Teach Them to Observe All Things
Just before Jesus ascended to His Father, He spoke to them the words in the title above (Matthew 28:18-20). He was handing His authority over to His apostles who would take the leadership role in establishing the remainder of the foundation for His church. His apostles would be leading the new church in teaching the gospel and teaching Christ’s will to the Christians who would submit to that gospel. It has been noted by many that Jesus did not choose to give this authority to the rich and powerful of this world, nor to well-spoken orators, nor even to the highly educated. He gave this authority to very simple men whose only claim to the Lord was as humble servants. And of His apostles, the only one who was well educated, discounted his education and considered himself to be the least of the apostles.
Now certainly, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to inspire these simple men as they would teach this new message of salvation to the world and help the early church to become grounded in the truths Jesus had in mind for His body. However, this inspiration would only last until the last apostle died. And it is worth noting that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, some of the Lord’s Christians would have such divine inspiration as well to help them teach the Lord’s truths. However, it is also clear in the New Testament that when the last of this generation of Christians died (those who had the apostles’ hands laid upon them for this purpose) there would no longer be such divine inspiration through living men. However, there would be no need for such, for in the first century the Holy Spirit would inspire some of these apostles as well as some New Testament prophets to write the Lord’s truths so that men and women could not only know them for themselves, but especially so they could teach these truths. These inspired writings have become part of what we have today which we know as the Bible. We have been blessed with such writings for the past 2,100 years, so that we do not need any further divinely inspired writers.
What I have written until now in this article has simply been an introduction to the primary point I wish to make. Just as the Lord Jesus’ will was that His message would go through ordinary men, it is also the Lord’s will throughout these centuries that ordinary men would teach these same truths to others. It was always the Lord’s intent the NT gospel as well as the NT doctrines be taught by ordinary men (as well as women in an informal manner).
We can see this principle throughout the book of Acts as only Christians taught the Lord’s will. In other words, even in Acts 2 the gospel was preached through the mouths of men! Surely the Holy Spirit could have chosen to preach this message thunderously from the Old Testament temple or any other location if He had chosen, but it was not the Lord’s will that this happen. He spoke through the apostles. When the gospel was preached to the Eunuch in Acts 8, it was preached through Philip. Yes, an angel told Philip where to go, but Philip did the teaching. In Acts 9, Jesus spoke to the Pharisee, Saul, and sent him to Damascus, but he sent a Christian named Ananias to preach the gospel to Saul. Certainly, Jesus could have spoken this message to Saul when He spoke to him on that road, but He did not. He left it to a man! One final example is Cornelius in Acts 10. An angel told Cornelius to send for the apostle Peter while the Lord gave to Peter the vision of the animals upon the sheet. The angel and the Lord could have easily spoken to Cornelius of the gospel, but it was the Lord’s will that a man, Peter, preach that gospel to Cornelius. There is not one example in Acts of an angel, the Lord, or His Spirit or any other means for the gospel to be preached. It was always done by a man!
This principle continues to this day that ordinary men and women teach the Lord’s truths based on the NT Scriptures. This is consistent with Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:10, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” We see this throughout His congregations as ordinary men teach the Lord’s truths to one another. The Lord uses fallible men like you and me to teach His truths to those in the world and to His people. Let us never take this privilege for granted, and let us always take this divinely given responsibly seriously and reverently. May God be glorified through what we teach!
“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14).