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.
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