Philip and Personal Evangelism
Personal evangelism is expected of every believer of Jesus. It is not just the Pastors, responsibility to seek that which is lost, but everyone who is called by Christ is commissioned to this rewarding task. Jesus commanded us in Mark 16:15, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Still even with this great calling, many Christians are afraid to share their faith. They lack confidence in their ability to share the gospel effectively. So we are going to go to the bible to see how one of the early disciples shared his faith. The book of Acts has many examples on how the Apostles and early Christians shared the truth of Jesus. We will concentrate on one example portrayed in a short story about Philip.
”(26)And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert.
(27) And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
(28)Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.
(29)Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot.
(30) And Philip ran there to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understand you what you read?
(31) And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
(32)The place in the scripture which he read was this, He was led like a lamb dumb before his shearer’ so opened He not His mouth:
(33)In His humiliation His judgement was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.
(34)And the eunuch answered Phillip, and said, I pray you , of whom speaks the prophet of this? Of himself, or of some other man?
(35)Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.” (Acts 8:26-35)
The easiest way to address this would be to break it down into at least 2 major themes to take from Philip in this story. The first would be that Philip had the proper attitude, and the second would be his approach or technique.
Philip had an attitude of obedience. When the angel of the Lord commanded Philip to go, he went. I mean the angel said “arise and go”, then Philip, “arose and went”. He didn’t make excuses, or check his planner. He immediately responded to the will of God. He obeyed without question.
If we are going to be effective servants of the Lord, we must be submissive servants. We must be willing to obey His Spirit. We must at all times and at all cost, be willing to do what God wants us to do. The will of God must take precedence over all other issues in our lives.
In northern Lebanon there is a Christian by the name of Fadi Sabba, who routinely goes from home church to home church sharing his faith and his story. He had been shot by Syrian Islamic extremists on more than one occasion. He has been run off the road, and been left for dead. He has been run out of the country, and yet still goes back risking his life to bring food, bibles and to encourage the brothers in Syria and Lebanon that cannot escape the brutal Islamic state if ISIS. He was shot seven different times by Syrians, yet God uses his story to bring other Islamic followers to Jesus. He goes out of love and obedience. (Voice of the Martyrs, June 2016)
He like Philip in this story is concerned with spreading the truth of Jesus Christ whether it is to one person at a time, or a whole house hold. Philip was willing to travel the distance, go beyond his comfort zone and ignore his personal safety to achieve God’s mission. This kind of dedication takes real love.
We must understand that one soul is a large enough crowd to be concerned about. Jesus explains is Luke 15, that if a man has a hundred sheep and loses one, would he not leave the 99 to find the one? Luke 15:10 says, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over ONE sinner that repents.” We need to get excited! Have compassion over those who are lost! We need to love those who need our love the most!
Now something else to consider is that the Ethiopian, although he was devout in his way, was still considered a Gentile to the Jews. Most Jews would not have cared about his soul. Philip, however; went to him without a second thought. Not only that, he joined him in his chariot. We must be colorblind in doing personal evangelism.
I know that people here in America are scared and worried about the influx of Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees coming into the country. We have good reason, because there are allot who would seek us harm. But let us consider this, how many of us would be willing to go to their countries to convert them to Christianity? You see, where we would not obey God and go to them, God has brought them to us. Now you have an opportunity to witness to those who really need to hear of the love of Jesus. Jesus does not show partiality, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believes not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)
Philip also had a sense of urgency. When he was commanded to join the Eunuch, the scripture says that Philip “ran to him”.(Acts 8:29) He new the man had an urgent need to know Jesus. Philip did not waste time. He had an enthusiasm that quite frankly, is missing in Christians in America. The early church was zealous in winning souls, if it would not have been, we wouldn’t know of Christ today. Unfortunately, there are many today in America who don’t know Jesus, even though they know of Him. That is our fault! It is mine and it is yours!
Ok I think we see the proper attitude. So once we pray and seek God, and get the proper attitude flowing again, what do we do with all that new found excitement for soul winning? Lets look again at Philip in this situation in Acts. Philip came upon the Ethiopian and saw him reading, and seeking God. Then he asked a question. Sometimes it is best to be quiet and listen to what the need is. Identify what the person is really seeking. A question is a great icebreaker to starting deep conversation.
If we were to ask a question and listen to the “need” hidden in the answer, we would go a long way in winning others to Christ, and repairing a few relationships along the way! Amen? The other thing that Philip had in his favor, is something you hear me say over and over again. Know your scripture! Know what you believe and why you believe it. You are an ambassador to the Kingdom of God. Take that responsibility seriously!
In Hebrew 5:11-14, the church is admonished because they have not studied and grown in the scriptures, that they should be teachers in the Word and works of God, but instead are fallen down and week. Don’t be caught off guard when someone asks you about a scripture or a doctrine of your faith. Hello! It’s your beliefs they are asking about! Grow Up! Study!
Then the scripture says, Phillip opened his mouth. When asked, speak! Tell your story of Jesus. Preach Jesus! If you haven’t taken the time to write out and rehearse your own story of salvation, then do it. If you have not taken the time to practice talking to yourself or another believer on how to share Jesus, then do it. I warn you. There is a reason you are either hearing or reading this… You will be called to testify.
Then Phillip went the extra mile. He closed on the situation. He made the Ethiopian make a decision. Hey, this is the whole point of personal evangelism. Win the soul! You can’t be a good fisherman if you don’t sink the hook and real that bad boy in! Bring the conversation to the point. Ask them, do you believe? Are you willing to make a change? Are you willing to be baptized? Seal the deal.
Then go on preaching to others, don’t stop. Don’t pat yourself on the back. Remember who sent Philip? The Lord did. The Lord knew the heart of the Ethiopian. The Lord knew that the eunuch needed a guide. Someone to tell him the truth about Jesus. That is your job, tell someone the TRUTH, the GOSPEL TRUTH! –AMEN!