Pray for the Lost. Pray for Divine Appointments to Share the Gospel (Acts 8:26-40)

Pray for the Lost. Pray for Divine Appointments to Share the Gospel (Acts 8:26-40)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, March 1, 2020

Think about being led by the Spirit, think about being sent from God.

Tozer writes:

There was a man sent from God whose name was Noah. A just man, Noah builded himself an ark and saved himself and his wife and eight persons, saving the human race from extinction.

There was a man sent from God whose name was Abraham. He came from Ur of the Chaldees, following nothing but the light in his own heart and the dimly seen vision of the living God. Abraham became the founder of the Jewish nation.

There was a man sent from God named Moses, who took a nation lost in darkness and bondage in Egypt through the miracle of the Red Sea and into the wilderness, where he guided and cherished and nursed and cared for it through forty years.

When Moses died, God sent a man whose name was Joshua, who gathered the nation as a hen gathers her chicks and established Israel in the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

There was a man sent from God whose name was David and he reached into his own heart and tore out the sounding strings and set those strings in the windows of the synagogues for a thousand years so that the winds of persecution blew across them, making music for the Jewish worshipers.

When the veil of the temple was rent and the Holy Ghost had come, those same harp strings taken from the heart of David were strung in the windows of the churches; so today in our churches we cannot sing without having David sing also. In a very true sense, the man sent from God whose name was David taught the world to sing, and we have been singing David’s songs ever since.

Oh, there was a man sent from God whose name was Paul, and another man whose name was Peter. And many centuries later when the church had been buried under the debris and settlings of the dust of Romanism, there was a man sent from God whose name was Luther, and he feared no one. He brought back the Bible again, translating it into sonorous and musical German.

There was a man sent from God whose name was Simpson and he was joined by another whose name was Jaffray, and they combined in praying and taking the Christian gospel to great unreached sections of our world in the past generation. Go down the line—take any list you happen to be fond of and wherever men had done great things for God, they have been men who were sent from God.[1]

Now, if you are here and you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I want to say that you also are sent from God. We are all called to share the Gospel. Listen, the Great Commission is not an option. The Great Commission is not an optional commission. Jesus calls us all to share the Gospel.

Romans 10:15:

How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

Sometimes we get caught only applying that passage to the missionaries, but in reality, in the New Testament we see the common lay people sharing Jesus as much as anyone. We never see the idea of sharing the Gospel only for the pastors and leaders.

However, we still want to pray for God to direct in our mission. We need to pray for Divine Appointments. We want to pray for God’s leading as we share the Gospel.

So, today, we are going to look at Philip being a witness to the Ethiopian Eunuch. As we look at this passage we will bring out some strong insights to share the Gospel. I also hope that we will all be encouraged that we never, never, never are a witness by ourselves. We witness with Jesus.

Before we talk about Philip and Acts 8 we must talk about where salvation comes from and who saves people.

My theme and application today is:

Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel and then follow the Spirit’s lead.

  1. Salvation is of the Lord.
    1. Throughout church history there has been a great debate between God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill. I see both in the Scriptures. In Acts 13:48 we see: When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
    2. Notice the key word “appointed.” God knows who will be saved and God is sovereign over all things.
    3. In Acts 14:1: In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.
    4. In this case the apostles are speaking and teaching in such a way that a large number were saved. In this case we see clearly that God is using their gift mix.
    5. In 1 Cor. 9:19-23 we see Paul wanting to be all things to all men to save some (verse 22).
    6. God wants to use us, but God does not need us. God does the saving through us.
    7. However, no one can be saved but by the Holy Spirit drawing them:
    8. John 6:44: No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
    9. John 6:65: And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
    10. The point is that we are dead in our sins and will not receive Jesus as Lord and Savior except by the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to Him. All of us have freely chosen to follow Adam in rebelling against God (Rom. 5:12). We have freely placed ourselves under Satan’s power and have thus become his slaves (John 8:34; 1 John 5:19). We are so helpless that Scripture says we are “dead” in our sin (Eph. 2:1). Our hearts have become “devious above all else” and “perverse” beyond understanding (Jer. 17:9). Our very nature has become hostile to God (Eph. 2:3).[2]
    11. So, we see God’s sovereignty and we do see man’s freewill, but we are powerless to receive Jesus because we are dead in our sins. This is why I believe in a truth called “prevenient grace.” This is grace that comes from God to convict us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. One writer says this: There are times when God sees that people are hopeless, and so he withdraws his Spirit and hardens their hearts by “[giving] them up to their passions” (Rom. 1:26; cf. vv. 24, 28; Gen. 6:3). But otherwise God’s Spirit is at work in people’s hearts, trying to soften them to acknowledge his lordship and walk in his ways.[3]
    12. There are many more scriptures we could get into about this subject but the point is that we must pray for people to be saved. God does the saving. Now, we have freewill. This means that I believe God is giving people His prevenient grace, convicting them to accept Him, but someone can freely reject the Gospel. People must receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
    13. God wants all to be saved. John 3:16: For God so loved the “world.”
    14. 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
    15. God wants all to be saved, but salvation is a miracle. Turning from sin to follow Christ is a miracle.
    16. Without Christ we are dead, dead, totally dead. Here is an assignment, go to the graveyard and bring a person back to life. Who can do that? None of us can raise the dead on our own, but Jesus can do that.
    17. When we are sharing the Gospel we need Jesus to raise the dead person. The person was spiritually dead and we need Jesus to bring them to spiritual life. That is why we must pray evangelically. We must pray for Divine appointments and we must follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.
    18. A Divine appointment is a ripe fruit. Meaning that someone is opened to receive the Gospel.
    19. I want to give two BIG cautions.
      1. Don’t expect the Lord to verbally tell you to share the Gospel with someone. In a minute we will look at a passage where the Holy Spirit did that, but that is rare.
      2. Start talking about Jesus and see where the conversation goes. Once the person seems to not be interested change the subject or move on. As long as the person is engaged it is likely a Divine appointment.
  • Sometimes we think it is not of God if the person is not saved. NOTHING CAN BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.
    1. Many of us are Divinely appointed to plant seeds.
    2. 1 Cor. 3:6-7: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
  1. Divine appointment in the Scripture:
    1. Acts 8:26-40

Let’s read Acts 8:26-40:

 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

“He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 “In humiliation His judgment was taken away;
Who will relate His generation?
For His life is removed from the earth.”

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.

Message breakdown

A model for personal sharing from Acts 8:26-40

Verse 26 and 29 Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit
Verse 27 Be obedient to the Lord’s command
Verse 30 Be sensitive to the other person’s (Ethiopian’s) needs
Verse 35 Be skilled in understanding God’s Word
  1. First part, verses 26 and 29, we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
  2. Look at verse 26 with me. We can see that the Angel of the Lord speaks to Philip and Philip obeys.
  3. Then we see in verse 29 that Philip is again spoken to by the Spirit of God.
  4. Philip obeys as well.
  5. As I said the Holy Spirit normally does not speak to us in this way. The Holy Spirit may speak to us in a still, small voice. If you are thinking, “Should I share Jesus with him?” That is probably the Holy Spirit. Maybe you are going about it the wrong way. Maybe the Holy Spirit is asking you to be contagious with your faith in other ways. Are you thinking:
    1. Maybe I should send this person a card.
    2. Maybe I should ask if I can pray with this person.
  • Maybe I should be a friend to the person who is alone.
  1. Maybe I should buy this person’s dinner.
  2. Maybe I should help them cut their grass.
  1. There are many ways the Holy Spirit may be leading you to share the Gospel or be contagious Christians. The Holy Spirit may be leading you to plant a seed.
  2. Blumenstock in my evangelism class at Cedarville University told a story of taking students to witness at Ohio State University. The students would witness to their peers and he would witness to his peers, the other professors. He was tired, so he went to sit down by the lake. But God had a plan. A student was sitting there reading a Campus Crusade Tract. Dr. Blumenstock asked the young man if he understood what he was reading. He replied, no. Dr. Blumenstock followed the Spirit’s lead and he shared about Jesus with him.
  • Verse 27, we must be obedient to the Lord’s command.
    1. Back up now to verse 27, notice that Philip obeys. He obeys right away.
    2. Now, I know that many times I can intellectualize something.
    3. Many times, I can easily think, someone else will share Jesus with so and so. Right?
    4. What about your children. You would tell them, “Mercedes, I want you to pick up your toys.” Now, Mercedes could easily say, “Daddy, Abigail will pick them up.” But I could say, “I did not ask Abigail, I asked you.” Right? Right? God is calling me to be a witness to certain people and He is calling you to be a witness to certain people. We must obey. We should not say, “Oh, the other pastor will do it,” or anything like that.
    5. You may ask, “How do I know the Lord is telling me to be a witness or to witness to someone?” I am glad you asked. Simple answer, you know them, they are in your influence, right? That means the Lord wants you to witness. In another way, you must now pray for how to be the most effective witness. That is a daily prayer need. If they are in your sphere of influence they are part of your mission field.
    6. In reality, I hope that helps me to want to be a witness more and more as I go through my Spiritual journey, right? I must want to see the lost come to know Jesus. I must want someone to be delivered from things because he accepts Christ.
  1. Verse 30: Be sensitive to the other person’s needs.
    1. Look with me at verse 30.
    2. We see that Philip asked him if he understands. This leads to the next point.
  2. Verse 35: be skilled in Understanding God’s Word.
    1. We must always be ready to give an answer of the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).
    2. Grow as a disciple of Christ, studying God’s Word, being ready to share the Gospel.
  3. Applications:
    1. God loves all people and wants all to be saved.
    2. God wants all to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. (2 Peter 3:9) We must be encouraged by that.
    3. We must be encouraged that Philip went fishing with the Master. He was simply following the Holy Spirit’s lead.
    4. I want to re-emphasize warnings I gave earlier:
      1. Don’t expect the Lord to verbally tell you to share the Gospel with someone.
      2. Start talking about Jesus and see where the conversation goes. Once the person seems to not be interested change the subject or move on. As long as the person is engaged it is likely a Divine appointment.
      3. Sometimes we think it is not of God if the person is not saved. NOTHING CAN BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.
        1. Many of us are Divinely appointed to plant seeds.
        2. 1 Cor. 3:6-7: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
      4. Lastly, PRAY for opportunities to share the Gospel. Get up in the morning and pray, “Lord, give me opportunities to share Your love today.” How exciting it should be to be part of someone’s salvation.
      5. Pray for those in your mission field to be saved.

Close:

Do you want to share Jesus with people?

According to the research, if I am not sharing the gospel, it is because I have lost my sense of awe and appreciation for it.

The reason the majority of the people in our churches don’t share the gospel is not because they haven’t been through a course. Nor is it because they failed to participate in a training seminar.

Not sharing the gospel reveals a loss of awe about the depths to which He plunged to rescue us. Not sharing the faith with others reveals a loss of amazement that He gave us His righteousness for our sin.

If we are still in awe that the holy and eternal God of the universe would pursue us in our sinfulness, humble Himself and suffer in our place, become the curse for our sin, and absorb our punishment to give us His peace, then we can’t help but share this news. If we are convinced that the news about Jesus is truly good news, we can’t help but spread it.

When the religious leaders asked Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, to stop speaking about Jesus, they replied, “We are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Their hearts were filled with awe for Jesus and His work for them; thus, there was no way they could be silent.

When Jeremiah considered not speaking for the Lord, he realized he could not hold the message inside without exploding: “If I say, ‘I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name,” His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Whatever we find amazing, we share. We spread what we are in awe of.

If a church leader is frustrated with a lack of personal evangelism among the people in the congregation, the wisest move is to continually remind the people of God’s amazing grace.

Do you have the awe and appreciation?

In 2001 I was a helper at a youth conference. As part of that conference there were evangelists sharing the Gospel in a Billy Graham type way with thousands every evening. Those that wanted to receive Christ were to come forward at the alter call. It was part of my job to lead the group up to the room where people would explain what it meant to receive Christ as Savior and answer questions. As I was up there with the hundreds and maybe thousands who were praying to receive Christ I was amazed. People were crying, they were desperate to be saved. I thought this is a miracle. These people are crossing from death to life.

The greatest miracle you can take part in is not a physical healing, but a spiritual rebirth.

Pray for Divine appointments.

Pray evangelical prayers.

Follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

Pray

 

[1] Tozer, A. W.. Christ the Eternal Son (pp. 147-149). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Boyd, Gregory A.. Across the Spectrum (p. 155). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[3] Boyd, Gregory A.. Across the Spectrum (p. 155). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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