In Acts 8:26-40, we read about Philip’s life-changing conversation with a man who had great authority under the queen of Ethiopia.
This eunuch was reading passages from the book of Isaiah but was unable to understand it.
Led by the Holy Spirit, Philip initiated a spiritual conversation, asked questions, and listened to what this man had to say.
This story is a great illustration of how God will bring us into contact with people who are searching for answers.
But something gets in the way of us actually doing this: excuses.
So today we want to talk about the reasons and excuses we might give for avoiding these important conversations.
God wants to use us to “knock” on the hearts of people who aren’t yet followers of Jesus-they might just need us to start the conversation.
Acts 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road [50 miles…on foot] —that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza [Gaza was the last stop before going through the desert to Egypt; Gaza was a deserted town; Philip might have no one to preach to on a little-traveled road that would leady by a deserted city].”
27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch [different race; plus Jewish Law excluded eunuchs from Israel (Deut. 23.1)], an important official [different class] in charge of all the treasury [different job] of Candace (Kandake), queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,
28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot [different ride; only the most well-to-do had chariots (think city bus vs. Used car vs. New Ferrari] reading the book of Isaiah [Old Testament book] the prophet.
29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
What are some of the excuses Philip could have had based on what we just read?
- It’s too far
- No one’s going to even be on that road
- I’m not good at talking to black people
- He’ll never give me the time of day, he’s in a different class
- I can’t talk to a treasurer, I don’t understand math or money that well
- How could I show him his need since he’s so well off?
- I don’t understand the old testament that well. What if he asks me a really hard question?
If you found out about an amazing deal that the Apple Store was giving away $1,000 to every person who bought an iTunes gift card, would you tell your friends? Why or why not?
If your friends found out that you knew about this amazing deal but didn’t tell them, how do you think they’d respond?
What are some of the common reasons or excuses we give for not talking to other people about our faith?
- They look pretty busy…
- I’m pretty busy…
- They probably won’t care what I have to say…
- Now’s not a good time…
- I’m too young…
- I don’t want things to get awkward…
How would you have felt if you were in Philip’s shoes?
The Gospel is much better than a sweet chunk of change from Apple. Our excuses could be the only reason someone doesn’t receive the gift of salvation. Do you really want to stand in the way of that?
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot [Spirit just said go stand near it] and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet [customary in that day to read out loud (for us, think: pens, t-shirts, lunch conversations)]. “Do you understand what you are reading?” [starts a spiritual conversation] Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him [Philip initiated and waited].
32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”
35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture [Philip was always ready to respond] and told him the good news about Jesus [Philip shared the Gospel as they traveled, not just as an event].
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”
38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him [baptism is a sign of salvation, so Philip’s conversation led to the Eunuch’s conversion].
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing [salvation brings joy]
Let’s think about some of the reasons or excuses you mentioned a few minutes ago. Are any of them valid?
What is the chief motivator of these excuses?
But what does 2 Timothy 1.7 say? 7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
How might you overcome these reasons or excuses?
In the first week of this series, we talked about the importance of asking questions and listening. If Philip would have just started telling the eunuch what he thought before asking and listening, how might this story have turned out differently?
Philip overcame excuses and actually HAD a spiritual conversation with the eunuch. Eventually, the conversation led to salvation because…how did he do it?
He started out by ASKING a question,
then he LISTENED to the eunuch’s story.
Afterwards, Philip was READY to RESPOND
and he used the Gospel to KNOCK on the door of the eunuch’s heart.
How Do We Respond To This?
We all have excuses for why we don’t share our faith or try to explain the Gospel.
But the first step is to EXAMINE those excuses so we can learn how to ask questions and listen to stories
Then we have to OVERCOME those excuses so we can respond to opportunities to share our faith.
I want to challenge you to do this:
Before the end of the month, I want you to at least ASK to hear the story of the person you’re praying for in your Cell Groups.
Now, if you find that they’re open to talking about Jesus, keep going! But I want you to at least ASK sometime before November starts.
Evangelism can be very intimidating.
But if you get in the habit of asking questions and listening to stories, it becomes much more of a rhythm of how you talk to people.
And just like the eunuch in the story who went away rejoicing, WE HAVE THE JOY OF THE LORD BECAUSE OF SALVATION.
Our response should be to talk about it. Check out this short video as we wrap up this series:
So may you find courage to overcome your excuses and may the Spirit of God direct you and give you opportunities to make Him famous.