Expressed Command (5)
Editor's Note: This article is the fifth in a series of articles dealing with the subject of Bible authority. The articles are short, as they first were printed in the local bulletin I edit. Feel free to reprint them if you find them helpful. However, credit must be given to Billy W. Moore's class book A Study of Authority, as the articles follow closely the material found in that good book.)
To properly understand how authority is established in religion, it is necessary to understand the nature of communication. God created man with the ability to communicate his will or desire to others. He chose to reveal Himself to man by the same methods. The divine hermeneutic (way of interpreting the Bible) is in accord with the logical rules of communication using written or spoken language.
For example, a father can communicate his desire or will to his child in a number of ways. The first, and simplest way is to state it clearly to his child. This expressing of a command is found in God's communication to man as well.
Taking the example of the father mentioned above, let us assume that the father tells the child, "Go to bed." Now, the child may choose to ignore the father, and disobey the direct, expressed command. But, to please his father, he must do as he is told. You may note that there is very little room for "interpretation" on the child's part. The command has been made, and the child is to obey.
If a child goes to the den to watch TV, he has substituted another destination for the one his father has specified. He has not obeyed his father.
If a child plays a video game, eats a snack, and reads a book for half an hour before going to bed he has likewise disregarded the instructions of his father. He may rationalize, "I was on my way", but he was acting outside his father's authority, expressed in the command to "Go to bed."
We recognize that such substitutions, rationalizations and plain rebellion clearly violate the expressed command of the father. We do not allow our children to get away with such, and punish them when they disobey such clear, concise instructions.
A Biblical Application
In the same way, the heavenly Father has given us plain statements, expressed commands, which we are to heed. These commands must be obeyed without question, and there is little room for "interpretation" on our part. If we attempt to substitute or change those commands to suit ourselves we are just as rebellious as that child in the preceding example. One instance of such an expressed command is found in Paul's instructions to the Christians in Colosse.
Now, a man may decide to disobey this command, but he can not please God if he lies to his brother. There is little room for interpretation here, and no amount of rationalizing on our part changes the command, "Do not lie to one another."
Another statement of Paul serves to further illustrate the point:
Again, this expressed command is clear, and not subject to modification on our part. It reveals to us as Christians that we are to...
As this is the sum total of God's instructions regarding the method we are to use to have money available for the work of the church, other substitutions or methods are not accceptable. We are not free to sell cookies or have rummage sales. We are not free to give in any other way than "as we have been prospered." We are not allowed to collect the funds on any other day than Sunday. We are not allowed to solicit those who are not members of our congregation for money.
Some may think this to be silly, and picky. It is true that the child thinks the same of his father's reaction when he demands instant and complete compliance to the command, "Go to bed."
We understand the need of the child to heed carefully and completely the instructions of his father. Do we not owe the same to our Father in Heaven? When you go through the scriptures, and come to an expressed command of God, don't try to "interpret" it, or rationalize a way to avoid compliance... Obey it!