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Faith | jonmower.com

Faith

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The Church's Pattern - Part 2

gracEmail (THE CHURCH'S PATTERN - 2)

Edward Fudge

Sep 20, 2005

Someone recently admonished: "The New Testament provides the pattern which the true church must follow. We learn that by commands, examples and necessary inferences. The church revealed in the New Testament is the one we must imitate if we respect Bible authority."

* * *

The New Testament nowhere tells us to follow some interpretative system of commands, examples and necessary inferences. Those terms and that approach spring from Scottish philosophy and the English common law. They might be useful at some time, but the Bible does not teach them or require them. Instead, it assumes that a person with a true heart set on pleasing God will be able, with the Spirit's aid, to read the Scriptures prayerfully and to discern God's leading day by day and moment by moment (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 1:16-17; Col. 1:9-12; 2 Tim. 2:7; Heb. 13:20-21; 1 John 2:27).

Devotion to the system of "command, example and necessary inference" simply is not necessary in order to show respect for Bible authority. That system of interpretation is not found anywhere in the sacred Scriptures. It was invented by uninspired man and became a grid through which some people have read the Bible -- which then conformed to the shapes and categories of the human grid itself. Not only is that system lacking in biblical support, but, as history makes plain, it is legalistic when used as a standard of righteousness and divisive when made a basis for unity. As commonly applied, this system of interpretation binds what Scripture leaves loose and ignores what Scripture seems to bind.

The New Testament Scriptures (which the early church did not even have for several decades) never claim to be a constitution or detailed pattern for all areas of church life. Those who wrote them do purport to read and understand the Old Testament Scriptures as illuminated by the Jesus event (his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension). They also set out, based on the Jesus event and assisted by the Holy Spirit, to describe the moral and relational life appropriate for those who believe in Jesus as God's Son and Savior and to describe at least in broad terms the mission of Christian communities and those individuals who constitute them within a watching world. The earliest church's pattern was Jesus himself. It did not somehow replace Jesus as the pattern for the church during successive generations. ___________________

© 2005 by Edward Fudge. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. For encouragement and spiritual food any time, visit our multimedia website at www.EdwardFudge.com .

The Church's Pattern - Part 1

gracEmail (THE CHURCH'S PATTERN - 1)

Edward Fudge

Sep 18, 2005

A correspondent recently admonished: "The New Testament provides the pattern which the true church must follow. We learn that by commands, examples and necessary inferences. The church revealed in the New Testament is the one we must imitate if we respect Bible authority."

* * *

Indeed, the New Testament provides the pattern for each of us as Christians, and that pattern is Jesus Christ himself (Matt. 16:24; Phil. 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:21). We may also safely follow others who follow Jesus, insofar as they do that (1 Cor. 4:16; Phil. 3:17; Heb. 13:7). However, the New Testament never suggests that it is intended to provide us with a detailed pattern of ecclesiastical details concerning a precise church organization, a formal name of the church, complete data about worship, or all the minutia of institutional budgets, buildings or programs for Christian life together in all future times and places.

The New Testament does not show us a uniform picture of church life, organization, worship, steps of salvation or names of the church, as some suppose. It presents us instead with a variety of expressions of community life in the Spirit. Some texts reveal Jewish believers who continue to practice Jewish religion and piety -- although now trusting in Jesus as Messiah (Acts 3:1; 21:20-24). Other passages picture a charismatic fellowship characterized by great spontaneity (1 Cor. 11-14). Still others present us with an institutional model of Gentile church organization involving bishops, deacons and deaconesses (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1). The notion that the first-century Christians were all alike in these external details is a fiction from a much later date.

Most importantly of all, the Bible never suggests or even hints that our salvation or right standing with God come through our own efforts and ability to decipher some "pattern" of the "true church," and then to measure up to these theoretical details. Scripture always points us to Jesus Christ, who has already done all that will ever be necessary to set us right with God, and it always urges us to rely wholly and exclusively on that saving work. All our obedience and all our service is in response to God's mercies, who saved us in Christ before we were ever born.

to be continued ___________________

© 2005 by Edward Fudge. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. For encouragement and spiritual food any time, visit our multimedia website at www.EdwardFudge.com .

Volleyball and 40 Days

Saturday afternoon the boys went to watch a Northwood volleyball game.  They were down one game to Ashland when we arrived, but they dominated the next three straight games to win the match.  Then Saturday night out church had a kick-off dinner for Forty Days of Purpose.

Sarah Groves

Last night Lisa and I went to see a concert by Sarah Groves (one of Lisa's favorites), Chris Rice, and Jars of Clay.  Overall, Lisa said the experience was inspiring.  All three performances were all quite enjoyable, though Lisa would have preferred a little more Sarah and a little less Chris.  Elliot and Finn stayed home with Jordan the babysitter and watched Herbie Goes Bananas for movie night.

Homegrown Democrat quote 16

America is not a religious country, no matter how many Americans say they believe in God. I've been in religious countries and this is not one of them. There is no Sabbath, no fasting or prohibitions, every day is a feast day. You can buy liquor on Sunday almost anywhere, find pornography in any Marriott or Wal-Mart, say any ugly, profane thing on the radio or anywhere - we're fat and sloppy and as disciplined as a battalion of cats, an impulsive, dreamy people walking around eating ice cream cones and eyeballing the girls - sweaters and dreaming of a big hit in the lottery. If God is looking for a nation to carry out His will on earth, it isn.t this one. And it wasn.t leftist professors who led us into the sins of the flesh: it was capitalist entrepreneurs. If the Pharisees really wanted to make this a God-fearing nation, they.d be taking up their cudgels against fellow Republicans.

That's a quote from p. 211 of Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts From the Heart of America by Garrison Keillor.  I read it during our get-away trip to the UP.  Get yourself a copy or ask to borrow mine.

More Kids Being Home-Churched

From The Onion: "A new trend in the religious upbringing of children has recently emerged in the heart of the Bible Belt. "Home-churching," the individual, family-based worship of Jesus Christ, is steadily gaining in popularity, as more parents seek an alternative to what they consider the overly humanist content of organized worship."

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