|Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2011||
Jesus, the Master Teacher, once answered a question posed by the inquiring Jewish leaders by asking one of His own. They demanded to know just who had given Him authority to teach in the Temple; obviously, they had not given Him their consent to do so. Jesus replied, “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” (Matthew 21:25). Their cowardly fear and pride would not allow them to answer Jesus. As they would not answer His question, He chose not to answer theirs.
In this present article, I want us to consider a pertinent question: “Is it from heaven, or is it of men?” Where there is a doctrinal position, a moral guideline or a practice in which one engages religiously, the question should be asked pertaining to it: “Is it from heaven, or is it of men?”
It should be recognized that the question is worded in such a way that under consideration is an “either or” proposition. It is so fashioned that we cannot have it “both ways” since a doctrine, for instance, cannot have its origin from God and man simultaneously. A given moral standard is one that either comes from God, our Creator, or it is one that has been proposed and espoused by man, the created being. Sometimes, men devise their own doctrines and religious practices in preference to the ones God has revealed within the Sacred Text. Sadly, man has failed to resist the temptation to rewrite the Bible according to his own liking. We cannot walk with God “by faith” or “live by faith” (Romans 1:17) when we are doing “what I please” rather than what pleases God.
You and I must recognize God’s sovereign right to guide and govern our daily lives. His standard is not one that is designed to enslave us, but rather it enables us to enjoy the greatest peace and freedom from the dominion of sin and the effects of guilt. Jesus did not only come to be our Savior, but He came, as well, to be our Lord. We must crucify self along with the affections and lusts within, and yield ourselves wholly to Him as His servant of righteousness.
The existence of religious division with its accompanying multitude of denominational bodies, is it from heaven, or is it of men? God has not been silent with regard to His view about religious division (1 Corinthians 1:10).
The church Christ promised to build (Matthew 16:18), which promise was fulfilled on the first Pentecost following the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord (Acts 2:47) as the Lord added daily to His everlasting kingdom, is it from heaven, or is it of men?
The terms of entrance into the church (also designated as the body and kingdom of Christ) that the apostles, commissioned and sent out by Christ throughout Judea, Galilee, Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth, preached concerning believing on Christ, repentance of sins (Acts 2:38), confession of faith in Christ (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37) and baptism for or “unto” the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16), is it from Heaven, or is it of men?
The doctrine of “faith” only, that is, salvation comes to man apart from any “act of obedience” to the Gospel of Christ, is it from heaven, or is it of men (Romans 10:16; 6:17)?
The doctrine of the intercession of Mary, the mother of Jesus and other departed people who have been “canonized” and made “saints” by a religious order, is it from heaven, or is it of men? See that God has not had His penmen to write about these things and hear His silence.
The practice of calling mortal men “Father,” is it from heaven, or is it of men? Men object to the teaching of Jesus: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”
In His Gospel narrative, Matthew records in chapter 16:21-23 how Jesus shared with Peter and other of His disciples what was soon to transpire in Jerusalem. He would be killed; however He would be raised again the third day. Peter could not conceive or accept that such could possibly take place, and so he began to rebuke Jesus. Jesus replied, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (vs. 23). What about us?