The Spirit leads into Truth

If you want to play follow the leader, there are a couple or really important things to remember. First, you have to keep your eyes on the leader. Second, you have to take the steps that your leader takes. Over the next four weeks we are going to take a closer look at some of the steps that we need to take in order to follow our leader, Jesus Christ.

If you want to play follow the leader, there are a couple or really important things to remember. First, you have to keep your eyes on the leader. Second, you have to take the steps that your leader takes. Over the next four weeks we are going to take a closer look at some of the steps that we need to take in order to follow our leader, Jesus Christ.

There are times when I have felt very confident in the Spirit’s leading. When the Lord called me into pastoral ministry, I was absolutely convinced that was the direction I should go. That conviction that it was God’s leading has kept me in ministry when times have gotten tough, and believe me there have been some difficult years. Other times I hadn’t really a clue where the Spirit was leading. In fact, many, many times I didn’t know for sure that the Spirit was leading in a particular direction until after the fact when I realized that he had been directing my steps all along.

You might be able to relate to me with the Spirit’s leading. Sometimes you feel it and sometimes you just don’t. But there is one thing that we can count on 100% of the time when it comes to the leading of the Spirit. The Spirit will always lead us into the truth. This is why we focus so much here on the Bible because it is the truth.

In the book of Acts there is a great story about the Spirit’s leading a disciple named Philip. Philip was one of the first seven deacons and was known as an evangelist. He was the first one to take the gospel to the Samaritan people who lived to the north of Jerusalem. Our story picks up after the people of Samaria believed and received Christ.

The Spirit Leads Into Truth

Acts 8:26-29

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

So here we have an instance where the Spirit is clearly leading Philip one of the very first disciples of the Lord. Paul tells us in Romans 8:14, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” We become children of God by hearing the good news of Jesus and placing our trust in him. The Spirit enters our life then and begins to lead us. Where does the Spirit lead?

The Lord told his disciples, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13) Let’s break this down. The fact that we need a guide in order to get to the truth means that without the Spirit of God, we are unable to find it on our own. And then notice that the Lord did not say that the Spirit would tell us the truth but rather would guide us into the truth. If we are to experience truth we must be led there.

There are all kinds of guides in this life. Tour guides, mentors, coaches, teachers, pastors, parents. Some of their guidance may be good and helpful and some not so much. If their guidance is inspired by the Lord it will be the best kind of guidance. Yet, for all the benefit of having good guides in our lives, not one of them can guide us into all the truth. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

What is this truth then that the Spirit leads us into? It is to personally know the Lord, to become like him and to do what he says. One of the truths that the Spirit leads us into is that God’s ongoing mission is to share the good news of Jesus with the world. The power of this truth is when embrace this mission of God’s to the very core of our being. When we really grab a hold of this truth in our hearts, then we will be ready to be led by the Spirit to share the good news.

Philip was a man who had trusted Christ, received the Holy Spirit and embraced the truth of God’s mission to spread the gospel. So when the Lord sent a messenger to tell him to leave the revival going on in Samaria and head out into the desert, Philip immediately followed the Lord’s instructions. And when the Spirit told him to join the chariot, he listened and did what the Spirit told him to do. So then the Holy Spirit leads God’s people to both learn the truth and to live it out.

The Spirit Prepares the Seekers

Acts 8:30-34

30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?”

The eunuch was returning from Jerusalem having spent time there worshipping. As a Jew he would have taken the opportunity to return to Israel when possible. The covenant with Israel included God’s people gathering three times a year for worship and for spiritual renewal on Passover, Pentecost and Sukkot or the feast of tabernacles. On his return trip he was spending time trying to work out a problem. Who is this guy that Isaiah is talking about? The eunuch was a seeker. He was seeking an answer to his question about the scripture. He was open and ready to hear the message of Christ. The Spirit of God had prepared him for this very moment.

Ethiopia. How did a Jew get there? Here’s what the apostle Paul says, “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27) We don’t know the backstory for the eunuch. Hey, we don’t even know his name. But we do know that the Spirit of God was moving in his heart. On the long trip back to Ethiopia, with lots of time on his hands and away from his many responsibilities, the Spirit of God moved on his heart to pursue questions of lasting and eternal significance. When Philip shared the gospel with him, he believed the message and placed his trust in Christ.

Many church people today have more in common with the Jews than they realize. The Jews of Jesus’ time and even up until the present time focused their attention on the keeping of the law. Their relationship with God centers around the keeping of rules. This is the same kind of trap that church people fall into today. They mistakenly think that their faith centers around being a good person. But this is not what God says faith is about.

God tells us that faith is what brings us into a right relationship with him. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Faith is not focused on rules but on trusting a person – Jesus Christ.

You might be thinking, Pastor Nate we have heard this a thousand times before. Yes, I’m glad that you have. The reality is that many of the people that you rub shoulders with on a daily basis don’t get this. If they were to stand before Jesus and he were to ask them, “Why should I let you into heaven?” their answer would be, “I’ve tried to be a good person.”

Wrong answer.

If you know this to be true about someone you know, then you have a responsibility to tell them the right answer. God has placed them in your life so that you can help them to know the Lord by helping them understand the gospel message.

You might say, “I can’t do that.” Yes you can. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

You might say, “Well they’re not ready.” Then pray for them daily until you can see how the Lord has already been working in their lives.

You might say, “I’m not ready.” Then take notes. Become a true disciple. A true disciple is a learner.

You might say, “I just don’t want to.” I appreciate your honesty. I’ll be honest with you too. You need to repent. You need to humble yourself before the Lord and ask for him to soften your heart. He will help you if you let him.

The Holy and Almighty Spirit of God is preparing hearts to hear the gospel. They may have heard it many times before but it just hasn’t sunk in yet. If we are willing to be led by the Spirit in following the Lord in his mission to share the gospel, he will bring us to those who have been prepared and who are seeking.

The Spirit Confirms the Word

Acts 8:35-40

 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

It seems clear that Philip talked with the eunuch for a good while because he started in Isaiah and we know that talked about all that Jesus taught including baptism and what it meant. As they passed by some water (not much of that in the desert), the eunuch made a connection. He believed what Philip was telling him, and as a believer he knew that he should be baptized. The Spirit was confirming in his spirit that baptism was the way to go.

Now understand this: there wasn’t a big crowd at the eunuch’s baptism. It was him, Philip, a chariot driver and maybe a few others. But it didn’t matter. The Spirit was leading the eunuch. He was responding to the truth of the good news. So he stepped down in the waters of baptism.

When they came up the Spirit snatched Philip away. Time to go. But don’t skip over this part too quickly. The Spirit didn’t take him until after the eunuch was baptized. We may not understand all there is to know about baptism, but we do know that the Lord has commanded us to follow him into the water. He was baptized, and we follow in his steps by being baptized as a public statement that we trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation from sin and eternal death.

We call this day “Heritage Sabbath.” Our church has a great and a long heritage. But heritage is something that we are always creating. Fifty years from now the people who follow after us will be looking at the heritage that we have left them. What will that look like?

As I pondered that question I realized that one of the parts of our heritage that I desperately want to pass along is for people to come to know the Lord Jesus. More than anything I want our church family to have the heritage that we connect people to Jesus and help God change their lives. If that is true then a lot of people are going to be baptized because Jesus told us to share the gospel and to baptize those who believe.

This is why we celebrated baptisms today. It’s not like we haven’t done baptisms before. But I believe with all my heart that the Lord is asking us to take a step after him. He was baptized as an example for us. If you have trusted in Christ but haven’t yet been baptized, then sometime soon you need to be baptized. The Lord while he was on earth went about talking to people about the good news. I believe he is asking our church family to take a step forward and follow him by talking to the people we know about the gospel.

Our church family has been around for many years, over 175. His mission isn’t completed yet, so we have work to do. As we think about what our heritage will become, let us be thankful for all that the Lord has done in the past. Let us remember where we have come from.

To that end, I want to show you something. I’m calling it the Heritage room. Follow me. (Walk and show Heritage room using Facebook live).

The Spirit is leading us to follow Jesus and the truth of the gospel. Let’s follow in his footsteps.