Guides to the Word
Guides to the Word
Last week in Acts we read about intensified oppression against the church and the first martyr. This oppression is what leads to the gospel going out of Jerusalem. The disciples have been confined there and now persecution sends the disciples out. We read about Phillip the evangelist today, and we are going to see how a person he meets is brought to faith in Jesus.
Followers of Christ help others follow Christ
By guiding them in his word.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Kandake, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40 ESV)
- Spirit Led Obedience
V26 an angel speaks to Philip saying go. What does Philip do? He goes.
V29 The spirit says to Philip go over to his chariot and read. Philip goes over and reads.
Philip is looking for opportunities to be used by God. Probably praying for them. And he is being obedient to the calling. How many people have no inclination to go and when they are prompted they ignore it.
- Guidance for Unconverted Worshippers
This is an interesting guy. First of all he is Ethiopian. 1600 miles from Jerusalem, but he has come there to worship. He must have had some understanding of Judaism.
He is a eunuch. Kids, you ask your parents about this later. But it is a reminder that there has always been confusion about sexuality. This was normally done in the belief they would be more loyal and trusted servants.
He has come to Jerusalem to worship but is now returning confused. Either the service did not answer his questions or perhaps they talked about this passage and it raised the question.
This is easy evangelism. It doesn’t get any easier than someone sitting in their car, reading Isaiah 53 and asking who is this speaking about. I can’t say this definitively, but I put this conversion on the church. They have been praying for this. They have been longing for this. If you are in their prayer meeting I think you hear them praying for people to come to know Jesus. How are you praying and longing for this? I think before we see conversions in the church, we have to experience the conversion of the church wanting/longing to see Jesus made known in people’s hearts.
The need for a guide. V31 How can I unless someone guides me. Philip walks him through this passage. He explains it to him. The way God normally draws people to himself is through others. We see this throughout Acts. God uses other people. How many people might be asking for help in life? Someone to guide them?
Guide. with the implication of making certain that people reach an appropriate destination. literally lead someone on the way, escort, guide (MT 15.14); figuratively instruct, teach, guide in learning
If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Mat 15:14 NIV)
Discipleship in the church should equip people to do this. If our discipleship is not making more guides then you have to question what is going on.
Philip gets close enough that the Ethiopian is willing to ask him a question. He moved towards him. If we are not consistently getting close enough for people to ask us questions or share life then we are not doing what we should be doing. They may not like your suggestions, they may reject Jesus, but may they know we care and are there for them.
Jaber Crow. It is about a young man in seminary who begins to have questions. When he brings up questions like if Jesus said not to pray in public why do we pray in public. If Jesus said to love our enemies why do we kill them. He brings these questions to his professors and they tell him he needs more faith, to believe, and that these questions are a sign of weakness. His time in seminary ends with him going to a professor to ask these questions, his professor simply wants to sit in his office reading a book. He offers Jaber no help, no dialogue, simpy agrees with Jaber that it would be hard to preach if you don’t have answers, and if you are not going to preach then there is no sense being in school there. Jaber starts to walk out but then thinks he should tell his professor thanks and when he turns around the professor is already back to reading his book. No effort and no concern. That is a giant swing and miss on the great commission.
You can’t be a guide if you don’t know where they are and what the obstacles to their faith are. That is holy ground when someone lets you into their concerns. Helping others discuss and grow in their faith is the most significant level of human relationship. If you feel shallow in your relationships start asking people how they are doing in their walk with God and read the Bible with them.
You may not have all the answers, but you can do your best, ask what they think, and then go do a little study, ask friends, and get back to them.
This is the great commission. The church is telling others about Jesus and teaching them to obey all that he has commanded. He explains scripture to him, helps him know Jesus, explains baptism, and dunks him in water.
The mission drive of the church. This drives everything in the church. The is the gas that powers the machine. If this is not in there everything dies and falls flat. What are we going to be.
How many people leave our service needing answers to questions. Are we going to them? The Ethiopian didn’t initially ask. Phillip sensed a need and went. Most churches are very friendly. I think we are a friendly church that says hello, shakes hands when we are able. But I think to reach others we need to have a mindset that says how can I reach out to that person. Can I grab lunch with them? Maybe it is just to let them know you care, the church cares, Jesus cares about them.
We should seek to guide others.
- The Power of the Word to Save
The power of reading the word. The word does the heavy lifting. The word is powerful.
The gift of the Scriptures and the gift of teachers. This is why we read God’s word and then talk about what it means. We want God’s word to guide us.
It can be intimidating to hear some of the problems people have. It’s not your job to save them. It’s not your job to fix everything. It is your job to get close enough to them to hear what’s going on. It is your job to share with them and guide them in truth. Lead them in the word.
If you are going to lead others it will involve using the word of God. Followers of Christ are to be reading his word and talking about it. The early church read the word publically. They were devoted to it.
How are you doing centering your life and family on the word of God? Parents, are you leading your kids by being in the word. Men, are you being the spiritual leaders of your family by leading them in time in the word. If you are not sharing God’s word with other people then you are not leading them. You are not following Jesus’ plan for your life. You will not grow as he desires. You will not have the impact you could have. You are not being obedient witnesses.
- Jesus Centered
Jesus is the star of the Bible. Everything points to him. This passage very directly points to him. All the problems in the world are solved by Jesus. He is our hope in every circumstance. He is our guide. We are unapologetic in stating all the problems you face Jesus is the solution.
This passage in Isaiah is one of the most significant passages in the Bible about the atonement of sin and a servant of the Lord suffering in their place. This one is cut off for his people. He sacrifices himself and experiences injustice to atone for the sins and mistakes of his people. It is amazing that God’s Son would do this. He has made a way for those who are far off to be brought close to his side. This good news changed the life of this Ethiopian.
Who is Jesus to you? Are you following him? You may feel too far off to come to Jesus. That is a lie. You can trust in him today. And until you make him the Lord of your life, he is not Lord at all. There is a fork in the road and you have to choose to turn from the world and follow him. If you have not done that then you are not following him. Some of you have made a profession of faith but you are not following him and his call to guide others. You are scared, lazy, stubborn… You have to follow him today.
Discovery Groups. I want to do part B of this message, which is talk about a way I believe will help us reach people. We need to find a way to equip more people to connect with others and get into God’s word.
How many people have ever been in a Discovery Group? None. Perfect. We picked this name so you wouldn’t associate it with something done in the past. I think we need a new start on groups. I have felt that way since 2010 at my last church. I really like what we are doing in these groups and their purpose.
Bible, community, mission.
People have been in groups where it is all Bible study and it is content and knowledge based. I had three years of seminary focused on this and most ministries in church follow this format. The problem is you are in there with others and have no idea what is going on in their lives. Half the people in your Bible study are going to counseling and you have no idea why. That’s a problem. And when people come to church because of issues, stresses, worries in their life and they go to a group that never really talks about what is going on in life, they feel Christianity has nothing to offer them and they quit coming after a while. Drift away and you don’t know why.
Others have been in groups focused on community. You come share your problems in every detail of how bad your day was. You get to know people really well but it is more of a whine fest and you don’t feel there is a lot redeeming it. You don’t read the Bible and you don’t know how to help people get out of it.
Missional community where you minimize Bible study and sharing your thoughts on life just to get non-Christians to hang out. Great for connecting with others but not much depth.
I am greedy. I want all of that in there. I want us to be in God’s word, get to know each other, and learn how we can reach more people. I think Discovery Groups help us touch on all of these in important ways.
These groups bring in community rather than just teaching. Teaching is important, we do that on Sundays, Discovery Groups allows guides to come alongside you, hear questions.
- Q 1-2. What is stressing you out? What is eating your lunch. Highs and lows. Happy and crappy. Guys, ask your wife these questions. Ask your kids. Need to get to know people and what is really going on in life. Ask your spouse. Your kids. Anybody you want to reach. Pray for them in this. What are you grateful for? This helps you be more grateful. Recognize God’s grace.
One of the biggest needs of our community is relationships. We need to do that. If someone needs relationships, to be known and known by others, then we need to have time where we are learning about what is going on with them. That will make some of you nervous.
If you are in Bible study/small group, and half the people in the group are going to counseling but you have no idea why or what for, you need to change what your small group is doing.
Look, your job is not to fix people. When people drop a giant pile of mess into your lap it’s intimidating. But tell them you care. Thanks for sharing that with me. I know it is hard. This isn’t going to resolve itself quickly and I’m not the one who can fix you, but I know one who can fix you. His name is Jesus. And if you want I’ll come alongside you and be your biggest cheerleader.
- Q 3. I will Statements.
- Q4. Needs. Look for the needs around you and how you and the church can help with those needs.
- Q5. Bible Study. We want to get into God’s word. Basic questions about the passage you are reading. What grabbed your attention? What bothered you? Give people a chance to express their questions. Invite this! What does this passage tell me about God, myself, the world we live in. These are profound questions that get you thinking about the meaning of this passage.
- Q 6. Obey. Philip obeyed what the Spirit told him. Most people in our country are only interested in God as much as he can bring them what they want. Most people will spend an hour and a half in church because they know it will end. I feel like we need to slap people in the face to wake them up in their walk with the Lord. This is a question that comes at you. You just heard a message/read God’s word: what do you need to do?
- Q7. Share. Too many people ignore the call to reach others.
People are not looking to Jesus. We need to go towards them. If you have read God’s word, been encouraged by it, and see something that if you do it then it will benefit your life, then do you think someone you know might benefit from hearing that.
Imagine if a guy were in here today and said, Man, I have not been reading God’s word and I certainly have not been leading my wife and kids in that. I have been selfish and just focused on coming home and sitting on the couch to watch television. I would give a poor account to the Lord but I love my family and want to help them. Can you imagine if a guy said that to you how stirring it would be.
We are to be witnesses. If we are not regularly asking each other and encouraging each other in this then what are we doing?
The goal is to take people deeper in God’s word. It is to create new habits that are distinctively Christian: reading and obeying God’s word and sharing with others. This is as important as any doctrine we might teach.
I hope you see this and think, wow! I could do this!” With people in the church, or my kids, or my office.
The goal is to get more people doing this. Groups are going to be 3-4 people.
*Create a movement, not a monument.*
Church, I want to get 100 adults going through this material this year. In your book you will see different journeys. I want to get 100 adults to go through this. Not the same 20 people doing five different journeys with people in the church. 100 different people. I believe if we start doing this we are going to create a movement of people following Jesus.
I believe for you to experience God’s purpose and help in your life, you need to be doing things like this. I’m not going to make anyone join a group, but I don’t believe our current groups are creating renewal and we need something different. I would like to ask you to pray about being a part of this. Join a group, facilitate a group. We have a form for you to fill out.