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Personal Evangelism (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2024 4:00 am

Personal Evangelism (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 15, 2024 4:00 am

During the early church’s expansion, Philip the evangelist took advantage of Gospel opportunities as they arose, whether with large groups or individuals. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explains why even brief encounters can be impactful.


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Thanks for joining us on Truth for Life where we're in a continuing study of the early church and today we'll learn from Philip the Evangelist whose life shows us how we can take advantage of gospel opportunities as they arise.

We'll find out why even brief encounters with others can be impactful. Alistair Begg is teaching from Acts chapter 8 beginning with verse 26. The true Christian message asks people to consider facts.

Facts. He told them the good news about Jesus. He didn't tell them his experiences. He didn't give them his ideas.

He didn't launch into some strange diatribe. He stuck with the information. Now, this is very important in our era, because you understand what has happened in our culture philosophically, don't you? Men and women are prepared to talk about facts if you're talking about, for example, the boiling point of water, or freezing point, or the batting averages of your favorite baseball player. That is the realm of facts. But when you move into the realm of beliefs or slash values, then our culture says we are no longer dealing with facts. Now we are simply dealing with beliefs, with values that we have determined that we will embrace and perhaps proclaim.

And so, in a very skillful way, the guardian knot has been snapped, as it were, the umbilical cord has been wrenched between the reality of objective historical information and the experience of a life-changing encounter on the basis of that objective historical material. And the temptation for those of us who believe is to go to where the culture seeks to lead us, to give up on stating the facts about Jesus, because these are the things that people find so hard to handle, and go immediately to tell people just our feelings about Jesus or our experience of Jesus. But our experience of Jesus or our feelings about Jesus are flat-out irrelevant unless they are based on objective reality.

And the apostles are clear on this. You see, the challenge of pluralism in our country is so prevailing. And what pluralism says is, listen, all of these views are equally valid, because everybody is really on about the same thing. But when they're honest about Jesus, they know that Jesus isn't like Buddha, and he isn't like Krishna, and he isn't like the religious leaders that have walked across the stage of time.

He is radically different. So in order to maintain the perspective of philosophical pluralism, the pluralist must then devalue Jesus. That is why in Time and in Newsweek and in all of these magazines, there is a constant onslaught on the deity of Christ, on the significance of the death of Christ, and on the notion of the return of Christ.

Why? Because these things stick out like a sore thumb. His very claims are so unbelievable. And the dramatic transformation in these disciples is undeniable. And the existence of an ever-expanding church is inescapable. So if they're going to convince us that we're all the same, then they're either going to have to bring the other characters up to the level of Jesus or do what they do, and that is seek to bring Jesus down to the level of the other characters.

That is why, my friends, you and I, in speaking to our neighbors and our colleagues and our loved ones, are not called to tell our story first and foremost. We're actually called to say, I'd love for you to consider this, that Jesus is Lord—the cry that echoes through creation. Now, all of that and more must have been involved in this conversation. And Philip obviously did a masterful job of explaining all that was going on. And as a result of that, as they continue along the journey, he asks a question, verse 36, Why shouldn't I be baptized? And so he gave orders to stop the chariot, and then both Philip and the unit went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

What a dramatic moment! I mean, who would have ever thought at the start of the day, when he got in his chariot and got his scroll, said, Well, next stop, home. If someone had said to him, No, I don't think so.

There is a little Jewish man. He's going to be coming along here sometime later in the day. And as a result of your encounter with him, your life will never be the same again, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer. Well, that's the story of men and women's lives, isn't it? That's why some of you are here today. If you were to give your story, it would essentially be the same story.

Or not a chariot, not a little Jewish man, perhaps. But it may have been, I don't know. But you would essentially say, Something happened to me. Someone shared with me. I observed a change in someone's life. I was intrigued by whatever was going on. I became interested in it. I found that I was actually listening to what was being said.

I had no explanation for it at all. And then one day, it just seemed to dawn on me in its entirety, and I realized that I was rebellious, and I was unbelieving, and I was distrusting, and that my view of the world held no answers for the big questions of life, and I too came to trust in Jesus. Well, that's how the story ends, isn't it? When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but he went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Now, I have a couple of things to say by way of application, but I just want you to note a sort of historical point. If your Bible is open and you want to, turn just to 21 8 of Acts. Acts chapter 21 8. Luke is continuing to describe the progress of Paul on his journeys. They're on their way to Jerusalem, and in verse 7 of Acts 21, he writes, We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemy, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day. And leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house, notice, of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven.

He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Now, remember that Luke writes for us his gospel as a result of careful investigation and an analysis of the historical material, and he writes his second book on the same basis. There is every likelihood that what we're now reading here in Acts chapter 8, Luke learned when he stayed at Philip's house with Paul in Acts chapter 21. And when they sat down and had their meals, and Luke said to Philip, Tell me some of the stuff that's been happening to you.

Tell me about your life as an evangelist. Do you have any good stories? I'm thinking of writing all this down in a book. And Philip perhaps said, Well, I've got an amazing story concerning an Ethiopian. I'd love to share it with you.

And he took it down and wrote it down and left it to us. Well, it's possible. It's not vital. It's not a main thing.

But it is highly likely. And so, having had this little encounter, he's up and gone. Gone. Away. He said to yourself, Well, we didn't get him in a Bible study. He's not in a small group. I mean, what are you going to do?

You can't just do this with people. You can't just baptize people and leave them. What's God doing? And Philip was weaked away, and the eunuch didn't see him again. But he went on his way rejoicing.

Last he knew of him. Philip's gone, leaving him into the custody of God. You see, when God converts people, God converts people, and God will look after the people he converts. He doesn't bring them to birth and into his family just to leave them at a doorstep somewhere. He will take care of his own.

He does. We may have every confidence in that. Some of us are so tied up in our rigmarole of how you do things that we say to ourselves, Well, there's no point in me talking to somebody on a plane, because we've only got about fifteen or twenty minutes left, and what could possibly be accomplished in fifteen minutes? A life-changing eternal encounter could be accomplished in fifteen minutes. Who knows but that God ordered the very events of your life to put you in that seat for that moment?

And if God chooses to do that, he will take care of the individual who sits next to us. Now, let me say two things in conclusion. First of all, a word to those who would fit more with the Ethiopian.

I don't mean a word uniquely to those who are from an African American context, but in terms of his characteristics—that he was a worshiper of God, that he was interested enough to go up to the festivals in Jerusalem, that he was interested enough to buy a Christian book. So, to those of you who are in that category, that you find yourself coming to events like this, you find yourself at least tangentially interested in reading material, and you're prepared every so often to accept an invitation to attend the odd conference. Let me say a word to you. It's God's Spirit that prompts you to seek God. When you shift from talking and arguing to listening and learning, you have made another step down the road. When your reading of the Bible actually involves the engaging of your mind, you are another step down the road. When you find yourself not willing to admit it to anyone else but in your private moments yourself, thinking these issues out, perhaps taking a look at a book, opening a page or two, just wondering about it, God is at work within your life. Because I say to you again, routinely, men and women do not ask these questions, do not consider these issues. But the person who comes to this point will find themselves saying, how long have I been alive?

Twenty years, thirty years? And in all the time I've been alive, how much have I actually thought about Jesus? And why is it that I've been so unconcerned about Jesus? Why is it that I've never seen my need of Jesus? And why is it that now, at this point in my life, I'm asking these questions? I'm looking for answers.

Well, I can tell you the answer to that. Because the author of the Bible is the creator of your life, and he is the director of evangelism. He wrote this book, he made you, and he has appointed the context in which you yourself are living at this very moment. It is an expression of his grace and his goodness and his kindness that somebody who has lived their life with such little interest in Jesus, such little understanding of his truth, such a lack of concern about what it would mean, that he still would be seeking for the likes of you and me. That's the word, then, to the God-fearer.

What about the word, then, to those of us who would be in the role of the little evangelist or the little witness? Well, just an observation or two and we're through. First of all, you will notice when you read this for your homework that Philip was prepared to speak to an individual. Now, it may seem so obvious that it's hardly worth mentioning, but no, it's actually very much worth mentioning. I'm reading a book at the moment called Looking at the English, which is an anthropological study of the way English people relate to one another in pubs and in airports and railway stations and so on.

It's a fascinating book, and not least of all, as it explains the way in which English people engage in conversation with one another and how they use the weather, not because they're interested in the weather or because it's particularly bad, but they use the weather as a point of contact so that they can start talking to one another, because by nature they don't like to talk to one another, and they're not going to tell anybody very much at all. So the idea of actually speaking to an individual, having a conversation with an individual, and expressly having a conversation about Jesus is something that we need to be prepared to do. I wonder, are you prepared to do that, Christian? I wondered, you get up in the morning and tell Jesus that you're prepared today to have a conversation with someone about Jesus.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if you will begin your morning like that, you will find that your days are increasingly filled with such opportunities. He was prepared. He was, in the same sense, available. He was ready to do whatever God wanted him to do. Remember in Acts chapter 6, he'd been set apart to serve tables.

Didn't seem like much of a deal. The other fellows got all the big deals. The apostles, they were going to give themselves the prayer and the preaching of the Word. And he was filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith, and he was given a job to make sure that all the tables were under control. Every fellow in business knows this.

When you see a young guy come into your operation, whether he's in the factory or whether he's in the mailroom or wherever he is, his willingness—that girl's willingness to serve the tables, to lick the stamps, to get the stuff, to move the boxes—will be some indication of their potential for the future. And in the service of God, the same is true. There is no menial task in serving Christ.

There is no irrelevant opportunity. There is no scale of effective ministry that puts some of us at the top and the rest of us at the bottom. So he serves the tables. He's prepared to preach to the crowds. And even though he loves preaching to the crowds, he's prepared to speak to the individual. How about you, believer?

How about me? Only to be what he wants me to be every moment of every day, yielded completely to Jesus alone every step of the pilgrim way, just to be clay in the potter's hands, ready to do what his will commands, only to be what he wants me to be every moment of every day. That's the only posture for the Christian believer. That's the only posture if we're prepared to sing and mean, Jesus is Lord. It affects my belief, it affects my behavior, and it affects where I belong.

It affects everything. He is either Lord of all, or he isn't Lord at all. He does not settle for categories.

Also, you will notice that he was thoughtful, and he was careful in engaging conversation. This is where many of us get off the track. Because we're not thoughtful, and we're not careful, and we don't begin in a way that makes it possible for somebody to talk to us.

We're frankly downright obnoxious, many of us. No, no, he just starts, Do you understand what you're reading? It may simply be, Is that a good book? Are you enjoying that book?

Are you interested in angels? I see that book is about X. But once he'd engaged him in conversation, he got quickly to the heart of the matter. Jesus Christ crucified for us. And once he got to the heart of the matter, he presented the whole gospel. Otherwise, there could not have been the fully informed response on the part of the Ethiopian who says, Oh, here's water.

Why shouldn't I get baptized? How did he get to that? Because Philip did a comprehensive job. He told them, this is what happened on Pentecost. The people, Peter preached, the people repented, they believed, they were baptized, and they devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine and to the breaking of bread and prayers. And Mr. Ethiopian, Mr. Chancellor, I can see that you're a worshiper. I can see you fear God. I see you're even interested in the Bible. But what you need to do, what you need to do personally is to repent and believe the gospel and be baptized.

That's the message. And then presumably, he couldn't even believe his ears when they passed the pond. And the fellow says, Well, we're passing water right now.

Why don't I just get baptized? Let me finish with a story. Derry Prime tells it of F. W. Borum from New Zealand.

He was a minister in New Zealand. He was making a journey on a night train, on an overnight train. It was a particularly uncomfortable train. The light in the train was so poor that you couldn't read. And by his own testimony, Borum was in a bad mood. Overnight journey, bad light, couldn't read, uncomfortable train, bad mood. An immediate point of identification for most of us, right?

I mean, contemporary equivalent, you got back in a 727 backed by no window and engine, and, you know, 31F, stuck, bad mood. He found himself, as he sat in the darkness of the compartment, thinking about the other young man that was actually in the compartment sitting diagonally to him. He looked across at this young man without engaging in a conversation, and he thought, What a poor chap he is. He's uncomfortable like me.

Maybe he'd like to talk, and we could pass the time away together through the night. And as he thought that, he then thought about his spiritual duty, because after all, he's a minister of the gospel. He's telling his congregation you should tell others about Jesus, and here he's not even considering telling this person about Jesus.

And as he thinks in that way, his responsibility grew. As a result of a stop for the elaborate shunting of the train to get it on the prescribed track for ongoing travel, Borum got out, stretched his legs, got back in the compartment, and sat opposite the young man, and began to engage him in conversation. And they said, Hey, look at us, stuck on this train, uncomfortable, no light.

Here we are. But we're on the journey together, aren't we? said Borum. Oh yes, said the young man. Then said Borum to the young man, And I hope that we are fellow travelers on life's great journey. To which the young man said, It's strange you should say that, because I've been thinking a lot about life's great journey lately. And as a result of that, the conversation ensued. The journey was coming fast to an end.

Borum was under pressure. He said to the young man, In light of all that I've shared with you, you can walk off this train, and even as you walk home, simply trust in Christ as your Savior. And they parted.

Borum writes how he regretted the fact that he never asked him his name and never asked for his address. They were just separated from one another. Five years later, while traveling on a train to Dunedin, a young fellow handed him a Christian tract. And to their mutual surprise, it was the same young man who had received the Lord Jesus Christ five years previously as he walked home from the train.

As you walk out from here this morning, you too may receive Jesus. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with the conclusion of a message he's titled Personal Evangelism. Keep listening.

Alistair will close today's program in just a minute. Today's message is part of a series titled When the Church was Young. And as we've been finding out, being part of the body of Christ comes with some clear benefits. But it's important for us to understand we need to attend a church that follows a pattern given to us in the book of Acts, a church that keeps the gospel central and faithfully teaches God's word.

If you'd like to learn more about what to look for in selecting a local church, visit our website and read the article titled Alistair Begg on Finding a Church. Simply search at slash find. By the way, today is the last day we're offering the Acts ESV Scripture Journal for a donation. If you've not already requested your copy, be sure to do so right away. Request the journal when you donate to support the Bible teaching ministry of Truth for Life.

You can give a gift through our mobile app or online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Father, thank you for your Word, and I pray that you will help those of us who are considering the claims of Christ not to be put off by the stumblings and bumblings of some who are well-meaning but inept. I pray that you will help us to realize that we're not dealing in the realm of relative values or beliefs, but either this Christian thing is true or it's false, there's no halfway house. Either Jesus is the incarnate Son of God or he's not.

Help us to think in these terms and bring us, we pray, to faith in Jesus. And for those of us who go out to the journeys of all of our tomorrows, we pray that you will make us dutiful and responsible, imaginative, creative, and kind, and that eternity will reveal the impact of these strange encounters, these conversations that you, the director of evangelism, have created. May the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one, now and forevermore. Amen. Amen. We are glad you have begun the week studying the Bible with us. Can you imagine a terrorist doing a complete about-face in his or her thinking? Tomorrow we'll learn the story of a merciless persecutor of Christians who became one of the greatest contenders for the faith. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 06:34:16 / 2024-04-15 06:43:19 / 9

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