Chapter 7, Part 2
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I COMMANDED YOU; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Jesus does not instruct us to make church members of denominations, but disciples of the King and His Kingdom. Jesus does not instruct us to teach catechisms, homiletics, hermeneutics, psychology, the doctrines of our denomination, church history, the Bible, or anything else that the natural mind of man can invent.
Who has bewitched us that we blatantly disobey Him and neither do or teach what He taught? We must repent of our disobedience and restore the King to His rightful place as “the Head of every man”.
In His prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus clearly tells us that His words are the Word of God that He wants us to keep.
“I manifested Thy Name to the men that Thou gavest Me out of the world. Thine they were and Thou gavest them to Me and THEY KEPT THY WORD. Now they have come to know that everything that Thou hast given to Me is from Thee, FOR THE WORDS THAT THOU GAVEST ME I HAVE GIVEN TO THEM.”
“I HAVE GIVEN THEM THY WORD.” (In.17:14)
“Sanctify them in the truth, THY WORD IS TRUTH.” (In. 17:17)
If we can break away from our habit of calling the Bible the Word of God, and refer to it as the Scriptures, many of our false concepts will be exposed. This will not alter the fact that every word of Scripture was inspired by God, and is of great value to us, but we will discern correctly THE WORD that is of paramount importance.
Jesus had to rebuke the religious leaders because they would not listen to Him, and preferred their own understanding of the Old Testament scriptures. It is an amazing phenomenon that religious Christians will likewise argue heatedly to defend their mind’s natural understanding of the scriptures, yet refuse to obey the true Words of Christ.
“And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. AND YOU DO NOT HAVE HIS WORD ABIDING IN YOU FOR YOU DO NOT BELIEVE HIM WHOM HE SENT. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is these that bear witness of me, and you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life.” (In. 5:37-40)
Devotion to the Scriptures and failure to believe Jesus Himself will earn the Lord’s rebuke. Until we grasp the truth that Jesus and His teachings are what the New Testament calls the Word of God, we will not correctly understand what we are reading and hinder our spiritual growth. Obedience to Christ is the only way to grow in the Spirit, and to be given increased faith by the Lord.
It is important and excellent to know the Scriptures, but mere knowledge of them does not make us more like Jesus. More of Christ in us equals more spiritual growth. We are to become conformed to the image of the Son, not merely a people who can quote Scripture verses.
The apostle Peter instructs us to “desire the pure milk of the Word”. When he wrote this letter there was no New Testament, so he was not telling us to desire the pure milk of the Bible, but more of the pure milk of the Words of Jesus. It is obedience to the Words of Jesus that brings spiritual growth.
Peter starts his letter by telling us that “we have been chosen to obey Jesus Christ”. (1 Peter 1:1, 2) and then he writes:-
“…fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born not of the seed which is perishable but imperishable, THAT IS THROUGH THE LIVING AND ABIDING WORD OF GOD (referring to Jesus). For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but
THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER, and THIS IS THE WORD THAT WAS PREACHED TO YOU.” (The Word of Christ) Therefore putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and slander, long for the PURE MILK OF THE WORD (Christ’s Message) THAT BY IT YOU MAY GROW in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord, and coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a Holy Priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:22-2:5)
Remember that the first recipients of this letter had all received teaching from the apostles long before they read this. True apostles of Christ do not disobey Him in their choice of foundational teaching, so we can be certain that the first readers of Peter’s epistles had been rooted and grounded in the doctrine of Christ. They immediately understood that the word of Christ’s message which had previously been preached to them was the pure milk of the Word.
Some of the many references to the Word of God, which in context can only mean the message, and not the bible are:-
“And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables… But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word’… And the Word of God kept on spreading…” (Acts 6:2,4,7)
“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent them Peter and John.”
“…Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the Word of God… Then the Proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.” (Acts 13:7,12)
The New Testament contains two very important statements, made by Paul and John, which stress the importance of the Words and teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately they are generally ignored by those who claim to teach God’s Word.
1. Paul writing to Timothy instructs him in the essence of sound doctrine, which is teaching right attitudes and relationships, and he concludes:-
“Teach and preach these principles (referring to all he has already written). If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree WITH SOUND WORDS, THOSE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, HE IS CONCEITED AND UNDERSTANDS NOTHING; but has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of depraved mind and DEPRIVED OF THE TRUTH, who suppose godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Tim. 6:2b-5)
2. John warns us that anyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God, and he says we should not have fellowship with such people.
“Anyone who goes too far and DOES NOT ABIDE IN THE TEACHING OF CHRIST DOES NOT HAVE GOD. The one who abides in the teaching HAS BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting, for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.” (2 J n. 9-11)
Every bible-believing Christian who sincerely desires to become a disciple of the King and His Kingdom will do well to meditate carefully upon these two passages of Scripture, and measure his beliefs and doctrines by them.
May we all humble ourselves and repent of our failure to give our King who is the Word of God, and who brought us the Word of God, His proper place as Head of the Body.