Summary: A preacher with an open mind hits the open road, meets a man with an open book, opens his mouth and reaches the open heart of his hearer.
The Gospel Goes to Africa Acts 8:26-40
INTRO.: Before Jesus departed from the earth, He gave His apostles a commission to preach the Good News in "Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) the Book of Acts chronicles the unfolding of that plan. The Gospel was first preached in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. The message spread throughout Judea and when persecution became a problem, Phillip went down to a city in Samaria and preached there. There were many converts and was great joy in the city.
A great evangelistic meeting is going on in Samaria. But it is time for the message to spread further, so the Lord sent an angel to speak to Philip, one of the first Deacons. The result was the conversion of the first African and, according to tradition, the establishment of the Church on the continent of Africa.
I. The Open mind of Phillip:
A. No doubt a Grecian Jew, judging from his name:
1. One of the first Deacons in Jerusalem.
2. In Jerusalem for Pentecost, he probably decided to stay as the Church got started.
3. When the Church was scattered by persecution, he went to Samaria and preached.
B. He preached there with great success:
1. He didn’t share Jewish prejudice against "half-breed" Samaritans.
2. His was a cosmopolitan mind set, not narrow and provincial like some Jews.
3. Occult leaders were even converted to Christ.
C. Then an angel spoke to Phillip.
1. Phillip took this message as a directive from God Himself and went as told.
2. A real messenger of Christ should be willing to preach the gospel wherever he goes.
II. The open road:
A. A Roman paved road ran from Jerusalem to Gaza near the coast. A fifty mile trip toward the Southwest.
1. Phillip went due south from Samaria to intersect this road. Again, about fifty miles.
2. The Ethiopian was in a chariot. Phillip was on foot.
3. Most of the road was populated. Only a small stretch about four miles from Gaza could be called "desert."
B. God brought the two men together at exactly the right time and place.
1. Phillip, afoot, must have started first. We see God’s hand over all.
2. Always be ready to speak a word for Jesus. We never know what God can do until we take advantage of the opportunity.
3. The Holy Spirit speaks to Phillip and tells him to make contact with the chariot and stay with it.
III. Phillip draws near the chariot and finds an open book:
A. The driver is reading aloud from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
1. Books were rare and all were copied by hand. This was one of the most treasured of Jewish books. It must have been expensive.
2. Perhaps he had been commissioned to buy it for his boss, the queen of Ethiopia.
3. A wealthy man, he might have bought it himself
4. A real "seeker" in a deserted place with the Word of God open before him to the very best passage possible. Enough to make a preacher salivate.
B. Notice the importance of the preached Word of God:
1. The angel could have spoken to the eunuch. God doesn’t work that way usually.
2. Phillip runs near to the chariot and opens his mouth. "Do you understand what you are reading?"
3. The Ethiopian admitted his ignorance and invited Phillip to ride.
IV. From the open mouth of Phillip, the Ethiopian hears the Gospel of salvation for the first time:
A. Phillip began at the same Scripture and preached Jesus:
1. The Scripture quoted is from Isa. 53:7, 8: The Suffering Servant passage.
2. There could be no better passage in the Old Testament for explaining the atonement made by Jesus. (READ IT).
3. The Ethiopian had many questions about this text. It really can’t be understood if we leave Jesus out.
B. Some of the things Phillip might have said:
1. The prophet writes of a man named Jesus who died for you.
2. Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of the Father. There is justification through His sacrifice and resurrection. Isa. 53:11
3. This same Jesus wants to be Lord of your life. Isa. 53:12
C. Judging from what follows, Phillip obviously included what is needed to contact the atoning death of Jesus.
1. The inquirer’s natural response to the gospel is "what must I do to make this atonement possible?
2. No doubt, Phillip gave the answer given in Acts 2:38. After all, we are "baptized into His death."
V. The Ethiopian responded with an open heart to the Gospel message: "Here is water . . ."
A. Verses 36 - 38 explain just what happened: (Read it.)