"Hear Ye Him"
High up on the mountain, separated from the crowds that usually followed him everywhere, Jesus took three apostles, Peter, James and John, to be transfigured before them. There, as Moses and Elias appeared before them also, and while the face of Jesus "did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light," God spoke. Not many times did God speak to man directly since the days of the Old Testament prophets, but upon this occasion He chose to impress upon the Apostles that great lesson in authority. From the cloud above them the voice of Jehovah not only gave the perfect declaration of the Divinity of Christ, but also issued the heavenly proclamation that the word of the Son is supreme and final. After Peter's proposal to build three tabernacles, God's brief answer was as though he had said, "Yes, here is Moses and here is Elias, but this is my Son." Therefore, when he said, "Hear Ye Him", he ordered that His people should:
To Peter, James and John this evidently became a significant lesson, teaching them, if they were able to receive it properly, that the great law-giver, Moses, as well as all of the great prophets, with the words that all of them had written, no longer should be regarded as authority in religion. The law of Moses had been supreme for the Jews and the word of the prophets had been God's continuing directive, but now the time had come to recognize the pre-eminence of God's only begotten Son over those altogether human subordinates who had brought the Law of the Lord to the people throughout the previous centuries. This does not mean that the Old Testament is bad, but on the contrary, it is good. It teaches us of God, of man, of the earth, of the Christ who was then to come, and it teaches other truths that always have been and always will be true. But when God said, "Hear ye Him" He certainly taught that only the law of Christ was to direct our lives and that no Old Testament law could be made binding today.
Likewise this declaration of Jehovah teaches us to refuse any law that is newer than the New Testament. The law of the Pope, of Luther, of Calvin or of my man or group of men must be rejected. Some men say that sprinkling is as good as immersion; others say that communion once a month is sufficient. Both have failed to hear Jesus. And, these are only examples. Some people obey the priest, some listen to the preacher and some follow an editor. Many times this may be done almost unintentionally. The cause may not be rebellion but it may be sincerity that does not properly discern the source of certain doctrines. Let us all concern ourselves with the serious task of weeding out and completely eliminating every source of authority in religion except the law of the gospel of Christ.
God's decree demands that we hear every command that Jesus gives to us. We cannot separate the Lord's commandments. We must never say some are important and others are immaterial. We must not even allow the thought to enter our mind that some of the gospel directives for us are essential and others are of little consequence. What the Lord has commanded, that we must do just because he has so directed. Many times in open-air meetings here in Africa someone will ask, "Which is more important: repentance or baptism?" Or they may ask, "Which is more important, prayer or communion?". Any such attitude indicates a desire to put Christ's directives into different categories. But Jesus rebuked those who rigidly insisted upon the tithe of even the smallest matters, but at the same time failed to do good. By this rebuke he did not place the doing of good above the other commands, but he corrected the people who obeyed in one thing and failed in another. Today many hear Jesus to be born again and then fail to hear what children of God must do.
Some Christians have learned well the importance of weekly communion and would not willingly be absent from the Lord's Day assembly, but have failed to grasp the significance of giving to the poor, helping the unfortunate and doing good unto all men (Mt. 25:31-46; Jas.1:27; Gal.6:10). We need to be impressed with the fact that we can die with a communion glass in our hand and the fruit of the vine in our hand and the fruit of the vine in our mouth and go to eternal destruction if we. have failed to be a servant of mankind. Likewise, if we do much good, help many, many people and in every way show a heart of compassion and love for all humanity and then forsake the assembling of ourselves together and fail to remember Christ in taking the Lord's supper, we have still not heard all of the word of the Lord for us (Heb. 10:25; I Cor. 11:26).
If we hear Jesus we will not only do his commandments, but we will be limited by his directives. If a mother send her child to the store with a dollar, requesting that the child purchase one quart of milk and two oranges, the child does not truly "hear" her mother if she buys a quart of milk, two oranges, one candy bar and a banana. Likewise, proper recognition of the authority of Christ will cause us to do all that he orders and refuse to "go beyond what is written" (I Cor. 4:6 - RV). Thus, since Acts 20:7 is the only scripture that deals with the day and the frequency of taking the Lord's supper, then this verse must positively define the Lord's language when he said, "As oft as Ye do it . . ." Therefore it is right to take communion each Lord's Day, and by the authority of Christ we can take it only on each Lord's Day. The New Testament very plainly authorizes the church, from its treasury, to help needy saints (I Cor.16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9) and if the church is faithful it will do this and limit its benevolent work to this. This does not mean that all that Christians are to allow people of the world to suffer without our help, but rather the broad, comprehensive commands to "Do good unto all men" and "Be ready unto every good work" Gal, 6:10 & Titus 3:1), require that each Christian help all people as he has opportunity. However those broad commands addressed to Christians cannot be applied to the church and to that work which the church from its treasury is to undertake. Indeed the church, as well as the individual, must hear Jesus, and in so doing must not only be made aware of responsibilities to do certain things, but also of limitations imposed by Divine authority.
It was not only Peter, James and John that were to hear the Son, but everyone who wants to do God's will must hear him (Mt. 7:21, 24-27; Jn.14:6; 2 Jn.9). The invitation of Christ is to "Whosoever will" (Rev. 22:17) and with equal significance the law of Christ must be obeyed by all. There are no exclusive people with God today, and race, wealth, culture or position do not alter the word of the Lord. Every sinner must hear and obey the same gospel and every Christian must follow the same directing power (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Indeed "God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him" (Ac.10:34, 25). Conversely, He will punish all the wicked (not just a few of the worst), for Jesus will take vengeance "on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel . . ." ( 2 Thess. 1:8, 9).
(A little sidelight to this lesson is surely in order here. Since all the wicked will be punished, how shameful it will be for many to perish in hell because Christians have failed to take the gospel of salvation to them. Paul said, ". . .how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard. . . ." (Rom. 10:14). Paul himself said, "I am debtor both to the Greeks and the Barbarians; both to the wise and the unwise". Brethren, we too are debtors, to preach the pure truth to all men everywhere.
Heaven and earth shall pass away but the word of the Lord abideth forever (Mt. 24:35; 1 Pet.1:23). As long as man has been in existence, he has been required to hear and obey God, and so shall it always be. How sad it is to see men and women quit obeying God in old age, after living much of their life in subjection. But there is no retirement time from God's word -we must endure unto the end (Mt.10:22). Likewise it is sad to observe the young generation forget God instead of following the example of obedient parents. But each new generation must hear Jesus. In Ezk.18:20 we are reminded that "the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him". We are told to remember our creator in the days of our youth, and keep right on remembering him always. The people of this century must hear the same gospel and obey the same word that has directed God's people since the days of the apostles. Every promise that God has for anyone today, may be received by all people everywhere alike, and every command that God gives to us today must be observed by all people as long as time lasts.
"Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation", said Paul in 2 Cor.6:2. How terrible it will be for so many who will be lost in eternity, not because of rebellion, not because of wickedness, but because of neglect and/or postponement. As our soul is at the death of this body, so shall that soul be in Judgment Day. Furthermore, Jesus may come at any moment for he can come now and leave no scripture unfulfilled. Even if he does not come for thousands of years (for he can wait that long and violate no passage of scripture) you and I have just a little while to get ready to meet God. We cannot "hear Jesus" in the grave, and even our spirit, waiting in that place of torment (Lk.16:23) can not respond to the word of the Lord. Furthermore, just as the "Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night" (2 Peter 3:10), that is without warning or announcement, so our death may come also. The only safe way is to be obedient today. The sinner must believe, repent and be baptized in order to be "born again" (Ac.2:36-38). The Christian must: (1) Put away sinful living (Rom. 6:1, 2); (2) Do good (Eph. 2:10; Jas.1:27) ; (3) Worship steadfastly (Ac.2:42; Heb.10:25) and (4) Serve the Lord fruitfully (Jn. 15:1-8). "Procrastination is a thief of time" and what we fail to do and be today may be our eternal failure. Hear Jesus today!
Truth Magazine IV:8, pp. 11-13