“Taking the Gospel to the Commonwealth”
Series: An Acts 1:8 Church;
Every Member a Missionary
Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD
First Baptist Henderson, KY
- Take your Bibles and open to Acts, chapter 8.
While you’re turning there, be sure and take a look at your bookmark. You’ve brought it back with you this morning. Maybe you kept it in your Bible. We have more available there in the pews. Be sure everyone has one. They’re also at the doors this morning.
Look at the front of it and you’ll see the Acts 1:8 logo. Then, you’ll see the words, “Every Member a Missionary.” Jesus is speaking to the church in Acts 1:8. Every single one of us, if we’re followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we’re missionaries. Let’s say Acts 1:8 together:
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And Jesus does not say to do this sequentially, as in “First, go to Jerusalem, second, go to Judea.” No, the advancement of the Gospel is to be done simultaneously. Every one of us can either pray, give, or go to these four areas. So, turn the bookmark over.
It says, “Simultaneously taking the Gospel to the community—that’s our Jerusalem—the commonwealth—that’s our Judea—the country—that’s Samaria, and the continents—the ends of the earth.”
So we have these slides on the wall to remind us of some of the things we’ve been talking about:
Slide: Definition of “Missions-Minded Church”
A “Missions Minded” church is a church whose members care about missions around the world. Members give to missions, go to mission contexts, and are involved in cross-cultural missions.
Our church has been a “missions-minded church” for many, many years. We thank God for that, but we want to be more than that. We understand that Jesus’ commission in Acts 1:8 is a call to be a “missional church.”
Slide: Definition of “Missional Church”
A “Missional” church is a church whose members realize they need to not only support missions, but also be missionaries right now where they are. Members see themselves as missionaries and act missionally by taking the Gospel to the four areas of the Great Commission.
I have an illustration this morning that I think will help put a picture to this. The first slide illustrates a “missions-minded” church. Look at this slide:
Slide: Missions as Spoke on Wheel
This wheel represents a “missions-minded” church. The church regards missions as one of many things the church does like different spokes on a wheel. So the church is involved in things like men’s ministry, women’s ministry, children’s ministry, and then you see missions. Missions is a spoke among many spokes on the wheel of a missions-minded church. Look at the next slide:
Slide: Missions as Hub of Wheel
This wheel represents a “missional” church. You see that missions is not just a spoke on the wheel, but the very hub of the wheel itself. Missions is the hub that makes the wheel turn. Every spoke, everything the church does, is driven and controlled by missions. This is a missional church. This is the biblical model of church. This is First Baptist Church Henderson.
We want to review a couple other terms we have been using. Look at this next slide:
Slide: 10/40 Window
This is a slide of the 10/40 window. This is an area of the world located between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude. It’s like a belt that covers these areas of North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, the places where the majority of unreached people groups (UPGs) are located.
Remember that a people group is a sociological grouping of individuals who have a common affinity with one another, usually sharing a common culture and language. An unreached people group is a group of people in which less than 2% of the population is Evangelical Christian. These are lost people mainly because no one speaks their language and can share the Gospel with them.
There are 16,000 people groups in the world and of those 16,000 people groups, 6,000 of them are unreached. They have not heard the saving message of the Gospel. That’s nearly 2 billion people who have not heard the Gospel, about 1/3 of the world’s population. That’s why we’re looking at this slide of the 10/40 Window because the majority of these unreached people groups reside in this rectangular area. 2 out of every 3 people in the world live in Asia. 70% of Asians have never heard of Jesus Christ. So we need to work as hard at reaching the continents as we work at reaching the community.
And our country is in great need of missional Christians. Most people who call themselves Christians in America are more attuned to the culture than they are about matters of the faith. This is why even with 44,000 Southern Baptist churches in the United States that America is home to the 4th largest number of lost people on the planet. Did you know that? America is home to the 4th largest number of lost people on the planet. Check out short, two-minute video clip provided by the Cooperative Program:
VIDEO CLIP: “4th Largest Number of Lost People” [2:47]
There is much work to be done in our Samaria, our country and in Judea, our commonwealth. Last week we read in chapter 8 how Christians were scattered from their community of Jerusalem, outward to Judea and Samaria (v.1). In verse 5 we read how Philip left Jerusalem and went to Samaria and preached Christ there. If you look at a map in the back of your Bible you’ll see that Philip went north to Samaria and now, he’s going to go south, way past Jerusalem and through Judea out into a deserted area. Chapter 8 is a reminder that we are, to the best of our ability, to take the Gospel simultaneously to the four areas of the Great Commission.
I want to look at this story about Philip’s taking the Gospel down through Judea to this deserted place as he is on-mission for God. Let me read just the first few verses and then we’ll pray.
- Stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
26 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.
27 So he arose and went. 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,
28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
If we’re followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we are missionaries. Everyone who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, everyone who is saved, is a missionary. How many missionaries are here this morning? Raise your hand. I’m raising mine with you.
I want to share with you some principles for missional Christians. These are principles that surface from this passage of Scripture about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
I. We Must be Led by the Spirit
Philip was sharing Christ in the city of Samaria, sharing the Gospel incidentally, when God sends him about 65 miles south through Judea to share the Gospel intentionally. So Philip goes down through Judea into a deserted place, that’s what the word “desert” there in verse 26 means, not cactus and tumbleweeds, but a deserted, out-of-the-way place. And Philip goes down there to share the Gospel with a man of Ethiopia. Now look at verse 29:
29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
Philip followed the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Missional Christians listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God probably will not speak to you and me in an audible voice, but if we are attuned to the Spirit, we will be led by the Spirit. If we get up every morning and pray, “God, give me an opportunity to share Christ and give me the wisdom to recognize that opportunity,” then God will see that it happens. There are opportunities all around us to share the Gospel, both incidentally and intentionally. That is, as you and I go about our daily lives we will bump into people left and right who need Jesus. And then there are those intentional opportunities where we make it a matter of specific, planned, and purposeful witness. We know someone who is lost and we go after that person with the love of Jesus Christ.
Watch the Spirit lead you this week as you go to school and work. The Spirit will prompt you on the inside. It’s like you hear him saying, “You see that person over there? That person needs Jesus. Go share with him. Go share with her.” Then you go. That’s what Philip did. We must be led by the Spirit. Secondly, missional Christians love all people.
II. We Must Love all People
Who is this man to whom Philip reaches out? He is a eunuch. That means he was castrated so that he could serve in the queen’s court. That’s just what they did. But because this man was a eunuch, he was considered unclean and was therefore unable to worship inside the Jewish temple. He was considered unclean.
Not only was this eunuch considered unclean, but he was also of another race and culture. He was from Ethiopia, at that time located in the Northern part of Africa. His skin was a different color from that of Philip’s. He was a different race and was considered unclean by the Jewish community.
But God loves this Ethiopian eunuch because God loves all people. Most of us know John 3:16, don’t we? Say it if you know it: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God loves all people. Do you? Is your love for all people reflected in the way you do business? In the friends you have at school? Is it reflected in our church congregation? We must love all people. We must love all people regardless of race, class, or culture.
Our Judea is the commonwealth of Kentucky. We must love all people who live in our commonwealth. We’re responsible for reaching out to our commonwealth, the geographical and cultural equivalent of Judea.
There are many missional ways we can reach out to our Judea, but I wrote down three specific ways. These three areas will be mentioned again during our Missions Fair next Sunday.
One way is a way many of our men here at First Baptist have reached out to Kentuckians. It is through Kentucky Disaster Relief work. You can train as a volunteer and be on the ready to respond to communities affected by tornadoes and other disasters, sharing the love of the Gospel through practical hands-own relief work.
You and I can also reach out to our Judea by praying, giving, or going to a great school located in Eastern Kentucky known as Oneida Baptist Institute. This is a successful boarding school that has been around over a hundred years, teaching boys and girls from 6th grade to 12th grade. You can volunteer a day or several days helping out at this great school.
A third way many of us can be involved in reaching out to our Judea is through the spring missions trip to Lynch, Kentucky. A number of our members went last year and another trip is scheduled during Spring break this year. You and your family may consider reaching out to your Judea, to the commonwealth, by going on the mission trip to Lynch, Kentucky this year.
Missional Christians are led by the Spirit and love all people. Thirdly:
III. We Must Know our Bibles
God leads Philip to travel through the Judean wilderness and out to the deserted area to share the Gospel. He runs alongside this eunuch who is inside of a carriage reading aloud from the Prophet Isaiah. This is my favorite part of the story! Verse 30:
30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.”
34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
I love that! Philip knew what this eunuch was reading because Philip knew his Bible. He was able to ask him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And the implication is, “Because if you don’t understand, I can help you.” The eunuch invites Philip up into the carriage and Philip shares the Scripture.
We must know our Bibles. I hope you’re reading your Bible every day. I shared at our prayer meeting Wednesday that I did jail ministry Tuesday evening and shared with the men from the Book of Jonah. Of those 25 men, only one was familiar with the story. We Christians must know our Bibles if we’re going to share the Good News with others. Finally:
IV. We Must Share the Gospel
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
Philip “opened his mouth.” If we’re going to speak about Jesus we’ve got to open our mouths! Philip had the confidence to open his mouth because he knew his Bible and he knew the Gospel. In fact, it says in verse 35, “beginning at this Scripture,” he preached Jesus to the eunuch. He merely began at the place where the eunuch was reading. We may reasonably infer that Philip shared much more from the context of that passage and outwardly to the context of the Bible.
We have the confidence to open our mouths and share the Gospel when we know how to do that. We train folks here at First Baptist to share the Gospel. We’ll be starting back up again soon our FAITH evangelism training. We need folks to sign up so we can be like Philip and be ready for those opportunities to share the Gospel.
Where was the eunuch reading? He was reading in Isaiah 53. I hope you’ll read Isaiah 53 later. Isaiah 53 foretells the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ 700 years before it takes place. Isaiah 53 tells of the Gospel. The Gospel can be summed up in five words: “Jesus Christ in my place.”
Our Judea and Samaria is confused on the Gospel. So many people in Kentucky and America think we get saved by being good or by giving our money. But this is not the Gospel. The Gospel is “Jesus Christ in my place.” Jesus died for my sins and gave me His righteousness. Jesus Christ in my place.
We don’t have time to read the rest of this story. The eunuch gets saved and he does the first thing we’re to do when we get saved. He gets baptized. That’s the first thing we do—as soon as possible—when we’ve been saved. We get baptized. Baptism pictures death, burial, and resurrection and it identifies us publicly and unashamedly with our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So the Bible says the eunuch “went on his way rejoicing.” Why? Because a missional Christian was led by the Spirit, loved all people, knew his Bible, and shared the Gospel. May God help us to do no less.
- Stand for prayer.
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