Sovereign Grace Blog

Sermon Summary - Listen To The Holy Spirit's Leadings - Acts 8:26-40

Listen To The Holy Spirit's Leadings - Acts 8:26-40

The Scripture has once for all been delivered to the saints (Jude 3), since the end of the 1st century. And it is absolutely sufficient for salvation and sanctification. Philip also had the Scripture and the content of the gospel, but we see that God personally spoke to him (Acts 8:26, 29). Question: Does God speak to His people today? Or was that just for believers from Abraham until the 1st century? Did it end with Philip or the other examples in Acts (e.g. Paul in Acts 20:22-23, 21:4)? Keep this in mind as we walk through this passage.

Philip, a non-apostle, gifted in evangelism is in Samaria with no knowledge of this Ethiopian man’s existence. But God will personally guide Philip, in order to save that Ethiopian man. God sends an angel (Acts 8:26) to tell Philip to go south about 50 miles to a desert road (and that’s it, doesn’t say why). Philip obeyed and met the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27). God is sovereign, and takes the initiative to get the gospel to one particular man. Note that God did not speak this to Philip in the written Word.

The Ethiopian man had some knowledge of Judaism, and he had come to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:27). While he was there he must have bought the scroll of Isaiah he was reading from. From the back of his chariot he is reading from the scroll out loud (as was the custom). As he is reading, the Spirit says to Philip to go up and join the chariot (Acts 8:29), but again doesn’t say why. But by this time Philip is getting what’s happening. In obedience to the Spirit’s speaking, Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah (Acts 8:30-33). Philip then began to preach the gospel to him. One clear lesson: God uses human beings to preach the gospel to other human beings. The eunuch asked who the Isaiah passage was talking about (Acts 8:34). This man was primed, hungry for answers. Philip may have walked him slowly through a larger section of Isaiah 53, explaining how Jesus was the fulfillment. Then he told him about baptism, and baptized him (Acts 8:38).

Back to the question, does God still speak to His people today? Biblically, there is no reason that the Holy Spirit would now be silent in personally guiding His people like He did Philip. That still small voice might tell us to do or say something that mere wisdom would never lead us to (like going to some desert road in Gaza). 2 Tim. 3:16 - the word of God written leads us into all the truth we need; and that very same Scripture shows us that God may also lead us by extraordinary guidance. We should focus on intimate communion with God, and be open (if He gives it) to His guiding and leading. We are warned against quenching the Spirit (1 Thess 5:16-22). We often resist the Holy Spirit by resisting our own consciences.

In our day, if anybody advocates God’s personal speaking voice and guidance, many voices will say “No, no, no! We have the Scripture. It is sufficient.” They may also point to the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement and the doctrinal error there. But on the other hand, there are countless examples of Christians who acted in obedience to subjective impressions and leadings by the Holy Spirit, resulting in effective evangelism and ministry. Why? Because God cares about an obscure Ethiopian eunuch. And He cares about Paul. And God cares about a new Christian tormented with guilt and flashbacks from a bad acid trip.

This kind of guiding by the Spirit in no way compromises the authority of the Scriptures. In one sense, it’s simple - the Scripture tells us who God is, what sin is, what the gospel is, and it is absolutely sufficient. But the Bible does not tell you that there is a man in a chariot on a desert road. The Bible does not rule out the special guidance of the Holy Spirit; it advocates it.


Join us Sunday at