FROM HEAVEN OR FROM MEN?
David L. Odom
Jesus shows us that there are only TWO sources of authority in religion:
It is either from heaven (Divine Authority), or, from men (human authority)!
"23 When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, 'By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?' 24 Jesus said to them, 'I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell me Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?' And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, 'If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' 26 But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet. 27 And answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know.' He also said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
The answer to the question Jesus asked is found in John 1:6:
"There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The only alternative to following the doctrines and commandments of GOD, is to follow the doctrines and commandments of MEN!
God's people of old wanted to follow the doctrines and commandments of men instead of God's Truth!
"Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, Because he was determined to follow man's command."
If we want to be God's people today, we must learn from the examples found in God's word, that we might NOT go beyond His inspired word He has given us!
"Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us you might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other."
Now, the authority from heaven is what we want to follow! So the inspired Scriptures tell us who has 'all authority' in the area of religion:
"18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Jesus told the apostles He had chosen that He had many more things to relay to them, but they could not bear them at that time, so He would send the Holy Spirit to guide them into ALL the truth!
"I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you."
Jude tells us that 'the faith', which is 'the truth', the gospel of Christ' revealed from heaven was once for all delivered to the saints!
"Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints."
Dear Bible student, this means that we cannot add to, or take away from this truth which God has given us to direct our lives from!
"6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."
Could God had made this any plainer? Don't change His word!
2 Peter 3:16-18
"as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
God has always pointed this fact out, that man CANNOT mess with His word, and at the same time be acceptable in His sight!
"You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."
"Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it."
Proverbs 30:5, 6
"Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6 Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar."
Revelation 22:18, 19
" 18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book."
Now if we DO believe and follow religious teachings that are NOT found in God's word for us today, the New Covenant, then dire consequences follow!
2 John 9-11
"Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds."
We are not suppose to have anything to do with any teaching that is NOT from heaven, because then we know it is from MEN!
Now, let's apply this to what men teach we must do in order to be saved, and compare 'faith only', and other doctrines, to what the Bible teaches!
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
Hear, learn, and come to Jesus Christ!
John 6:44, 45
"44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me."
By believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that He is Immanuel, the Messiah, the Word!
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call His name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us."
John 4:25, 26
"25 The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.' 26 Jesus said to her, ' I who speak to you am He.' "
John 1:1, 14
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth"
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
BUT YOU DO NOT RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS IN A MENTAL BELIEF ONLY (called Faith Only)
By repenting of our sins!
"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
"Peter said to them, ' Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' "
Acts 17:30, 31
"30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
BUT YOU DO NOT RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS AT THIS POINT IN OBEDIENCE!
By confessing Christ before men!
Matthew 10:32, 33
"32 Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
Romans 10:9, 10
"9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, unto salvation."
1 Timothy 6:12-16
"12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."
BUT YOU DO NOT RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS AT THIS POINT IN OBEDIENCE!
By being baptized into Christ!
NOTE: This is immersion in water 'INTO CHRIST'
for (UNTO, IN ORDER TO) the forgiveness, the remission of your sins!
This is NOT sprinkling or pouring!
"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' "
"1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin."
"37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' 38 Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.' 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!' 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Notice in the above Scripture that only those who 'received his word' obeyed the gospel!
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
Have you yet been involved in the 'new birth' from above?
Have you yet been baptized for the correct reason?
Some are baptized today because they have been taught they have already been saved by 'faith only', and that water immersion is only an 'outward sign of an inward change'!
BUT NOTICE THAT 'PREACHING JESUS' INCLUDES WATER BAPTISM!
"35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?' 37 [And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing."
Acts 10:47, 48
" 'Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?' 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."
This is where we meet His soul saving blood (figuratively of course) which washes away our sins!
Revelation 1:5, 6
"and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood" 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
"Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name."
I Peter 3:20-22
"20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him."
There is not any power in the water (water salvation), but it is DOING what God commands us to do, in HIS WAY , according to HIS TRUTH, which is an appeal to God for a good conscience through Christ's resurrection, by doing His will!
Also notice that is how Jesus purchased His church, with His own blood!
But why are people telling us today that the church isn't important!
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."
Therefore we read:
1 Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
Christ Jesus is the Savior of this body, the church, which is His kingdom!
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."
"15 He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' 16 Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 17 And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.' "
The rock upon which Christ's church was built was the Truth which Peter had just stated that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God! The Lord's church was NOT built upon Peter!
Ephesians 1:22, 23
"22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
"4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
Notice only one body, which is His church, His kingdom, just as there is only one baptism, which is water immersion into Christ!
This is how we put Christ on!
"26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise."
YES, YOU DO RECEIVE REMISSION (FORGIVENESS) OF SINS AT THIS POINT IN OBEDIENCE!
Notice the examples of conversion in the book of Acts:
Are you in this church you read about in the New Testament?
Have you correctly put Christ on yet?