Preaching Articles

As a pastor, it is easy for me to get busy running my ministry and living my own life and as a result get disconnected from those who are far from God.

This past week I was reading the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 and was struck by God’s tenacity in getting the gospel to this one man.

In those early days the church was spreading like wildfire.  And after Stephen is martyred in Acts 7, the first verse of Acts 8 says that “on that day a great persecution broke out against the church…”  Yet, in the midst of the swirl of all that was going on, God goes to tremendous lengths to get the gospel to one man from a foreign country.  

It reminds me of Jesus’ parable in Luke 15 about the man who lives the ninety-nine sheep in his flock and relentlessly searches for the one lost sheep.  If we are going to have the heart of God we must go hard after those who are far from God.

In Acts 8, Philip has a divine interruption.  Earlier in Acts 8 we find Philip in Samaria carrying out his ministry and then an angel of the Lord tells him to go to the desert road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.  

Now, you are not likely to have an angel tap you on the shoulder and give you specific instructions.  But we can expect the Holy Spirit to prompt us.

This is all about awareness and sensitivity to those opportunities that God brings across our path.

What if this next week you put up your spiritual antenna and started being sensitive to opportunities to have God conversations with those in your community?  When is the last time you prayed and asked God for opportunities to share the gospel.

Just like in Philip’s case we can have confidence that God is already at work in the lives of those around us.  This is evidenced by the fact that this official from Ethiopia just happened to be reading Isaiah 53, one of the most powerful prophecies about the coming messiah.

When this Ethiopian man asked Philip who the prophet was talking about, verse 35 says Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

I love that Philip starts with Isaiah 53 and then takes the conversation to Jesus. Philip didn’t focus on this man’s moral condition, or talk about how sinful he was or invite him to a local church.  No!  He took the conversation straight to Jesus.  It is a good reminder for me that ultimately it is an encounter with Jesus that transforms people’s lives.  This man needed to be born again.

As Christian leaders living in the 21st century, we find ourselves in a culture that is unfriendly to the claims of the gospel.  We are living in a post-Christian era.  To declare that Jesus is the only way to heaven is not politically correct these days.  When you declare that Jesus is the only way to heaven, you can expect to be ridiculed as intolerant, arrogant, and narrow-minded.

This is one of the non-negotiables our faith and a cornerstone of our churches.  We cannot let cultural pressure cause us to be unclear about the gospel.  When we boldly declare that Jesus it he only way to eternal life, we are not being arrogant or intolerant.  We are simply declaring for Jesus what he declared for himself.  He said of himself I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, the apostle Paul said For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.   

The cross is the dividing line in history.  Paul says that the cross divides all of humanity into two groups of people.  On one side, there is the group who would look at what we believe and what we stand for and say it is “foolishness.”  The word that Paul uses here is actually the Greek word that we get our English word “moron.” Some would look at us and say we are morons for believing that a death on a cross could give us eternal life.

But Paul says that there is another group.  For them, the cross is not foolishness, it is the power of God.  The root word for power is the same word that we get our word “dynamite.”  The gospel has explosive power to change a life.

So, in this ever-changing culture, may you unashamedly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Don’t back down from declaring Jesus as the only way.    

It is widely believed that this Ethiopian eunuch was responsible for taking the gospel to Africa.  You just never know how God might use somebody you share the gospel with.

Lance is the founder of Replenish ministries and is often referred to as a Pastor’s Pastor.  He is also the author of the book Replenish, which is dedicated to helping leaders live and lead from a healthy soul.  Before launching Replenish, Lance served 20 years as a senior pastor and 6 years as an Executive/Teaching pastor at Saddleback Church. 

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Sanmi Aina

commented on Feb 20, 2018

Thanks, Seems harder when the Environment of the lost is highly organised, well structured and beautiful. TAlking anout ''LOSS'' then Looks like selling snow in winter olympics! I believe in much prayers for the lost in this Situation ( I found myself in that lately- an African scientist in Europe ). Then the Holy Spirit will guide or prompt. It Looks physically intimidating to bring up the Topic yourself. since we are already described by the organised Society as ''deeply religious frauds!''

E L Zacharias

commented on Sep 17, 2018

One thing that seems to get lost in this discussion is that the Spirit of God is driving the whole process. The Holy Spirit calls and delivers Philip to the Ethiopian. The Holy Spirit has led the Ethiopian to read the Spirit-inspired Word of God. The Holy Spirit guides Philip in his discussion, revealing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the writing which was inspired by God. Jesus is the center of this instruction. Jesus is the one sent by the Father, who suffered and died and was buried; who also rose for our justification. The Holy Spirit prepared the way for the Ethiopian to become a believer and moved the Ethiopian to understand that salvation comes by way of Jesus Christ. So moved, the Ethiopian understood Baptism and suggested that he receive the Baptism offered by God. Here, in these waters, the Ethiopian received the Holy Spirit, who cleansed him of his sins and made him part of God's Holy family of faith. He went on his way rejoicing, as he was the recipient of God's will and grace and salvation. Look and see, the wonderful things that God has done. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no man can boast about his participation in this divine and saving work. PTL!

E L Zacharias

commented on Sep 17, 2018

IOW, the sermon should rejoice over what God does to bring us to the lost, how he prepares the way, and how we can trust that God will guide us through every opportunity. Yes, people of the world will often resist or ridicule the Gospel of Christ (sadly, even some Christians do this), but it still remains the "sword of the Spirit," which accomplishes what God desires. Trust the Word of God. Use every opportunity to speak and to share the testimony of Jesus with all who ask, doing this with gentleness and respect. Then move on. God's Word is powerful and authoritative and does the work of God. We are blessed to be a part of it. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

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