THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST AND HIS UTTERANCES

 

By Rev. E. L. LANGSTON.

 

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

(St. Matthew 24: 35; St. Mark 13: 31; St. Luke 21: 33.)

 

1. - AN EPOCH MAKING STATEMENT.

 

These words bring us face to face with an irresistible alternative, and one whose issues cannot be avoided.

 

He Who said these words "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away," must be either Divine or demented; either an irresponsible fanatic, or Very God of Very God.There can be no middle ground upon which we can take our stand concerning this matter.

 

In the light of this statement, the authority of the words of Jesus Christ of Nazareth cannot be called into question. Everybody must decide one way or other, either that He was God, or else He was insane.

 

Surely, it is an amazing sign of the times, that scholarly and apparently earnest Christian men doubt the authority and trustworthiness of our Lordís utterances.Yet, alas, we are faced with the fact to-day, that many of our leading theologians, scholars and preachers, call into question the absolute authority and accuracy of the words of our Lord.

 

It is therefore essential for us to investigate the whole question, and in so doing, we shall find that as a result of a close study of our Lordís own testimony both to Himself and to His utterances, that the matter is settled once and for all.

 

Let us for a moment try by imagination to transfer ourselves in thought to the days, in which our Lord lived.

 

Here was a poor man of the most despised nation on the earth, the son of a humble Jewish carpenter of the most despised village in that country, and apparently only an illiterate peasant, speaking to a few fisher folk and others upon the Mount of Olives.In that conversation He had been giving them a panorama of the things that were to come to pass on this earth during the space of the next 2,000 years.He predicted with much detail the things that should happen in Jerusalem, in Palestine and throughout the whole world, such as wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, a universal preaching of the Gospel which He Himself was then inaugurating, the destruction of Herodís Temple, the devastation of the city of Jerusalem, and the scattering broadcast of the Jews, as "captives amongst all nations."

 

In this remarkable forecasting of events, He Himself said that Jerusalem should be under the heel and domination of the Gentile nations, until a certain time when "the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled," when the city of Jerusalem should be freed from Gentile power; and that when that came to pass it would be one of the great signs of His return again to this earth; not this time as a poor carpenter's son, the apparently illiterate peasant, but triumphantly in the clouds of heaven with hosts of angels, "with power and great glory," and that He would judge and reign over the nations of this earth.

 

Try and place yourself in the midst of that little group on the Mount of Olives, and imagine that you had never heard of, nor seen Jesus of Nazareth before.How would all these statements and predictions have sounded to you?You would have said in your heart at any rate, "Who is this man?How can he know of these things?Surely he must be mad."We are therefore faced with this alternative; either He was an irresponsible fanatic, or none other than "God manifest in the flesh."He was either the one or the Other.After having foretasted all these things, He calmly set His seal to His predictions by saying

 

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

Think of the important meaning attached to this remarkable statement!He bade His disciples look at the sun, moon and stars, and then on the earth with all their apparent stability, and He boldly said to them that though heaven and earth should pass away, His words would still abide, unaltered, unchanged, and unchangeable.Surely "Never man spake like this Man!"

 

This statement carries with it the impression of its own truthfulness, and we are constrained to see in this Jesus of Nazareth, none other than Deity Incarnate.Here in the form of man is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Whose words are more sure than His own creation.Yes, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

2. - WHAT IS IMPLIED BY THIS STATEMENT?

 

1. The conscious knowledge of the speaker Himself of all the difficulties and contingencies which in the future should arise to hinder the fulfilment of these His words.

 

Undoubtedly He could and did both foreknow, and foresee, all the eventualities that would seek to hinder the fulfilment of His words.This Man of Nazareth was therefore superhuman, and supernatural, in His knowledge and foresight.None other than God Himself could thus forecast, and foretell the happenings of the future.

 

2. In the second place, this statement "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away," implies that the Speaker Himself had at His command, power and wisdom sufficient to meet and control any combination of opposing forces.

 

Take for example the predictions in St. Matthew 24: 14, with regard to the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, as a witness to all nations.As we look back upon the history of the past nineteen centuries, what tremendous forces have been and still are arrayed against this divine programme.Empires, governments, kings, princes, public opinion, have done all they could devise to prevent the preaching of the Gospel.

 

False systems of religion down the ages have tended to silence those who have sought to preach the Gospel.Yet to-day, as never previously, the Gospel is being preached as a witness to the nations.Men may plot and plan, and all the powers of hell with all the unseen demons of darkness may do what they may, yet He Who was the lowly Jesus of Nazareth has at His disposal wisdom and might, greater and stronger than any seen or unseen opposing forces.

 

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

3. This statement implies the conscious unchangeableness of His purpose.

 

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words, under conceivable contingency, will neither be modified or altered.There is only one Person who could thus speak, and that is our unchangeable God.

 

4, What reference has this statement to the doctrines our Lord taught?

 

There is nothing ambiguous, vague or hazy about what our Lord taught when He was here upon earth.He did not mince His words.He told men that they were slaves of sin, and in consequence they were lost spiritually.That no man could either see or enter the Kingdom of God unless he was "born again" - born from above.He taught that He had come to this earth for the very purpose of making this "new birth" possible, and to shed His own life-blood as menís substitute for the "remission of sins."He therefore gave His Life "a ransom for many."He taught that He would rise again from the dead, triumphant over the grave, and ascend to heaven, to the Fatherís right hand, and would come back again a "second time" to this earth "with power and great glory" and that all men should be summoned before the judgment bar of God.

 

It is just here, in this enlightened democratic century, that many theologians wish to cross swords with the Lord Jesus.They say they cannot accept the same religious teaching that was promulgated in the first century.Those that believe in the ipsissima verba of Christ, they say, must recognize that there is such a thing as "progressive revelation"; that men therefore know more to-day than either our Saviour or His disciples did.

 

Modern scholars may say what they like but they cannot get away from what the Saviour said, when He was here upon earth, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

5. Let us apply this statement to the warnings of our Lord.He gave us warnings many - "He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."

 

Surely this refers to our Lordís utterances, as well as to His claims!That we are not wrong in thus interpreting this verse, we find as the result of a close study of the following passages - St. John 6., verses 63 and 64."The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, they are life, but there are some of you that believe not."To whom did our Lord refer?Who was it amongst His followers that did not believe in the words and utterances of his Master?Our Lord tells us in verse 71 "He spake of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon."Then we conclude that to disbelieve the words and utterances of Jesus Christ is to have the spirit of Judas Iscariot.

 

Look again at another remarkable statement of our Lordís; in St. John, chapter 8., verse 47, "He that is of God heareth Godís words; ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God. Our Lord thus definitely testifies that His words are the very utterances of God Himself.

 

This is a tremendous position for any man to take up; but in our Lordís High Priestly prayer, St. John 17., verse 8, He says, "For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me."Language cannot be plainer, He Himself substantiated this very clearly in St. John, chapter 12., verses 47-50."If any man hear My words and believe not, I judge him not! - he that rejecteth Me and receiveth not My words hath One that judgeth him.The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day, for I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me He gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.Whatsoever I speak therefore even as the Father said unto me, so I speak."

 

Man may ignore these statements - many do; men may cavil at them - many do!Men may prove to their own satisfaction that these words do not mean what some people think they do; yet over and against their ignoring, their cavilling, their discarding, their explaining away, stands this tremendously solemn statement, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

6. Let us apply this statement to the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

"Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

 

"Him that corneth unto Me, I will in no wise cast out."

 

"I will give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish."

 

"I will not leave thee nor forsake thee."

 

These and hundreds of other promises, our Lord assures us are in the eternal purposes of God for those who believe and accept Him."Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

7. Let us apply this statement to His predictions.What are predictions but promises and warnings?

 

Our Lord predicted that there would come false prophets, or teachers, and as a result of their false teaching "iniquity should abound" and the love of many wax cold, there would be "distress amongst nations," perplexity, menís hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things are coming on the earth.He foretold that at the very period when He should come the second time His own professed servants should slumber and sleep, and not be ready for His coming.

 

He clearly indicated that the professing Church in the last days would comprise two, distinct classes of people, "the wise and the foolish," "the wheat and the tares," the professing and the possessing Christian and that there would come a great separation day, when He would come as lightning from heaven suddenly unexpectedly and unannounced.In St. Luke 13: 25 He very solemnly predicted the fate of those who would not be ready, the unprepared, the professor who was not a possessor [and the possessor who was not watchful.].

 

When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, ďLord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not, whence ye are.Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence."

 

That is to say, We have knelt at the Lord's table, we have partaken of the Lord's supper or Holy Communion."Thou hast taught in our streets," yes, we have attended the House of God, we have heard Thy word expounded, but He shall say,"I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me all ye workers of iniquity."

 

What bitter disappointment there will be that day amongst the so-called Christians of Christendom who are not ready for His coming. These words may seem hard to understand, but let us never forget that He Who spoke them said,

 

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

 

In the light therefore, of our study of our Lordís statement, and His testimony both to Himself and to His words and to His utterances, let us take all the more heed to what He said, and to what He promised, what He warned, and what He predicted, for this we know, "God manifest in the flesh" in the form of the lowly Jesus of Nazareth, said,

 

"HEAVEN AND EARTH SHALL PASS AWAY, BUT MY WORDS SHALL NOT PASS AWAY."

 

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THE FATAL LINE.

By DR. ALEXANDER.

There is a line by us unseen
That crosses every path-
The hidden boundary between
Godís patience and His wrath.

To pass that limit is to die-
To die as if by stealth;
It does not quench the beaming eye,
Nor pale the glow of health.

The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirits light and gay;
That which is pleasing still may please,
And care be thrust away.

But on that forehead God has set
Indelibly a mark,
(Unseen by man, for man, as Yet,
Is blind and in the dark).

Indeed, the doomíd oneís path below
May, bloom as Eden bloomíd;
He did not, does not, will not know,
Or feel, that he is doomíd.

He feels, perchance, that all is well,
And every fear is calmíd;
He lives, he dies, he wakes in Hell-
Not only doomíd, but damníd.

Oh where is that mysterious bourn
By which our path is crossíd
Beyond which God Himself hath sworn
That he who goes is lost?