Acts 8 26 ff The 'how to' of Intentional Evangelism

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Here are the slides that go with the sermon video on our Grace Online YouTube channel. Please feel free to use them!

Here are the slides that go with the sermon video on our Grace Online YouTube channel. Please feel free to use them!

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  • Personal evangelismBig crowd success in the city hadn’t left him too proud to make a trip for one man … so long as that’s quite where God’s actually leading him.Actually, when you think of it … he had NO IDEA what he was going to d or with whom, but he knew as much as he needed to until he needed to know more.This was another adventure in a life lived by faith, in which by definition you don’t get to see far beyond your next step, and you don’t really get to see as far as that until that next step gets made.
  • Last time we looked pretty much at the imperative of intentional evangelism … the ‘do this’ of the matter and some of the ‘why?’But one of the weaknesses of that was that it left us still facing questions of ‘how?’I have to admit I’ve seen so many books and heard so many talks on this sort of question that are absolutely ADAMANT you must ‘do it’ like this, but that are NOT Biblically rooted, that I feel a great sense of reluctance about ‘how to’ sermons.I feel a great reluctance about them because the real Biblical answer on the ‘how to’ of intentional evangelism lays bare the fact that it springs from your walking with God and exercising the personal character … the personality … that your walk with God develops.There are regular, common features for ALL of us (as we saw last time) but frankly so much of it is all about communicating the truth of God through the personality He develops in you as you walk with Him.And that’s evident in Phillip’s experiences as we look at them today.Somebody thanked me last time for the ‘why?’ the question of ‘how?’ You might think my response was unhelpful.I think I said something like: ‘it’s all a matter of doing what you do.’And I gave two safe examples from long ago and the street team when we were heavily involved in the OICCU … our student Christian Union.{Bagpiper}{Quiet little girl newly converted}So the key to what we learn from Phillip today is not Four Spiritual Laws … but it’s this …
  • Phillip was constantly available to God.If we’re going to grow useful and effective intentional evangelism as a feature of our spiritual life, then the first foundational requirement we’ve really got to walk with our God.Live by His grace.Live daily by faith.Live in restored fellowship with God because of Christ and His Cross.Functionally following Jesus.And that means one SHED load of praying.A life of intentional evangelism is by NO means an alternative to a life of prayer, chosen because YOU are a go-getter and prayer is too passive a pass time for you.That’s a travesty, a nonsense … a complete failure of Biblical understanding.For a follower of Jesus in those early days, being a Christian didn’t mean just having responded in a big meeting, gone to the front, prayed the prayer, believed the basic points of doctrine you were told to, and changed where you hang out on Sunday mornings.Think of following Jesus in those early Galilean days, living and ministering on the road.Following Jesus meant actively looking for where Jesus was going or was sending you and determinedly, diligently chasing after that.(What IS prayer but that?!)So Phillip saw discipleship as fellowshipping with God, looking for God’s ways and walking in them, sacrificially, deliberately, personally … firstly in generalities, then in specifics.And if we’re to see intentional evangelism as a fundamental aspect of following the Jesus Who Himself deliberately evangelised, then we need to be daily seeking the will of God for us in that time and place and seizing upon doing it immediately and deliberately … first in the generalities that put us in the way of usefulness and then in the specifics that get us into conversation with the people that God is ALREADY AT WORK IN, to bring them to Himself.A huge lot of praying is involved.
  • So, we looked last time at the imperative … we really ought to be getting stuck into intentional evangelism – this is the response of the early, apostolic age to the tension it fell into when up against the current evil age.Not politics, but intentional evangelism was the Biblical response to getting put under pressure for following Jesus in a hostile and godless world.But now we’re answering that next question: ‘How (on EARTH) am I to do that?’And the most fundamental, basic, primary response to that question is found here … being available to God - first in the vaguaries and then the specifics.God asked Phillip to leave the thriving new church in that Samaritan city where there were PLENTY of pagans to evangelise and still lots of good stuff to do, with a growing thriving church to support him and sort out his pension plan.To go FROM there and go down to ... The desert roadAmongst the Philistines (a step much further on than even the Samaritans)So he wentThere’s a tremendous integrity here.Being a Christian is essentially and primarily being a disciple or (in English) a FOLLOWER of Jesus.And that means being committed to listening out for His leading.‘So he started out …’Now come with me in your mind’s eye to Monday in Llandeilo when there’s a long list of things to do and as you’re about to go home it’s as if the Lord MIGHT be saying ‘you really need to call at the Co-op’.The difficulty with this – it seems to me – is it’s almost always as if that’s what the Lord MIGHT be saying.If it were written on the sky it would be easy, there’d be no problem, no doubt, and then we wouldn’t be living by placing justifying faith in Him.This really isn’t for lightweights.This is THE fundamental issue when it comes to being intentional about our evangelism …It flows out of following Jesus … which is not a vague ephemeral thing, nor a matter of believing the right truths (although we should), nor using the right words and keeping certain company.It flows out of actually listening for His voice and going where He leads.On weekdays as well as Sundays … in fact, particularly then.That’s what living as a follower of Jesus does with you!Phillip takes the risk, goes to the irrational place and to the most unpromising people.He does that against a life lived by mere ‘reason’.He des it because the angel of the Lord says so.Incidentally, here in the general geographical instruction it is the angel of the Lord who conveys God’s message … in very OT terms.In the next specific instruction it is the Spirit of the Lord Who speaks out … the NT way.OK – so having been willing to trust the Lord and ACT on it in general terms, the Spirit now comes to Phillip in the unlikely desert place and says …
  • Now, this is where the pressure starts to come on.The chariot is a lumbering chariot or ox cart … he’s not Ben-Hur!He’s a foreign official.He’s an important man.He is a chamberlain, the money man, for Candace the Queen of Ethiopia.Let’s just unpack that …‘Ethiopia’ then was what we call Sudan now ….This guy was a very black African … visibly really very differentHe was a eunuch … as such high officials regularly were … but even for the Hellenised Jew we find Phillip was, this meant the man (however interested in Judaism) would be an outcast from the Jews and would NOT be allowed to convert to Judaism.(Deut. 23:1 forbade such people entry to the Temple … has he been all that way from Sudan via Egypt to the Jerusalem Temple seeking God, only to find that he’s been turned away?)However, Isaiah 56:3-8 offered such people a much brighter future, and that day dawns with Phillip in Acts 8.He was the high official NOT of a Queen called ‘Candace’, but of the Kandake of Ethiopia, the Queen Mother.Apparently princes fathers weren’t named because they were supposed to be children of the Sun god, and at this time (her son being a minor) the Kandake was regent in Ethiopia.Why on earth would such a person be remotely approachable? But God is preparing a way -in for Peter with the Gospel.
  • So Phillip ran up to the alien eunuch’s chariot, and immediately ran into a situation to adapt himself to.If you think intentional evangelism means getting others to be like you rather than you adapting yourself to them in order to serve them in the Gospel, you’re not an evangelist bit a cultural imperialist … and we’ve already got plenty of those out there, thank you.Phillip ran up to the lumbering ox cart, and to his enormous surprise the big black guy who’d been thrown out of the Temple was sat there reading the prophet Isaiah, out loud … in a high voice.
  • And Phillip dropped into character as a chatty man.Well really, what did you expect?What had Phillip’s role been in the church at Jerusalem?And didn’t that deaconing, personal contact with and intervention to relieve the plight of the poor and the widows, didn’t that require that he should grow into being an approachable, friendly, caring and thoroughly chatty man?
  • So as he walks down that road and as he approaches this high official’s conveyance, he’s already got a Christian life full of growing into a chatty man to call on.If you are not chatting to people, you simply can’t chat to them about Jesus!(Safety issues, cultural variations in how we do it … but the principle always still holds).Phillip’s going along people watching, head up, looking for contact and interaction.
  • The art of asking good open questions, where you DON’T ask a question so only one answer can be ‘correct’, where you show interest in people by asking them about what THEY know or think … it’s all crucial to getting people to process and interact with God’s truth.People don’t come to Christ by having you dump truth on their feet … but by hearing, considering, reflecting and interacting with the truth that will bring them to Go as it addresses their issues and proves relevant and authentic as it deals with their needs.
  • Phillip has cultivated the art of being available, affable and therefore INVITABLE.We do tend to think that faithfulness to God has to involve being separate from social interaction, parties and friendliness.You don’t HAVE to be ANGULAR to be EVANGELICAL!You have to be conditioned by grace as well as seasoned with salt … a palatable, acceptable sort of person … but notice here please, Phillip was able to turn sensitivity, affability and an opinion seeking questioning spirit very quickly to Biblical exposition!
  • Now … all that warm personal interaction is critical, crucial stuff …But it serves the purpose of building relationships where EXPLAINING THE BIBLE can take place.Phillip has been open, chatty, interested and affable but his question has turned the topic to what on earth Isaiah 53 is about.So Phillip STARTS there, but whilst Isaiah 53 deals with SOME essential truths about Jesus it gets written around the seventh or eighth century BC, and there’s a whole lot of stuff that gets left out.So Phillip moves on through the Scriptures to illustrate the whole truth about the Jesus Isaiah 53 was pointing to.Notice that he teaches not just the history or the narrative of Jesus the Christ …Phillip presents the commands of the Gospel with it all.After all, Jesus’s ministry starts off with His call to repent and believe the Gospel, to leave the boats (or the tax collector’s booth, or whatever) and FOLLOW Him.Repentance and Baptism are an integral part of the message …But it doesn’t stop there.Phillip is not just a deal describer, he’s a deal CLINCHER.When we go into schools we’re allowed to say ‘Christians believe that …’Phillip goes way beyond that in the direction we need to travel … he’s taught the Ethiopian what Jesus said and did, but he goes on to get the implications of that realised in the experience of this high official …
  • Phillip is prepared to follow right through and clinch the deal with a person who already seems ready for that …How has Phillip got here?
  • Phillip has only got here from Isaiah 53 because he teaches them the Christ from all of the Scriptures!Has he learned that in the city of Samaria since Peter and John came down there with the full story and saw immense Kingdom of God breakthroughs and change?We don’t know.But look at v. 35 … “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
  • All too often we lack the ‘follow through’ that calls for repentance and faith an public confession of a new life that’s begun … following Jesus.
  • Phillip is away again back up northwards towards the place he made home in Caesarea, praying and preaching as he goes, and the next time we hear of him in Acts 21 he is settled in that city with fine believing daughters who prophesy and have grown up in a consistent, Christ sharing, Christian home.
  • Now I guess if you’ve read a few books – as I have – about the ‘how to’ of personal evangelism, you probably haven’t been reading much of that?Well what we need to know is all here in the Bible!Let me ask you to summarise it for me …And all of it springs from the life of the Gospel, from following Jesus, praying, befriending, explaining Bible and calling to faith.It’s really just as simple as that!

Transcript

  • 1. Welcome to Grace!“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
  • 2. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction
  • 3. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Gosouth to the road—the desert road—that goesdown from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he startedout …”
  • 4. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30
  • 5. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30 – Generalities, v. 27 “the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out …”
  • 6. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30 – Generalities, v. 27 – Specifics, v. 29“The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot andstay near it.”30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot …”
  • 7. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30 – Generalities, v. 27 – Specifics, v. 29 – Sensitivity, v. 30“The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man readingIsaiah the prophet …”
  • 8. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31“heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do youunderstand what you are reading?” Philip asked.31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” Sohe invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”
  • 9. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31 – Eyes & ears open
  • 10. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31 – Eyes & ears open – Asks open, relevant question
  • 11. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31 – Eyes & ears open – Asks open, relevant question – Was INVITABLE
  • 12. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31 – Eyes & ears open – Asks open, relevant question – Was INVITABLE – Turns open question to Biblical explanation
  • 13. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31• Phillip Deacon – deal clincher, vv. 36-38“As they travelled along the road, they came tosome water and the eunuch said, “Look, here iswater. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Thenboth Philip and the eunuch went down into thewater and Philip baptized him.”
  • 14. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31• Phillip Deacon – deal clincher, vv. 36-38 – Taught the need for decision “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
  • 15. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31• Phillip Deacon – deal clincher, vv. 36-38 – Taught the need for decision – Goes for it “As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”
  • 16. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31• Phillip Deacon – deal clincher, vv. 36-38 – Taught the need for decision – Goes for it – Goes away “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”
  • 17. Acts 8:26-40• Introduction• Available to God, vv. 26-27 & 29-30• Phillip Deacon – chatty man, vv. 30b-31• Phillip Deacon – deal clincher, vv. 36-38• Conclusion