“There are no such thing as a pattern for a church and Jesus did not build any church.”
I saw the above statement on a recent facebook post. Ironically, it was posted by the administrator of a “church of Christ” facebook group. I can’t get into the mind of the man posting it, but I can get into the Word and learn that there is such a concept as a Biblical pattern.
The English word “pattern” is found 13 times in the Bible. The Greek word túpon is found 15 times in the New Testament and is rendered pattern. Example. Print. Form. Fashion. Figure. And manner.
Thayer says the word literally means “the mark of a stroke or blow.” It is a “figured formed by a blow or impression.” From it, we get our English word “type.”
Typological arguments are often used of a New Testament truth illustrated by an Old Testament picture. One example is the Hebrew writer’s reference to Moses building the Tabernacle, which served as a type of the New Testament church (Hebrews 8-10).
“They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Heb 8:5)
God instructed Moses exactly how He wanted the Tabernacle erected. The size. The layout. The furnishings. Everything about it was to follow God’s pattern. Correspondingly, the New Testament sanctuary is given a pattern.
Of course, we’re not talking about a literal building. Or an ecclesiastical organization built by man. Jesus promised, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18). The word “church” is “ekklesia” and means “the called out of.” The church is composed of people who’ve been called out the world into a relationship with Christ. They’ve been called from darkness to light. And from sin to salvation (Col 1:13-14; Ax 26:15-18; 1 Cor 1:9).
Paul said the Roman Christians “obeyed from the heart the form (or pattern) of doctrine (Rom 6:17). And what was that pattern? Acts, the history of the church offers several conversion stories of penitent believers who accepted Jesus as Christ and were “baptized for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
Christians were then instructed to follow a “pattern of good works (Tit. 2:7) and “hold fast the pattern of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13) as instructed by the inspired writers like Peter, Paul, James, and John.
The Bible offers a pattern for ordaining Elders, also called Shepherds, Bishops or Pastors, to guide, guard and give spiritual counsel to God’s people. Paul appointed “elders in every church” (Ax. 14:23). These men, who possessed high degrees of spiritual maturity were required to meet a specific standard outlined in I Tim. 3:1-7. They are not “to be Lords over God’s heritage, but examples (a pattern of godly living) to the flock” (1Pet. 5:3).
Furthermore, a study of the epistles along with Acts will show a pattern of work, worship and ministry engaged in by New Testament churches. This pattern serves as a pattern for us today. Paul commanded us to follow his example and “walk according to the pattern” that he revealed to us (Phil. 3:17).
In recent years I’ve observed a growing tendency of people to make pejorative comments about Christ’s church. To mock its members. And to ridicule its structure. Why?
Why would anyone want to belittle the church for which Christ died and purchased with his blood (Ax 20:28)? Why denigrate the church of which Christ is the head and savior (Col 1:18)? And why disparage the church which is lovingly identified as the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:23)?
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:21)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman