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The Work Of An Evangelist

Acts 8:26-40 • July 9, 2023 • g1271

Pastor Dennis Davenport from Calvary Chapel High Desert teaches an expository message titled “The Work Of An Evangelist,” using Acts 8:26-40 as his text.

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Pastor Dennis Davenport

July 9, 2023

Sermon Scripture Reference

Once we are saved on earth, what has God left us here to do? Before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He said, “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” Acts 1:8. The last thing Jesus said in Matthew were the words given to us, as they were given to the disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The primary purpose of you being here, me being here, as someone well said, “God saved us out of this world to be a witness to this world, and that’s our only business in this world.” This world increasingly—are you feeling it?—is not comfortable; it’s not my home. It’s getting more uncomfortable all the time. Things are going crazy! I’m thankful that my citizenship is in heaven. We are strangers and aliens to this world. As soon as a person comes to know Christ, he becomes a twice-born man living in a world of once-born men. And our job and commission before the King is to tell the people who are once-born how they can be born again.

John Wesley, the father of the Methodist Church, told a group of students that they had only one business, and that is the salvation of souls. That’s what makes being a Christian fun, exciting and joyful. It’s when your life is making a difference in the lives of other people. It’s when you know God is using your life and witness to help other people to come to know Christ and experience the joy that only He can bring. Isn’t that a thrill?

If you’re bored it’s your own fault. What are you doing? A lot of Christians lose the excitement of the Christian life. Why? Because we get off track as to what we’re here to do, and we haven’t witnessed to anyone in years. We’re Christians, we’re saved, we’re going to heaven. They say, “I don’t want to offend anybody.” And that’s what your children are being taught in school tragically. “You need to keep it quiet. We don’t want to offend anybody by anything we say.”

But Jesus said, “If you’re offended at this, wait till you see what’s going to happen down the road!” He didn’t mind offending people. Now you don’t walk around looking for someone to offend today. But if we love and live as Jesus called us to love and live, we preach the Gospel. And when we teach the Bible, some will be offended.

We often see the church like a hospital, a place for sick people to come to get better. But in every hospital, there is a fun part of the hospital—the labor and delivery area. That’s where people want to go. Nobody wants to go to the other parts of the hospital. “I can’t wait to get a gall bladder attack, so I can go to the hospital!” Nobody says that. But people like to go to the hospital to see the babies. In the labor and delivery wing of the hospital is where there are joyful and excited people.

So here in Acts 8, we read about a man by the name of Philip, who is called Philip the evangelist. I want to look at what God desires and how it is that we can be more impactful in our world by looking at this message.

The thing that is needed is not political power. Yes, we need to vote and to pray about our vote. But the hope to fix what’s wrong with this nation is not through political means. We are given the freedom in this nation to vote, and we need to take advantage of it and do it according to the work and the leading of God’s Word.

But know this: even if the right guy, according to someone’s opinion, gets in the White House, that’s not what’s going to fix what’s wrong in our house. What’s going to fix that is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need a grass-roots campaign for Christ. But if that doesn’t happen, the course will continue down.

In our text, I want us to see three, different phases of the work of an evangelist. We see a young man named Philip meet an Ethiopian man. This Ethiopian was a man of great power and authority. And Philip had been conducting a very successful crusade ministry in Samaria. People were getting saved all over the place. Then an angel appeared to Philip while he was in Samaria. Verse 26 says, “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert.”

If this was you or me, I might be scratching my head and saying, “That can’t be the Lord! Things are going so well here in Samaria. People are getting saved by the droves. And now I’m supposed to go out to the desert! How does that make sense?!” And yet that was the word of the Lord.

Philip was told to go. When God says, “Go,” we should go. We see that Philip went, in the Scriptures, verse 27. And in Genesis 12:1, it says, “Now the Lord has said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.’” And he went and blessings ensured. He was a man who was greatly blessed. And we already read in Matthew 28:19 that Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” The first two letters of this verse say, “Go.”

If we’re serious about the Gospel, we need to be those who recognize that we are responsible to take this message to those who need to hear it.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Philip and said “Go,” so he “arose and went” to where the Lord called him to go. He went to Gaza. Gaza was the capital of Philistia, the home of Israel’s greatest enemy, the Philistines. He’s told to go there to the last village before Egypt. It’s actually stretched all the way to Egypt. It may be like Barstow; it’s a desert area. I know; I live in the desert.

The direct route to Philip’s destination would be a 48-mile trip over steep mountain passes and hilly country. Despite the poor prospects of converts on that road, Philip just headed south. He was told to leave the place where he was being blessed and go to a place that is barren. I wonder if Philip would have preferred to stay in the place where God was bringing revival, instead of going out to some remote village.

But when God said, “Go,” he went. Even though it was to a deserted place, God had not deserted Philip there in the desert. He will “never leave [us] nor forsake [us].” Jesus said that when you are engaged in preaching the Gospel, “Lo, I am with you always.” You’re never alone. So Philip “arose and went.” Philip, upon hearing this request, takes the first step.

Sometimes in life we feel that way, alone. But no matter where God has positioned you presently, He has positioned you with a purpose.

Verse 27 continues, “And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship.” This man wasn’t from Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria. He actually came from the ends of the earth. It was a long journey that he had made, yet he was seeking. He was seeking God. Even though he was in a positon of power and authority and respected by many in his own country, something was missing. This Ethiopian was searching and seeking.

And God, our God, is faithful to those who would come, who would ask, who would seek. This treasury secretary was the Jerome Powell of Ethiopia. And Candace was not really the queen’s first name; it was more of a title like Pharaoh or Caesar. And this Ethiopian had traveled some 1,200 miles, which could have taken him up to five months. He had attended the service in Jerusalem and was now on his way home. Verse 28 tells us what he was doing. He “was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.”

Obviously when he went to the service in Jerusalem, where the Scriptures were being read, they were reading this very section. This man must have thought, I don’t know what this means. There is something there. I sense there is something there in this God of the Jews. But I don’t understand what is being said there. He probably became very aware while he was there that while the Word was alive, there was a dead orthodoxy and ritualistic kind of environment. So he was still seeking the truth.

No doubt he was a man of means, because you didn’t have a hand-written copy of the scroll of Isaiah without paying some serious dollars. And being the treasurer of Ethiopia, I imagine he was a man who had the money to be able to buy it.

Now Philip moves in here and God has positioned him with an opportunity. God’s privileged him with this opportunity.

How many opportunities have we missed to share the Gospel with people? The Holy Spirit may have nudged you and said, “Why don’t you call this person.”

You say, “Later; I don’t want to take the time right now.”

Or the Holy Spirit said, “Hey, there’s a neighbor. Say ‘Hi’ to them.”

“Uh, I’m busy. I have to go in a few minutes.”

Or you know somebody is hurting. You haven’t said anything to them, but they’re hurting. You know they’re hurting, or they’re struggling with depression or discouragement or they’ve lost a loved one or a friend who passed away. And here’s a nudge of the Holy Spirit and an opportunity put in front of you, but you say, “Oh, I don’t know.” God has positioned you and provided you with an opportunity. But instead of moving forward and going, as Philip has done here, you just retreat into your comfortable position.

We see the positioning that God provided for Philip. We see the proximity that God brought. The reason for God’s timing is always redemptive. Notice verse 29: “Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” In the first speaking of bringing the message to Philip, it was an angel. But this time the Holy Spirit directs Philip in the perfect timing. As the Ethiopian comes along, Philip is at the same place. “Ah, the coincidences of life!” No, not really. It’s the work of God’s Spirit.

If you look at your own life, there was some intersectionality where you say, “God brought the right timing. God brought the right person with the right circumstances and the right situation.” As you look back over your life, you see how God was orchestrating that time where you responded to the Gospel. He puts the right people in the right place.

God knew exactly, in His sovereignty, when to send Philip and knew when he would arrive, providing this divine intersection. Step one was, “Arise and go.” Step two is, “Go near and overtake.” That means to join, to cleave to, to give yourself to, to hang on until your mission is accomplished.

Philip had every reason to hesitate to go and to get close. Think about it. Here’s an Ethiopian eunuch, a man of position and power, and here’s Philip, a Jew. I’m sure this Ethiopian eunuch, as a treasurer in a position of power politically, had Secret Service protection with him in his caravan. And Philip was walking along. He could have thought, Well, I’m a stranger. He’s riding, I’m walking, I can’t keep up to him. I’m not even going to try. Philip had good reason to feel awkward about talking to someone he didn’t know who was in this position. And the Jews were prejudiced against the Ethiopians; they looked down upon them. The Ethiopian was probably a Black man, as well. But Philip didn’t know of any racial prejudice, as far as the Jewish, social prejudices were concerned.

But none of this mattered to Philip, because God told him, “Go.” God told him to join. And we, as Christians, should hold no prejudice in any capacity in any way. If God tells you to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel,” then you go into all the world and to everyone you meet and preach the Gospel. No matter who they are, what color they are, what nationality they are. And even if they are LGBTQ, they need the Gospel.

Have you come to Christ because there was someone who God placed in your life before you were a Christian who joined together with you? But when you were mocking them and harassing them, they were kind to you. I’ve had people like that in my life. And I was like that mocker. I would give them a hard time. I tried to get them to get into the flesh so I could say, “See, God isn’t real.” I was that guy. I’m sorry.

But I look back now and see that even though I was an idiot, there were people who treated me kindly. Even when I pushed away, they still loved me and shared with me and cared for me and didn’t write me off.

Is there someone who God has been speaking to you about? Someone He has placed in your life who needs to see Jesus? And not just hear the Word of God, but one who sees the work of God in your life in a way that is strange to one in the world, because they expect “evil for evil”? But when you respond with kindness and love—responding differently—that’s powerful!

We need to recognize that if we’re living in a Christian “bubble,” a “holy huddle,” or “us four and no more,” there is a propensity to look at those around us, those unbelievers, and get caught up in alienating ourselves from them. But we need to do what we can to do what Philip did here: to join with them, to connect with them, so we can reach them with the message of the Gospel.

And we need to do that with our children. There are times when moms and dads tell their children, “Just go into your room! Get out of my hair!” We can push people away. We can push away those who we love.

I’m a grandparent and have 14 grandchildren, with two more on the way. And I realize I have an opportunity now as a grandparent to do what was more difficult for me to do as a parent, because you’re trying to get everything together when you’re raising your kids and get your marriage together. But by the grace of God, all my kids are walking with the Lord. Yet I realize I could have done things differently. And to me, grandchildren are a chance to do over.

But when you get older and are retired and have a little more time on your hands, you’re not retired from preaching the Gospel and making disciples. And a good place to start is at home with those grandchildren. I can take them to McDonalds—or you can take them to a healthier place—and I can sit there with them and just listen. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. I have one granddaughter who can go on and on, faster than you can believe! It’s hard for me to keep up sometimes. But those times are precious. And listening shows love.

Often people just need to be listened to and patiently heard out and to just impact our grandchildren, our neighbors, our coworkers. We don’t spend any time together; we just pass each other. “How are you today?”

“Good.” And we’re gone. We don’t really spend the time or take the time and the opportunity that God might provide.

God doesn’t tell Philip anything but to go and get there and get close to the Ethiopian. Then verse 30 tells us that “Philip ran to him.” Philip’s obedience was immediate and enthusiastic. It wasn’t, “Okay, God, I’ll go,” with a long face. Rather he ran to the Ethiopian.

The psalmist says in Psalm 119:32, “I will run the course of Your commandments.” And Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with [all] your might.”

Someone said, “Evangelism is what spills over when you bump someone.” Have you bumped anyone lately? Are you near enough to non-Christians for your Christianity to spill over into their lives? Have you come alongside someone who is in that place where they’re hurting? Maybe they have a broken heart. Console them or care for them.

And I don’t mean just pounding them with the Gospel, quoting Scripture. They won’t care how much you know about the Bible until they know how much you care about them. They don’t want to be a project of yours. Yes, we need to preach the Gospel, but we need to earn that right, to connect with them by showing them the love of God.

“Bless those who curse you…and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,” Matthew 5:44. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, and yes, you can feel like they’re the enemy, but the reality is that they’re an opportunity to see God work.

This Ethiopian, in a position of prominence and power, was right there with Philip. And Philip was near enough to him as an unbeliever, at this point. He was near enough to him to hear him.

Are you hearing what people are saying?

The Ethiopian was reading out loud, as was customary in that day. So Philip heard him reading the Scripture.

Maybe the people you are around, as unbelievers, aren’t reading the Bible. Maybe they’re talking about their marriage or maybe they’re talking about a classmate or a coworker. Maybe they’re talking about how down and how hopeless they’re feeling. Maybe they’re helpless. Maybe they lost a loved one or a family member.

God has put Philip in this position, so he can hear the Ethiopian reading. Philip is in close proximity. God has prepared this man to meet Philip, and He prepared Philip to meet this man.

And that positioning and proximity brings us to the third thing here: proclamation. The result of God’s timing is always remarkable. I think of how crazy this is and how humiliating it might have been. The Ethiopian has his entourage, he’s riding along in his chariot, sitting there reading this out loud. And Philip’s running, trying to keep up with him. As this man is reading, Philip yells out, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip wanted to know if this man understood what was written, as he is searching it out.

The man responded, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

Do you understand what is going on when people share their heart with you? When they share their feelings with you? When they talk about matters that are concerning to them? Do we ask them, “Do you understand what’s going on? Do you understand why this is happening? Do you know that there is a God in heaven who loves you?”

Asking questions is a good way to open the door to evangelism. For example, when we ask the question, “How are you today?” and they are tempted to flippantly say, “I’m fine,” do we say, “Wait a minute. Really, how are you?” And sometimes they’re fine. But a lot of times, if you probe further and seek to connect on a deeper level, and show that you care, if we enter into their lives in that way and invite them into ours, we can help them to understand.

This Ethiopian eunuch was reading a passage in Isaiah. So Philip asked, “Do you understand?”

The Ethiopian said he didn’t understand. So “He asked Philip to come up and sit with him” to explain it. So Philip did what is really the goal of the church and of every believer who has the opportunity to teach the Word or share the Scriptures with someone: to give meaning to the Word.

In Nehemiah 8:8, we read that after the wall was built, the teachers helped the people make sense of the Scriptures. Ezra was leading the charge. “So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.”

Philip was invited to come up into the chariot, that he might give understanding. And it just so happened—as God would have it—that the Ethiopian was reading from Isaiah 53. “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.”

Then in Acts 8:34 the eunuch asked, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” He wanted to know in this passage who was being spoken of. Verse 35, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” Philip told him the good news about Jesus. Isn’t that great?! What a wonderful example for us.

Start with where a person is, and then bring them to Christ. That’s what Jesus did with the woman at the well. It’s a perfect example. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again.” It’s something she was concerned with; she was coming to the well at noon to get water and it was hot. Jesus knew she knew a lot about water. And Jesus went on to talk about water and about giving Himself. He had said to her, “Give me a drink.”

She asked, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. She basically said, “For you, a Jew, to ask me, a woman and a Samaritan woman no less, for a drink isn’t right. There is this huge prejudice that exists. In fact, You shouldn’t even be here, technically, in Samaria. And to ask a woman for a drink is very unacceptable for the Jews to do.”

Jesus takes her through water illustration and patiently listens to her. They dialogue together. When asked by Jesus, she said, “I have no husband.” Jesus appreciated her honesty. At the end of their dialogue, He said, “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” Then Jesus began to share with her His identity: He was the Messiah. He started from where she was, with water, and brought her through from there.

Too many times we start right in with big terms like, “You need to be born again.”

“What’s that mean?”

“You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

“What’s that look like?”

“You need to be sanctified and washed in the blood, or you’re goin’ to hell.”

“Where’s that and what’s that about?!”

We use our “Christianese” and we wonder why they don’t get it. No, they don’t get it, because they’re not around the church.

A question the other day on Jeopardy was “Our Father who art in heaven, ______ be Thy name.” None of the three contestants knew the word to fill in the blank! It shows you where we are as a society and that we need to be clear and need to be patient and give understanding to these terms. Start with where people are, and then make a beeline for Jesus.

Billy Graham used to say, “If the church went back to its main task of preaching the Gospel and getting people converted to Christ, it would have far more impact on the social structure of our nation than any other thing could possibly do.” I agree. That is what we need. We need revival, and for that—as Pastor John always said—we need “re-Bible.”

Here Philip preached Jesus and the Ethiopian received Him. Either he learned about water baptism by what he was reading, or Philip explained it to him, because as they’re riding along they came to some water. “And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’”

Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And the eunuch said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So Philip and the eunuch went into the water, and Philip baptized him. As a result, this man’s life was changed, because Philip was positioned by God. He was put in proximity, drawing close to the man and he proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him.

We are to build bridges to our neighbors. Be praying. Have you prayed today, saying, “Lord, I want to be used today by You to present the Gospel to somebody. Will you please open the door”? The reason there is not the kind of joy that God designed and desires in our lives today, the reason you become dull is because you’re not out there sharing the Gospel. You’re not making a difference in people’s lives.

Again, the most exciting place to be in the hospital is where babies are being born. You see rejoicing all over. Yes, there is a period of agony there, mom, and if you’re pregnant, I’m sorry. And you know you get to that stage in the pregnancy when you just want this baby outta here. And then when that baby’s out, there’s joy!

Maybe the reason the church is not as joyful, that you are not as joyful as you could be and should be is because you’re not engaged in the preaching of the Gospel. What we need in this country, what we need in this nation is a church on fire and courageous to reach the lost. That’s why we’re here. We’re not here to be comfortable. We’re here to preach the Gospel.

God help us to be “lit up” with a passion, to be obedient, running, looking for opportunities to share the message that has changed our life, not only presently, but for all eternity. How can we keep it to ourselves?

The world says, “Don’t offend.” Jesus says, “You stand up with the message of the Gospel.” Do it in love and with compassion, but do it courageously and continually.

Pastor Photo

About Pastor Dennis Davenport

Dennis Davenport is the Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Of The High Desert in Hesperia, California.

Sermon Summary

Pastor Dennis Davenport from Calvary Chapel High Desert teaches an expository message titled “The Work Of An Evangelist,” using Acts 8:26-40 as his text.

Pastor Photo

Pastor Dennis Davenport

July 9, 2023