Summary: We must be faithful to do OUR PART, and trust God to do HIS PART.
Rise & Go!
I heard about a barber once who was in church one Sunday, like you are here today, and the pastor preached a message about being a witness and sharing the gospel – like I’m going to do today. At the end of the service the barber felt convicted that he had not been a faithful witness and determined to do something about it.
The church was offering a 6-week evangelism class for people to learn how to share their faith. The barber signed up for the class, memorized the material, and received his certificate of completion at the conclusion of the class. The very next day he determined he would share his faith with the first person that came through the door of his barber shop. As fate would have it, it was a huge biker, dressed in leather and all tattooed up. He looked pretty angry too. Apparently he had lost a bet with his biker friends and he was going in to have his beard shaved.
The barber’s nerves about witnessing were now compounded because of the intimidating customer who sat in his chair. As he draped the protective sheet over the man he tried to remember all that he was supposed to say. He started to get very confused and couldn’t recall anything that he had memorized. As he began to prepare his razor, sweat began to pour down his face as his nerves were getting the best of him. Finally, in desperation, he shook the razor at the biker and yelled, “ARE YOU PREPARED TO DIE??!!
How do you do when it comes to sharing the good news about Jesus? There are some of us that sharing the good news about Jesus is very natural. It comes easy for us. But for others, we find it very difficult. We get tongue-tied and nervous. We even worry that we might say the wrong thing.
Yet, we know we should say something. We know that God has changed us, and because of that, we know He can help others as well. We want to be a witness to this difference Jesus has caused in us.
We have been working through the book of Acts. I’ve entitled this series “The Church on Mission.” And by God’s grace that is what we are becoming, a church on mission. But one of the ways we will be a church on mission is if as individual Christians who make up this family of faith we are each people on mission. The 8th chapter of Acts zeroes in on one such Christian. His name was Philip. He was one of the original 7 deacons we met in chapter 6 who were chosen to perform a service ministry in the church.
But even though he was called to serve in this mercy ministry of serving food to the widows, he didn’t see his ministry limited to that alone. He, as well as Stephen, were powerful preachers. Stephen’s preaching cost him his life. And it was because of Stephen’s powerful proclamation that Saul initiated a severe, wholesale persecution against the church. This severe persecution caused the dispersion and scattering of the church.
Philip was one of those who left Jerusalem because of the intense persecution. But he didn’t go silently, he went preaching and proclaiming the gospel. As such, at the beginning of chapter 8 we see God perform that God-twist. The sorrow of being displaced from their homes in Jerusalem was replaced with much joy because many in Samaria were believing the gospel and were surrendering their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
This was nothing less than a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise and commission in Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 Now, because of the scattering, at least part of that promise was being realized. The gospel was being preached in Samaria.
Last week we zoomed into one of those Samaritans who initially said he believed the gospel and was baptized – Simon the magician. But what we discovered was that his faith was actually a false faith. It was not a saving faith. This week by contrast we will see someone who has a genuine, authentic saving faith – the Ethiopian Eunuch.
We’ve already seen the gospel break through the barrier of the Samaritans. Revival has broken out in Samaria! In this passage we will see the gospel break through the final barrier of Acts 1:8, the ends of the earth. This Ethiopian eunuch was the first Gentile convert. Samaritans were half-Jews. Ethiopians were not Jews at all. Samaritans were still Palestinian. Ethiopians were Africans. Jesus’ promise is coming to pass!