Evangelism Emphasis (Acts 8:25-40)
Sermon Link (live stream version)
Sovereign Appointment (verses 25-29)
When the angel commanded Philip to “get up and go south,” Philip “got up and went.” Philip was on call for the sharing of the gospel. He sets a good example for us. It is essential in evangelism that we be desirous to be involved in other peoples’ lives, rather than being so self-conscious. Sometimes being deeply involved is costly, and too few people want to be involved at that level. Philip knew that the road to Gaza might be the road to hell for the Ethiopian Eunuch, and with that in mind, he obeyed God and through evangelism made this deserted road the path to eternal life.
The salvation of the Ethiopian was planned by God rather than Philip. God Himself proved to be the great Seeker in this passage as He sought out the Ethiopian for salvation using Philip as the mouthpiece for gospel proclamation. John Flavel puts it well: “In nothing does providence shine forth more gloriously in this world than in ordering the occasions, instruments and means of conversion of the people of God.”
Scripture Explained (verses 30-35)
The Old Testament is not self-explanatory. In order for us to understand all that we read in the In the Old Testament, we need a key, a Christological key. The Old Testament bears witness to Christ and is only intelligible when He is the starting point. It would not have mattered where the Ethiopian was reading from; Philip was well aware that all of the Old Testament was about Christ!
The specific question raised by the Ethiopian is a question that every religion, including Judaism, still has not properly answered: “Of whom does the prophet say this?” (v. 34). Philip opened his mouth and preached Jesus from Isaiah. If we want to be better at evangelism, we must simply know the Bible and love people. Evangelism does not require answering each and every concern, whether legitimate or illegitimate. Philip focused only on Christ and avoided getting sidetracked on other issues.
Salvation’s Sign (verses 36-40)
It seems evident that Philip’s gospel proclamation included the expected obedience of those who have new life in Christ. Philip did not stop with the forgiveness offered, but included the expectation of Christian duties, including believer’s baptism. Baptism is how you publicly identify yourself with Jesus and His people. It is the visible sign that you are united to Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It portrays the remarkable truth of dying with Christ, being buried with Him, being raised in Christ, and walking with Christ in the newness of life in Him. The New Covenant does not operate by birth, like the Old Covenant, but by re-birth. As a result, the sign of the New Covenant (i.e. baptism) is given to those who give evidence of being born again.
Having been saved by the gospel, the Eunuch continued homeward rejoicing, distancing himself from Jerusalem, but now forever accompanied by the living Christ. His rejoicing verifies his reception of the Holy Spirit. Those who have been drawn by the Spirit of God will also invariably make a public profession of their faith, will join with other followers of Jesus, and will demonstrate the reality of a changed heart and true conversion. Real conversion to Christ brings about real change in the life of the believer.
- In light of this passage, what are some of the great motivations for evangelism? What seem to be the greatest hindrances for you in personal evangelism? How does Acts 1:8 apply to your own desire to lead others to a knowledge of Christ?
- What is necessary to be a good evangelist? How are you seeking to grow in these areas?
- What is the importance of baptism? What is the connection between conversion, baptism, and belonging to a local church?