Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
Note: Parts 1 and 2 originally appeared on my blog, under the title of A Question of Authority. Some of this material first appeared as comments on Steven Davison's blog post, Scripture--Picking and Choosing.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt. 18:18-20)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)
There are 22 incidents of the phrase “in my name” in the King James Bible. Possibly the most often quoted in-my-name passages come from the above texts. The first occurrence, and perhaps the least understood, is in Deut. 18:19, speaking about the prophet like Moses God is promising to raise up. Some of those probably are better understood as actually “in my name,” but many have to do with speaking or acting in the authority of God or the authority of Christ. The Deut. passage illustrates the change of meaning when one phrase or the other is used. I quote it here using “authority”.
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee [Moses], 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 [authority], I will require it of him. (Deut. 18:18-19)
Anyone can invoke the name of Jesus Christ or God, and many do in all manner of circumstances; some as a curse, others as the ending to a prayer. But usually such invokers do not speak with authority. To speak or to act in the authority of God or the authority of Christ implies prior arrangements and an existing relationship that makes such a thing possible. You can’t speak in the authority of the government without having that obligation conferred to you by some commission.
Consider the following questions concerning the above passages of scripture:
The Deut. 18 text is pivotal to understanding the work of Christ, and to understand the issue of authority. A brief glance at the background will show why.
At the mountain, in Deut. 5, the people heard the voice of God speaking from the cloud and saw the fire. They cried out, “Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.” (Deut. 5:25) They requested that Moses be the intermediary between them and God. Even though God says they have spoken well, he does not leave them there. Moses tells them that God has humbled them and let them be hungry that they may know and understand that man “does not live by bread alone. But by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God shall man live.” (Deut. 8:3) This is the import of the prophet like Moses. The prophet, speaking with the authority of God, is the mediator of life. Jesus picks up on that theme in John 6:63 saying “The flesh profits nothing, the breath gives life. The words I speak/have spoken to you these are breath, these are life.” As there is no life without hearing the voice of this prophet raised up by God, so there is no speaking or acting in the authority of Christ without obeying that voice.
In my next post, I will look at examples from the writings of the early Quakers that point to answers to some of the above questions
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