When God Does The Work
Robert Wurtz II
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this:
“… He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. (Act 8:26-39)
A True Work of Grace
When God put together the scriptures, He was not like Google that is attempting to provide access to all human knowledge, but rather, he assembled a series of true short stories to tell the big story of salvation through Jesus Christ. The German theologians call it heilsgeschichte; a fancy word that simply means “salvation history.” As I read this account in Acts chapter 8, I see three main truths that we need to grasp. First, the man of God, Philip, was led of the Spirit in his ministry. Second, when a person understands and receives the Word (the Gospel) their is a change of heart that begins to take place that is real and effective. Third, when a person is really changed there is no need for follow up.
A Right Response
When the eunuch saw water, he wanted to be baptized. Clearly this means that Phillip’s presentation of the Gospel included that as part of the process, otherwise, how would he have desired it? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Obviously Phillip also preached faith to this man. The eunuch’s response is instructive. See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? There was no fuss over baptism in water. The man heard God’s will, and as his right response, he yearned to fulfill it. It seems as if the man would have jumped from a moving chariot to get to the water.
Left To Himself
In modern times, Christians believe that the main thing we need is more discipleship in order to curb the wholesale backsliding that happens after our evangelistic efforts. Obviously, someone forgot to tell the Holy Spirit and Philip this; because no sooner did this man come up from the water the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more. At this point in the story most ministers and Christians are scratching their heads. What just happened? You mean to tell me Philip didn’t even bother to leave this man some “materials to read to guide him in his spiritual walk?” Well, he already had portions of the Bible, right? I mean, he was reading from it when Philip arrived. Is it possible that God could so change a man that he would not need to be led by the hand, prodded and poked, called three times a week on his cell phone, and put with an accountability partner, in order to “stay saved”? Obviously, not only is this true, it is an example that was written for our learning.
My Sheep Hear My Voice
Paul Washer once rightly said, “you cannot disciple a goat into a sheep.” Unless the person goes through the crisis event of genuine regeneration, they are still a goat no matter how much training we give them. Salvation is of the Lord. Once a person passes from goat to sheep; that is to say, from death to life and from the power of Satan unto the power of God, a whole new reality takes place in their life. Does Satan have discipleship programs for goats? No, he relies on their sinful nature to lead them according to his own lusts. They don’t need to be prodded to sin, they only need means and opportunity. Likewise, when a person is truly born from above, the Holy Spirit comes in and works in them both to will and to do God’s good pleasure. He is more than capable of leading them in the process of spiritual growth. In the words of Jesus:
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:25-28)