Summary: Witnessing in the power of the Spirit
PHILIP THE EVANGELIST
What is evangelism? What is an evangelist? (Wait for answers)
Jesus said in His final words, “Go, be my witnesses here and everywhere,” “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
To evangelize is to tell the good news of Jesus. “Gospel” = “evangel” = “good news.” Go and gossip the Gospel everywhere you go!
The first Christians did that; it is also our primary assignment.
Each of us is called to be a witness. Last week I suggested you could tell the story with about 6 verses as an outline:
Romans 3:23 – All fall short of God’s glory
Romans 6:23 – Wages of sin is death (what we earn), but God’s free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Roman 8:1 – In Christ, there is no condemnation
Romans 10:9-10 – Declare publicly Christ is my Lord and truly believe Jesus is alive and you are saved = in Christ
Romans 12:1-2 – Grow in Christ by presenting life to Him to be used by Him and transform mind by Bible study, prayer, etc. to live life His way, and KNOW His will.
A. Persecution Sends Them Out of Their Comfort Zones
AC 8:1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.8:4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Jesus had told the disciples that they would be His witnesses – where? In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Where were they still in Acts 8? Jerusalem! They hadn’t even got out of home base to speak of. There were those Jews who came from distant lands for Passover and Pentecost that had been converted, and now gone home; but the Apostles were not reaching out!
God used persecution to get them to move out and do His will. He wasn’t the author of the persecution, but He used it, evil as it was, for His good and the ultimate good of His people and others. Cf. Rom 8:28. God does that with us all the time.
“…all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean “all” as in “everyone”—anymore than we might say, “the whole town turned out for the football game.” Acts says there was a “mother” church left in Jerusalem (where Peter and John come from, where the Jerusalem conference was held and where relief aid was sent that Paul collected.) But a lot of Christians, and maybe most of the Greek-speaking Jewish-Christians like Stephan and Philip the martyr, were scattered.
B. Signs and Wonders and the Gospel
5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Signs and wonders got people’s attention and opened their hearts and minds to the Gospel. Healings and deliverances occurred by the Holy Spirit’s power and direction. It was noisy, messy and wonderful.
And things like this still occur today, especially overseas.
(I gave one example from overseas. And I told of the woman in our last Praise & Healing service [I said “recently” and did not use her name] who believed she had a demonic presence who was wanting her to commit suicide, which we cast out of her; she, as well as her husband the next day, confirmed this.)
C. Simon, and the Reception of The Holy Spirit
AC 8:9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.