The church in the New Testament, though, does not allow us to accept or reject issues and doctrines as we like. In fact, it calls upon us to accept the Lord and His way since He is the Author of eternal salvation. “Think of it – a DIVINE church. To many people, especially those who have been disappointed by a church member, the church is anything but a divine institution. However, let us pause for reflection. When we talk about the church in the Bible we are talking about a pattern or an ideal – yea, a pattern or an ideal for our reproduction. This is almost axiomatic for since the Bible is a DIVINE book anything within would be of divine origin. But, wait just a minute! IF THERE IS A DIVINE PATTERN FOR ME TO FOLLOW, AM I NOT MORE THAN PRESUMPTUOUS TO FOLLOW ANYTHING ELSE? What would it mean for me to fabricate my own pattern and call men to follow it when all the while there is a divine pattern awaiting my use?” (Don Dewelt, The Church in the Bible, p. 18).
In Acts 14:17, Luke records that God “did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (cf. Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:14; Deuteronomy 28:12; Job 5:10; Psalm 65:10; Psalm 68:9; Psalm 147:8; Jeremiah 14:22).
God “did good” by providing the weather needed to produce (1) rain; (2) fruitful seasons; (3) food. Without the changing weather patterns which produce the “fruitful seasons” (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) none of this would be possible.
I have no simple “mission statement” like we used to live by in the USA, but there is a philosophy that I live by. First, the only real pattern in my life is the Lord. Second, whatever knowledge of any substantive value I can gain will come from God’s word. Third, I am not as smart as some might think; neither am I as uninformed as others might think. Fourth, the fewer words spoken the better. Fifth, other people don’t think like me and it is quite unfair for me to attribute to them my way of thinking. Sixth, the grass in never greener than the place I plant my roots.
There are other thoughts that come to mind, but the ones above are adequate to express a philosophy in life.
In my view, the best thing about God, is found in 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, where Paul emphasizes the fact that “the power of God” is closely associated with the “preaching of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18; cf. Romans 1:16).
To those who have no desire to know, understand, or continue to pattern their lives after the instructions found in the saving gospel of Christ, the preaching of the cross is to them “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18; cf. Romans 1:21-22).
What is it that we mean by pattern? When Moses was told by the Lord to build the tabernacle in accordance with the pattern he saw on the mount (Exodus 25:40), did he have questions in his mind about the meaning of the word pattern? Evidently, some think that he should have; he should have critically reflected and asked the question, “What do we (you, Lord) mean by pattern?”
If a question needs to be asked about what is in mind when the word pattern is used by a person, then that question (or questions) needs to be asked. If clarity is desired, there is warrant in seeking clarification. However, since the word has a common definition (“a form or model proposed for imitation”), generally the problem won’t be in the meaning of the word, but in the mind of the one asking the question or contemplating on the word. If you make a garment from a “pattern” your intentions are to make that garment after the form or model of that pattern, is it not? Surely it is. Perhaps, within the garment pattern there are “built-in” options that allow for alternative products. The pattern, however, is purchased and used in order to get a desired result, for there is no other reason to use a pattern, is there?
When the Lord gave direction to Moses on the mountain, He wanted a “cookie cutter” pattern to be followed. To Moses, He gave no option concerning what he was to make. If, to Moses, He gave options, it was the prerogative of the “pattern maker” to give that option; that fact that He did not, however, is important to note.
How should we use the “pattern” concept with respect to churches today? To begin, we must have a starting point, and that starting point is the New Testament. In the New Testament we can see that churches were established in various communities and those churches were made up in a certain way. Is that a pattern for us to follow? It is if the apostles set the churches up, and they did so by the authority of the Holy Spirit. If there were incidental related to the setting up of the church they are….well, incidentals. I suggest to you that spiritually discerning people can make a distinction.
A pattern, then, is a form or a model of a desired product. In today’s environment, those who desire to pattern themselves after the New Testament will not only pattern their individual lives after the model of Jesus, but they will desire to be part of a church patterned after the model of the church in the New Testament, the Lord’s pattern.
Where is our confidence in the day of judgment? (1 John 4:17). If we pattern our lives after Christ (1 John 2:3-6), we should have confidence in the day of judgment. The previous verse (1 John 4:16), tells us that we must continually “dwell” in God’s love in order to maintain that confidence.
That successful “dwelling” is also contingent upon our confessing Christ as God’s Son (1 John 4:15), and the keeping of God’s commands (1 John 3:24). Another criteria for our having confidence in the day of judgment is for us to maintain God’s standard of moral purity in ourselves and in our everyday living (1 John 3:2-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:13-16).
All of the above can only be achieved “through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” John 2:16 (NET)
These were the words of an irate Jesus. It happened when he saw a place God intended for prayer turned over to a bunch of scammers. Their intent—to rip off worshipers.
Jesus took worship seriously. This is the one thing, the only thing, that ever provoked him to violence—someone messing with worship.
What can we learn from this incident? Make worship what God intended.
Don’t fake it. Don’t make it about you. Don’t make a mockery of it. Don’t deviate from God’s pattern.