CHANGES TO WORSHIP (Part 5: Hold to the Pattern of Words)

This recent decade casts a long shadow of challenges to all generations. As a result, many Americans seek and hope for a beacon of encouragement and enlightenment, especially a moral standard on which to stand in times of uncertainty and perceived moral decline. “Barna conducted the annual State of the Bible survey, commissioned by American Bible Society, to examine behaviors and beliefs about the Bible among U.S. adults. The results show that Americans overwhelmingly believe the Bible is a source of hope and a force for good even as they express growing concern for our nation’s morals” (,they%20express%20growing%20concern%20for%20our%20nation%E2%80%99s%20morals.). Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans believing the Bible to be a standard of moral authority, the percentage of people who actually engage with the Bible on a daily basis continues to decline from 2011. The Bible cannot be effective while people just see it as a symbol of good, one has to hold to the words and obey them for their power to be saving.

Thus, Paul writes to Timothy, recorded in 2 Timothy 1:13, “Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (ASV).” “Hold” is the translation of the Greek echei, which is the present active imperative, third person singular of the root word echo, which means “I have.” So, “have,” “hold,” “cling to” stresses the point Paul makes to this young evangelist. Note also that the present tense of the imperative verb (eche, keep, hold) demands the interpretation, keep on holding fast. The design by God for the life and purpose of human beings should continually be held and possessed with great enthusiasm and gratitude. People have no greater purpose or end than to be told by their Creator, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). The words of the Lord, the words which Paul received from God, embody “sound words” or, by other means in the Greek, “healthful words.” To hold fast to the words of God is to be in good spiritual health. What does it take for one to possess the health and favor of God through His Word?

Through the ages of the world, God has prescribed numerous patterns of obedience. As recorded in Genesis 6, God bestowed meticulous instructions to Noah with regard to building the ark in times of great wickedness on the earth. Likewise, in Exodus 25, God detailed exact procedures for the reconciliation of Israel through the building of the tabernacle, the establishment of the priesthood, and the offering of sacrifices. Just as God gave Noah the pattern for building the ark, and just as God gave Moses the pattern for building the tabernacle, so God has given to mankind the pattern for building his life in the Christian dispensation. God has given the pattern for Christian character (attitude and conduct) and the pattern of the church (its organization, name, doctrine, worship, plan of salvation, mission). And, just as Noah was obligated to build according to the divine pattern, so it is that Christians today are obligated to build according to the divine pattern. Christians have no right to change or alter God’s divinely instituted acts of worship to fit the modern desires or ambitions for worship. To add instruments, praise teams, dramatic skits, female preachers, or 21st-century miracles is to violate the authority invested in God’s pattern for the Christian life.

There exist certain brethren who have gone out from among us “because they are no longer of us” who very definitely reject the idea, the concept, that the New Testament is our infallible pattern (1 John 2:19). Early in the ‘current apostasy,’ in March of 1972, in Mission Magazine, Victor L. Hunter wrote: “The problem with a restoration theology is it rests on the premise that the mission of the church is to set us a true church in which all the details of church life are exactly like they were in a first century world. It functions on the assumption that there is a blueprint or pattern in the New Testament that the church is to reduplicate in each succeeding generation.” Hunter’s concept totally rejects the New Testament as a universal pattern for the church for all generations, and the current crowd of apostates follow his theology. Hunter’s theology creates an attitude that has produced many false churches.

For individuals to call themselves Christians while dismissing the basic premise of the Christian pattern for living creates a person describes by Christ as a “whited sepulchre” (Matt. 23:27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”). Modern changes in worship may appear refreshing and exciting on the surface but ultimately, they eat away at the foundation of salvation (Col. 2:8). God designs His pattern to be everlasting and all authoritative (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 John 9; 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:6-8; Rev. 22:18-19).

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