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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Our Highest and Final Authority

T. J. McCrossan

From The Bible and Modernism

Why the Lord Jesus Christ ought to be our highest and final authority on every subject upon which He has declared himself:


(1) Because He claims to be truth personified, and the One sent from heaven to declare God's truth. In John 14:6, Christ says: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" Then in John 18:37, He says to Pilate: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth (all who are really saved) heareth My voice." Reader, if Christ came to this world expressly to witness to God's truth, ought not His teachings to be accepted as man’s highest and final authority?


Just here recall John's words (John 1:14): "And the Word (Christ) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." Now the expression here, "full of truth" is "pleres aletheias," and literally means, "full of truth to the overflowing point," for "pleres" comes from the verb "pimplemi"- I fill to overflowing.


Now if Christ was completely filled with truth, and was "truth personified," as He claims in John 14:6, does this leave any room for the erroneous teaching the Modernists charge Him with? No wonder Christ declares (John 18:37): "Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice." In the light of these words, if we give heed to the mere opinions of Modernists, and reject the sure and certain truth taught by our Lord, we need not expect to spend eternity with Him.


(2) Again we ought to accept Christ's words as our highest and find authority, because every single word He uttered was given Him of God. In John 7:16, Christ says: "My doctrine (teaching) is not Mine, but His that sent Me." He says (John 8:28): "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself ; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things."


In John 14:10, the Lord says: "The words I speak unto you, I speak not of Myself; but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." In John 14:24, Christ declares, "The word ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's which sent Me." Note these words well, as all Modernists say: Christ taught many things which were false, having learned these from the Rabbis. Our Lord, however, denies this, and says: "The word ye hear (all words spoken during His ministry) is not mine, but the Father's which sent Me."


Again Christ says (John 17:8): "For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me." Note, Christ declares that God, the Father, gave Him every word He uttered.


In John 12:49 Christ says: "For I have not spoken of Myself ; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say (eipo), and what I should speak (laleso). (50) . . . whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak." In English there is little difference between say and speak; but note well the difference in these two Greek words. The first word "eipo" is from "epos" a word, and so refers to the very words Christ uttered. The second word is "laleso," from "laleo" I chatter, and so refers to the subject matter of all Christ's conversations. Then Christ's claim here is, that the subject matter of every conversation, and His very words were given Him by God. This is why He is able to state in John 12:50, "Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak."


Now all Modernists tell us that Christ was wrong when He declared that Moses wrote the Pentateuch; that Jonah was really swallowed by a great fish; that Daniel was a prophet; that man was created as man from the very beginning, etc. Well, if Christ is wrong, then God the Father is the false teacher and not the Lord Jesus, for Christ declares in John 12:50, "Whatsoever (ha) I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak." Let the Modernists produce any Greek scholar who would have the audacity to say that this pronoun "ha" (whatsoever) does not here include everything Christ taught while on earth.


No real Greek scholar would even attempt to deny this. We know our conclusion is correct because God said to Moses (Deut. 18:18): "I will raise them up a prophet (Christ) 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. (19) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He (Christ) shall speak in My name, I will require it of him." We know for a certainty that this great prophecy refers to Christ, for Peter so quotes it in Acts 3:22, 23.


Since the Heavenly Father only used Christ as His very own mouthpiece, no wonder He cried out at the transfiguration scene (Matt. 17:5), "This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him." As we ponder these words of our Heavenly Father, had we not better decide with Paul (Rom. 3:4) to, "Let Christ be true, and every man a liar?"


Just here some earnest soul asks: But how can we be positive that the New Testament does record the exact teachings of the Lord Jesus? Christ explains this in John 14:26: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." Again He says (John 16:13): "Howbeit when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. (14) He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you."


 The Lord Jesus here promises that when He went away the Holy Ghost would come, and make it His business to see that the disciples recorded His exact sayings. He would bring everything to their remembrance that Christ had said, and shew them exactly what the Saviour meant to teach. Now it is for us to believe the Lord Jesus, and conclude that the Holy Spirit has done His work, and done it well, just as thoroughly as Christ did His redeeming work.


(3) A third reason why we ought to accept Christ as our highest and final authority is because He is to be our Judge after death, and His recorded words will be the final court of appeal in settling our eternal destiny. In John 5:22 Christ declares: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son: (why?) (23)That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father."


Do the Modernists so honor Him?


Then John 12:48 informs us that Christ's words will settle our eternal destiny: "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." Reader, since this is so, had we not better believe His words in preference to the Modernists ?


(4) Again Christ ought to be our highest and final authority, because He came from God, and is very God.


(a) Christ claimed to have come down from above. He says in John 3:13: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from (ek-out of) heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven (ho on en to ourano-the one being in heaven)." Here Christ makes the stupendous claim that He came forth out of heaven, and yet while here on earth He was at the same time in heaven (the one being in heaven). This is a clear claim to deity. Again Christ says (John 6:38): "For I came down from heaven (ek tou ouranou-out of heaven) not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."


In John 6: 51, He says: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." Again He declares (John 8:42): "I proceeded forth and came from God: neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me." Christ here positively asserts that He lived in heaven before He came down to earth. In John 8:58 the Master asserts that He lived before Abraham: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Now, in Ex. 3:14 God tells Moses to say to Pharaoh, "I AM hath sent me unto you." Then when Christ calls Himself, "I am" (John 8:58) He not only claims to have lived before Abraham, but He makes Himself one with God the Father.


Paul assures us that Christ came down to this earth out of heaven, for he says (1 Cor. 15:47), "...the second man is the Lord from heaven (ex ouranou-out of heaven)."


Now because of this fact that Christ had lived from all eternity, and had come down to earth out of heaven, John 3:31 asserts: "He (Christ) that cometh, from above is above all: he that is of the earth (all Modernists) is earthly and speaketh of the earth (is no authority on heavenly matters, or matters after death:) He that cometh from heaven (Christ) is above all."


(b) Because Christ came from above and lived from all eternity, He claimed a knowledge of God which no Modernist possesses.


In Matt. 11:27, He says: "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." Again Christ says (John 10:15): "As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father." He knew God just as thoroughly as God knew Him. This then is a clear claim to deity.


(c) But Christ not only claims to have come from above, and to have known God as no other man ever knew Him, but He also asserts His own deity.


All Modernists deny this. They praise Christ as the best man who ever lived; as the greatest spiritual teacher of the ages, the one to whom God gave the greatest amount of divine enlightenment; as the one who ought to be our highest and noblest ideal, and our example, but only a man. They all say with Fosdick "Nobody should go to Jesus, to the manger and the cross, to find the omnipotence which swings Orion and the Pleiades." (The Presbyterian, June 5, 1924.)


Loofs speaks for all German Modernists, when he says: "All learned Protestant theologians of Germany, even if they do not do so with the same emphasis, really admit unanimously that the orthodox Christology does not do sufficient justice to the truly human life of Jesus, and that the orthodox doctrine of two natures in Christ cannot be retained." (What Is the Truth About Jesus, p. 202.) In other words all the outstanding Modernists deny the deity of Christ.


Does Christ claim to be very God?


In John 8:19 the Saviour says: "Ye neither know Me, nor My Father; if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also." His claim here is that He is the Messiah of the Old Testament, the anointed one (the Christ) spoken of by Isaiah (9:6) : "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, . . . : and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting rather." Had they known Him, the Messiah of Isaiah 9:6, they would have known God the Father, because He Himself was The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father.


This passage clearly teaches us also that all who deny the deity of Christ do so because they do not really know God the Father. In other words they are not saved. Again Christ declares (John 14:9), "Philip, he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (11) Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." What did Christ mean when He said: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father"? He meant that He was very God in the flesh. See John 1:1, 14. Again the Lord says (John 10:15): "As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father."


Here Christ claims equality with God the Father. In John 16:15, Christ asserts, "All things that the Father hath are Mine." This reads, "Panta (all things) hosa (just as many as) echei (has- Pres. tense) ho pater (the Father) ema (mine) estin (are)." Literally translated Christ here declares, "All things, just as many things as God the Father has right now, are Mine right now." In other words He really says: "At this very moment I possess every single characteristic of God the Father." He is therefore either very God, or else He is the rankest impostor the world has ever known, and ought not to be even called a good man.


Modernist, you admit that Christ was the best man the world ever knew, the wisest and most spiritual of all teachers, the one who ought to be our highest ideal. Then when He claims to be very God you must believe Him, or charge Him with being self-deluded. Was He self-deluded? Listen to Paul (Col. 2:9): "For in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (somatikos-in His physical body)."


Again Paul says (Titus 2:13; 3:4) : "The great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ." Listen also to Paul when he says regarding Christ (Rom. 9:5): "Ho (the one) on (being) epi panton (above all) theos (God.) eulogetos (blessed) eis tous aionas (unto the ages)." Literally this reads, "The One being God over all, blessed forever."


Again Paul declares (1 Cor. 1:24) that, "Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God." Now if Christ is "wisdom personified" (the wisdom of God), and is "God over all," why should He not be our highest and final authority? See also 1 Tim. 6:15 where Paul calls Christ: "The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords."


No wonder Jude calls Christ (Jude 25), "The only wise God, our Saviour." John agrees with Paul and Jude, for he says (1 John 5 20): "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true (God The Father), and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. (Note, both God the Father and Christ are here designated, `Him that is true.') This (Christ) is the true God and eternal life."


Reader, since Christ is "the wisdom of God," "the true God" and "the only wise God" (Jude 25) had we not better accept His teachings as our highest and final authority ?


(d) Having come from heaven, and being very God, no wonder Christ claims to be "The witness of God's truth to men."


In John 14:6, He says: "I am the way, the truth (truth personified) and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." He says also in John 18: 37: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice." Reader, are you of the truth? are you saved? If so then your highest and final authority on every religious question will be the teaching of the Lord Jesus.


(5) Now we have given four tremendous reasons why Christ's teachings should be our highest and final authority wherever He has declared Himself:


(a) Because He is truth personified, and came to this world on purpose to witness to God's truth.


(b) Because He claims that the subject matter of every conversation during His active ministry on earth, and the very words of all these conversations, were given Him by God the Father.


(c) Because He is to be our judge after death, and the court of final appeal in settling our eternal destiny will be Christ's words.


(d) Because He came down from heaven, and is very God, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament as predicted in Isa. 9:6.


Now lastly, we ought to accept Christ's teachings as our highest and final authority, because, if we do not we are lost souls, and cannot spend eternity with our blessed Lord. We must assuredly prove this assertion.


John is our witness. In John 8:24, Christ says "...if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." This means (see context) that if we refuse to believe that Christ was the Messiah of the Old Testament as prophesied by Isaiah, we must all die unsaved, and miss heaven. Listen to Isaiah 9:6: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Now when Christ declared to the Jews, "...if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins (unsaved)," He assuredly meant that if they refused to accept Him as their Messiah, the Almighty God of Isaiah 9:6, they could not possibly enter heaven. Has this teaching of Christ's been abrogated? Never.


Matthew is our witness (Matt. 10:33) : "But whosoever, shall deny Me before men (deny that I am the Messiah of the Old Testament and therefore refuse to serve Me), him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven."


Again Mark is our witness (Mark 8:33): "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words (prefer the teaching of Modernists) in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the Holy Angels."


Again Luke is our witness (Luke 9:26): "For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words (My teachings), of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory and in His Father's and of the Holy Angels."


Then Peter is our witness. In Acts 3:22, Peter says: "For Moses truly. said unto the fathers, A prophet (Christ) shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. (23) And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." From these words it is very evident that no one can possibly have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who refuses to accept His teachings as God's very own.


Paul also is our witness to this same great truth, for he says (Col. 2:8): "Beware lest any man spoil (make a prey of) you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (9) For in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily: (10) And ye are complete in Him (we need no other authority). (20) Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world (as all real Christians must be: see Gal. 2:19, 20), why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?" The word "subject to ordinances" is "dogmatizesthe," the Passive of "dogmatizo" ―I lay down an opinion or maxim.


Then what Paul really says is: If ye are true Christians (dead with Christ), why are you allowing yourselves to be controlled by the mere opinions and ideas of men, just as if you were worldlings (living in the world), when you have Christ's own clear teachings to guide you, "in Whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"? Paul's clear inference is, that if we allow man's teaching to influence us more than Christ's, this is positive proof that we are not genuine Christians.


Again John is our a witness that if we accept any teach-ing as true in preference to Christ's we are lost souls. In 2 John 9 we have a verse that condemns all Modernists. The Greek here reads, "Pas ho proagon kai me menon en to didache ton Christou theon ou echei." Literally this reads, "Everyone, the one advancing beyond (the teaching of Christ) and not remaining in the teaching of Christ, has not God." Here then is a clear statement that if we disbelieve or reject any plain teaching of Christ, we cannot know God; or in other words, we cannot be saved, for we can only come to God through the Lord Jesus. Christ tells us this plainly in John 14:6: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."


Christ Himself again witnesses to this same awful truth in John 8:25: "I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him (God the Father), (45) And because I tell you the truth, ye believe Me not, (47) He that is of God heareth God's words (the words God had given Jesus to speak) : ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Here then is a plain declaration from Christ Himself that all who refuse to accept His teachings along any line are not saved; they are not of God.

Again Christ teaches us the same awful truth in John 10:26: "But ye believe not (My teachings), because ye are not of My sheep, as I said unto you. (27) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."


The plain teaching then of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul and Christ Himself on this subject is, that all who are really saved, who know God and are Christ's genuine sheep, will always accept Christ's words as their supreme and final authority. According to this test do our friends, the Modernists, know God? Are they Christ's sheep? Will they spend eternity with the Lord Jesus?


Just here recall John's words (John 20:31): "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (the Messiah of Isaiah 9: 6); and that believing ye might have life through His name."


In the light of this clearest of all teachings, that if we disbelieve or reject any plain teaching of Christ's we cannot know God, had we not better resolve with Paul (Rom. 3:4) to, "Let Christ be true and every man a liar"?


All Modernists, because they read books about the Bible and not the Bible itself, assert that Christ learned much from the Jewish Rabbis, and therefore many of His teachings cannot be relied upon. This assertion is absolutely false, for Christ says in Matt. 5:27: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."


Again He says (Matt. 5:31): "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement; (32) But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever marrieth her that is divorced committeth adultery."


In fully ten places in this one chapter Christ quotes what the law and the Rabbis taught, and then He says: "But I say unto you." In Matt. 12:49, He declares that He is greater than their wisest and greatest of all Rabbis, Solomon, for He says: "Behold a greater than Solomon is here." Again He claims to be greater by far than all their priests. He says (Matt. 12:5): "Or have ye not read in the law how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? (6) But I say unto you, That in this place is one (Himself) greater than the temple." What nonsense therefore for anyone to say, "Christ taught many things which He learned from the Rabbis."


Paul shows the utter absurdity o f saying that Christ learned some things which were false from the Rabbis, when he declares (2 Cor. 3:14): "But their minds (the whole Jewish race--Priests, Rabbis, and all) were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament which veil is done away in Christ." Now if the Lord Jesus was the One who removed the veil from the Old Testament, so that men could rightly understand it, how foolish to teach that the Rabbis taught Him some things which were utterly false.


Hear Christ once again regarding the source of all His marvelous teachings. John 12:49, "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. (50) And I know that His commandment is life everlasting (eternal life depends upon receiving Christ's words as God's very own); whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak."


Again the Master says (John 18:37): "For this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth (every real born again Christian) heareth My voice."


Beloved, when the Lord Jesus Christ thus claims to have come down from heaven for the express purpose of teaching men God's own truth, and when He also claims, as we have seen, to have expressed these truths in the very words given Him by God Himself, we must either accept Him as our highest and final authority on every subject upon which He has declared Himself, or else we must reject all His teachings, and brand Him the greatest impostor and deceiver the world has ever known.


To believe all the Saviour has told us about the love of God and heaven, and disbelieve all He has told us regarding His deity, the authority of the Old Testament, the Judgment, Hell, and Everlasting Punishment, is the height of intellectual folly. Paul had this very thought in mind when he said (Col. 2:8): "Beware lest any man spoil you (make a prey of you) through philosophy, and vain deceit (Modernism) after the tradition of men . . . , and not after Christ: (9) For in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."


Reader, since the Lord Jesus Christ is "The Only Wise God, our Saviour (Jude 25) ; and since He came to earth for the purpose of witnessing to God's truth (John 18:37); and since His words must judge us after death (John 12:48), and so settle our eternal destiny, had we not better accept His teachings as our highest and final authority?


Let us then believe John when he says (John 3:31) "He that cometh from above (Christ) is above all; he that is of the earth (the Modernist) is earthly, and speaketh of the earth : He that cometh from heaven is above alt"


In the last analysis there is just one reason why any one refuses to accept Christ's teachings as their highest and final authority, and that is because they do not believe He was very God, the Christ or Messiah of Isaiah 9: 6: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; . . . , and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, etc." To deny then that Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one of God), as every real Bible student knows, means to deny His deity, that He was "The Mighty God and The Everlasting Father" of Isaiah 9: 6.


Hear John's words regarding all who thus deny the deity of Christ, or that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of Isaiah 9:6. 1 John 2:22, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christi" Turn now to Rev. 21: 8, and we read: "But the fearful, and unbelieving, . . . and murderers, and whoremongers, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone : which is the second death." Yes, there is a second death, a spiritual death, for all liars-for all who deny the deity of Jesus Christ.