Summary: A call to evangelism.
“He Told Him The Good News”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport
One of the most perplexing questions for many of us Christians is this: “How can we spread the Gospel? How can we extend and promote Christianity?”
Let’s face it.
Americans are expert promoters!
And yet when we look at the church we can see that we, as Christians, seem to fail miserably at promoting the saving message of Jesus Christ.
Young people grow up to maturity and make their own decisions, often, apparently with little if any interest in the Christian movement.
A great number of well-off, intelligent men and women have very little concern for the church…
…do nothing about it…
…contribute nothing to it…
…and gain nothing from it.
Outside of our immediate circle of relatives and friends is the world…
…the masses of men, women and children who remain completely untouched by the message of Christ.
The question is: How can we be used by God to fulfill our calling to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”?
There is a clue in this story in the Book of Acts.
Philip was one of the enthusiastic Christians—on fire with the life and message of Jesus!
He was directed by God to leave Jerusalem and to go southward by the desert road.
As he traveled southward, he came upon a man who was traveling by chariot.
He listened to the Holy Spirit inside of him…Who told him to “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
He heard the man inside the chariot reading.
It was a page from the prophet Isaiah.
Philip looked at him and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?’
‘How can I ,’”the man replied, “unless someone explains it to me?’
So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”
And isn’t this what the world is saying to us?
How can I understand this Gospel of Jesus Christ unless someone explains it to me?
Oh, has the salt lost its saltiness?
Have we hidden the light?
Are we unable to bear fruit…because we do not abide in Christ?
Are we “like a branch that is thrown away and withers”…and is “picked up and thrown into the fire and burned”?
Let’s look at what Philip found.
The man he came upon was what we might call a secretary of the treasury of a North African state which the Bible calls “Ethiopia,” but probably is not the state that we know today as Ethiopia.
He was a man of property and prominence.
He had come from North Africa to Jerusalem to worship.
For Jerusalem was known far and wide as a place where people found God.
Is our church a place known far and wide as a place where people find God?
Whether the Ethiopian was a Jew or not, we don’t know…
…nevertheless, while he was in Jerusalem this man found, perhaps for the first time, the Jewish Scriptures.
He was reading the magnificent 53rd chapter of Isaiah, in which the prophet describes the suffering of the innocent Servant led like a lamb to the slaughter.
“The Eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’
Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”
What Philip found was this:
He found a person who was seeking something, diligently, sincerely, earnestly…
…He found a man who was not self-satisfied…
…a man reaching out for something more than he had ever known before, and yet a man not understanding what it all meant.
That was Philip’s great opportunity!
God had called him to go down this very road for this very purpose.
There are no coincidences…
…the two men met precisely as God had planned it…so that the Ethiopian might come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through one of God’s messengers!
In this case, Philip was the messenger, and he did not shrink from sharing the Gospel with the person that God put in his path.
In other cases, we are called to be the messengers…
…do we shrink or rise to the occasion?
There are individuals—right in our backyards—who are discouraged; there are a great many people asking questions…
…who is going to answer them?
This generation is on a quest for something.
They want to know what this life is all about.
They want to know the meaning of suffering and of the tragedy and failure of humankind…
…so they look to the promoters…
…but there are many false prophets who are doing a very great job!
Many people have a listening ear…but the only ones talking are telling them lies.