Vol.V No.VIII Pg.3
October 1968

Artificial Distinctions

Robert F. Turner

I have never cared for "red letter editions" of the New Testament — that print the "words of Jesus" in red — for this makes an artificial distinction between quotations assigned to the Lord, and what the Lord teaches us through His chosen messengers.

JOH.16:12-13 reads (in red letters, no less) "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 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."

Jesus specifically states that He did not speak, in His personal ministry, all things He would have us know. He promised the Holy Spirit to these Apostles, to guide them into all the truth; and except we give the same heed to their message as we give to the "red letter" passages, we are not getting what Jesus wanted us to have. Verse 14 reads, "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."

Just prior to the Lord's ascension He met with the Apostles, opening their understanding of the Old Testament scriptures, and saying. "Ye are witnesses of these things (Fulfillment, rt) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (LUK.24:45, 48-49).

When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Apostles (ACT.2:) and they "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" they then had access to the "all truth" Jesus had promised. Peter's reply to the heart-pricked mob: ("Repent, and be baptized every one of you..". ACT.2:38) is as much the teaching of Jesus Christ as any passage printed in "red letters".

Another concept, common among many but equally damaging to the reception of our Lord's will, is the artificial distinction in the Lord's teaching and "church doctrine" or "ordinances". Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Prayer, etc., are as much a part of the teaching of the Lord as are the beatitudes, the "golden rule", or other portions of the sermon on the mount. The true church of Christ is not the source of any binding doctrine; i.e., binding doctrines do not rest upon the authority of the church. Those doctrines that have originated among men, such as: infant sprinkling, confession to and absolution by a "priesthood" and mystical concepts re. the Lord's Supper, are erroneous and vain.

But false "church doctrines" concerning baptism, etc., do not invalidate the teachings of Christ on these subjects. Christ said, (in red letters) "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved..."(MAR.16:16). We observe the Lord's Supper, not because the "church" commands it, but because the Lord commanded it (LUK.22:19-20; 1CO.11:23-f). The true church rests upon Christ's authority and teaching (MAT.16:18,18:15-f).

If you think you can "follow Christ" but ignore his teaching, think again!