Because of a scheduling situation, this lesson will not actually be taught during our children’s service this month but I do want to write about it so that it can be a resource for others to use. Over the past two weeks, we have been dealing with the topic of godly friendship based on examples from the Word of God. We looked at Jonathan and David’s godly friendship, learning how to be a godly friend to others. After Jonathan and David’s example, we looked at the example of Daniel and his 3 friends, learning how godly friends can influence us and help us make godly choices. This week we want to learn how to lead another person to faith in Jesus Christ, since, that is the reason we befriend others and serve them in the first place. Our desire is to introduce our friends to the Friend who changed our lives.
In order to accomplish this goal, we need to read Acts 8. In order to set up this chapter, I want to give some background info to you in order to put things in perspective. In the Gospels, Jesus took 12 ordinary men and radically changed their lives by discipling them. He taught them the Word of God and how to apply It to their everyday lives. Jesus then trained them to make disciples. They walked with Him for 3 1/2 years, watching, learning, and ministering with them. He even sent them out on their own from time to time. They were well trained and knew exactly what to do. He then paid the price for their sins by dying on the cross so that they would no longer be condemned by their past but free to serve. Three days later, Christ rose from the dead to set them free from the power of sin so that they could serve their new Master, God. Over the next 40 days, Jesus gave them a crash course in Old Testament theology, demonstrating how He, the Christ, met all of the Old Covenant requirements, making Him the long awaited Messiah. After those 40 days had come to pass, Jesus ascended into heaven and 10 days after that He sent His Holy Spirit to empower the disciples (about 120 people in all). They began doing what they had been trained to do; make disciples and the Gospel spread very quickly. For those who accepted the Gospel, the original disciples immediately began to take them through the same process, teaching the new believers the Word of God. Lives were being transformed day by day. This process went on for about 8 years and then something terrible and wonderful happened all at the same time. Stephen, a deacon in the church, was called in to share his testimony and he did a beautiful job explaining the Gospel using the Old Testament. After his message was complete, the men who listened were cut to the heart and so they decided to shut him up by stoning him. A great wave of persecution began in Jerusalem and the fulfillment of Acts 1:8 continued from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. Philip the evangelist was one of those persecuted Christians who was fleeing Jerusalem. God uses Philip in an amazing way. This is where the story picks up in Acts 8.
I. As you are living life, seek to make disciples as the Spirit leads
Philip was in Samaria preaching the Gospel and making disciples. Once he and his friends had finished there, they wanted to walk back into the fire of Jerusalem because there were still churches there that needed teaching and preaching. While on the way, the Holy Spirit led Philip to change directions and go on a different road. Philip had no idea why but he knew that God was calling him and so he obeyed. Are you making yourself available to God or are you just too busy with life to hear His voice or act on what you hear? God wants us to be about making disciples no matter what our professions are. In fact, our professions allow us to meet many people who need to hear the Gospel and be discipled. How do you view your profession, as a hindrance to the Gospel or as an opportunity to make disciples? Philip had been discipled and his life was transformed. We do not know what his life was like before but we do know that he was a man like we are and lived like the rest of us do before we are born again. Once his life was transformed, he was on a mission for the rest of his life, to preach the Gospel and make disciples. He knew the sound of God’s voice and obeyed immediately. God even revealed which person to approach. This is the way God is. Anytime I fly or sit next to a person on public transportation, God’s voice begins to move in my heart nudging me on to share the Gospel. I never know how it will begin because He usually starts the conversation for me. Once, I was on a plane, flying to teach about Jude and the dangers of the Da Vinci Code. A stewardess catching a flight to work sat down next to me. As we began to chat, I began to find out info about her and the set up for sharing the Gospel was on. I really did not want to share with her because I needed to work on my notes for the seminar. When there was a pause in the conversation, I took out my stuff and began to prepare. The Spirit immediately said, “share the Gospel with her”. I ignored the gentle voice so He responded with a louder voice the next time. I could no longer concentrate. I still refused to speak. So, since I would not begin the conversation, the lady decided to pull out a copy of the Da Vinci Code and read it. I finally gave up and said okay Lord and began to share about what I was about to teach. The lady was stunned that Jude, written almost 2,000 years ago would speak on a book like the Da Vinci Code. I spent the rest of the hour long flight sharing the Gospel. I pray that the seed was planted and that God used that for His glory. I imagine Philip’s situation was similar except for the fact that he was obedient right away 🙂 .
II. Be ready to explain the Gospel by teaching people the Word of God
The Ethiopian man was searching for God. He had traveled to the Holy Land in his quest to find God. He had gone to Jerusalem, to the Temple and bought a copy of a book of the Bible, Isaiah the Prophet. The man had been constantly disappointed. He did not find God in the Holy Land. He had not found God in the Temple. He had learned Hebrew in order to be able to read the Bible and yet he still could not understand the message. In all of his searching for God, he had come up short and was on the brink of despair. God knew his heart and sent the solution, Philip. When Philip met the man and saw that he was reading Isaiah the Prophet, he began to ask questions and let the Ethiopian answer from the text. They began doing inductive Bible study 🙂 . The man was open and so Philip explained the Gospel of Christ beginning with Isaiah. Are you a good enough student of the Word of God so that you can pick up any passage that someone has questions about and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them? If not, what keeps you from it? If you are a born again believer then you have the desire to know God’s Word, the Holy Spirit as a teacher, and the Word of God as a manual so why are you not preparing yourself? These things are all vital in the process of making disciples.
III. Lead people to commit to following Jesus Christ by becoming His disciples
Philip had explained the Gospel. I am sure that he hit key teachings like being born again because of the response of the Ethiopian man. When they passed a considerable pool of water, the Ethiopian man asked, “can I be baptized?”. Obviously, Philip had explained what baptism was and the necessity of it. Of course, in order to understand or want to be baptized, one must understand concepts such as repentance, being born again, and discipleship. Philip had explained these things. The man had believed with all of his heart and he wanted to make a public commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple and he did so the first chance he had. He was baptized by Philip. When explaining the Gospel to children, do you explain these important truths so that they know what kind of commitment they are making by choosing to be followers of Christ? Or, are you just quick to seal the deal and get them to say a prayer so that you can put one more notch in your belt loop of converts? Unfortunately, too many people just try to seal the deal and we end up with children making decisions and commitments without really knowing what they are doing. They follow Christ at 6, backslide during their teen and early adult years, either have children or a crisis in life and then come back to church. Is that the way things are presented in the New Testament? In the New Testament, people understand the decision that they make, are born again, and are disciples of Christ until the end of their lives. This is what God wants.
So my friend, are you living life to make disciples? Have you been discipled so that you know how to make other disciples using God’s Word? When presenting the Gospel to others, are you quick to seal the deal or do you take the time to explain the important truths of the Gospel such as repentance, faith, being born again, baptism, and discipleship? May the Lord help us examine our actions and desires, making sure they line up with what the Word of God teaches.