[forthright] Does the New Testament Contain a Pattern? (Part One)/Defining Moments

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2006 16:01:39 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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Does the New Testament Contain a Pattern? (Part One) by Richard Mansel
Defining Moments by Tim Hall
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COLUMN: Square One

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

Is there a pattern in the New Testament? Does
Scripture provide man with what he needs in order
to be faithful to God? The answer is yes, to both
questions. People ridicule this notion saying that
the New Testament does not contain a pattern and
that this doctrine fosters division, legalism, and
the impossibility of unity. They fail to
understand the purpose for the pattern.

Teaching that the New Testament has a pattern does
not mean the following:

First, the presence of a pattern does not deny
grace. Ephesians 2:8,9 says, "for by grace you
have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,
lest anyone should boast" (NKJV). No one can live
good enough to be saved on his own merit./1 We
must have the grace and blood of Christ to cleanse
us from our sins (Romans 5:1,2,9)./2

"Works are an essential part of faithfulness to
God. They are fruit of an active faith committed
to bringing glory to God (Ephesians 3:20,21; John
15:1-8)."/3 Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will
keep My commandments" (John 14:15). He said that
we "must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
He also established the Lord's Supper for man to
partake of in order to remind him of the remitting
blood shed on the cross (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark
14:23-25; Luke 22:15-20). Many more examples could
be given. Jesus told man to follow him and to obey
his commandments.

To obey these commands as God has given them is
not to merit salvation. Paul said, "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). We humble ourselves before the
mighty hand of God and follow the Scriptures in
order to follow God. We do so because we have
faith in Christ's plan as a child who has complete
trust in a parent. We follow Jesus, the perfect
example, who was always humble and obedient before
God (John 14:10; Hebrews 5:8,9).

The presence of grace verifies that we cannot be
perfect in our efforts. However, God has not asked
us to do anything within the New Testament pattern
that is beyond man's abilities./4

Second, the presence of a pattern does not destroy
God's plan for unity. One writer has said, "The
germ that seems to be the culprit of division
within the Churches of Christ is pattern
theology."/5 On the contrary, the pattern is
specifically designed to facilitate unity. What
man does with it is a different matter. The
failures of men do not negate the commandments or
plans of God. The problem lies in the pride of
men, not in the will of God.

Jesus said that his children would be set apart
from the world by the truth of God (John 17:17).
Ephesians 4:3 says that we are to "keep the unity
of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  Then in 4:13
he pleads for us to "come to the unity of the
faith and the knowledge of the Son of God."
Therefore, we should be able to understand God's
plan in order to be united.

Unity is attained when we gather around and in
something perfect. We gather in Christ's body and
around the Word of God. To attempt to unite in
anything man-made or imperfect is futile.

Following Christ is indispensable to salvation.
Paul said, "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak
the same thing, and that there be no divisions
among you, but that you be perfectly joined
together in the same mind and in the same
judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10). We cannot all
speak the same things and be of the same mind if
we do not have a standard that all can emulate.
With God's help we can.     
    
1/ http://tinyurl.com/94k2h
2/ http://tinyurl.com/72vle
3/ Ibid.
4/ There will be more on this in the second article.
5/ http://tinyurl.com/7k0n

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COLUMN: Heavenly Connectins

Defining Moments
by Tim Hall

Mentioning the name of Vice President Dick Cheney
now prompts irreverent attempts at humor. Since
the news of his accidental shooting of a hunting
companion last week, comedians all across our land
have been cracking jokes at Cheney's expense. Time
may erase the memories of this unfortunate
incident. Or, based on memories of President Jimmy
Carter's confrontation with a "killer rabbit" in
1979, this may have been a defining moment for
Dick Cheney.

"Defining moments" are critical junctures in our
lives when decisions must be made. Making the
right decision could mean the difference between a
legacy of respect or being the subject of never-
ending jokes or perhaps scorn. In more serious
situations, one's decision may have consequences
for personal welfare or the well-being of others.
As evidence, consider Pontius Pilate's decision to
hand over Jesus to the desire of the Jews. (Why
have you never met anyone named Pilate?)

Joseph faced such a defining moment when
Potiphar's wife aggressively sought his
partnership in sin. His response rewarded him with
perpetual honor. What did he do that was so
honorable? He fled. And why did he not cooperate
with her pleasure-filled plans? "Look, my master
does not know what is with me in the house, and he
has committed all that he has to my hand. There is
no one greater in this house than I, nor has he
kept back anything from me but you, because you
are his wife. How then can I do this great
wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:8,9,
NKJV)

Not everyone responds with such wisdom, as seen in
Ecclesiastes 10:1: "Dead flies putrefy the
perfumer's ointment, and cause it to give off a
foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected
for wisdom and honor." In comparison with the
bottle of perfume, the dead fly is tiny. But try
selling that perfume at full value when the fly is
obvious to all! In the same way, a few moments of
"folly" are all it takes to destroy a good
reputation. Though one may live many years longer,
the foolish act will never be forgotten.

Perhaps most sobering of all is the fact that
defining moments are not always recognized in
advance. It's hard to see the consequences that
will follow from this seemingly little act. That's
why it's imperative that we seek the Lord's
guidance in every situation of life. The one time
we decide to leave the Lord's way for a moment of
sinful pleasure could become our defining moment.

The numerous examples of once-honored people who
now serve as fodder for jokes affirm that this
point should not be lightly dismissed. "A good
name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
loving favor rather than silver and gold"
(Proverbs 22:1).

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