When Foreigners Visit

Mission: Near  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:21
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With the exception of Covid restrictions, I do not know a more mobile time in human history than right now. We not only use planes, trains & automobiles, but also ships, boats and ferries to see people and places that previous generations only read about.
God is bringing the peoples of the world to our doorstep as students, businessmen and entrepreneurs come from all over the globe to test the waters of our economy and educational systems.
The last 100 years has enabled radio and aviation to transport the missionary message into places that previously required days of travel on foot and canoes.
When you see the word “foreigners” behind me, do NOT think of this as racist or derogatory in any way! It is simple an acknowledgement that the world has become flatter and previous barriers to interaction between cultures is being diminished.
This ought to excite us! Not for the tourism opportunities or spreading of the American way of life, but for the advance of the Gospel to all peoples.
Transition: There is one word that appears 5 times in today’s chapter. Do you notice any repetition in vv.4,12,25,35 & 40? The preaching of these verses did not happen in church building like ours, the good news was being proclaimed by ordinary people in ordinary places as they did ordinary life. As a matter of fact, even….

Saul spreads the Gospel (8:1-3)

This first paragraph of this chapter is a lesson in unintended consequences.
How many of us have seen an inexperienced person try to extinguish a fire? What happens when water is thrown on a grease fire? The water distributes the fuel so that the fire spreads. What happens when a person swings a blanket at a brush fire? The force of air scatters the embers, causing scores of little fires to ignite the fuel around them.
Similarly, young Saul attempts to extinguish the flames that appeared on Pentecost, but his actions worked against his intentions.
My parents, who are with us this morning, can attest that when I was 6, I made a similar mistake as to Saul. By that age I had figured out how matches work, but did not understand the nature of flammable fuel. As I recall we had just moved to a bigger home in Derby, KS. My parents were hosting a housewarming party and encouraged us children to play outside. We were playing under the Cedar trees in our backyard when I thought we should have our own “housewarming”. So I struck a match and dropped it on the cedar needles that had fallen under the trees. You can imagine what happened when that spark fell on that fuel. I don’t know what was warmer, the trees that ignited or my buttocks that received a significant “massage” to remind me that this was not an acceptable use of matches. The loving massage worked, I have not started an unintentional fire since!

Persecution couldn’t silence the Gospel

Saul became identified with the movement early on.
The persecution wasn’t ordinary persecution, it was great persecution.
V. 3 clearly describes the persecution as ravaging, it happened in their own houses, and included both men and women being dragged off from their homes and families.
I don’t deny for one moment that frivolous lawsuits are being filed that are unfriendly to our faith, but so far our country has been spared from the level of persecution described here around Jerusalem in the first century.
Luke is able to record this description because by the time he wrote the book of Acts (about 15 years after these events happened) the Gospel had NOT been extinguished; it had spread.

Scattering couldn’t silence the Gospel (v.1c)

1. The first century antagonists had not yet learned the law of containment.
I have a friend, Stephanie who fights forest fires. She is not a big Smokey Bear, as a matter of fact she has a build similar to Jenn Harshman. But Stephanie is fearless. Earlier this year she was sent to Alaska to fight forest fires. Her job was to clear fuel and set backfires because firefighters have learned that preventing the spread or scatter is often the fastest way to contain a disaster.
2. Similarly, Law Enforcement and urban planners have found that containment in certain districts or housing projects is the most effective way to reduce the spread of crime.
3. Saul and his buddies had not yet learned this lesson. They thought that diluting the concentration of believers would squash the Gospel message. It had the opposite effect.
4. Luke is able to record this description because the Gospel had NOT been contained; it had spread.

Prison couldn’t silence the Gospel (v.3c)

1. I have frequently been amazed at how persecution intensifies the spread of the Gospel. Outlawing the Gospel and imprisoning believers rarely works.
2. Much of our New Testament was written when Paul was imprisoned. Just as Jesus said it was to the disciples advantage that He go away [because his singular physical presence would be replaced by the personal indwelling of the Spirit in each believer]. Imprisoning Paul allowed him to write letters that got copied and distributed to more places than he could ever visit in one lifetime.
In 1993 I got the opportunity to travel to Russia shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a young preacher in my 20s I was impressed by the testimony of Lena. A woman in her late 80s who came to accept Christ while Christianity was against the law. She told how she and 2 others (because any larger group would rouse the suspicions of the Party) went to the river after dark. Her witness chopped a hole in the ice then she was baptized to profess the sincerity of her faith in her Savior and Lord.
3. Luke is able to record this description because the Gospel had NOT been silenced; it had spread.
Transition: As Saul accidentally spreads the Gospel, the next section of this chapter describes and intentional outreach to the North of Jerusalem.

Philip Spreads the Gospel to Samaria (8:4-25)

The Distribution of the Good News in this chapter included the names of places that are unfamiliar to most of us. The geography of the chapter looks like this. Within areas that Jesus had already been present and done miracles, after Pentecost the believers move North and make a big Southern loop.

Witnesses Scattered to Samaria

1. How can down be North? Down in elevation
2. Several points of trivia may come to mind when we hear Samaria.
a. The “good Samaritan” tells us that it was unexpected that a Samaritan would assist a Jew.
b. The “woman at the well” tells us that loose morality was a reality in that area.
c. The woman describes their religion as being similar but different from the Hebrews. They worshipped, but did it in a different place in a different way.
3. The attitude of Jesus’ followers toward Samaritans probably meant that they would not migrate there if they had any other option.
4. Yet Jesus challenged his disciples’ attitude towards Samaritans which I’m sure got passed to Philip in a manner that he was willing to go there.

Witness was supported by Signs (v.6-8)

Notice the order of events: Spoke first, followed by signs. Exorcisms and healings followed the preaching. People need forgiveness of sins before they need their “best life now”
This seems to be backwards of modern signs & wonders crusades. I’ve seen posters around the world that lead with the miracles then follow with the preaching of Jesus, and some times even includes a mention of the cross and empty tomb. We just noticed last week in the story of Stephen how much the crucifixion and resurrection was central to his message.

Simon was discipled by Peter & John (vv.9-25)

1. Simon (a local celebrity entertainer) believed and professed his faith by being baptized (13)
The Samaritans were guilty of an error that we still do today. Celebrities are put in the Christian spotlight before they have a chance to grow and mature.
2. Peter and John are sent to help the new believers become grounded in the teachings of Jesus.
3. Simon notices what he thinks may be a shortcut toward notoriety and tries to obtain is apart from prayer, the Word, and the maturing of the Spirit.
4. Peter and John (remembering Ananias 3 chapters earlier) instruct that there are no shortcuts to maturity.
5. This correction is received by Simon and he appears to repent and commits in v.24 to do it the right way.
Transition: When Peter and John are called back to Jerusalem, Philip is called out on another short-term mission trip. Remember the map earlier?

Philip Spreads the Gospel to the South (8:26-40)

The Gospel found in the Prophecy of Isaiah (vv.27-35)

1. Notice the frame of reference. Just as each of the Gospels has a unique way of referring to Jesus (Messiah, Son of Man, Son of God) because each is trying to emphasize something unique, Scripture often uses specific referents – e.g. The woman at the well is never named, or in many of Jesus’ universal parables he simply says “a certain man”. Here Luke calls out that he is from Ethiopia (Africa), He is a eunuch, and he is a dignitary serving Queen Candace. Candace was a title in this region similar to Queen Mother, such as Elizabeth who is currently being mourned.
2. There is nothing in this description that would make a 1st century Hebrew think “He can become my brother in faith”.
3. Since Eunuch is not a word we use in everyday language, allow me to clarify gently, a eunuch was a man who could be trusted implicitly with the King’s harem. Let me point you to MT 19:12 which states some are infertile by birth, some are celibate by choice, and some are surgically altered. If either the 1stor 3rd option pertained to this man, his condition would prevent him from ever participating in the assembly of the Lord (Dt 23:1). entering through the outer gate into the court of the Gentiles that surrounded the Temple. There was something about the Hebrew Scriptures that raises his curiosity, although He could never fully convert.
4. Philip masterfully starts exactly where the man is in his faith journey and leverages his question about prophecy into a Gospel conversation about Jesus (35).

The Gospel professed in a Pool of Water (vv.36-38)

1. Philip judges Sir Eunuch’s repentance to be genuine.
2. Down into implies affusion or immersion.
I specifically asked Jan to sing the Just as I am/I come Broken medley today because of these 3 verses.
3. You’ve probably heard that the early Olympic games were performed in the nude. Did you know that many baptisms were also done natural?
4. By entering the water in this way, the surgery which would have prohibited him from Temple life was on display to Philip and anyone who may have come down the road at that moment.
5. He went in broken and alienated. He came out restored and rejoicing in full fellowship with the Body of Christ.
6. We also must come to Jesus just as we are, admitting our sinful brokenness if we ever want to be restored to God.

The Gospel preached along the Coast (vv.39-40)

1. As they come out of the water The Spirit of the Lord who sent Philip to the Southern road, now carries him away to a location in what is today called the Gaza strip (40)
2. Rather than head home or camp out in Azotus, Philip heads north along the Mediterranean toward a city built by Herod the Great in honor of Caesar Augustus.
3. Fast forward to Acts 21 and we find Philip living in Caesarea with his 4 adult daughter.
4. If Philip was in Jerusalem and gets sent to Samaria it would have been a short trip toward his home in Ceasarea. The fact that he ever goes on the south road to Gaza is an out-of-the-way act of obedience.
5. It is true that the great commission in Matthew says that as you are going, you are to make disciples. But there are times when God calls us out of our way to participate in world evangelization. As we commit to Everyone, Everywhere, I am praying that the Lord would call some of us from Chase County to surrender to cross-cultural ministry.
Transition: As we travel back from 1st Century Israel to 21st century Chase County, there are 3 applications I want to make perfectly clear.


1. All Cultures (whether we go to them, or they come to us) need Jesus!
2. Never underestimate the power of the Gospel:
Saul assumed it could be persecuted away.
Samaritans found it superior to their cultural religion
A Political Pundit found it worthy of immediate obedience.
3. The Gospel is that all dead sinners can be brought to eternal life through God’s grace that was fully purchased by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Gospel was relevant for the pseudo religious Samaritans, and it is good news for your “good ol’ boy” friends.
The Gospel was relevant for a politically aligned African, and it is good news for your neighbors who find their identity in politics or race.
The Gospel was relevant for sailors, dockworkers, and fishermen along the coast, and it is good news for all classes of people today.
Our mission is to proclaim the Good News to everyone, everywhere, starting here and trust that God will use His Gospel to transform people from the inside out.

Song of Response #309.......... “Pass It On

Benediction: 1 Pt 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

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