Why isn't the church of our Lord growing like it did in the first century? Some blame it on our culture, others on immorality. I attribute it to a lack of interest, indifference, and inactivity on the part of the believer! God's people seemingly have little concern, not only for their own spiritual well-being, but also for the well-being of their fellow man. Too, comfortable life-styles have led many Christians into a state of complacency. Have God's people of the 21st century forgotten that they, like the first century church, are merely strangers and pilgrims in this old world (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11)? There is no need in getting too comfortable in this life; a better life awaits the faithful! Thus, the child of God must be actively involved in all areas of the Lord's work while here on earth. Such would include evangelism! The early church grew and multiplied, even under the most adverse circumstances, because they took evangelism personally! They loved the souls of men and did what they could to convert them. There is no better example of this than what is recorded in Acts 8:1ff. Christians were being persecuted and scattered, yet they went everywhere preaching the Gospel (Acts 8:4). Philip, the evangelist, reveals the necessary ingredients needed to assure successful personal work.
First, Philip had the right attitude. Despite persecution, Philip went everywhere preaching the Gospel. His faith in God was uncompromising and unwavering. Too, he did not allow success to get to his head. Also, when he was told to go, he went and showed no ill-will toward any man. To be involved in personal work, or any work of the church for that matter, one must have the right attitude! It all begins with the heart. God must be number one in all that the child of God does. Many are not involved because God is not number one in their lives. If this be the case, an attitude adjustment is needed immediately!
Secondly, Philip had the right approach. He went to where the people were (Acts 8:5, 26-29, 40). He went with a sense of urgency (Acts 8:30a). He initiated religious conversation (Acts 8:30b). He did not force himself or his faith on people (Acts 8:31). He, too, began with where people were spiritually (Acts 8:32-35). Philip was uncompromising in his faith, yet implemented tact and grace in his methodology. God's people often close doors of opportunity because they employ the wrong approach. They're often rude and unkind. Many times they do not act fast enough, or they don't begin with where people are spiritually. One would do well to follow the strategy utilized by Philip.
Finally, Philip had the right answer for those seeking truth - JESUS! Beginning at the same scripture, Philip preached Jesus unto the eunuch (Acts 8:35). Question: How did the eunuch learn the necessity of baptism (Acts 8:36)? It must be inferred that in preaching Jesus, Philip proclaimed the Lord's plan as well, including baptism, the church, etc. The right answer demands a proclamation of both Christ and the church. We cannot have one without the other (Acts 8:12)! Having a right attitude and a right approach necessitates a right answer. To do so demands diligent study on the part of the believer (2 Tim. 2:15). Proper and thorough study will equip the personal worker with the knowledge needed to answer any and all questions relative to the hope that is within them (1 Pet. 3:15).
It is interesting to note that though angels were employed by God in audible and visible ways in the first century, they did not directly instruct candidates for the gospel in the way of salvation. God had committed that responsibility to "earthen vessels" (2 Cor. 4:7). It's up to God's people to get out there and proclaim Christ! Dispersion truly does lead to conversion! In so doing, the church will begin to grow and prosper as it once did! It all begins with the right attitude, followed by the right approach, topped off with the right answer- JESUS! 710 Rock Creek Rd., Erwin, TN 37650. (423) 743-7741.
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