Example Described – More Examples

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See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019

Example Described – More Examples

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 2:15



Sunday, 1/27/19 am                           

The Power of Example (2) – More Descriptions

          Last week, we began a study of the power of examples.   We talked about the importance of being a good example and noted what an example is – a person or thing that illustrates or models something. We then discussed how Jesus said we are to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and noted how some of the characteristics of salt help us understand example. Today we want to notice the second of 3 lessons dealing with descriptions of examples in scripture. Today, we will notice some lesser mentioned examples and in our next lesson we will begin a study of light. So let us get started.

I.  An Aroma (fragrance) ––

  1. When you think of an aroma, it is a smell. It is defined as a distinctive, typically pleasant smell.
  2. In scripture almost always associated with a sweet smell offered to God.
    In the OT, the aroma was often associated with sacrifices to God – Lev 1:9, etc, speaks of offerings being “a sweet-smelling aroma” to God.
    In fact, Genesis 8:21, after leaving the ark, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices of every clean animal.   The LORD smelled “a soothing aroma” and said in His heart He would never again destroy the world by flood.
    In the NT, Ephesians 5:2 speaks of the sacrifice of Christ being a sweet-smelling aroma to God, AS AN EXAMPLE of how we are to walk in love. In Philippians 4:18 Paul speaks of the support the Philippians gave to him and described it as “a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”
  3. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – speaks of our aroma to those around us.   This is the illustration of example.
    We are to be diffusing the fragrance of Christ. Does the fragrance of Christ emanate from us?
    Here it is noted that to some it is a fragrance of salvation, while to others it is a fragrance of death.   In this illustration of example, what I see is that we simply need to be living examples at all times, and our faith in Christ, ought to be evident. Enough so, that some will be attracted to Him, even though others might be repulsed (because they don’t want to accept Him).

II.  Leaven

  1. Typically, when we speak of leaven, it is bad thing. But even then it is about influence.
  2. Bad leaven – Matthew 16:6, 11-12 – beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.   Explained that this is the doctrine of the Pharisees.     Don’t let false teachings influence you.
  3. Recall who Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 5:6 & Galatians 5:9 – both mention that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. While both contexts are negative warnings (and negative influences can spread like leaven), the principle would true with good influence as well.
  4. Luke 13:20-21 – the parable of leaven concerning the kingdom of heaven.   It will spread like leaven, starting small and eventually permeating the whole loaf.
    We may not fully understand all the properties of leaven, but we know that you introduce just a little bit into a lump of dough and it will rise and keep rising.
    Similarly, our influence is like leaven.   We continue to live our lives as we ought to being proper examples. It may be the LITTLE things we are doing and not doing, or saying.   It might be the occasional quoting of a verse of scripture or mentioning Jesus. It may just be a small act of kindness. Who knows what that little “starter” will do in the heart of someone later on.   Also, that which spreads from us to another may continue to spread to another and so on (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2).

III.   Epistle

  1. An epistle is a Greek word (ἐπιστολή, epistolē) for a letter.     Paul communicated with disciples everywhere by means of letters (and many other ways). These letters were written with the hope they would produce results, a positive response.
  2. In 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 – you are our epistle, known and read by all men. Paul in this text was dealing with how these brethren were the fruit of his labors, “known and read by men”. Bear in mind, during that era, not everyone could read, NOR were the resources for those who could readily available.   They didn’t have completed Bibles like we do, nor did everyone have a copy. So what they heard (when they gathered together) they would live it and teach – others would hear and observe, and SOME would be converted.
    Paul’s point was that when they lived their lives applying what they had been taught by him (i.e. the teachings of Christ), they were being examples to others. His hope was they were being the proper examples.
  3. Note the qualities he mentions:
    • Known and read by all men – be reminded that we are to be examples at all times and are constantly being watched
    • It is an epistle of Christ – He is to be the example we are emanating
    • Ministered and read by “us” – in this text, that would be Paul and those with him.   In this, I am reminded that while we are an open letter, we are copies of the letters we have previously received (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1).
    • Written with the Spirit of the living God – Ephesians 6:17 tells us the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. It is God’s word we need to be revealing by our lives
    • Written not on tablets of flesh, but on the heart – this must come from within us.   Not something superficial.
  4. We sometimes use the expression that your life is “an open book” meaning that what is in there is clearly visible.   We are again reminded that people are watching us to see how we live.   IF we profess to be followers of Christ, they know what that means. What type of letter are they “reading”?
    • Romans 1:8 – Paul commended them because their faith had gone out into all the world.
      See also 1 Thessalonians 1:8 – their faith toward God had gone out, and sounded forth in every place.
    • Recall the song, “The World’s Bible”. It challenges us to be a proper example in all things.
      So what type of epistle are you?   Is the “ink” clear and readable?   Or is it faded (hidden and unreadable – thus not read by all men)? Or is it full of misprints (inconsistencies or filled with doctrinal errors – thus not written by the Spirit of the living God)?

IV.  Pattern

  1. A pattern is another illustration of an example. When we think of patterns, it is a model or design that is used as a guide[1].   This is a type of example.
  2. Patterns were (and are) important to God. Much of the Old Law (various sacrifices, the tabernacle and priesthood, etc.) were designed to be a pattern for the coming of Jesus (cf. Hebrews 8:5) and His Priesthood. It is worthy of note that this text makes reference to Exodus 25:40, 9, 26:30 which find the LORD giving instructions to Moses and the Israelites concerning the building of the tabernacle.
  3. Quite often the New Testament makes reference to patterns. A pattern is model or example of something that is to be made.
    • Titus 2:7 – young men are called upon to show themselves as patterns of good work
    • Philippians 3:17, Paul challenges these brethren to follow his example, “as you have us for a pattern.”
    • The word for pattern in Greek (τύπος, typos) is the word from which our English word type is derived.   That is word that has reference to an example.
    • Consider also 1 Thessalonians 1:7 – And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. The word, examples, is this same Greek word
    • 1 Timothy 4:12, Timothy is called upon to be an example to the believers in every area of life.
    • 1 Peter 5:3, elders are called upon to be examples to the flock, which ought to be the primary way that they lead.
  4. Thinking of our example, we simply need to be SHOWING the world what a Christian is like.

Other descriptions of examples could be added to these (e.g. a good name), but we find here a sufficient collection to help us understand what being an example involves.   In our next lesson, we want to talk about being lights and what that involves. What does your example say to those around you?   Think about it!

[1] Pattern (#2), Google Dictionary, 1/24/19