By Dennis C. Abernathy
In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, to I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Jesus has all power (or authority) in heaven and in earth; therefore, we cannot question the authority behind this commission. “In heaven and in earth” is rather inclusive and leaves no room for man, with all his human wisdom, to claim any authority whatsoever! We are to go and teach all nations (this leaves no room for respect of persons). Many today have an idea that the Jew has a special corner on God’s blessings. Jesus said all nations; not just Jew, but all! Should we go to Jew, Gentile (black, white, yellow, red, etc.)? Jesus then says, we are to “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” That is not the command of man, we have not been taught it by some man, but it has the authority of the Godhead behind it. But Jesus further says we are to teach them (those we baptize) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you!
This should be our standard, our rule, by which we walk: “Has Jesus commanded it?” If He has then I should observe it! Not just some things He commanded but All Things!
1. Where did the Lord command instrumental music in worship of the New Testament church? If the Lord has commanded or authorized the use of it, then we should observe it. But where has He done so? I can read very clearly the command to sing, but nowhere do I read of instrumental music in connection with the New Testament church. Now I can read of it in the writings of men, concocted after their own wisdom – but when it comes to the New Testament church – it is sing! (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Why can man not be content with “whatsoever I have commanded you”? Do you think it a small thing to tamper with the things of God?
I surely know God did not say, “Thou shalt not use mechanical music in worship,” in those exact words. But He did say sing! If you sent your child to the grocery store to-buy a bag of lemons and he came back with the lemons plus $5.00 worth of candy, what would you say? Although you did not tell him not to get the candy, you did not intend for him to do so, because you specified the lemons. So it is with God! Why be specific, if it does not matter?
2. Where did the Lord command sprinkling and pouring for baptism? There is no doubt that the Lord has commanded baptism (Matt. 28;19) – but where has He commanded one to have water sprinkled or poured upon him and call it baptism? Just calling some action baptism surely does not make it so! Baptism is a burial in water (Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 10:47; Acts 8:38-39). You say, “Why do men sprinkle and pour water upon the individual and call it baptism?” Because they are not content with “whatsoever things I have commanded you”! The doctrine of sprinkling and pouring is with us today because of the wisdom of men (if not, where did the Lord command it) and is therefore unacceptable to God.
3. Where did the Lord command people to worship in the “church of your choice”? We read about the church, to be sure. Much is said in the New Testament about it. It is referred to as “my church” (Matt. 16:18). Christ is the purchaser, builder, and head of the church (Acts 20:28; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23). There is only one church (Eph. 4:4-5; Col. 1:18) and it is made up of the saved (Acts 2:41, 47). Therefore, if one is not in the one body of Christ, he is not saved, because Christ is the Saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23). There is so much said about the Lord’s church that we could go on and on – but where did the Lord command “the church of your choice”? Suppose man’s choice is not the Lord’s choice? Why is it not up to man to choose (other than accepting the Lord’s choice). Do you really believe that God is saying that a person should take his pick of one of the countless denominations and serve Him therein? Jesus said, “whatsoever I have commanded you” – man has no authority whatsoever in the matter. It is up to man to obey God, not decide for himself what he wants to do, (man cannot direct himself to heaven – Jer. 10:23).
Just the other morning a preacher on the radio said, “I am Southern Baptist myself, but God has faithful Coristians in the Baptist, Methodist, Holiness, Church of Christ as well as others; yes, he does.” Of course, dear reader, he did not bother to give the scriptures which so teach. Do you know why? Because it is not according to “whatsoever I have commanded you.”
4. Where did the Lord command the church to get involved in the socializing recreation, and school business? We can read of the church working (preaching the gospel, edification, and benevolence) but where did the Lord command the church to do any of the far out things they are doing today?
Talk about denominations preachers quibbling and dodging in debates – the attempts gospel preachers(?) make to defend their kitchens, social halls, youth camps and retreats, all of the gimmicks used in the bus ministries, the allurements of gymnasiums and church ball teams, as well as the Christian Colleges and preacher schools and on and on and on are just downright pitiful. They know the Lord never did authorize such things, so they just give up trying to find a “whatsoever I have commanded you” and join the sectarians in shouting “we don’t need authority for all we do.” Do they really believe it?
Dear reader, this is a serious matter. It is no small thing of little consequence. The Lord Jesus Christ meant what He said. He really wants you and me to “observe all things wha’soever I have commanded you.’.’ These other things we have mentioned may sound good to you, and you may see no harm in them but remember, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). (Read also Heb. 5:8-9; Matt. 7:21; 15:8-9; 2 Jn. 9.)
Truth Magazine XXIII :28, p. 459-460
July 19, 1979