Of all the people in the New Testament, there is only one person ascribed the name, “The Evangelist.” In the book of Acts, we read of a man named Philip, a man who wound up working in Caesarea. Before that, Philip was one of the seven chosen in Acts 6 as one of the men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and full of wisdom according to verse 3. Many believe this was the first institution of deacons in the New Testament Church. In Acts 21:8, Luke refers to Philip as, “The Evangelist.” There are many people in the New Testament who were ascribed a nickname like “Barnabas the Son of Encouragement” or “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.” Obviously, these individuals gained these acknowledgments for a reason; they truly embodied the phrase that had been attached to their name. So, what does this say about Philip the Evangelist?
Luke records in Acts 8:26, “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, ‘Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert.” The distance from Jerusalem to Gaza was about fifty-three miles, not to mention Philip was in Samaria at the time he was asked to go, which is north from Jerusalem about forty-two miles. According to Scripture there was no hesitation, no “give me a minute to think about this”, not even the shortest pause when he was asked to go ninety plus miles through the desert. This man had the HEART of an evangelist!
Philip was willing to do whatever was asked of him to bring souls to Christ. Scripture says in verses 29-30a, “Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and take this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him…” Again, with no hesitation, no indecision, and no uncertainty, Philip did exactly what was asked of him. Not only did he go to the chariot, he RAN to the chariot. Remember, this was after ninety plus miles of traveling the desert. This man had the HEART of an evangelist!
Sometimes we in the Church want to focus so much on the, “how,” that we often put little emphasis on the, “why.” This is especially true when it comes to evangelism. We think to ourselves, “If only I knew how to start a conversation with somebody… then I would be able to have a Bible study with them.” Or, “If only I had a good memory to remember those scriptures… then I would be able to have a Bible study with someone.” When the issue so often is not the fact that we do not know how, but that we do not know why. In other words, you can have all the knowledge in the world, all the Scriptures memorized, all the different Bible study tools or methods at your disposal, (the how), and go your entire life without spreading that knowledge or information to one single person.
The fact is if we do not have the heart that compels us to be evangelistic, to actually spread the news, and to actually care for the lost… then it does not matter how much our head might know. The knowledge, the information, and the head of an evangelist pales in comparison to the purpose, the intentionality, and the heart of an evangelist. A head that has all the Scriptures, all the methods, and all the right approaches memorized, but is lacking the heart and purpose to lead them to share that information is useless.
So for the first few months of the E.T. message, we have been trying to establish the WHY when it comes to evangelism. It would be a disservice to go about it any other way. Building a foundational purpose, heart, and why for evangelism must precede building the frame, bricks, head, and how for evangelism. Philip the Evangelist knew exactly how to explain Isaiah 53 to the Ethiopian, but had he not had the heart to compel him to run to the chariot in the first place… how much would that knowledge be worth? We have to be honest with ourselves and ask, what if I had been placed in Philip’s shoes? Would I even have been willing to leave Samaria? Metaphorically speaking, what to do when we approach the chariot does not matter if we never pursue the chariot in the first place.
May God give us all the heart of an evangelist! The heart that is willing to take the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8) and allow that to compel us to share our knowledge with our neighbor, our classmate, our teammate, our co-worker, our family, or our friends. May we all be a little bit more like Philip who was willing to do whatever was asked of him to bring souls to the Kingdom. Most of all, may we all be more like Christ Himself, who came to seek and to save the lost.
Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism