“…they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
God in His infinite wisdom had inspired certain individuals to write the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16, 17 & 2 Peter 1:20, 21). In view of our limited wisdom, knowledge and understanding we are unable to control our destiny (Isaiah 55:8, 9 & Jeremiah 10:23), we need God's guidance (Psalm 147:5 & Prov 3:5 & 6). According to His foreknowledge and infinite wisdom (Rom. 11:33) He has provided sufficient information in the Scriptures, our only Standard (Sola Scriptura) and His Spirit (John 16:13) to meet the needs of every soul, in every church in every generation (Jude 1:3). Therefore we need His Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding the Scriptures (Psa. 119:18; John 16:13; Acts 17:11 & 1 Cor. 2:9, 10).
One of the inspired writers, the Apostle Paul instructed the Church that we should “all speak the same thing” with "no division" (1 Cor. 1:10 & 1 Cor. 3:1-9). “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). There is one body (Church) and one faith (Eph. 4:4, 5 & Col. 1:18). Every believer has been redeemed by the same Saviour therefore we "...are no more strangers and foreigners but fellowcitizens...(Eph. 2:19), we are"...all one in Christ" (Gal. 3:28).
The function of some church organizations and ministries seem to indicate that there is a misunderstanding of who Jesus Christ is (Matt. 16:15) as revealed in the scriptures. This misinterpretation has its root in "another gospel" (Gal. 1:6) being preached and taught which are contrary to that which was promoted by the Early Church (Acts 2:42, 5:42 & Col. 1:26 - 29). This is also demonstrated by certain (including self-claimed) titles and positions given to certain individuals which belong exclusively to Jesus Christ. A misconception of Jesus Christ will certainly lead to a misunderstanding of the Church. The Church is "...the body of Christ," (Eph. 4:12 & Col. 1:18).
According to 1 Peter 2:9 we are to "...show forth the praises of him..." who has called us "...out of darkness into his marvelous light." The original meaning of this word "praises" means "virtues, excellencies, perfections" (Thayer's Greek Lexion). Therefore the Body of Christ is to show forth (manifest) the virtues, excellencies, perfections "of him" (Jesus Christ). The Church is best understood not according to human wisdom/terminology but in the light of who Jesus is. Since we have been "...crucified with Christ..." (Gal. 2:20) we now have His Life within us therefore "He must increase, but (we) must decrease" (John 3:30) to enable His Will to be done (Matt. 6:10).
We are "...partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Peter 1:4) and whenever the Spirit is allowed freedom to minister God's attributes through the Body of Christ (members) through various gifts, ministries and callings "God in all things" will "...be glorified through Jesus Christ..." (1 Peter 4:11). He is a Jealous God who will never share His glory with any creature (Exodus 34:14, Isaiah 48:11 & 1 Cor. 1:29) or any idols of any form (Exo. 20:3-6). "Unto him be glory in the church..." (Eph. 3:21). He is to be acknowledged not only during times of Praise & Worship but "in all things He" must have the first place (Col. 1:18).
A divine revelation and a personal relationship are vital in "knowing Jesus Christ" by experience (1 Chron. 28:9 & Matt. 16:16-18). Therefore as we remind ourselves about this awesome, unique Person we will acknowledge that He is worthy to be worshipped and adored. As we allow the Spirit to guide us we will understand the Church as God has revealed in the scriptures (John 16:13 & 14) which will be according to the heavenly pattern (Exo. 25:40 & Heb. 8:5) and not according to worldly design (Rom.12:2).
Concerning following "biblical pattern," it is vital that the correct "pattern" is adopted according to God's original purpose and timing. Every person, local church, ministry and organization need to carefully search the scriptures objectively at God's original purpose and the person/audience to whom various patterns were originally given. Those who claim to have received a "revelation" to build an earthly sanctuary has overlooked the Scriptures which reveal that the Old Testament tabernacle was only a "shadow" of the real heavenly Sanctuary that had existed from eternity (Heb. 8:1 - 6 & 10:1).
Concerning the tabernacle Moses was warned that "all things" is to be "according to the pattern" that was "shown" specifically to him (Exo. 25:9, 40 & Heb. 8:5). King David gave his son, Solomon the pattern of the temple which he had received of the Spirit (1 Chron. 28:9 - 11, 12 & 19). The Church membership (not the building) is now the Temple (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20 & Eph. 2:18 - 22). Just as Moses received his warning (Heb. 8:5) we too need to be very careful concerning what is added to the foundation "which is Jesus Christ" (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:42 & 1 Cor. 3:10, 11 ).
The Scriptures clearly reveal God’s original purpose and audience for each pattern. The “pattern” originally given to Moses (Exo. 25:9 & 40) and David (1 Chron. 28:11, 12 & 19) were only for Israel (the Jews) which was long before the Church existed (Matt. 16:18 & Mark 3:13-19). During the Old Testament period God spoke to His people at certain times and through various methods (Heb. 1:1 & 2) but now speaks by His Son (Mark 9:7 & John 16:13).
Concerning the pattern to be adopted for Christian living, the Church which now consists of both Jews and Gentiles has become "one new man” (Eph. 2:14-22) through Jesus Christ. God does not require the Church to “keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:5 & 24) but only the Teachings given by Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:20 & Heb. 1:1, 2) and which He also ministered through the Apostles (Acts 2:42) therefore the Church is to observe the “New Testament pattern” for Faith and practices (Jude 1:3).
From eternity God has preordained that the Church is to be conformed into the image of His Son (Rom 8:29, 30 & Eph. 1:5, 11-14). The Law was a “shadow” (Heb. 8:5 & 10:1) and also “a schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24) which brought us to Christ (Psa. 40:7 & Heb. 10:1-1-9). It will be contrary to the Nature of God for the Spirit to guide any person/organisation back to “the law of Moses” which was only “a shadow of things to come” (Heb. 10:1). The Spirit will always guide us to exalt Jesus Christ (John 16:13 & 14).
It is God's will for every believer to follow the Spirit’s guidance (John 16:13 & Rom. 8:14) and the example of the Bereans by continually searching the Scriptures objectively (Acts 17:11). We will carefully examine the attitude of the Bereans towards the Word of God in contrast to the Thessalonians (Acts 17:1-11). Our minds are not blank when are reading/studying the Scriptures; our attitude influences how we interpret scriptures. Therefore as an application we will also reflect on our own attitude towards God's Word as an individual, a local church, a ministry and as an organization.
It is my prayer that God alone will receive all the glory and that every believer will be encouraged to continually search the scriptures objectively as the Spirit continually open the eyes of our understanding (Psa. 119:18; Luke 24:45; Acts 17:11 & Eph. 1:18).
Paul V. Williams
The Bible, prayer for the Spirit’s guidance and an opened-mind
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