By Ward Hogland
I have never believed the Bible to be passe. As a matter of fact it is the only book, which has remained up-to-date for two thousand years. Its teachings are just as potent today as when uttered by the lowly Galilean as he walked the Gaza strip. If there is a passage which demonstrates that Jesus should be the Lord of our lives it is Matthew 6:33. The good Lord said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This word first gives us an order. One cannot put the kingdom first without putting the Lord first. If one puts the Lord first he becomes the Lord of his life. It is that simple. One of the greatest tragedies of today is the fact that members of the Body of Christ are not allowing him to be Lord of their lives. They are putting family, football, and frolic before the Lord. These multifarious activities brought on by an affluent society have hurt the cause of Christ.
Jesus demonstrated that he should be the Lord of our lives by his claim of authority. All students of the Bible know Matthew 28:18,19. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” This word power is from the word exousia which is sometimes translated “authority.” Actually, if one has power he has authority. For example a king has power because he has authority or if we use the antithesis he has authority because he has power. Jesus should be the Lord of our lives because he not only claimed to have authority, he actually had it in reality. He said he had authority and he taught in a way to demonstrate it. Jesus did not say “It could be” or “It might be” or “I think it is this way” but rather he said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time. . .but I say unto you.” This is why the elders and chief priests asked him, “By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23)
Authority makes a thing right or wrong. In civil matters we understand that certain laws have been put on the books and it is wrong for a citizen to violate those laws. However, if we have no authority then we have no standard of right or wrong. The jettison of the moral standard as given by the Lord is one of the major problems of our nation. It is not uncommon to hear people say, “There is no standard of morals except what is right for me.” This is the old situation ethics concept which has been around for years. Atheists and agnostics have been very assiduous in using this cliche. Kind friend, do not be deceived; the Lord still has authority. Our founding fathers understood this great principle. They based our moral laws on the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. They were not ashamed to magnify the name of God and his son Jesus Christ. It may be a herculean task to get this nation back to the moral standard of our Lord but it can be done.
The application of this principle in the church of the Lord was expressed by men of the restoration. They said, “Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.” The real shibboleth for a Christian today is whether he will take the authority of Jesus in three areas. First, he must be willing to submit to the Lord in doctrine. Second John 9 tells us if we go beyond his doctrine we have lost Christ. It is axiomatic that we can err in doctrine in two says. First, we can make laws were God has not made them.
In Acts 15, the false teachers made it more difficult to go to heaven than the Lord. They said one had to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to go to heaven. Paul and Barnabas had the tenacity to oppose this doctrine. The apostles wrote a letter and said, “We gave no such commandment” (Acts 15:24). Unfortunately the church of the Lord has been divided all over this land because of brethren making laws where God has not. The second way we can reject the Lordship of Jesus is by failing to do what he says, that is, to come up to his standard. When the Lord tells us to observe the Lord’s supper on Sunday, give of our means, sing, pray, and teach we need to respond. Some in derision have referred to members of the church as five steppers. That is, because we teach the Lord authorized five things in our worship service. Should we be intimidated by the sinister work of false brethren? I don’t know why he told Naaman to dip seven times in Jordan. Could we refer to Naaman as a “Seven dipper”? We should not capitulate to false brethren just because they use duplicity.
Second, he must submit to the Lord in morals. The Bible tells us that lying, stealing, adultery etc. are still wrong. We may live in a society which follows situation ethics but we must follow the Bible. We cannot afford to become soft on the principles of morality as set forth in the Scriptures. The promiscuous lifestyle of many has rubbed off on the church. The high divorce rate is the reflection of a hedonistic society which we must oppose.
Last but not least we must allow Jesus to be our Lord in activity. We cannot go to heaven and do nothing. In Matthew 25, when the Lord gave to each man talents according to his ability we learn a lesson. I suppose the first lesson we learn is that ability plus opportunity equals responsibility. It is true that not all members have the same ability. If I understand the Bible the Lord will judge us on how well we used the ability we have. The one talent man took his fifteen hundred dollars and buried it. He was called a wicked, slothful and unprofitable servant and was cast into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:25-30). Activity alone will not take you to heaven but one must understand that he cannot go to heaven without work. We do not “earn” heaven but we must work to make it. Calvinists find this very difficult. They feel if we must obey and work we are earning our way to heaven. Not so. Hebrews 5:8 says we must obey but Luke 17:10 says, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” Christians are not a perfect people but they are a forgiven people. They are not an earning people but they are a working, obedient people.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII No.23, p. 9-10
December 1, 1994