Encounter on the Damascus Highway, Part Two
Yesterday, I told you about several methods of evangelism that are ineffective, or at least are not the full picture of how God desires His children to share the good news with others. Today, I want to tell you about an alternative. A method that works . . . and also glorifies the One it should glorify: the Savior.
I submit to you the Philip Approach. This Christ-centered method is set forth in a series of seven principles drawn from Acts 8:26–40. That grand and gifted gentleman was engaged in a citywide crusade at Samaria. God was using him mightily (8:5–8). Suddenly, the Lord spoke to Philip and instructed him to leave the city and spend some time in Gaza, a desert area (8:26). Faithful Philip "got up and went" (8:27). He was available (Principle 1).
He then encountered a distinguished statesman from Ethiopia riding in a chariot en route back home (8:28). Of all things, he was reading Isaiah! The next verse tells us that the Spirit of God prompted Philip to go and get acquainted with the traveler. Philip was led by the Spirit (Principle 2). In today's terminology, he felt a keen and definite assurance that God would have him strike up a conversation and later, quite probably, share with that person the magnetic claims of Christ. In other words, he sensed that God was clearly opening the door.
As you'd expect, Philip cooperated. Obedience (Principle 3) is essential.
He then heard the man reading aloud (8:30) and calmly asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" What an excellent start! A proper opening (Principle 4) is essential. Philip didn't barge in and start preaching, nor did he crank out a canned, broken-record series of statements. He simply asked a logical yet leading question. The statesman instantly invited the stranger to come and sit by him and assist him in his quest for understanding (8:31–34).
This remarkable response was met with great tact (Principle 5) on Philip's part. Even though he had his foot in the door, he remained gracious, courteous, a good listener, and yet sensitive to the time he might speak of salvation.
When that moment came, he "opened his mouth" (8:35) and became specific (Principle 6) concerning faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No reluctance. No vague dialogue about religion . . . he spoke only of the Savior, the main issue.
The last few verses (8:36–38) describe the brief but memorable follow-up (Principle 7) Philip employed in this case.
As you rub shoulders with hungry, thirsty humanity and sense their inner ache for help and hope, keep these principles in mind. Let's become more alert to those empty chariot sidecars God wants us to occupy. You may even begin to feel comfortable in them before long. You know what? There isn't any place I'd rather be when Christ returns than riding shotgun in a twenty-first-century chariot.
When you speak out about your faith, speak only of the Savior—the main issue.