There are many wonderful accounts of evangelism in the book of Acts, but one of my personal favorites is the story of Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian official (Acts 8:26-40).
There is lots of material here for a number of different Bible studies, but I want to concentrate on just a few items in the story as they relate to evangelism. I don’t know how you feel about evangelism, but this appears to be one thing that many Christians talk about, but that is practiced by few.
It is interesting to note that this chapter deals with some “un-planned” evangelistic activities of the early church. After all, at the end of chapter 7 Stephen is stoned to death, an act that ushered in a time of great persecution (8:1), led by Saul who began to destroy the church (8:3). However, the people who were thus scattered throughout Judea and Samaria did not hide (8:4).faith, but instead “preached the word wherever they went.”
Now, another thing we would do well to notice, is the manner in which this evangelism took place:
“Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowd heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.” (8:5-6).
It is my personal belief – based on numerous Scriptures – and supported by what is happening in churches throughout the world, that we will again see such powerful actions of the Holy Spirit. If you are familiar with church history you know that such occurrences have never completely disappeared. (A great book on this subject is “When The Spirit Comes With Power”, by John White). However, it appears that today we are already seeing a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, together with a greater awareness among Christians of his Gifts.
At the same time, we are starting to see – especially in our country, but also throughout Western Europe, South America. China, and the Middle East, a rather quick shift toward an anti-Christian attitude. Could it be that the start of the current outpouring of the Spirit is in anticipation of what the Church will soon be facing?
A GREAT REVIVAL
With this outpouring of the Spirit throughout the church many exciting things are taking place. In Western European countries, such as England, Holland, Belgium and Germany there is a powerful revival among young people. Thousands of teenagers, students and young professionals are turning to the Lord, while those who already knew Jesus have become increasingly bold in the way their witnessing. Some of the Praise and Worship meetings are so large that even the secular media reports on it.
Similar revivals are occurring throughout Eastern Europe, Asia, South Africa and South America, and there are indications that
we in the United States of America will also soon see a great harvest of new souls.
It is very important that we as Christians are prepared to take part in this revival. We can not “create” a revival, for that is the work of the Holy Spirit, but our responsibility is to be prepared for the harvest. This is where Philip’s encounter with can be of help to us:
In verse 26 (of Acts, Chapter 8), and angel of the Lord tells Philip to go to a certain location. In verse 27, Philip goes there. Let’s use a little checklist to see where we stand:
Do I hear and understand God’s instructions to me?
Do I obey God’s instructions to me?
Philip meets an Ethiopian official, and the Spirit told Philip to stay near him. When Philip ran up to the chariot (see the eagerness and enthusiasm?), he heard the man reading from the book of Isaiah. Now, would you have thought of this kind of conversation starter: Philip asked the man, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Apparently, Philip made no assumptions, even though it would have been easy to see that the reader was an important official – someone who was obviously well-educated. Do I recognize the opportunities God gives me to share the Gospel?
Do I share the Gospel with the wisdom the Holy Spirit provides?
Now, at the beginning of this article I mentioned that many Christian talk about evangelism, but few actually do the work of evangelism. I also believe that most Christians feel guilty about their lack of personal witnessing
WHY MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT SHARE THE GOOD NEWS
There are two big reasons why many Christians do not share the Good News as they should:
1. Embarrassment. Even though we know the blessings of knowing Jesus Christ and his salvation, we also know that “the message
of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and we simply do not like having people laugh at us. However, like Paul, we should be able to say,
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believe…” (Romans 1:16).
Indeed, Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33). That is heavy stuff.
Why then, do so many Christians not share the Good News? I believe it is for the following reason:
2. Feeling Inadequate or Unprepared. Let me explain this after we read further in the story of Philip’s meeting with the Ethiopian
So Philip had asked whether this man understood what he was reading. The man answered, “How can I, unless someone explains it?”. He then invited Philip to come and sit with him, and together they read a portion from Isaiah. The Ethiopian then asked Philip a question, and watch what happened: “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
Philip knew how to present the Gospel, starting with that very passage of Scripture. I have often wondered precisely how I would have answered the Ethiopian’s question. Let me ask you this: How would you have presented the gospel, starting from the passage mentioned?
Am I prepared to present the Good News, using the Scriptures?
Many Christians do not have a good, working knowledge of the Scriptures. That makes witnessing difficult, because we are afraid at our lack of ability to present the Good News from using the Scriptures. And we feel inadequate at presenting an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have (see 1 Peter 3:15).
Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). In chapter 4, starting in verse 2, we see one of the reasons for this: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will
gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from
the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situation, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
It is time for all Christians to give the Word of God priority. Know what the Bible says. Study and memorize it. (The writer of
Hebrews lists a few basic subjects in Hebrews 6:1-3.). If you do, you will indeed “…be prepared to give an answer to everyone who
asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15).
May God bless you as you prepare yourself to do your part in the coming harvest.