Jeremiah 26:4-6 And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the
Lord; If ye will not hearken to Me, to walk in My law, which I have set before
5 To hearken to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened;
6 Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.
In verse 4, My law, which I have set before you, was the written Word God provided for His people. The words of the prophets in verse 5 were the spoken Word. God not only gave His people the written Word to live by, but He also sent prophets to speak His will to them. So it became necessary for Israel to give heed to both. They would be judged according to their acceptance and obedience to both the written and spoken Word.
King Jehoshaphat was successful because he believed the spoken Word, as well as the written Word. A vast Ammonite army was coming against him, so he began praying. O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee. II Chronicles 20:12. In response to his prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Johaziel, and he prophesied. Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but Godís. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you. II Chronicles 20:15-17.
Jehoshaphat believed the spoken Word and gave commandment to the people. Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper. II Chronicles 20:20. When King Jehoshaphat and his army reached the camp of the Ammonites, they were all dead. God had slain them, and there was no need to fight. Jehoshaphat showed his faith in God by believing the spoken Word. Had he not believed the prophet, Judah would have been defeated by the Ammonites. Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.
We find the same principle in the Gospels of the New Testament. Although the Jews had the written Word, it was absolutely essential for them to accept the Word spoken by Jesus as the Word of God. Those who did not,found themselves, like Israel of old, under the judgments of God. Jesus said, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life (John 5:24). The Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him (the one that didnít receive His Word) in the last day (John 12:48).
The writer of the Book of Hebrews said, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). God provided a spoken Word as well as a written Word for His people. And their relationship with the Lord depended upon their adherence to both. Now, letís see if the same principle is continued in the days of the Early Church.
Galatians 1:15-16 But when it pleased God, who separated me
from my motherís womb, and called me by His grace,
16 To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.
We must realize that the preaching Paul is speaking of here is not that which is familiar to most Christians today. Most preachers today preach their interpretation of the Word. They preach about the Word and about the Lord; but they do not preach Him. Paul said, God revealed His Son in me (verse 16). He didnít mean, ďI have Christ in my heart by faith.Ē He meant that the life of Christ was in Him; that is, his life had been taken over by the life of Christ. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20.
Because Christ lived in him Paul did not merely preach about Christ, he preached Christ. The Word he spoke did not just give information about Christ, it ministered Christ. Those who received his Word did not merely receive information about Christ; they received the life of Christ. The life of Christ was transferred from Paul to those who received it as a Word from God. It was a living Word.
Every one didnít believe that Christ was speaking through Paul. Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in meÖ II Corinthians 13:3. The Thessalonian Church is an example of those who did. We thank 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. I Thessalonians 2:13. A major reason for the spiritual immaturity among Christians today is the fact that many pastors are not speaking the living Word of God.
God provided a spoken Word for His people in the Old Testament, during the days of the Gospels, and for the Early Apostolic Church. He is also providing a spoken Word for today. Why does He do it? Why does God put so much importance upon the spoken Word? After all, many Christians today do not believe that God speaks in any other way than through the Bible. Humans, being what they are, tend to take the paths of least resistance. They tend to accept that which is pleasant to their nature and to ignore, if not reject, that which is not so pleasant to them. However, what God says and does is very often repulsive to human nature. It seems to be quite easy for a Christian to convince himself that what he wants is what God wants, and what he thinks or feels is really the will of God. Of course, that is seldom true. It seems that every time God requires something of us it crosses our flesh nature.
So why does the Lord put so much importance on the spoken Word? It is because people are very apt to fall into the trap of interpreting the Scriptures according to their own will. They tend to interpret Scripture with their carnal mind instead of looking for a revelation from the Lord. They will pick out the scriptures they like and conveniently reject others, all the while claiming to believe the Bible from cover to cover.
God knows how weak man is, that the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). So He gives us a spoken Word to keep us on the right track. Of course, that means someone has to be spiritual enough to be the channel through which God can speak. Letís see how this was accomplished in the Early Church.
Acts 2:41-42 Then they that gladly received his Word were baptized: and the same day
there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Those who were receiving Christ and being added to the Church were told to continue steadfastly in the apostlesí teaching. I had a pastor tell me recently that he and his church followed the teachings of the apostles. However, he didnít believe there were any apostles and prophets of God today. So, actually, he wasnít leaning on the teachings of the apostles at all. He was leaning on his interpretation of the apostlesí teachings in the Scriptures. He accepted the written Word (and that only according to his private interpretation), but not the spoken Word.
The true Church is built upon the ministry of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20). They are the revelation ministries. Their ministry is the channel through which one can receive a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said to His apostles, As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you (John 20:21). That is divine order! The Church will not become what God wants it to be without them. Their ministry is what brings the Church unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Some would say, ďWell, there are false apostles and false prophets out there, and I canít discern the difference.Ē First of all, if you canít discern the true, it may be that you havenít been under ministry established by God. Donít let the false stumble you; that only proves there are true ones. There canít be false prophets without there also being true prophets. There were false prophets around when God was speaking to His people in the Old Testament. There were false christs and false prophets around in the New Testament. God still led His people by a prophetic Word. If you really want to know the Lord, then believe God to lead you to the right ministries. He can do it. Let the Lord be the Lord.
Jesus said, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:39). The revelation of the Lord comes through those He sends. If you want to know the Lord, you must receive the ones that are sent by Him. Here is divine order. When Jesus was on earth, no one could come to the Father, except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus told His disciples, As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you (John 20:21). He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. Matthew 10:40.
Things havenít changed. What was required of the Early Church is still required today. God hasnít changed His divine order. No where has He said that todayís church doesnít need apostles and prophets. He has not decided to quit speaking or to quit providing a spoken Word. Discipleship is still expected. His first commandment to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is still valid (Mark 12:30). That hasnít changed. He still expects us to put Him first. Just because some pastors say sectarianism is alright, doesnít make it so. Just because they say that some scriptures are only for the Old Testament, some are only for the Early Church, and some are only for the future, claiming they are rightly dividing the Word, doesnít make it so.
The Lord is providing a spoken Word to keep us on the right track. If you really want to find it, He will lead you to it. If you just want to interpret the Scriptures according to your own fancy, Heíll let you do that, too. The choice is yours.
Copyright © 1996 by Henry DuBose