Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 4, 1970

Christ, Our Commander

George Welsh Tyler

Isa. 55:4 reads as follows: "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the peoples." The word, "Commander," suggests to our mind a military leader in war. It is quite possible that the Jews, suffering under first one oppressive tyrant then another, interpreted this prophecy as promising a literal, conquering sword-bearer. In Rom. 12:26 Paul quotes from Isa. 59:20 which reads, "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer." In Isaiah 11:10 is used the term "Ensign." This also is a military designation. Christ said, "Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" Matt. 10:34. These terms all sound military and warlike. What is their real meaning if we set them over against the following statements of our Saviour. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you" (Jno. 14:27); "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9); "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Matt. 26:52).

When we turn to the title Paul used in Heb. 2:10, "Captain of their salvation" the matter begins to clear up. In it is revealed something of the nature and purpose of the captaincy of Christ. He is Captain of a salvage corps rather than an avenging army. More light is thrown on the matter in Eph. 6:17 where Paul plainly tells us that the sword is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." In fact a clear idea of the kind of battle Christ is to lead as Commander can be had from a careful study of Eph. 6:10 to 18 which describes the Christian armor. Here again the terms used are drawn from military equipment; but, the correct interpretation given of each item makes clear what the nature of the battle is to be and against whom it is to be waged. The loins are to be "girded with truth;" the front is to be protected by "the breastplate of righteousness;" the feet are to be shod with the preparation of "the gospel of peace;" the shield to be used is "the shield of faith;" the helmet protecting the head is "the helmet of salvation;" the only weapon of offense is "the sword of the Spirit, the word of God."

Going back to the original thought, the Commander is Christ, the Son of the living God. The word "Captain" here means a leader, commander, one who is at the head of an army or other company leading them to a goal or place of destination. These words imply nothing less than implicit obedience to all of the commands of the captain, commander or leader under whom they are serving. All must cooperate to the fullest extent with superior officers.

Christ is our superior officer and his commands are not to be called in question by mere man regardless of whom he is or the station he may occupy in the minds of fallible men. So far as I know none of our preachers have ever attempted to prove that immersion, as such, has any more virtue than sprinkling or pouring. The reason for this is that Christ unquestionably commanded immersion when He commanded baptism "into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Paul in Rom. 6:4 says, "We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death." Again, Col. 2:12 Paul says they "were buried with him in baptism." Isa. 62:2 tells us that at some future time God's people would be given "a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name." God's people were given a new name first at Antioch, Acts 11:26. This was a propitious time for Jehovah to give the new name. Jew and Gentile now make up the church and a name was given by which all of them could be known. Out of loyalty to Christ we insist on wearing the royal name "Christian" which is, no doubt, the one "the mouth of Jehovah gave."

When we come to fully realize that this Jesus, Saviour, Redeemer, Messiah, Captain, Leader and Commander is truly the Son of God with all authority, and that His commands just cannot be replaced by the opinions, reasonings or conclusions of men we have again discovered the very truths for which our fathers of the Restoration age so earnestly contended.

Christ is not only our Leader and Commander to lead us into the fold of safety; but, also the Leader and Commander of all His forces in the fight to restore righteousness upon the earth. No matter how much we may desire peace, the fact remains that when all wars, big or small, declared or undeclared are over, the battle in which Christ is Commander will still be on with all the intensity Satan can muster, every Christian is a soldier, faithful or unfaithful. Which are you? Brethren and sisters, read your Bibles, pray and think about which position you presently occupy. If among the unfaithful get back among the faithful while it is yet time.

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