A cardinal rule of Scriptural enlightenment

By C. Eldon McNabb

There have been great numbers of people in the history of the world, and particularly in the Christian era, who have refused to accept the living God as their God, because they perceive Him as having too many restrictions, too many rules. Of course, He does have a lot of rules, but they are more for our good than for His.

In God's wisdom of lawmaking, He has fixed it that one must abide by His rules of learning if he is to be able to understand His word. God has also fixed it to where you can not understand His laws without some prompting; whether by the Holy Spirit, or by someone to whom His Holy Spirit has already revealed it.

Jesus told His disciples that, "When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come." So you would think that any "preacher" who is born of the Spirit should be able to explain the Word of God, whether it be the Law of Moses or the Law of Faith. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 11:52, "Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." However, a quick look around the brotherhood of Bible teachers reveals a great disparity in doctrine.

So, to whom shall we go for reliable instruction and enlightenment? In Isaiah 8:20, we are given a "cardinal rule" on how to judge the reliability of a ministry's doctrine, especially its approach to prophecy. This is not the only rule, but it is a very important one. Isaiah said, "To the law and to the testimony (prophets): if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Apparently, whatever we teach must be supported by the Old Testament.

This is not to, in any way, impugn a minister's devotion, his godliness, or his good intentions. It only says that he is not adequately supporting his doctrine by the Holy Scriptures, if he does not strengthen and confirm it with what the law and the prophets say about it.

The Apostle Paul wisely admonished Timothy, saying, "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." Note the word "all," and consider the reality that Paul's doctrine and ministry were almost altogether based in the Old Testament. Hundreds of thousands of the believers in Jesus Christ had been born again, sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost before much, if any, of the "New Testament" had been written. (And many thousands of them were Gentile converts.) They were indeed, as James declared, "begotten by the word of God." We apparently need to quit thinking of the Old Testament as poetry and history, and think of it as did the Apostle Paul.

To speak contrary to these words would be to reproach Jesus for quoting Deut. 8:3 in Matthew 4:4. It also cuts us off from the rich spiritual feast contained in the Old Testament. Jesus said, "It is written, Man shall not live be bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Not only so, but it also belittles the Word of God in general (Romans 15:4). That stance also invalidates every parable which Jesus gave us, because, in Matthew 13:34,35, we are told, "All these things spake Jesus to them in Parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 'I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.' " So Jesus was not merely teaching the people moral stories and object lessons, but was opening unto them the wonderful secrets of the almighty God.

Consider Galatians 3:24,25, where Paul said "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." The Old Testament is our textbook, our teacher, that we might believe in Jesus Christ, obey Him, and inherit eternal life, and its truths are confirmed by the New Testament. Unlike the Jews prior to the destruction of the temple, we have no responsibility to do the works of the law. However, we are obligated to finish what John the Baptist and Jesus started. (See Matt. 11:9-14.) As He said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." And in Colossians 1:25, Paul declared himself to be carrying on that work, saying to his fellow laborers, "I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the Word of God."

We do not have to pretend that the doctrine of Christ is found in both the Old and New Testaments, because the N. T. tells us plainly that it is. In Hebrews 6:1,2, Paul described for us the seven tenets of the Doctrine of Christ, naming Resurrection of the Dead as the fifth one. Accordingly, in John 11, Martha, the sister of Lazarus, knew of that doctrine, saying unto Jesus, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Since the New Testament was not yet written, Martha could have learned that only from the Old Testament.

We are now at the very end of carnal man's allotted time of six thousand years, (2 Pet. 3:8, Heb. 4:1-11). The time when Jesus shall come, and begin to rule the world for a thousand years, is very near. It is high time that we should shake ourselves, and awake out of sleep, and acknowledge the truthfulness of God's word, and believe it, and begin to get ready for the coming of our King. We must prepare, nay, become that "glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; holy and without blemish." According to Hebrews 12:22, and Revelation 21:2, that church is "The holy city, new Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

The church, for which Jesus laid the foundation, prospered under the direction of the Apostle Peter, and the glory of the Lord filled that Holy Temple (Acts 4:31-33; Rom. 2:10). The glory of that "little flock" faded away, and Jude lamented the passing of that glory, saying, "Certain men have crept in unawares, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness." However, he admonished us to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." And that we must do, in fulfillment of Isaiah 52:7,8. He said, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion."

John the Baptist was sent from God to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, the Lamb of God. He was called "The Voice of one Crying in the Wilderness." Of whom Jesus said unto His disciples, "He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light" (John 5:31-35).

Now the words of God in Ezekiel 7:6 have come to pass, "An end is come, the end is come; – behold, it is come." God must now send us another "voice" to prepare the way for Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Concerning this "voice," God said in Zephaniah 1:14, "The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord." It is time to awaken, and begin to rejoice in the light of the Man of God, as God begins to raise up again the Mountain of the Lord's House.

It is time for us to come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect church; and for a group of able ministers of the New Testament to begin to "sing together" with the "Voice of the Lord" which the Lord has sent forth into the world today (Col. 1:25). It is time for us to begin to take heed to the word of the Lord in Zephaniah 2:1-3.

"Gather yourselves together,yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you. Seek ye the Lord , all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." AMEN!