"Guiding People to Jesus"
The story of the African who came to know the saving power of Jesus is one of my favorite conversion stories. I hope by this time you are guiding people to Jesus, but maybe you are here and need someone to guide you.
Guiding People To Jesus
A. I read the following saying, “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me and be my friend.”
B. Dale Carnegie wrote, “You can close more business deals in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
C. I thought about both of these statements as I reflected upon the story that took place in this eighth chapter of Acts with an African man and Jew who talk about Jesus.
D. If you are a Christian, my guess is someone shared with you what it took for you to become a child of God. It might have been a relative, a friend, or someone from a local church. For many, their first introduction to the salvation message was not from the local preacher. That might surprise you. But before the preacher ever got involved in the study often times someone else did the inviting to a worship service or small group study. I tell you that because the message today is about God using, not an apostle, but a person who made himself available to God and was prepare to tell the good news of Jesus.
E. There are three principle players in today’s story. I have already mentioned two, but I want to start with one you may not have thought about – God, himself.
I. The Calling
A. Before Philip ever met the Ethiopian, God had already begun to call. In Acts 2 we read that the promise of the salvation was given to “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
B. When Cornelius was praying, God told him to send men to Joppa to find a man named Peter who would tell him what he needed to do to be saved. As Lydia, a Jewish believer, sat by the riverside the Bible says that “the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Jesus told the people in John 12, “if I am lifted up I will draw all men unto myself.” God begins the calling, and that calling is for all.
C. It is not with your words or mine, but by the power of the HS that people respond to the gospel. But God is not only drawing the seeker to himself, he is also prompting us to do his will and be his voice. And that brings me to the next participant, Philip.
I. The Guide
A. Matt. 5:14-16. Who is the light of the world? Think about that. If you are a child of God, then you are called to be a light to the world. That light is seen through your actions. Your actions preach sermons. When you send a card, call someone who has been missing worship, visit someone who is a shut-in or sick, give a person a ride to the store, help a person deal with their finances, inviting someone to worship are all ways to let your light shine. The question is not “How do I let my light shine?” but “Do I let my light shine?”
B. Matt 9:37-38 says, “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” On at least three occasions Jesus told his disciples about a harvest being ready. That harvest was souls of people who are seeking. The hurt that Jesus had was not that people would not be drawn to him, but too many people would not be the voice of God to guide them.
C. Look at our text. Acts 8:26-30. Philip was prompted by an angel and he went. I don’t know of a time when an angel has prompted me. But I do of many occasions when I have felt drawn to do something and believe by faith it was the Holy Spirit prompting me. Even if there was not some supernatural prompting, Paul tells us in both Ephesians and Colossians to “make the most of every opportunity.” It is not the opportunities that stop us, it is fear.
D. Now watch what Philip does. He goes to where God leads him and then is told to “join the chariot.” Philip hears the man reading the book of Isaiah and asks him one question, “Do you understand what you are reading?” What an introduction. Philip took a person who already knew and loved God, and wanted to help that person understand more clearly what they were reading. Many times we want to try to push the Bible on someone who is not at that point, instead we need to meet people where they are and join them. Are you willing to be a spiritual guide to someone else?
III. The Seeker
A. The third participant in this story is the man from Ethiopia. Now everything about this man tells us he is rich. First he is the treasurer for the country of Ethiopia, who is governed by a Queen. Being in her royal court and knowing about Jehovah he had come to Jerusalem to worship, but the problem was Gentiles were limited in where they could go, even Jewish proselytes. Being a eunuch he would not have been allowed to become a full Jew. But it is Isaiah, this wonderful book that he is reading, that told him how God was drawing even eunuchs to him if they would be faithful. I am sure that must have been a great feeling to know that this God wants to make you better than what you see in yourself.
B. The part of Isaiah that Philip hears the man reading is found in chapter 53. When Philip asks them if he understands, this man is honest enough to say he doesn’t, but he would like to. “How can I except someone guide me.”
C. Let’s read from our text, verses 32-33. Who is Isaiah talking about? JESUS! We know that, but this man did not. This man’s understanding of the Messiah would have been limited. He was not raised knowing all the stories that many of us take for granted. Yet he was hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Read verses 34-35. Let me take you where you are and guide you.
D. But this spiritual journey that Philip was taking this man on was more than a history lesson or even a story about Jesus. This is about salvation. Somewhere in his teaching they talked about baptism. This wonderful, spiritual act that took a person and immersed them in water as a washing or cleansing act of faith that God allowed to be like circumcision was for the Jews. Baptism unites us to the Father through the saving grace of the blood of Jesus. As this Ethiopian understood all this he responds to Philip (vs 36-39).
A. This man went to Jerusalem to worship God, but came home a Christian. He went there knowing that the Jehovah was the one God and came home hearing the story of the Messiah sent from God to take away the sins of all people. What joy! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! That joy can be yours today!