Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 25, 1966

On The New Commandment

R.B. Rasmussen

It seems that the so called christian religions are waging a war against God's word as revealed in the New Testament. It is difficult to see by what rationale the various denominations warrant an attack on the sacred writings, for from them come the only motivation for their very existence. To reject the scriptures is to reject any claim to the title Christian or any faith in the name of Jesus Christ.

One of the battles waged against the authority of New Testament teachings centers on the statement of Jesus found in John 13:34. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." The argument is offered that Jesus brought one "new" commandment, which is to be observed along with the ten commandments of the Old Testament.

Before examining this argument let us observe the objective of its presentation. By observing only eleven commandments, men can rationalize their flagrant violations of New Testament teachings by declaring such to be non essential to man's living at peace with God. What violations? Consider the number of sects which ignore the Bible teachings such as the weekly observation of the Lord's supper; the essentiality of baptism; or even the deity of Jesus Christ. Or how many sects go beyond the authority of the New Testament by adding instrumental music to their worship; wearing sectarian names such as Baptist or Lutheran; or recognizing the castes of clergy and laity? Pure and simple, this is a doctrine of "anything goes".

The question is whether the "eleven commandments" doctrine is sustained by the New Testament. That it is not sustained is demonstrated by the following counter examples. Peter commanded Cornelius' household to be baptized in Acts 10:48; and in Acts 17:30, Paul said that God commands all men to repent. Surely, it is evident that the New Testament contains many commandments besides the "eleven", so that the new commandment doctrine indeed contradicts these scriptures, and thus enters the realm of the imaginings of men. But do all New Testament teachings represent the authority of Jesus Christ? This question will be answered before this study ends.

In further consideration of Jesus' statement, let us ask whether the Jews, under Old Testament law, were able to love one another. The answer is yes, for they were commanded to "love thy neighbor as thyself." (Lev. 19:18) It appears that the new commandment was not new after all. Was Jesus mistaken? The absurdity of this thought proves that there is more to this new commandment than appears at face value.

A second look at the passage shows that we have ignored the key words "even as I have loved you." Christ's disciples are to exhibit a love for one another even as he loved them. In John 15:17, Jesus said "these things I command you that ye may love one another." Jesus' commandments (plural) were given that his disciples might be able to love one another. By keeping the commandments of Jesus the love of God is perfected in all his disciples. (1 Jno. 2:4,5) What ingredient of love was lacking under Old Testament law which was contained in the law of Christ? Recalling that Jesus' love was representative of God's love (Jno. 15:9), which made possible salvation and eternal life (Jno. 3:16), we again find the major difference between the old and new laws, the dividing wedge between the old and new testaments.

Now refer to 1 Jno. 5:2,3. The love of God is in the keeping of his commandments, and we love one another when we keep God's commandments. But Jesus' words are God's words (Jno. 14:23,24), and Jesus' words are his commandments (1 Jno. 2:4,5). Jesus taught that any man who keeps his commandments loves him (Jno. 14:21), and any man who loves him, keeps his commandments. (Jno. 14:15) Therefore, the keeping of Christ's commandments comprises the necessary and sufficient conditions of living one another. Significant? Yes, because this shows that love and salvation depend entirely upon the commandments of Jesus, and are entirely removed from the realm of man's inventions. (see also Jno. 12:47 , 48 and Jno. 17:17)

Having seen that the commandments, sayings, words, and truth are one and the same thing, consider the following thoughts. Man is to live by the words of God. (Mt. 4:4) Must these words be orally spoken to every man? No, God inspired a few men, placing this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7), so that the many men might believe the things written by the inspired few. (1 Con 14:37) It is even as Jesus said, "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (Jno. 20:29) How shall any man believe except he be taught of the holy scriptures? How shall any man be a Christian except he keep every word of the inspired writings?

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