Hugh’s News & Views (Our Pattern)

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. Continue reading

#divine-pattern, #hughfulford, #jesus-christ

Hugh’s News & Views (The Church)

HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS

THE CHURCH: “ACCORDING TO THE ETERNAL PURPOSE”

Our “News and Views” essay of June 11, 2013 discussed “The Pattern Principle.” From time to time, we intend to follow up with other essays that will look at specific areas in which the pattern principle has relevance. In this one we look at the church as the manifestation of the multi-faceted wisdom of God and the culmination of God’s grand scheme of redemption “according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

Noah’s ark, the Old Testament tabernacle, and Solomon’s temple were all built according to a divine pattern determined by God. They were physical structures that were utilized in deliverance from a destructive flood (in the case of the ark) and important in the religious life of the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people (in the case of the tabernacle and, later, the temple) under the Law of Moses. But these physical structures are instructive in understanding and appreciating truth about the New Testament church, God’s spiritual house.

The apostle Peter says that Christians are “living stones” who constitute “a spiritual house” (I Peter 2:5). This spiritual house is the “house of God which is the church of the living God” (I Timothy 3:15). The builder of this spiritual house was Jesus Christ Himself. He said, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Since the church is comprised of all who have been redeemed from their sins by the blood of Christ, to say that Christ built the church is to say that He shed His blood in order to bring into existence His aggregate body of saved people. In instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said of the cup, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Once Christ had shed His blood for the sins of the world and the church (the blood-washed ones) had become a reality, it could be affirmed that the church had been “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). An integral feature of the church according to God’s eternal purpose is that it was built by Christ. Christ established His church; men have established their multiplicity of denominations.

The deity of Christ, the fact that He is the divine Son of God, is the foundation upon which the church was established. After Peter confessed Christ to be the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16), Jesus responded by saying, “On this rock [the truth that Peter had confessed, hf] I will build My church” (v. 18). Isaiah had prophesied of a great foundation stone upon which God’s people would be established (Isaiah 28:16). Hundreds of years later, the apostle Peter quoted Isaiah and said, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him [the chief cornerstone is a person, Jesus Christ, hf] will by no means be put to shame [disappointed, NASB]” (I Peter 2:6). This is an essential feature of the church according to the eternal purpose that must be honored.

Further, Christ is the head of His church. Paul wrote, “And He (God, hf) has put all things under His (Christ’s, hf) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). Later, Paul affirmed that there is “one body” (Ephesians 4:4). The one true church has but one head and that head is Christ. This divine feature of the church must be recognized and respected. It, too, was according to the eternal purpose of God.

The church exists in different localities, depending upon where the gospel has been preached and obeyed. Those who hear, believe, and obey the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, are saved and “added to the church” (Acts 2:47). Wherever that occurs, a plain, simple congregation/church of Christ comes into existence, but this congregation is not a denomination or any part of a denomination. It is simply a church that is of (according to) God or Christ! Each congregation is autonomous (self-governing) under its own elders (also known as bishops, pastors and shepherds). Paul addressed a letter “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1). That simple organizational structure of the church is a part of the divine pattern for the church according to the eternal purpose of God.

The above are undeniable and very specific truths about the church as set forth in the New Testament. Which of them can be ignored, abandoned, modified, or corrupted and the church still be “according to the eternal purpose”?

Speaking Schedule:

July 24: McEwen Church of Christ, McEwen, TN

July 31: GreenHillChurch of Christ, Mt. Juliet, TN

Hugh Fulford

July 23, 2013

 

#church-of-the-bible, #divine-pattern, #hughfulford, #new-testament-church

Hugh’s News & Views (The Pattern Principle)

Hugh’s news & Views

THE PATTERN PRINCIPLE

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

#church-model, #divine-pattern, #hughfulford