Topical Studies

"Acts 2:38!! Acts 2:38!!"– Listen Very Carefully!

ACTS 2:38!! ACTS 2:38!! ACTS 2:38!!

LISTEN VERY CAREFULLY!

An elderly lady was returning from a late night Bible study, and discovered, to her horror, a thief in her house. Desperate with fear, she shouted out, "Acts 2:38!!" (That text reads "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you, for the remission of sins…"). Much to her surprise, and relief, the thief froze in his tracts and remained motionless. She immediately called the police, and related everything that had just happened. The police arrived on the scene, cuffed the thief, and as they were leading him away, one of the officers asked him, "I don’t get it. Why did you freeze up like that? All the lady did was quote scripture to you." The thief responded, "Scripture?!? She quoted Scripture? I thought she said she had an axe and two 38s!!"

 

You know, sometimes it pays to listen closely to what is actually said!

 

How many times have you thought that you heard someone say something, and it offended you? Later, you expressed that hurt and disappointment, only to discover that the speaker either did not say what you thought, or they did not intend to convey hurtful thoughts? Husbands and wives very often experience communication difficulty because of perception problems. One party accuses the other of saying something, and the other claims "I didn’t say that at all!" It would benefit relationships greatly if each partner would learn to truly listen. Has your spouse ever accused you of something like "The lights are on, but no one is home, when I am talking to you!" Well, if so, you need to pay attention when they are speaking!

On one occasion, Jesus said, "hy do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to listen to my word" (John 8:43). Now, Jesus was not, as some suggest, saying that God would not allow them to understand. The next verse explains his meaning. Jesus said they could not understand him because they belonged to the Devil, and thought his thoughts! They were thinking on one level. Jesus was thinking on another, and what he had to say did not match their mentality! Their preconceived ideas, their priorities, their philosophy of things, prevented them from understanding what he was saying. Jesus was using terminology that his hearers used, so they assumed he was using those terms in the same way as they. But, He challenged them to truly listen, not just hear the words. The thing is, in Jesus’ case, when they finally "got it," and understood what he was really saying, they did not like it, and they killed him.

A great part of communication is listening carefully. Jesus often said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15). Now, on the surface, that sounds rather ludicrous doesn’t it? Doesn’t everyone have ears? What Jesus meant was that he was saying things, that, unless they were in tune with his train of thought, they would miss it! Jesus was saying one thing, but, Jesus was warning, his audience was hearing something totally different!

The Jews wanted a kingdom. They knew what the kingdom of Israel had been. They knew– or thought they knew– what the restoration of Israel would mean. And along comes Jesus, claiming to be the long awaited and longed for Messiah, the Savior, speaking of the imminent establishment of the kingdom! Wow!

However, a problem quickly arose. Now, make no mistake. Jesus came to be king (John 18.36f), and the Jews wanted a king. So far so good, right? The problem arose when the Jews offered Jesus the kingship that they wanted. Amazingly, shockingly, unbelievably, Jesus turned them down! (John 6.15f)! How could this be? This man said the kingdom was near. He said he came to be king. He said his followers would sit on thrones, didn’t he? What in the world was going on?

The problem was that they had not heard him, not really, when he spoke of the kingdom. They heard his words to be sure. And, he was using the same words that they were using, kingdom rule, thrones, dominion, defeat of the enemies, etc.. So, what went wrong?

What went wrong was that they imposed their assumptions, and presuppositions on Jesus’ words, even though he kept telling them to pay close attention, lest they misunderstand. See for example Luke 24.24-29.

Lamentably, the identical problem that Jesus faced in his ministry is plaguing the modern church, and has plagued it for centuries.

Our dispensational friends impose the same definition of kingdom onto Jesus’ words that the Jews did, and maintain that this is the kind of kingdom that Jesus must have come to establish (re-establish). Since he did not establish that kind of kingdom, they, just like the Jews of Jesus’ day, believe that something went wrong, something failed, so, the actual kingdom promise got postponed, delayed, and the church, as "Plan B" was established instead.

On a similar note, Jesus promised to return on the clouds of heaven, with the angels, in flaming fire, and the sound of the Trumpet of God. Now, everyone knows that the Trumpet of God has not sounded yet, right? I didn’t hear that thing blowing, did you? And, clearly, Jesus did not come out of heaven, and every eye did not see him. I didn’t see him, did you?

In spite of the fact that Jesus said his coming was to be in his generation, and in spite of the fact that every N. T. writer affirmed the nearness of the end, modern students, failing to hear what Jesus and the authors actually said, reject those time statements, and invent arbitrary and unprecedented definitions of those time words. They simply refuse to see and to hear the idea that Christ has already come, just as he promised, when he promised.

Why?

The answer is simple, really. Jesus said he was coming back "in the glory of the Father" (Matthew 16.27), i.e. as the Father had come in the past. (See my Like Father Like Son On Clouds of Glory book, available on this site, for an in-depth study of this promise). He said he was going to judge as he had seen the Father judge (John 5.19-23). They fail to see that Christ’s coming to bring in the New Creation would be of the same nature as previous comings of the Lord (Isaiah 64.1-5). You just have to catch the power of this particular prophecy! Let me phrase an argument for your careful, studious consideration. Please examine each point carefully.

The coming of the Lord of Isaiah 64-66 would be the coming of the Lord to bring in the New Heavens and Earth (Isaiah 64.1-4; 65.17f; 66.15f–And of course these are the passages that serve as the source for Peter and John’s prediction of the New Creation).

The coming of the Lord of Isaiah 64-66 would be a coming of the Lord the same in nature as previous comings of the Lord (Isaiah 64.1-4).

The Lord had never bodily, visibly come out of heaven before.

Therefore, the coming of the Lord of Isaiah 64-66, to bring in the New Heavens and Earth, being a coming of the Lord of the same nature as previous comings of the Lord, would not be a bodily, visible coming of the Lord.

What this amazing prophecy does is to show us that Jesus was not going to come back to be seen as a man, but, to be revealed as, "King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6.15f). His parousia would not be the revelation of Jesus the man. His coming would serve the same purpose as the Day of the Lord in the O.T.– to reveal His deity.

Are
we really listening to what Jesus said? Or, are we like the thief mentioned above? Are we imposing our presuppositional ideas and concepts on Jesus’ words and promises, just like the early Jews did?

It does not matter whether the issue is personal relationships, business, politics or theology. The art of listening– really listening- is vital. You can improve your life, your relationships, and your understanding of God’s Word by becoming a better listener. If we become better listeners, we may discover that people are not threatening us after all, and we can begin understanding them- and God’s Word– better. A better life will result.

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