Background: By 325 A.D. Christianity had spread to over half of the Roman Empire. It began with twelve guys on a hillside with no power, no money, no endorsements, and no celebrity recognition. All they had was an absolute conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead and a power poured into them called: the gift of the Holy Spirit. The key to this exponential growth was that every person, not just a handful of specialized apostles, carried the message of the Gospel. The whole church saw it as their responsibility to have Gospel Conversations.
The question we want to ask this morning:
What does evangelism by the ordinary people look like?
We are going to observe three Gospel Conversations with three persons of interest:
Conversation #1: Lydia the Merchant (Acts 16:13-15). … Lydia was a merchant who was on her way to a prayer meeting. She believed God existed but was not yet a Christian. God opened her heart to hear the message in such a way that she craved to hear more.
Conversation #2: The Slave Girl (Acts 16:16-18). … Paul and friends went back to the same place they met Lydia. Why? When you make return trips to a place, you can get to know the people there and build relationships with them. Those relationships can lead to Gospel Conversations. … This time Paul and his friends meet a slave girl. (Human trafficking is still something that is a problem today just as it was then.) This slave girl has a demon inside here that allows her to predict the future. The demon also who the apostles were and who they serve. So, she followed them around for a few days announcing who they were. Eventually Paul got annoyed and cast the demon out. As a result, she lost her ability to predict the future and earn money for her owners. This causes problems and leads to the next Gospel Conversation.
Conversation #3: The Roman Jailer (Acts 16:19-34). … This Roman jailer would have likely been a well-decorated, retired veteran of the Roman military. They put Paul and Silas in the inner prison, which was likely down below the other cells and also where any refuse from the upper cells would go. To make it even worse, Paul and Silas were likely hanging by their feet. … Somehow they had the idea to sing praises to God. Then the prison shook and the doors opened and the chains came loose. The jailer knew if anyone escaped, his life was forfeit, so he prepared to kill himself until Paul called out to him. No one had left. The jailer was so moved that he asked what he needed to do to be saved. So Paul and Silas preach the Gospel to him and he and his family become saved.
Why are these stories included?
To show the transformative power of the Gospel.
To give a glimpse of different people in our community and show us how to reach them.
The Spiritually Interested
How to reach them: Engage them. Invite them to read the Bible with you. Ask them to come to a service. Invite them to join your connection group.
The Physical and Spiritual Captive
How to reach them: Get involved in their life. Get to know them. Do life with them. Have cookouts with them. Build relationships with them.
How to reach them:
Be joyful at all times. People are always watching and God can use even the worst situations to further His kingdom.
Show them God’s grace.