Vol. 11 No. 4 April 2009
D. Gene West
In Matthew 10:40, Jesus spoke these words to those disciples who were being sent out on what we call the Limited Commission: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” We are sure Jesus had direct reference to the Jews who would receive the disciples into their midst and hear what they had to say about the Messianic kingdom and the Messiahship of Jesus. The Lord had previously warned these men that they were going to be persecuted and abused by those to whom they were to preach, and for that reason He sounded the warning, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Consequently, the Jews who accepted these disciples into their towns and villages and patiently heard the message they were to deliver would be the very ones who would receive Him as Messiah and Lord, and those who did that would also receive God in the sense that they would submit to His will and find their way into the everlasting kingdom of Christ.
Today, there is no way we can literally receive those messengers whom the Lord sent on that commission, for they are long since deceased and gone on to their eternal reward. At the same time, there is a sense in which we can either receive them or reject them. We can do that by accepting or rejecting the teaching that they delivered so many centuries ago. Paul taught Timothy that “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16‑17). “All Scripture” would certainly include what these men wrote by the power of the Holy Spirit as Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 2:9-13, when he wrote:
But as it is written: eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:9‑13)
Consequently, it must be true that when we accept the teaching of the apostles, prophets and evangelists who wrote the completed revelation that we call the New Testament, we receive Christ and His teaching just as surely as we would if we were to sit and listen to the Lord himself speak.
However, this matter, if we understand the language of Jesus correctly, can be carried even one step further. If we receive the teachings of the inspired writers of the New Testament, we receive Christ, for they taught in His stead after He ascended back to the Father. If we receive the teachings of Christ, then we receive them as being from God the Father, which in truth they are according to the Corinthians passage we just cited. It is therefore, of the utmost importance that we accept all the teachings of the Bible regardless of who wrote those teachings down, because in the final analysis, all came from our Father in Heaven—Almighty God.
We are told for every positive there is a negative. So, we need to look at the negative side of the statement made by Jesus asking, would it not be true that all who reject the teaching of the Bible writers, reject the teaching of Christ, and all who reject Christ reject the One who sent Christ, God the Father. It is patently ridiculous to say, I care not what Paul said, tell me what Jesus said, for what Paul said, Jesus said!
[Editor’s Note: While a red-letter edition of the New Testament may have some minor usefulness respecting the context, especially who the speaker was on an occasion, more often, a red-letter edition reinforces the mistaken notion that Scripture where a member of the Godhead is not the speaker is of lesser or of no importance. ~ Louis Rushmore]