PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
ACTS 8 07 MAY 2023
Today our focus is on one of the most vital ministries of the Church. That focus is on the ministry of the Evangelist.
It is interesting that although the ministry of the Evangelist is vital to the growth and daily life of the Church, it is rarely mentioned, specifically in the New Testament.
If we take a good look at the Scriptures in the New Testament, we will find that only one man is specifically noted as being an Evangelist. That man is Philip.
We read of Philip as an Evangelist in Acts 21:8. Then, in Ephesians we read as the Apostle Paul lists several other groups of workers who were gifted at doing the work of the Church. He includes apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These were to be equipped.
And, since Philip is the only Biblical character who is specifically called an Evangelist, his example and ministry are very meaningful for men today who are called to equip the saints for works of service in the Church, to build up the body of Christ.
So, today, we will look at some of the principles we can learn from the life and ministry of this Evangelist, Philip.
1. The Gospel is for everyone. It does not matter what race a person is. It does not matter what their nationality is. Both males and females can obey the Gospel. A person’s background will not exclude them from the invitation to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.
Now, how is this important in the ministry of Philip?
We see, from Acts 8:5 That Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ to the people of Samaria – the Samaritans.
Traditionally, the Jews and the Samaritans would have no contact with one another. In fact, they hated each other.
But Philip broke with tradition and went to those who were different. There is something very special about his actions there. He did exactly what his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ did. He followed the example Jesus set as He ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well as we see in John 4. When the Samaritans accepted the Gospel, it was a great breakthrough because it proved that Christ is for the entire world, not just the Jews.
A second lesson we can learn from Philip, the Evangelist is that the preaching of God’s Word attracts multitudes. When Philip traveled to Samaria, we see in Acts 8:6 that “the crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.
When God’s Word is preached, we should expect large crowds of people. Some will accept Jesus; some will ridicule the evangelist. Some will respond with mockery. But when the true Gospel is preached there is definitely not silence. The reaction may be outward. But, truthfully, the most effective reaction is inward. This happens when someone hears the Gospel message and is pricked in the heart. And the inward turmoil begins. A decision must be made.
True Gospel evangelism never remains silent or hidden. Sometimes we may wonder, in our minds, how effective – or long-lasting – are decisions which are made during a massive evangelistic campaign. Think of the Billy Graham crusades of days gone by, or about the Asbury Revival in the past and in the more recent days. We can only pray that those who respond in those venues move forward from that initial commitment to follow through with the full plan of salvation which includes more than “asking Jesus into their heart.” That is, to follow the command to be baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins.
It is, in a few verses later in - Acts 8:14-17 - we see that those Samaritan converts were baptized and received the Holy Spirit
In the work of the Evangelist, after they lead people to Christ, they need the help of other Christ followers to help with ministering to them.
In Acts 8:14, we find that after Philip had preached to the people of Samaria, many responded to the preaching. Multitudes were being saved. The Church in Jerusalem received word of this great revival. And in verse 14 we see that Peter and John were sent to the field to help disciple these new Christians. This is when the new converts received the Holy Spirit. First, Philip, the evangelist preached, and multitudes were saved and healed.
Then, when the church in Jerusalem heard what God was doing in Samaria, they sent Peter and John to authenticate the move of God and to disciple the new believers. After Philip completed his job as an evangelist, the job of the Apostles began. The most common question the evangelist is asked is: How do you follow up on new believers?
Let’s look at Acts 8:25-27a: “So when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza. (This is a desert road.) So, he got up and went….”
As Philip walked along the road, he was fulfilling Jesus’ command to “go out into the highways and hedges” (Luke 14:23). God does not want us to stay inside the four walls of the church. He wants us to take the Good News out on the roads. God often sends evangelists to spiritual deserts. There is ministry waiting to be done in every setting an Evangelist, or the Christian in the pew might find themselves.
1. An Evangelist should be sensitive to and ready to listen to God’s voice (Acts 8:26). Philip is led, first by the angel of the Lord, and then by the Spirit. Both times, he obeys. As Brother Luke wrote these words, he is showing us that Philip’s mission was Spirit-led and Spirit-inspired. And so, it must be with the evangelist today. When God speaks, it is important to listen and obey.
Doors open when Evangelists obey the leading of the Spirit, which then allows them to share the Gospel. Philip has a unique experience on the road to Gaza. We know that very often people have hard hearts toward God, but thankfully some are open and ready to receive. As the evangelist stays sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and follows His leading, he will discover those who are ready to respond to the Gospel.
In Acts 8:27 through the remainder of the chapter, we find an example of one who was hungry for the Spirit and ready to hear the Word.
The Ethiopian eunuch needed someone to explain the Scriptures. Today many people have questions about God and the meaning of life. Many of them will question but never seek the answer. But, when they do, who will answer these questions?
Look at how the Apostle Paul responds to this situation. The need is urgent. If the evangelist does not go, then who will tell them about Jesus? How can they understand unless someone explains? As Paul writes, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15).
Anytime the Gospel is preached the crucial point of the message must be Jesus. You have heard it said: “The Old Testament is Jesus concealed; the New Testament is Jesus revealed.” Every verse in the Old Testament points forward to Jesus and every verse in the New Testament points backward to Jesus. No matter where we might start reading in the Bible, the Scripture leads to Jesus.
It can be said that the difference between a real evangelist and a preacher who just uses the title is how much they talk about Jesus. It doesn’t matter what subject is begin talked about – it doesn’t matter where he begins reading in the Bible – the sermon will be about Jesus Christ. Whatever the subject matter of the sermon is, the focal point must always be Jesus.
2. The Evangelist must be willing to yield to the Spirit when the Spirit guides him to where he is needed most. Listen to the last two verses in Acts 8. We will see this happening in the ministry of the Evangelist, Philip.
“When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through the kept preaching the Gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.”
The Spirit sends evangelists wherever they are most needed (Acts 8:39). Philip was caught away and reappeared in another city where he continued to preach.
Evangelists are the shock troops of the kingdom. Their function is similar to the Navy Seals or Army paratroopers who are the first to advance into enemy territory to prepare the way for the main battle group. The evangelist moves in, does his job, and then moves on to his next assignment – wherever it is that God needs him.
While culture and location may be different today, the principles we see in the life and ministry of Evangelist Philip and his evangelistic ministry are still relevant today. Context may change, but the message of the Good News always remains the same!
How will you respond to the Good News today?