How To Lead People To Christ
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Acts 8:26-8:40 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
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INTRO.- ILL.- Two social workers were walking through a rough part of the city in the evening. They heard moans and cries for help from a back alley. Upon investigation, they found a semi-conscious man in a pool of blood.
"Help me, I’ve been mugged and beaten," he pleaded. The two social workers turned and walked away.
One remarked to her colleague, "You know the person that did this really needs help." Yes, but what about the mugged man? Had they forgotten about being a good Samaritan?
Are people really that blind to those who are hurting? Or it is that they just don’t care?
ILL.- I read a news item recently about the neglect of people. Minnesota Woman’s Cries for Help During Sexual Assault, August 24, 07. ST. PAUL, Minn. — A security video from an apartment hallway showed at least 10 witnesses who ignored a woman’s cries for help for more than an hour as a man beat and sexually assaulted her, prosecutors in Minnesota said.
The surveillance video clearly showed men and women looking out their apartment doors or starting to walk down the hallway before retreating as the woman was assaulted for nearly 90 minutes, police spokesman Tom Walsh said.
Police said they responded to a call of drunken behavior and found Somali immigrant Rage Ibrahim, 25, and a woman lying unconscious in the hallway early Tuesday. The woman’s clothing had been pulled up and she had fresh scratches on her face and blood on her thigh, according to the criminal complaint.
Can you believe it? People ignored that women who was being beaten and assaulted. Are we that heartless and uncaring about people?
Psalm 142:3-4 "When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life."
What about us? Do we truly care for anyone’s life?
Matthew 9:35-36 "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
WHEN HE SAW THE CROWDS, HE HAD COMPASSION ON THEM. The heart of Jesus needs to grab our hearts so that we will have the same compassion for hurting people that He had!
What kind of hurting people are we talking about? Anybody who is hurting in any form. I realize that we can’t heal all the hurting people of the world, but we can touch some of those who are near us.
What about those around us who are hurting spiritually: that is, those who are obviously lost, without Christ? Can we not help them in some form? Can’t we do something?
Our text is the story about Philip and the eunuch. It’s the story of how one man sought to lead another man to Christ. And there are lessons for us in this story.
PROP.- Let’s see what Philip did to evangelize the eunuch and what we must do. We must:
1- Respond to God’s leading
2- Show genuine interest
3- Share the good news
4- Follow through to completion
I. RESPOND TO GOD’S LEADING
26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27So 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, 28and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
We must respond to God’s leading.
ILL.- I have some questions. Can you or could you do these things? How many of you know how to fill the church baptistery with water and know how to heat it? That is, do you know how to flip the switch that heats the water?
And how many of you know how to turn on the AC in the sanctuary when it is not regularly scheduled to come on?
And how many of you could turn on the Public Address system or in our church? I can hear someone say, “Sure, I can. You just flip a switch.” Yes, but which one and where?
And how many of you could prepare the Sunday bulletin each week? Do you know how it’s done? You might think, “Well, sure I can type out a few words and names,” but where? And how? And when? You may have an idea that it’s done in my office and on my computer but if I didn’t show you the particulars you might not be able to do it.
ILL.- My older brother and I learned a long time ago how to change the oil in our cars and how to change spark plugs, etc. How and when did we learn? Our father taught us and we RESPONDED to his leading.
And the same principle applies to filling the baptistery in this church. I can do it because one of the board members showed me how and I have responded to his lead. WE ALL NEED TO RESPOND TO SOMEONE’S LEAD. Actually, we need to do more than that.
Matthew 28:18-20 "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Why is it that we can respond obediently to some people and not others? I bet if your boss told you to do something, you’d probably do it because you get paid to do it. And you wouldn’t want to lose your paycheck.
WELL, GUESS WHO IS THE PAYCHECK WRITER OF THE UNIVERSE?
If people are going to hear the gospel and have a chance to be saved, we must go, we must speak, we must do something.
II. SHOW GENUINE INTEREST
30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Show interest in others. Ask some questions: What is that you reading? How are you? Can I help you? Take time for others. Give yourself to others.
ILL.- At the weekly Scout meeting the Scoutmaster asked if the boys had done his good deed for the week. Every boy raised his hand except for one.
The Scoutmaster said to that boy, "I want you to go out and do a good deed and don’t come back until you have."
About twenty minutes later the boy returned with a torn shirt. The Scoutmaster asked, "Well, did you do a good deed for someone?" The boy said, "Yes."
The Scoutmaster said, "Well, did you do?" He said, "I helped an old lady across the street." "How did you get your shirt torn?" The boy said, "She didn’t want to go."
Just because you show genuine interest in people it doesn’t mean they will appreciate it. Of course, if we get too pushy with people they will definitely rebel or back off from us.
ILL.- I remember meeting an American weightlifter at a weightlifting championship one time. His name was Fred Lowe and he was the best 165 lb. Olympic weightlifter in the US at that time. That was in the early 1970’s. Fred and I both were lifting at this championship and I started a conversation with him.
Fred was not a Christian but another top weightlifter named Russ Knipp was a Christian and he often tried to witness to Fred about Christ. However, he came on too strong and Fred didn’t like it. He turned Fred off because he was constantly hounding him about accepting Christ. The moral of the story is that we have to win most people’s attention with our kindness and love before we can present Christ to them.
It’s like that saying: People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care! Genuine love and compassion must be seen in us.
"Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend."
ILL.- Dale Carnegie wrote, “You can close more business deals in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
The same principle applies to witnessing to people about Christ. We must show that we care about them.
III. SHARE THE GOOD NEWS
32The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth."
34The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
ILL.- Everywhere I go make visits on shut-ins, etc. I take something with me. Care to guess what it is? I carry pictures of my latest grandchild, baby Hayden. HAVE YOU SEEN HER LATELY? If not, I’ll be glad to show you.
Why in the world would anyone go around showing pictures of their grandbaby? Because she’s beautiful, she’s cute, she’s happy, she’s my granddaughter, she loves me, and more!
Wherever we go we should share the good news! Good news is something good, something we’re excited about, something we want others to know about.
ILL.- For example, recently, Barbara McMillan was scheduled to have her first eye cataract surgery. Naturally, she was concerned and somewhat fearful since she’d never had that done before. Also, she didn’t know how it would turn out, if she would be able to see very well afterward.
WELL, GUESS WHAT? She could see 20/15 in that eye the very next day after surgery. Boy, was she excited! She sent me an email note, thanking me for the prayers and you could tell she was very happy to share the good news.
We all like to share good news. At least, we should. There is other good news that we should share with people.
ILL.- On the news, I noticed that a hospital Chaplain got released/fired, etc. from his chaplaincy work and it was because he claimed that the administration did not like it that he prayed “in Jesus’ name.” Here’s the article.
Reverend Danny Harvey, who worked for the Leesburg Regional Center for more than seven years, claims to be the victim of religious discrimination after he says the hospital staff forced him to resign from his post.
Hospital officials deny any discrimination against Harvey and said that his departure was brought about because his services were not consistent with center’s various faiths. Louis H. Bremer Jr., LRMC president and chief executive officer, said in a statement: "The interpretation many Christians are getting is that prayer is completely banned from the hospital, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It would be very appropriate to say Jesus’ name in the presence of a Christian family.
That’s no problem," Bremer said in the statement. "What must be understood is knowing the audience and what is appropriate for that particular situation."
Harvey said, "I would approach a family and offer them the chance for me to pray for them, but they have the option to say no. I have never imposed my beliefs on others."
Whether this chaplain was fired because of his prayers in Jesus’ name or not, he was perfectly right in praying that way. Why? Because that’s what he believes! Of course, apparently, he took a certain risk of being fired because of his faith and his prayers.
Nevertheless, that man was pointing people to Jesus and that’s exactly what we must do, because the death of Jesus is good news for all mankind. It is through His death on the cross we can be saved and people need to hear this message.
IV. FOLLOW THROUGH TO COMPLETION
36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”
ILL.- Andrew Carnegie ((November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was known for having built one of the most powerful and influential corporations in United States history, and, later in his life, giving away most of his riches to fund the establishment of many libraries, schools, and universities in America, Scotland and other countries throughout the world. Carnegie was a poor boy with fierce ambition, a pleasant personality, and a devotion to both hard work and self-improvement.
He said one time, “The average person puts only 25 percent of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50 percent of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100 percent.”
If Carnegie was right then it sounds like most people don’t work very hard. And if this is true, then it may also be true that some jobs may never get finished. They may only be half-done. I DON’T LIKE A HALF-DONE JOB or slipshod work.
ILL.- Whenever I wash my car I want the full-meal deal. I wash the car, wipe it down so there is no water spotting. Then I go to the inside, wipe down the interior and vacuum the car. I like a done-deal, a completed job.
Likewise, I prefer this in the spiritual realm as well. I like to see people make a strong, solid commitment to Christ when they decide to accept Him. I like to see people become faithful in their Sunday worship and daily worship and get involved in service. That’s a sign of a solid commitment to Christ. And it generally starts in their initial commitment to Christ.
The eunuch asked Philip, “Here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” I have always figured that an honest seeker of Christ would ask, “Why can’t I be baptized?” WHY BAPTISM? Because Jesus commanded it, Jesus did it and the apostles practiced it!
Some people question the need for baptism. I don’t. Not the least bit. There are too many strong, Biblical reasons FOR baptism to refuse doing it.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. He did it to fulfill all righteousness or to do what was right in His Father’s eyes. I figure if Jesus needed to be baptized, then we should too.
Also, Jesus commanded people to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is my understanding that baptism was the only thing in the N.T. that we were commanded to do in the name of the Godhead, which says it must be pretty important!
Also, the apostles preached it and the people responded to it. 3000 at Pentecost when Peter said in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized…” And here in our text: why did the eunuch ask to be baptized? Apparently, Philip must have said something to him about it.
Brothers and sisters, if we are going to lead people to Christ then let’s do our best to encourage people to make a strong, obedient commitment by being baptized into Christ. And then we must encourage them to continue in their obedience to Christ.
ILL.- Charles H. Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 – January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who is still known in various circles as the "Prince of Preachers." However, he wasn’t always so powerful or princely.
One day Spurgeon passed through the door back of the pulpit in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and saw the great crowd of people, he was overheard saying, “O God, help!” Strong as he was, he realized that he was insufficient for so great a task as preaching the Gospel in power, unless God should be his Helper.
Brothers and sisters, we have a big job ahead of us. There are many people around in Jonesboro, in America and all over the world who need Christ as their savior. We need God’s help and with His help we WILL reach some people for Christ. Let’s ask for His help and then get on with the work.