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6. Listen With Both Ears

Philip was God's messenger because he was prepared to listen. He knew that he had two ears and one mouth!  If we are to work for the Lord, we must first be able to listen. We should listen to his Holy Spirit and listen to his Word. Acts 8:29-30 tells us how Philip did this.

ACTS 8:29-30:
(NKJ) "Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." So Philip ran to him . . .

The Holy Spirit Speaks Directly

Philip opened his ears. The Holy Spirit spoke to him as a man speaks to his friend - clearly and directly.

The way in which the Holy Spirit came to him is very important. Therefore we examine it now with attention. We must remember that Philip was alone on a lonely road. But in spite of this, the Holy Spirit spoke to him.

We do not know exactly how it happened. We can accept it that Philip was aware that the Holy Spirit was close to him. The Spirit of God led him. He felt a clear conviction that God was communicating with him. He simply knew that the Spirit told him "Go and join the carriage."

How Did Philip Know?

How could Philip know that it really was the Spirit of God speaking to him? That was a big question.

Philip did not hesitate. He knew that it was the Holy Spirit of God that spoke to him and he at once obeyed the instructions. How was he so certain?

The instruction of the Spirit agreed with that of the Lord Jesus to His disciples. That was how he knew that it was God speaking to him!

Let us listen again to two of the commands of Jesus to his followers.
The first is in Matthew 28:19. Look it up and complete this sentence.
(NKJ) "_________ therefore and make disciples of all the _______________."
The second is found in Acts 1:8.
(NKJ) "But you shall receive ____________ when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be ______________ to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ________ of the earth."

When the Holy Spirit said to Philip "Go up to this chariot," it agreed with the "Go" command of Jesus. The chariot belonged to a non-Jew, a man from Africa with a heathen background. This didn't make Philip hesitate. Jesus ordered his followers to go and bear witness. This opened the path to the outposts of the world.

Philip listened. He believed and obeyed God. This is the difference between the work of the Holy Spirit and that of other spirits.

The Holy Spirit In The Bible

The work of the Holy Spirit is never independent of that of the work of Jesus Christ. And therefore also not independent from the Word of God. The Holy Spirit and the Bible belong together. They support one another. They explain each other

We understand the Bible, the Word of God, through the guidance given by the Holy Spirit. He helps us to understand. The opposite is also true. We learn to know the Holy Spirit and his work as the Bible teaches us more about Him and makes it clear.

Now we are also able to test if it really is the Holy Spirit that speaks to us or to anybody else.

If someone says something which goes against the Bible, we know that he is not speaking through the Holy SpIrit.

If anyone denies that Jesus is the Saviour of the World, or refuses to give Him the most important place, then we know be is not speaking through the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is our test. The Holy Spirit never speaks against the Bible and never independently of Jesus Christ.

Are You Really Interested in People?

The messenger of the Lord immediately obeys the command of the Holy Spirit. However, we are not yet finished with verse 30. We must still discuss the important question which Philip asked. Listen . . .

ACTS 8:30
(NKJ) So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?"

It sometimes happens that some person comes to speak to you without taking the trouble of getting to know you properly. Or he acts towards you as if he already knows all about you. A person does not like being treated like that. It puts one off.

Many believers who wish to witness for the Lord, make this mistake. They are in a hurry to repeat the message of Jesus. This is right - one should be zealous to spread the gospel. But too often they don't take proper notice of the person to whom they are speaking. They take no interest in him or her as a person. And that is not right!

Others think that they know the person (and his/her type!) to whom they speak very well - but they are completely mistaken. Prejudice closes hearts.

We are all inclined to act like this, especially when we come across someone who is less educated, less strong, less important or less pious than we are. Then we suddenly adopt an attitude towards him as if we know all his problems and what their solutions are.

When we do this - often not realizing it - we lose the person's trust. He or she very soon thinks: this person is not really concerned with me. He doesn't really have any interest in me.

To Listen to People . . .

When this sort of thing happens, it means that the witness has made one big mistake. He does not listen.

We imagine that the mouth is more important than the ears. We speak before we listen.

God's work is not done in this way. Look at Philip. He set us an excellent example. He ran alongside and took care to stay there. It is very likely that this type of chariot was slow-moving, so Philip could do this. Instead of storming up to the man and demanding if he was "saved," Philip first listened.

And what a surprise! The man was reading. According to the custom of those days, he was reading aloud. And he was reading the Bible! Philip must have found it difficult to hide his smile. It must have seemed as if a curtain had suddenly been drawn open in front of his eyes. He could make out God's plan! The Lord had not called him out of Samaria for nothing. Here, to be precise, was a man of influence and status who had come from the outpost of the world. The man was on his way back home. As a companion he had none other than the prophet Isaiah! He was reading Isaiah's hook from the Bible.

Enter Into Conversation

Philip could hardly believe his ears.

He was so interested in what he heard that he wanted to hear more. And so he asked him a question, a very neat question!

Not because he wanted to hear his own voice. No! He still wanted to get to know this man better. So he asked: "Do you understand what you are reading?"

It was a clever question. It would lead the man on to open a discussion. It did not mean that Philip was unsure of his own message and was playing for time. On the contrary: the crowds in Samaria had heard the message in such a way from his mouth that they had accepted the gospel with joy! But Philip realized that he did not really know this man from strange Africa. And before speaking to him about Christ, he had first to listen to him and get to know him better. This only proves that Philip was sincerely interested in the man.

Don't be afraid

What was more, Philip was not afraid of getting involved in a discussion about the Bible. That is why he asked if the man understood the Bible. He himself knew the Word and understood the Bible's message. So he wasn't afraid of being cornered. He had in any case already noted what part of the Bible the man was reading, and he would have very much liked to launch a discussion on that section.

"Do you understand what you read?" That is the big question which must still be asked of every reader of the Bible.

It does not help to merely read and re-read the Bible. No one will get to heaven by much reading.

You have to understand what you read. The message of the Bible has to be clear to you. You need to get to know Jesus as your Saviour through the Bible. And so Philip asked his question. He wanted to help the man come to Jesus.

Philip: the man with two ears and one mouth. He listened to God and to man. He listened so that, at the right moment, he could be a messenger: the messenger of God to man.

Questions to Answer

1. How does the Holy Spirit speak to a person?
2. How can you know if it really the Holy Spirit speaking to you, and not  another spirit?
3. Why is it necessary first to listen to other people before you begin  speaking to them about Jesus?
4. Mention two additional characteristics of someone who wishes to lead  other people to Jesus.