ADHERENCE TO THE NEW TESTAMENT

Mike Johnson 

It is clear in the Old Testament that God’s Word was intended to be adhered to and not deviated from it in any way (Deut. 4:1-4, 5:32-33; Josh 1:7; Num. 22:18, 24:13; Pb. 4:26-27, 30:5-6; Lev. 18:4-5).  Consider now the same concept from the New Testament.

Jude (v. 3) told the early Christians that they should  “ . . . earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  The meaning of the Greek word here means to fight or to contend strenuously in defense of.  Vines defines it as, “to contend about a thing, as a combatant . . . to contend earnestly.”  The word “faith” that is used here, that we are to contend earnestly for, is used in the objective sense.  It refers to the system of faith, i.e., the sum of all that we are to obey and believe (note also Acts 6:7, I Tim. 4:1, Phil. 1:27).   Thus, we are to firmly stand on God’s Word; we are to defend the truth against attacks from false teachers, and obviously, we are to adhere to it ourselves.  How do we do that?  Do we accomplish this by teaching the doctrine that people can believe anything they want?  Do we “contend earnestly for the faith” by adding to and taking away from God’s Word?   No, Jude 3 is obeyed by demanding of ourselves and others the necessity of following the pattern of the New Testament.  We obey it by demanding Bible authority for all that is believed and practiced.

In Galatians 1, Paul said that he marveled that the Galatians were so “soon removed” unto “another gospel.”  He also pointed out that there were some who had troubled them and had “perverted” the gospel of Christ. Then (v. 8) he warned them, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” The word translated “accursed” (KJV) is the word “anathema.”  This is a very strong word and refers to being delivered to divine wrath or destruction.  If the apostles, an angel, or “any man” (v. 9) preached a different gospel, Paul said, “let him be accursed (or anathema).” There is only one gospel, and this gospel cannot be changed. Authority from God’s Word is essential for any belief or practice, and we have no right to pervert the teaching of God’s Word.

Consider another warning found in II John 9-11. These verses say, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”   It is very clear from these verses that we stand condemned if we teach or practice anything that is contrary to God’s Will.  If we transgress and do not abide in the doctrine (or teaching) of Christ, then, simply put, “we do not have God.”  If we do “abide in” the doctrine of Christ, then we do have God.  We also stand condemned if we bid “godspeed” to a false teacher.   A person who teaches and practices false doctrine is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ, and they do not have God.  Thus, it is extremely important to abide in the teaching of God’s Word.

Revelation 22:18-19 says, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”  It is clear that the writer has specific reference to the book of Revelation in these two verses. Would this principle apply only to the book of Revelation?  Can we “add to” or “take away from” other books of the Bible?  Certainly not! If we are not allowed  to “add to” or “take away from” one book of the Bible, it would stand to reason that we cannot “add to” or “take away from” any book of the Bible, especially in light of the teaching of such passages as Galatians 1:6-10, Jude 3, and II John 9.

Consider the following example.  The Bible teaches that the Lord’s Supper consists of unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine.  To add potatoes as an element of the Lord’s Supper would be wrong as that would be adding to God’s Word; to take away the fruit of the vine from the Lord’s Supper and just have the unleavened bread would be wrong as that would be “taking away from” the Scriptures.

How much can we “add to” or “take away from” God’s Word and still be acceptable to God?  Is just a “little” error acceptable?  I Peter 4:11 says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. . . .”

The Bible also teaches that the Word of God will be the standard by which we are judged when Christ returns (Jn. 12:48).  Christ will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31), and we will be judged according to our deeds (II Cor. 5:10, Rom. 2:6).  The facts should motivate us to abide by the teaching of God’s Word.

The various New Testament passages show us that God’s Word must be our authority today.  It is essential that we have authority for all that we believe, teach, and practice.  Can you prove what you believe and practice by the Word of God?