Thursday, February 23, 2017
Khrushchev, in a Central Committee meeting, was addressing the question of anti-religious propaganda. He said, “Why are you clinging to God? Here Gagarin flew into space and didn’t see God.” Somehow, this statement was falsely attributed to Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man into space, saying he looked but did not see God. Actually, Yuri was a believer. He expressed his faith openly, in spite of the anti-God attitude of Communist Russia. Only his reputation and the peoples’ love kept him from being arrested.
Misquoting Gagarin is bad enough, but it is worse to misuse the Word of God! That misuse started in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-5), attempted to deceive Jesus (Matthew 4:5-6), and succeeds in today’s world. Yet, the word of the Lord continues to draw people who understand and respond (John 6:44-45).
Thousands heard the apostles speak in their native tongue. Some marveled while others attributed it to alcohol (Acts 2:12-13). Peter quoted scripture which was understood (Joel 2:17-21). He accused the attending thousands of crucifying God’s Son (Acts 2:36). Because it was understood, a questioned was asked (Acts 2:37). An answer was given (vv.38-39). They understood Peter’s plea (vv.40). About three thousand understood and were baptized. What was understood that prompted that many people to do the same thing? Why didn’t they object to baptism?
When Philip showed the eunuch who Isaiah was referring to, he understood the passage under study. Gaining that understanding he asked a peculiar question, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). What was it that was understood by this Ethiopian that prompted him to ask that question or want to submit to it? Why didn’t he object to baptism rather than desiring it?
When Paul arrived in Ephesus, he found twelve men. He asked them about the Holy Spirit. They had no knowledge of such. Paul asked about their baptism. Why would he do that? They were disciples of John and had already been baptized! Paul explained the difference. They understood and wanted to be immersed in Jesus’ name (Acts 19:1-7). Why? What was understood in Paul’s speech which caused them to desire to submit to a second immersion? Why didn’t they argue with Paul and resist? What was so special about this second baptism that made it superior to the first one? Why did they think it was needed? Why didn’t they tell Paul how unnecessary baptism was?
Jesus asked, “Are you also yet without understanding?” (Matthew 15:16; Mark 7:18). Isn’t that still true today? Paul instructed the Corinthians, “Brethren, be not children in understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:20). Is that still possible among God’s baptized children? Solomon prayed, “Therefore give to Your servant and understanding heart” (1 Kings 3:9). Is that prayer needed today? The Psalmist writes, “Give me understanding that I may learn your commandments . . . Through your precepts I get understanding.” (Psalm 119:73, 104). Are we in need of that understanding today?
Everyone that heard Jesus, Peter, or Paul did not understand. Those who did, responded by following the divine instruction.
“Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30; Matthew 13:19, 23).