Where There is No Pattern


   In the New Testament, there are both realms of faith and realms of judgmentRealms of faith has reference to matters of a “thus saith the Lord.”  The Apostle Paul informs us that:  “…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). When the Lord gives a specific commandment and then spells out precisely in detail how that commandment is to be carried out, then we are not at liberty to alter that command or the way in which it is to be carried out.  Whereas matters of judgment provides us a certain amount of freedom to make decisions that are in harmony with the general principles of the new covenant in obeying a specific command of the Lord in which a particular method of doing so is not stated.  Let me further clarify that even in matters of judgment we are not authorized to alter or change a command.  But in those areas of judgment, as long as we abide by the general principles of the new covenant, we can determine how best to carry out those commands in which a specific pattern of carrying it out was not designated in the New Testament. 



A.         God’s commanding Noah to build an ark includes not only the command to build  the ark, but also specific instructions such as the material in which it is to be made of, its dimensions, and other specifics in its construction (Gen. 6:14-21).

1.      God commanded Noah to build the ark of gopher wood.  This automatically eliminated any other type of material, including all other kinds of wood.  This is true though no other kind of material was mentioned.

2.      God gave the exact dimensions of the ark.  Therefore, all other possible dimensions were eliminated, though no other dimensions were mentioned.

3.      The principle here is fundamental to the restoration of New Testament Christianity.  God gave a command.  He gave detailed plans as to how this command was to be executed.  Each of these points on which God gave specific instructions became matters of faith. 

4.      On the other hand, if God had merely said, “Make thee an ark, Noah would have then been permitted to use his judgment on these areas where God gave no specific instructions.

5.      When God has given a commandment and a plan or method for the execution of that commandment, then both the commandment and His instructions of its execution are matters of faith. 

B.         The type of music authorized in the New Testament is singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. 

Eph. 5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” 

Col. 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” 

1.      Therefore, those seeking to restore New Testament teaching and practice pertaining to music have opposed adding instruments of music to the worship on the solid ground that God, in commanding singing, has excluded mechanical instruments of music.                                       

C.         God has commanded that the alien sinner be baptized as an obedient believer.  Not only has the Lord demanded baptism, but He has also taught the how of baptism (its mode), and for what purpose one should be baptized.

1.      Baptism is a burial in water for the remission of sins. 

Rom. 6:3-4, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” 

Col. 2:12, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who has raised him from the dead.” 

Acts 8:35-39, (Philip, the gospel preacher, taught the Ethiopian eunuch the gospel and baptized him in water.) 

2.      The one being baptized is to be baptized into the name of the Heavenly Father, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. 

Matt. 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” 

3.      And the purpose of scriptural baptism is for the remission of sins.

Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” 

Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” 

D.         Another example of a specific command to be obeyed, the how of partaking and the purpose of doing so is the Lord’s Supper.

1.      Observance of the Lord’s Supper is a matter of faith, and failure to do so is to sin.

 Luke 22:19, (In reference to His Supper, Jesus said, “…this do in remembrance of me.” 

2.      In reference to the Lord’s Supper, Jesus went beyond the commandment and spelled out in clear detail exactly how to observe this memorial service, which included the elements to be used. 

Mark 14:22-24, “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take eat:  this is my body.  And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them:  and they all drank of it.  And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” 

3.      Even the day of its observance is firmly established by apostolic example. 

Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” 

E.    The total effort to restore New Testament Christianity depends upon recognition of the realm of faith as including all that God commands, requires, and forbids

II.                THE SECOND BASIC PRINCIPLE TO BE REMEMBERED IN THE RESTORATION OF NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIANITY IS THAT THERE IS A REALM OF HUMAN JUDGMENT.  (There are many things connected with the work, worship, and lives of God’s people which are, beyond question, matters of judgment.  The tendency is strong to make everything a matter of faith.  Apparently, there is some who would rewrite the old statement:  “We speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent.”  They would change those words to say:  “We speak where the Bible speaks; and where God has given no pattern, we’ll make one for you.”  They would make matters of opinion matters of faith and bind their judgments and preferences on the brethren.  When God has given a command, but has not given a plan or method of carrying it out then the general principles of the New Testament applies.  Such passages as First Corinthians 14:40, that emphasizes:  “Let all things be done decently and in order.”)

A.         There is the command for those of a local congregation to assemble together.

1.      To assemble together as a congregation is a matter of faith. 

Heb. 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:  and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 

2.      However, the New Testament is silent as to where a particular congregation is to meet.  Therefore, the designated place to meet is a matter of judgment.  Brethren have met together for worship under a brush arbor, in rented facilities, in private homes, as well as meeting houses obtained by the local church for the purpose of assembling together.

3.      We are to meet on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper and to give of our means for the work of the church (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).  But the time when we meet and for how long is in the realm of judgment. 

B.         Specific instructions are not given as to how to carry out the Great Commission

Matt. 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.” 

Mark 16:15-16, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” 

1.      The mode of going and transportation is not specified in the Great Commission.  We might walk across the street to study God’s Word with a neighbor, drive our car across town to study with someone, and fly by airplane or sail by ship across the sea to do mission work.

2.      The manner of teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ is not spelled out in the Great Commission.  Various methods of doing so such as the printed page, radio, television, and the internet, as well as doing so both privately and publicly.

 C.         The local church is not limited to one method of teaching the brethren in building them up in the faith. 


Eph. 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:  but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 

2 Tim. 1:5, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 


Titus 2:1-6, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:  That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.” 


(The elders [bishops])

Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” 

(The evangelist [preacher, minister of the gospel])

2 Tim. 4:2-5, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 

(Faithful brethren)

2 Tim. 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 

1.      Such teaching can include: the home, in Bible classes, printed literature, and from the pulpit. 

D.         Parents are exhorted to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  But what all may be incorporated in doing this is not spelled out. 

Eph. 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:  but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 

2 Tim. 1:5, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 

E.          The care of orphan children and widows is a divine command.  However, in doing so, we are not limited to a specific manner of caring for them. 

James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” 

Gal. 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” 

1.      There is not any New Testament pattern as to how this care shall be provided.  The how is in the realm of human judgment.  Orphans are being taken care of in private homes without outside help, in private homes with outside assistance, in houses owned by the local congregations, and in orphan homes either under an eldership or a board of directors.

2.      An orphan home is not a parallel to the Missionary Society.  The Missionary Society took charge and oversight of the mission work of the Christian Church and sought to exercise control over its congregations.  Instead, the eldership of a local congregation is to oversee its own mission work; and each local church is to be autonomous (self-ruled).   

3.      The church is not a domestic home.  Elders, as such, are not over a home.  Instead, a local church can financially and materially assist a home; whether that home is an individual family home or an orphan home.  An orphan home has been provided for children who no longer have a natural home.  Elders or other faithful brethren may serve as the trustees of that home. 


A.         Our worship of God must be in both spirit and truth.

John 4:24, “God is a Spirit:  and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 

John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” 

1 Cor. 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love], I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [love], it profiteth me nothing.” 


   It is just as sinful to make matters of opinion matters of faith and conditions of fellowship, as it is to treat matters of faith as matters of opinion.  We dare not bind where the Lord has not bound; nor loose where the Lord has bound! 

--Dub Mowery