Christ Himself gave… the Evangelists

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Monday, July 29, 2013 by Jenny Thompson

Introduction

We are continuing to look at the ministry gifts that Christ has given and still continues to give to His Church.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.”
(Ephesians 4:11)

In particular today we are looking at the ‘Evangelist.’ The evangelist is called by God to tell ‘the Good News’. To preach the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The evangelist will have an overwhelming passion to tell people about Jesus, and will actively we looking at ways to do this.

So we will be looking at Acts 8:26-40 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

Acts 8:26-40
The purpose of bringing this Ethiopian eunuch to a knowledge of salvation was of course formed in the mind of God and also of course, was the specific means of accomplishing this.

How amazing this is, and of course the Eunuch himself was not aware of it!

So the story traces the steps by which this purpose of God was accomplished, and enables us to know, that when God determines the conversion of an individual, how He proceeds to go about bringing this to pass. This reminds us of the events and people involved in our own conversion.

Notice that the Eunuch was south of Jerusalem, travelling toward Gaza, but the angel descends into Samaria, to the north of Jerusalem, and appears to Philip.

26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza…”

29The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

This is all that the angel has to say, and now his part of the work, which was simply to start the evangelist in the direction of the person to be converted, is accomplished.

The statement, “the desert road”, is not here to be understood in its stricter sense of a barren waste, but in its more general acceptance, of a place thinly inhabited.

Such an interpretation is required by the geography of the country, and by the fact that water was found for the immersion of the Eunuch. The only road from Jerusalem to Gaza, which passed through a level district suitable for wheeled vehicles, was that by Bethlehem to Hebron, and therefore across a plain to Gaza.

Today then, as well as looking specifically at the ministry of an Evangelist, we are also going to be looking at the great importance of being ‘led by the Spirit of God.’

Here we see how Philip was firstly open to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and secondly, he was obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

He clearly heard the word ‘Go’ and he ‘acted in obedience.’ There was no questioning or reasoning that we can see here in the mind and heart of Philip. He did not try to persuade the Lord that he would really like a day off, or something similar!

“So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the Prophet.”
(Acts 8:27-28)

This was no coincidence, but a God-incidence. The Eunuch was either a Jew by birth or a proselyte to the Jewish faith. In any case, the new covenant belonged to him by virtue of him being Jewish.

So he worshipped the God of Israel and only needed to receive Jesus as the Messiah. But for Gentiles, the story is different.

Gentiles were often idolaters, that is, they believed in many Gods. So in order to be partakers of the new covenant, the Gentiles had to turn from their idolatry to the living God, and in doing this, they were to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

28…and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

It seems unlikely that the eunuch would not have heard about Jesus, while in Jerusalem. This Eunuch’s appointment with Jesus was at hand, even thought he had no idea what was about to happen. So not only was he reading from Isaiah, but Isaiah 53. Apparently more Jews have come to Jesus through the testimony of Isaiah 53 than from any other portion of scripture in the Bible.

30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” 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.”

This reveals the Jewishness of the Eunuch. The Jews were taught that to understand the Scriptures properly, they needed to listen to a master teacher. This was probably why the Eunuch had no hesitation in inviting Philip up into the chariot. He probably thought the evangelist was some kind of teacher.

Note that what is so amazing is that the Eunuch was reading from what is known as the centrepiece of the Bible.

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.”
(Isaiah 53:7-8)

So what did Philip do? Did he discuss the weather or the trees etc. on the journey? No, Philip began with that very passage of scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36As they travelled along the road, they came to some water, and the Eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized? [37]’ ”

In the early church, believers were baptised almost as soon as they received Jesus. This certainly does not usually happen today in our Western culture, does it?

38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When 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.”

How amazed the Eunuch must have been at the disappearance of Philip! Presumably God had other immediate work for him somewhere else…

So what makes an Evangelist?

Someone who has a burning desire to tell others about Jesus, a person who is open to hear the Lord’s voice and is obedient by taking the necessary action.

Also someone who knows the scriptures as Philip did and has a compassionate heart towards those who do not know the love of Jesus.

Philip had to run to catch up with the chariot that day, it was not easy for him but he was determined to do what the Lord asked of him. He grabbed this opportunity with both hands to tell the Eunuch about Jesus.

May we by God’s grace also grasp those opportunities that come our way with both hands! Remember that we all have a responsibility to talk to people about Jesus. We must not just leave this to the Evangelists!

2 Timothy 4:1-5
What was Timothy charged to do? In order to understand the charge, we must first return to 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The work of an evangelist is to ‘preach the word’, and not the fads or fashions of the day.

Romans 1:16-17 says,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.“

The work of the evangelist is to be ‘instant in season, as well as out of season.’ The evangelist must be eager and ready to share the wonderful message at all times and not just when it is convenient or easy.

The work of an evangelist is to ‘correct’. This means to bring the fault home to the person who is in the wrong. It therefore reminds us that the evangelist cannot be someone who is timid.

The work of an evangelist is to ‘rebuke’. This means to help the person to understand what will happen if they reject Jesus Christ. The message must be personal. It must be clear because the consequences of rejection are severe. The Bible clearly teaches that if a person rejects Christ they will be forever separated from Him and in Hell.

The work of an evangelist is to ‘encourage’. This means to encourage the person that after receiving Jesus they will be totally forgiven, and totally accepted by Him.

The evangelist must be ‘patient’ This must be so frustrating as the evangelist wants to see results. However some people need time to digest the Word, before they make a decision. Remember as well that the evangelist’s mandate is to preach Jesus Christ and then to leave the results with God.

The evangelist must be willing to ‘endure afflictions or endure hardship’,

“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name”
(Acts 5:41)

Difficulty is not always facing the evangelist, but when it does, that person must be willing to endure it.

Finally…

So Philip the Evangelist burned with a passion to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. As a result, the Ethiopian Eunuch was converted, baptised and then went home rejoicing telling everyone about Jesus and what had happened to him.

What a witness this was in his Jewish community! Timothy discharged all the duties of his ministry which clearly included evangelism.

May God grant us all His grace to tell others about Jesus, whether God is calling us to be an Evangelist or not.

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