HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
CHRIST OUR PATTERN
All knowledgeable Christians understand that Christ is their pattern of conduct and earnestly strive to honor Him as such. Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (I Peter 2:21). In context, Peter is discussing the suffering that Christians often undergo for doing good. He affirms that they “were called” to suffer for such, and says that they should follow in the steps of Christ who “also suffered for us” (verses 20-25).
Yet, we are to follow Christ in far more than simply the matter of suffering for doing good. Paul urged, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). He went on to describe the humility of Christ that brought Him from the courts of heaven to earth to be further humbled in His obedient death on the cross (verses 6-8). The challenge that every Christian faces is to have the mind of Christ, that same spirit of humble obedience that he manifested, to see Him as a pattern for living, and in all things to “follow His steps.”
Christ is a pattern to children in His obedience to His earthly parents. “And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them . . . ” (Luke 2:51). Therefore, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).
Christ is our pattern in being submissive to governmental authorities. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25). “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). The only exceptions are when the government would order us to do that which conflicts with the will of God or would forbid us doing that which is necessary to pleasing the Lord, in which cases “we ought to obey God rather then men” (Acts 5:29).
Christ is our pattern in prayer. “And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’ ” (Luke 11:1).
Christ is our pattern in the way we are to treat our enemies. “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return . . . ” (I Peter 2:22-23a). “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Christ is our pattern in being obedient to God in all things because “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
The above are only illustrative, not exhaustive, of the many areas of life in which Christ is to serve as our pattern.
On the other hand, we must recognize that Christ was born, lived, and died under the Old Testament Law of Moses, and faithfully and perfectly complied with all of its stipulations. But Christians are not under the Law of Moses and are not to follow Jesus in keeping that law.
That law was given for a specific purpose, that purpose has been served, and that law is no longer binding (Galatians 3:19, 24-25; Colossians 2:14). Those who turn to it for God’s approval and salvation do so in vain. In fact, Paul says of Christians who seek justification by the Law of Moses, “You have become estranged (severed, ASV) from Christ, whoever of you would be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
Too, Christ was baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-17). However, that baptism was for a particular period of time, and was superseded by the baptism commanded by Christ in the great commission. (See Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Anyone receiving John’s baptism after it was no longer valid had to be baptized again. (See Acts 19:1-7).
The twelve men in Ephesus could all rightfully claim to have “followed Christ in baptism,” but their doing so was wrong and they had to make a second trip to the water and “get it exactly right”!
(I put the preceding expression in quotation marks because there are those who make fun of God having a pattern of salvation that people must “get exactly right.” Paul, the inspired apostle, thought that baptism was a specific part of a divine pattern of salvation and that one had to “get it exactly right”! Multitudes of people today who have been improperly baptized [either as to the so-called “mode” of baptism or with reference to its divine purpose] need to make another trip to the water and “get it exactly right”!)
The first four books of the New Testament give us a divinely inspired account of the life of Christ on earth: of the things He did and taught. But there are 23 additional books in the New Testament that also are an essential part of Christ’s new covenant. What they teach is also to be faithfully obeyed.
Let us faithfully follow Christ as our pattern in all matters in which it is proper to do so, but let us not naively believe that all we have to do to be pleasing to God is to just “do what Jesus did.” A more thorough and reflective investigation of the Scriptures will reveal the error of such a biblically shallow assertion.
August 21: Fairlane Church of Christ, Shelbyville, TN
August 13, 2013