Summary: The early church wanted to share God’s love, spread the good news, and reach persons for Christ. It is the spirit needed by all of us who confess Christ as Lord.
LET’S REACH PEOPLE
Acts 6:5-7; 8:5, 35; 21:8-9
INTRO: Rudyard Kipling told of being on a world tour. At one port, General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, boarded the ship. He was sent off by a group of tambourine-beating members of the group. This send off repulsed Kipling. Later, after Kipling got to know General Booth better, he told him how he felt about the send off. Booth replied, “Young man, if I thought that I could win one more soul for Christ by standing on my hands and beating a tambourine with my feet I would learn to do it.”
The early church demonstrated this same spirit. They wanted to share God’s love, spread the good news, and reach persons for Christ. It is the spirit needed by all of us who confess Christ as Lord. One outstanding member of that fellowship was Philip. Tracking his life, we discover a model for the “how and when” of reaching persons.
I. LET’S REACH PEOPLE THROUGH THE ORGANIZED ONGOING MINISTRIES OF OUR CHURCH (6:5-7).
Some widows within the fellowship of the early church felt they were being neglected. Seven key leaders, one of whom was Philip, were appointed to help resolve the problem. The solution worked and the Bible records that “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem” (v. 7 NASB).
Sometimes we disparage organization, but it is important and necessary to channel our energies and efforts for the maximum good. Our purpose is to minister and reach persons, and that demands the best organization possible.
ILLUS: Several years ago at a conference in Glorietta, an Hispanic pastor told about his conversion. When he was a boy, his family and other relatives went to see his grandmother almost every weekend.
A neighborhood lady, a Sunday School teacher at a nearby church, began taking the children to Sunday School. After being in his age-level class for some time, he professed faith in Christ at the age of twelve. He said, “I’ll always appreciate that godly woman.”
Through our organized efforts, we will impact the church’s ability to reach persons.
II. LET’S REACH PEOPLE THROUGH THE CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LIVES (8: 1-35).
Great persecution came upon the church. Believers were forced out of their homes. Longstanding relationships were severed as the followers of Christ sought new places to live. Did this discourage the church? Apparently not. “Those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (v. 4 NASB). Philip went down to Samaria, and God did great things through him during this time of upheaval and change in his life.
Changes come to all of us, but God will open up new and unexpected doors for us to share Christ just as He did for Philip.
ILLUS: When the late missionary doctor Bill Wallace was imprisoned by Chinese Communists, he did not end his witnessing. He shared Christ with his jailer and preached from a cell window to those who would listen.
Whatever changes we face can be opportunities for demonstrating our faith and showing the difference Christ can make in living. Philip’s life suggests another important avenue for reaching persons.
III. LET’S REACH PEOPLE THROUGH THE SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR FAMILIES (21:8-9).
After his dramatic encounter with the Ethiopian in Acts 8, Philip faded from prominence but not from obedience. In Acts 21 he is referred to as “the evangelist,” and he has a family of four daughters devoted to proclaiming the good news of Christ.
Though we are individuals and responsible for our growth as persons and though we cannot make others act as responsibly as we would sometimes like, the spiritual development of our families must be a priority. The obvious truth is that we need to encourage, teach, and support one another in our spiritual journey.
ILLUS: The late J. B. Gambrell expressed his concern for his family’s spiritual development in a message read by his children after his death. He said: “My deepest concern for all of you is that you may be genuine Christians. There is no greater failure than to live in this world without God, and without a sure hope of the next world.... I would have my children and grandchildren and on through all the generations to be simple-hearted, cheerful, faithful Christians.”
CONC: People can and must be reached through the witness of our families.