“And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30–31, AV)
Some time ago, I attended an evangelism conference in Hudson, Massachusetts. This was quite an informative and thought-provoking conference. Evangelism is not an event or a church program. It is the natural outworking of Christ in the life of a believer led by the Spirit. While God does not have to use us to reach people with the hope of the gospel, He chooses to use us in this way. He chose Philip and He chooses us, who have hope, to guide others.
In the passage we see that Philip received divine direction on two specific accounts. First, he was directed by an “angel of the Lord” to travel south to the specific road between Jerusalem and Gaza. We do not know exactly how Philip recognized the divine authority of the angel, but we know that he heeded the instruction. Next, we see that Philip runs into a man from Ethiopia who is reading from Isaiah. The Spirit directs Philip to join the Ethiopian man. Philip was a divinely guided guide.
Philip then asks the man if he understand what he is reading. The Ethiopian responds, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” What can we learn from this picture? Here we learn that there are people searching for answers to questions that are much greater than they are. The only source for the answer to these questions is the Word of God. Yet, in most cases, those searching for answers will need help from someone to guide them in the Scriptures. This is where you and I come in.
First, we must ready to explain the Scriptures, meaning we must understand them sufficiently. Second, we must be observant to identify those who are searching.
Now, it is not likely that you will see someone sitting on the street corner, reading the Book of Isaiah. However, you will likely run into people struggling with life. They will wonder, “Why is life so messed up.” It is at this point that you should consider putting on Philip’s evangelistic sandals and guide them in understanding the answer to that question from the Scriptures.
In the evangelism conference I attended, the speaker presented a unique approach to witnessing. He began by speaking about creation and God’s design. Then, he would indicate that the creation is broken due to sin. This is why, “Life is so messed up.” Then he would explain that sin has also caused them to be broken and that God provided a means to heal them from their brokenness of sin. This led to the gospel message that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He defeated sin and death for us, and that our healing comes by grace through faith in Christ alone.
So, what does this mean to us? Look for those who are searching for answers. These are the ones with whom God is working. Sow the seed of God’s Word by answering the question concisely and, most of all, biblically. When you do so, you will find a receptive audience.