What is a pattern? “Something designed or used as a model for making things” (Merriam-Webster). In the Bible we find words like pattern, form, and example. What does this mean? Is there a pattern, form, or example that we are to follow? Let’s see what the Bible says.
IS THERE A PATTERN IN THE BIBLE?
We find examples of patterns in the Old Testament: 1) Noah did according to all that God had commanded him (Gen 6:22; 7:15). God gave Noah a pattern to follow and Noah followed it. 2) Israel did “according to the word of Moses” (Ex 12:35; 12:50; 17:1; 39:42). 3) Aaron and his sons did “according to all that I have commanded thee” (Ex 29:35). We could give many more examples of a pattern being followed in the Old Testament. Does the New Testament have forms or patterns? Let’s look at some scriptures and see for ourselves.
ROMANS 6:17 - “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” What does this verse tell us? What did they obey? Paul was thankful that these individuals were no longer servants of sin. But, how did they come out of sin? What did they do? Paul wrote “but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine”. There are various forms of doctrine in the world today. However, there is only one form of true doctrine. There is only one form of doctrine, that when obeyed, brings man to God. This is what these individuals followed. They followed the form or pattern of doctrine that provides the forgiveness of sins. These individuals had this form of doctrine, this teaching delivered to them. It was delivered from God to them by men like Paul and others who would preach in Rome. What was the form of doctrine they obeyed that freed them from sin (6:18)? Romans 6:3-4 reveals to us that they had been buried in baptism and had been raised to walk in newness of life. Incidentally, this is exactly the same message that saved the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
ACTS 18:8 - “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” These individuals also obeyed a form of doctrine. The form of doctrine is found in their actions. Crispus and his household obeyed a form of doctrine by first hearing God’s Word. They then continued to obey a form of doctrine when they believed in Christ as the Son of God and were baptized for the remission of sins. This same form of doctrine is found in Acts 2. Those who heard Peter’s sermon on Pentecost obeyed a form of doctrine as well. What was it? They heard just as Crispus and his household did. They believed and were baptized just like Crispus and his household (Acts 2:38, 41).
WHAT HAS CHRIST SAID ABOUT PATTERNS?
Jesus said, “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” (Jn. 12:48). Paul said that we are judged by the gospel that was delivered to him by Christ. It was the Gospel of Christ and the pattern from Christ. “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Paul also reminds us that we are only to follow one gospel (pattern) as we read in Galatians 1:6-8. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
ACTS 22:16 - “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” What did Saul do when he obeyed? He obeyed the form of doctrine (the gospel) that was taught to him by Ananias (Acts 9:17-18). This form of doctrine (the gospel) included being baptized. So following the pattern found in the New Testament results in obeying the gospel, as Christ gave the pattern of obedience. There is even a pattern for worship given to man by God through Christ and His apostles. While there are those today who deny any pattern, form, or example that is to be followed, an honest person can see that there are numerous examples of a pattern throughout the Bible - over and over again. To deny a pattern in the Bible is to deny and reject the words of Christ (Jn. 12:48). When we look into God’s word we find patterns. We find a pattern of worship in the Old Testament and a new pattern in the New Testament. We find a pattern to deal with sin for Israel in the Old Testament. We find a pattern to follow for the remittance of sins in the New Testament. When we follow the same patterns and forms those in the time of the apostles followed, we become what they became - New Testament Christians. Let us be humble enough to follow the examples and patterns we see in the Bible.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery. (Matthew 19:9, ASV)
The verse mentioned previously has been a source of heartache, tension and church uproar for many. Preachers have been hired and fired for what they preach concerning the words of Christ in Matthew 19:3-9. Anytime we consider “hard topics” or “difficult” scriptures we must keep one thing in mind, what matters is what God has said and not what we want Him to say or wish He had said. Emotions often are high when dealing with topics that affect so many, but the truth of God’s Word cannot be silenced because of the emotions and feelings of others.
Christ makes it clear that from the beginning of time God desired for the husband and wife to become one flesh and that no one should be allowed to separate the two. “
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6, NKJV)
The Pharisees of verse three only desired to “test” Christ. Sadly, many still approach these verses not for the truth but instead to “test” individuals. When man wants truth, He will find it and when he doesn’t want truth, hardheartedness will keep it from him. The Pharisees did not desire truth instead they only wanted something they could use against Christ. The Pharisees did not go away when Christ reminded them of these truths instead they appealed to the actions of man, in this case Moses. “
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:7-8, NKJV)
Christ puts the fault not with God’s commands or with Moses but on the heart of man. Moses permitted (suffered, ASV) them to put away their wives. Suffer is a good way to translate this idea since Moses had to suffer through a lot of complaining, stubbornness and a “stiff neck” attitude from the people of Israel. Christ however reminds them that this was not what God had intended for the marriage bond, “from the beginning it was not so.” Christ then tells them the terms of divorce according to God, not man.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery. (Matthew 19:9, ASV)
The Greek term used here is “fornication”. While there are things that may be sexually immoral, or immoral in general, neither “sexual immorality” (NKJV) or “immorality” (NASB) are the correct term for what Christ is referencing. Fornication can be a reference to spiritual unfaithfulness, as we see it used many times in the Old Testament. Here in verse nine the term is used in reference to sexual unfaithfulness to a spouse. Thus, the only grounds for divorce that Christ names is sexual unfaithfulness. This means that there are no other reasons given by Christ, thus no other reasons that are acceptable to Christ, for divorcing one’s spouse.
While there are numerous occasions where one party or both parties, are abusive to the other and while such actions are not pleasing to God, they are not scriptural grounds for divorce. In such occasions both parties should turn to God with these issues and seek counsel from a godly marriage counselor who will encourage repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and not an unscriptural divorce.
While Christ gives one reason for divorce we find that here, unlike in Ezra 10, divorce is not commanded. All that is given is the one reason God will accept for divorce. While a person may have the scriptural right to divorce their spouse this is not what God desires (Matthew 19:4-6). God desires the husband and wife to remain together. It seems we do not necessarily need to preach more about divorce and remarriage but more on forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Then perhaps divorce will not be considered but instead forgiveness and love. Let us desire to be faithful to one another, love one another and not allow divorce to become an option. Join me next time as we discuss when divorce does take place, who then can remarry.
By Russ Earl
Everyone at some point in their lives try to “find their place in the world”. This is a common phrase and idea that many use when deciding what they “want to do”. Those who are still in junior high, high school and college try to decide not only who their friends should be but how they should spend their time and, for those that are old enough, what job they should hold.
What does the world offer to influence you in these areas? When we say “the world” we are referring to those are not New Testament Christians. The world offers friendships that involve sinful activities: drugs, sexual activities outside of marriage, pressures to be dishonest, the use of foul language, selfishness and the pressure to condone other wicked lifestyles. The Bible however says things such as these will only separate a person from God. Notice what Peter says “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” 1 Peter 4:3-5. God warns that those involved in such things will have to give an account to the Him who judges all.
While the pressure and drawing power of such things may be strong we must remember that such pleasures of this world are only temporary. Moses was wise enough to recognize that such pleasures are short lived and that it’s much better to live for God than to live for temporary pleasures. Remember the words of the writer of Hebrews “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,” Hebrews 11:24-25. Worldly pleasures and the hardships one faces when trying to abstain from sinful activities do not compare to what God has to offer those who love Him. This is what Paul was referencing when he spoke of hardships, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18.
The question remains, what does God have to offer? Christ provides the answer “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10. This is accomplished by a life of faithfulness to Him who is only filled with goodness, righteousness and love. “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5. God offers not only forgiveness of sins and eternal life as a result of obedience to Him, He also reminds us that we do not need to worry about material things. Unlike the world, God & His Son do not pressure us to gain earthly possessions. Consider the what Christ says “And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” Luke 12:15. While the world says you need this and that to be happy Christ says the opposite. He says life is more than possessions. The man with the “most toys” does not win. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:19-21 that the sinful actions of this world do not provide happiness and will separate us from God. Those who belong to Christ do not do such things but instead live for Him “And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24.
Our true place in this world is in the body of Christ because outside of His body there is no hope only spiritual death. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” Revelation 22:14-15. Therefore, let us do what God requires of us to have our place in the Heavenly home that awaits the faithful.
By Toney L. Smith
One of our most beloved gospel songs is Tell Me the Story of Jesus. The song speaks of the life and works of Jesus Christ. As the song says, it is “the story most precious, Sweetest that ever was heard.” It is precious and sweet because it tells of Jesus and His sacrifice for our salvation.
Chapter one reveals Jesus (pre-incarnate) before He became flesh. There has never been a time when He was not in existence. When the universe was barren, Jesus was an important part of creation’s plan (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17). Before He became flesh, He was deity, an equal part of the Godhead. Jesus is said to be the word (John 1:1-3), and that word took on human form, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).The story of Jesus tells how He descended the heavenly stairway to be the savior of all men. He came from heaven to do the will of His Father (John 3:17; 10:10; Luke 19:10).
Chapter two shows us the incarnate Immanuel. The word Immanuel means, “God with us” or “with us is God.” He would be born of a virgin, thus taking on the attributes of a human being (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:26- 35). All men needed justification, because all have sinned (Romans 3:23). God had a plan for our salvation. Christ came from heaven to be our sacrificial Lamb (Galatians 4:4-5; Mark 1:15). Christ emptied Himself of His glory and demonstrated a life of service (Philippians 2:5-11). In the flesh, He experienced sorrow (John 11:35), temptation (Matthew 4:1-11), torture and rejection (John 1:11, Mark 14:50; Matthew 27:46). Jesus, who knew no sin, died because of our sins (1 Peter 3:18).
Chapter three reveals Jesus in Paradise. Nailed to the cross, Jesus cried, “it is finished” (John 19:30). This statement meant that He had completed His given task. He had said to the repenting thief, “… Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). He would be buried and raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4). The story of Jesus assures victory to the faithful child of God. Everyone will taste of death (Hebrews 9:27; Job 30:23). However, God has promised a day of resurrection for all (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The faithful will enjoy and obtain victory over the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Chapter four tells of Jesus the risen Savior. This chapter continues the narrative of the risen savior. This fact further verifies the words spoken by Christ (John 2:19; 1 Corinthians 15:4). We sing, “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes, He arose a victor from the dark domain…” He then showed Himself to certain disciples for 40 days (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). During this time, He gave the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:36-40). After these thing Jesus ascended back to heaven from whence He had come (Acts 1:9-11).
Chapter five of this story pictures Jesus as the exalted King. In Peter's sermon in Acts 2, we read the summation of Christ's life. This teaching concludes with Peter telling the Jews that “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Just imagine what that homecoming would have been like! The Son of God returns to His divine realm (Hebrews 1:3). To this very day, Jesus sits upon His throne still ruling His kingdom, the church (Colossians 1:13).
Chapter six will present Jesus as our righteous judge. Make no mistake; there will be a day of judgment for each of us. We cannot determine just when that day will be, but none of us will miss it. The time of that day is to be determined by God the Father (Matthew 24:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1- 3). He will come “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). We must all appear before the judgment seat (Matthew 25:31-34).
Chapter seven reveals things after judgment. Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24); the last enemy will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26); Jesus will Himself be in subjection to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28); and the saved will be in their eternal home (Revelation 22:1-5). There is a “crown” waiting for all faithful children of God (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Revelation 2:10).
This is a beautiful story. It reveals the amazing truth of God’s love for mankind.
There are various events that take place throughout the religious world. The Christian no doubt receives notices and invitations of such events. This raises the question, is it permissible to participate in joint activities with any of the denominations? I think it’s important to define what makes a denomination.
A denomination is a religious group that abides by traditions, creeds and doctrines of men rather than the Word of God (Mt 15:9). These teachings become clear in worship, what is taught concerning salvation and other areas. It’s also important to note that a congregation that wears the name “church of Christ” can also become a denomination if they have departed from the teachings of Christ and the pattern found in the New Testament (2 Tim 1:13).
Since a denomination is a religious group that teaches things that are in opposition from what we find in the Word of God, it is only logical to conclude that the same teachings will be found and promoted at their various events. This brings up the question “Why would the Lord’s church join in with, thereby condone, false teaching?” The Bible warns about having fellowship with those who teach doctrine that is contradictory to God’s commands. Consider what Peter says: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1-2). Since denominations teach that which is false they fit the group of people to which Peter was referring.
The Lord’s church cannot go along with teaching that will separate man from God. We are told to have no fellowship with denominations, but instead to expose such “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph 5:11). A congregation can have no fellowship with denominations without accepting, condoning or ignoring the false teaching of such groups.
It’s just innocent fun! I see no harm in it. What’s the big deal? These are just some of the questions and statements you may hear when discussing joining in activities with denominations.
One must remember that part of a being a part of the Lord’s church is recognizing the dangers of partnering with those who teach damnable error. It continues to be astonishing the amount of people who fail to see the dangers in such things. Is having fun worth condoning error and appearing like “just another denomination” worth it? Is it worth it if we fail to see the harm in it? Is it worth it if we say it’s not a big deal, it seems innocent? The church is not separate from denominations to be harsh, rude or unloving. The church is separate from denominations because we understand that what denominations teach is harmful to the soul of man.
Instead of joining with denominations in their events why not plan activities at our local congregations that provide opportunities for us to teach the truth? Why not invite children and teens to biblical sound events that provide a time of learning Bible truths and fun, so long as learning Bible truths is our priority.
If the Lord’s church begins attending and/or become a joint-partner in denominational events, then we begin down the path of becoming a denomination ourselves. When this happens, we are no longer the Lord’s church, we are no longer pleasing to Him, and we no longer will have the hope of heaven. Is it worth it?
When discussing the Holy Spirit, a person will come to find that there are many different ideas and viewpoints on the Holy Spirit. The purpose of this writing is to examine the work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation.
Let’s first consider together how one gains salvation. Some today teach that one receives salvation when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Statements such as “I felt led to respond” are not uncommon. A doctrine known as the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. However, does this doctrine fit with scripture? Notice what Paul says in Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Greek language of the New Testament is more literal “Faith comes out of hearing”. What is it that is heard? The answer is the Word of God. Thus, Paul says by inspiration that Faith comes from hearing God’s Word. Faith is not gained because the Holy Spirit has operated upon them in a direct way but because they have heard the Word of God, the Gospel, and believed it. Thus, faith in Christ as the Son of God begins here. After hearing & learning the gospel.
So what role does the Holy Spirit play in conversion. Let’s look together at Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The “gift of the Holy Spirit” in this verse is not the miraculous gift. The “gift” of the Holy Spirit is what it brings, salvation.
It’s important to note what Paul says in Ephesians 3:16-17, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,”. In verse 16 we find man is strengthened by the Holy Spirit, but how? The answer is in verse 17, “through faith”. How do we get the faith that brings the strengthening we receive from God? By His Word (Rom 10:17). It all goes back to God’s Word. The Holy Spirit today works through the medium of God’s Word. Thus, man is strengthened in the inner man (his heart or mind) by the Spirit that works through the Word of God.
If we are not careful man can become guilty of falling into the trap that he requires a direct operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Such an idea teaches that man cannot obey the Gospel without the miraculous help of God. The truth is God has already provided miraculous help for man in the form of His Son.
Christ, the Son of God, came into this world by way of virgin birth. He fulfilled prophecy after prophecy concerning Him. He lived a sinless life and died on the cross, shedding His precious blood for the sins of all mankind. He then rose from the grave three days later conquering death and instilling in the faithful the hope of the resurrection to eternal life.
Man does not require the miraculous today. Instead God requires we obey His Word and not put requirements on Salvation which He never made. May we always turn to the Word of God for the answer and in doing so we will find not only salvation but the truth on every matter.
People have debated the topic of mechanical instruments for many, many years. Our topic today is can a Christian use mechanical instruments in worship and, be pleasing to God while doing so?
It is key to keep in mind that anyone who wants to be pleasing to God must follow the standard of authority that God has revealed in the New Testament. Before considering any topic the individual must decide how important it is to them to be pleasing to God. If mankind has no desire or concern about pleasing God than the discussion of Bible topics will accomplish nothing. Let us have the mind that we want to please God and not simply ourselves or anyone else.
Let’s begin by pointing out that the Old Testament is not authoritative today. What was done in the Old Testament time period does not mean that action is approved of or commanded today. The Christian should remember that Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:16 that the old law was taken out of the way when Christ died on the cross, “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,”. That being said David’s use of the instruments in the Old Testament has no impact on what we do in worship under the New Testament law today.
When a man offers worship to God it must be done according to His commandments. Failure to do so makes worship vain or worthless before God (Mt 15:9). Though a man may do things that they think God would be pleased with we must remember that man’s standard is not God’s standard (Mt 15:8).
As we look at the New Testament, we find no evidence of mechanical instruments being used in worship to God. From Matthew through Revelation, there is no evidence of mechanical instruments in worship. We find no command, no example and no reference that would indicate the use of such things in New Testament Worship. While some may point to Revelation and the references to harps it is important to remember that the book of Revelation is one of the most figurative books in the Bible. With that in mind, when we see the use of physical objects in a spiritual place this only points to figurative language and not literal harps. One would do well to remember that the incense was figurative of prayers in Revelation 8:3 and that it is only logical that the mention of harps is figurative of praise being offered to God.
In Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 we are reminded that the praise offered to God today comes from our hearts. The literal idea is plucking the strings of ones own heart in praise to God. It is important to point out that the only instrument mentioned is the heart and that any mechanical instrument is not justified by these verses as none are mentioned. Also, remember that in the Old Testament the mechanical instruments are mentioned by name each time they are used. The same is done today in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. The instrument is the heart.
Since there is no support for the use of mechanical instruments in New Testament worship today. It would be logical to conclude that the use of them today would be sinful. We would do well to remember the price of sin that was paid by Nadab and Abihu when they offered profane fire before the Lord (Lev 10:1-2). Let us always be willing to do what is pleasing to God and not try to please men.
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