Aug 01

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The subject of authority is at the heart of Christianity; it is the center of the debate as to what the church is authorized to do; thus, all activities, both worship and work, must go through the authority! The authority for the churches of Christ is “the teaching of Christ,” though it may be defined in different ways.
One might say the New Testament is the authority for the body of Christ! However, here one must understand that not everything written in the New Testament is part of the authority of Christ. It must be remembered that Jesus lived and died under the Law of Moses! Therefore, as the four gospel accounts are read, this must be kept in mind. At times Jesus is addressing subjects as they relate to the Law of Moses and at other times he is addressing what will be the New Testament – his teaching.
Even in “The Sermon on the Mount” there are things which were pre-New Testament Law and would not apply today. Though they are not without principle today! Take Jesus’ words as he taught about prayer: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). It was right for those who lived while Jesus lived upon this earth to pray, “Thy kingdom come,” however, why would we today pray for a kingdom to come that has already come? As Paul wrote of the Colossians” “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Clearly the Colossians were in the kingdom; therefore, the kingdom had come. Thus, we should not pray for the kingdom to come, but it is right to pray: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Jesus also addressed the subject of fasting, saying: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” ” (Matt. 6:16-18). Clearly he is addressing fasting as it related his time, under the Law of Moses, but as noted in an earlier article, the early church also fasted when appointing elders (Acts 14:23); so it is authorized, as something allowed, in the authority of Christ. In Jesus’ remarks, it is a very personal activity, not to be seen of others. In fact, Jesus said they were to “anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast.” However, this was not the case when the church was appointing elders. Due to the seriousness of the event, they prayed and fasted; meaning they did not eat, but they gave themselves to prayer and to the appointing of elders! They understood this is a most solemn event of the local congregation; as the local church is appointing men who will lead them in fulfilling their obligations to Christ! So, is there authority for the church to fast? Yes, but there is no command, no obligation, and no one’s spirituality is to be measured by fasting. What we really need is more praying! If prayer goes through meal time, then, we have also fasted!
However, the vast majority of “the sermon on the mount” may correctly be called “Pentecost Pointers!” Meaning Jesus is teaching things that are to have there beginning on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. Take the words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who humble themselves, who have a humble disposition, and are expressed in the words of Jeremiah: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). It is total surrender to the will of God; as it is an emptying of self-will! No one can enter the kingdom of “God’s dear son” without being “poor in spirit” and those who have such, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Therefore, it is easy to see that one must use the words, “New Testament,” with care! For all that is within the New Testament, the twenty-nine books, is not part of the New Testament of Christ as Jesus used the words when he said: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28)! And this is true even of some of the teaching that Jesus did himself! In conclusion of this article, is there a law against it? Yes, if it is not within “the teaching of Christ” the churches of Christ have no authority to do it!

— Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/no-law-against-it-3/