[forthright] Does the NT Contain a Pattern? (3)

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2006 08:48:37 -0300
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross


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COLUMN: Square One

Does the New Testament Contain a Pattern?
(Part Three)
by Richard Mansel

This series of articles has been to prove that the
New Testament pattern exists. Before something can
be enumerated, its existence must first be
established. 

Several important points need to be made.

First, the New Testament pattern is no more or
less than a standard that all men can follow./1
The Apostle Paul said by inspiration, "Hold fast
the pattern of sound words which you have heard
from me, in faith, and love which is in Christ
Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:13, NKJV). The pattern means,
"an example, mold or outline."/2

Without a standard, there cannot be "sound words."
Actually, there cannot be any doctrine that can be
verified as absolute truth. Scripture speaks of
those who did "what was right in their own eyes"
(Judges 17:6; 21:25). This is presented as being
contrary to God, not the heart of God's plan.
Without a standard, everyone can do what is right
in their own eyes. Sin is a "transgression of the
law," so dispensing with the standard means there
can be no law and no sin (1 John 3:4). The lack of
a standard leads to universalism which is soundly
condemned in Scripture (Matthew 7:13-14; Mark
8:34).

Paul told the Galatians, "But even if we, or an
angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you
than what we have preached to you, let him be
accursed" (Galatians 1:8). Paul presented a
standard that all the preaching they heard should
be judged against (cf. 2 John 9). 

Jesus gave the Great Commission and told the
apostles to go into all the world teaching what
they had been taught (Matthew 28:18-20; John
14:26). He established a standard that they were
to follow and proclaim. Second Timothy 3:16-17
says that the Scriptures are sufficient for
doctrine and righteousness and able to make us
complete. If there is not a standard, then the
Bible becomes an irrelevant book of suggestions. 

Second, the New Testament pattern is not the
reason for disunity. Critics claim that the
recently formed doctrine of the New Testament
pattern is the cause of religious division. Those
who profess this will have to prove that prior to
this doctrine that complete religious harmony
existed in Christianity.  Furthermore, they must
prove that all of Christendom, outside of those
who believe in the New Testament pattern, is
completely united. 

Yet, we know that even those who do not believe in
the New Testament pattern are completely divided.
Furthermore, if all those who believe in the New
Testament pattern died tomorrow, religious
disunity would still plague the religious world
for years to come. Obviously, the pattern is not
the culprit, sin is (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-
20).

To say that the pattern is the source of religious
disunity is to work backward against all common
sense and logic. Ancient people thought flies came
from ruined meat. Each time they saw ruined meat,
flies were there so they concluded that this was
their source. We now know this was the result of
scientific ignorance. Likewise, to say that
division is the result of the standard of God's
Word is to display Scriptural ignorance.

Third, the mishandling of the New Testament
pattern does not negate its existence. There are
those who have misapplied the pattern causing
division. This can easily and sadly be affirmed.
Yet, the mishandling of the pattern and the
presence of the pattern are two separate issues.
The existence of so many people with eating
disorders does not mean we should all stop eating
food. Admittedly, more work does need to be done
on how to properly apply the Word of God. However,
discarding it for the sake of faux unity is not
God's answer.

Fourth, truth will always be attacked. Paul said,
"but there are some who trouble you and want to
pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:7; cf.
Matthew 5:11-12; 2 Peter 3:15-16).

To say there is no New Testament pattern may sound
good and proclaimers of this doctrine will offer
peace, love, and enlightenment in its place. Yet
they are leading their followers down a dangerous
path where God's will is obliterated. False
teachers appear to be loving and full of grace yet
"inside are full of dead men's bones" (Matthew
23:27). Remember, Satan is the "father of lies"
(John 8:44). And he is fabulously successful.
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1/ http://tinyurl.com/qrquj
2/ Gerhard Friedrich, editor. The Theological
Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1972), 8:247.

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