The New Man has One Shepherd—ONE Master

Once the new man is in God’s family, he has but one Master, one Shepherd and runs from all others.  Jesus said, “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5).  Those who ‘speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent’ and thus speak only as the oracles of God understand this principle.  Paul understood this principle.  He said, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). Paul listened strictly and only to the words of God. The creeds and manuals of men add to and take from the word of God.  The Lord commanded that no man should add to or take from anything in the Old Law.  He said, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). Peter and all the prophets understood this principle. Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:20-21).  If all the prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, then they did not speak their own words and thus did not give their own interpretation to the word of God.  They were faithful to speak and write only those things in which they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  The prophecy they spoke was never given by their own will (the will of man), but only the will of God.  Those who interpret God’s word today simply ignore what God said and speak their own words.  When asked why they would interpret when the Lord plainly informs us that it is not allowed, some dare to change the word of God saying it should not read “interpret” but it should read “no private origin.” Virtually every literal translation except the paraphrase translations (like the TLB) translate the word ‘epilusis’ as interpret.  There is absolutely no manuscript listed in the Greek manuscripts (Nestles or UBS) that has anything but ‘epilusewV’ in that verse.  What justification could any man have for changing the word of God?  When the scriptures disagree with our theories it is time to change the theories, not the word of God.

Consider God’s faithful prophets and apostles regarding adding to or taking from the word of God.  Paul said “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:13).  Plainly he states that he did not use words which man’s wisdom teaches.  God inspired Paul to congratulate the Thessalonians because they understood this principle.  He said, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).  They did not receive the words from Paul as the words of men (as Paul’s words), for they were not Paul’s words, but God’s words, inspired by His Holy Spirit. Timothy understood this principle. “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17). Paul taught the same thing in every church and Timothy was no different.

Jesus followed the principle excellently. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).  “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). The very words Jesus used were not his own.  He makes it even clearer when he uses each different kind of Greek word which refers to the ‘word.’  “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words (rhema – utterance), hath one that judgeth him: the word (logos—something said) that I have spoken (laleo—talk, utter words), the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken (laleo—talk, utter words) of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say (epo—to speak or say), and what I should speak (laleo—talk, utter words). And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak (laleo—talk, utter words) therefore, even as the Father said (ereo—speak or say) unto me, so I speak (laleo—talk, utter words)” (John 12:48-50).

The Holy Spirit followed the same principle.  Jesus foretold how the Holy Spirit would reveal the word of God to the apostles.  “Howbeit 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” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit did not speak of himself.  What he heard from Jesus is what he spoke to the apostles.  We have already seen that Jesus spoke only what he heard from the Father and the next two verses (John 16:14-15) say the same thing. The Holy Spirit searches the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11) but He is still faithful to speak the words of God which he hears, and nothing else.

No man on earth is greater than the apostles, the Holy Spirit or Jesus; yet, men exalt themselves to speak their own words. Commenting on and giving examples of man’s work in rejecting the commands of the apostles and Jesus is not adding to the word of God.  It is exposing the folly of speaking one’s own words.  If any man speak, he is to speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11), not as some who claim to speak, ‘in harmony with the word of God.’

RECEIVING CHIRST AS SAVIOR, REDEEMER OR CREATOR

For the Christian, “Receiving Christ” is not the same as the denominational doctrine of “Receiving Christ as one’s personal savior.”  “Receiving him” in this context, does not refer to Christ as savior.  The context of “receiving Christ” goes at least back to John 1:10: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10). Jesus made the world and therefore is Creator.  The Jews did not receive him as Creator (John 1:11).  The Jews did receive him as an ordinary Jew until he was 30 years old and began to preach publicly.  Even then, as he went from village to village, they only received his healing and gifts.  However, the Jews did not receive Christ as being their Creator.

What does it mean to receive Christ as Creator?  To receive Christ as one’s “Personal Savior” requires a deep gratitude.  When Paul saved the jailer’s life in that prison in Philippi, the jailer owed Paul his life.  However, the jailer did not live only for Paul from that day forward.  In that sense Paul was his savior but not his Creator.  A savior has done a good work which requires a great depth of gratitude, but a Creator owns what he creates. “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1).  “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Eze. 18:4).  What belongs to the Creator should be reserved only for the Creator; however, man has ignored the Creator and the Creator’s purpose.  Some are willing to give God a token from their abundance, but that is not all that belongs to God.  He owns the world and everything in it.  He expects man to live only for him and his purposes.  “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15).  Thus receiving Christ is to receive the purpose for which he died, that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him. In fact, he gives us a specific warning that states that exact principle.  “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). Receiving Christ as ‘personal savior’ is to be thankful for what has been done in the past, and then to turn “every one to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). To receive Christ as Creator (John 1:10-12) is to turn from living for ourselves, lose all that we have, and live only for him and the gospel (Mark 8:35).  Those who receive Christ as Creator are given power to become the sons of God, for they believe on his name (authority) (John 1:12).  His authority is not for a part of our lives but it is all power (authority) in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

Not only is Christ our Creator, but he is also our Redeemer.  What does it mean to be a Redeemer or to be redeemed?  The significance of being redeemed by the blood of Christ is often only partially understood. To most, a Redeemer is someone who paid the price for our sins.  Forgiveness of sins is surely an integral part of our redemption, but only a part.  When we sin, we are taken captive by Satan.  When we are saved, God has “. . . translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Thus we are redeemed from Satan.  This is the blessing that we get, but it says nothing about what Christ gets.  The word ‘redeem’ is to ‘buy up.’   Christ is our redeemer because he has redeemed “. . .the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).  When Jesus redeems us, he purchases us.  We know now what it means to be redeemed.  He tells us plainly that “…ye are not your own.  For ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Based on that purchase he says, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). This is the reason for his declaration that: “…he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15). If we are purchased we do not belong to ourselves.  We belong to the one of who bought us.  If we belong to Christ, then we have no right to live our lives to suit ourselves.  This is why Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).  When we receive Christ as Creator and Redeemer we belong solely to him in two ways—he owns his creation and he owns what he has purchased.  We are truly and only his.

Jesus Led the Way to the Goal

Jesus was not born full grown either spiritually or physically.  If he had not been like us in all ways he could not be our example.  He had to be made like his brethren in everything.  His brethren were not born full-grown and Jesus had to grow like they grew.  He was not born with all wisdom but grew in it (Luke 2:52). God sent Jesus to be like we are so he could be an example or us to follow.  Jesus grew by following in his Father’s spiritual steps when his Father showed him those steps (John 5:19, 20).  He grew until he had the complete love of God (Heb. 2:10, James 1:2-4; 1 John 2:5).  We are also commanded to follow the Father like Jesus did (Mt 5:48).  We follow our Father by walking in Christ’s love as he loved the apostles while he was on earth (John 13:34-35).  We are to follow Christ to grow in his image (Col. 3:10) for he is in the image of the Father (Col. 1:15).  Not all of God’s children grow.  Laodicea, Galatia and many other Christians are examples of brethren who forgot their calling (Rev. 3:14-17, Gal. 5:7-9, Heb.12:5,6).  God’s faithful children are in the process of being “. . . changed into the same image, from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).  The word ‘changed’ in this scripture is the word metamorphoo (present indicative tense), which tells us that this is a continuing process for those who are exercised by our Father’s chastening (Heb 12:11).  As children grow physically, so God’s children are to grow in heart in a continuing process.  Jesus grew in favor with God as he grew in all of the parts of love (Luke 2:52; James 2:2-4).  He did not run the race so that we don’t have to run it (Heb. 12:1-3) but we are to follow in his steps (1 Pet. 2:21).