Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 9, 1956

A Constitutional Monarchy


Monarchy: "A state or country in which the supreme power is either actually or nominally lodged in the hands of a single person; the system of government in which the supreme power is vested in a single person; the territory ruled by a monarch; a kingdom; an empire."

The church of Jesus Christ is a monarchy. It is not a democracy, nor yet an oligarchy, and certainly not a plutocracy. It is under the absolute and exclusive rule of Jesus Christ. He is the supreme and only ruler. Yet Jesus rules his church through a constitution, rather than by fiat or day by day dictate. That is, he has given a body of law, expressing his will, and every activity of every subject is to be in harmony with the law.

In our American government we have a central document of unique importance which we call The Constitution. This "constitution" is the embodiment of the principles by which this whole nation is governed. The various statute laws (both federal, state, and local) are the development of those principles into actual, specific mandates and prohibitions. The activities of the various law enforcing agencies are the application of those principles to various individuals and situations. The humblest citizen in the land can, if he desires, appeal to the supreme authority — The Constitution — for his protection. No law-making body can pass any statute, and no law-enforcing agency can enforce any legislation contrary to the Constitution. Ultimately every statute of every law-making body, federal, state, or local, must be measured by the Constitution. If not in harmony with that document, it is null and void.

In a spiritual sense the constitution of the New Testament church is that statement of the Lord which we describe as "The Great Commission." Here are the words of it as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John:

  1. "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:19, 20
  2. "Go ye into all the world. and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned." Mark 16:15. 16
  3. "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:46, 47
  4. "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit: whosoever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained." John 20:22, 23

These brief words contain the embodiment of the principles of Christianity. The preaching of the apostles was the development or unfolding of those principles. And the practice of the apostolic church was the application of those principles.

The entire scheme of redemption is a unit. Each part of it is tied in inextricably with every other part. There can be no separation and isolation of texts and principles. Every item of teaching by an inspired apostle can be traced right back to the constitution — The Great Commission. Whether it be baptism, or repentance, or the faithful discharge of any Christian duty that is enjoined by an apostle, the basic, fundamental idea of that is found in the Great Commission. We see easily enough how the primary obedience of the gospel is there set forth; but how about those specific duties, obligations, and Christian activities which fill the life of the true disciple? Are they not all embraced and contemplated in the "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you"? Is it the Lord's Supper that we view? Paul says, "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me." (1 Cor. 11:23, 24.) Is it the exercise of Christian charity or benevolence? Then, "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." The practice of the apostolic church was simply the application of that teaching.

Thus every activity of the Christian and of the church as such, must be measured in the light of the law which expresses the will of the Monarch. No matter how much a certain activity may recommend itself to the judgment and discretion of a disciple, his judgment and his discretion are not the final arbiters. And no matter how unnecessary or insignificant or trivial some specific ordinance may appear, if it is embodied in the teaching of Christ or the apostles; or if from the practice of the apostolic church we necessarily infer that some certain activity was enjoined by the apostles, we cannot ignore it or disregard it. All things must be measured by "Thus saith the word of the Lord."

Christ is a Monarch, absolute and unique. Yet he governs his kingdom by a body of law. This law (in principle, development, and application) is set forth and preserved for us in the New Testament. Here, then, is our final authority. There can be no appeal from this teaching. Even an angel from heaven is to be accursed if he should attempt to modify one syllable of that which is here recorded. No man has the right to set it aside or alter its provisions. The Lord has spoken; let his word be final in your heart.

— F. Y. T.