“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The church at Philippi may have been Paul’s favorite church. It’s certain he wanted them to be happy followers of Jesus. Almost everyone wants to be happy, but few know of God’s fool proof way of experiencing it consistently.
The story of the Ethiopian treasurer in Acts 8:26-39 is a great example of a someone who became happy and content. Even though he no doubt knew some satisfaction in life because of his high government position in his homeland, it is certain he had never known happiness to the extent revealed in this story of his acceptance of Jesus as the son of God and his willingness to follow him. Of all the examples of conversion in Luke’s history of the early church, this one emphasized the mental and spiritual frame of mind resulting from obedience to the good news about Jesus.
Philip, a Christian from the Jerusalem church, “told him the good news about Jesus" (Acts 8:35). There are no details of the specific content of the teaching, except that he began by explaining Isaiah’s prophecy about his suffering. To faithfully preach Jesus is to tell of his nature as God’s son and his work as the savior of the world.
Before Jesus was born, an angel told the Galilean carpenter Joseph that Mary, his fianceé, would “bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The treasurer learned through Philip’s explanation of the prophecy of Isaiah about his need for salvation and that Jesus had come to satisfy it. This is the primary reason for the scriptures, given by the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Following his baptism into Christ, the treasurer “…went on his way rejoicing” because of what he had done. Even though some believe that people don’t have to do anything at all to be saved, this story teaches otherwise. In fact, few actually believe this, since usually they accept the necessity of faith and repentance.
The man from Ethiopia had been studying the scriptures from Isaiah 53 about the suffering servant, a prophecy of the promised savior. He was honest enough to admit his need for understanding, and knowing the value of understanding the truth — see John 8:32, he confessed his need for help and ask for an explanation of the text in Isaiah.
Gladly accepting Philip’s message about Jesus as the Christ, he translated his faith into action, confessed his faith in Jesus and, asking to be baptized, was immersed in water by Philip (Acts 8:36-38).
Based on his faith and obedience, he became a simple Christian at the point of his baptism. He was now a “born again” child of God (John 3:1-8; Galatians 3:26-27), simply a member of the Lord’s church, the body of Christ. He joined no denomination (which did not exist then) and was added by the Lord to those “who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Because of what the Ethiopian had learned, what he had done and what he became, he enjoyed the blessings of the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:38) and eternal life (John 17:3). In fact, he now had “every spiritual blessing” in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
In spite of the trouble and anxiety affecting the world, we can rejoice by learning and obeying God’s gracious will. Thank the Lord!