Posts tagged ‘new testament’

Brother can you paradigm?

What is a paradigm? Is it a geometric shape? Is it 20 cents? No, none of those are correct. What makes a paradigm important is that, whether you know it or not, everyone has one. Websites Dictionary defines a paradigm this way:
“: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind”
In basic terms, our paradigm is the framework our minds use to interpret what we see and how we think about a subject.

All religious organizations, including churches have a shared paradigm among their members. In fact, many Christian churches began as a group of people who held to a common paradigm that differed from the groups they were formerly members of. When Martin Luther introduced the concepts of sola fide and sola scriptura (faith alone for salvation and scripture alone for authority) it was such a huge paradigm shift that it birthed the Reformation!

One paradigm that became prominent in the early 19th Century during the Restoration Movement was the view that we should “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” That is a very worthy and useful paradigm to have. What it eventually grew into was a view that we should view as divine commandments the things that the New Testament commands (good so far). But it also grew to say that all New Testament examples were reflective of the only way something was to be done (getting legalistic here) and that the silence of the New Testament was no longer a place for silence, but of commands given by omission (hazardous). No longer were we to be silent about things not mentioned, as if examples would be found for every single thing the believers were to do, but whole books would be written about things being sinful if not Divinely authorized. This was a misunderstanding of what it meant to “do all things in the name of The Lord” in Colossians 3:17. By superimposing the word “authority” for “name” the argument is made that only those things specifically authorized may be done. The problem with this is that there is a Greek word for authority, and it is not the word Paul was inspired to use in this verse! To change it to authority is to alter the scriptures, and you don’t want to go there! What is meant by “in the name” in this verse is explained by the verse itself (ah, context).

And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NET)

In its proper context, the verse is saying that when we do good and righteous works, we are to give thanks and praise to God the Father through Jesus Christ. That is what is meant by doing it “in His name”!

The “authorized” interpretation is not in context, but is a pretext. Such a view presupposes that God replaced a fully detailed code of law with another fully detailed code of law. Such is not the case. (Inaccurate paradigm) The New Covenant was one that has overarching principles in it, and that would be written upon our hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3) The principle here is that the way we live out the New Covenant individually and corporately is that all doctrine is derived from Scripture, and is practiced in love in any way we can do so without violating those doctrines, as the culture and situation warrant.

The concept of binding, exclusive examples also unwittingly makes us followers of the First Century Christians instead of followers of Christ. Never does the New Testament say that everything the Apostles and the First Century Church did was recorded for us. They were, in all likelihood, practicing the Apostle’s doctrine in ways appropriate to their time and situation that we will never know about. In fact, according to John, we don’t know every single thing that Jesus did! (John 21:25) But we DO know that whatever He did was never in violation to what He had taught!

We are living a double standard when we call sinners to come to the freedom we have in Christ and then subject them to a lifetime of combing through the New Testament to make sure every single thing they do is specifically authorized by a New Testament prooftext. Jesus didn’t come down and die so that He could subject us again to a new legal code and turn us into lawyers. On the contrary, our walk should be one that sets us free to follow ever more intimately that One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ.

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:2-6 NKJV)

So let us follow the Spirit of the law, instead of placing a restriction that God has not placed upon us. Practice our faith in love, and in whatever way is necessary that does not violate the doctrines of Christ and the apostles he taught, giving thanks to God the Father through Him!


Return to Simplicity

Simplicity In Christ
There is something to be said for keeping things simple. It seems that with everything that we add, with every layer of complexity that feels like a good thing at the time, we give ourselves more opportunity for distraction. In the end, we can even end up focused on things other than what we started with. As with driving your car or running a race, we tend run to go in the direction we are looking. And as they said in West Texas, “if you don’t get off the road you’re on, you’re liable to end up where you’re headed!”
The same is true when it comes to the church and the things we do as the Body of Christ. Over the past two thousand years, many layers of “good ideas” and new programs have been added on by well intentioned people. As a result, the focus has shifted to things other than Christ. We have come to see those who attend as the audience, while those up front on the platform perform. Yes, the congregants sing along with the songs from the band, but most of what happens is designed to minister to us and bring in more people.
Many would be shocked to discover that Jesus didn’t say a thing about marketing the church. Or for that matter, about programs designed to provide what other churches don’t or can’t, in an effort to win over people like they are religious consumers and the church is a service provider in the marketplace.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NASB)
A call has gone out, and continues to go out. It says to strip away the programs, the marketing and everything else that has been added on, and return to simplicity of devotion to Christ! Let’s gather as a spiritual body and worship with only one person in the audience — Jesus Christ. Let’s focus on love and spurring one another on to good works. Let’s get rid of the marketing plans and draw people to Christ by lifting Him up instead of what we have to offer spiritual consumers!
It may be uncomfortable at first. After all, we have gotten used to some things that we like. But if we can get back to the basics, to the simplicity of devotion, we will be able to keep the main thing as the main thing. What does that look like?
Well, here are some examples of things that are add-ons. Let’s dump D.L. Moody’s invention called the “sinners prayer” and go back to having converts accept Christ and ask for His pardon the way they did in the First Century. It was and is called baptism. The concept of an unbaptized believer is foreign to the New Testament. Modern churches have someone say a prayer, wait awhile, and make their faith public by water baptism. But in the New Testament, baptism was the sinners prayer. It is an “appeal to God for a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21) and the way sinners “called upon the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16. While some will point to Romans 10:9-10, those verses have a context. Even the NIV Study Bible says they contain the early baptismal formula, required before one could be baptized like Paul had said earlier in Romans 6:3-11.
There were also no choirs or instruments for the first 700 years of the church, in large part because they wanted to avoid being like the world. Singing without a choir or instruments means we all must participate sing to one another, and worship the One who is our sole audience. It is not that instruments and choir are evil. I have been in and used both. But it is a distraction, and if we aspire to be like our original brethren, they just don’t fit the paradigm of simple Christianity.
Where can this simplicity be found? Well I can tell you where some are attempting to do it. It was the place I grew up in, left, and have come home to. I would encourage you to look for simplicity at one of the churches of Christ. I am part of a congregation that is striving to keep it simple, yet keep it in love. If you are in the Fox Cities area in Wisconsin, come on down to the Appleton church of Christ. We don’t believe in denominations because Christ is not divided, and denominations represent institutionalized division. We are just Christians worshipping and serving in simplicity.


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