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Series: Establishing Authority
Bible study on God's commands and authority.

Paul tells us the Old Testament is for our learning (Rom. 15:4).

One of the most important things we learn from the Old Testament is that man is responsible for obeying God's commands.

This principle is also taught in the New Testament, where we learn man is obligated to obey God.

  • "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 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" (Acts 17:30-31).
  • "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).
  • "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; 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" (Rev. 22:18-19).

God's Commands are in His Word
God's mind is revealed by the Holy Spirit in Scripture (1 Cor. 2:10-16). Therefore, the only way we can know God's commands is through His word.

So, apostolic writings are Scripture and compose God's commands.

Peter, referring to Paul's writings, refers to them as Scripture.

  • "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" (2 Pet. 3:16).

And Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says the things he writes are the Lord's commands.

  • "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment" (1 Cor. 14:37).

God Has Spoken Through Jesus
In the beginning, God spoke directly to man. Then He spoke through prophets. But in the last days, God spoke to man through Jesus.

  • "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world" (Heb. 11:1-2).

So God, upon the Mountain when Jesus was transfigured, said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him" (Matt. 17:5)!

Therefore, we must be careful to obey Jesus.

  • "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will" (Heb. 2:1-4).

If we obey Jesus, we'll be saved. But if we disobey Him, we'll be lost.

  • "And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9).
  • "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" (2 Jn. 1:9).

Jesus Commissioned the Apostles
Before ascending to heaven, Jesus commissioned the apostles (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16).

Thus, the apostles became ambassadors of Christ, as God spoke through them to reconcile man to Himself.

  • "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

Specific and General Commands
There are three types of commands in God's word.

  • Specific commands include the specifics for carrying out the command.
  • General commands do not include the specifics for carrying out the command.
  • Commands with both specific and general components.

When we have a specific command from God, we must obey Him by accomplishing the command as specified. But when we have a general command, we must employ lawful expediencies to carry out the command.

However, many commands include both specific and general components. In other words, God is specific in some parts of the command, and general in other parts of the command.

For example, God's command for Noah to build the ark had both specific and general components (Gen. 6:13-22).

When a command has both specific and general components, we must obey God by accomplishing the specific component of the command, and employ lawful expediencies to carry out the general component of the command.

In the next article, we'll talk about general commands in more detail, and the expediencies we must employ to obey these commands.