And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
The word of Christ forms a pattern of doctrine which we must believe, obey and preach. This pattern is apostolic; not creedalistic “tests of orthodoxy” (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Ths. 2:15). It entails the whole counsel of God, the fullness God’s message to us in these last days by His Son (Acts 20:27; Matt. 20:19; Heb. 1:2).
Some reject “patternism”, saying it is weighted too heavily toward discussions of establishing and applying Bible authority (appeals to Acts and The Epistles), while being too light on the character, life and work of Jesus (appeals to The Gospels). We completely deny and reject such a characterization. It suggests an “either, or” choice when both have their legitimate place in understanding and following the patterns given to us by the Lord. When we follow Jesus Christ, by definition, we follow the pattern of truth He has revealed through His apostles and prophets (Jno. 13:20). We “learn Christ” and are taught by Him when we hear and learn His truth contained in the inspired Scriptures (Eph. 4:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). We follow “the Word” by following the word of His apostles (Jno. 14:6; Matt. 28:18-20).
The apostle Paul gave this commandment of the Lord: “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you heard from me in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). The apostolic (New Testament) pattern is formed by “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” that accord with godliness (1 Tim. 6:3). Those who oppose the pattern of the gospel can only offer the world a formless, shape-shifting message that lacks the power to save the lost from sin’s bondage and death.
The inspired apostle wrote in Romans 6:17-18: “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” The “form” (pattern, mold) of doctrine (teaching) to which the Romans had been delivered was none other than the gospel of Christ, the “power of God unto salvation” to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). This verse plainly says they were freed from sin when they “obeyed from the heart” the pattern of teaching they had heard and believed. That pattern includes faith that Jesus is the Christ and confession of the same (Rom. 10:9-10). It includes repentance of sins (Acts 17:30). It also includes being “baptized into Christ Jesus, being baptized into His death and into death to sin (Rom. 6:3-4). The sinner who does not fully obey the gospel pattern of how to be saved remains lost in his sin (Mk. 16:15-16). When this pattern is obeyed from the heart the sinner is set free from sin to become God’s servant (Rom. 6:18).
“God be thanked” for His gospel pattern that (when obeyed from the heart) frees sinners from the bondage and death of sin (Rom. 6:17-18)!
People get offended rather easily. It is not the aim of this article to offend anyone. Rather, we would like for people to stop and think about a topic that, quite frankly, people take for granted, or they give little or no thought to it. This is not the only topic people treat this way. We could ask the questions, “Who told you what to do to be saved?” or “Who tells you how to worship?” These are serious questions. However, not many people give these questions serious thought. They assume they know the answer, and then they act on their assumption.
Often, when we ask the question of an adult or teenager, “Who tells you how to dress?” the answer is, “Nobody. I choose how I want to dress.” Although each of us chooses how we are going to dress, we want to dress in a manner that will be approved by the people whose acceptance we seek. So, the real question should be, “Whose acceptance do you seek?”
As a Christian – a follower of Christ – we should seek God’s acceptance. He sets the standard of righteousness, holiness, and godliness. God’s word reveals the standards of salvation and true worship. God’s word also reveals the standards of modesty and nakedness.
When Adam and Eve sinned, “...the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (Gen. 3:7 NASB). “Loin coverings” is from the Hebrew word, chagowr or chagor and (feminine) chagowrah or chagorah, and is defined, “1) a girdle, a belt, 2) a girdle, a loin-covering, a belt, a loin-cloth, armor” (Brown–Driver–Briggs). When God asked Adam concerning his whereabouts, Adam responded, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10 NASB). Adam and Eve knew that the “loin coverings” they had made for themselves were not sufficient to cover their nakedness. God did not correct Adam. In fact, the necessary inference is that He agreed with him. Genesis 3:21 reads, “And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (NASB). The word “garment” is from the Hebrew word, kethoneth or kuttoneth, and is defined, “a tunic, an undergarment; a long shirt-like garment usually of linen” (Brown–Driver–Briggs). It is translated, “coat,” “garment,” “robe,” in the King James Version. The KJV translation of “coat” and “robe” is consistent with the amount of covering that would be supplied by a “tunic,” “a knee-length garment with sleeves, a round neck, and a loose body worn by men in ancient Rome, or a similar garment worn during the Middle Ages,” (Encarta Dictionary). The nakedness of Adam and Eve was not covered until God “clothed them” with a garment that covered them from the neck to the knees.
In addition to the garment God provided Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness, we are well served to consider an additional garment God ordered to cover the nakedness of the priests, when they stood above the people. In addition to the tunic the priest was to wear, God ordered “...linen breeches to cover their bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs” (cf. Ex. 28:39-42; 20:24-26 NASB). Clearly, God considers the exposure of “the loins even to the thighs” to be one area of nakedness.
The “loin coverings” Adam and Eve made for themselves did not cover their torso and, most likely, did not adequately cover them “from the loins even to the thighs.” Adam and Eve were honest enough with God to admit that their garment left them naked. Many of the garments that are worn by both men and women today leave them naked in the eyes of God. Those who revere God will wear garments consistent with a tunic, i.e., covers their shoulders, has a round neck line (i.e. a neckline that does not expose the nakedness of the chest), and covers them to their knees.
God has the right to tell us what to do to be saved, how to worship Him, and a hosts of other things, including the right to define nakedness. The question is, are we going to dress in a manner consistent with one who professes godliness (cf. 1 Tim. 2:10), or are we going to dress in a manner consistent with the style of the day, but exposes our nakedness?
Scripture Reading:Luke 18:1-8
I. PRAYER IS BASED ON ONE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
A. Prayer is Ineffective and
Futile without a Relationship with God, Matt. 6:9; Gal. 3:26; Matt. 7:7-11
(Gal. 4:6); Jno. 9:31; 1 Pet. 3:12.
II. SOME IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF PRAYER.
A. Prayer is:
III. HOW TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY.
A. Pray in Faith, Mk. 11:22-24;
Death and Life (Acts 12)
Scripture Reading:Acts 12:1-4
While the gospel was spreading northward among Gentiles (Antioch), the
church in Jerusalem continued to be harassed and harmed, 12:1.
I. THE DEATH OF JAMES THE APOSTLE, Acts 12:1-2.
A. The Jerusalem Church is
Pressured by Famine and Persecution, 12:1; Jno. 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:12.
II. ARREST AND RELEASE OF PETER, Acts 12:3-19.
A. Peter Arrested in Order to
Please the Jews, 12:3-4 (11).
III. GOD PUNISHES HEROD FOR HIS PRIDE, Acts 12:20-25.
A. King Herod Revels in Divine
Praise and Honor, 12:20-22.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
What is the Gospel worth to you? How far will you go with it as your guide before you decide that your interests are better served parting with the Bible’s teachings? Over the weekend we learned that this line between following God and giving in to a Godless culture is not all that distant in the religious world. The new Roman Catholic Pope and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu expressed their support for homosexuals in separate statements over the last few days, showing that many in religious (sic) continue to be swayed more and more toward “tolerance” as time goes on. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?” asked Pope Francis. Tutu went even further, saying, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”
I understand that both of these men have incorrect doctrine in a number of ways, but the fact remains that millions are influenced by the things the two of them say. They have shown that their understanding of what the Bible teaches can be molded by the pressures they feel from the culture around them. After all, the push for homosexual acceptance is one of the most dominant cultural and political movements in the world right now. However, they are undermining and devaluing one of the greatest testaments to the truth of the Bible - it never changes.
We can look through history and see how other religious books (Koran, Book of Mormon) have gone through changes and how decrees have been made to change church laws when the government or culture has forced their hands, but the same cannot be said for Christianity. What makes the church special is that it was bought by the blood of Christ and has not changed in the 2000 years since. Despite what Pope Francis and Desmond Tutu think, the Bible can not be twisted to fit a 21st Century interpretation. It says what it says, and that doesn’t change no matter how many people disagree with it today. Much of what Jesus and His apostles taught wasn’t popular when they said it and they faced enormous cultural pressure everywhere they went to change their message, but they kept on teaching, undeterred because “they must obey God rather than men.” May this be a lesson to us not just in the area of homosexuality, but in any area where we may find ourselves trying to interpret God’s Word through a 21st Century worldview. Everything we do, say, and think needs to start with the Bible as a foundation. (The Happenings, Focus Press, Inc.)
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/04/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA