Sunday, March 26, 2017 am                                                NT Church 2017 Index

Authority 4
Applying Examples in Authority

     We are in the midst of a study of how to establish authority.  This is a fundamental subject that helps us understand not only what we do but how we are to do it as well.   We have established our need for authority and how God’s word is our standard.  Last week we noted the ways we establish authority – Direct command/statement, approved example and necessary inference.  Typically, approved examples and necessary conclusions he us determine HOW we carry out particular commands.  But how do we know what makes an example approved? 

     It is popular today to reject examples and necessary conclusions as mandatory.  The result is almost always the same – more progressive interpretations and tolerance of error.  It is the rejection of these standards that advances the concept that anything goes.   It is because of this that in our lesson today we are going to consider some principles (some call them rules) to help us determine how examples establish authority.

 I.                     What is an approved example?

a.       Defined – A DESCRIPTION of something that was done in a way that shows God’s approval.  Typically, examples deal with details associated with a command of God (i.e. the how of carrying out a command).  Even if we do not have the express statement of the command, we can IMPLY that they were doing what God instructed them to do. 
With examples, we need enough details to reach a conclusion that it was commanded by God.

b.       MANY passages talk about following examples –

                                                   i.      Jesus told us to follow Him -  Matthew 16:24, John 13:1-5, 15, Luke 6:40 – a disciple will be like his teacher, etc.
Some of His parables were examples (illustrations) with application - i.e. the Good Samaritan – “go and do likewise”

                                                 ii.      Paul and other writers spoke of examples – 1 Corinthians 11:1.
Notice also 1 Cor. 4:16-17 – Paul said “imitate me”.  Then he sends Timothy who would “remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
Philippians 3:17 – join in following my example, we are a pattern
Philippians 4:9 – the things you learned, received, heard and SAW in me, these do…

                                                iii.      NOTE: When one acknowledges we must follow commands, consider the above passages that COMMAND us to follow examples!

c.        Types of examples

                                                   i.      Examples we are to imitateJames 5:10, 1 Peter 1:21 – Jesus is an example of suffering
Philippians 2:5 – Jesus is an example of the type of humility we need
1 Thessalonians 1:5-7 – the church there became an example to all in Macedonia about sounding the word of God forth
1 Timothy 1:16 -

                                                 ii.      Examples of how we are NOT to act – 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11 - learn from the examples of rebellious Israel.  LEARN the consequences of their ungodly behavior.  Cf. Hebrews 4:11
2 Peter 2:6 – Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed as an example of those who follow their conduct
Galatians 2:11-14 – Peter played the hypocrite and was rebuked because of it.

                                                iii.      Examples of what we CAN do – For example in Mark 16:15 we find the great commission – Go into all the world.  We see many examples of HOW they went – boat, walking, via chariot, etc.  Understanding the direct command to go, we see examples we CAN follow, but we can go other ways as well (plane, car, etc.). 
Hebrews 10:25 – we are not to forsake assembling together, but where?  We have numerous examples of brethren coming together to meet at a place not designate (Acts 20:7), we find them meeting in homes, in a school, in an upper room, etc.  These are examples of places we CAN meet, but we are not confined to these choices.

                                                iv.      Examples that do not apply to us – details that do not apply –
For example 1 Corinthians 14, while we can learn about decorum in worship, we CANNOT speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 13:8-12), so there are elements of that chapter that do not apply to us.
Why do we not need to wash disciple’s feet considering the example of Jesus in John 13:15? (More on this as our lesson proceeds).
Hebrews 11 - The examples of that chapter involve details that we are not called upon to follow (Abraham offering his son, Noah building an ark, offering an animal sacrifice like Abel, Moses and Israel keeping the Passover, etc.).  Yet the overall message is one of faith and endurance – the lesson we learn from these examples.

 II.                   Principles to consider in applying examples

a.       So how do we determine what examples to follow and which ones we do not need to follow?  There are some principles (rules) to consider that help us make this determination. 
Before mentioning these, I want to make an appeal to using reason and common sense as consider examples.  Look at the context and ask questions.

b.       Unity (Harmony) – realizing that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, when considering examples, we need to consider everything associated with a given subject. 
The use of approved examples is almost always (I cannot think of an exception - TT) based upon commands in a given subject. 
Example: Acts 20:7 – one the first day of the week they came together to break bread (Lord’s Supper).  This example of WHEN they did this is based upon the command TO partake of the Lord’s Supper – Matthew 26:26-29, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, etc.   In the commands along with other passages, we find this was something done regularly.
We can conclude without any doubt that partaking of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, and EVERY Sunday is acceptable practice.  Being the ONLY example of when, it should be the pattern we follow.
Example: Concerning elders:  Their responsibility is confined to the work over which they have been made overseers – Acts 20:17, 28; Philippians 1:2 (bishops); 1 Peter 5:2, etc.
In Acts and other places we read of elders involved in works – Acts 11:27-30 – when it was told of a famine in Judea, brethren determined to send relief.  It was sent to the elders where the need was.  In this example we can conclude that each congregation with needs in Judea received relief autonomously (without elders of one congregation overseeing the work of another). 

c.        Uniformity – when you have multiple examples, look for a consistent pattern.
Example: Conversion.  We are given God’s plan of salvation in various passages of scripture (Romans 10:17, 10:8-9, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 22:16, etc.).  All of these are part of conversion.
The book of Acts gives several examples of conversion:  Together, these examples are consistent.
In EVERY example – the gospel was preached – the people heard the message and responded.
-  In EVERY example – the people believed
- Repentance and confession are only mentioned in a couple of examples
- Baptism is mentioned CONTINUALLY with results of salvation, rejoicing, sins washed away, etc. 
- But no example mentions every step – The rule of uniformity calls for us to put approved examples together are we can determine God’s plan of salvation, and that all who obeyed the gospel followed the plan in its entirety.  Just because a specific example doesn’t mention every aspect doesn’t mean it wasn’t done.   We can “fill in the blanks”.  NOTE: Show me an example where you can definitively prove they DIDN’T follow every step! 
Example: As you study congregations doing their work -  whether relieving their needy, helping needy in other places, supporting the preaching of the gospel, etc. – you will find a uniform pattern of autonomy and independence (i.e. no church usurping over the work of another).

d.       Relevance – as we consider details mentioned in an account, we need to ask, is this relevant to fulfilling the command.  More specifically, are the details related to something we need to do, or simply explaining an event or principle.  Sometimes people will take a detail that is not intended (i.e. irrelevant) and seek to bind it.
Example: Acts 20:7-8 – the disciples came together to break bread.  Vs. 8 mentions they were in “the upper room”.   This has prompted some to say (at least in times past) we must be in a building with a second story to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  But is “the upper room” really relevant to partaking the Lord’s Supper?  Actually, it is a detail mentioned to help us understand what happened next – as Paul preached long, a man, Eutychus, fell out of the window and died.  Paul healed him.  That was the purpose of the detail.
FURTHERMORE, we know they assembled and needed to (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25) – but WHERE they assembled was irrelevant.
Example: Sometimes parables give details of what is happening that have no bearing on the lesson being taught.
Example: Baptism is in water.  On the day of Pentecost, some 3000 souls obeyed the gospel (Acts 2:41).  Where?  Was it in running water (as some contend) or a pool (or both) or a lake nearby?  We don’t know and it is irrelevant (the command to be baptized in water does not specify where).
Conversely, it IS relevant when we consider the elements of the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus took bread and the cup from elements of the Passover (Matthew 26:17-29, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).  It IS relevant that we use unleavened bread and grape juice (not ANY fruit of the vine – e.g. tomato juice) as we partake.

e.       Limited application studying context and culture, we know there are some examples that have limited application.  By limited, I mean there are aspects to be considered while other aspects do not apply to us.
Example: The Lord’s Supper passage above (Acts 20:7-8) – our application is limited to WHEN we partake of the Lord’s Supper.  The other details are NOT addressing the Lord’s Supper at all!
Example: 1 Corinthians 14, as previously mentioned.  Since we do not have spiritual gifts today (e.g. speaking in tongues), those aspects of the text dealing specifically with that gift would not apply to us.  BUT, the principles of edification emphasized throughout the chapter do apply (1 Cor. 14:26)
So also worshipping with understanding (14:15) would apply. 
AND, the limited role of women in leadership in our worship would apply (being consistent with everything else we read about this in the New Testament). 
Example: John 13:1-5 – as Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, a common practice in those times, Jesus was using a common practice to illustrate our point – we need to serve each other and be humble. That is the application.
Example: What about meats offered to idols? This is not much of a problem in our society today.  But there are principles of example to consider. 

f.         Universal application – helping us to understand examples in scripture, whatever we are called upon to do is available to all.  Salvation is universally available.  Baptism in water is available everywhere.  Assembling on the first day of the week is available everywhere in the world.  So is congregations acting independently and autonomously.   EVERY example in scripture dealing with these was available to anyone who chose to respond.  The point – God has NOT given us something to do that is impossible. 


These are some things to consider as we think about examples and how to properly apply them.  We NEED to respect the examples we have.  And so far, as they further instruct us concerning the fulfillment of God’s will, we need to seek to apply them properly, with wisdom and reverence.  We will further visit these things as we examine the organization and work of the church.  Let us rightly divide all of God’s word.

Finally consider, John 20:30-31 – what is written, INCUDING examples, when applied properly help us to believe who Jesus is and that we may have life.