INTRODUCTION – Last week we learned some lessons from Philip’s life and ministry regarding what it means to be a witness – noting that of the 20 or so references to the word witness or concept of witnessing in the N.T. – only one is in the form of a verb. In other words – the overwhelming emphasis in the N.T. when discussing the concept of believers witnessing or being witnesses of Jesus and His kingdom is being, not doing. We are witnesses – once we are born again and come into a relationship with the living God. The challenge is learning to be an effective one.
To help us all in that challenge I want to propose a new synonym for witness, and a new handle on our identity in Christ = Dot connectors. You and I are called to be dot connectors for the lost folk in our spheres of influence.
Let me define dots for you. Dots are events, circumstances, thoughts, experiences that people have had – that God ordained and designed – to help them come to know Him. I know they all have some dots because of these two passages: Eccl. 3:11 – “He has also set eternity in their heart.” Rom. 1:19, 20 – “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” You and I can be confident with every person we deal with – – that there has been divine involvement in their lives because of these two passages among others. But usually beyond that which every person knows innately, if we are really careful to listen and probe as to their story, we will find some dots of God’s revealing, convicting and drawing work somewhere in their journeys.
Problem is quite often the dots are not connected. They might be jumbled and confusing to the person. Might be very frustrating and seen as mostly negative. Some might be embittered by some of the dots due to their wrong interpretation of the dots. Sometime they are oblivious to them. And thus our job is to help them connect the dots from God’s perspective.
Phillip is a great example of one who did that well. And no where is that more clear than in his encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch. Read the passage – vs. 26-40
5 necessary steps or skills or mindsets to become an effective and fruitful dot connector. I. Learn to obey orders – vs. 26, 27a, 29 Philip was told by the angel of the Lord to “get up” (vs. 26) and vs. 27 says “he got up and went”. Picture you get is he was relaxed and perhaps even reclining and resting. Very likely his days in Samaria ministering were very intense, and he was finally catching his breath.
He might have even been exhausted. But when God spoke, he responded.
Later the Holy Spirit told him to “go up and join this chariot.”(vs. 29) “Phillip ran up” vs. 30 tells us. One of the reasons Philip was so effective in evangelism is because he quickly and fully obeyed orders – whenever and however they came. 5 quick observations about this:
A. Jesus’s orders will not always seem rational or timely or even complete (desert road) vs. 26
B. Part of being a disciple is a readiness to obey – – Acts 1:2 (“….He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen”) Jesus could give orders without a second thought because He had obeyed orders without a second thought. He said “I delight to do Your will, O my God…”
C. Timing is everything, and hesitation or procrastination on our part will squelch the opportunity – Philip never hesitated
D. He sees down the road and around the corner and we must trust Him that He knows what He is doing
E. Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” My translation = “Follow or obey Me on a daily basis, and I will make you an effective connector of dots.”
II. Learn to value the life of an individual – vs. 27b A. Phillip had to go from “crowds” (vs. 6); much rejoicing in that city (vs. 8); “men and women alike being baptized” (vs. 12) to one Ethiopian eunuch. Not at all strategic! Now he was a man of some influence and perhaps he used it for the furtherance of the kingdom, but there is no record of it in the bible if he did.
B. But God knew him, was pursuing him, Jesus died for him, and that is enough Ex. of Ken – often wondered how strategic this is; never dreamed it would require so many precious hours; but every time we sought the Lord – was clearly an assignment from Him. He clearly was pursuing Ken D.
III. Learn to find the dots in that individual’s life– vs. 28-34 A. Philip “heard him reading” vs. 30
B. Philip asked if he understood vs. 30
C. Jesus and Nicodemus – Jn. 3 Nick knew Jesus was from God and of God and blessed by God. What He didn’t know was how he must respond to Jesus. Jesus didn’t discuss His identity and person at all until vs. 13. Instead He dealt with Nick’s desperate need for inner transformation by the Spirit of God.
D. Ken – no Christians anywhere in his story in terms of relatives; rarely ever been in a church building or to a church service so no biblical background.
E. Truck Driver pastor/priest – – can’t know for sure – – assurance for Ken is huge because of the impact this guy had, and because of 88 years of rebellion and sin
IV. Learn to connect the dots in that individual’s life– vs. 35-38 A. Philip answered his question from the passage he was reading.
B. We need to know our Bible and especially be able to proclaim Christ Phillip – Acts 8:5; 35 Vs. 30 seems to imply that Phillip knew the Eunuch was reading the prophet Isaiah.
C. Baptism does not always need a crowd. If the new convert is eager to be baptized, then sooner is better than later.
V. Learn to stay engaged with the Lord of the Harvest and be ready to move on – vs. 39, 40 A. God is always on the move and so must we be – vs. 39
B. We must never be content with one conversion – vs. 40
C. Especially important to note that evangelists are wired and will be led this way by the H.S.