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Friday, January 2, 2015

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 22

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

A Man Under the Control of Heaven

Philip, then, comes under the Spirit's government, which means that he comes under the government of the exalted Christ. That is clear, is it not? There is an interchange of words which we will not stop to discuss. "An angel said to Philip..." The Spirit said to Philip..." Whether that means two things or one does not matter very much. Angels and the Holy Spirit are in cooperation. The letter to the Hebrews tells us that angels are "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). We see here the cooperation of heavenly intelligences in this matter. Philip is under the government and control of the Holy Spirit, of the exalted Christ.

Now note that Philip is a man with but one interest in life - a very important contributing factor to the issue, to the answer to the question, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" Here is a man under the government of Christ, under the mastery of the Holy Spirit: so much so that he has no other interest in life. We could almost resolve the whole matter into that, though it is only a part. But understanding of the Word of God in such a way that it lives gloriously, and growingly lives, becomes a dynamic force in the life, and leads on to the fullness of Christ, will only be on this principle - that you and I are not people of two interests in life. It is essential that we have only one interest.

Look at Philip's history. The Church has been born in the mighty vibrant activities of the Spirit, in the onward march of the ascended Lord. Difficulties arise in certain practical matters, and the Apostles cannot withdraw from a  great movement of the  Spirit to handle these matters of temporal consideration. They call upon the Church to look them out certain men for that purpose: it does so, and they choose seven - men "full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (Acts 6:3) - of whom Philip is one. Philip first comes into view as one of a group of men appointed to look after the gifts of the Christians in relation to poor saints. You call that menial, perhaps; you would hardly think that a man full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom was required for that! But such men were required, even for that. Philip's history marks him out as a man of spiritual capacity. He is not a little man - he is spiritually a big man; and yet he is prepared to accept a job that you might think anybody could do - to give the few pence of shillings to some poor widows who were in need. Being the man that he was, spiritually so large, he put it ll into that, without bad feeling, without revolt, without reservation, without question.

Then came the persecution through Saul, and the scattering. What became of the widows, I do not know, but I know what became of Philip. Philip was one of those that were scattered abroad, and he went down to Samaria, and preached Christ (Acts 8:4, 5). And we know that great things happened. Now came another test of the quality of Philip. In the midst of this onward pressing of the mighty Lord, in the onward sweep of the Spirit in this irresistible tide, Philip is suddenly spoken to. Without any explanation, promise, assurance, or anything else, he is told to leave it all and go far off into the country, in a direction which was desert. Such an injunction is a good test of whether a man has two interests in life: whether his heart is divided, or single. But here is a man of only one thought, one purpose, an undivided heart. We read of no controversy whatever, but instant obedience. Notice this principle of instant obedience: it implies such a total abandonment to the Lord that you are ready to do anything and everything He says, whether you understand it or not. The Lord has got you - the Lord has got your heart; you have no argument with Him about His ways with you.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

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