I became a Christian when I was 20 years old, during my second year at the Naval Academy. However, my conversion was set up for me beforehand, because I learned two things prior to becoming a Christian: authority and obedience. I learned these in bootcamp, and I learned them in plebe year. When I received Christ my sophomore year, I already knew what authority and obedience were. I could see them everywhere in the New Testament.
The New Testament is full of commands that are very clear. But I see that Christians do not pay much attention to them. Here are a few of these commands:
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say—rejoice! Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
These commands are all-encompassing and without loopholes. There are no exceptions.
I recently had an acquaintance tell me he liked the New Testament better than the Old Testament because the Old Testament was filled with commands, and the New Testament is filled with grace. Well, I don’t know what he’s been reading—the New Testament is filled with commands!
The Christian life is one of authority and obedience. Of course, the obedience is done by grace; that is the only way the commands can be obeyed. But they are still to be done!
Pay attention as you read through the New Testament this summer. Look for the commands.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
“Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
These are big commands—but it is a big God who gives them and provides for us so that we can obey them.
So pay attention as you read through the New Testament. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commands” (John 14:15). The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus tells us that the way to do this is to obey Him. This is not a legalistic obedience. It is loving the Person who gave us the command. If we love Him, we obey Him.
Please join us in reading the New Testament this summer with the Same Page Summer reading plan. Details at samepagesummer.com.