Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We Need Teachers

Acts 8:30 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.

30 προσδραμὼν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἤκουσεν αὐτοῦ ἀναγινώσκοντος Ἠσαΐαν τὸν προφήτην καὶ εἶπεν· ἆρά γε γινώσκεις ἃ ἀναγινώσκεις; 31  ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην ἐὰν μή τις ὁδηγήσει με; παρεκάλεσέν τε τὸν Φίλιππον ἀναβάντα καθίσαι σὺν αὐτῷ.

This is the famous account of Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch.  Somehow this man got a hold of a copy of Isaiah.  He was reading it, but it didn't make any sense to him.  Frankly, it would not mean much without some context.  He didn't have the whole Tanak and he didn't have what we call the New Testament either.  When we read Isaiah we can see Jesus in many places, but it would be very difficult without what we know.

Philip not only knew with his head, but he also was filled with the Holy Spirit.  He interpreted the Scriptures for this man who was then baptized very quickly thereafter.  What an amazing testimony of the power of God's Word!

I think that the Eunuch's statement of, "πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην ἐὰν μή τις ὁδηγήσει με;" is something we need to consider today.  There are plenty of folks who go into pastoral ministry because they sense a calling.  A calling is vitally important.  I don't think that I have one, but I certainly respect those who do.  However, a calling is not enough.  We also need some understanding.  Atheists rightly criticize the myriad of variations on the Christian faith.  I have made it clear in this blog that there are some debatable issues, but the central truths are clear.  There should be no variation on those.  Yet we still find them.

This is why I think there is value in seminary or formal training of some kind.  We need guidance to think deeply through how we read Scripture.  Would you go to a doctor who simply felt a "calling," but had no formal training?  I hope not!  Why would you go to someone equally untrained when it comes to matters of your eternal soul?

Please consider this as you are taught each week or perhaps as you teach each week.  I don't want to diminish the work of the Spirit in illumination, but I also think that illumination is no excuse for a lack of preparation.

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