"According To The Pattern"

"For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that this high priest also have somewhat to offer. Now if He (Jesus Christ) were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, seeing there are those who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve that which is a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses is warned of God when he is about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern that was showed thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:3-5).

When God instructed Moses in the building of the tabernacle, He was very specific as to how it and all of the furniture in it was to be constructed (Exo. 25:1-40). Moses knew exactly how God wanted the tabernacle to be built, for he had an exact pattern, or blueprint, given of God. If there was ever a time when Moses was in doubt, he had only to consult the divine pattern which God had given him. So, if a mistake had been made, it would be on the part of Moses -- either ignoring the pattern or in refusing to accept it.

God has always demanded that His pattern be followed in exactness. Noah had a pattern for the ark, as God gave it. God specified all of the measurements, the material, the arrangements of it. Noah was not permitted to add an extra story, or extra door or window. Nor could he substitute another wood for the gopherwood which God had specified. Noah was approved of God, but notice why: "Thys did Noah, according to all that God commanded him, so did he" (Gen. 6:22). Noah understood that he was to "make it according to the pattern," and he obeyed.

We Also Are To Follow The Pattern: -- God doesn't tell us to build a tabernacle nor an ark. But He has given us a pattern under the New Covenant. The apostle Paul wrote: "For we are God's fellow-workers: ye are God's husbandry, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For ther foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:9-11). The inspired apostle Paul, as a master-builder, laid a true foundation according to the divine pattern. He then warns any who would follow to build only upon that foundation -- according to the pattern.

In speaking of the revelation of the gospel, Paul wrote, "But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom theacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words" (1 Cor. 2:10-13). The divine pattern was delivered by the Holy Spirit, and this is what Paul preached. And notice how he referred back to the pattern: "Combining spiritual things with spiritual words." This surely pictures him as consulting the original pattern as he was teaching. So must we.

The Pattern For Sound Doctrine: -- Paul wrote to Timothy, "Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:13). And notice the emphasis that he gave this, "In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned" (Ti. 2:7,8). That sound speech is necessary to fulfill the pattern! Paul further charged elders, "Holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers" (Ti. 1:9).

The inspired apostles jealously guarded the pattern of the gospel. "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:6-8). Again: "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son" (2 Jno. 9). The choice is simple: follow the pattern or lose your fellowship with God! The pattern of sound doctrine of Jesus Christ had to be faithfully followed without addition, subtraction or alteration.

The Lord's Pattern For His Church: -- Jesus promised, "I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18). And He prayed for believers, "That they may all be one" (Jno. 17:21). All Christians are "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Eph. 2: 20). That church is composed of all the saved, for, "The Lord added to the church daily such as were being saved" (Acts 2: 47). When the Lord Jesus saves people, He adds them to His church. By the Lord's Word, that defines His church -- those who are called out of sin and into His light (1 Pet. 2:9,10). That is according to the pattern.

Jesus never promised to build "churches." He promised to build just one. It is His body: "He is the Head of the body, the church" (Col. 1:18). As Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, "(God) hath put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all...There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all" (Eph. 1:22,23; 4:4-6).

The pattern for the Lord's church, as revealed in Scriptures, is that all believers are to be one -- united in Christ in every way. The only time we read of a church dividing into segments (or, as in our language today, "denominations"), is in the city of Corinth. Notice what the Lord says to them: "Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13). You see, the original pattern did not allow for denominations at all! If we follow the Lord's pattern, we will not allow for denominations today, but will heed the call of the Lord: "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" (2 Cor. 6:17)

The Lord's Pattern For Salvation: -- It never ceases to amaze me that people who claim to seek and teach salvation so completely ignore the "pattern" of the Scriptures. Most of the religious groups today teach that we are saved by "faith only." But the Scriptures plainly say, "What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him?...Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:14,24). But, if more than simple faith is needed, "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). The answer was simple.

"Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins...They then that received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:38,41). No argument, no quibbling. They just followed the pattern that was given to them. In fact, reading through the book of Acts, you will find that was always the pattern. People heard the Word, they believed it, repented, and were baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:12,35-38; 16:30-34; 22:16). This follows the pattern given by the Lord in the Great Commission: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mk. 16:15,16). If one wants to be saved, that is still the pattern to follow to-day.

The apostle Paul shows that we are saved by faith in the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:23-26), which He shed in His death (Rom. 5:8-11). Then he writes; "Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3,4). We cannot be "in Christ" until we are baptized into Christ. And we cannot be cleansed by the blood of Christ until we are baptized into His death. Friend, that is the Lord's pattern.

The Lord's Pattern For Worship: -- Most people seem to think that it doesn't matter how we worship, nor what we do in worship: "It is the heart that counts." Certainly the heart counts, but so does the Lord's pattern for worship. In the church that Jesus built, those Christians gathered on "the first day of the week to break bread" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23- 28). Taking the "bread" and the "cup" in memory of Jesus was according to the Lord's pattern (Matt. 26:26-30) which Jesus gave.

In these gatherings the Lord's church prayed (Acts 2:42; Phil. 4:6,7) together, they sang hymns of praise to God and admonition to each other (Matt. 26:30; Col. 3:16). The church that Jesus built never used mechanical instruments of music in worship, just the human voice as they endeavored to "sing and make melody with the heart" to God (Eph. 5:19). They read and studied the word of God together (Acts 20:7; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12). And in this assembly together they "lay by in store," giving as the Lord prospered them (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:6-8). The worship of the church which Jesus built was really very simple. It still is, when we follow the pattern He gave!

Some Won't Follow The Pattern: -- We don't like to consider it, but some just won't follow the pattern. But what shall we do? "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works" (2 Jno. 9-11). To have fellowship with one who does not follow the Lord's pattern means tht we become "partaker of his evil works." That is why the Lord says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate."

Ignoring or rejecting the divine pattern which God gave for the church -- its teaching, its worship, its salvation, etc., has given rise to many pernicious and devious innovations. There are many churches out there that are not based on the pattern given by the Lord. And, as noted above, we dare not have fellowship with them. If we would please God, we must still "make all things according to the pattern."

Even in our earthly homes, we want to be sure that the builder follows the patterm. What the blueprint specifies is what we expect and demand. If we are so careful about earthly things, how much more care should we give to follow the pattern in spiritual matters?

By Clem Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 55, No. 41, Oct. 13, 2006.

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