Hugh’s News & Views (The Pattern Principle)

Hugh’s news & Views


God is a God of patterns. In the dawn of time He created a man and a womanAdam and Eveand joined them in holy wedlock, establishing a pattern that forever thereafter was to be followed by all who would choose to marry. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Thousands of years later, when the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus with a question about marriage, He responded by calling them back to God’s original plan for marriage, showing that it not been altered or annulled, and also showing that He was an advocate of the restoration principle, the principle that says that wherein people have departed from God’s will in any matter, they need to return to it (Matthew 19:1-9).

God likewise had a pattern of conduct for Adam to follow in the Garden of Eden. Adam was to “tend (dress) and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). He and Eve were permitted to eat of the fruit of every tree in the Garden except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (verses 16-17). Punishment would come with violation of that pattern of conduct, and when Adam and Eve violated the pattern punishment came (Genesis 3:1-24). If we could interview Adam and Eve and ask them if God had a pattern for them to follow, what do you suppose they would say?

Hundreds of years pass and the wickedness of man became great. God resolved to destroy the world with a flood. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). God gave Noah a very specific pattern for the construction of an ark by which he and his family could be saved (verses 14-21). Noah followed the pattern. “Thus Noah did: according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (verse 22). The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews looked back to this event and commended Noah’s great faith in doing precisely as God had instructed him to do (Hebrews 11:7). If we could interview Noah and ask him if God had a pattern, what would he say?

More time passes and God speaks to Moses about building the tabernacle. The details of it and its furnishing are given to the point of minutia in Exodus 25:1-31:11. God said to Moses, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:41). And, once more, the inspired writer of Hebrews endorsed this Old Testament event and indicated that it has relevance to the age in which Christians live. “For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain” (Hebrews 8:5b). If we could interview Moses what do we think he would tell us about God being concerned with patterns?

When we come to the New Testament, we read of Jesus’ promise to build His church (Matthew 16:13-19). Christ’s church is God’s spiritual temple, comprised of living stones (Ephesians 2:19-22; I Peter 2:4-5). It is God’s house (household; family) over which Christ rules as head (I Timothy 3:15). As Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant, so Christ is a Son over His own house, “whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:5-6). If the inferior physical house (the tabernacle) was built according to divine pattern, how much more the superior spiritual house of Christ, the church!

To be saved from sin and incorporated into the church, one must obey from the heart that “form” of doctrine to which he/she has been delivered (Romans 6:16-18). “Form” is from tupos and means “the representation or pattern of anything” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Make no mistake about it: God has a divine pattern to which every person must conform who would receive the forgiveness of sins!

The New Testament sets forth a pattern for acceptable worship (John 4:24; Acts 2:42) and for the kind of life a Christian is to live (Romans 12:1-2; Titus 2:11-14). The young preacher Timothy was urged to “hold fast the pattern of sound words” (II Timothy 1:13), and Titus was instructed to show himself “a pattern of good works” (Titus 2:7).

Man desperately needs a divine pattern of conduct. “It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). The world by its own wisdom does not know God (I Corinthians 1:21). Thus, an inspired revelation from God to guide mankind is needed and has been graciously provided in the Bible (I Corinthians 2:8-16).

Arrogant man can deny that God has a pattern. Self-willed preachers, puffed up by their own human wisdom, can denigrate what they are loath to call “patternism” or “pattern theology.” But God’s divine pattern for man’s salvation (both here and hereafter) stands unchanged!

Hugh Fulford

June 11, 2013

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