To the Law and to the Testimony
One of my many mentors as I was young and endeavoring to learn how to preach, a respected gentleman named Fred E. Dennis. He often began his sermons with the following statements from Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony.” He would then begin his sermon with directness and purpose, insisting upon its acceptance because of it (the gospel) being God’s power to save (Romans 1:16 – 17), and without which man is eternally lost (2 Thessalonians 1: 7 – 9). While some refused the message, even as they do today, it nonetheless remained “the law and the testimony.”
The remaining of Isaiah’s statement bears review. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Isa. 8:19 – 22 emp. mjd.) While an Old Testament prophesy, the “reason” sinful souls would not accept and speak as the law and the testimony is because “there is no light in them.” That “reason” is just as true today as it was in Isaiah’s time. From John 1:1 – 5 tells us that the Word (Jesus, verses 14 and 17) was the Light of men; that this Light shines in darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not. Why do those in darkness not comprehend this Light? Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
There is a REASON God’s word is called “law”. The definition of “law” is “a rule established by authority.” (Webster) The Authority involved with the Patriarchal Law, the Mosaic Law, and the Law of Christ is GOD THE FATHER! (Hebrews 1:1-2) The AUTHORITY had a plan from the beginning to save obedient souls from their sins (Ephesians 3: 8 – 12). Therefore, it should not surprise any reader of the Bible to note the several “shadows” from the Old Testament that depict the very image of God’s plan within the New Testament. (Hebrews 10: 1 – 10). The fulfillment of God’s plan came through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:11 – 12), and the NEW LAW is now the “rule established by authority” (Matthew 28:18). This is why Jesus could say with absolute authority, “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.” (John 12:48)
Many claim they give “testimonials” during their time of devotion, but their practice of religion is not according to the LAW. Therefore, their “testimony” cannot be “lawful.” Both LAW and TESTIMONY are the same. The word “testimony” comes from the same root word as we gain “testament.” The word “testament” appears no less than seventeen times in the New Testament, which we know is the LAW of Christ Jesus! (Hebrews 1:1-10). From this same passage, the inspired writer clearly tells us “He (God – the Authority) took away the first (written law/testament) that he may establish the second. By the which will (i.e., testament/law) we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” This new LAW REQUIRES every soul hear it (Romans 10:17), believe it (John 8:32), confess their belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32; Acts 8:37), repent of your sins (Acts 17:30), and be immersed (i.e., baptized) into Christ for the remission of sins (Romans 6:1-6). The penalty stated within the LAW for disobedience is eternal death (2 Thessalonians 1: 7 – 9). It seems unfathomable that any reasonable person, with the capacity to read, study, learn and obey this LAW, would refuse to do so – yet multitudes do!
Further, the LAW contains instructions for the obedient life following immersion into Christ. Every letter of the New Law (testament) from Romans through Revelation is written to an obedient child of God, either individually or collectively. Within these letters (commonly called “books” of the N.T.) are instructions of what to say and what to do as a Christian. Condensing all these commandments, Paul states, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17) In order to know these commandments, the obedient soul will diligently read, study, learn and obey the content of the LAW (i.e., the New Testament.) This too is commanded (2 Timothy 2:17; Colossians 3:16); and this too is frequently ignored as “unnecessary,” by all too many souls!
So, what are we FAITHFUL ones to do? Are we somehow “exempted” from the LAW after we’ve endeavored to live it, teach it to others, and by it guide our lives as we add to our faith the needed works of salvation? (2 Peter 1: 1 – 10) Certainly not! There is no authority given from the Authority to stifle our continued growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) nor our consistent service in His kingdom! (Revelation 2:10; 14:13) It is by our faithfulness others are taught (Matthew 5:16) and led to the saving power of Jehovah God. This is the law and the testimony!
Oh, that all of us who claim to be children of God would PROVE such by ALL that we say and do!! Just as it was in Isaiah’s time, so it is today: when “they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Let us all PROVE ALL THINGS (1Thessalonians 5:22) and never be ashamed to stand and speak boldly the contents of the law and the testimony!