By P.J. Casebolt
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized” (Acts 8:36)?
At this point in the eunuch’s life, he may have been hindered from being baptized by a number of things. Divine intervention could have hindered this baptism, other people could have hindered it, the eunuch could have hindered it him-self, or Philip could have refused to baptize the eunuch. And if sectarian preachers are correct in their claim that baptism is not necessary, that unbelievers (infants) should be baptized, or that sprinkling is just as good as emersion, then some of these possible hindrances should have prevailed.
But, an angel of the Lord and the Holy Spirit had sent Philip to preach Christ to the eunuch, and that preaching included baptism. No one else was hindering the eunuch from being baptized (no sectarian preachers were present), Philip was ready to baptize the eunuch, there was sufficient water for baptism, and the eunuch not only believed in Christ, he was willing to confess with his mouth the faith which was in his heart (cf. Rom. 10:9, 10).
The apostles were sent into all the world to preach the gospel and baptize believers (Mark 16:15, 16). Later, Saul of Tarsus was chosen to be an apostle and became a party to this same commission (Acts 9:15). Yet, on one occasion, Paul and his companions “were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,” and when they endeavored to preach in Bithynia, “the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:6, 7). But, when Paul received an invitation to preach in
Macedonia, Luke said “that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them”(Acts 16:9, 10).
“Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18). We may reasonably conclude that the Lord, the Thessalonians, and Paul himself approved of this effort to strengthen and edify the saints at Thessalonica, but as Paul said, “Satan hindered us.” Of course, Satan has ministers who do his bidding just as the Lord has servants who do the Lord’s will (2 Cor. 11:13-15). By some means, Satan hindered Paul from visiting the saints at Thessalonica, at least on this one occasion.
It is possible for us to make decisions which hinder the gospel of Christ, either intentionally or unintentionally. Paul decided not to exercise his liberty to “live of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14), as far as his preaching at Corinth was concerned, “lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:12). At the time, Paul said he pursued this course and “robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service” (2 Cor. 11:8). Yet, some of the Corinthians did not appreciate Paul’s sacrifice, and the apostle later said, “forgive me this wrong” (2 Cor. 12:13).
In a given matter, how can we know if we are being hindered by the Lord or by Satan? If the answer to that question is unclear at the time, let us make a decision based on the best knowledge we have, turn our efforts elsewhere, and continue to serve the Lord.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 11 p. 4
June 5, 1997