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“Yea, hath God said …?” October 20, 2014

Posted by stevekerp in Discipleship, doctrine of distribution, Non-accumulation.
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Before Jesus departed, He gave His disciples some specific instructions.  One is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20 where He said that, based on the fact that all authority in Heaven and on earth had been given to Him, we are to:

… make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”

This two-step procedure is well-known among disciples, though the average church-goer tends to defer both tasks to the clerical “experts” in the church.  (By the way, if you are a disciple and you have not been baptized, what are you waiting for?)

Clearly, if Jesus has ALL authority in Heaven and on earth, then He can command anyone, anywhere to do anything and they can properly be held accountable if they do not obey.  For our purposes, if He is LORD and we are His disciples, then He can command us and we will be held accountable for our performance.

We need to always bear in mind, however, that Jesus does not exercise His authority because He wants to “throw His weight around” or make our lives difficult.  On the contrary, His intent is to shepherd us in the way of blessing, to make our lives joyful (even in persecution or difficult circumstances), and to be glorified in our lives by displaying His character through us.

We are to observe (this means OBEY, not “memorize” or “watch others when they obey”) all things that Christ commanded, AND we are to teach others to do likewise.  How can we know what Christ has commanded?

The commands of Christ can be divided into three categories.  First are commands that He gave to specific people in specific circumstances.  For instance, when He raised the 12-year-old girl in Luke chapter 8, He then commanded that she be given something to eat (verse 55).  No one seriously construes this as a general command to feed 12-year-old girls, and accordingly, commands in this category are not binding on us.

The second category consists of those commands given by Christ to His disciples, usually in a teaching context.  An example of this is in John 13:34 where Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another.  No one seriously argues that this command was just for those disciples who were present when the command was given.  Without question, this command and other commands in this category are binding on us today.

The last category might be called “indirect commands” where we get an authoritative command from the scriptures that was not a direct utterance of Christ, but can nonetheless be received as a command from God to Christian disciples.  One example of this is in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 –

…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Paul wrote this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and, while the letter was addressed to the Christians in Thessalonica who lived about 2,000 years ago, we understand that this is a command for all Christians in all places at all times.

At this point, I would like to re-state the doctrine of distribution (“nonaccumulation”):

Jesus forbids His people to accumulate wealth on this earth, but rather commands them to distribute those possessions they do not currently need for the needs of others and for spreading the gospel.”

IF this is a true, Biblical doctrine, then 1) it must be explicitly supported and commanded by either category 2 or category 3 commands of Christ, AND 2) it must not be refuted or contradicted by any commands or scriptures.  THOSE ARE THE CRITERIA! How it makes you feel, what your church or pastor always taught, what your friends or financial counselors assert, what “common sense” may dictate … all irrelevant.  The only important thing is what Christ has said about it. 

And what has He said?  What scriptures support the doctrine of distribution?  Are there scriptures that refute the doctrine? 

Stay tuned.

Today’s Action Step:  Read the story of the “Rich Young Ruler” in Luke 18:18-23.  (This is an example of a category 1 command so no one need feel defensive.)  Imagine you are standing beside the Rich Young Ruler when Jesus spoke to him, and that the young man turned to you for counsel. 

What do you think he might have asked you?
How do you think you would have responded?
Send an email to yourself with your answers.

“Follow” this blog and you’ll get an email notification when the next posting is available.  Comments (below) always appreciated.

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