Monday, August 31, 2015:
How much of our “faith” is made up of assumptions? Although we study the Bible, don’t we read our experiences into it, filling in whatever blanks we run into? For example, look at Acts 8 and the eunuch.
“An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip. The angel said, ‘Get ready and go south. Go to the road which leads down to the town of Gaza from the city of Jerusalem – the road that isn’t used much now.’ So Philip got ready and went.” (Acts 8:26-27 IEB).
Did you read that last sentence thinking Philip dropped everything and immediately took off? If so, why? Yes, the KJV says, “He arose and went.” If you were walking and going on a seventy mile trip, wouldn’t you take water and food? From Samaria to Gaza is about fifty miles and Azotus is another twenty. Folks back then could walk about twenty miles each day if they didn’t run into a lion, bear, or robbers. On his way to Gaza, nightfall caught him twice. Where did he stay? Did he camp out under the stars or look for a hospitable person to put him up? There wasn’t a Motel 6 keeping the light on for him, nor a Cracker Barrel to grab a quick meal!
On the third day he and the eunuch met. The eunuch was reading from a scroll of Isaiah. No, it wasn’t the 1611 King James Version. No, there were no chapter nor verse divisions. Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading. A negative reply gave him an opportunity to teach Jesus (Acts 8:35). Sometimes a simple question can have eternal results! Did you notice the chariot was moving while they studied? Apparently “chariot sickness” did not interrupt that study and the eunuch said, “Look! Here is water! What is stopping me from being immersed?” (8:36 IEB).
How did the eunuch know about immersion if Philip is preaching Jesus? Could it be that preaching Jesus included the Lord’s statements about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16)? Since Jesus saw the necessity in mentioning immersion, why shouldn’t Philip? If immersion was just an incidental subject, why did the eunuch desire it?
After Philip immersed the eunuch, the Spirit motivated him to go to Azotus, about another day’s walk. The eunuch continued on his way home. Have you ever wondered how much knowledge he had after this encounter with Philip? Wasn’t he already having a hard time understanding Isaiah? Philip did not present him with a brand new King James Bible as a “baptismal gift,” neither was he presented a copy of Muscle and Shovel. Neither was he given a list of books to purchase, from the Gospel Advocate Bookstore, to study in order to keep him in the faith. His scripture? He had a scroll of Isaiah.
We may assume that he found a faithful congregation back home, a perfect copy of the one we attend, but what if there wasn’t one? He wasn’t inspired. His scriptures were the Old Testament, and probably not as complete as what we have today! Can a person, who only knows Jesus and recognized his need for immersion, be saved if that’s the only knowledge he has? If he does not have access to an inspired teacher nor the New Testament, is he lost? What books were required in order for him to be right in God’s sight? Without the New Testament, how can he bring others to Jesus? What rules did he need to know to remain in fellowship with the Lord? What songs must he sing to be scriptural? Did he know about giving each and every Sunday since he didn’t have 1 Corinthians 16:1-4? Was he lost because he did not attend the assembly of the church each Sunday in Jerusalem or Gaza (Hebrews 10:25)? Did he begin or finish his prayers with, “in Jesus’ name”?
What assumptions are needed from us to make sure the eunuch went to heaven?