According to The Pattern
by Greg Jordan
Many people today have their own ideas about serving God. They have come to believe that it is possible for them to "out-think" the Lord. This is evident because, according to their doctrine, you can get to heaven any way that you choose. They think there is no pattern to be followed. Now, is that the way it is with God? Can we make up some chaotic method and expect to make Heaven our rest?
Under the Old Law, the Jews were not allowed to choose how they would serve God, nor were they allowed to have any input. God told Moses to build the tabernacle according to the pattern that He had shown him in the mount (Hebrews 8:5). There was no room for Moses to make any improvements. This, of course, was not an isolated case. Notice in Leviticus 1, when burnt offerings were to be made, the type of animal being offered determined what requirements were to be strictly followed. How do you think God feels when His pattern is rejected for something more modern, more progressive, or just different? Well, the Bible shows us.
THE ALTAR OF INCENSE
Consider the pattern in Exodus 30 of how incense was to be offered. What do you suppose happened when the pattern was altered? Nadab and Abihu chose to change the pattern that God had given, and Leviticus 10:1,2 describes the outcome. The Book says, "and they died before the Lord." Was it wrong to digress from the pattern? Of course, it was! Anyone with the sense of reason will admit that Nadab and Abihu committed sin, they veered from the pattern, and they were punished.
What about service to God today? Today, too, there is a pattern to be followed. Let us look at one part of God's design. The plan of salvation is a good example here. It consists of: Hearing (Rom. 10:14,17); Believing (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24); Repenting (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38); Confessing (Matt. 10:32; Acts 8:37); and being Baptized (Acts 8:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). These are all found in the divine pattern for salvation. If there were no pattern to be followed then it would be reasonable to assume that we could pick and choose whatever we want to be saved. With no pattern one could believe and be saved, or might confess Christ and be saved. How ludicrous! But God does have a pattern for us today and it is impossible to alter His pattern in the plan of salvation and still meet with God's approval. Baptism is included in God's pattern. Can we change the pattern?
Jesus stated in Matthew 28:20 that the apostles were to be "teaching them to observe all things." Christ expected that we observe the pattern in all things. In this passage Jesus commanded that all things were to be observed. This means that, regardless of our wants and wishes, there are certain steps to be taken to follow the pattern. Just as we must follow the pattern in salvation, so we must follow the pattern in worship (John 4:23), and in doctrine (Galatians 1:6-9). Just as it is with these, we must also follow the pattern in Christian living (2 Pet. 1:5-11).
A PATTERN IN HUMILITY
It seems there are many principles that have been forgotten even by God's people. For instance, how many of us "turn the other cheek" (Matthew 5:44), or forgive those who sin against us (Matt. 18:21,22)? How many of us try to teach someone the will of God, outside the pulpit? There are many other principles, but it is all summed up in one pattern, and that is Christ Jesus.
In John 13, when Christ was teaching his disciples humility by washing their feet, He told them to do as He had done–be humble enough to serve even as He had served. "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant…he shall be servant of all" (Mark 10:44; Matthew 23:11). In no way does John 13 teach that we must observe some rite of worship called "foot-washing" but rather Jesus gives us his pattern of humility. Peter urges that we follow Christ's pattern in suffering (1 Peter 2:21). In chapter 4, verse 1, Peter continues to exhort that we should arm ourselves with the mind of Christ. Pattern; Pattern; Pattern! We must follow Christ's pattern.
Notice the pattern, as Christ hung upon the cross, he prayed, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." When we are wronged, do we forgive the one who sinned against us? When we are mocked or ridiculed, do we revile against them? Remember, as Christ hung upon the cross, almost everyone mocked Him. The passers-by, chief priests, soldiers, and even a condemned criminal all ridiculed Christ, yet He never offered to prove Himself and come down from the cross, nor did He call ten thousand angels. Christ our Lord, what a pattern!
Even in temptation, Jesus left a pattern. Christ was in the wilderness alone to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4). With every temptation, Jesus answered, "It is written." Do we sometimes yield to sin even when we know "it is written…"?
Christ must be our pattern in all things. We need to study our Bibles so that we learn "the pattern." Without the pattern there is no hope. Christ is our pattern and He is our hope.