ESTABLISHING AUTHORITY #2
In 1 Cor. 14:37, Paul wrote: "If any thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." And John, in 1 Jo. 2:3-4 said: "And 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 and the truth is not in him." Then again, in Rev. 22:14, he said "Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
God through Christ (Heb. 1:1-2) and Christ through the Holy spirit (Jo. 16:12-16), inspired the writers of the New Testament to write many statements of facts. This was established by the scriptures presented in last week's lesson. But the three above quoted scriptures prove they were also inspired to write commands.
However, as we read these commandments we find that some of them contain both specific and general commands. Yes, some of God's demands must be classified as being specific because by them God specifies. Whereas, others may be thought of as general demands; because by them. God does not specify.
Consider the following examples with me please.
(1) In Mark 16:15, we hear Jesus command: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." This command is both specific and general. It is specific because it specifies what will be taught and to whom it will be taught. It was the gospel of Christ which was to be taught and it was to be taught to every creature. It is also general because it does not specify how we will go nor does it specify how we will teach every creature.
Therefore, we are not at liberty to choose either what will be taught or whom will be taught. However, in this command, God did not specify how we are to go and neither did he specify the method of teaching. So in fulfilling the demands of this scripture, we may chose both how we will go and the method of teaching.
(2) When we read from verse 16 through verse 28 of Acts 20, we learn that God has commanded the elders to teach the congregation of the church which they oversee. In this command, we also find both specific and general demands. Yes, God in verse 28 specified they were to teach the church all of the teachings of Christ which were applicable to its members. But he did not specify the church would be taught the teachings of Christ. But this did not grant unto the elders the privilege of deciding what they would teach. You see, the Lord had already specified what would be taught. Yet the elders are given the right, yea the responsibility of choosing some method. They may if they choose, call all the group together and teach them as a group, or they may, after calling them together, separate them into groups and provide a teacher for each group.
(3) According to Mat. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and ICor. 11, Jesus a short time before his death, introduced to his disciples the Lord's Supper. And that same night he said unto them: "This cup is the New Testament in my blood, this do ye, as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of me" (1 Cor. 11:25).
This scripture specifies that the Lord's Supper be partaken of in memory of Christ. Likewise, when we consider what is said in both this scripture and Acts 20:7, we find that the first day of the week is the specified time for partaking. But it does not specify the hour. So we may choose any time, from twelve a.m. through eleven p.m. as the time of that day to partake.
(4) In Co. 3; 17, we hear this: "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." This command unlike the others we have considered, does not contain both specific and general demands. No, it in no uncertain words says: We must have authority for all that we teach and practice.
My readers, the scriptures thus far considered say three things. One - The Holy Spirit who revealed unto the writers of the New Testament many statements of facts, also revealed unto them numerous commands. Two - In all these commandments, the thing to be done is always specified. But the how, when, where, why, and how many are not. So no New Testament command may be classified as being altogether general. Never- theless, the commandments in which God has specified the thing to be done, but has not specified the how, when, where, why or the how many, may be said to be both specific and general. Three - if either the how, why, when, where or how many is not specified in one scripture but is in another, then we must not say it has not been specified.
All right, inasmuch as we have both specific and general demands, then it necessarily follows that we have both specific and general authority.
But what I ask, is specific authority? It is that which God has specified. Or to put it another way, it is that which God has demanded. It is the will of God. So this we must do or be lost (Mat. 7:21). You see, if after God has demanded that we do something, he also demands when we will do it, then when we do it is just as essential as doing it. However, that which I have just said about specific authority, is not the way it is with general authority.
Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that general authority grants us the right to do anything for which we have no authority. But what it does do, is to allow us to decide when or how we will do that which has been demanded. That is, if God has not also demanded when or how it will be done. Consider with me, please, one or two examples of general authority. Acts 20:28 provides us with general authority for conducting Bible classes. Yes, inasmuch as it demands the flock be taught, but does not specify how this will be done, then we may, yea we must choose some method. If you were to demand that I dig a ditch, but you did not specify what tool I was to use, you would (by general or implied authority) be authorizing me to choose the tool.
Church buildings are authorized by general authority. Yes, God in Heb. 10:25 had demanded that we assemble; but he has not specified where we are to assemble. So, this we must decide.
By: Tommy Hodge
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