By Norman E. Fultz
Some friends are having a new home built – not just any “run of the mill” house, mind you. Having envisioned what they wanted, an architect translated their vision into detailed blueprints. A builder was contracted to erect the house according to the plans. But, as will occasionally happen, the plans are sometimes ignored; and someone improvises, resulting in no small dismay to the owners. Corrections have to be made. Perhaps infringing upon the owner’s desires was not intentional . . . maybe just a failure to read the print properly . . . or possibly by rationalizing that “this is better” than what the plans call for. The digression occurs nonetheless. If the structure is to vary from the blueprints, it is the owner’s prerogative to so decree. It is not the option of the workmen.
Not many folks really get uptight when it is suggested that there is a blueprint, or pattern, for Christianity. Outmoded is the idea that God has given us a pattern in the New Testament for acceptable service. Multitudes want a no-pattern theology in which the only authority is the result of man’s thinking, not the mind of God. Where there is no order, there can be no disorder. Thus whatever the mind of man conceives, he sets about to achieve, even in the realm of religion. But does the Bible speak to this matter? Yes, verily!
In his teaching, Jesus frequently referred to “what is written” (cf. Jn. 10:34), and regarding his messiahship, he told the Jews they should recognize him as Messiah by their study of the Scriptures, for his life fit the mold of that which had been prophesied for the Messiah (Jn. 5:39). He claimed that “all authority” was his (Matt. 28:18); and he said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my word shall not pass away” (Mk. 13:31). He said his word would be the standard of judgment (Jn. 12:48); and he chided the Jews, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) Entrance into the kingdom of heaven, he declared, was not predicated upon simply calling him Lord, but “doing the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21-24).
To the Corinthians, Paul declared that through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostles had “the mind of Christ,” and that the message they proclaimed was communicated in “words which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Cor. 2:10-16). He commended those who received that message ~ ‘not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
The author of Hebrews appealed to the pattern principle when he showed that Jesus could not be a priest on earth. He was of the wrong tribe, the tribe of Judah; and he could not have served in the Old Testament tabernacle which was “built according to the pattern” (Exod. 25:40) and which was a shadow of the heavenly, “the true tabernacle (the church) which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Heb. 8:2-5; 7:12-14).
The importance of abiding in the inspired apostolic teaching is further emphasized in this, “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 Jn. 9). The prerogative to alter the plan does not belong to man, only to God. It is man’s obligation to respect it.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 23, p. 715
December 5, 1991