SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
As we read through the account of the Apostle Paul’s conversion, we learn that simply believing in God does not make one a Christian. A Christian conversion is marked by an encounter with Christ’s person, surrender to his lordship, participation with his people, transformation to his methods, and an invitation to his calling. True Christian conversion is always initiated by God, and in his hot pursuit of us, he prepares our hearts to be transformed by him.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. Do you believe people can change? Is there anyone in your life right now that you would write off as someone that will never change? Briefly share.
2. Have you ever experienced a life-changing, powerful encounter with God? How did your life change? Briefly share that encounter.
3. Have you ever witnessed in someone else’s life a radical change after an encounter with God? What was your reaction to their change? Briefly share.
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read Acts 8:26-39:
“26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36-37 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”
• According to verses 26 and 29, who had the initiative to reach out to the eunuch? What does this tell you of God’s heart for us? Have you ever experienced God reaching out to you as he pursues your heart? Briefly share.
• What was the eunuch doing when Philip approached him (v. 30)? Do you believe God was preparing him for this encounter? What does this tell you about our role as we reach out to people? Have you ever had the opportunity to talk about Christ with someone whose heart had already been prepared by God? Briefly share.
• In verse 31 we find out that the eunuch didn’t really know who he was worshipping. In a world with so many options and opinions, who does Phillip tell us the good news is about (v. 35)? How can this good news speak into our current post-modern world? What should our answer be to all those options and opinions out there?
• As Philip shared the good news of Jesus, how did the eunuch’s heart change? What was his response to his message (v. 36-37)? How does a true encounter with Jesus change our lives? How did your heart change as you were exposed to Jesus for the first time? Briefly share.
• In verse 39 we read that after encountering Christ, the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. What was the source of his joy? As we place our hope in Jesus, how do our lives change? How has your life changed? Briefly share.
• In this Scripture, we clearly see how the Holy Spirit was present at all times during Philip’s encounter with the eunuch. Do you believe this is something that still happens today? Have you ever relied on / partner with the Holy Spirit as you reach out to someone? Explain.
3. In this weekend’s message, Rich states that when he speaks about a person being thoroughly converted he is saying that it is not enough that you simply believe that Christ died on a cross to be your sin bearer, or even that he offers you the forgiveness of sins as a free gift of grace. Full conversion means that you have permitted Jesus Christ to master you, to take control of your inner drives, your desires, your goals, your pursuits, your dreams in life, your relationships, your spending habits, your mind and emotions and will.
• As you examine your life, have you really embraced Jesus Christ as Lord?
• Are there areas of your life that still need to be surrendered to Christ in order that you may be a thoroughly converted follower of Jesus?
• Take time to pray for one another, especially for those who wish to commit/re-commit their lives to Christ.