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.
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.
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.
The Lord’s church has been blessed with great lectureships, gospel meetings, summer series lessons, and the like. These activities take place throughout the country. Brethren come from near and far to attend these events and enjoy the great fellowship and Bible lessons. These events provide an opportunity for the lost to hear the gospel as well the faithful to be encouraged.
When planning for any event, the leadership in the local congregation discusses the requirements to make such an event available. Generally, such planning includes discussions about speakers, accommodations for the speakers, other expenses for the speakers, and expenses for other things for the event. These would include lots of things, including the cost of making lessons available on DVDs, etc. Many congregations make such media available online. The Bible tells us payment for any work of the church should come from free-will offerings (1 Cor 16:1-2).
It is important to keep in mind that some works are overseen by an eldership while others are not. Bible camps are under a board of directors. Children’s homes, many times, also are under a board of directors. The men who write and publish books often do so without an eldership overseeing the work. What’s the difference? Events under the oversight of elders are part of the church. Those that are not under the oversight of elders are not part of the local church work. Churches of Christ may be associated with such works under a board of directors, but it is not equal to those under the direct oversight of an eldership.
Can you imagine the apostle Paul going to a congregation and preaching a lesson and the congregation charging those who want to hear the lesson? That is what some are doing today. There are events taking place across the country charging individuals to hear lessons from God’s Word. I have heard some say that it is okay because we are only charging the brethren and not the lost. Why do we think that is okay? The Bible tells us we should encourage one another, not charge one another. Still, some will say “if we did not charge, this event would not be possible.” Is there an alternative to charging for events? Should a congregation decide what it can afford to do before undertaking a work? We are told to give attention to exhortation, however, how encouraged can one be if they have to pay for it (1 Tim 4:13)?
Having recorded many meetings, lectureships, and the like, one becomes familiar with the cost of recording video and audio and the cost of making things available to the public through various forms. It is not just the charging that is a cause for concern for many, but the amount being charged is also a concern. It seems now, more than ever, we have brethren who are hosting various events, charging individuals who attend, and if they want a copy of a lesson or lessons, they must pay for them also. Some have attempted to listen to a lesson on their home computer from an event only to be told they needed a subscription. However, if they go to a different website where a similar event was recorded, they can listen, view, or download the lesson for free. So, why are some charging while others are not?
While these things are not made into a matter of fellowship. It is a cause for concern. Many congregations across the country and the world work together in making seminars and meetings available to those who wish to attend and do so without having a fee to attend such. Surely, brethren can sit down and discuss ways to do such works without having to include a fee; this will be the subject of the next article.
A question that is asked frequently and deserves an answer is “Can a person be a Christian and not be a member of the Church of Christ?” What we must always keep in mind is that such questions require a Bible answer. Answers based on the standards or the traditions of men are not equal to the word of God. We must always look for what God has said and not what man thinks.
In Matthew 16:18 we see that Christ reminds us of what He built, the church. Not “a church” but the church. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Paul tells us in Galatians 3:27 that it is in baptism that a person is added to the church, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Paul also tells us in Colossians 1:24b that Christ’s body, which we are placed into at baptism, is the church, “… for the sake of His body, which is the church,” In addition to what Paul, an inspired man of God has said, Peter tells us and shows us that baptism is essential in 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.”
Therefore, we see what the Bible has revealed and we can determine that 1) Baptism is essential, 2) Baptism places one into the body of Christ, the church, and 3) since these things are true then a person cannot be a Christian if they are not a part of Christ’s church. We can also add that since baptism is also for the remission of sins, then salvation is only in the church which Christ founded, and He only founded one (Mt 16:18).
These things being true not because of what I or any man has said but because of what we see in scripture. Since the Bible reveals that a Christian cannot be found anywhere but in Christ’s church then the answer is clear we must be in Christ’s church in order to fit the definition of a Christian as it is found in scripture.
When man is faced with such truths it can be difficult to accept for many reasons. However, if you are to know the truth and want to obey the truth as it is found in God’s Word, then we must accept what God’s Word reveals. A refusal to do so we only result in us being separated from God. Think about it.
The attribute of humility is one that every Christian should possess. We read over and over again how the “haughty” and “stiff necked” are contrary to God (2 Chro 30:8, Ps 18:27).
Being humble leads us to selflessness. The humble person doesn’t exalt themselves but, because of their good works, others, including God exalt them (Jam 4:10). A person who is puffed up only desires to be exalted so that they can boast. A person who is humble desires only to do the works of God and IF they are exalted by others then so be it. We want to be humble and not haughty and we should not do things just so that others can see our works (Mt 6:2-4).
Being humble leads a person to righteousness. A person who is truly humble will desire to do what God has commanded. One of the biggest obstacles for people is their pride. Sadly, many allow their pride to get in the way and, as a result, they refuse to obey God (Pro 16:18). A person who is humble will submit to the teachings of God and not reject them (Isa 30:10). Are we humble enough to obey God when we realize we are not following His Word?
Being humble leads us to everlasting life. A person who is humble is willing and ready to repent when they realize they have committed sin. No doubt there are those who do not want to acknowledge that they have sinned. However, the proud cannot repent unless they humble themselves before God. Felix is a shining example of what happens when we are too proud to make ourselves right with God (Acts 24:25).
By these three points we see that being humble causes a person to be a better worker for God, a better student of His Word, and causes us to be closer to God through our humble repentance. Do you have humility? Are we striving to have more humility?
The Bible tells us Christ was humble for our sakes (Phil 2:8). Are we humble for the sake of the Kingdom of God?
It is important to realize that the Christian must stand upon the word of God. This must be our guide and standard in all of life for the Christian. “For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name's sake, Lead me and guide me.” Psalms 31:3 There are many today who stand for truth and have proven that fact by standing faithfully on God’s Word.
However, there are also those who do not. There exists those who claim to follow and stand on God’s Word but do not. Instead of adhering to the Word of God they redefine terms and interpret scripture to say things that do not fit the context but instead fit the standards of man. This is done for many reasons but it generally comes back to the idea of simply trying to please men.
We must remember it is always important to make sure we stand on the solid rock of God & His word and not on the every shifting sands of the doctrines, ideas and opinions of men. If we hope to ever have heaven as our home we cannot reach it unless we are standing on God’s Word and truly follow it.
For that reason I plan to discuss in this article and others where the Christian must stand if they are to be pleasing to God. With that in mind, today we will begin with the Word of God itself.
Notice the following verses which so many of us probably already know by heart. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.“ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 A simple word study reveals that the word “inspiration” literally means “God breathed”. Thus, God breathed out what He wants man to know. The words He has breathed out to man are profitable. These words are not merely opinion or advice they are commands from God. Thus the Bible is not the collections of teachings of men, but is in fact the Word of God. Consider the words of the Apostle Peter when he said “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables...” 2 Peter 2:16a
Why write about the Bible being from God? There are many today it seems that need to be reminded of this fact. There are those today who are rejecting portions of God’s Word and are substituting their own ideas, etc. For that reason we need to be minded that the Bible is not just “some old book” but it contains the Word of God that, when obeyed, saves the soul of man, “…and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21b
Let’s never forget where the Christian should stand. The Bible is from God that is a fact. The Bible contains the commandments of God that is a fact. The Bible must be followed, this too is a fact. If we take a stance that declares that the Bible is not from God or that the creeds of men are equal to the Word of God then friends you are standing on the shifting sand of selfish ideas and opinions and those will not provide you entrance into eternal life with our Lord.
Join me next time as we discuss “Where I Stand” regarding the church and the Kingdom.
Click HERE to learn more about our blog writers.