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March 29, 2011

Spiritual Gifts Series

The Spiritual Gift of Evangelism:

Philip

(Part VI)

Acts 8:35

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him.”

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The life and ministry of Philip helps us understand the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism.  We have seen how the Holy Spirit moved Philip to preach to Samaritans, and also join an Ethiopian eunuch on a desert road.  As Philip talked with the eunuch, we see how an evangelist uses the Bible to preach Jesus.

         Evangelists Open Their Mouths At first glance, you may think that the Bible makes small points, like he opened his mouth.  Consider the opposite for a moment.  Imagine that Philip had joined the chariot, asked his question about understanding, and everything was prepared for Philip to share Christ.  Instead of opening his mouth, imagine further that Philip just sat there, silently.  One time I was at the beach sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a person I just met at the beach.  Another friend of mine had come to the beach with me for the purpose of evangelizing the lost.  During the entire time I shared the Gospel, he would not even turn around from his seat to say one word to the person I was sharing with.  He never opened his mouth.  Evangelists open their mouths and speak at the right time.

       Evangelists Use the Scriptures, and Often the Scripture the Unbeliever Was Already Reading.  Notice here that the Ethiopian eunuch had already asked for guidance to understand the Scripture: “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31). The Holy Spirit had sent the evangelist at just the right time when the eunuch was already reading the Bible and seeking God.  Sometimes, people are asking us questions about what they have read in the Bible, and we do not open our mouths.  I have a friend who often comes to see me with questions about what he has read in the newspaper. He likes to read the articles written by Billy Graham.  My friend does not own a computer, and so relies upon a newspaper.  He often does not understand what Billy Graham had written, but it provides an opportunity to speak about those spiritual things and read the Bible together.  In the case of the eunuch, he had read Isaiah 53:7-8, and did not understand the passage.  Philip the evangelist began with that passage.  So often, I find people who have a particular passage from the Bible they have heard about, and we can start there talking together.  Without the message of Christ, found only in the Bible, we cannot present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

       Evangelists Answer Spiritual Questions from the Bible.  The eunuch read a passage and asked Philip two very important questions: “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this?  Of himself or of someone else?”  Philip opened his mouth in response to those questions.  The best way to answer questions about Jesus will be to read and explain what Jesus said about Himself in the Bible.  Philip began with the Isaiah passage and then continued to other Scriptures to explain Christ.

       Evangelists Preach Jesus.  Philip did not preach politics, self-help, nutrition, tithing, or anything but Jesus to the eunuch.  Philip did not get side-tracked away from Jesus. Jesus Himself proclaimed that men should search the Scriptures, for they testify of Him (John 5:39). We should speak about salvation in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to bring people to find forgiveness of sins by faith alone in Christ Jesus.

          So we learn more about the gift of evangelism today from the life of Philip.

      ●  We learn that the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism means that the evangelists meet people prepared by God to accept Jesus, and they often have questions about the Bible they have already been reading. 

       ●  We learn that evangelists open their mouths, and using the Scripture, preach Jesus.

       ●  We hinder the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism when we do not open our mouths for Jesus and help the evangelists to speak for Christ.

Application for Today

        Today, I want to listen to people asking questions about the Bible.  I want to open my mouth and speak about Jesus to them.  Will you open your mouth for Jesus today?