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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 21

The Vital Value of Understanding the Word of God (continued)

A Man In Need (continued)

Many of these things might be thought to be great advantages, providing a sure, positive ground of knowing and understanding - and yet he was still in the dark! Some of those things, of course, are essential to coming to the light, but not all of them. You can do without high position, great attainments, the achieving of ambitions; you can do without great education and natural intelligence, and still get the light. On the other hand, unless you have some of them, you will not get the light. A really humble spirit, that is teachable, open to learn, and a preparedness to obey when it comes, are essential. Nevertheless, all put together, they do not constitute a guarantee  of understanding. There is an "extra", and an "other", factor, without which all those things still leave you, Bible in hand, in the dark.

The Meeting of the Need

I said that this incident was "bigger than itself". It is something which contains the essence, but it is something which represents a very much larger situation than itself. This is here in the Word of God because it touches a large and persistent situation in Christianity. Just as the Ethiopian embodies certain principles, so also Philip, when he arrives on the scene, is not just a passing figure who comes and goes. Philip embodies some very far-reaching spiritual principles, just as the Ethiopian did. Philip is more than a person, coming on to the scene and passing off again; he is the embodiment of great spiritual truths for all time.

The Man In the Glory

Now, we must step behind the incident. You notice the setting of it. Though so vital, so important, so significant, this incident is but a part of the onward movement of the exalted Christ in relation to the Church and to the world. Until we recognize this, we are without the key as to what it is and what it represents. The exalted Christ is continuing. At the beginning of this book, Luke refers to his earlier work as being the account of "all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which He was received up" (Acts 1:1-2). This book of the Acts as we have often said, records what He continues to do and to teach after He is received up. That is quite true. The Lord does not stop. He goes on. The march of the Lord in the earth, in the world, in relation to the Church, is still forward with mighty, dynamic force.

And behind the book, behind the doings recorded here, is the One Who is doing. He has not only been lifted up on the Cross: He has been lifted up to the glory, and He is drawing all men to Himself. That is the issue all the time. The issue of every doing, every incident in this book is: Himself, Himself. He is pressing on with that. It is Christ - now in His right place, in the glory, at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, as Lord of all - Who is governing all these events. That is the setting here. It is the sovereign movement of the Spirit of Christ. Figures come and go on the scene - an Ethiopian, a Philip, and how many more - but there is one overruling Figure, the shadow of a Man in the background, governing, maneuvering, moving by His Spirit every one and everything in this book.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22 - (A Man Under the Control of Heaven)

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