Acts Series #14
Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
Portrait of a Soul Winning Experience
Acts 8:1-4; 26-41
Well here we are week 14 of our look at the early church, let me jump right in first and Read verses 1-4 of Chapter 8
We are learning about what church was when it began.
Well you may realize, and it dawned on me Friday while studying that when I last preached on July 10, I had planned to preach from Acts 7 and was side tracked by chapter 6:8 and preached an extra message there. I had already asked Doc, to move into Chapter 8 and had planned myself to preach today from where we are. So, I owe you a message at least from Chapter 7. SO, I'm not going to give that to you today but next week
What have we learned so far?
When Church is Church …
- People are involved
- Outspoken when necessary
- Unafraid of Persecution
- Persecuted nonetheless
- Proclaim the Word
- Live the Word
- Are Empowered by the Spirit
- Obedient to the Spirit
- Led by the Spirit
- Driven by the Spirit to the plans and purposes of God
In my last messages we looked at the call of the 7 servants to care for the physical needs in the church and the fact that God Uses
Empty People - people emptied of self, sin, pride, selfish ambition, preconceived ideas, personal plans
Full People - pleyres (play-race) people who are filled completely on the inside and covered on every part of the outside by the Spirit of God
And they are Living Like It
Doc brought you into Chapter 8 and introduced Philip to you, this Deacon Evangelist.
Mike, Ted, John, don't feel alone in the overwhelming task as a deacon. Remember they had a church of thousands and selected only 7. Well, Stephen was stoned to death in Chapter 7 and now we find Deacon Philip sent out as an Evangelist so that leaves only 5 Deacons.
Anyway, I wanted us to look for a moment today at a …
Soul Winning Experience
Verse Four says that "those who had been scattered, preached the Word wherever they went"
Who was scattered? "ALL except the apostles"
So, Who preached the Word wherever they went?
Everyone, the believers, the followers of Jesus Christ.
Remember the Great Commission
Mt 28:19-20 - Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you …
Acts 1:8 this commission of Christ was really a Prophesy as he said, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Well … the Persecution may not have been caused by God but was used by God to say "Get Busy" - It was a way of throwing them into the deep end of the pool and saying "SWIM"
The church was growing and doing well and comfortable but they had been prepared and were ready to Swim
In this chapter we see the prophesy of Acts 1:8 beginning to be fulfilled as the gospel moves from Jerusalem and Judea, into Samaria, and begin to reach out to the ends of the earth.
If we are going to be THE CHURCH and we are going to be an Acts 1:8 church, we have to be sharing our faith and leading people to Christ.
I issued a challenge to us again a few weeks ago. I told you that the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bobby Welch has challenged our convention to Witness to, Win, and Baptize 1 Million People before the end of September next year.
I issued our part of that challenge, because I believe that we can Witness to, Win, and Baptize 100 people in that time.
New Life, who in St. Louis County, can Witness to, Win, and Baptize 100 people in the next 14 months?
An I'm IT!
Well here in Acts 8
We get the first one on one Soul Winning Experience recorded AFTER the Ascension of Jesus Christ
For some of you, it's time to be thrown into the deep end of the pool.
Leading someone to Christ is something that everyone can do
Pr 11:30 - … he who wins souls is wise
There are 4 components in a Soul Winning Experience
The First is …
1. A Person of God
God uses PEOPLE committed to him.
Isn't that Amazing?
He has used people as a mouth piece for as long as he has revealed himself
Why? Perhaps because we listen when someone like us tells us what God has done in and through them
What are Men and Women of God Like?
A. Persecuted People - makes us visible - how we respond, what God does through us, what God can do for them,
B. Busy - God doesn't seem to use lazy people, or people with nothing else to do, or people with spare time - God uses busy people -
1. so if you are waiting until you get time for God … or wondering why God won't wait until you have more time but keeps calling you NOW while you are BUSY, guess what, join the club!
2. if you are laying around lazily waiting for God to call you up to duty … good luck, get busy, God uses busy people
C. Committed - people who have a commitment to him, to their families, to their dreams etc.
D. Willing to Follow -
1. Philip experienced a great public movement in Samaria but the Spirit of God told him to leave there and he was willing to follow and leave in order to be obedient - This was MORE than just "go over there" He told him to Leave Samaria in well north of Jerusalem and move back to Jerusalem and head South west toward Gaza -
2. If the Lord is calling you, then it is an invitation to join him in reaching a soul for the Kingdom. God will reach who he is going to reach, the question is, is someone else going to get YOURS
E. Obedient over Notoriety -
- it wasn't about being a well-known successful amazing Evangelist in Samaria OR quietly leading a foreigner to Christ anonymously on in a chariot on a desert road, it was about being OBEDIENT
A Soul Winning Experience involves a Man or Woman, a Student, a Boy or a Girl, a Person of God
It also takes …
2. The Spirit of God
A. Leading - Go south to the road, desert road … from Jerusalem to Gaza …
1. - Get Up and GO - means get up from laying down, get up from the dead,
2. - The Literal says "get up and go" and "he got up and went"
3. Go to THAT / THIS Chariot and STAY NEAR -
a. That's all he told him, WHY? Because once Philip got close, and observed what was going on, he KNEW what to do. He was Filled by the Spirit and Knew the Word of God and had Wisdom - How do I know? CHAPTER 6 Tells me that !
b. THAT / THIS means there were OTHER chariots around, probably a loose caravan of travelers in this party but he was told to not go to that one or that one or that one but THAT one
c. The Spirit was specific - go to THAT Chariot containing An Ethiopian Eunuch in Charge of all of the Queen's Money - By the Way Ethiopian people that day are NOT where Ethiopia is today but probably in the Sudan area, and Michael, Ethiopian literally means - "BLACK" - So this is a Black Man in Fine Business Attire Driving a Lincoln Navigator and Reading from the Word of God - and he had just come back from WORSHIPPING God
B. Drawing -
1. This man was NOT Worshipping God, Seeking Knowledge all on His Own - The Spirit of God was AT Work in this Man's Life ALREADY -
2. John 6:44 says no one comes to the Father Except the Father Draws him - That's the Job of the Holy Spirit
3. God will NEVER Lead you to Someone in Whom he is NOT already working, drawing, whispering to
1. Why Did Philip know what to say? What to Do?
2. The Holy Spirit -
a. Remember Acts 1:8 Jesus said - You Will RECEIVE POWER - When the Holy Spirit Comes On You -
b. Acts 6:3 - says that these Deacons were FULL of The Spirit and Wisdom - inside and out completely full and completely covered
1. John 16:13 - he will guide you into all truth, v14 - he will take what is mine (Jesus) and make it known to you
2. YOU don't have to reveal it to them, just TELL them - It is the job of the Spirit to bring Illumination and Revelation
1. John 16:8 - he will convict of guilt of sin;
2. I/You Don't have to CONVICT the World of Sin - It is NOT your Job - Speak the Truth, Live the Truth, Witness about God but LET the HOLY SPIRIT Do his JOB
So, The Soul Winning Experience has a Person of God, The Spirit of God and it must also have …
3. The Word of God
A. Provides Faith
Romans 10:17 - Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God
Don't be afraid to share the word of God. It is NOT irrelevant, it IS the only thing that IS relevant
B. Is Lived Out - A Witness that provides a picture of the Word
1. When you give a testimony of what God is doing in your Life YOU become the Word of God lived out in You
2. You Become the Word of God as TRUE
C. Proclaimed and Explained
1. Isaiah 53 - is what he was reading - vv 32,33 of Acts 8-
2. Philip BEGAN, with that Passage and told him about Jesus - START where they are and TAKE them toward Jesus -
3. An Ethiopian - a Dark Skinned man from FAR away from Israel, a Man who's very PHYSICAL condition as a Eunuch would have caused him to be rejected by the Jewish Establishment for FULL inclusion was searching and wondering if this was for HIM - Do you think maybe Philip starting in Isaiah 53 and "on the way to Jesus" took him by Isaiah 56?
Is 56:3-6 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely exclude me from his people." And let not any eunuch complain "I am only a dry tree." 4 For this is what the Lord says: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant - 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off 6 and foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord …
You think he took him THERE? I think so - but he took him to JESUS and told him the GOOD NEWS - What was the GOOD NEWS?
JESUS IS FOR YOU!!!!!
D. Embraced - Believed
1. This man - was Reading the Word
2. He was Hungry
3. When he Understood it he embraced it and Believed it and LIFE, ETERNAL LIFE was Imparted Because Jesus IS The Way, the TRUTH, and THE LIFE
1. Study It - Familiarize yourself - Be Ready In Season and Out of Season
2. Memorize it OR
3. Carry it and Mark it
Before I conclude with that last piece of the Soul Winning Experience, Let me try and give you a real Life Example of this at work
Because you are probably NOT going to run up on someone in a Chariot - reading a scroll of Isaiah
You can't jump into someone's car during rush hour and say "hey, can I help you with something today"
But I like Philip's question "Do you Understand … what you are Reading"? …
Perhaps someone picked up a copy of "Purpose Driven Life" at Walmart - someone you never thought would be interested in Spiritual things … and you can ask … "Do you Understand what you are Reading"?
Perhaps someone is reading "The Da Vinci Code" … "Do You Understand what you are Reading"? Take them there and take them to Jesus
- Jesus couldn't have had a baby with Mary Magdalene because it would have been a sin and Hebrews 4:15 says that he was "Tempted in Every way, just as we are BUT WITHOUT SIN" - why is that IMPORTANT - Because we need Grace and without A Sinless Christ there is no sacrifice for our sins - but Heb 4:16 - says we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace …" and then Take them to the cross
- If Jesus Sinned with Mary then the Cross is USELESS -
Start where they are and take them to the Cross of Christ
One other example, someone is reading the horoscope -
<Hold Up Sunday's Paper> -
Ask them while they are reading - "Do you Understand what you are reading"?
> Ask - Do you ever notice how general that is? How Long have you been reading that? "All my life" - Find any life changing answers?
> I marked Today's Horoscope and there are 16 times when the words "might" "could" or "seems" - Why? Because Jacqueline Bigar doesn't KNOW
> I don't want to talk to someone staring at the stars and trying to figure something out
> Rev 22:13 - I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and the Last - That's who I want to talk to
> Jeremiah 10:2 - Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, … 5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch their idols cannot speak ..
> I don't want someone to Interpret the Stars for me … I want to talk to the One who made them.
Ge 1:16 - he made the stars
Job 9:7 - says God decides if the stars and sun even Shine or NOT
Ps 8:3 - says he set them in place
So Why would I look to the Stars and to someone who says "this might happen or that might happen" when God says …
Jeremiah 29:11 "I KNOW the plans that I have for you declares the Lord …"
God told Jeremiah is Chapter 1:5 Before I formed YOU in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart …"
Psalm 139 says of God … you have searched me and you know me … you know when I sit and when I rise … you created my inmost being … all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be … how precious to me are your thoughts O God How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Tell them "listen you don't have to Go searching for might be's and hope to be's
Go to the one who thinks about you day and night who created you with intention and know him and know the way to life, the truth to direct and the life that you seek it is JESUS"
Jesus says "I have loved you with an EVERLASTING Love" Jeremiah 31:3
Jump into the deep End and SWIM - God has made you and filled you and covered you as a Believer so get busy and as he throws you into the deep end, preach the word wherever you go.
There is only one other piece to the Soul Winning Experience
The Person of God
The Spirit of God
The Word of God
4. A Willing Heart - Conclusion
A. Philip -
1. Philip had to be willing to Obey and Follow
2. Philip had to be willing to observe and engage this man in a Witness for Christ
B. The Eunuch
1. had to be willing to receive the Good News For Himself
2. "What hinders ME from being baptized" - Can it be TRUE for ME?
3. He had most likely been rejected for Ceremonial Baptism in Jerusalem because of his physical condition as a Eunuch
4. But now he was willing to receive Jesus for himself
5. Stories outside scripture tell us that an Awakening broke out in Ethiopia when this man went home with his new found faith
C. YOU the Christian
1. are you willing to make Soul Winning Your Business?
2. The Great Evangelist D. L. Moody asked a man about his soul, the man said "it's none of your business!" - Moody replied "Oh, yes, it is my business!", the man then said "then you must be D.L. Moody!" - Moody had lived out the call to the point that he had a reputation. It is our business. Are you willing to make it your business?
3. Eccl 11:1; 6 You Never Know the result so - "cast your bread upon the water" (i.e. put your grain on ships) - "sow your seed in the morning and in the evening don't be idle"-
In other words, use the radio, use the internet, use the television, telephone, and tell them yourself
Are you Willing?
In October 1857 the Missionary J. Hudson Taylor began to minister in Ningpo China. He led a Mr. Nyi to Christ. Mr. Nyi shared his faith with others. One day he asked Taylor, "How long have you known this good news in England?" He explained that they had known for centuries. Mr. Nyi said "Why didn't you come sooner? My father died seeking the truth."
How long have you known the gospel?
Who have you told?
I want to Challenge you today to commit to open your spiritual eyes and ears and listen to the Spirit's leading and share your witness with 1 person in the next Month - think about that for one minute - Just ONE person in the next 30 days
But finally, there are, mostly likely, some here today like this Eunuch - You have worshipped the Lord, You have read the Word, You have heard the Word, but You are still without Christ …
Are you Willing … ?
D. You - Without Christ
1. Are You Ready Here today?
2. What hinders YOU?
3. Why wait for tomorrow?
2 Cor 6:2 In the time of my favor I heard you and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation
Will You give your heart to Christ today?
<Lead to Decision>
<Soul Winning Commitment>
Will You Witness to One in the next 30 days?
If you will commit to that? I want you to tear off a corner of your bulletin or your notes and just write the words "I WILL"
Then Drop it in the Offering Plate so I can get it and know who is with me