Why Stop the Chariot?
By John Isaac Edwards
Acts 8:26-39 records the conversion of the Ethiopian treasurer. Verse 38 makes some things stand out: “And he commanded the chariot to stand still…” Has it occurred to you that if some things men today say are true, it would have been entirely unnecessary for this man to stop the chariot? Explore this with me.
- If just being a good, honest person is all that it takes. The man must have been a good, honest man to have the job that he did – “…under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure…” (v. 27). No need to stop the chariot if just being a person of integrity is all that it takes to please God and go to Heaven.
- If just being religious is enough. The Ethiopian was a religious man. He “…had come to Jerusalem for to worship” (v. 27), a distance of nearly 1,000 miles one way! Most people would think a fellow like that would already be saved. Why stop the chariot?
- If just reading the Scriptures is all that is required. The man was a Scripture –reading man. He was reading Isaiah 53 out loud (vv. 28-34). Some think they read the Bible and no more is really necessary. If that be true, why stop the chariot?
- If just hearing preaching saves. True, “…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save…” (1 Cor. 1:21). The Ethiopian heard preaching as “Philip…preached unto him Jesus” (v. 35). Some hear a lot of preaching, but do no more. Not this man!
- If justified by faith only. The Ethiopian had faith. He confessed, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (v. 37). If justified by faith only, why not keep the chariot wheels rolling down the Gaza road?
- If baptism is not necessary for salvation. Most have been made to believe baptism is not essential to salvation. Please tell us why then did the man of Ethiopia command the chariot to stand still and be baptized, if that be true?
- If saved by praying “the sinner’s prayer.” Many have been made to think that to be saved they just need to pray a prayer like this: “Lord, I confess to You my sins. I accept You into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior.” Why stop the chariot, if saved this way?
- If sprinkling or pouring are sufficient. If sprinkling or pouring of a little water upon the person will substitute for immersion of the whole person in water, why do we read, “…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…” (vv. 38-39)?
Let me suggest to you that due to the shortness and uncertainty of life (Prov. 27:1; Lk. 12:16-20; Jas. 4:13-15), the value of your soul (Mt. 16:26), the fact that judgment is coming (Acts 24:25), and you must obey the Lord to be saved (Mt. 7:21; Heb. 5:9) that you need to stop the chariot.
Did you observe who stopped the chariot? It wasn’t the preacher. It was the man who needed to obey the Lord. You are the one who must stop the chariot. There is urgency about obeying the gospel as this record shows. Now is the time to stop the chariot. “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
A Cain Moment
In Genesis 4:7 Cain was facing a life changing moment. Cain could either Rebel or Repent. We all face moments like that (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Acts 17:30). The consequence of making the wrong decision is immense, & yet God is gentle & patient with us through the process (2 Pet 3:9; Gal 6:1). But patience has limits (Rom 6:23).
A. Need (1 Corinthians).
1. To have a change of mind; to change.
a. Simon (Acts 8:22).
b. Thessalonians (1 Thess 1:8-10).
c. Prodigal son (Luke 15:17-20).
– Not just an emotion driven decision.
– But a decision marked by action.
– And an action marked by the counsel of God.
B. Proof (2 Cor 7:11).
1. “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.
“Earnestness” (diligence): eager to make the right decision.”
“Vindication” (clearing): an apology or plea for forgiveness.
“Indignation”: bitter hatred for the sin.
“Fear”: …of God’s retribution for sin.
“Longing” (vehement desire): to be right with God.
“Zeal”: burning desire to take action.
“Avenging of wrong” (vindication): to be justified or found innocent again.
C. Cause (2 Cor 7:8).
1. Cain: the counsel of God.
2. Corinth: a letter from an apostle.
D. Result (2 Cor 7:9-10).
1. Worldly sorrow considers how sin affects us.
2. Godly sorrow considers how sin affects God.
E. Example (Psa 51:1-4; 32:1-11).
1. David also heard the counsel of God (2 Sam 12:1-15).
Is this a Cain moment for you?
Acts 4:12; Mark 16:16; 1 John 5:11-12