|Volume 19 Number 2 February 2017||
If we were to take a trip to our favorite drive-through, fast-food restaurant and order a #1 with cheese, fries and a coke, and then when we pulled up to the pay window to discover the total was $43.59, would we have a problem with that? The obvious answer is, “Yes, of course!” Hearing that staggering price for just one meal, we would ask the cashier why the meal was so expensive. She simply states, “You didn’t tell me not to give you one of everything else on the menu.” We would probably just drive to another fast-food place instead of trying to explain to this young cashier the principle of exclusion by silence.
It is a very simple principle to understand in the secular world; from the example above, we derive that if I say I want a #1, that’s all I want—nothing less, nothing more. Yet, something that we understand and apply in the secular world is often misunderstood and disregarded in the religious world. Denominationalism normally rejects the law of exclusion based on what it wants (not what God wants). This manifests itself variously as entertainment in their services, instrumental music in worship, not taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, not preaching the whole counsel of God and failing to teach God’s plan of salvation correctly. If we will just read the Bible as it is written, we will understand clearly that when God says to do something, He doesn’t have to say, “Now don’t do this or that, just do what I said!”
There are several passages throughout the Bible that give an example of this very principle. In Leviticus 10:1-2, there is the account of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of the high priest of Israel, offering something that God “commanded them not.” The result of their transgressing God’s instructions by offering something that God didn’t authorize was death.
Paul writing to the Colossians and Ephesians about singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) gave the command to sing—not to sing and play! We have no authority to use any instrument except the human heart, for that is the instrument we use in singing to God!
The writer of Hebrews spoke of the silence of the Scriptures in Hebrews 7:14, when he wrote, “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” The Levites were through whom the priests came in the Old Testament. Moses never had to say that Judah, Manasseh, etc. won’t be priests; he just said the Levites are the priestly tribe.
There are many more examples all throughout the Bible of the significance of the silence of the Scriptures, and it is imperative for us to realize this. If God said to not do something, we need to be careful not to do it, and when He commands to do something specifically, we must be sure that we do that and nothing more or less. Jesus gave a warning at the end of the Bible about those who would add to or take away from that which is written (Revelation 22:18-19)! Let’s just stay with the Bible!
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus charged His apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Further, they were to teach those baptized to observe what He had commanded. So then, are you a disciple of Jesus today?
Let us all consider the mindset of a disciple that was displayed by Peter when Jesus called him. During that time Jesus was teaching at the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1-3). Then, Jesus told Peter to let down his net into the deep (Luke 5:4-5). When Peter and his fellows did as Jesus told them, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking (Luke 5:6). Did you notice the mindset of a disciple of Jesus manifested in Peter?
When Jesus instructed Peter to let down his net, he did not think it would do any good (Luke 5:5a). They had been fishing all night, but they had caught no fish. Honestly, wouldn’t a fisherman know more about fishing than a carpenter? Yet, Peter said, “Nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5b). As the result of doing the Lord’s word, the catch was overwhelming for one net and even for two boats. Here we see the mindset of a disciple: “Nevertheless at Your word I will.”
Peter and his coworkers were astonished at their success (Luke 5:9-10a). Then, Jesus reassured Peter and called him and his partners to follow Him (Luke 5:10b-11). Through the words of Peter, we can know that he did not think that he was good enough (“I am a sinful man, O Lord!"). Following the Lord meant leaving behind a successful business and family. In addition, to follow the Lord, Peter may have left his wife at home, too (Luke 4:38; 18:28; 1 Corinthians 9:5); James and John left their father (Matthew 4:21-22). Importantly, the result of doing the Lord’s word is a greater service (Luke 6:13-14), and even greater rewards follow (Luke 22:28-30). Peter, together with James and John, illustrate what must characterize a disciple of Jesus—a willingness to do whatever the Lord says, no matter the cost, even when we do not understand why.
After becoming the disciple of the Lord, we may not think we can do any good. We might think we are too sinful, but it is important to keep in our hearts the knowledge that Jesus calls sinners (Luke 5:8, 32). Having a willingness to serve, even the rankest of sinners can serve Him (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Furthermore, we are to follow Jesus first and before seeking family, work and self-interests. Jesus must always come before family and even before oneself (Luke 14:26; Matthew 10:37; Luke 9:23-26). Not only that, but Jesus must come before work as well (Luke 14:16-24). How can we leave everything behind? It is not easy, but let us all keep in mind that for those willing to follow Jesus, the rewards are great—not only for this present life, but also for the age to come, eternal life! (Luke 18:30).
The Lord may ask us to do things that we do not think will work, such as laying up treasure in heaven instead of on earth for oneself (Luke 12:15-21) or seeking the kingdom of God first (Luke 12:22-34; Matthew 6:33). The Lord may ask us to do things we do not yet understand, such as why be baptized for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38), why observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week (Acts 20:7), why not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25), why singing is commanded and not playing instruments (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), why women are not permitted public roles in worship (1 Corinthians 14:34-37) and why churches are not to be burdened by familial responsibilities (1 Timothy 5:16).
However, for those who obey our Lord Jesus, the rewards are great because our labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). We also look forward to a great and enduring reward (Matthew 25:34; 2 Peter 1:11). Finally, is our mindset that of being a disciple (“Nevertheless at Your word I will”)?