[b]The Authority Of Christ[/b]
[i]by W. C. Moore[/i]
This is a day of extreme lawlessness--and the judgments of God are coming upon this ungodly generation except there be a deep repentance.
Within the Church, too, there is a great amount of lawlessness--due in part to a misunderstanding as to God's plan for His people during the Church age. God the Father has ordained that His Son, Jesus Christ, be the Head of the Church, and that the Church be subject unto Christ (Eph. 5:23-24).
Some--denying the Headship of Christ in relation to His Church, assert that to Paul were given the great foundational truths, which are to govern the Church during this dispensation. (By "Church" we mean all truly born-again, Blood-washed children of God, without reference to denominational affiliation, etc.) But such doctrine is distinctly in error and leads to great delusions.
It is Paul himself, who through the Holy Ghost, states that Christ is the Head of the Church and that the Church is subject unto Christ (Eph. 5:23-24). Not only so--but Paul designates himself as a servant of Christ, a follower of Christ, a minister of Christ (Romans 1:1; 1 Cor. 11:1; Rom. 15:16). To Paul were indeed given many revelations concerning details of Church affairs, but Christ Himself is the Head of the Church, and it is Christ who has laid down the great foundational truths to govern us until He comes again.
Law And Grace
Confusion has come into the minds of many because of a misconception as to the meaning of Law and Grace. It is true that we are not living under the law of Moses at this time, but to say that we are under Grace, and not under any kind of Law, is a misstatement of fact.
Some say that Jesus, in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) spoke to the Jews under the Law and that His teachings do not apply to us now. But Jesus' own words, and other Scriptures, show that that statement is wrong. "If a man love Me, he will keep My words" (John 14:23).
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man" (Matt. 7:24). "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love" (John 15:10). "He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings" (John 14:24).
Jesus commanded His disciples to "Go...teach all nations...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20), and this was to last "even unto the end of the world." "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). "Jesus Christ...is the propitiation for our sins...Hereby we do know that we know Him, IF we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar" (1 John 2:1-4).
It was Jesus Christ, and not Paul, who gave His reproofs and instructions and encouragements to His Church in the Book of Revelation.
We cannot get away from the words of Jesus. If we reject His Words now, we will surely meet them at the judgment: "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
The Lord tells us to follow Him. "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me" (John 12:26). Christ is the Chief Corner Stone (Eph. 2:20). He is the foundation (1 Cor. 3:11). What would we think of a builder who put down shingles for a foundation and then put concrete on the roof? Yet that is precisely what even eminent Bible teachers are doing when they refuse to acknowledge the Headship of Jesus in relation to the Church, and attempt to relegate His teachings to some other dispensation, while they take the words of Paul as establishing the foundational truths for this Church age.
Not Slavish Fear
Our submission to God, and our submission one to another as children of God, is not a slavish fear. Real love to God makes us glad to do His will. We love God acceptably only when we love Him above all else. Salvation and the true Christian life is a gigantic love affair. Slavish fear, the galling yoke, the unwelcome bondage--all these are as far from true Christianity as the East is from the West.
Slavish fear is one thing which God delivers us from when we are truly saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). We obey God because we love Him, and because we know that He loves us, that He knows all things, and that His plan is always best. Therefore we obey Him, gladly, willingly, wholeheartedly. We enjoy doing things to please those we really love.
The relation of a Christian husband and wife is typical of the relation of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:22-23). The husband is the head, and his rule is a love-rule. The Christian wife, if she really loves God, is glad to submit to her husband--not in any sense in slavish fear--but because she loves God first, and because she realizes that God's plan as revealed in His Word is best.
Now we find in this "enlightened" (?) age, that there are theologians who would remove Christ from His position as Head of the Church, and as "A Son over His own house" (Heb. 3:6) and who would ignore God the Father's plan to the effect that Christ in all things might have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:18). Just so, we find in this day, modern philosophers who despise God's plan for the home, with the husband as the head, and these teachings have penetrated even into many Christian homes with disastrous results. We cannot treat God and His Word with contempt and not eventually suffer for it.
Jesus told His disciples to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded (Matt. 28:16-20). The law was given by Moses (John 1:17). Now, the word of Jesus and the further teachings of the New Testament are our law. Jesus our Lord (a greater than Moses), has brought those of us who are saved into New Covenant relationship with God the Father, and we are living under the provisions of the New Covenant (New Testament).
Moses interceded for Israel. Christ now intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). Moses led the children of Israel. Christ now leads us, and says, "Follow Me" (John 1:43; 10:2-18; 12:26). "The law and the prophets were until John: Since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it" (Luke 16:16).
We are in no sense to ignore the teachings of the Old Testament. They are for our learning and for our admonition (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) pointing forward to God's plan of salvation through Christ, but at the same time we are to remember that now we are living--not under the Old Covenant but under the New Covenant--a better covenant (Heb. 7:22) of which New Covenant, Christ is the Mediator (Heb. 9:14-15).
God never changes. He dealt with Israel through the Law. He now deals with us in this dispensation of Grace through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2), by His Spirit, under the New Covenant. "In that He saith, A new Covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13).
The old sacrifices of the slain lambs pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross. No use now to offer lambs on the altar, Christ has fulfilled that to which the old sacrifices pointed. No use now to go through the forms and ceremonies of the old law. "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Gal. 3:24-25). Paul rebuked the Galatians because they observed "days, and months," etc. (Gal. 3:24-29; 4:1-31; 5:1-26).
We need to remember that the Church is the body of Christ, and that Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:13-18). Oh let us, as members of the body of Christ, be joyfully subject unto our Head, our Saviour, our blessed and adorable Lord.
The Holy Spirit
Of course, the work of the Holy Spirit is very pronounced and prominent during this dispensation. "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). We are told to "Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18) and to "Walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16). It is important to note that obedience is essential to a Spirit-filled life. The Holy Ghost is given to them that obey God (Acts 5:32). Jesus says, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter...Even the Spirit of truth" (John 14:15-17).
"He, the Spirit of truth...will guide you into all truth...He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 16:13-14). "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).
In Old Testament times, under the Old Covenant, Moses told the Levites to "Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the Covenant of the Lord" (Deut. 31:25-26). And, under the New Covenant, God, by His Spirit and by His Word, puts His laws into our minds and writes them in our hearts (Heb. 8:1-13; 9:8-9) even the commandments of Jesus, and the further teachings of the New Testament (New Covenant), and Jesus, our Lord, says, "If a man love Me, he will keep My Words" (John 14:23).
It means much to follow Jesus. God must be absolutely first in our lives or we are not real Christians. "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24).
In the four Gospels, Jesus laid down the great foundational principles and laws to govern the children of God during the entire Church age--"even unto the end of the world," as we see from His great commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. It is our wonderful privilege and joy--as well as our duty, to do as He said, "Follow Me." "If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed" (John 8:31).
We see the practical results which followed the keeping of the commandments of Jesus in the great revivals as recorded in the book of Acts. Additional revelations are given in the epistles, but the foundational principles are given by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In the book of Revelation, Jesus gives further warnings, reproofs, instructions, commendations, and encouragements to His Church.
Two Great Principles
God has given us two great principles to show us how to apply the teachings of His Word. Obedience to the letter of the Word, to be acceptable with God, must have as the underlying motives first, supreme love to God, and second, love to men. Read Matthew 22:36-39, and Mark 12:28-31.
Oh, let us talk things over with God. Let us pour out our hearts before Him (Psalms 62:8). Ask God for Jesus' sake to help you to understand the teachings of Jesus and to help you to live them out in your life all the time! If we truly love God we will obey Him (John 14:23). His commandments are not grievous (John 5:3). His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:28-30). His grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9).
God Himself Will Help You
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2 Chron. 16:9). "Be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Pet. 5:5).
"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:11-15).
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon