I came across an insightful article at Politics Daily regarding Billy Graham’s advice on several topics from politics to aging parents.  While reading it, I felt helped and confident in the wisdom of Graham’s 92 years of experience along with some sadness at his honesty in sharing his regrets.  I recommend it to you.  Just click here.

Billy Graham and Richard Nixon

Graham has led an amazing life and has left a legacy that all followers of Jesus should consider.  When he looks back and gives advice, we should listen, evaluate and make better decisions as we learn how to best serve the Lord where he has placed us.

Since I have been called to go to the political community, I took great interest in Graham’s words since he has been called the “pastor to the presidents”.  Graham has had spiritual impact on America’s presidents for decades and God has used him to point leaders to Christ.  But stepping over the line from ministry to politics is something he wished he hadn’t done and it negatively affected his ministry.  I find it instructive that he counts it as one of his greatest regrets.  It’s cautionary counsel for all of us.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to, but looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.”

Bill Clinton with Billy Graham

This is just one of a multiple of reminders that God’s representation in the world today is His church and that He has left His plan for societal impact in our hands – making disciples.  Sharing the powerful change brought about by the gospel of Jesus is our primary calling, even to governmental leaders.  We can either learn from Graham’s mistake or repeat it.

Our president has caught some flack in the last couple of years for his lack of church attendance.  That’s why the press took notice recently when, while on vacation, the Obamas went to services on consecutive Sundays for the first time since moving into the White House.  One article’s headline even assigned a motive for President Obama’s stance on faith – “Obama Tries to Reassert His Christian Bona Fides, With Words and Deeds”.  Click here for the full piece.

So what should believers think about their leaders’ attendance patterns at church?  Is it our business?  Is it right to pile on with other critical voices if we don’t think they go to church often enough?  Should we care?

In a word, yes.

But there should be a deeper desire that Christians need to express for their leaders’ spiritual lives than just their presence at worship services.  That desire should be for leaders to know and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, having a growing, vital personal relationship with Him that changes who they are and how they think from the inside out.  Paul described that change when he wrote to Titus:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Titus 2:11-14

Having true faith in Christ is the same for everyone, politician or not.  We all must come to Christ on his terms and bow to His revelation of Himself, not what we or other men construct Him to be.  It may comfort us to know that we have leaders who are in the pews every Sunday, but if they are not saved and being changed by the gospel we need to seek more for them.  If they are there merely to assuage their religious critics, that’s obviously not enough.

Should we be glad that they are in church even if they have political motives?  If the Word of God is faithfully preached to them, sure!  The Word is powerful and may make inroads into their hearts.  But as we look at those verses in Titus, key words must be defined for these leaders to truly glorify God in their lives and church attendance.

Among those words are salvation, ungodliness, passions, self-controlled, upright, godly, redeem, lawlessness, purify and good works.  When believers plumb the depths of the true meanings of these words and live them out,  regular church attendance will be a natural outflow of that faith.

Until then, anger is not needed when we see leaders failing in church attendance, but renewed prayer for them to grow in the grace of God and have hearts that are being transformed by Christ.  Pray that those who lead us will humbly go to public worship to commune with their Maker, not to control the media.

In the preface to his work Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem says this:

I am convinced that there is an urgent need in the church today for much greater understanding of Christian doctrine, or systematic theology. Not only pastors and teachers need to understand theology in greater depth—the whole church does as well. One day by God’s grace we may have churches full of Christians who can discuss, apply, and live the doctrinal teachings of the Bible as readily as they can discuss the details of their own jobs or hobbies—or the fortunes of their favorite sports team or television program. (1)

When interviewed recently by Glenn Beck, Jerry Falwell, Jr. said, “we can argue about theology later after we save the country.”  It can be difficult to get at the actual meaning in someone’s mind when we hear them quoted.  But the words used in this sentence seem to be so self-evident, I can’t see any ambiguity in Falwell’s words. 

If you read Grudem’s words again, is there a word that leaps out at you?  I agree with his paragraph and am impacted heavily by his choice of the word “urgent”.  Falwell makes it clear that “saving our country” is a more urgent pursuit than the church’s task to share the gospel.  The two are not the same – Falwell clearly understands that and separates the two, assigning more importance to changing our society.  Theology can come later.

Since he’s talking to Beck, his definition of “theology” would be the difference between evangelicalism and Mormonism.  But in context, he widens the scope by also including Jews, Catholics and unbelievers (click here for the whole interview).   Those represent a vast spectrum of beliefs.  Beliefs such as who God is (or if He even exists), who humans are, why humans are here and where are we going.  Orthodox Christian beliefs on man’s purpose for existence, sin, the cross as the remedy for sin, how to be reconciled to God and many others are foundational.  One might even say this set of beliefs (or our theology) defines who we are.

But do we consider it urgent?  It’s not on the newscasts or in the papers.  We generally don’t think about those beliefs or talk about them to our family and friends as much as we do politics.  The sad truth is that the church in America is focused on our nation’s moral trajectory more than the reason for our nation’s moral trajectory.  America’s problem is not found in our laws, it’s found in our hearts.  The gospel is the only solution to that problem.

We’re all concerned about where our nation is headed, but when a well-known Christian leader downplays the importance of God’s primary plan for impacting the world for His glory, damage is done to the collective conscience of the church.  Theology that is informed by the Scriptures is the message we have to share with a culture that is rotting.  Biblical theology itself tells us what our mission is in this world:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;” Matthew 28:19

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 

this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Colossians 1:27b, 28

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.  Colossians 4:5, 6

I’m not advocating staying silent on our culture’s slide into more and more corruption.  In a representational republic, we are free to take part in efforts to stem the godless tide.  Those efforts have to be biblically informed as well, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that doing a societal cleanup is the main task of a Christian.  As urgent as our nation’s problems seem, we should deem sharing accurate truths about God, and people’s relationship to God, as more urgent.

(1) Grudem, W. A. (1994). Systematic theology : An introduction to biblical doctrine (18). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.

Jerry Falwell, Jr.

I usually keep a blog posting between 400 – 600 words, but to comment on the recent interview Glen Beck conducted with Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., I may have to break this up into a few installments.  You can read the transcript of the interview here, but the main statement from Falwell that caught my eye was, “we can argue about theology later after we save the country.”

Wow.  A leader of a major liberal arts evangelical school dismantled the biblical task of believers in culture in eleven words.  We need to consider what this really means. 

First of all, it’s clear to me that this statement is not a chronological plan as much as it is a value judgement or statement of priority.  Waiting until after our country has the right people in power passing the right laws to discuss what we really believe shows a priority list, not a timeline. 

Is Falwell really saying that we should focus all efforts on changing the moral direction of our nation by political change rather than by the truth of God’s Word?  That’s where theology comes from.  The word “theology” literally means “the study of the nature of God”.  Did I just hear Falwell say that our world needs cultural change more right now through the work of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, evangelicals, etc., then we can talk about God and the Bible and truth and where all of us are headed for eternity?  When exactly would be a good time for Falwell to broach that subject with others?

This is where moralism leads – to grand, hyperbolic statements that undermine the true, biblical role of the church in the world and that our sinful, corrupt, godless leaders are obstacles to freedom as we like it, not souls for whom Christ died.

Maybe it will help to see a little more context to those eleven words:

If we don’t hang together we’ll hang separately, I mean, that’s what my father believed when he formed Moral Majority, was an organization of Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, people of no faith. And there are bigger issues now, we can argue about theology later after we save the country. . . But you’re bringing all these types of people together on your show every day, and it’s creating a partnership between groups that may have never talked to each other otherwise, and I think nothing could be more important at this stage of our history.

Well, putting it in context actually sounds worse, so as we break these observations into several posts, I would also like to include thoughts from John MacArthur’s Can God Bless America?  His final chapter outlines 16 ways moralism can be dangerous.  Since we’re talking about priorities, this is from number 15: Moralism reverses the divine order

Moralism makes morality the power of salvation, rather than vice versa.  Many evangelicals today seem to operate with the notion that if we can elevate the morality of our culture, then more people will believe the gospel.  They imagine that if we can clean up the country, it will afford greater opportunities for the gospel.  That’s exactly the reverse of the divine order. (p. 95)

Followers of Christ do not have the luxury of deciding what our priorities should be in affecting our culture.  We have been instructed in the Scriptures what our main task is and that task is centered on the Word of God, which means that task relies on good theology.  When Jesus gave His commission to His disciples, He emphasized theological disciple-making.  Our message is to teach “them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).  When Paul wrote that the church should pray for governmental leaders, the ultimate reason was that “God, our Savior… desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b, 4).

Falwell apparently thinks we can’t wait to save our country.  Christ has taught we can’t wait to teach the world about Him and His ways.  That’s also known as theology and should be the church’s real priority. 

Next time: Part 2 – Arguing Theology

 

Al and Tipper Gore

When Al and Tipper Gore announced they were divorcing after 40 years of marriage, they took their place in a long line of public servants who have experienced the erosion of the deepest possible earthly relationship.  It’s true that people of all walks of life “grow apart” or have affairs (which reports say the Gores didn’t), but in the political sphere, marriage is a regular casualty that knows no partisan boundary.

Please don’t uncaringly consider the Gore’s announcement as just another couple who blew it, as if we expect it.  Let’s use this as a reminder to pray.

Those in politics may have much influence and the ability to appropriate billions of dollars, but they are still humans who have the same daily struggles you and I face.  The constant care and feeding of a marriage relationship becomes very difficult, though, when schedules and, if left unchecked, priorities diverge.  The sad reality is that sometimes leaders choose power over marriage.

I have spoken with office-holders and spouses whose marriages began to unravel when they won their election.  I have spoken to others who realized the potential danger and did not run for reelection.  Still others strive to make it work and give the proper attention to their mates, even though it seems impossible to pull off.

The divorce of the Gores is a tragedy and should spur the church to pray more often and more effectively for those who lead us.  As we pray, though, remember that a heart that knows and pursues God will stand a better chance of success.  God instituted marriage, provides its regulation in Scripture and gives the resources by His Spirit to enable two human beings to display the relationship between Christ and His church.  Our leaders need their lives changed by the gospel of Christ before their marriages will truly please Him.

That should be our first prayer for them.

In this final post on the 2009 Immigration Statement of the National Association of Evangelicals, I’d like to focus on this paragraph:

The Bible does not offer a blueprint for modern legislation, but it can serve as a moral compass and shape the attitudes of those who believe in God. An appreciation of the pervasiveness of migration in the Bible must temper the tendency to limit discussions on immigration to Romans 13 and a simplistic defense of “the rule of law.” God has established the nations (Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26), and their laws should be respected. Nevertheless, policies must be evaluated to reflect that immigrants are made in the image of God and demonstrate biblical grace to the foreigner.”

This summary paragraph in the section on Biblical Foundations reviews a few of the arguments made earlier.  I’ve commented on their thoughts on the image of God and migration in the Bible in previous posts, both of which were a little confusing to me.   I don’t disagree, however, with the statement that Romans 13 can be used simplistically to blindly follow whatever law is on the books.

Romans 13:1-7 is a key passage that details why government exists and what the Christian’s attitude should be toward it.  Basically, the command for us is to submit to government since God ordained it as an institution and has placed office-holders in power.  Just because a law is a law does not mean it is just and there are several examples of instances when believers were justified to break unjust laws.  But civil disobedience is not the norm and a systematic study of biblical teaching from several passages (Titus 3:1, 2 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, et al) emphasize submission, even in the face of suffering caused by that government.

It would be simplistic to point only to Romans 13 to formulate a biblical view of immigration, but the truth of that passage must be given much weight when letting the Bible guide our thinking on this or any other issue.

As for the rest of the NAE document, there are some great stands taken in the call to action.  Again, if the Bible is to be used to form our position, we have to take care to shape a convincing argument from rightly applied passages.  We also should include as much contemporary reality as possible, admitting what makes up the big picture of an issue.  For example, migration in the Bible came from very different geopolitical situations than today, so much needs to be taken into consideration.  Some biblical passages should be consulted that contain principles to apply rather than objective references to migration. 

There’s no question that immigration is a serious subject, especially right now.  I can appreciate the effort the NAE has made to speak out for a biblical approach and I have learned from their statement how to and how not to appeal to the Scriptures.

The central fact remains that unregenerate leaders will not necessarily be swayed by a biblical argument.  The church may make short-term pronouncements on policy matters, but the long-term task Christ gave to His church was to make disciples.  If believing lawmakers were making laws shaped by a biblical worldview, then we would be getting somewhere.  Not only would law be God-honoring, but the very lives of our leaders could be honoring Him as well.  The way that happens is for the church to sharpen its focus on evangelism and discipleship rather than only political activism.

President Barak Obama

Yesterday President Obama and Vice President Biden came to Beckley (the town I was born in) to eulogize at a memorial service for 29 West Virginia coal miners who died three weeks ago in an explosion.  I’m told my great-grandfather worked that mine many years ago and I have closely followed the developments there since the disaster occurred. 

There are times when community tragedies are bigger news than others.  There may be bigger issues to consider, such as mine safety, that work their way into the overall story.  When we, as a nation, see the images and feel the loss and pain of a town full of strangers, we grieve along with them.  That’s our national conscience at work. 

And it’s our national conscience that needs the words of our leaders to comfort at times like this.  Our president and vice president were present to express the nation’s sorrow and bring some sympathy to this hard-hit community.  It was the right thing. 

The texts of the remarks of Obama and Biden are inspirational, respectful, somber yet hopeful.  Biden, who has experienced the personal loss of a wife and daughter in an accident, had great credibility and ethos in his speech.  Their words let the miners’ families know how most of us in America felt. 

But the remarks also reminded me again that we must pray for our leaders according to 1 Timothy 2.  Not only are we told in this passage to pray “for kings and all those in high positions” (verse 2), we are also told why.  “God our Savior desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (verse 3b, 4). 

When leaders address a memorial service or prayer breakfast, sometimes even a floor speech or national address, they may include spiritual themes.  The danger is that what they say is believed to be true by many undiscerning hearers, even if their words are not biblical.  We shouldn’t wish for our leaders to leave God out of their public speeches (although some in America would love that), but when God is invoked we should pray that true things are said about Him as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.  

It matters what we say and believe about God and our leaders can play a crucial didactic role for the country when they refer to God and spiritual matters. 

Examples from Sunday’s service in Beckley include this comment by President Obama: “We cannot bring back the 29 men we lost. They are with the Lord now.”  This feeds the idea that we are all God’s children (another common belief) and simply by the fact that we are created, live and die that we all go to heaven.  That has no support from the Scriptures.  The fact is that we don’t know if all of the 29 miners are with the Lord, but those of us remaining here have a choice left as to what we will do with Jesus and His gospel of salvation – a fact the president can’t say out loud in our pluralistic structure. 

Vice President Joe Biden

Biden stepped over the line when he said, “To paraphrase a communion hymn in my church, I have a wish for all of you, all of your families:  May He raise you up on eagle’s wings and bear you on the breadth of dawn, and make the sun to shine upon you.  And until you’re reunited with those you lost, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  For you know this band of 29 roughneck angels watching over you are doing that just now, as they sit at the right hand of the Lord today — and they’re wondering, is all that fuss about me?  (Applause.) ” 

Anyone grounded in the Scriptures will see several red flags of error in that paragraph.  There may or may not be a reunion with these family members in eternity.  We don’t become angels when we die and we most certainly won’t sit at the right hand of the Lord.  Those are just three of several flags.  These comments simply are not grounded in the truth of the Bible.  They may sound good to our world that grasps for purpose and meaning in a time of grief, but how helpful is it to reinforce unbiblical notions?  

An example of an appropriate spiritual thought at this time was made by Obama:  “If any comfort can be found, it can, perhaps, be found by seeking the face of God, who quiets our troubled minds, a God who mends our broken hearts, a God who eases our mourning souls.”  Seeking God at a time of mourning is right and good, but it cannot be a God of our making and our mental comfort level. 

One of the main reasons the Church is in this world is to teach.  If God desires all to be saved and know the truth, His didactic plan is through the Church.  

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

We should pray for a day when a leader hands a speech back to a speechwriter for a revision for the only reason of removing an unbiblical thought, or better, change the thought to a biblical one.  How is that going to happen?  Only by the church taking our Bibles and running toward our culture with the truth, sharing the gospel in all of its fullness and power.

Question #1:  Do you want your government representatives to please God?

It’s a loaded question filled with implications. The answer may not be as clear-cut as we might think.  For some, the definition of “pleasing God” is really the same as “vote the way I like”.  Is that necessarily the true definition?  Maybe you haven’t thought about it in these terms, but this is definitely an interesting thing to consider.

A verse that guides our thinking on this question needs to be included in our answer, though.

Verse #1:  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

This is a huge statement.  The worldview that is shaped by this verse runs totally against our culture.  Think of it – any thought, attitude, intention or action done apart from faith is not pleasing to God.  The implication for believers is massive because we must constantly be aware of what drives who we are and what we do.  We know that it is very possible for a follower of Jesus to displease God.

But what does this verse say about unbelievers?  Even if they do something moral or right or just, are they pleasing God?  According to Hebrews 11:6, the answer is no.  All of mankind’s righteousness is the same as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  Only a heart that has been given faith to believe, know and desire God and His ways can please Him.

So. . .

Question #2:  Since our governmental leaders must have faith to have the capacity to please God, what will cause that to come about?

Verse #2So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  (Romans 10:17 ESV)

Pretty simple.

We are guided by this second verse to answer how leaders can come to faith in order to please God.  It’s not by outwardly observing religious activities.  It’s not by speaking, thinking or even voting in ways consistent with God’s Word.

It’s impossible for anyone to please God without faith, through which all who are saved can receive Christ in the first place.  Even the most outwardly moral and upright people will spend eternity apart from God if they live a life of faithlessness.

Which brings us to. . .

Question #3:  Since the church is God’s agent in this world to proclaim the Word of Christ, what are we doing to ensure leaders hear that Word so they can receive the gift of faith in order to please God?

Over the next couple of weeks, my television watching will consist of two things: basketball and news.  The NCAA tournament is a highlight every year and things are getting very interesting in American politics.  As disconnected as these two subjects seem, there is a link that reminds me of the importance of the Paphos Paradigm.

Do you feel the upheaval and intensity in today’s political environment?  Major legislation is being considered and we seem to hear as much about how law is made as we do what the laws are.  “Peace” is not a word that comes to my mind when I think of our political situation today.

Yet the Scriptures command the believer to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).  Here, believe it or not, is the connection to March Madness.  The word “rule” in this verse literally means the ref’s call at a sporting event.  When we let the peace of Christ rule in us, His peace is the deciding factor in the decisions we make.  The true believer cannot consistently opt to live life his own way, since that would result in sin, guilt and a damaged conscience.  Letting Christ’s peace rule – or making minute-by-minute choices that please Him, fostering and preserving our peace (agreement and security) with Him is how we abide under the authority of the ref on the court.

So why is there so much conflict in politics?  The hearts of most of our leaders are not ruled by this peace.  Promoting civility will not change that.  Encouraging bipartisanship will not change that.  Peace with God only comes through Jesus: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus ChristRomans 5:1.  Peace with Him makes peace with others possible.  More than that, it makes peace our motivation to glorify Christ, giving us an authority other than ourselves to rule in our relationships.

Pray for your leaders that they may know the One who brings true peace.   Let’s not get mad at unbelievers for acting naturally.  Only supernatural change through the power of the gospel will bring inner, lasting heart-change. 

For more on this, click here to read the Maryland legislators’ Bible study notes for this week, “In the Courtroom of Motivation”.

Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch

The concept of “The Paphos Paradigm” (intentional, targeted ministry of the gospel to governmental leaders) is taken from Paul’s encounter with the governor of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus, in Acts 13:1-12, but the pattern is seen all through the Bible.  Five chapters earlier, an African treasury official gives us another encouraging example of the life-changing power of the gospel.  Acts 8:26-39 has important lessons for today’s church.  Let’s look at ten of them (not necessarily in order of importance):

1.  There was a political official God wanted to reach.  “. . . there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. . .” (v. 27b)  If you know even a few stories from the Bible, you’ve seen this before.  God repeatedly sends messengers into the lives of political leaders to speak His truth into their lives with the goal of heart-change.

2.  God called a messenger to go to the political leader.  “But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) . . . Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” (vv. 26, 29)  The call of God was made clear to the messenger, in this case the apostle Philip, but that call still necessitated action (we’ll get to that in the conclusion).  Philip immediately followed the Lord’s call and plan.

3.  Philip went to where the leader was.  So he got up and went . . . Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” . . . And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (vv. 27a, 30, 31b)  In that day there weren’t too many choices for communication, so Philip had to physically go to where the Ethiopian was.  This is, of course, the most effective place to be to talk with anyone, but the church today has so many technologically creative ways to share love and good news with leaders.  Face to face can’t be beat, though, and has a tremendous impact.

4.  The leader was outwardly religious.  he had come to Jerusalem to worship, and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.” (vv. 27c, 28)  How often do we see this?  Our leaders are often seen speaking in churches, attending prayer breakfasts and quoting Scripture during speeches on the floor.  But just because there is a profession of faith or an outward appearance of religiosity, a leader may have never repented of and been forgiven of sin.  We cannot assume that and the church should be on the front lines of exhorting leaders to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

5.  The Word of God is powerful.  “Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:
         ‘HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER;
         AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT,
         SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. 
    ‘IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY;
         WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION?
         FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH
.'”  (vv. 32, 33)  This is a point we could include in every top ten list.  But we must pause to acknowledge the powerful moving of God’s Spirit in this whole narrative was through the reading, meditating, asking about, and proclaiming Scripture.  Philip’s opinion doesn’t show up anywhere.

6.  The leader was seeking God and open to Him.  The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” (v. 34)  He had worshiped in Jerusalem, had the book of Isaiah open on his lap and was clearly wrestling with the meaning of the passage.  What a blessing when someone asks a question about the Lord.  When they do, we should have an answer ready!

7.  The message was clearly communicated, starting from where the leader was.   “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture . . .” (v. 35a)  When is the last time you opened your mouth, or email or letter, to share Christ with your representatives?  Ever?

8.  The content of the gospel message was centered on Jesus.  “. . . he preached Jesus to him.” (v. 35b)  If we believe Christ has the answers for all man’s problems, that has to be shared.  There is no other definition of the gospel than Jesus Christ crucified and risen.  Speaking up for godly, biblical laws to be enacted in our land is great, but lawmakers may still go to a Godless eternity if we stop there.

9.  A believing leader should be an obedient leader.  “As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (vv. 36-38)  Just like any believer, visible fruit will accompany true faith.  The Ethiopian’s desire to obey and identify with Christ showed a heart that wanted to please the Lord.  This is the kind of change our leaders need.  We all do.

10.  God desires leaders to move from despair and confusion to joy.  “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.” (v. 39)  What a change of heart, emotion, action and purpose this eunuch went through in these few verses!  Many of your leaders are rudderless in life.  They are on the pointless treadmill of life without purpose or meaning.  The church has been left on earth to go to all nations with the direction-changing, hope-producing gospel that we can be forgiven and know God personally.

Conclusion:  When Philip asked if he understood what he was reading, this poor, confused, desperate Ethiopian treasurer responded with a most important question: “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”

We should be like our God “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  (1 Timothy 2:4).  Pray for your leaders and consider how you can share your faith in Christ with them.