BEHOLD THE PATTERN

 

We are fortunate in the area that we live in because most of the Christians in about 50 mile radius are Christians who will not play God and try to change up the Word of God to fit their lives. Donít get me wrong there are Christians in our area that willing to change the meaning of Scriptures and some have formed their own congregations, but as far as I know the majority still respects Godís wisdom enough to His Word to direct their footsteps.

 

Other areas are not so fortunate, and there are many change agents brotherhood that want to change the way we look at Scripture. In the last couple of weeks, I have been debating such brethren online at the request of some sisters in Christ in another state. These men have invaded a church of Christ discussion board and trying to plant their seeds of liberalism. These change agents, who usually belong to those who call themselves a progressive church of Christ will very rarely deal with what the Scriptural arguments. Instead, the resort name calling, or simply tell you how wrong you are with no proof, or they redirect their conversation with questions that designed to confuse or frustrate those they are talking too.

 

It did not take me long to figure out that they get really mad when you will not play along with their game and you tell them that you will not answer any more of their questions until they deal the Scriptural arguments that you have made. If you every find yourself in a discussion about the Bible with one these change agents or even when you discussing the Bible with some other person, do not allow them to try and side track the conversation with other questions or accusations. I am not saying that we should not answer those questions, but whatever your original discussion about needs to be dealt with first before the other questions are dealt with. Otherwise, that topic will get buried and will probably never get talked about.

 

One thing you might say if someone does this to you is to say something like, ďYes, those are good questions, and we will talk about them, but letís focus on what we were talking about first, then we can talk about those other questions of yours.Ē

 

These change agents differ from one another depending how far they have drifted toward their new views. They view themselves as part of a restoration movement to restore true Christianity. One of their main leaders has also joined in the Church of Christ discussion board. I had never heard of this man before, but he puts out a monthly newsletter in which attacks what they call ďthe traditional church of Christ.Ē Many of the change agents consider him spiritual giant. His name is Al Maxey. He has stated that it his ambition in life to help the church to evolve to his view of what the church should be. This is a man whose heroes are men like Max Lacado and Ruby Shelly.

 

The basic idea behind their views is that want Christians to look at the N.T. as a guide instead of it being rules that we are to follow. They want us to view the examples in the N.T. as being tradition and not something that we have do. They do want you to obey the commands of God, which is kind of weird considering they say the N.T. does not contain rules to follow, but they want us to believe we have to have a command for what can do and what we cannot do. For example, this following command would fit their view:

 

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

Here we the statement that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. If the statement had stopped there, then their view would allow for their to be another way, but latter part of the verse fulfills their view because it makes it clear that Jesus is the only way because no one can come to Father except through Him.

 

Think about how many time in the N.T. that commands and examples are given where the Bible does not specifically mention those things which cannot be done. Using their way interpret the N.T. opens up a can of worms for just about anything. With their view, some of them claim that giving is optional because the say that the giving of the first day of the week was just two congregations that asked to give for special purpose and that it had nothing to do with the church 1 Cor. 16:1-2. Some of them even say that assembling with the saints on the first day of the week and partaking of the Lordís Supper on the first day of the week is one possible way of doing it because there is no specific command saying otherwise. They also say that musical instruments can be used if a church wants to because God did command us to sing, but He did not command that we could not use musical instruments.

 

One area that they do not like to apply their own view to is the Lordís Supper itself. They will say that we should use the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread, but if there was really good reason we could substitute those items, but we should never do it. They understand that there way interpreting Scriptures would allow for the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread to be substituted and it would also allow us to add things to the Lordís Supper because there is no specific command stating that we cannot. This is where their interpretation of Scripture falls flat on its face and shows that it is a faulty way to view Scriptures as it opens the door for just about anything.

 

What I find really strange is that they do not view preachers like myself as being lost even though we are exposing their teaching and they label us as Pharisees. Most of them believe as long we believe the Jesus died for us and we are in some way living our life for Him, no matter what teach or do, we will make it to heaven. My question is if they think that we are all saved then why make such an effort to change us to their ways?

 

While some of these change agents may have good intentions, I am reminded of what Jesus said in:

 

Matthew 15:14 They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

 

This new way of looking at the N.T. is dangerous and it will cause one to drift away from God while making a person feel like they are growing closer to God because it allows a person to claim to be Christian, yet not obey the will of God. We must remember what Jesus said:

 

Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

 

In order to prove my point and to show that if God commands it, He means it, and when He commands, He excludes everything else, without having to give some long list of commands of what cannot be done.

 

Starting from the beginning of time God has had pattern for us to follow, and that has never changed. For example: Adam and Eve were given the following restriction:

 

Genesis 3:3 "but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' "

 

This was Godís pattern. They could not eat or touch that fruit. When Eve disobeyed that command and so did Adam, they were punished for it (Gen. 3:14ff). When God sets a pattern and we break that pattern, we sin.

 

Noah understood that Godís pattern was to be followed when it came to building the ark. He never entertained the idea that one tree would be just as good as another or that it be acceptable to add or take away from Godís pattern. Since Noah was a faithful man, we read:

 

Genesis 6:22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

 

Many more examples could be given, but examples like these show that during this early period, Godís pattern was to be followed. If was not followed, it was a sin.

 

We can see the same pattern during the Law of Moses. We know that God had a specific pattern for how the tabernacle and the items associated were to be built and laid out (Ex. 25). There were numerous laws that were to be kept. For example: the Sabbath was a time of rest and not even sticks were to be gathered, but one man tried to defy that command and the Lord said that He must be put to death (Num. 15:32ff).

 

Who can forget Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.

 

Leviticus 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

 

These men lost their life because they tried do things their way instead of Godís way. Even the humble Moses found himself breaking Godís pattern when He struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Since he disobeyed, he was not allowed to enter the promise land (Nub. 20).

 

Notice what the writer of Hebrews says:

 

Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.†††††††

 

Another point I want to make is that the Bible always speaks of a faith that is pleasing to God as being an active faith. Joshua and his men believed in God and had no doubt that God would give them Jericho just as He said (Josh. 6:2). However, they had to obey the commands of God, to receive this gift.

 

  • The men of war were to compass the city
  • They were to compass the city once a day for six days
  • Seven priest were to bear 7 trumpets of ramsí horns before the ark
  • On the seventh day they were to compass the city 7 times.
  • Afterwards, the priest were to blow the trumpets and all the people were to shout (Jos. 6:3ff)

 

All of these commands had to be followed with an obedient faith before God would cause the walls to fall down. Nothing could be added or taken away from these commands.

 

Even those with good intensions cannot change the pattern of Godís Word. Uzzah found this out the hard way when he reached his hand out to steady the ark and was struck dead for breaking Godís command (2 Sam. 6:6ff). Notice what God said to Joshua:

 

Joshua 1:7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.

 

Many examples from the O.T. could be given to show that the pattern of God must be followed and that God means what He says, but I want to offer one more example from the O.T. Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Syria (2 Kgs. 5:1). He had a problem with leprosy and the king found out that it was possible for him to be cured, so he sent him to Israel to be cured. To make a long a story short he goes to Elisha who does not even grace him with his presence and gives word to him to dip Jordan River 7 times.

 

We all know the story, Naaman is mad at first, but his servant talks him into obeying the words that came from Elisha. Please note that Elisha did not say that he could not go to some other river because he did not have to. When he told him to go the Jordan River, he excluded all other rivers. When Naaman humbled himself and followed the commands that came from God, which included going to the Jordan and dipping 7 times, his leprosy was cured. If he had not followed the commands, he would not have been healed.

 

When we get to the N.T., we learn that God expects us to follow the pattern He has laid out under new covenant as well. If we add to it or take from it is a sin. We can know that when God commands us to do something that that excludes everything else. We do not need a list of commands that tells us what we specifically cannot do. For example, we are told not to lie that covers all lies. Godís Word does not have to provide us with every conceivable lie that we cannot tell.

 

We find the same warnings in the N.T. as we did in O.T.

 

1 Corinthians 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. (See. Rev. 22:18-19).

We have no right to add or take away from the pattern found in the N.T. We can know the things that are written provide us with everything we need to know about be pleasing to God and making it to heaven (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). We know that we will be judged by things that are written in the N.T. (Jn. 12:48; Rev. 20:11-15).

 

We are taught not to listen to another gospel than what is found in the N.T. (Gal. 1:8-9), and we are told to hold fast the pattern of sound Words (2 Tim. 1:13). We are observe ALL the things commanded by Jesus that were taught through His disciples (Mt. 28:20). We are to study the pattern in N.T. which gives us the ability to rightly handle the Word of God (2 Tim. 2:15).

 

We are told to walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). If we do not have faith we cannot be pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6). How do we have faith and walk by faith:

 

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

Without a doubt, God has set forth a pattern for us to follow in the N.T. If there was no pattern then none of verses I have mentioned would have any meaning whatsoever. Many more verses could be produced, but these verses clearly show that if we want to be pleasing God, we must follow the pattern in the N.T. or we will not make it to heaven:

 

2 Thessalonians 1:7 when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

 

We also have examples of those who disobeyed and sinned in the N.T. Ananias and his wife were struck dead for telling a lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). Simon wanted to buy the ability to pass on the Holy Spirit, and he rebuked for this sin Acts 8. More examples could be given, but these examples show that God takes His commands seriously and so should we.

 

One thing I found interesting about the change agents view is that not even their new way of looking at Scripture can change the necessity of obeying Godís plan of salvation including being baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sin, because the N.T. Scriptures covers the entire basis. Let me show very quickly:

 

John 3:16 says we must believe to be saved and John 8:24 says if we donít we will die in our sins

Acts 17:30 says we must repent and Luke 13:3 says if we do not we will perish.

Romans 10:9-10 says we must confess Jesus as Lord and Mt. 10:32-33 says if we do not that Jesus will not confess us before the Father.

1 Pet. 3:21 says that baptism saves us, and Acts 2:38 says baptism is for the forgiveness of sin, so without baptism there is no forgiveness of sin. Also to prove that baptism must be done and that it is to be done in water all we have to do is read:

 

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

 

To take one step further we could look at how Jesus commanded baptism in the Great Commission and then examine how the N.T. Christians understood that command. When you look at the book of Acts, starting in chapter 2, every conversion mentioned in the book of Acts baptism was taught and obeyed, and water is the ONLY substance mentioned as being used when a baptism was done.

 

As I mentioned earlier, when it comes to Lordís Supper most of the change agents still view that as being sacred and they have a hard time applying their view to the Lordís Supper because they can see the importance of not substituting or adding to the Lordís Supper, but their view cannot demand it, so they can only suggest that we do not change the Lordís Supper because they do not a verse they can use that where God specifically commands that we cannot substitute or add to the Lordís Supper.

 

It is important to understand that their way of interpreting Scripture opens up a can of worms when it comes to obeying what God has taught us in the N.T. With their teaching, not only do you have to find a command for what God said, we have to find command that spells out what we cannot do on that same topic. Otherwise, anything not specifically forbidden can be done.

 

However, if we follow the divine pattern in the N.T. without using a faulty way to interpret it, we can say emphatically that we cannot substitute the fruit of the vine or unleavened bread with anything else and we cannot add items to the Lordís Supper.

 

Jesus instituted the Lordís Supper using the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread (Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:17-20). These substances represent the blood and body of Jesus. We have no right to change what Jesus has told us to do.

We learn more about the Lordís Supper by the inspired apostle Paul on how the church understood the Lordís Supper.

 

First, we learn that there are restrictions to partaking of the Lordís Supper:

 

1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons.

 

We learn from 1 Cor. 11 and Acts 20 that the Christians assembled together to partake of the Lordís Supper on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 11:17; Acts 20:7). Paul rebuked the Corinthians for making a mockery of the Lordís Supper (1 Cor. 11: 18-22) because it was to be done according to the pattern found in the N.T. Paul tells us exactly what must be done:

 

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

 

Paul did not get his opinion from man, it came from the Lord Himself. Since we have these instructions, it rules out ANY OTHER WAY of partaking the Lordís Supper though no specific command is given saying you cannot substitute or add to the fruit of the vine or unleavened bread. If God commands it we should accept what He says and stop trying to look for ways around His commands.

 

Even most of the change agents can see the flaw in their way of interpreting Scripture when it comes to the Lordís Supper and they were honest with themselves they should give up their new view and just accept the fact that when God commands He excludes everything else.

 

For example, notice the following commands:

 

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

 

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

 

Just like baptism and the Lordís Supper, we are given a command. The command is to sing. When we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we are to teach and admonish and sing from our heart. The ONLY instrument named is the heart. God has commanded it, so why should we question it or try to add musical instruments to what God has said?

 

Letís consider how the first century Christian understand this command? Do we find a single instance of Christians using musical instruments when they sang to God in the N.T.? No, we do not. Every example we have of Christians singing in the N.T., we find them singing. No instruments are ever present. Even the history of the church shows that for at least 600 years Christians understood that Godís command to sing was good enough, and they dared not add the musical instrument because they knew it was not authorized by God.

 

As I have shown from early Bible period, the Law of Moses, and the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), there is a pattern to be followed, and we are not to go beyond that which is written. If we do, then we sin. Just as it would be a sin to add to or make substitutions to the Lordís Supper, it would be a sin to add musical instruments to the command to sing.

 

Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 are two verses that prove that using musical instruments to worship God is a sin because adding them is to add to the commands of God.

 

Some will say that using instruments is ok since they were used in the O.T. That is like saying that is ok to stone people to death who do not keep the commandments of God.

There are many things God approved of in the O.T. that are not done in N.T. because we are under a new covenant (Heb. 9:15). If we try to go back the Law of Moses as some were trying to do in first century, Paul says that is one way to fall from Godís grace (Gal. 5:4). We have been given a new law as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34), so we keep those commandments of the new law because we love Jesus (Jn. 14:15). We know if we do not abide in doctrine of Christ and bear fruit that we will be cut off (Jn. 15).

 

So, I hope that you never allow yourselves to be duped by the false way that these change agents are trying to push and that you will behold the pattern that God has put in place for us to follow and that you will not veer of to the left or to the right by respecting what God commands and not adding to or taking away from it and for us to follow the examples that are given to us in the Bible, so that we can make sure that we worship our God in spirit and truth just as Jesus said we must do:

 

John 4:23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."