Church Empowered – Message 8
November 8, 2020
I. Introduction: We continue our survey of Acts entitled, Church Empowered.
A. Today’s title—and the subject of our study—is Evangelism.
- Theme verse: Acts 8:4 (NLT)—But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
- Evangelism = Greek word, euangelion (transliteration), which means, “announcing good news,” or preaching the gospel, the content of the good news.
- I hope our understanding of evangelism will encourage us to be evangelists, to be led by the Spirit to share good news by telling our faith stories.
II. Evangelism is… (Acts 8:1-40; C/R: Romans 1:16-17; 10:12-17)
A. #1 - Extended by difficulties. (Acts 8:1-4; C/R: Mark 13:9-11; 2 Corinthians 4:8-13; 1 Peter 3:14-16)
- Acts 8:1a (NLT)—Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.
- The stoning of Stephen unleashed persecution against the entire church, instead of only against the apostles and those few others who were proclaiming the risen Jesus.
- Acts 8:1b (NLT)—A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. [Apostles remained to shepherd flock; others fled.]
- Acts 8:2-3 (NLT)—2(Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning). 3But Saul [Hellenistic Jew from Tarsus (Turkey), a Pharisee] was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
- Acts 8:4 (NLT)—But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. [First great missionary outreach by the early church.]
- They were scattered, but not silenced; they continued proclaiming the Gospel.
- Comfort and complacency, as well as fear, are the enemies of evangelism.
- APP.: Sometimes God unsettles us, moves us to new places, sometimes through painful experiences—to new neighborhoods, offices, towns, nations—to fulfill His purposes.
- He disperses people who have experienced Him, who know Him, have a story to tell, to places where people need to hear the Gospel. [Read e-mail; here to train, then sent out.]
- APP.: Are you willing to go? Will you look for opportunities to share your story?
#2 - Endorsed by miracles. (Acts 8:5-13; C/R: Matthew 7:21-23; Romans 15:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 12:12; Hebrews 2:4)
- Acts 8:5 (NLT)—5Philip [served Greek widows; Acts 6:1-6], for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. [first Christian missionary]
- The inhabitants of Samaria [MAP] were Jews who intermarried with foreigners from Gentile lands and adopted their idolatry along with their Jewish faith. (Ezra 4:2-11)
- They were considered “half-breeds” and despised by the Jews in Judea. (2 Kings 17:24-41)
- Acts 8:6 (NLT)—6Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. [authenticated as God’s messenger]
- Since Samaritans believed a mixture of Judaism and pagan idolatry (syncretism), they were aware of the Messiah, so they were interested in his preaching and his miracles.
- Acts 8:7-8 (NLT)—7Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. [Demons do exist today, but work in different ways, tempting with materialism, power, control, promiscuity and depraved sexuality.] And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. [God still heals. Pray, ask Him!] 8So there was great joy in that city.
- Acts 8:9-12 (NLT)—9A man named Simon had been a sorcerer [Latin: Magus] there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. [Ego] 10Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” 11They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. [Magic can be real, but have a Satanic source. Exodus 7:11]
12But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. [Implies they were abandoning Simon’s magic for Philip’s message.]
- Acts 8:13 (NLT)—13Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed. [Was his motivation true faith or gaining the ability to work greater magic?]
- “God doesn’t work miracles through me!” Salvation and transformation are miracles!
- ILL.: Jean Boothby was born again in eighties after being raised in a Christian family, with a pastor grandfather, played piano and organ in churches. She now knows God!
#3 - Enlivened by the Spirit. (Acts 8:14-25; C/R: John 3:5-7; Romans 8:9-11; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Titus 3:5)
- Acts 8:14-17 (NLT)—14When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [Born again?] 17Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. [Have you? Are you enlivened spiritually?]
- Does this mean the baptism by the Holy Spirit happens subsequent to salvation?
This was a transitional period in the church; the Spirit had descended on Jewish believers and remained at Pentecost, replacing the Son who had ascended. (Acts 2; John 14)
- This event proved Samaritan believers were equal to Jewish believers in the eyes of God, because both received the Holy Spirit (and Gentile believers would also later).
- Since the Samaritans received the Spirit through actions of the apostles, these these two groups who resented each other, formed one unified church under the same leadership, instead of separate churches for Jewish believers and Samaritan believers. (Galatians 3:28)
- Simon had a surprising response: Acts 8:18-19 (NLT)—18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people [must have been something observable, such as, spiritual gifts], he offered them money to buy this power. 19“Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” (Magicians bought tricks from each other.)
- Simon wanted to purchase their power, not understanding it was from God, not them.
- Acts 8:20-23 (NLT)—20But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive your evil thoughts, 23for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” [Was Simon saved or lost?]
- Acts 8:24 (NLT)—“Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”
- Simon wanted to escape his sin’s consequences, not repent from offending God.
- APP.: When sin is exposed in your life (by the Spirit, a person or your conscience) do you want to escape the consequences or repent to get right with God? (2 Corinthians 7:10)
#4 - Encouraged by the Spirit. (Acts 8:26-40; C/R: Acts 16:6-7; 20:22-24; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:25)
- Acts 8:26-40 (NLT)—26As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” [a seldom used road of two] 27So he started out [without resisting or questioning] , and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake [a title], the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28and he was now returning. [a God-seeker] Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
29The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
- The Holy Spirit directed Philip, guided his evangelism effort—and He does ours also!
Acts 8:26-40 (NLT)—30Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. [expensive purchase] Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
32The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. 33He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth.” [Isiah 53:7-8, in Septuagint, Greek version of Old Testament]
34The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” 35So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. [The lamb was the Messiah, Jesus, the final sacrifice for our sin.]
36As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” [Believed!] 38He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water [immersion], and Philip baptized him.
39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. [Indicating salvation.]
40Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.
- God is sovereign, so He doesn’t need us, but He chooses to use as His messengers of Good News, speaking His Word, that His Spirit then illuminates. (Romans 10:12-17)
- ILL.: Doug Wildman was led by the Spirit to share his faith with a Muslim friend. He discovered the friend had received a vision of Christ the night before. The friend cried and said Jesus appeared in his home, touched and healed his wife's cancer, which a physician confirmed.
- APP.: Is the Spirit’s leading to share Good News? You do your part, He’ll do His!
Spiritual practice: Who shared the gospel with you when you believed and were born gain? Is God directing you to tell your faith story to someone? Write out your faith story and share it.
Memory verse: Romans 10:17 (NLT)—So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.