There seems to be some disagreement among people as to whether it is required of man to be obedient to the commands of the Lord or if instead, sincerity of the heart will outweigh the actual obedience. Often people are not really adamant about knowing just exactly what God’s commands are, having faith that their honesty and sincerity is all that matters.
However, without question, man is required to keep God’s commandments in order to have eternal salvation. Note just a few passages of scripture wherein Jesus Christ pointed out the necessity of keeping God’s commandments. He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), also, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10) and, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Also, the apostle John wrote, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:3-4), and “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (I John 3:22).
Now the question might arise, what commands of God are we to keep? One’s immediate answer might be, “all of them”. Though it is true that we cannot disobey any command that God has given us, there are commands of God that we find recorded that we are not subject to, for they were not given to us. For instance, God commanded Noah to build an ark (Gen. 6:14). That is a command of God, but not one we are to keep. So we need to distinguish between those commands of God that we are not subject to and those we are. It is the gospel of Christ, the last will and testament of our Lord Jesus Christ that we must be obedient to in this age.
The Hebrew writer stated, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the father by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2). This passage speaks of the manner of speaking to the Jews before Christ came and died on the cross, bringing in His last will and testament (Heb. 9:15-17). He spoke to Israel through Moses and the other prophets. But, the Hebrew writer points out that now He speaks to us through His son, Jesus Christ. Just prior to His ascension into heaven, Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). When Jesus took Peter, James and John up upon the mountain and was transfigured before them, two men appeared with Him, Moses and Elias, both prophets of Israel.
After Peter spoke of building a tabernacle for each of them, God spoke from heaven, telling the three apostles, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5). It is the gospel of Christ by which we will be judged in the last day. Jesus said himself, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Paul wrote, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Moses had foretold this even back in his day. In the early days of the church, Peter quoted Moses, applying the scripture to Christ saying, “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you” (Acts 3:22). Man is no longer to obey the commands of the law of Moses, but those of Christ Jesus.
That gospel of Christ which we are to be obedient to and by which we will be judged in the last day is that which we find in the New Testament scriptures. Paul said it was the power of God unto salvation and that it revealed the righteousness of God (Rom. 1:16-17). He also told Timothy that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17).
The gospel of Christ is our guide book for becoming a Christian and then continuing faithfully as such. This being the case, all other guides are to be rejected. No, our conscience is not our guide. No, what I think doesn’t make something acceptable to God. The preacher may be honest and sincere, but no, his word is not law. What is popular, what feels right to me, what one reads in some book other than the inspired scriptures or even what one’s mother and father taught them is not the commands that must be obeyed in order to have eternal life. Ever remember that nobility was ascribed to those of Berea because they searched the scriptures daily to find the true commands of God (Acts 17:11).
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]