Gladly Receiving the Word
Robert Wurtz II
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41)
Our passage holds the key for all peoples everywhere desiring to go on with God. This key is encapsulated as a group among the hearers that were distinguished from the rest of the crowd. There was a group who gladly received his word. Before hand they had obstinately refused the word, but now more revelation has come and they see the truth for what it is. But more than seeing the truth, they gladly received it. The Greek word underlying gladly is only used twice in the New Testament and is exclusively in Luke’s writings in Acts. That word is ἀσμένως (asmenōs) and is derived from hedone meaning pleasure. This is insightful because the passage is essentially saying that the people found pleasure in receiving the word of God. By implication they had come to agree with the word of God in such a way as to gladly embrace it as if they were doing their own will. Simply put, they wanted and were pleased to obey God.
Evidence of Pleasure
The proof that these people were pleased to receive the word was that they were eager to obey God’s revealed will. This is evidence of change. The carnal mind cannot please God because it is not pleased to hear what God has to say. The spiritual mind eagerly desires to know and do God’s good pleasure. We have an interesting passage related to Jesus, Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:33, 34 NKJV) A careful look at our Lord’s comments are instructive. While the disciples were concerned about where their next meal was coming from and whether or not Jesus was going to eat, He was concerned about doing the will of God. It was a perfect teaching moment for Jesus. They knew He had to be hungry so they urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” (NKJV) This is not just instructional it is sobering. The disciples at this stage in their experience could not relate to what Jesus was saying, but the day came at Pentecost where they could relate. In the mean time they were left with the impression that the desire of Christ and subsequently those that will be baptized into Him will find pleasure in doing God’s will in the same measure that the natural man finds pleasure in eating when he/she is hungry. In other words, they will receive God’s word like a starving man receives a hot meal.
Not By Bread Alone
The natural man desires natural food, but Jesus walks out the desire of the spiritual man in flesh and blood. Satan in the wilderness attempted to appeal to the natural man in getting Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Yet, He was so utterly bent on doing God’s will that He utterly refused to please Himself unless He knew it was part of God’s plan. He is our example. What did He tell Satan? It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) This is one of our very first lessons predating the sermon on the mount. This is what distinguishes Christ and they that are in Him from the rest of the world. They live by every word that is proceeding (verb is present middle) from the mouth of God. It is their food. Satan tried to get Jesus to turn from this rule on more than one occasion.
When Jesus spoke of going to the cross Peter stepped in under the influence of Satan. He spoke words to Jesus that were designed to snare Him and keep Him from doing God’s will. We read in Young’s Literal Translation, And having taken him aside, Peter began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee.’ (Matthew 16:22 YLT) Literally he told Jesus to, “pity Himself.” Jesus reacted in the strongest of terms calling out the influence that was behind the words. He added this comment, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. The KJV translators have opted to translate phoneo as savourest or ‘to savour’,** but the word literally means to be mindful. In other words, Peter you are not being mindful of the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Why? You are still being influenced by Satan and the natural man. But the day will come when you will receive the word with pleasure and you will obey it. Until this change comes it will be impossible to be anything other than a natural man.
The Key to Revival
In modern times it’s almost impossible to speak of hearing the word of God in the New Testament sense without being viewed as a flake or suspect by certain people. They very thing Jesus did and set forth the possibility of the Disciples doing is disregarded in many cases. God wants us to know His will and to obey His will. Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest captures this great truth when he states, “If you debate for a second when God has spoken, it is all up. Never begin to say – “Well, I wonder if He did speak?” Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness.” Oswald Chambers
** This entry has been amended to reflect the Greek definition of phoneo as opposed to the English rendering of Savour.