I was in a bank today to ask a few questions about closing my account. There was a teller and a lady at the Help Desk. The lady at the Help Desk was helping a lady, with two men seated waiting to be helped when I arrived. I filled in the register and took a seat. After about 20 minutes a lady arrived and filled in the register and took a seat. Soon after her, an elderly gentleman arrived quite clueless as to what he should do.
After a while, he asked rather loudly why things were taking so long. I tried to assist him by saying the lady at the Help Desk was assisting a client and we were all waiting to get to the Help Desk for assistance. The lady staff member at the Help Desk heard my response and rather abruptly passed a comment to which I replied … “I was only answering this gentleman’s question.” You never know what response you will receive when responding to a question like I did rather innocently.
Philip, in obedience to the angel from God, went to a chariot he saw moving along the “desert road”, and two things happened:
Ac 8:27 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.”
The first was that the eunuch was reading the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. As you are aware, this Book has as a central theme the Gospel. Amongst other predictions, it carries a prophecy about the Virgin Birth, another about the Crucifixion and still another about the Resurrection. The second was that he stay near the eunuch’s chariot. He was reading Isaiah aloud and being close by Philip heard enabling him to pose a question:
Ac 8:30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
When it comes to the Bible this is the best question you can ask anyone. Many read the Bible and they understand words and language, but the Word of God is far more than words and language! You see, God’s Word is spiritual and can only be discerned by the souls that are spiritually alive … otherwise it is nothing more than reading a novel. People who are spiritually alive need to reach out to those who are spiritually dead and try to help them understand God’s Word.
1) An honest answer. The eunuch’s response to Philip’s question was:
Ac 8:31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?”
Not only was the eunuch true to himself, he was true to Philip. He admitted his inability to understand God’s Word. Sadly, many today do not understand and because of this they either decide what God is saying, which more often than not is wrong … or they set the Word aside, ignoring it completely. The eunuch’s honesty was admitting he could not understand the Word and needed someone to “explain” it to him.
The function of the pulpit where the Word of God is preached is to explain … or expound the Bible to the hearers understanding. Philip knew the Bible. He understood the Word of God from a “new covenant” perspective. He was most likely one of the “seventy” Jesus sent out on preaching tours into the villages. He understood how Jesus’ Blood Sacrifice fitted into Isaiah’s teaching. Who better to expound (explain) the Word of God to the eunuch than Philip?
This is a crucial area in the life of the Church. The pastor’s duty is to do the hard work. He needs to sweat over the passage to understand it and what it is saying. Then he is to bring that to the congregation and tell them what God is saying to them in the passage. Far too often pastors (or whoever is up front) says what they think the passage says, rather than what it is truly saying. This is tantamount to leading the sheep astray. This is where error and false teaching comes in.
In talking to a retired bishop yesterday, I heard him say that he is amazed how many people want to get up onto the platform in a Church to have their say. He added that all too often all they do is “waffle”. They say nothing of Biblical and Eternal Value.
An area for prayer is that the pulpit is guarded and reserved for those who are called by God, soundly educated theologically and able to teach God’s people what God is actually saying in the Bible. It is only when the Word of God is explained (expounded) accurately that it does what God intends it does:
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
God intends that His Word arrests the conscience, bringing it under conviction and then stabbing the heart causing utter dependence upon God for help. This leads the soul, both of the saved and the unsaved to hear in their soul what God is saying to them. We need this today. Pray for it!
2) The eunuch was prepared by the Spirit, ready to hear Truth explained. His response to Philip was a willing and eager invitation … So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. We are not told, but I would believe that the early Church, both leaders and congregants prayed for souls ready to receive Jesus as Lord. One of our great failures in the Church is that we do not pray and we do not pray for God to prepare souls to hear the Gospel Message and Bible Expositions. Although the teaching was for another purpose, James, inspired by the Spirit, got it spot on when he wrote:
Jas 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Consider the two main issues in these words … You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.
(1) You don’t have because you don’t ask God! We want souls saved and we want mature believers but we do not ask God for these. We want powerful pulpits filled with the Holy Spirit but we do not ask for it!
(2) Then when we ask for more people our motive is bigger Churches. When we ask for the anointing upon our pastors we want it to draw crowds to our Church. Does God want us to be popular as pastors and Churches? Does God want us to build huge Churches or does God want us to build the Kingdom of God so that Jesus and His salvific work is glorified?
We need to ask God, but what we ask for needs to be in line with His will for His Kingdom. Doing this will add to the local Church as it pleases Him. Let’s grow past Church numbers to focus on Kingdom growth. When we please God, He shall bless us and our Churches.
Lord Jesus, again we bless and thank You for Your meritorious work at Calvary. Without the Gospel we know there is no hope for man. Send the Gospel out and bring in souls. Amen.