Many years ago a television commercial featured a Mercedes Benz crashing into a cement wall during a safety test. Afterwards, an interviewer asked a company spokesman why Mercedes doesn’t enforce its patents on their unique, energy absorbing, safety design features in their cars. Evidently, these designs have been copied by other automobile manufacturers because of their effectiveness in saving lives. The Mercedes spokesman answered the interviewer this way: “Because some things are too important not to share.” That is a great tag-line for a church and it is a great motto for every individual Christian: Some things in life are too important not to share.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, today, God has entrusted you with a message that has saved your life, that has redeemed you from an eternity separated from God. It is not just the salvation of your physical life, but it is your whole person, for all of eternity, for ever and ever. God gave you that life-saving message not merely so that you could personally enjoy it, although that is a tremendous benefit, but also that you might share it with others, so that you would recognize that this is so important that it must be shared. The significance and the weight of this message makes it our responsibility to tell as many as we can in this life, as long as we have breath.
The weight of this message that the apostle Paul, for instance, to say (I Corinthians 9:16):
“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.”
We ask ourselves a very important question: “How much do I desire for others to know Jesus as Lord and as Savior?
If you are like many Christians, deep inside you really do want others to know Jesus Christ; you do want to be used of God to tell others about Jesus Christ, but that is where that desire remains – deep inside. You think about it and pray about it. Perhaps you feel guilty that you are not doing much in that regard, but all of this is deep inside and what we need is for that desire to break out into the open.
As we study Acts 8 we read of Philip the evangelist who encourages us so much in this regard of personal evangelism. It is not my design to add to your guilt in regard to your personal evangelism, though the Holy Spirit may convict you as we read His Word. God has chosen ordinary people, like you and me, to deliver an extraordinary, life-giving message about Jesus. This is very exciting and we are encouraged to read this passage and study it to become active.
We will discern four actions of God in the story regarding Philip and the Ethiopian. The first action is that God calls ordinary, plain people to proclaim Jesus. The second action of God is that God works ahead of us. The third action is that God reveals one Gospel message and it is a clear message. The fourth action is that God transforms lives through the Gospel.
Let us consider this first action: that God calls ordinary, plain people to proclaim Jesus. Evangelism always begins with God and it begins with His call upon us. We begin a little earlier in Acts 8 by noticing in Verse 4 a happening in the world. Persecution was growing and intensifying and it says:
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
We ask ourselves this question: “Who are those who have been scattered? Perhaps they are the apostles or the church leaders because they had stood up for Christ and now that they are scattered they continue to proclaim the Word because they are the leaders; they are the trained professionals.” What we find in this passage is something quite different. In fact, at the end of Verse on, it says,
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
I believe that God wants us to be very clear in our understanding that this call upon our lives to proclaim the Gospel, to proclaim Jesus, is not just upon the apostles or the church leaders, but it is upon all who are in the church. In fact, he does so by cautioning the apostles to stay in Jerusalem and all the rest of the plain, ordinary folk in the church to be scattered from persecution, and as they are scattered they are described as “preaching” or “proclaiming” the Gospel.
Few things are more harmful to the health of the church than the sharp distinction that is often made between the laity and clergy. No such divide exists in the Scripture. In fact, the Scripture teaches very plainly that each one of us, if we are redeemed and we are believers in Jesus Christ, is a part of “a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9). Have you ever introduced yourself by saying, “Hello, I am a priest.” Especially, some of the women should try that out and see what kind of response you get, “What? How is that?” “I am a priest in God’s church.” That is what the Bible says about you if you are a believer, if you are a child of God who has received God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Yes, God does instruct the church to have qualified elders who lead the church. We are not disputing that, that there shouldn’t be church leadership, but not in the sense of setting up a caste of men who do the work of while others in the church are more passive in the work; that they are given permission to be inactive. That is never God’s design. I don’t think there is anything more harmful in a church than when a church begins to perceive that that is the way things are – that God has certain men and certain women set aside to really do the work and everyone can sit back and be inactive, and appropriately so. That is not true. God says that all of His children are farmers sowing seeds, that all of us who are redeemed are to be soldiers, active in the battle; that all of us are athletes, that is to say, we are all participants in the race running to win the prize, as Scripture says.
Of course, God gifts each one of us differently, but do not miss the point of Acts 8. The point of Acts 8 is that the advance of the Gospel was carried on the backs of the common man and the common woman who had no professional title, no educational degree, and no special abilities. This is way that God worked in the beginning of the church and this is the way that God works in the church today. If the church is to be healthy and if the church is to be strong it is because that church understood the principles about who we are and what God has called us to do.
Paul writes, in I Corinthians,
26 …Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
Paul wants us to understand that, yes, we are plain, ordinary folk, but this is precisely who God chooses; that God delights to take the ordinary to do extraordinary things through us.
What made these ordinary and common men and women so effective in proclaiming Jesus? There are three qualities that are to be a part of the lives of ordinary people. First, these men and women were single minded. They were not diverted from their God-given call. They didn’t allow anything to distract them. They were completely consecrated. They were willing instruments.
We have to understand their situation: they were driven from their homes and they weren’t able to get a good selling price for their home because they had to leave so quickly. Their homes were taken away from them. Their jobs were taken away from them. They were driven away from their community and their friends. Wouldn’t it be easy for us to say in that situation, “Well, my situation is so overwhelming, how could God expect me to do anything in this condition?” And yet, that is not what they did. They did just the opposite. They considered that God was scattering them, He was planting them, in another place to do the mission work of the church of proclaiming the Gospel and they allowed their circumstances and the difficulty of their circumstances to cause them to become more single-minded and passionate about their purpose in life.
These, also, were men and women who knew Jesus and they loved Him deeply because He first loved them and they were passionate about Him. They knew that hard times had come but that their God loved them and He had a purpose, and that purpose was to exalt Jesus Christ in their lives and through their difficulties. It is impossible for us to tell others about a person that we don’t know and we don’t love and these were ordinary people who simply loved Jesus.
The third quality about these ordinary men and women that made them so effective is that they kept in contact with unsaved world. They refused to cluster and they refused to become isolated. They refused to protect themselves. Remember that they were scattered because of persecution. If you were scattered because an unbelieving world said, “We don’t like you. We don’t like your faith and we don’t like your allegiance to Jesus Christ,” when you got scattered and you were setting up shop in your new community, what would be the temptation you would face? Would it be to say, “We went through this once? We really don’t want to go through it again. Let’s be a little bit more wise and let’s be a little bit more careful. We don’t have to get out there and share this message with the same zeal we had when we were in Jerusalem.” Wouldn’t that be a temptation for you? It certainly would be for me.
What we find here is just the opposite. During times of persecution, it is easy to think, “Let’s stay to ourselves and not talk to strangers. Let’s do business when we have to but let’s circle the wagons because this is a hostile world and we need to protect our children. We don’t want our children to be assaulted so let’s just circle the wagons and build a community to ourselves.”
That is not what they did. They recognized that God had placed them there to be in proper contact with the outside world and that is precisely what they did. Even as they were scattered they began to come in contact with and talk with unbelievers who often didn’t like them and didn’t like their message, but none-the-less, they used this terrible trial as an opportunity for a greater witness.
God loves to use weak vessels. He loves to use ordinary people. If it is our goal to be used by God as a witness for Jesus Christ, understand that we must be in contact with those who don’t believe. Let’s consider this, “If I am not in contact with unbelievers what is my potential for witness? My potential for witness, statistically, is “zero”! It is 0.000 percent. If we have no relationship with people who don’t know Jesus Christ as Savior then we won’t be able to share with anybody about Jesus Christ and what He has done.
So, these single-minded men and women who loved Jesus Christ committed themselves to staying in contact with the lost world. God loves to use ordinary, plain vessels to bring the extraordinary message of life in His Son to this world. I wonder, as those of you who are redeemed, is God using you? It is not my purpose to bring about guilt and shame, but I think it is important to ask ourselves the question: “When was the last time I confessed Jesus Christ before my unbelieving neighbors, friends, and relatives? When was the last time I told someone about Jesus?” If it has been a long time, confess that sin and recognize that it is sin; that we are not living up to the purpose for which God redeemed us. Some who have strong theological minds react to that statement and protest, “Our purpose is not evangelism. Our purpose is to bring glory to God,” and that is exactly right, but we cannot glorify God in this life if we are not telling the Gospel. Those two things are inextricably linked together, so we remember that God calls ordinary people to deliver this extraordinary message.
The second action is that God works ahead of us, that is, that God is acting to bring people to Himself before we ever open our mouths. Salvation, the Scripture teaches, is all of God and all of His Grace, but God does use people in that process, but God is at work. That is such an encouragement as we consider evangelism. It is not about our own ability to persuade, but it is the fact that God is at work, as we see in Verse 26:
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Notice that there is a change in the form of evangelism. Philip has been involved in mass evangelism. He has been involved in “stadium evangelism”, preaching to large crowds of people, but now he is going to be involved in personal evangelism. It helps us to understand that God is not only interested in the large crowd, but He is also very interested in the individual. True, God so loved the world, but it is also true that God so loved the Ethiopian eunuch. God so loves you that He has you in mind when He delivers and reveals this Gospel message. God so loves the individual.
Philip is told to go to this “desert road” and we discover the purpose for that later. It is to go to talk to this individual. Do you know how much God loves you? He loves you and He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, but He also loves you to see to it that you hear the Gospel. That is how much He loves as an individual. That is amazing, isn’t it?
This is really an unusual command as I think about it: an angel says, “Go…to…the desert road…”. It is unusual in both its timing and in its geography. The timing is strange because Philip is leading a revival at the time this command comes. People are coming to the Lord and they are “streaming down the aisles”, in modern terminology. I don’t believe that Philip had an alter call, but people are responding to the Gospel message and they are doing so in amazing numbers. Let’s look at that in Verse 8 and Verse 12,
8 So there was great joy in that city.
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Tremendous results were taking place and in this revival, Philip is the chief evangelist and team leader. He is the guy that most would have perceived, at the moment, as the most indispensable person – the one they can’t afford to loose. But, the timing was strange: “Go to this desert road.”
I can understand if God would have sent His angel to Philip and said, “Philip, go to Rome. You are doing so wonderfully here in Samaria, this little, tiny place, fairly insignificant on the world’s scope, but I want you to go to the capital city of the Empire. Go to Rome and preach the Gospel.” He didn’t say that, but what did He say? He said, “Go to the desert road.”
What is on that road? There are some scruffy plants and a few lizards, some rocks, dust, and sand. Isn’t this strange to you that God would ask Philip to leave an energetic, effective revival in a city to go to a desert road? How many people do you meet on a desert road today? Would it be one or two? Not many, in fact, we are told of only one that Philip does meet.
We are not told that Philip objected to God’s call. I don’t think that he did, but I think I might have. I might have said, “Lord, how about sending Reuben or Raphael? I think that they are ready. This work is really something and I don’t think it is wise for me to leave right now.” Or, perhaps, I would have objected to the timing and said, “Lord, how about giving me three weeks so that I can train some of the others and they will be able to take over where I left off? The timing isn’t good right now, Lord.” Perhaps, I would have said, “Lord, in a desert? What do you want me to do in a desert?” Lastly, I may have asked, “Why?” Philip didn’t do that because Philip understood something about God that we often forget. He knew that God knows what He is doing; that God is sovereign in His workings, that God’s ways are not our ways, that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. In fact, the Scriptures would say (Isaiah 55:9):
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts that your thoughts.”
Philip understood that he could trust God and as a result of that he obeyed God: “Okay, God, it doesn’t make sense to my way of thinking, but that is okay.” I wonder, is this ever hard for you, when God’s Spirit directs you in a way that you don’t understand, perhaps through a circumstance, or perhaps through this way of some specific leading that God has provided an offer to you? Is it ever hard for you to say, “Okay, God, I will obey even though I don’t understand.” I know it is hard for me. whenever we have to make a choice between our own way of thinking and what clearly says in His Word through the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, let us remember that for us who are redeemed there is no option for us, not if we desire God’s blessing.
We continue the story in Verse 27:
So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship…
You can’t help but think, as you read the story, that just as Philip arrives, he meets this Ethiopian eunuch, an important official from North Africa, you can’t help but think, “What a lucky break! Of all the things to be able to meet up with, you happen to meet up with a guy who has just been to Jerusalem to worship God, who had his Bible open, and who was reading and wondering about the things of God.”
We don’t think that. There are no “accidents” in the life of a Christian. God is sovereign. God always works ahead of us. How do we see this in the story? There are a number of ways and the first is location, location, location. What is the likelihood of Philip leaving to get on this desert road and happening at the same time to cross paths with this guy? What is the likelihood of that? It is almost zero except that God had ordained for Philip to come along at the exact time this Ethiopian eunuch was going along this road.
Furthermore, this Ethiopian was not just anybody, he was an important official, but he was a God-fearing man, a man and as he was traveling along, what was he reading? He wasn’t reading the latest Jerusalem Times, but he was reading a copy of the Scriptures. Remember he was from North Africa. How does a guy from North Africa get a copy of God’s Word? It is because he desired to know God and he had heard about the God of Israel. He went to Jerusalem and there he obtained a copy of God’s Word.
What was he reading? I suppose that if Philip could have come up to the Ethiopian eunuch and said, “I see a scroll there. Why don’t you turn to…” and given him some passage from the Old Testament the Philip could not have chosen a more appropriate, a more clear passage in all of the Old Testament Scriptures than Isaiah 53; the passage that this man happened to be reading at the exact time that Philip happened to come along to see him, because it is this passage, this section of Scripture, that is the most clear with regards to the Messiah and the meaning of His death and the meaning of His atonement. Do you see how God works ahead of us? Do you understand that? We are not working alone having to pry open doors, but God is working ahead of us and working in the details of other’s lives.
This Ethiopian is part of a rich 1,000 year history of interaction between the Jews and this region of North Africa. While, today, modern Ethiopia is a part of that section, in the Bible times that section was much larger and was a huge area south of Egypt in North Africa. It is the same area that the Queen of Sheba came from when she went to visit Solomon. We don’t know how this Ethiopian became interested in Yahweh, but he did. He traveled to Jerusalem to learn more, but instead of having his spiritual thirst satisfied by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, what happened? He went away dry. He went away still parched because he recognized that those leading, the religious body in Jerusalem, had no true answers. They were so consumed with legalism and hypocrisy and the desire for material gains and temporal advancement there was nothing there, and he left Jerusalem still with questions, still with his heart unsatisfied.
I wonder how often that happens today when people go to church, because there is something in their soul that is stirring and they are hoping, “Maybe there, I know there has to be something there.” So, they go “there” in hopes that there is something “there” that might address the questions and the thirst that they find within their soul that God has initiated and created. How often do people go to church and still come away thirsty because they haven’t found it. They have not heard the Word of God proclaimed I the pulpit or in the Sunday school class. They haven’t found among the people a genuine and vibrant spirituality; a vibrant relationship with the living God. They haven’t found anyone at the church to talk with them about it.
That was the eunuch’s sad condition. He went to church. He went to Jerusalem. Do you know how far he had to travel to get to church? He had to go from North Africa clear up to Jerusalem because it was the only place he knew of that perhaps had the Truth and that had the Gospel. Yet, he would go out of his way and spending, we don’t know how long he spent there, sometime undoubtedly searching and talking, he went away and there was nothing there. Except he found a copy of the Scripture and he knew that while there was a spiritual deadness around the leadership among the people in Jerusalem, there was something about this “book” that was living. He was reading it and wondering what these things could mean: “What is this all about? I know that there is something here.”
The first point that I wish to make is that God always of His human instruments. God delights in opening doors for us.
Christians, in times gone by, used to talk about “Divine Appointments”. We don’t hear that term very often anymore. It is sad because I believe it reveals a loss of a sense of the sovereignty of God and the passion behind evangelism. What is a “Divine Appointment”. A divine appointment is a meeting between a believer, one who is redeemed by Jesus Christ, and an unbeliever that, on the surface, seems very coincidental, but in reality is ordained by God in to provide that believer with an opportunity to share the glorious Gospel of Grace. Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian was clearly a Divine Appointment. Do you think God works in this way for you? If you are one of God’s children, I can tell you that He does. How often do you recognize these Divine Appointments that God has made for you life? It may be that person seated next to on the plane. It may be the waitress who serves you at the restaurant. It might be the neighbor who moves next to you. It might be the salesman that calls on you and irritates you a little bit that they would be so intrusive. It might be the physician or the nurse who comes to your aid or of that family member. There are hundreds of possibilities, but understand that God is in the business of opening hearts and that He is absolutely sovereign over the details of this life and that He is already working behind the scenes. It is not as though, “If I share the Gospel this is the first time that they have ever thought about these things.” No, we can know and understand that when God creates Divine Appointments, He is already at work behind the scenes.
It is important to notice that Philip didn’t know that the Ethiopian eunuch had a Bible in his hands or that he was reading Isaiah 53, until after he obeyed. If God would have told him ahead of time, “Go to this desert and you are going to meet this Ethiopian eunuch, and he is going to have a Bible in his hands and he is going to be reading Isaiah 53,” bing, “Then I will go because that makes sense to me.” All God said was, “Go to this desert road.” That doesn’t make sense. It was only after Philip obeyed that he understood the sovereign design of God and isn’t this true of us in our personal evangelism?
If we knew that relative happened to be picking up that book, or listening to that sermon, or seeing something on television that caused us, and caused them, to become spiritually interested and say; “Of course, I will go and talk with them.” But, we don’t know the workings of God most of the time until after we step out in that uncomfortable position and simply obey and say, “Yes, Lord, I will talk to that person.”
It is encouraging to know that we don’t have to make person believe that God is working on ahead of us. Won’t you join me in praying in your lives, on a consistent basis, “Lord, please provide Divine Appointments for me and please provide me with the courage to speak boldly when those Divine Appointments come to me.” I believe that you life will be changed with great joy if we would only begin to pray that way and seek out God and be used by Him. Won’t you do that?
Let’s look at Verses 29 and 30.
29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
Personal evangelism must be Spirit directed or we will make a mess of things. Once it is spirit directed, notice the intensity of the obedience; Philip ran up. He enthusiastically obeyed the Holy Spirit. If this chariot were going by me, and God said, “Go, go and talk to that guy,” it would be so easy for me to say, “That chariot is going really fast. I would look undignified running up along side of it.” Can you imaging Philip, as the chariot rolls past, and God tells him to go, running behind the dust of that chariot to catch up to that chariot in order to talk with that Ethiopian eunuch and as he is walking along, saying, “I see you are reading the Bible.” (huff, huff) “Do you understand what it says?” (huff, huff) This is not an easy task but there is Philip, with zeal and boldness, willing to look the fool. If we are going to be involved with personal evangelism, brothers and sisters, we have to throw away the pride and be willing to look the fool, but if we are, we will see amazing things that God does.
The third action is that God reveals one Gospel message and He reveals that message very clearly. I want you to notice as we go through this chapter, and we can study this Truth all through the Book of Acts and the rest of the Scripture, what it says in Verse 4:
Those who had been scattered preached the word…
There was the Word. There was something that they preached. It wasn’t any message that God laid on their heart; they preached the Word that God had given, as in Verse 12,
…when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ…
There was one message that he proclaimed. Look at Verse 14,
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God…
In Verse 35, we read,
Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
There was no doctrine of pluralism in the 1st Century church of Jesus Christ. It did not exist. There was no sense of: “They believe what they believe and we believe what we believe and that is okay.”
Notice that Philip first spoke to Samaritans. As we study Samaritan history, we realize that they were an offshoot of Judaism and they had twisted much of the Old Testament Scripture. They had established their own place of worship in Samaria and they had become a mixture. They only accepted the first five books of the Old Testament as being from God, so they had some principles of Judaism and some principles of paganism all mixed in their religion. Philip could have said, “They already have a faith.” No, he preached the Word and he told them about Jesus.
Now, we go even further away from Jerusalem and we go to North Africa and we see this Ethiopian who had all sorts of religious ideas presented to his culture, and it certainly would have been easy for Philip to say, “He already has a religion. Who are we? We are so ethnocentric. We have to become more multicultural and accepting what this Ethiopian already believes.” That is not what Philip said. He proclaimed Jesus to the Ethiopian because he knew that whether he lived in Jerusalem, or Samaria, or Ethiopia, or China, or South America, or wherever we live, we need Jesus in order to be forgiven of our sins and have a home in heaven.
Furthermore, Philip didn’t alter the message in order to fit the culture. He didn’t say, “We will still preach Jesus, but we will preach this Jesus in Jerusalem, and this Jesus in Samaria, and this Jesus to the Ethiopian.” It is all the same message. It is all the same Word of God. It is all the same Jesus. This where the evangelical church needs to return.
I was reading, in preparation for this message, a sermon from Charles Spurgeon, preached on September 16, 1888; a sermon preached about Acts 8 and the first part of this chapter. Listen to what he said in 1888:
“We do not find that they even said the Gospel is ours. Evidently not in accord with the spirit of the age, the scribes and pharisees all different from us, and we must endeavour to win them by altering our tone. They do not dream of cutting off the angles of the Truth, nor of inserting pleasant fragments of popular thoughts to please the powers that be, but they set forth the Word in its pure simplicity and the cross of Christ which is an offense to so many. They never said, ‘The Old Gospel did very will when Jesus was here, but you see He is gone and the circumstances alter cases and alter gospels and we had better adapt our teaching to the period.’ They did not do so because they feared the Lord. They did not endeavour to mend the Gospel, but they went everywhere proclaiming it. They preached the Word as they received it. They set forth the Kingdom as their King had revealed it, ah, dear friends, if you are true to the Lord Jesus Christ, you have to spread the Gospel somehow and it must be the old, old Gospel.”
Charles Spurgeon, in 1888, was dealing with the very same things that we deal with today, thinking that somehow we have to alter the message because times have changed and people have changed, and if we don’t we will somehow miss out on winning them. It is not the first church, it is not the Gospel, and it is not what God commends to us.
Does this mean we stand up on the lunch table and fire away about the “wrath of God” and the “lake of fire”? No, it doesn’t mean that. Notice that Philip ran up to the chariot and he asked him a question, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He begins with a question and in personal evangelism I have found questions to help me know if God is opening a door or not. There are thousands of good questions and you might think up much better ones than I have thought up. Most of the one’s that I use, other people thought up and I have copied them and I even commend that practice to you if it helps you as it has helped me.
In Evangelism Explosion, the ministry that we have that helps train members of Bethany to share the Gospel, there are a couple of questions that are encouraged to be asked. One question is, “If you were to stand before God and He were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you in to my Heaven,” what would you say?” That is a great question. Think about those questions and memorize them and ask somebody. Someone might say, “I really don’t want to talk about that.” That is fine, but they say, “That is an interesting question. I have been thinking about this a lot.” Until you ask the question, you don’t know.
Until Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading,” he wouldn’t have known whether the Ethiopian was some critic of the Scripture and wanted to blast away and that is why he was reading it, or whether there was a genuine spiritual interest.
One question that I have used is the past is: “What church do you go to?” “Well, I go to a Baptist church, or a Lutheran church, or a Catholic church.” “That is interesting. Tell me, how is it that a Baptist gets to heaven, or tell me what does your church teach about how a Catholic gets to heaven or how a Lutheran gets to heaven. Tell me what you believe about that.”
Another question I have asked is, “Tell me, how good does a person have to be in order to be good enough to get into heaven? What do you think about that? Are you confident that you meet that qualification?”
One question that a friend of mine taught me to ask at the end of those is, “If you would be wrong about that important issue, would you want someone to tell you?” If they say, “No, I don’t want anyone to tell me I am wrong,” I know that the door is closed. If they say, “Yes, I would want someone to tell me if I am wrong,” there is an open door, isn’t there?
Personal evangelism is not sharing the old, Old Gospel. It doesn’t mean that we are rude, but it means when we come to the content of the message we don’t alter it in order to make it more appealing.
Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
We read in Verse 31,
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture…
Let’s turn to Isaiah 53 to read what the Ethiopian eunuch had read already:
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
There are two halves to this message. Basically it is preaching Jesus to them, but there are two halves that this passage and others reveal. It reveals who Jesus is, what He has done, and why we need Him. The first half is found in the phrase, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray.” Undoubtedly, it told the Ethiopian eunuch that as an upstanding and moral and respectable man as he was, he too had gone astray from God; that he was guilty before God because of his sin, and that he could never gain acceptance by God on the basis of human merit. The Messiah had not come to save him because he was so good, but the Messiah had come to save him because he was so sinful and he could never merit on his forgiveness and salvation.
Furthermore, this passage tells us that the way that God saves is through a Messiah who comes and has the sins of the world laid upon Him; that upon Him the iniquity of us all was laid. We cannot bear our own sin. It is too heavy for us. If we try to bear our own sin into eternity we would sink to the bottom of the Lake of Fire like one who is trying to swim the ocean with a millstone tied around their neck. It is too heavy of a weight for us to bear, but thank God that He provided someone who is strong enough to bear it for us; that “someone” is the Messiah. As the Messiah bears it we know that our sin cannot be two places at the same time, so if our sin is laid upon Christ it is no longer laid upon us. Praise God that we are free. If you wish for the Messiah to provide forgiveness and salvation for you, you must repent of your sin and you must believe in Jesus Christ. This is what Philip taught him. This is what Philip laid out for this dear man and he took him through the Scriptures and he began to show him these things.
The last action that I wish to express to you is that God transforms lives through this Gospel. Look at Verse 38:
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”
He confessed that he had believed in Jesus Christ and that he had trusted in Him and that he had been like one of the sheep who had gone astray and he recognized that Jesus Christ had one of his sins laid upon Him and now he was coming to God on the basis of a free gift; to drink the water of life without cost and that he needed Jesus Christ as his Savior. Now that he was proclaiming Him, he didn’t want to keep it a secret. He wanted to publically announce to anyone who would listen that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. He had been forgiven, redeemed, and saved and born again, and after being baptized he went away rejoicing.
This is what the Gospel of God does. It brings joy to the heart of everyone who receives it.
Do you remember that Mercedes Benz commercial? Beloved, there are some things that are too important not to share, and supreme among all those things is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
How did God reach this Ethiopian? He did it first, through His sovereign work, but also through His use of a human instrument. I urge you, as you are involved with this Gospel message to consider your application, “What am I going to do with this?” I urge you to prepare yourselves, first, in your mind. Take some training. Read the Gospel. Make sure you are ready to give an answer. Prepare yourself in your mind, but even more important than that, in your heart so that you can say, “I am fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. If He asks me to talk to someone, I am going to do it. I am prepared in my heart for this.”
I urge you to apply this message by praying to God for Him to work. Evangelism is always a spiritual work. Pray for God to work inside of you and through you; that you would follow Him.
I urge you to apply this message by following the Holy Spirit, by being ready in season and out of season to listen to God’s Spirit’s direction and I urge you to apply this message by beginning now. Don’t wait. Get training but don’t wait for training. Begin to talk about Jesus and what you know of Him. If all you know of Jesus is this: I know that I was a sinner and I know that Jesus died for me and I know that because Jesus died for me I am free. Say that and you will be amazed what God does through the power of the Gospel.
Let’s pray and ask God to use each one of us.