How much should Christians seek to follow biblical patterns for life and the church? Following biblical patterns includes following specific examples that define God’s instructions. Patterns are the order, designs, models, and examples found in the Bible. This “pattern theology” or “patternism” has been rejected by many church leaders, because the biblical examples exclude contradictory practices among various churches. If believers accepted the idea of the following the examples in the Bible, many teachings and practices would change.
Christ is the Pattern
Christ is the Christian example. Jesus’s example of humility is incomparable. Jesus set the example of being a servant by washing His disciples’ feet. Jesus said in John 13:15, “For I have given you a pattern [example], that you should do as I have done to you.” Jesus set the example, the model, the pattern to be imitated. Christ’s Spirit spoke through Peter saying in 1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example [pattern], that you should follow His steps.” The idea of following in one’s steps is to follow one’s example, and in this case, Christians follow the imprinted pattern of Jesus’ steps. Christ being the pattern is the basis of “pattern theology.”
Without the pattern examples of Jesus Christ, then the Bible would be lists of commands with some advice and poetry dispersed across accounts of history. The Bible is not merely list of commands but also of examples, virtues, and principles. The New Testament is a text containing Christ’s words whether from His mouth or from His Spirit through His apostles and prophets (John 6:63; 16:12–13). By this, the New Testament and the whole of the Bible is a book of virtues among other things. These virtues are defined by commands and examples, and these commands are also defined by example. There is a form of pattern theology in the Bible.
Imitating Biblical Examples
Those who follow a pattern or example are imitators. The Greek for imitate is mimetes, and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to imitate is “to follow as a pattern, model, or example.” Christians are to be imitators. This means that Christians mimic the form, the model, and the design given by Christ. Third John 11 says, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.” Christians are commanded to imitate the good behavior of others. In Hebrews 6:12, the apostle urged, “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Elders are commanded to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). All Christians are also to be examples for others (1 Pet 2:12). Paul praised the Thessalonian Christians for being examples to all of Greece (1 Thess 1:7). Are believers going to be inerrant imitators? No. Salvation does not rest on being flawless, but rather that believers walk in the light and therefore diligently striving to imitate Jesus (1 John 1:7). As is seen throughout the New Testament, imitating and walking are one and the same.
Biblical Examples and Principles
In considering following Christ’s pattern, Christians are likely to ask, “What must Christians imitate?” Christians imitate character and virtue. Every New Testament command has a virtuous principle behind it. Therefore, Christians define virtues, which are principles, by God’s commands and examples defining these commands. Defining examples need no specific citations, because the New Testament is filled with these. However, observe the instruction of Christ’s Spirit regarding the virtue of humility. Paul referred to Jesus coming as a lowly servant in Philippians 2. In Philippians 2:5, Paul commanded, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Jesus gave up His position in heaven to come here as a servant and His example defined humility. His pattern is binding to the instruction to be lowly and to esteem others higher than ourselves (Phil 2:3–4).
The instructions of the New Testament are embedded within specific situations as give examples and application to Christ’s commands. This is common in life. When an employer gives his employees work and shows them how to do what he has instructed, then he expects those workers to follow his example as much as his example is a good. However, Jesus’s example is always good. Throughout life, people set good and bad examples. Children define the roles of father, mother, husband, and wife by their parents’ examples. Christians learn from the examples of the New Testament about what is means to be a Christian. In like manner, the New Testament sets positive examples that define how believers obey God’s commands.
Biblical Examples for Life
The Bible is not just Sunday morning stories, but rather defining narratives of faithful and righteous living. These biblical accounts define Christ, faith, and obedience. When it comes to following the biblical pattern, many teach “church pattern” and the others say “no pattern.” “No pattern” is wrong. Only “church pattern” is incomplete when not considering patterns for Christian living.
The New Testament establishes a pattern of Christian living. In Ephesians 5:1–2, Paul reasoned, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” In Ephesians 5:3–7, Paul defined further how one should be an imitator of God and walking in love. Therefore, Christians imitate by putting off the sins of sexual immorality and filthy speaking. This virtuous living must still be carried into our homes, workplaces, and stores even though the text does not explicitly command this in the context. The apostle Paul has more to say about following the pattern of Christian living. Paul exhorted in Philippians 3:17, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” The pattern is set not just by Paul but in all who walk.
Examples and patterns a synonymous and interchangeable being translated from the same Greek words tupos, hupotuposis, and hupodeigma. How can Christians know this pattern by the examples of the apostles and others throughout the New Testament? Christians read of their lives in light of their obedience to God’s commands. Christ’s Spirit said through Paul in Philippians 4:9, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” By seeing, one can only receive an example — a defining of pattern of life.
Imitating Christ and Observing Apostolic Traditions
Noting the examples of these who imitate Christian living, these also practice the pattern of doctrine, worship, and government of the church that Christ built. In the New Testament, Christians imitate the apostles’ doctrines and traditions (Acts 2:41–47). Paul also instructed in 1 Corinthians 11:1–2, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.” Paul commanded imitation by keeping apostolic traditions delivering modesty in prayer and the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11.
Christ’s example in instituting the Lord’s Supper defined what how Christians observe the memorial. In Paul’s instruction of the Lord’s Supper, he used Jesus’s example and pattern to command the memorial of the Lord’s Supper. What gives Paul’s example authority? If Paul were not an example of Christ, then his example would have no authority (1 Cor 11:1–2). Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 4:16–17, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”
The New Testament scriptures give Christians the examples they need to obey Christ’s commands. For example, there is no command that one must use water for baptism in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38). However, there is a pattern and there are examples, which clearly define baptism in Jesus name to consist of water (Acts 10:47–48). Acts 8:36–38 and 10:47–48 is a binding example to the commands to be baptized for the releasing of sins.
Pattern of Sound Words
The Scriptures establish a pattern in words. Christ’s Spirit spoke in 2 Timothy 1:13 saying, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” For which, Timothy is instructed to keep those things committed to him, which certainly included instructions regarding church government in 1 Timothy 3. In fact, no Apostolic teaching or practice can be excluded from “the pattern of sound words.” These sound words are essential, so that salvation depends on following the pattern.
In Romans 6:17–18, Paul expressed, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form [pattern] of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” The word “form” is the Greek word tupos being a pattern and an example. What form of doctrine is this? This is none other than the death to sin, burial by baptism, and resurrection unto newness of life in Romans 6:4–6.
When believers consider Christ’s pattern of words regarding baptism, church government, marriage, church music, and the Lord’s Supper, do we consider His words to be perfect and complete? Is there a greater pattern or any higher pattern of words? Should we even think to alter and change that pattern of words? Can anyone find a better example in Christ and His pattern shown through the lives of His followers in the Scriptures? Pattern theology has a point. There is a pattern that Christians must follow and it is not the pattern of the world or the inventions of men and denominations. There are no greater examples than those found in the scriptures.
In conclusion, the Christian’s pattern is Christ, His life, and His words. Pattern theology must consist of our lives imitating Christ along with imitating His church that He built and bought with His blood.
Scott, you have no problem contacting other churches and logging onto other websites and telling everyone how they are wrong. I’ve seen your name all over the web at other sites. You impose your will on them as if you have the truth and they don’t. Yet when someone comes to your site to have a discussion you start bashing them. I will be glad to inform the sites where I see your name and give them evidence of your egotistic attitude that you take everywhere you go. You are condescending and self-righteous. And you are keeping fledgling Christians from experiencing the spiritual aspects of Christianity because you refuse to see the part of the bible that refers to this higher relationship with Truth that mature Christians were meant to live by.
You have not heard the last from me. You can ban me from your site but I will expose you for the way you arrogantly approach others and attempt to correct them with your false doctrine of works, and the damage you do to the power of Grace. I spent 35 years in the coC and have seen those like you who are obsessed with correcting others of their wrongness. I was one of them until I finally woke up. I lost my family because I saw things differently than them, which is typical in the coC. Everyone who disagrees gets ostracized. So be it. I’d rather be w/o my family than to have to put up with false teaching that does nothing more than make the believer bigger in their own eyes. Arrogance runs rampant in the coC.
I have invited you to contact me by email at email@example.com but you have not. We can discuss this matter privately, or if you prefer to do it publicly then so be it. You will deal with me again, I promise. I am as determined to expose you as you are determined to correct others.
It’s your choice.
Apparently you have not understood that one must die before he is reborn. When you die it is Christ living in you, not you following a pattern. You are dead! It is Christ who is now alive in you. You become the dwelling place that Christ live by His Spirit. How can you (Scott) follow a pattern if your dead to the flesh? The flesh follows patterns, laws, rules and commands. The Spirit uses you to carry out His will, not you doing it for Him. Can you not grasp this NT principle?
When Christ lives in you you are the one being led by the Spirit, who lives in you, not the mechanical practice of following a pattern. The difference is subtle, but very important. As a Christian why don’t you know that? Have you not been transformed of mind? I wonder!
There is nothing wrong with following a pattern until the pattern becomes the main objective of your quest.
What about Christ’s pattern?
What about it? I don’t live by a pattern. When God’s Spirit comes alive in you then He becomes your guide, not a pattern. Read Romans 8. Nothing in Romans 8 infers a pattern. Pre -conversion has a place for patterns, rules, regs, laws, commands, etc. But not post-conversion. You don’t seem to make a distinction between pre-conversion and post-conversion. Maybe you don’t understand it. Or maybe you don’t believe in it. The Galatians certainly had a problem with it, which is why Paul was frustrated with them.
Please consider these passages:
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
The pattern you are promoting is more about law than the Spirit. When following a pattern you are literally following written instructions, which is totally that of a works theology.
Why would I quit following Christ?
Thank you so very much i read this.
It was what i needed at this time.
God bless. I actually want to leave the God’s patterns
So what? The objective of NT Christianity is to become transformed of mind to become a new creation. Your pattern theology does not create that.
Read the whole NT, not just a scripture here and there to support a preconceived idea that patternism is our objective.
Hey guys, check this out! The most important thing is that everything be doing to edify the brethren (build up the Temple of God–the Church and Body of Christ). The Bible says WISDOM builds the house and LOVE BUILDS UP. God is love and proof of our discipleship is based up on THIS truth–Love God and Love others. This is the royal law of the Kingdom. Now if this post was not written from the motive that you wanted to share something with people you love then it is waste of time. I’ve read this post a few years ago. And I do not think that love was lacking here. On the other end, there is no need to subtly attack each other over who got it right and who didn’t. The Scriptures says the proof of our belief in the truth is how we demonstrate it in love towards one another. Truth produces maturity, which produces PERFECTED LOVE and this is HOW we know that we are in Christ.
“But whoso keepeth His word [Thy Word is TRUTH], in him [in YOU] verily [truthfully] is the LOVE of God PERFECTED [perfected love is defined as ‘Love your enemies … That ye may be the CHILDREN of your Father … if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? … Be ye therefore PERFECT (and love your enemies and those you don’t agree with), even as your Father (who doesn’t agree with what we do, but STILL loves us ‘while were were yet enemies’ which is in heaven is perfect.’]: hereby KNOW we that we are in Him [IN CHRIST].” (1 John 2:5).
If what we teach doesn’t produce LOVE then the fruit of love will wax cold as the love of so many has already happened. Fall IN love with each other guys. That’s the TRUTH about what we are to teach. Christ is coming back to a TREE with FRUIT that shall remain and abide with FAITH, HOPE, AND TRUTH. Only true teaching and doctrine can produce these things of the Kingdom that CANNOT be shaken.
Paul said all this arguing just INCREASES MORE ungodliness. And personally it breaks my heart that you are doing this PUBLICLY for the world to make a mockery out of our faith. If you all have problems take it off GOD’S blog and go to each other in private email or pick up the phone.
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him ALONE.”
The Scriptures say,
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law BEFORE the unjust [or publicly on a blog], and not before [in PRIVATE with] the saints?
2 Do ye not know that the saints [YOU, I, WE] shall judge THE WORLD? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters [This what you guys are arguing about is a SMALL matter to Paul]?
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to THIS life?
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
5 I SPEAK THIS TO YOUR SHAME. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that [like PUBLICLY ON BLOGS] before the unbelievers.
7 Now therefore there is UTTERLY a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? (1 Cor. 6)
Act like men of God with the righteousness that EXCEEDS THE ARGUMENTS and DIVISIONS BETWEEN PHARISEES AND SADDUCEE and take it off God’s blog. I know this is Scott’s blog, but it belongs to God. So treat it as such and give NOT “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” His name and YOU–His children before others.
Don’t take this as offense, but as a show of tough love and loving tough because I LOVE the people of God toooooo much to see this stuff happening on the internet and in real life all over the planet. We got much bigger issues to deal with as Kings and Priests of God in this life.
Love you guys! If you have any questions, or if I can help you in any way, feel free to write.
May the LORD bless you, and keep you: may the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: may the LORD lift up His presence upon you, and give you peace, in the name of Jesus Christ WHO IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE WORLD! Amen!
Titus 1:13 and Matthew 23 have to Phil. Love chastens (Heb. 12:5-11), but he needs chastening for his false accusations. He has been admonished gently, but his admonishes have gone beyond twice (Titus 3:10). His comments are not welcome with his malicious spirit.
Then he is willingly disobeying a direction command (order) of General and Lord Christ. Good oversight on your part Scott. Keep up the awesome work.
Ricardo, I don’t live by commands. The bible teaches to live by Christ’s Spirit in you. Yes or No? Read Romans 8.
Obedience to commands is for those who have not been transformed of mind. Yes, there is a place for that, but that is before mind transformation. Do some research on this matter. Don’t take my word for anything. Find out for yourself.
by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,
2 Timothy 1:14
Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Was this malicious?
I came on here because I got an email that the responses didn’t sound peaceful. Blessed are the peace makers. Because it is obvious that their is no peace here. And even obedience to the commands of Christ by faith to New Covenant Laws of the Spirit. Paul said,
“Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom we obtained grace and apostleship for faith-OBEDIENCE among all the nations” (Rom. 1:5).
“For I am not daring to speak any of what Christ does not effect through me for the OBEDIENCE of the nations, in word and work …” (Rom. 15:18).
“… according to the injunction of the eonian God being made known to all nations for faith-OBEDIENCE …” (Rom. 16:26).
“For I write also for this, that I may know your testedness, if you are OBEDIENT in all things” (II Cor. 2:9).
“For the weapons of our warfare are … leading into captivity every apprehension into the OBEDIENCE of Christ, and having all in readiness to avenge every disobedience, whenever your OBEDIENCE may be completed” (II Cor. 10:4-6).
“… His slaves you are, whom you are obeying, whether of Sin for death, or of OBEDIENCE for righteousness” (Rom. 6:16).
“For your OBEDIENCE reached out to all” (Rom. 16:19).
“And his compassions for you are superabundantly more, having a recollection of the OBEDIENCE of you all, as, with fear and trembling you receive him” (II Cor. 7:15).
Sounds like Paul was obedient to the commands and laws of the Spirit of Christ in Him by faith, hope, and love!
“Having confidence in your OBEDIENCE, I write to you” (Phil. 21).
Thank you, Ricardo. May we have peace. God bless you for your concern and good words.
Welcome brother Scott. Keep preaching. I teach a lot of finding patterns in the Scriptures that point from the types and shadows to the reality in Christ. God bless!
Scott, you can’t be serious. If you see maliciousness in my comments then you need to look at yourself and see that you have created an issue from nothing. I have as much right to admonish you as you have the right to admonish me. What give you the right to be the one who admonished yet can’t accept admonishment himself? You have taught against living directly from the Spirit, which is as wrong as wrong can be, and is against the scriptures you worship. You should be admonished for that alone.
Scott, be honest with me and point out my false accusations, and show specifically where I have been malicious. Give me details, not generalities.
You have your understanding of truth as and I have mine. I have read the Bible and can support everything I say. I have done so yet you want to admonish that. Based on what? Why should I listen to you teach that following a pattern is the objective of the Christian when the NT clearly states that living by laws, rules and commands disqualifies the believer from grace?
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
You should be admonished for that alone.
There is a difference between living by written commands and living by His laws that are written on our hearts. Read Hebrews and other NT scriptures if you don’t believe it.
Christ’s Scriptures and His transformation of the mind do not contradict each other. Read the Scriptures above.
Never said they did. Yet you can live by the scripture without being inwardly transformed. It looks the same on the outside but the content is so much different. You’ve yet to make that distinction.
Scott, your mindset is what happens when one pays attention to outer form and ignores the inner content of the believer. Your mind is on pattern more than consciousness.
Paul said it best, and you should take heed.
Galatians 6:15 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”
This principle should be given more attention than the pattern issue.
Read the Scriptures above.
But are you going to make following Christ as a pattern into believing there is a pattern for the worship service? And are you going to say that if you deviate from this “pattern” for a worship service you go to hell? Now then, based on Hebrews 8:5 talking about Moses being shown a “pattern” in the mountain, most church of Christ guys come up with the idea that we also have such a pattern. Yet, Moses’ pattern is contained in DETAILED descriptions and laws on how exactly to build the tabernacle and how to worship in it — so detailed they will put you to sleep, chapter after chapter after chapter of text on explaining this “pattern” he saw in the mountain: WHERE is this in the New Testament? It isn’t. There is nothing like Exodus 30-40 or Leviticus in the New Testament. So because common sense demonstrates this “pattern” for worship services does not exist, the patternists go about creating it from disjointed clippings. Acts 20:7 says “the disciples came together on the 1st day of the week to break bread” — thererefore the pattern is you must attend church every sunday or go to hell, you must observe the lord’s supper only on sundays and every sunday, and if you attend a church that observes it both on sunday and on wednesday (even if you personally only observe it on sunday) you will got to hell!!!! This pattern stuff is out of control. We don’t have a pattern like Moses had. If we did, the New Testament would read more like the Law.
What “worship service”? Where is there the words “worship service” in the scriptures? There is the Assembly. It is to be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). It is to include the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:17ff). That would be the pattern that I find defining the Assembly.
The Corinthians deviated from the Assembly. They were not all condemned except for some who profaned the Lord’s Supper. They were in error. Paul said that they were carnal and yet babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1). This church was still of Christ (1 Cor. 3:23).
We do have commands from Christ about the Assembly. Read these scriptures that speak the most about the Assembly: 1 Cor. 4:17, 7:17, 10:16-21, 11:17-34, 14:1-40, 16:1-2. If we love Christ and our brethren in Christ, we obey His commands (1 John 5:2-3). Remember Christians must “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). Having this confession, Christ’s Spirit states in the following verses, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the Assembly of ourselves, as is the custom of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). This is the Assembly in Jesus’ name (1 Cor. 5:4, Matt. 18:20). Remember that Jesus was in the midst of the churches on the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10, 13, 20). Lastly regarding Hell, Christ’s Spirit says in Hebrews 10:26-27, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” Remember “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
I plead with you in the name of Christ to assemble and see the Assembly in the scriptures. May God bless you in our studies.
“What ‘worship service’? Where is there the words ‘worship service’ in the scriptures? There is the Assembly.”
True. A little nitpicky but true. But the idea that we have a “pattern” for the Assembly is nowhere in Scripture either. We have a pattern for life, Jesus Christ, but not for the Assembly.
You say “Remember Christians must ‘hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful’” — but what is our hope? What did he promise?
Did he promise “If you follow the pattern for the Assembly perfectly, you shall be saved”? No. Well, then, if THAT is our hope, out hope is based on something he did NOT promise. And then it surely is a vain hope, is it not? We can hold fast to a confession of THAT hope all we want and it will do us no good.
And BTW, when I said “We don’t have a pattern like Moses had. If we did, the New Testament would read more like the Law.” That is no disparagement of the Law. Quite the contrary, the Law is superior to the New Testament on the point of perspicuity. There is no question what the Law demands. But Christians bicker and bite and devour one another with their endless disputes trying to ferret a pattern for worship out of a New Testament that does not contain one.
There is a form (pattern) and model (example) of the Assembly in the scriptures. You can read them as I showed you.
You’re right. We should not dispute or word-wrangle. Yet, we should correct and gently rebuke if necessary as Paul did the Corinthians. If there was no form for the Assembly, then why did Paul correct the Assembly? Regarding the Assembly, Christ’s Spirit spoke through Paul saying, “If anyone thinks oneself to be a prophet or spiritual, that one must acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).
I’m not talking about blatantly disregarding 1 Cor 14 and jabbering in tongues like a madman in the assembly. I’m talking about stuff like a congregation that doesn’t have sunday school saying “Sunday school is not authorized in the NT, therefore everyone who attends a congregation that has sunday school will go to hell. And if any of you at our non-sunday-school congregation so much as visit a sunday-school congregation, you will be damned and on your way to hell until you make a public confession of fault. Sunday school is outside the pattern and all who have it or attend (even once) a congregation that has it are therefore damned.” Or insert here anything you want, instead of sunday school say instruments of music, or multiple cups in communion instead of one cup, or in some congregations even (on the most extreme end) if your order of worship is not opening prayer, 4 songs, reading, middle prayer, song, sermon, invivation song, communion, collection, closing song, closing prayer they’ll damn you to hell. What you put the communion first? That’s deviating from the pattern. Why Acts 2:42 doesn’t list ‘breaking of bread’ first!!!! This is the type of thing I’m talking about.
You’re just going to disregard Hebrews 10:23-31? You can read the consequences. I pray you reconsider.
I didn’t say there should be no assembly or you should never go to it. What I’m talking about is the absurd interpretation that missing one assembly will land you an eternity in hell. Sometimes when the people at your congregation are hypocrites and turn your stomach, you need a break for your sanity’s sake. To say no you must attend 100% of the time is absurd. Or to say that on Vacation, like if you take a vacation to a foreign country, you have to fly back to go to church because there is no “established church” there and meeting with your family in your hotel room is invalid — this type of stuff is just absurd legalism. Generally I object to the term legalism because it is way overused, but in this case, what else can I call it, except perhaps insanity and superstition?
BTW, in Hebrews 10:23-31 it DOES NOT say “not forsaking the assembly” — everyone quotes it that way, but that’s not what it says. It says “not forsaking the assembLING.” It is the VERB in the infinitive not the NOUN. It is not referring to missing one assembly but to ceasing to assemble altogether. But legalism and the desire to make oneself part of a laity-controlling priesthood has driven patternist preachers to actually CHANGE the word that is found in Scripture there!
Amen. This is what the COC doesn’t understand. When the law passed away, it was not replaced with a new law, only Christ. The pattern and examples we are to follow are all about love and attitude, not how we perform an everyday function, which would include anything done during “worship”. Worship takes place in our hearts and can’t be described as any one physical action. It’s so frustrating that the COC doesn’t understand these very basic foundations of love and worship, especially if you have members of the COC in your life and you love them dearly.
Scott, you said, “Are you saying walking in the light is subjective (1 John 1:5-9)? “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). “[D]epart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matt.
Anyone can mechanically keep commandments without one ounce of faith present. All one has to do it read the commandments and act them out. Fear is a great motivator toward obedience, but this fear-generated obedience is not based in love and is not walking in the light. Can you not see this? This is to what I am referring when I say that doing without being is not walking in the light. I hear you saying that as long as the commandments are kept then it does not matter the origin, whether love, fear, faith, etc. Faith and love are aspects of a persons “being,” their essence if you will. Doing God’s commands from duty and fear of what will happen if they don’t is just doing without regard for the cause of the obedience. You’ve gotta look a little deeper to understand this.
You are not looking into things deeply when you state that “doing is being,” and “being is doing.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
As far as keeping God’s word, there is something much deeper that you have not considered. According to Romans and many other passages it is not “your” job to obey from personal human effort. This obedience is from the flesh as all human effort is. The fact is that when we live by and in the Spirit it is God’s Spirit that is obedient in us. We have one job and this is to surrender to the will of God’s Spirit that lives in us, and then we become the dwelling place for God to carry out His will. It’s not about you doing the obedience from your flesh, as you suggest. This is essential, and it is missed by most seekers who use their personal will towards obedience, yet human will and effort is contaminated by the flesh and is prone to failure and subtle sabotage.
You’ve gotta see this, Scott! When you do it will take you to your knees in surrender and then you will be ready to allow God to work in you instead of using the ego to try and please God.
Think about this deeply.
I disagree. I don’t believe that people can mechanically keep the commandments. Romans 7 teaches that this is not possible to observe all things without minding the Spirit.
You hear me say a lot of things that I do not. This is prejudice. As I’ve said from the beginning, every command has virtue and principle behind them. Love must be behind every actions or it is nothing (1 Cor. 13:3). No “ego” here if I rely on Christ and follow Him.
By effort, do you mean that we are not to be diligent, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God” (2 Tim. 2:15), “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:11), “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6), and “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure”.
I mind the Spirit; therefore, I am diligent and put forth effort. Do you want me to put effort toward thinking about this deeply? If you would show scripture, then you would persuade.
Certainly we can follow the scriptures without minding the Spirit. Many people follow the scriptures mechanically because they are afraid they will go to hell if they don’t. Fear make lots of people obey commands. Ask me…I certainly obeyed commands while in the coC because they taught that we would lose our salvation if we didn’t. Fear is alive and well in the lives of many Christians, and even seen as a virtuous quality because it make one obedient. .And yet fear is not a product of the Spirit. Romans 8:15
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again…
You said, “By effort, do you mean that we are not to be diligent?”
Who is the\is “me” that is performing diligently? Is it the flesh…..the person called Scott? Human effort is from the flesh, by definition. Are you saying that your human effort and personal diligence are capable of pleasing God?
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
Romans 8:7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
Is your diligence from the flesh or from the Spirit. Personal diligence requires personal effort, and yet the bible teaches that anything that is from flesh is useless, correct? This presents a dilemma for you, Scott. You ascribe to an obedience by the flesh and yet the flesh is worthless in it’s attempt to please God. Now, one can read scriptures that require obedience but it is not stated from where this obedience derives it’s power? It can only be from flesh or Spirit. Anyone can read the commandments and obey them from the flesh as if it’s from the Spirit, but obedience from the :”words” of the Spirit is not the same as obedience from the Spirit that resides within the believer.
Regarding slander, you said I was into false teaching without any evidence, so I guess you set the tone in which we communicate. If I have slandered you then please show me where.
“Yes, we sin, but I am obedient. To practice sin is to fail to be obedient, and to do one sin does not imply lack of obedience. If I fail to be obedient and practice sin rather than righteousness, then I would be lost and condemned (Gal. 5:19-21). I would fall from grace”
This is so subjective. At what point does one fall from grace? 3 sins per hour? 10 sins per hour? How can we know how many sins condemn one to hell under you theory? If you are going to take an intellectual and analytical approach to the scriptures then there needs to be line that shows us where we fail. If our approach to Christianity is based on personal righteousness then our attention gets distracted from Christ and his death on the cross.
Do you understand the difference between “doing” and “being?” I am getting from you that “doing” is everything and “being” count for little. “Being” signifies a change in consciousness in which Christ is formed in the believer and this Spiritual indwelling becomes the source for obedience. “Doing” signifies a state in which Christ has yet to be formed in the believer, so the believer lives from written instructions.
Do you believe in this? If not please explain. And please read Galatians thoroughly to get the gist of this.
I’ll email you your words and slander if you want. Feel free to email what I said to you.
Are you saying walking in the light is subjective (1 John 1:5-9)? “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). “[D]epart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matt. 7:23.
Two or 3 sins bear witness practicing sin, “walking in darkness”, and doing evil.
“Doing” and “being” is in addressed in which scripture? I’m very familiar with the scriptures, but I do not know if you are paraphrasing or of what you refer. As I’ve been saying, I agree with Christ and His Spirit as I think you agree. Christ’s Spirit said in Romans 8:5-6, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
“If our approach to Christianity is based on personal righteousness then our attention gets distracted from Christ and his death on the cross.” Following and obeying Christ does not distract from Christ. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). I can refer to more scriptures. Jesus’ disciples were not distracted by their obedience to Him, but rather by their pride. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
If I really believe Christ and I do, then I believe His words, His life, and His forgiving grace. Therefore, believing His words about good works, I keep them. If I believe in Jesus and what He says about repentance, then I will repent. Will we not be judged by our works (Matt. 25, Rom. 2, Rev. 21)? “[B]ut glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 2:10). Salvation is to those who do the faith. Being is doing and doing is being as far as we can reason upon inferences, which I have no interest in adding inferences upon opinions. I presume you don’t either.
In Galatians, these Christians went after the Law of Moses similar to those win Antioch. By this, they fell from grace (Gal. 5:4). Those who practice the sins of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (Gal. 5:19-21).
I’m still trying to follow you. Reveal what you know or patiently learn to communicate to me. Thank you.
Although following Christ’s pattern is virtuous, it not what Christ is ultimately teaching. He wants us to be transformed of mind and the “new mind” contains that pattern. You have become like the Galatians in that they wanted laws and rules to obey, yet had not become transformed of mind. Paul acknowledged that Christ had not yet been formed in them, and it appears that this has befallen you also.
Anyone can follow the pattern without the Spirit. Human effort is how this is done, yet Paul speaks against using human effort for this purpose.
Under the new covenant the pattern and the laws are written on the mind and heart of the believer. Read Hebrews 8:10.
Out of love, I obey Christ. I obey His commands. We understand His commands from His pattern and examples of Him and His Apostles and prophets, who were guided by His Spirit. Behind these commands are very clear virtuous principles.
Yes they are, but you and I fail at obedience. Yes we succeed often but not always. Everyone falls short. So who makes it to heaven? The one who sins the least? If 100% obedience is required then none of us make it to heaven. You can say that we must repent but many of our sins we are not even aware of. You may have a jealous, envious, negative, etc. toward another and not even be aware. Consciousness cannot be legislated anyway. We si9n consciously and unconsciously. Do we just ask for forgiveness of all of our sins or do we have to name them?
Your theology has alot of holes in it.
We are totally dependent on grace and grace is invokes by sin and not bey obedience.
We shouls all obey but obedience does not guarantee a ticket to heaven. No one obeys enough to get the ticket to heaven. Likewise no one sins enough to lose God’s grace.
What if sin wasn’t an issue? What if Christ satisfied God’s justice at Calvary to where God no longer held sin to our charge? This wouldn’t mean God takes away our sin nature. It would just mean that what our sin nature produces (sins) was judged on Christ, sufficiently. 2Corinthians 5:19 – To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the WORLD unto himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR (the world’s) TRESPASSES UNTO THEM. We will never be obedient – not in a million lifetimes while in this flesh. We can’t Christianize the flesh. That’s why when God enters into the New Covenant with Israel, He, by the agent of the Holy Spirit, is going to cause (force) them (Israel) to walk in His statutes. (Ezekiel 36:27 – And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.)
Paul tells us that the things he (Paul) writes are the commandments of the Lord (1Corinthians 14:37). He also tells us that we are to follow him (Paul) in the manner in which he followed Christ (1Corinthians 11:1). Did Paul follow Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount? –According to Christ’s physical, earthly ministry? No. 2Corinthians 5:16 – Henceforth know we NO MAN after the flesh, yea, though we have known Christ AFTER THE FLESH, yet now henceforth no we him no more” (after the flesh). The risen, ascended Christ instituted His heavenly ministry with the apostle Paul and Paul is our pattern for doctrine and service. “That in me first, Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering (grace), FOR A PATTERN, to them which should hereafter (not before Paul, but hereafter Paul) believe on Him to life everlasting.” This doesn’t take the focus off of Christ since it was Christ who set it up to be this way. Christ is still the head of the body. Christ still has the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18). But, it is Christ who called Paul for a specific purpose and that was to reveal to us the things that He had been keeping secret, never before revealed to Israel nor the world.
Hey guys. I love nothing more than a “sword” fight. But I think it would be wise to have this discussion of the blog and maybe in a personal email or something. This is the kind of stuff non-believers are looking for as a reason not to come to Christ. How do I know? I was one of them before Christ. So be wise in your “sWord fights” and follow the admonitions of the Lord in a more private setting. That way you can have at it and the Atheist SEEKING for an excuse to not come to Christ finds one.
Love you guys! I see your hearts! But the world can’t!
I appreciate your kind words and genuine love. I find that open discussion is good and scriptural as Jesus did (Matt. 23, John 5, 8, etc.). I read in the scriptures of those specifically rebuked and named (1 Tim. 1:20, 3 John 9-10). I read Paul correcting the Corinthians on number of subjects and addressing them as “carnal” and “babes”, which was addressed to all saints in 1 Cor. 1:1-2. I strongly believe in offending the conscience of unbelievers (John 3:20-21), who being dark in heart will mock us as Jesus was mocked (2 Pet. 3). Yet, I will consider your words seriously and examine myself to express more love and less offense. Thank you. I think that if we appealed more to the sword of the Spirit of Christ, then there would be no wrangling, disputing, and useless evil sectarianism.
May God the Father bless you and all us in turning our attention to Jesus Christ.
Thank you brother Scott. True maturity and Christ-likeness (if that’s a word. lol!) is shown more when there IS a true disagreement in things like the Scriptures. Believe me guys, I use to be notorious for this! I was going church to church as a Christian Hip-Hop artists pounding the wolves for there hypocrisy until the Lord stopped me and said, “Ricardo! It is good that you exposed these false ministers that are not of me, but the sheep who sit under these foolish and carnal men do not understand what is going on. You are damaging the babes in Christ in the process.”
So other people and genuine sheep were damaged too. It’s like when Jesus told the angels not to take up the tares less you remove the wheat too. Let them grow together until the harvest. We’ve got to remain harmless as doves and wise as serpents (or as I say, ‘Be sheep IN WOLVES CLOTHES to rescue the sheep in covert operation’).
The best way to demonstrate doctrine and biblical theology is to LIVE IT in from of people. When we are light and salt the Scriptures says, “Ye are the salt of the earth… Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:1,14,16).
Salt does not make any noise, and light does not argue Scriptures. Neither salt nor light makes any sound whatsoever. Maybe there is a lesson in there.
Too many people learn a few truths of God and think that they are ready to take on the world. They usually start by trying to embarrass their Pastor with their new-gained knowledge. Usually they fall flat on their face on the very first try. It’s all about motivation. If your motivation is carnal, God will not back you. Yes, I know, all of you are saying: “But my motivation is to show them God’s truths.” Yes, sure, I understand, but THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR GOD’S TRUTHS, and you already know this, so what is your point?
Leave them alone and let them taste your salt and see your light and admire your good works, and perchance they will even praise God for your new-found humility,
You will never argue anyone into accepting the truths of God’s Word. As salesmen are often taught: “You might win the argument, but loose the sale,” so don’t argue. And this: “He who is persuaded against his will; is of the same opinion still.” Such a carnal exhibition of prideful flesh is akin to someone looking for a street fight merely because he has just acquired a black belt in karate.
James also showed us how to prove our theology and doctrine when he said, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge [of the Word] among you? let him shew out of a good conversation [Greek: ‘behavior’] his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion [Babylon] and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:13-18).
Love you guys! You are the best. And I recommend closing this discussion. You all have your own convictions. A soft answer turns away wrath. Start blessing each other with the Word of God and loving each other. This is HOW one becomes PERFECT (conformed into the Image of Christ) like there Father in heaven. Christ bless!
Paul’s the Pattern,
I agree with most of your words, but I ask you reconsider your position regarding obedience in accordance with scriptures and to also consider (1 Pet. 1:22, Rom. 6:17) our free-will to obey God’s command to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
Thank you for the discussion. You make very strong points.
Scott – My point is that we should not be obedient because it is ultimately futile, but rather the purpose of the obedience and the result of the obedience is different if we look at Paul vs. Peter, for example. With Christ’s earthly ministry, we see direct obedience being the determining factor in any merit or favor with God. Take Matthew 6, for example. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
The obeidence of the Jews to forgiveness determined their forgiveness with God.
Paul, in Colossians 2:13 tells us that we have already been forgiven of all trespasses. It isn’t conditioned upon our obedience as to whether or not God forgave our sins – He did 2,000 years ago.
When we are joined to Christ, we are viewed in the very righteousness of Christ. Galatians 3:27 – so many that were baptized (not into water) but into Christ, have “put on Christ.” – Just like Adam was clothed by God in the skins of Adam’s sacrifice, so too we, if we’ve trusted the gospel, are clothed in the skins of our sacrfice, Jesus Christ. We then are identified with Christ’s obedience to the Father. No matter what we do, God sees us joined to His Son. Does this give us a license to sin or be disobedient knowing God doesn’t hold us accountable for our wrong doing? No, not at all. The law of reaping and sowing is still in place. But, judicially, God is not holding us accountable for our disobedience because He held Christ accountable on our behalf. What it does is change the motivation of our service. If you walk into any traditional, fundamental, Bible preaching church, the attitude of service is out of apprehension (usually germinated from legalism) – if you don’t do this, then you won’t have fellowship, joy, etc, etc. Grace is always the greater motivator. God doesn’t want us serving out of apprehension. He wants us serving out of appreciation – appreciation for what He’s done for us.
Religion is so focused on the word “do”. Because of Christ’s all-sufficient cross-work, God is focused on the word “done.”
However, my obedience is from the Christ Nature (Spirit) that becomes my essence through transformation. I don’t choose to obey or disobey. I choose to live from the Spirit or live from the flesh. When I live from flesh then I am subject to sin. When I live from Spirit I am not subject to sin. It’s all about where we choose to dwell, not what we choose to do. Romans 8 really makes this clear.
Are you saying that we cannot do good by trying to keep any law (Rom. 7), but rather minding the Spirit (Rom. 8)? If so, then I am in agreement with this. I believe that minding the Spirit includes the Scriptures and does not exclude them or go beyond them. What was your concern?
Yes, we are forgiven when we are raised from baptism (Col. 2:11-13). I find that all general references to baptism refer to water baptism that Jesus instituted (Matt. 28:19). Also, see my most recent article on baptism in Jesus’ name. I challenge you to reconsider.
In light of the scriptures, I don’t understand this don’t do because God does. Rather God’s grace and salvation are there as long as we walk in the light (1 John 1:5-2:6), we walk in the light motivated by grace. Legalism is bind what is bound the the Law of Moses, man’s law, or opinion. I agree that we are not saved by our own works or by the works of the Law. I have no more to say about this. I will always consider more scripture.
Mankind was forgiven of their sin at Calvary. If God was satisfied with the payment that Christ made, why would he be hold those sins over us until we are water baptized? Secondly, if the purpose of Christ’s burial was to put away those sins (according to Hebrews), then did he not do a good job if God was able to still have those sins to hold over us? Is this forgiveness of sin accomplished through water baptism? No. Ephesians 1:7 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Colossians 1:14 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. The blood of Christ, which was shed at Calvary, forgave our sins. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself; NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES UNTO THEM.” (2Corinthians 5:19). Where did Christ reconcile the world? In water baptism? No, at Calvary. What transaction allows God to not impute our trespasses unto us? Water baptism? No. Christ’s reconciliatory act at Calvary. Christ forever satisfied the justice that God required where our sins were concerned. How do we know that Christ satisfied God? Well, what was the evidence in the Old Testament on the Day of Atonement that God accepted the sacrifice for sin? The High Priest came out of the Holy of Holies alive. When Christ laid himself upon the alter, how do we know that God accepted the payment? Because 3 days later, Christ came out alive.
So, what about Baptism then? I’ll just share a few points to ponder.
The Baptism in Colossians 2 is the same baptism in Romans 6 – this is not baptism into water. Baptism in the bible is all about identification.
Note John 1:31 – John the Baptist says this about Christ – I knew him not, but that he should be made manifest to Israel. That is why I come baptizing with water.
John was baptizing Christ for one reason – to make him manifest to Israel – to identify to Israel their Messiah.
How about 1Corinthians 10:2 – Here we see folks baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. This was a “dry” baptism. The Nation of Israel was formally identified with Moses at this time. One might say, “The sea isn’t a dry baptism”. Well, remember that the sea parted and they walked across on “DRY land.” So, yes, it was a dry baptism.
Galatians 3:27 – so many of us that have been baptized into Christ (not into water), have put on Christ. When the Holy Spirit places us into the Body of Christ (1Corinthians 12:13), we now have put on the skins of our sacrifice – we have put on Christ.
So, what about Colossians 2 –
Note in verse 10 Paul is talking about our circumcision is “putting off the body of sins of the flesh”. That’s what circumcision was all about – the separation of self from the flesh. Paul tells us that we have been separated from our flesh (no longer identified with our flesh) because we are now identified with Christ. How did God accomplish this? Verse 11 – by baptizing us (identifying) us with Christ’s death. This is baptism into Christ’s death, not into water. Note Romans 6 –
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
A few remarks – verse 3, again we are baptized into Jesus Christ (not into water) and we are baptized into his death. We are identified with his death. In verse 4, we are identified with his burial and with his resurrection. Verse 6 – our “old man” is crucified with him. What is our old man? It is our identity in Adam. The “new man” is our identity in Christ (Col_3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him). This is what sanctification is all about – our identity. We are set apart in the mind of God (sanctified) when we are identified with His Son.
The point is, don’t automatically assume that “baptism” = “put into water”. Some baptisms required water (under Israel’s levitical program) and some are dry baptisms.
Please, stop slandering me. You do not me, my convictions, or my faith. I don’t obey obedience. Obedience is the completion of true faith by which we are saved by faith with works (Jas. 2:22). Yet, this is neither of our own works that we may boast (Eph. 2:9), nor by the works of the Law (Rom. 3:27-28, cf. Rom. 3-4). “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1).
Yes, we sin, but I am obedient. To practice sin is to fail to be obedient, and to do one sin does not imply lack of obedience. If I fail to be obedient and practice sin rather than righteousness, then I would be lost and condemned (Gal. 5:19-21). I would fall from grace (Gal. 5:4, cf. Heb. 6:1ff). Yet, do we walk in the light or in darkness? This is the extent of God’s grace of forgiveness that we walk in the light (1 John 1:5-2:6). Therefore, we are must be obedient to faith (Rom. 1:5). If we give into temptation more than once without repentance and confession to God, then these sins bear witness that we are walking in darkness and our minds our set on the flesh rather than on the Spirit. Yet, we choose being commanded to mind the Spirit rather than the flesh.
May God bless us in the study of His Word.
We can repent of sins that we are not aware of by directing ourselves to Christ.