The Authority Of Christ
“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
The Authority of Christ’s Words
I fear that most Christians do not truly comprehend the authority with which Christ spoke while here on this earth. We read the Gospels and think of Him as a loving and kind man who heals the sick, raises the dead, and is compassionate to all. However, the people of His day were amazed at the authority with which He spoke. He did not ask permission of the leaders in Jerusalem. He did not quote the rabbis and renowned teachers of His day. Instead, He gave the unequivocal, immutable Word of God to the people. He spoke only as His Father directed. The words that He spoke were the words that God wanted humanity to have, hear, and obey.
His voice transcended and superseded all voices that had preceded Him. His voice was greater than the voice of the prophets, the voice of the psalmist, the voices of the historians of Israel, and above all, the voice of Moses. Jesus told us that if we would hear and obey the words that He spoke, we would be like a man whose house was founded on the rock.
This article is designed to do the following: cause Christians to read these statements made by Christ, see them in a new light, and take what He said as a directive—even as a commandment—and attach these truths to our lives.
Certainly, we will need the help of His grace to do so. But to continually read the words of Christ with a passive view is a grave mistake. We must come to understand the authority with which Christ spoke and the necessity to follow His instructions to the uttermost.
In the Old Testament
The first reference to the power and authority of Christ’s words is given in the law. Moses prophesied that there would come a prophet whose word was not to be ignored. To fail to hear and obey what this prophet would say would bring judgment on the person who failed to do so. God Himself would bring judgment for lack of obedience in regard to the authority of this prophet’s words.
There is no doubt that Christ Jesus fulfilled the prophecy given by Moses and was indeed the prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18. In Deuteronomy 18:18-19, the Bible says, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”
We dare not reject or ignore the words of Christ.
In The New Testament
If we look to the New Testament, we find validity in regard to the authority of the words of Christ. In Hebrews 1:1-2 the Bible says, “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.”
Here we find that God gives the words of Christ preference over the words spoken by the former prophets and even Moses himself.
While Christ does not tear down or abolish the law or the prophets, His words supersede all that was spoken before Him. To supersede means to replace in power, authority, or effectiveness. It indicates that all else must be set aside as void, useless, or obsolete.
In the case of the Old Testament, the words of God are never to be abolished, but they are to be interpreted today in view of the authority of the words of Christ. For instance, many of the Old Testament types and shadows have been fulfilled by the person and work of Christ. Jesus, for example, eliminated the need for the temple in Jerusalem. He told the Samaritan woman that God desired believers to worship Him in spirit and in truth, not in a specific location (John 4). He eliminated the need for a high priest after the order of Levi, as He Himself is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. He has eliminated the need for the sacrificial system because on Calvary he fulfilled forever the type and shadow of animal sacrifice.
When it comes to the moral character and nature of God, the Mosaic covenant introduces humanity to God’s righteous nature in physical types and shadows. But Christ Himself replaces the law as the clearest and final revelation of God’s character and nature.
Obedience to Christ’s Commands
Not only do we need to recognize the authority of the words of Christ, but we must also understand the means by which these commands are to be carried out.
In new covenant benefits, we find a power source in the Holy Spirit (the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus) that equips the believer as he presses forward to holy living.
The means of true holiness involves the activity of the Holy Spirit, who is a new dimension that is offered by God to the believer as a result of Calvary. Prior to Calvary, the Holy Spirit could not dwell in the hearts of men because of the presence of sin. But after Calvary, those who have accepted Christ as their Savior have the Holy Spirit as a permanent companion. The moment the Holy Spirit enters this new “temple” He immediately begins the cleaning process and changing us from what we are to what God wants us to become.
The means by which we attain to the instructions of Christ and His apostles are through the means of faith in Christ and the cross. With our faith properly placed in Christ, the Holy Spirit continually works to help us with our “infirmities.” Infirmities can be identified as the aspects of our lives that God is not pleased with.
If we will allow the Holy Spirit to work in us consistently by faith, then the impossibility of the higher moral ethic stated in the words of Christ can become a reality to us. The “righteousness of the law” can be exhibited (in part) during our lifetimes now.
Conclusion and Challenge
Therefore, we must take heed to the words of Christ and to the words of His apostles. The New Testament is our guideline. Christ’s words regarding our lives are authoritative and they are our responsibility. Again, that responsibility can only be met by the means of faith and grace—faith in Christ and what He has done for us on Calvary. Then the Holy Spirit will assist us in being conformed to the image of Christ.