Grace For The Journey
“When Christ comes, I want to be
caught living the gospel.
I want to be surprised right in the act
Of spreading the faith and doing
Something for God”
Jeffrey R. Holland
The Bible account in Acts 8:26-40 of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch through the witness of Philip fascinates me every time I read it. There are so many surprise factors in the story . . .
- I’m surprised by an angel commanding Philip to go to the desert road that led from Jerusalem to Gaza.
- I’m surprised by Philip running up to the eunuch’s chariot and overhearing the Ethiopian reading from Isaiah 53, a passage so clearly about the suffering of the Messiah.
- I’m surprised by the eunuch’s question, “Is the prophet talking about himself, or someone else?” That simple question gave Philip an opportunity to tell the Ethiopian about Jesus.
- I’m surprised that, on a desert road, at just the right time, there was enough water for the eunuch to be baptized on the spot.
The passage overflows with surprising providences of God.
I think the main reason I am surprised is because, like many people, I underestimate God’s supernatural ability to order the daily details of our lives.
However, the biggest surprise by far is what happens at the end of the story. The Bible says in Acts 8:39, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”
Instantly, Philip found himself whisked away, and the eunuch traveled on, celebrating his newfound salvation, never to see Philip again. It’s a reminder . . .
God can bring us momentarily into the life of someone
Just for the sake of bringing that person to Christ.
I remember a mission trip I took not long after I was out of seminary. As our group went into schools, factories, and in the streets in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa witnessing to people, we were amazed at how receptive and hungry the people were to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We, of course, were thrilled at this. But I was also concerned and asked our translator, “Do you think their decisions are real? And how can we know when we’ll never see them again?” Cokie smiled and said, “We don’t have to see them again. God will work.” Then he told us his story. During his last year of business school, one of his requirements was to go to public schools and teach business principles. He traveled across the city with his girlfriend, Anna and made the presentation at a high school.
After Cokie finished, he found his girlfriend, Anna, in the principal’s office. The principal, a middle-aged woman, had been sharing the Gospel with his girlfriend while he was speaking to the class. AnnaHis girlfriend had received Christ. Cokie also wanted to hear the same message. After sharing the Gospel, the principal asked our translator, “Would you like to ask Jesus to save you?” Our translator said he, “Yes, yes, I’d like to pray.” Just as they were bowing their heads, the principal looked at our translator and said, “You have to mean it with all your heart.” He responded, “Okay, I will mean it with all my heart.” As he told his story, he said, “Somehow, in that moment, I went from doing something just to appease that principal to really asking Jesus to save me. And He did!” Cokie said that they never saw the principal again. He and his girlfriend wound up getting married and finding a church that helped them grow in their faith. They have spent the rest of their lives serving Jesus.
When we seize moments to share the Gospel, God can use us just as He used Philip with the Ethiopian and that principal with Cokie and Anna.
Is there value in sharing Jesus with people you already know and can disciple? Yes, without a doubt. But God can also supernaturally bring you into the paths of people you’ve never seen before and may never see again to make an eternal difference in their lives.
Here are a few things we can do to seize moments for sharing the Gospel:
Pray for such moments. Ask God to bring lost people across your path. The truth is, He’s already doing that every day. So ask for alertness, courage, and willingness to share with lost people when the moments arise.
Prepare for such moments. When people ask, “What’s the best Gospel presentation?” I like the answer one of my college professors gave, “The one you will actually use!” One simple way to be prepared is to memorize verses that will help you share the Gospel – Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 8:1 and 10:13 are a great place to start. Carrying a Gospel tract in your pocket or handbag will help prepare you and also remind you to share the Gospel consistently.
Present the Gospel during such moments. Consider how you might lead into a conversation with someone that can open an opportunity to share the Gospel. Some “Gospel-conversation openers” that I have used are questions like . . .
- “Can I pray with you about that?”
- “What is your religious background?”
- “Have you heard about the Good News of Jesus Christ?
- “If you were to die tonight and stood before God and He asked you ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ What would you say?”
- “If you were to die tonight do you know that you will go to heaven?”
These questions can create opportunities and lead to more in-depth discussion about spiritual and eternal issues.
Place such moments into God’s Hands. Sometimes, the moment God gives you to share with someone will result in them trusting Christ as Savior. At other times, your moment may be a time for planting or watering seeds of Bible truth that will come to harvest later. And, sadly, some people will reject Christ not only for a moment, but for a lifetime. Even so, you can trust God to keep working beyond the initial moment when you share the Gospel.
So, live to seize the moments and see how God uses them to shape someone’s eternity!
This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”