Gospel Without Borders

All nations.

Acts 8:25-40 (ESV)

Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

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. 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 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 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. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 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?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 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. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8 is the breakout chapter for bringing the gospel to the gentiles. It starts with the persecution that scatters disciples throughout the region. Next, many Samarians are converted, and they receive the Holy Spirit in dramatic fashion. Lastly, we read of the conversion of someone all the way from Ethiopia. The range of the gospel just went nuclear. Compared to this guy, everyone else is a local.

Modern Christians don’t realize how radical this was back then. The Jewish messiah is actually the messiah for the whole world. Never mind that the rest of the world doesn’t even want a messiah.

So, even though this account only describes a single conversion, it merits inclusion in scripture because it sets such an important precedent. The gospel will spread to the ends of the Earth.

And it has. We are at the ends of the Earth; you can’t get much farther away from Jerusalem than the Americas. But the gospel in America lacks the spark it once had. We are free of persecution, but that has made us soft. America is the land of entitlement, and that culture has infected the Church.

We don’t say it out loud, but Americans act like salvation is a birthright. “Of course we’re saved.”

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.