Invariably, when someone becomes a Christian, their first reaction in the warmth and the joy of that newfound life is to find a friend and tell that person what has happened. But Philip immediately went to Nathanael. The immediate response to salvation is evangelism.
Find somebody else and tell them the good news. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. You know the type, people who tend to say, impossible, it can't be done, too many risks.
They're the cautious calculators, the people who tend to dwell on things that could go wrong. Well, today John MacArthur profiles a man like that, someone whose story shows how the Lord can do great things with his followers, despite their flaws and weaknesses. As John continues his study, titled The Master's Men, and looks at the life of Philip, you'll see how Christ can smooth out your rough edges. And now here's John. We're looking today at Matthew 10 and particularly verses 2 through 4 which give us the names of the disciples, the Twelve Apostles.
And today I want us to focus our thinking on a very basic question. What kind of people does God use for His purposes? What kind of men did Jesus choose? When we think of the Twelve Apostles, we are prone to think of stained glass saints, people without faults, people who have been canonized, people who manifest none of the failures of humanness that beset us.
And if we do that, we're wrong because they are people just like us, specially called, specially transformed, specially trained and specially sent by Christ, but people just like us. Now we live in a very qualification-conscious society. There are qualifications for just about everything.
Our society has set up standards for everything and for everybody. Life is made up of qualifying. Every time you want to buy a house, you have to qualify. And when you want to buy a car, you have to qualify.
And when you want to get a credit card, you have to qualify. And when you want to apply for a job, you have to qualify. When you want to get into a career area, you have to qualify. When you want to sign up at a school, you have to qualify. When you want to be trained for something, you have to qualify. When you want to join a team, you have to qualify. It seems like everything you have to do requires qualifying. Somebody establishes standards that you have to meet.
Society is determined that it is going to use only qualified people. Now what qualifications does God have? What does God require of those who serve Him, of those who are called to be His disciples, His apostles? What kind of people does Jesus use in His ministry? What kind of people does it take to advance His eternal kingdom?
Are you ready for this? Frankly folks, nobody is qualified, nobody. Therefore God only has one alternative, use the unqualified to do the impossible. That is essentially how God works. He takes the unqualified. Does that make you feel better?
It does me. God uses unqualified people, moves into their life with saving, sanctifying grace and Himself transforms them into usefulness. I know you're probably like I am, you get discouraged about your own failures, I do. And I often question how God can use me and why God doesn't use somebody else and is He through using me and whenever I get into that thing of questioning whether God can use me, I just go back to the Bible to see the people He used there because frankly they're a fairly pitiable lot themselves. I mean there was Noah who got drunk and conducted himself in a lewd way. There was Abraham who doubted God, lied about his wife and then committed adultery. And then there was Isaac who learned how to sin from his father, did the same thing with his wife Rebekah and lied to Abimelech. And then there was Jacob who literally extorted the birthright from Esau, deceived his father and who raised a whole bunch of immoral children. Then there was Joseph who was hated by all his brothers and then there was Moses. Moses was a murderer.
Moses acted in pride, trying to steal God's glory and struck the rock instead of obediently speaking to the rock as God said and he never entered the Promised Land, he had led the people too. And it was Aaron, Aaron the high priest who led Israel in the worship of the golden calf and the accompanying orgy. And then there was Joshua.
God told Joshua to wipe out the Gibeonites but he was so deceived by the Gibeonites that he made a treaty with them instead of destroying them and they hung around to trouble Israel endlessly. Then there was Gideon, Gideon who had no confidence in himself and even less confidence in God's plan and God's power. And there was Samson who was marked as a man with a lustful love for a wretched woman. And there was Ruth in the Messianic line and yet in a cursed Moabitess. And there was Samuel and he began to serve God as a little kid.
What did he know? And David, the all-time ladies' man, every time he saw a lady he liked, he married her. It didn't matter how many others he had, an adulterer, a murderer, a lousy father and a man with such bloody hands, God wouldn't even let him build a temple. And then there was Solomon, the world's leading polygamist.
And it goes on like that. God used Isaiah who had put his trust in a human king. God used Ezekiel who was a brash, tough, strong-minded, crusty, say-what-you-think priest. And God used Daniel who was educated in a pagan country and taught the wisdom of the bitter and hasty Chaldeans. And God used Hosea who married a prostitute, and God used Jonah who defied him in direct disobedience and took a short ride on a long fish.
And then when the Gentiles were converted, he didn't like it one bit. God used Habakkuk who questioned the divine plan. And God used Elijah who could handle 850 false priests and prophets but ran like a maniac from one woman, Jezebel. And God used Paul who killed Christians.
God used Timothy who was ashamed of Jesus Christ and had to be told so by Paul. You see, you just follow the flow of history and it's the march of the unqualified, is what it is. They're unqualified. And when you look at the Twelve, you know what, you just meet a group of unqualified folks like all the rest. In business today, if somebody was coming along and saying, I want 12 people to do this, there would be a string of qualifications a mile long and they would have figured out exactly the kind of person they wanted and get 12 just like that, not the Lord. He picked 12 unqualified people who were so diverse, it's incredible. And they all had problems and they all had sins, even the best of them.
It's just a list of the unqualified. Now Jesus never intended to go through the work of proclaiming the kingdom alone. That's why when He began His ministry, He began it not only by preaching and teaching but by training men with Him at the same time He began His ministry.
He never intended to be alone with it. He was training them all the while so that when He left, they'd carry it on. And these are the ones He chose. Now as we come to chapter 10, we're getting an insight into how He trained these Twelve.
And we met the first four and it was very comforting to meet them, wasn't it? Because they were very much like us. What kind of people are qualified for the Lord's work? What kind of people does Jesus use? Well, He uses, we learned, dynamic, strong, bold leaders like Peter who take charge, who initiate, who plan, who strategize, who confront, who rebuke, who command people to Christ and who frankly often talk a better game than they play and often act too hastily but are usually eager to be forgiven and restored. And our Lord uses humble, gentle, inconspicuous, quiet souls like Andrew who seek no prominence, never preach to crowds, but quietly bring individuals to Christ. And then He uses zealous, passionate, uncompromising, task-oriented, insensitive, ambitious dynamos like James who wind up getting killed because nobody can handle them.
They see only a job to do and they'll die getting it done. And He also uses sensitive, loving, believing, intimate truth seekers like John who speak in love and attract men to Christ. That was just group one. And what a diversity. Now let's go on and look at group two. First is verse 3, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas, and Matthew, the tax collector.
That's group two. Next group comes James, Lebeas, or Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. But let's look first of all at Philip. This is not to be confused with Philip, the deacon in Acts 6 who later became an evangelist.
This is Philip the disciple. His name is a Greek name. Now all twelve were Jews, so he must have had a Jewish name, but we don't know his Jewish name. For some reason he goes always by his Greek name and, by the way, his Greek name means lover of horses. We don't know whether his parents were big on that and so they just gave him that Greek name or what. He's always gone by the name of Philip, we don't know his Jewish name, which is kind of interesting because when the Greeks later on want to see Jesus, they go to Philip. So he kind of became the Greek connection. He was the place where you sort of plugged in from the Greek level.
Maybe they felt comfortable because his name was a Greek name. He is always in the second list and he is always at the head of the second list, which means that he seems to have been sort of the leader of the second group. It's hard to imagine that because he doesn't really have those kinds of gifts, but he may have led more than they followed, we're not sure. Now for a while he was a fellow townsman at Bethsaida and you remember that Bethsaida up in Galilee was the town where Peter and Andrew came from, so Philip knew Peter and Andrew. He had perhaps grown up knowing them, perhaps was a close friend of theirs. And there is in the Twelve the very obvious fact that there is a lot of friendship interwoven there. There was some one-by-one callings of these individuals, one to another to another to another. And so Philip was kind of in the group.
He may well have been a fisherman. He appears later on with Andrew and with Peter and with James and with John in John 21 fishing. The three gospels say nothing about him, just his name, nothing else, but John's gospel mentions him four times and we really get to know him in these four passages. Let's look together at John 1, 43 and let's meet Philip. And let's ask the question again, what kind of people can God use?
Philip will come off as anything but a stained glass saint. Verse 43, the day following, and that means the day following Peter and Andrew having an encounter with Christ, the day following the time when John the Baptist pointed to Christ and said, Behold the Lamb of God, and Peter and Andrew followed Him. The day following that, Jesus would go forth into Galilee and findeth Philip and saith unto him, Follow Me. Now that is the first direct call of a disciple. Peter and Andrew had already met Christ, but they had sort of found Him.
They had sort of come along. But Philip is the first individual to whom the Lord expressly said, Follow Me. He walked up and found Him and said, Follow Me. But may I hasten to add that Philip also had a seeking heart. God doesn't find people against their will.
He had a seeking heart. And if you look at verse 45, after verse 44 where it says he was from Bethsaida where Andrew and Peter lived, it says, Philip then went to find Nathanael or Bartholomew, the same person, and said to him, We have found Him. Now from the Lord's viewpoint, he found Philip. From Philip's viewpoint, he found the Lord.
And isn't that the way your testimony goes? The sovereign side is that God found you, the human side is that you found Christ. And in order for it to happen, both of you had to be seeking. The Son of Man has come into the world to seek and say that which was lost. If you seek Me with all your heart, you shall surely what?
Find Me. It is God seeking. It is man seeking. God seeks that true heart that seeks Him. And so Philip was seeking the truth.
Philip was seeking that reality. In verse 45 he says, We found Him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did right. In other words, he must have been studying the law and the prophets. He must have been exposing himself to that. And now he says, We found Him and His name is Jesus.
He comes from Nazareth and He is Jesus bar Joseph, the son of Joseph. We found Him. But in a real sense, there was no human agency. Jesus just came right up and said, Follow Me.
There was no human voice directed to Him. Philip's eyes and ears were open. His heart was open. And when he heard the divine voice say, Follow Me, he ran to tell Nathanael that he had found him, that the Messiah was here, and you can imagine the excitement and the thrill and the joy and the ecstasy.
In fact, he even wanted to bring Nathanael at the end of verse 46. He says, Come and see. Come and see.
Find out for yourself. Now what did we learn about Philip? First thing we learned about him is that he was seeking the Messiah. He was a God-fearing Jew. He was religious and he was truly religious. He had an honest heart.
We also learned that his response when being found was to find somebody else. And I'm convinced that the greatest source for evangelism is friendship. I think friendship provides the most fertile soil for evangelism, don't you?
Because there's already a relationship of love. And into that relationship of love you can introduce the reality of Christ. Invariably, and I say this through years of experience, invariably when someone becomes a Christian, their first reaction in the warmth and the joy of that newfound life is to find a friend and tell that person what has happened. And by the way, if you've lost that, then that's only a sad commentary on one of two things. One, you don't have any unchristian friends, or two, you don't care anymore.
Both are tragic. But Philip immediately went to Nathanael. The immediate response to salvation is evangelism.
Find somebody else and tell them the good news. You know, I've noticed this just in baptism. People who are saved and told they should be baptized respond instantly and most frequently joyously want to give their testimony. People who have been saved way in the past and failed to be baptized, when years later they face the fact that they should be obedient and do that, very often won't do it because they hesitate to stand up in front and give their testimony. And it's a commentary on what happens to the heart when that first love begins to grow cold.
It's not always that case, but very often that is true. Well, Philip made a direct shot to tell Nathanael. So we learned that he was one who had a friend who cared about his friend and wanted him to know. He had the heart of an evangelist as well as a seeking heart. And by the way, he went to Nathanael because Nathanael apparently was his buddy and he is always associated with Bartholomew. When the disciples went out two by two, it's probably true that he went out with Bartholomew. In every list he's always next to Bartholomew or Nathanael. Now let's look at chapter 6 and see the next passage about him.
And I think this really cracks open Philip. Now he had a good side and his good side was he sought God and he sought the Messiah. And his good side was that he had the heart of one who was an evangelist.
But now we're going to find out the stuff about him that sort of unqualifies him. Jesus has already made wine at the marriage feast of Cana, so He has demonstrated His supernatural power. That for sure has happened and there may have been other miracles and mighty deeds that He had seen. But we come to chapter 6 and a big crowd is gathered at the north end of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus has been teaching them all day and healing them all day of all their diseases and it's been a tremendous day, but it's coming to the evening now and the crowd is hungry and there were five thousand men, which means there are probably at least five thousand women and twenty thousand kids, so it's a big crowd. And they're all there and you go to chapter 6 verse 5, when Jesus then lifted up His eyes, saw a great company come to Him, He said to Philip, and here we meet Philip again, where shall we buy bread that these may eat? Philip, how are we going to get bread? Why do you single Philip out?
You know what I believe? I believe Philip was in charge of the food. Somebody had to be in charge of the food. We know Judas was in charge of the what?
The money. And somebody had to be in charge of the food, figure out how much they needed and how to get it and buy it and have it because they had to eat as they traveled around and ministered. And it seems to me that that was Philip's area and so the Lord says to him, now Philip, how are we going to get the bread to feed these folks?
Hmm, why did He ask him that? Verse 6, He said this to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. He knew He was going to feed them miraculously and create in His own hand bread and fish, but He was testing Philip. Now Philip, you've seen me make wine at the marriage supper. Now we don't have any food for this multitude, how are we going to get some food? You know what He said? Verse 7, Philip answered him, 200 denarii's worth of bread is not sufficient for them that every one of them may take a little. He gives him an instant answer, which you know what that proves? That's another thing that proves to me that he was in charge of the food, he'd already analyzed it.
He had it figured out. He calculated that they could pull an offering out of that bunch of about 200 penny worth, or else that's how much they had in the kitty. And by the way, one of those denarii or one of those pennies is one day's wages. So they could get about 200 days' wages out. And let's assume that they bought barley biscuits. You could get 36 barley biscuits for one denarii and each biscuit was the size of your hand an inch and a half thick, it's like a big French roll, kind of. And he had calculated a whole deal.
Let's see, if we got 200 of those times 36 and everybody took, let's see, a bite around the edge and then the next group, the next...listen, I got it figured out, it can't be done. It cannot be done. You know what you learn about Philip? It never entered into his mind that the Lord was supernatural. It utterly eluded him that Christ could do a creative miracle.
The supernatural resources of Jesus Christ totally escaped his thinking. He just calculated the whole deal. You know what he is? He is analytical. He is pragmatic.
I'm sure he would sit in a board meeting today with one of those little things and just punch it. Can't do it. We don't have the money.
It cannot be done. He had too much arithmetic to be adventurous. He was so stuck on facts and figures, he missed faith altogether.
One writer said, the supreme essential of a great leader is a sense of the possible. Philip had a sense of the impossible. He didn't know that God said that with Him all things are...what?...possible. Christ was trying to teach him about faith and he was such a thick-headed character that he wasn't learning the lesson.
You know what he should have said, Lord? You made wine at Cana. You fed your children in the wilderness with manna.
Do what you want. You got this crowd here, you feed them. You and you know something? He'd been healing all day long. All day long, Philip had watched demonstration of supernatural power. The Lord had overcome all diseases possible in that multitude and Philip says it can't be done.
Boy, that is thick-headedness and he lost his opportunity and the little boy that came along got an opportunity. Philip was a materialist. He was a man of practical common sense. He had measurements. He was methodical, mechanical.
He had very little understanding of the supernatural. He was a facts and figures guy, always going by what appeared on the human level. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, continuing his look at what he calls the Masters Men here on Grace to You. Well, John, as we move down the list of disciples, in terms of each disciple's visible role, down is the right word. Peter and James and John are at the top of the list. These guys had big roles.
But Philip, the man we looked at today, he's down the list a bit and his role is smaller. So with that in mind, some listeners may be wondering if the size of their role in serving God today, will that parallel their reward in heaven? That would be like saying, okay, if you have the church, if you have the biggest church with the most members, you're going to have the biggest mansion in heaven. A lot of people think that.
Yeah, there's no direct correspondence to that. The reality of heaven is going to be that I think lots of people are going to be surprised at how meager the reward of some very public Christian is and how massive the reward of some very private Christian is, because God's measuring criteria are very different than ours. And only he knows the heart. That's why Paul said that, you know, I consider it a small thing if somebody criticizes me or somebody affirms me.
It's a small thing to me what men think of me. He says, I'll wait until the day when I see the Lord and he makes that final judgment on my life. One of the surprises of heaven, I think, will be that the hierarchy of heaven is not going to look like the hierarchy of earth. There's a kind of a Christian hierarchy, you know, there are some who are more well-known, more prominent, more public, but I think that might get reversed in heaven. In today's lesson, we discussed God's pattern of using the unqualified to accomplish his work, and we identified Philip as that kind of unqualified guy, in a sense, the leader of the second group within the twelve.
He is down the line, but he's not down the line. He is down the line in the list, but he's not down the line in God's eyes or in the kingdom. And you need to be encouraged that you may not be the public person, but God knows everything that you have done to honor him, to show your love for him, to serve him, be obedient to him, and worship him. God uses all of us to fulfill his purpose.
Our faithfulness guarantees a future reward in heaven, but that reward may not be anything like we think it might be, because it's going to be based not on what was visible, but what was invisible. That's right. And thank you, John. That is very helpful. And if our current series on Christ's disciples has encouraged you or helped you see that God delights in using ordinary people to accomplish his purposes, we'd love to hear from you. Your letters mean a lot to John and the staff. When you have time, send a letter our way. Our email address is letters at gty.org, and for regular mail you can write to us at Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412.
Also if clear Bible teaching is hard to find in your hometown, one way you can help reverse that trend is through your support of Grace to You. If you're within the sound of my voice, it's because people like you are giving, making this ministry available in your community. So as you're able, consider partnering with us. You can donate online at gty.org or call us at 800-55-GRACE. But whether or not you support us financially, we want to hear from you. Your feedback is more important than you might think. So let us know how God is using Grace to You.
You can email us at letters at gty.org or send us a letter at Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for making Grace to You part of your day, and make sure you're here tomorrow for our next broadcast. John's going to look at how Christ overcame one man's lack of faith and turned him into a loyal follower who helped change the world. Join us for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace Washington.
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