EDMOND, Okla. (BNC) by Phil Sanders — I was recently questioned about precision obedience and whether it is a valid theology. I would recommend to all who wish to know the answer to this question to study the book of Deuteronomy. Throughout the book are specific instructions as to how we are to respond to the commandments and precepts that come from God.
I spent many hours reading and re-reading the book in several versions.
I purchased a copy of the Tanakh (an English translation of the Jewish scriptures) in order to see how they understood the passages. I found that God expects us to obey Him lovingly (12x), fearfully (15x), completely (31x), carefully (27x in NASB), and accurately. We were to do “just as the Lord commanded” (69x in the Pentateuch) and act “according to the commandment” (43x). We were to go neither to the right or left (5x), to walk in His ways, to not turn from the way. We were neither to add to nor take away from His commandments (Dt. 4:2; 12:32).
Any serious student would immediately see the importance of these repetitious instructions.
What cinched it for me was how many times Jesus used words like “keep” and “observe,” words which reflect careful obedience. I noticed to how Jesus would not act on his own initiative, how He did “just as” the Father commanded (Jn. 14:31). I did not make up the idea of “precision obedience.” I found it in the text, where it was all the time. I find these quotations from the Tanankh quite revealing:
When they have announced to you the verdict in the case, you shall carry out the verdict that is announced to you from that place that the Lord chose, observing scrupulously all their instructions to you. You shall act in accordance with the instructions given you and the ruling handed down to you; you must not deviate from the verdict that they announce to you either to the right or to the left. (Deut. 17:9c-11)
Be careful, then, to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. Do not turn aside to the right or to the left: follow only the path that the Lord your God has enjoined upon you, so that you may thrive and that it may go well with you, and that you may long endure in the land you are to possess. (5:29,30 JPS)
Handling aright the word of truth, paying close attention, not acting on our own initiative, and keeping the commandments mean we too should have a loving, careful, fearful, complete, and accurate obedience.
Precisely obeying means we use bread and fruit of the vine, not roast lamb on the Lord’s table. It means we sing from our hearts rather than play or entertain ourselves. It means we have a plurality of elders rather than a single pastor, an archbishop, or a pope. It means we immerse penitent believers instead of sprinkling infants.
In short, it means we do not go beyond the Scriptures for our faith or practice, instead we show our love for God by listening and doing what He says in Scripture rather than pursue our own thoughts.
This is not that hard to understand, and it is thoroughly biblical!
Phil is speaker for the television program “In Search of the Lord’s Way.” He posted this reply on his Facebook wall today.