“Get in there and clean your room now!” For those of us who are moms, we’ve said it. For those of us who aren’t, we have had it said to us. This is a declarative sentence that parents use which leaves absolutely no doubt as to exactly what the parent wants from the child. When a parent says this and the child doesn’t go clean their room, no amount of excuses will work to get them out of trouble. A child can’t say, “Oh, I didn’t understand what you meant.” Or “Well, I didn’t understand which room you wanted me to clean.” The meaning was very clear. The parent wanted you (the child) to clean your own room, and they wanted it done immediately.
Luckily for us, these pointed declarative statements are also a way that God communicates with us. Throughout Scripture, there are many times when God plainly says, “Do this!” In these times, it is up to us to decide whether or not to obey, but we need to understand that just like a child with their parent, if we choose to disobey, there will be consequences.
In Scripture we see Jesus plainly expecting people to follow the direct commandments He has given us. In John 13:34 He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: ‘just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.’” There is no option of, “if you want to.” Jesus said it so it is up to us to do it.
This is pretty common sense for everyone, but there are many out there who claim that only Christ had the authority to issue commands. Therefore, anything written by the apostles is not necessarily something we need to listen to today. These people claim that the letters written by the apostles were just friendly letters for the people of the time and don’t apply to us today at all. Not so! I Corinthians 14:37 reads, “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Whose authority did Paul issue commands by? Certainly not his own, but the authority of God the Father! That makes every command issued by Paul just as binding on us today as those given by Christ Himself.
Those who refuse to acknowledge the commands of the apostles as inspired and authoritative are doing themselves and their souls a great disservice. They are refusing to acknowledge a great portion of God’s teachings for His church, but that will not change the fact that God will still hold them accountable for those teachings.
A final thought to keep in mind regarding the commands we are given in Scripture: some of the commands we are given are very specific, and some are not. For example, Matthew 28:19-20 reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” In this passage we have both generic and specific commands.
Many people believe that the command in this passage is to “go”. Actually, based on the Greek this word would have been better translated, “as you are going”. It is a generic term referring to as you go about your daily life. So how we go is entirely up to us. As we wait in line at Wal-Mart, as we visit with our friends, as we go about our jobs or our schooling, in all we do we are to, “make disciples” which is the actual command in this verse. It is also very specific as to how we are to make disciples, we are to make disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This specification eliminates the ideas of making disciples by sprinkling, pouring, praying, or “asking Jesus into you heart,” it specifies that a disciple is made by the act of baptism. This passage also commands us to teach these disciples the teachings of God. We have no choice about what we teach people. We can’t teach them our own thoughts and opinions and beliefs; we are to teach them the commandments of God. But once again, this commandment is generic in regards to how we teach. We can have Bible classes, we can use the TV and radio, we can have one-on-one Bible studies, rent a billboard. We can teach any way we choose, as long as we teach only the commandments of God.
Fortunately for us, direct commands are a very clear, easily understood way that God has chosen to make His will known to us. We find them all throughout Scripture, and in regards to a variety of issues and topics. The point is that God has given us His good and perfect will, and He has told us what He expects of us. It is up to us to spend the time in study to understand what that will is, and then act on our understandings and teach them to others.