By W.A. Draves, Elder in the Church of Christ

"And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron."--Hebrews 5:4.

The Old Way and the New

God is a God of order. Bible history from the days of the patriarchs to the end of the Old Testament demonstrates this truth.

When God needed men to act for him, he spoke to them by his own voice, by visions, by dreams, and by angels--the living prophets were chosen of him. They spoke the words of the Lord, as also did the priests in his service.

When the authority of the ministry was under discussion in New Testament times, they knew of no better example than that of Aaron to illustrate their own experience. "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God." (Hebrews 5:1.) [1]

As an example, Jesus, our Divine Pattern, was submissive to the same unchangeable law of divine call and ordination. (Heb. 5:5, 6, 10)

Called of God

Aaron was called through the prophet Moses (Exodus 28:1). He did not "take the honor unto himself." God wanted him for a special work and told Moses to set him apart for that work.  He was not selected by the congregation of elders, nor because he was educated for the ministry, nor because he felt a personal call to act as a priest.  He was called and selected by God himself, through Moses.

In the New Testament, John the Baptist was the man sent of God. (Luke 1:13-17; John 1:6)  When he baptized Jesus the Heavens spoke, "This is my Beloved Son ..."  John answered him, "Behold the Lamb of God ..." (John 1:29)  The prophets had foretold their coming and ministry.  There can be no authorized ministry without Divine declaration and appointment.  The right to act for someone else constitutes authority; and authority can never rise above its source.

Apostolic Authority

When Jesus began to build his church he did not invent some new way.  He made the "Old" become the "New".  He followed the ancient established order.

In case his disciples should ever forget their calling he warned them: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain."  Also: "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 15:16; 20:21) They were given authority through divine call and equally divine ordination and sent forth by their Master, Jesus the Christ.

Jesus commanded them to: "…pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest..."  (Luke 10:2)  This was a definite indication to His disciples that the selection of men for the ministry was not left to there own judgment.  It was reserved for God. The same Lord who said, "I will build My Church," reserved to himself the right to set it in order and fill vacant offices.  Man is only an instrument whom God uses to labor among men.

Paul, when writing of the organization of the Church, said: "God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets..." (I Corinthians 12:28)  God set them there and appointed their replacements when it became necessary, just as He sustained the spiritual gifts.  (I Corinthians 12:11)  Man could no more call men, set them in the Church and give them authority to administer in sacred things, than he could give them power to work miracles, cast out devils, speak in tongues, etc.  Appointing the ministers belonged to the Lord during the days the Church remained faithful.  So does it today.  One part of the Lord’s gospel plan cannot be done away with any more than another, so long as God is in the work.  If gifts and blessings are done away, then faith and salvation must be done away, and woe to this generation if such a thing befalls them.

The Apostolic Method

Jesus said of those he had called to the ministry, when commending them to His Father, "I pray for them...which thou hast given Me; for...they are Thine, and all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them." (John 17:5-12)  It was after "all night in prayer to God" that "…He called unto Him His disciples: and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles."  No doubt those whom He selected had been already made known to Him by the Father. (Luke 6:12-I3)

Until the day He ascended Jesus personally did all the work of setting men apart for the ministry.  With the removal of His earthly visible presence, Jesus promised to send them another "Comforter...even the Spirit of Truth…" to dwell with them and be in them.  The Holy Spirit was to take the place of Jesus and carry on His work.  He said: "…He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 15:26; 16:13-15)

The New Testament church, remembering the arrangement her departing Lord had made, was loyal to him.  When missionaries were needed for a special work in the days of Paul, she did not select them by popular vote nor because of education, but went to God in prayer and He heard her plea "to set forth laborers into the harvest."

"Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed ..." (Acts 13:1-4)

Barnabas and Saul had to wait until they had been called by the Holy Spirit through the living prophets in the Church, and had been ordained by God's recognized servants.

Paul said to the Elders whom he called together at Miletus: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28)

Neither God nor devils recognized those whom God had not called and sent forth.  When certain men took it upon themselves to exercise authority over demons in "the name of the Lord Jesus," the evil spirit replied: "…Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?" (Acts 19:13-15)  They had no divine authority to do such work.  It was only intruding, crowding out God's Spirit, trying to do the work in man's way.  Sheer presumption and usurpation!

In spite of the fate of unauthorized ministers in both Old and New Testament times, many use the name of Christ unauthorized today.  They officiate in sacred ordinances without any divine call or authoritative ordination.  They "take the honor unto themselves" like the "sons of Sceva," without being "called of God as was Aaron."  John, the first apostles, Paul and Barnabas, and the Ephesian elders were all called of God "as was Aaron."

The days of which Paul warned us have come, men have "a form of godliness but deny the power thereof." (II Timothy 3:5)  They have the form without the authority and without the power. (Acts 1:8)  No man has a right to go out unauthorized into the world as a minister for Christ and officiate in the sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel of Christ.

"How shall they preach except they be sent?…" (Romans 10:15)

The Plan Of God Cannot Be Frustrated

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)

"... Lo, I come to do thy will, O God..." (Hebrews 10:9)

Today we find men who are not authorized of God, professing to be ministers of Christ, who in turn have brought the world into confusion.  We find people today who have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost—like the disciples whom Paul found at Ephesus. (Acts 19)  Paul at once knew they had not been properly baptized, for no servant of God would baptize a man without teaching him to expect the birth of the Spirit to follow the birth of the water.  John told all whom he baptized, "I indeed have baptized you with water: but He (Christ) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." (Mark 1:8)  Therefore Paul knew John did not baptize these men.  Someone, probably, who had seen John baptizing, thought he could do the same and went out to baptize in the same manner as John, but not being sent of God to do that work, the blessing of the Lord did not follow.

Paul taught the men the gospel and baptized them over again, and when he laid his hands on them they received the Holy Ghost.  This is the difference between the works of those whom God sends and the works of those not sent of God.  The blessings follow only the ones the Lord sends to do His work.

Today, God has not left us to wander in the wilderness without divinely authorized ministers to lead the honest in heart out of confusion and darkness into light.  God sent His angel, John the Baptist, a resurrected being, from His presence to Earth, John visited Otto Fetting, of Port Huron, Michigan, a number of times.  During a visit on July 18, 1929, he laid his hands on Otto Fetting's head, confirming the authority on earth to represent Christ and His Church. (Malachi 3:1-4, 4:5,6; Matthew 17:11-15; Acts 3:21; Luke 1:16, 17, 76-79}

This revived and restored condition of The Church of Christ made way for the ordinances of the gospel to be taught, administered and obeyed in their purity.  "... He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." (Mal. 3:3)  The sons of Levi were the ministry in the Old Testament.

The Holy Ghost is now given in abundance to those who repent and are baptized into The Church of Christ established anew in 1929. (Message 30:6)  Men can now be born of the water and of the Spirit, because God has given the authority and the commission to preach the gospel and spread abroad the glad tidings.  Many times the John the Baptist has come bearing revelations from the throne of God for the people of our day.  His work is to set the Church in order and to prepare a people to be holy before the second coming of Christ.

Words of the Messenger

"The instruction is sent, to the wise, a warning; to the sleeper, an awakening; to the wicked, destruction; but to the people of the Lord, a message that Christ's coming is near at hand." (Message 3:2).

“I have established my Church in 1929 anew.  I have given the message and it must be obeyed.  All else is of man and I cannot, and will not accept the follies and traditions of men, for My work is a holy work and man must first be made holy.”  (Message 30:6)

“Blessed are the meek and all those that consecrate themselves unto me.  I will be with them, saith your Lord, and stand you in holy places, protecting you when the great indignation cometh.  You shall be called mine when I make up my jewels. This is the Lord’s work and man cannot do it his way.”  (Message 46:10-11)

The church established anew in 1929 is of the same origin and authority as the apostolic church in New Testament times; twelve apostles, its leading ministers; Christ the head; signs and wonders following them that believe, because God indeed established it.

“…the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands...”  (Daniel 2:45)






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[1] Priest and minister mean the same.  Isaiah 61:6