How the World was Won to Christ
We want to preach this morning on “How the world was won to Christ!”
What a glorious time that was 2,000 years ago! It was the dawning of a glorious age upon the world. It was the dawning of the glorious gospel upon a spiritually dark and decadent world.
The world was won to Christ by preaching the good news about Jesus Christ, who won the victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave for a world of lost sinners who would believe in Him, and follow Him.
This Man Jesus, won the victory for His followers, not by conquering the world by force like Alexander the Great, but this Man conquered the world by love. He conquered the world by His own death for sinners, and His burial, and resurrection from the grave.
You see, He died on an old rugged cross to pay the punishment of all the sins of all who would believe in Him, that they committed against the holy God of heaven. And by trusting in His death, burial and resurrection they receive forgiveness of their sins, and eternal life with God.
This morning we will see just one event in the history of the world, which, like thousands of other similar events, had an immeasurable impact upon winning a world for Christ.
Beloved, the world of lost sinners is won for Christ one sinner at a time. Though many come to know Jesus in one hour, yet they are saved one sinner at a time.
In our text in Acts 8, we will see one sinner and one saint, brought together by the one God of heaven for one purpose; to work a work of salvation that would impact the world.
1. First this morning, we want to see the call to witness.
Who was this man Phillip? Phillip was a deacon, or a servant of the church of Jerusalem. He wasn’t a pastor, but he was a man who was willing to serve His Lord.
What was the occasion that proceeded this heavenly call to Phillip? A great work of the Lord in Samaria.
Who was the “angel of the Lord”, and how did he speak to Phillip? It was a heavenly angel who was sent by God to deliver a message to Phillip. He may have spoken audibly to Philip, or simply put the words in Phillip’s mind. I believe angels have the power to speak to our hearts, and give us holy thoughts.
You just never know where a thought to witness for Jesus came from. Perhaps from an angel, or from the Holy Spirit. If that were the case, how should we answer those holy thoughts of our hearts? How often do we ignore that inner voice that bids us to witness for Jesus?
Where and what was this desert place? It was somewhere south or south-west of Jerusalem. It was a deserted place where few or no people lived. It seems strange that the Lord would send Phillip into the desert to preach, especially when such a great work of the Lord was going on in Samaria. But the Lord knows what He is doing. He had a plan and purpose in it.
What was Phillip’s response? He said, Lord why should I go down there when souls are being saved right here? Lord, there is a great work going on here in Samaria, why go to a desert? No, the Bible says that He arose and went without any questions. Herein is a key to a successful ministry. Arise and go without any questions.
2. Secondly, we want to see the occasion for the call to witness.
What did Phillip find when he got down to that desert? One man and his chariot! Yes, just one man in the desert, who was leaving town! Phillip said “Lord are you sure about what you are doing here?” NO! He didn’t say that.
Just who was this man of Ethiopia? First, he was a black man. You mean black people have souls? Yes, they do! He was a eunuch, or a chamberlain, and a servant to the queen of Ethiopia. He was the queen’s treasurer, and a man of great authority and influence. He was a key figure and a potential ambassador of Christ to northern Africa. Be careful not to judge the potential converts that God sends us to. We just never know what kind of influence and witness they might be. He was only one man, but what a witness he could be for Jesus!
He was also a Jewish proselyte, who had come to Jerusalem to worship. Even the Jews accepted black proselytes into their religion. He was a religious man, and even worshipped the true God, but yet he was lost in his sins.
What was the Ethiopian doing when Phillip found him? He was reading the Old Testament prophet of Isaiah. We see that the Lord was preparing the sinner for His messenger. The Lord does that? The Lord works on both ends. The Lord works that way. He is everywhere working out His providential will. May the Lord prepare sinners to hear the gospel from our church. That is the only way they will hear and be saved.
Here it is Phillip, this is why the Lord sent you all this way down here! Now, go join yourself to the work! Were you ever impressed to go to someone and speak to them about Jesus, but when you got there, you failed to deliver the message? There is no point in going to all the trouble, if we don’t deliver the message!
What was Phillip’s response to the Spirit’s command? He said “I’m scared of Ethiopians, and besides, I don’t like riding in chariots! No! Once again Phillip obeyed the voice of the Spirit, and ran to the Eunuch. Beloved, when the Spirit bids us go, we need like Phillip to run to the work, not run away from it!
When Phillip got to the chariot, he did a quick check of the Eunuch’s spiritual vital signs. In so many words he said “Where are you spiritually?” Do you understand what you are reading? Do you know who Jesus is, and what he did for sinners?
In like manner, we need to find out where people are spiritually. It doesn’t matter where they are religiously, but where are they spiritually! Do they know Jesus? That is the all-important question! Do you know Jesus, and what He did on the cross for sinners? Do you believe that He died on the cross, was buried in the tomb, and rose again the third day for you?
The eunuch said, “How can I understand unless someone guide me?” He needed a man, that is, a person with spiritual understanding, to guide him. The word man here could mean anyone with spiritual understanding.
The Old Testament prophesies were not clear concerning Jesus’ first advent. The Old Testament needed further explanation. The New Testament provides that explanation. But the New Testament wasn’t written at this time. I believe people can be saved by reading the plain message of the gospel. But it is needful to have someone with understanding to guide you.
So then, the occasion of the call was a lost sinner, whom the Holy Spirit had prepared. Now, beloved, that is the dream of every Christian witness, to find sinners that the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive the gospel. Can this really happen? Yes! In fact it must if sinners are to be saved.
3. Thirdly we want to see the message of the Christian witness.
What was the passage that the Eunuch was reading? It was Isaiah 53, the clearest Old Testament prophecy of redemption in Christ. Now, was the Lord at work here, or was he at work here?!! Again, the purpose and providence of God were clearly at work on both ends! Of the immense Old Testament writings, he just happened to be reading Isaiah 53!
What a question that the Eunuch asked! Here is a man with no apparent pre-conceived notions of religion to blind him. Here is a man who wanted to know the truth of the Scriptures. How blessed it is when people want to know the truth of the Scriptures. “Lord, give us people who want to know who Jesus is from the Scriptures!”
Phillip preached Jesus from Isaiah 53. Is Jesus found in the Old Testament? He sure is! Philip preached Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Son of God that should be sent into the world to be the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of His people. He preached about Jesus suffering on the cross, and how the Father forsook Him. Yes “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him!”
He preached how that Jesus’ soul was made an offering for sin, when He died on the cross for sinners. Truly His life was taken away from the earth. He preached how that God saw the travail of Jesus’ soul and was satisfied! He preached how that Jesus justified many, because He bear their iniquities.
He preached how that Jesus made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death (Isaiah 53:9). He preached how that Jesus rose again from the dead the third day, and therefore, His Father would give him a portion with the great, because he poured out His soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors, and bear the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors!
Yes, beloved, Phillip preached that salvation is by grace through faith in the Person, and the work of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
4. The response to the gospel call.
The Eunuch became a believer in Jesus Christ for salvation. He believed Isaiah’s report concerning Jesus. He believed Phillip’s explanation of the Scriptures. He believed that Jesus, the Son of God, became the sacrifice for his sins. He believed that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for him.
Because of his faith, he wanted to obey Jesus, and follow Him in baptism. Beloved, all who are truly saved want to obey and follow Jesus. That is evidence that a person is saved, that they want to follow Jesus. Not only in baptism, but also to follow on and serve Him in His church.
Before Phillip would baptize the eunuch, there was one requirement. He said “Only if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest!” Baptism is of no use if one is not a true believer in the work of Jesus on the cross. In fact, baptism is not Scriptural baptism if it is not preceded by saving faith. I wonder how many people are “baptized”, yet don’t have saving faith in Jesus!
What was the eunuch’s answer to Philip? He said “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Beloved, in those words the eunuch said a mouthful! He meant that the Lamb of God in Isaiah, is the same Jesus who died on the cross.
You cannot separate faith in the Son of God from Jesus’ work on the cross. To do so is to mutilate the Scriptures! To say that a person can be saved by believing in Jesus as the Son of God without believing in His redemptive work on the cross, is simply not true. Beloved, faith in Jesus as the Son of God assumes faith in His work of the cross.
When someone has saving faith, they believe in the only true God of heaven. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is Lord. And they believe that He is their personal Saviour by His work on the cross. True saving faith cannot be divided, but its all one faith. And beloved, no one is permitted baptism unless they are a true believer in Jesus. Otherwise their baptism is null and void.
Phillip was a man with authority to baptize from the Jerusalem church. Phillip was not a freelance evangelist. He had church authority to baptize into the membership of the Jerusalem church. He had church authority to authorize converts to start new mission works. Yes, he did, because the Lord sent him to do this very thing. It is clear from the first part of this chapter that Phillip’s work was authorized by the Jerusalem church. Peter and John came down from Jerusalem to organize the new church at Samaria and impart spiritual gifts.
We see that Phillip baptized the eunuch upon profession of his faith. The eunuch was not put on spiritual probation to see if his faith would pan out. He wasn’t put through a catechism before becoming a member of the church. But upon profession of his faith in Jesus, Phillip baptized him. Beloved, we must let the Lord sort out the false professions from the true. And we know that there are false professions! And we also know that the Lord will sort them out in His own time!
Phillip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and came back up out of the water. There can be no argument that baptism in the Scriptures was by emersion only. Even most Protestant writers do not deny this truth. The questions is, when did the Bible way of baptism change? If it did, who had authority to change immersion to sprinkling or pouring? The answer is, the Bible way of baptism never changed, and therefore no one had God given authority to change the Biblical mode of baptism.
Beloved, anything less than believers baptism, by the authority of the Lord’s Church, by immersion only, is not Scriptural baptism, and God doesn’t honor or accept it.
In conclusion, by means of examples like this one in the Book of Acts, a world of lost sinners have been won to Christ. Phillip preached to men like this eunuch. The eunuch took the gospel to Ethiopia. People in Ethiopia were saved, and went on the preach the gospel in their lands. Thus the gospel has spread throughout the world for the past 2,000 years.
What is our calling this morning? What is our place in the purpose of God in the gospel? We are not all called preachers or evangelists, but we can all be witnesses.
Where, and to whom might the Lord send you to be a witness for Jesus? The Lord will open the door of opportunity to all who want to be used of Him.
Do you know what to say to lost sinners, and what they need to hear to be saved? Beloved, lost sinners need to hear that they are sinners in need of a Saviour. And they need to hear how that Jesus died for sinners.
That is what Phillip preached, and Paul, and Peter, and all of God’s preachers! We need to tell lost sinners how Jesus died for sinners, and was buried in a tomb, and rose again from the dead the third day.
How about you? Do you believe in Jesus? If not, repent and believe the gospel right now and be saved!