperfect/sinful Joseph responds compassionately and mercifully and lovingly to his repentance brothers. How much MORE amazing is the perfect/sinless compassion and mercy and love of the Lord Jesus to all who come to Him humbly and in sorrow over our sins against Him?! The love of God!]

 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him.
“We are your slaves,” they said.

19But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

[And oh how the Lord Jesus speaks kindly to us when we come to Him and throw ourselves down at His feet in repentance of our sin, in faith in Him alone, oh how He stoops down & lifts us up & reassures us of HIS faithfulness in spite of our unfaithfulness, comforts us that He can & will utterly and completely save all who cry out to Him, that He will finish the good work of salvation that He began in us! The love of God!!!

THAT is what Philip told the Ethiopian in Acts 8,
THAT is the glorious Good News about the Lord Jesus Christ!!!]

4. Delivery from slavery: God Himself comes down to rescue because of love.

Exodus 3:4-12: God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said,“Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt.
I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers,
and I am concerned about their suffering.
8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and
to bring them up out of that land
into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…

[Oh He is the God Who sees! Even if it FEELS like He doesn’t see what you are going through, He does because He SAYS He does! Trust in what He said not in what you feel!

And He not only sees but hears us,
He not only hears but is concerned about our suffering,
He not only is concerned but has come down Himself to rescue us
through the death & resurrection of His Son Jesu Christ–the love of God!]

And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me,
and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.
10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh
and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you…”

He is the God Who SEES our misery…and the God Who ACTS to free us from it. He sees our slavery to sin, our bondage, our utter helplessness…and He comes down Himself to set us free from our prison without windows/doors.

Just as the Lord Jesus walked thru the wall into the locked room to appear to His disciples after the resurrection, so God alone enters into our prison—slavery to sin—to take the place of & set free all who cry out to Him in repentance & faith.

Psalm 49:7-9: No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

[We cannot save ourselves or anyone else, we cannot set ourselves or anyone else free from our prison of sin, we cannot pay our sin-debt (or pay anyone else’s)…

Except for God—HE HIMSELF can take our place & ransom our lives (set us free from our prison) so we live forever with Him!

Matthew 20:28: “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

THAT is what Philip told the Ethiopian in Acts 8,
THAT is the glorious Good News about the Lord Jesus Christ!!!

5. Father & prodigal son: Undeserved restoration to the family because of love.

Luke 15:11-32: 11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

[The son implicitly said, “Father, you are dead to me. Give me what I will get when you die. I want out of here–I want to blaze my own trails and be in charge of my own life and live my own way. But I need you to be dead & out of the picture, so give me what I deserve. Now.” Wow. That is a picture of humanity in sin apart from faith in & submission to the Lord Jesus Christ…

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.

[As always eventually happens with sin–the credit runs out, the bill comes due, the interest continues to compound, the pleasure dissolves and we are left simply in the prison we have happily built for ourselves…]

So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses,

[That is the hub/center/turning point to this parable: the love of God brings us to our senses and we realize our utter sinfulness, we stop justifying ourselves & puffing ourselves up with the false thoughts that we are basically good just with a few flaws. The love of God deflates our idolatrous self-esteem in order to give us God-esteem–to be full of Him & not ourselves, to bring us low as we realize how sinful we are and to cry out to Him in repentance and faith to forgive us and restore us and make us completely new and transformed.

Thus the love of God teaches us to grieve our sin & turn to Christ Jesus in faith for relief from such grief--not to turn to good deeds to calm our conscience and not to turn to justifying our sin to calm our grief, not to turn to celebrating our sin and decorating/trying to clean up our pig-pen but to turn to Christ and cling to Him and His sacrifice on the cross in our place to remove us from the pig-pen and clean us from the inside out–from our soul to our beliefs to our desires to our choices . Oh the love of God!]

he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 

[The love of God causes us to realize our situation in sin and finally see it clearly for what it is: death, spiritual starvation, emptiness, aloneness.]

18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

[Yes! The love of God leads us to repent, to call our sin sin (and not just mistakes)! Oh our sins are primarily against the LORD Himself (even though they are often also against others and ourselves)! The love of God first brings us low to realize that we deserve nothing from God, that we are not worthy to be loved and saved and forgiven and adopted and received by Him…

…and then the love of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the cross and empty tomb, after bringing us low in repentance of sin, lifts us up and does THIS!…]

 “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

[YES! Oh the compassion and sacrifice and dedication of God! That is our condition before faith in Christ Jesus: spiritual death, spiritual lostness. And that is the condition of those who repent & cry out to the Lord Jesus by faith alone to save us: He makes us spiritually alive, spiritually found, and the eternal celebration begins!!!]

 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

THAT is what Philip told the Ethiopian in Acts 8,
THAT is the glorious Good News about the Lord Jesus Christ!!!]

The compassion & sacrifice & commitment of the LORD is staggering…

How does the Bible describe the love of God? While we were still sinners in the pig-pen—rebellions & treasonous & enemies against God Himself—Christ died for His people, in the place of all who would trust in Him.

He had gotten nothing from us—nothing good—except us ignoring Him or fighting to take His throne by us trying to be in control of our lives, ruthlessly stealing His job each moment of the day.

And while all that was constantly happening, He sent His Son to die for His people. THAT is love—completely opposite of & infinitely better than what we call & idolize as “love” in the United States.

The God Who doesn’t campaign for our vote but pursues us for our surrender,
the God Who gives our diagnosis straight up &
provides His cure by coming straight down
to suffer & die in our place & rise again.

Do you know this compassion of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit?
Have you surrendered to it?
By faith are you enjoying it, resting in it, amazed by it, comforted by it?

Can you say with William Williams from the late 1700s:

Speak, I pray You, gentle Jesus
O, how passing sweet Your words
Breathing o’er my troubled spirit
Peace which never earth affords
All the world’s distracting voices
All the tempting tones of ill
At Your voice, so mild, melodious
Are subdued and all is still
Tell me You are mine, O Savior
Speak a true assurance clear
Banish all my dark misgivings
Still my doubting, calm my fear
In Your righteousness I’ll triumph
In Your wisdom I’ll be wise
In Your robes I’m perfect beauty
In Your power I’ll arise

THAT is what Philip told the Ethiopian, the Good News about Jesus Christ:

Extra extra, read all about it in the Bible…

Closing Challenge

George Wade Robinson (1838-1877)

Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so.
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am His, and He is mine.
Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.
Things that once were wild alarms
Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms,
Pillowed on the loving breast.
Oh, to lie forever here,
Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear,
I am His, and He is mine.
His forever, only His:
Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss
Christ can fill the loving heart.
Heaven and earth may fade and flee,
Firstborn light in gloom decline;
But, while God and I shall be,
I am His, and He is mine.

Is He yours, my friends? Is Christ Jesus your Master, God, King, Savior & Friend?

Is God the Father your Father?…are you His child by repentance & faith in His Son Jesus?

Does God stand next to & above you but also live in you thru His Holy Spirit?

Is He yours…& are you His? Have you tapped out in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Have you given up trying to justify & celebrate your self, your lifestyle of being in charge of you & identifying yourself with sin & chasing your own dreams in your own ways?

Have you literally “given UP” & cried out to Jesus to be victorious OVER you—& the sin you hold so close to your heart—so you can be victorious IN Him: made new, forgiven, adopted into His family & transformed/cleansed from all sin?

Have you fled by faith to Jesus’ nail-scarred hands
from the bed of nails you have made for yourself?

Don’t run away & hide from Christ;
Run to Him & hide IN Christ by faith!

His compassion is amazing & free & never fails those who cry out for it!

Be sure, loved ones—go home & cry out to Jesus to be your salvation…

or restore to you the joy of His salvation
if you’re somehow bored with it &
are captivated by the things of this world.

He doesn’t go “off the air” when the worship service is over
He doesn’t stop being God,
so don’t stop seeking & praising & trusting & enjoying & crying out to Him…

mercy (10-17-17)