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What does God say, when He says nothing?
Bible study on authority, silence of the Scriptures.

God commands us to do the things authorized by Christ (Col. 3:17). We're not to go beyond what He's commanded (1 Cor. 4:6); if do, we do not abide in the teaching of Christ and do not have God (2 Jn. 1:9).

The Old Testament is for our Learning
Paul tells us that the Old Testament is for our learning (Rom. 15:4). We learn about God, the success of the saints, and the doom of sinners.

One lesson we learn from the Old Testament is that God's silence does not authorize anything. Rather, God's silence is prohibitive.

We communicate to one another in everyday life, the same way God communicates with us in His word. God does not give us all the "do nots" when giving a command, He just tells us what to do. Likewise, parents do not give a million "do nots" when issuing a command; they simply give the command and expect it to be obeyed.

Think about this: What would the Bible be like, if God gave us every "do not" in His word?

  • The Bible would be so big, we couldn't read it in a lifetime. We could never come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).
  • The Bible would be filled with things that haven't been invented yet. It would be so confusing we couldn't understand it.

A Lesson from Moses
In Numbers 20:7-12, Moses did not believe or honor God. Therefore, God punished Him by prohibiting him from entering the Promise Land.

What did Moses do when he disbelieved God, thus dishonoring Him? He struck the rock rather than speaking to it.

It may seem like a rather minor infraction, striking a rock rather than speaking to it. But it wasn't minor to God, because it reflected Moses disbelief, and resulted in dishonoring God before Israel.

When God gives us a command, He expects us to obey. If we do something other than what He's commanded, our heart is not right with God as we rebel against His authority.

Saul's Unlawful Sacrifice
In Samuel 13:1-15, Saul was afraid of an impending war with the Philistines. Samuel told Saul to wait seven days, till the appointed when he would offer a burnt offering to the Lord.

On the seventh day, Saul was afraid the Philistines would attack, and unlawfully offered the burnt sacrifice himself. After Saul offered the sacrifice, Samuel came and asked, "What have you done?"

Saul offered several excuses, claiming that he "forced" himself to offer the sacrifice. These excuses may seem wise in the eyes of men. But Samuel told Saul he hadn't kept the commandment of the Lord; therefore, the Lord would give his kingdom to another man, a man after His own heart.

Israel Sacrificing Children to Molech
Shortly after entering the Promise Land, Israel embraced pagan idol worship. One of the most disgusting practices they adopted was sacrificing their children to Molech.

God gives the Israelites two reasons why sacrificing their children was a sin (Jer. 7:31; 32:35).

  • He hadn't commanded the sacrifice.
  • This abomination hadn't even entered His mind.

God clearly tells the Israelites that their actions were sinful, simply based on the fact that He had not commanded the sacrifice.

This is an important lesson for us to learn. If we do something God has not authorized in His word, it is a sin.

Paul's Proof that the Law had been Changed
Paul plainly states the fact that God changed the law (Heb. 7:12, 18). Today, we live under the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21), not the law of Moses.

To prove that God had changed the law, Paul reminds them that Jesus serves as king and high priest in heaven, after the order of Melchizedek.

Since Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and God had never authorized priests from that tribe, Paul concludes that God (of necessity) change the law before Christ could serve as our priest (Heb. 7:13-17). Jesus could not serve as priest under the Mosaic Law, since God had been silent regarding priests from His tribe.

This shows us that the apostles and first century Christians recognized this fact: We can only do the things God authorizes in His word. If God is silent regarding a matter, we do not have authority to do it.

Do All in the Name of the Lord
In Colossians 3:17, Paul says, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. . . ."

Simply put, we are to do the things Jesus authorizes in His word. If Jesus has not authorized it, we are forbidden from doing it.

This is the same lesson we learn from the Old Testament: Do what God has authorized, not more or less.