GOD TEACHES US BY THE USE OF EXAMPLES
1.Examples are powerful ways of teaching. We learned to speak our language, to write, and to play games by observing and/or participating in the actions of others.
2. The examples of Christ, 1 Peter 2:21, and of the apostles, 1 Corinthians 11:1, are given for us to follow.
3. The purpose of this lesson is to help us to become more cognizant of the role of examples play in God's teaching plan.
I. THE NEW TESTAMENT RECOGNIZES THE SIGNIFICANCE OF EXAMPLES.
A. 1 Cor.10:6,11, Examples of Israel's conduct are used by Paul to teach Christians the possibility of apostasy.
B.1 Tim.4:12, Young Timothy was told to be an example in conduct.
C. 1 Pet.3:1-6, Peter emphasizes the power of the godly example of a wife in seeking to convert her husband.
D. 1 Pet. 2:21, Christ set an example for us to follow.
II. WE ARE TOLD BY COMMANDMENT OR DIRECT STATEMENT TO IMITATE BOTH THE WORD AND THE EXAMPLES OF THE APOSTLES.
A. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul told the brethren in Corinth to imitate him as he followed Christ, 1 Corinthians,11:1.
B. Paul commanded the brethren in Thessalonica to "stand fast and hold the traditions which were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours," 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Traditions, (Gr. paradosis), means "what is handed over to one" and is here used in reference to the gospel which was taught to the Thessalonians. The expression, by word, means by word of mouth and and the word epistle means a letter.
To the Phillippians Paul commanded, "Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample," Philippians 3:17.
C. In Hebrews 13:7, we are told to "imitate" the faith of the apostles. Some believe this verse has reference to elders rather than apostles. Either way, the significance of example is clearly seen.
D. In the form of commandment, we have authority to reprove and to rebuke the practice of sin, 2 Timothy 4:1,2. This authority is also given by way of apostolic example, as seen in the case of Paul reproving Peter for his hypocrisy, Galatians 2:11-17.
Note: It is reasonable to conclude that examples approved by the apostles are to be followed.
II. WE ARE TO IMITATE THE EXAMPLES OF THE APOSTLES BECAUSE OF THE SPECIAL PLACE AND AUTHORITY CHRIST GAVE TO THEM.
A. They were guided into all truth, John 16:13; 14:26
B. They had the power of binding and loosing. "...whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" (NASV of Mt.16:19).
C. The apostles were ambassadors of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:20. "Paul was Christ's legate to act in his behalf and in his stead," Robertson. The apostles, not other Christians, are the ambassadors of Christ. There are no scriptural ambassadors of Christ who are alive today.
D. Please note 2 Corinthians 10:8 and Philippians 3:17 for further information concerning the authority of the apostles and the importance of following their examples.
III.BY APOSTOLIC EXAMPLE WE LEARN MUCH ABOUT THE WORSHIP AND WORK OF A LOCAL CONGREGATION. By Examples Approved by the Apostles:
A. We partake of the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7. There are no direct commands or other words of Jesus which tell of the day on which the supper is to be observed. The day on which we eat the supper is learned by the approved apostolic example of Acts 20:7.
B. We learn how the church (local congregation) is to raise money. Now read 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. Each Christian is to contribute into the treasury on the first day of the week as he has prospered. There is no authority for the church to raise money any other way.
C. We know elders are to be in every church. Acts 14:23. Again, there is no record of Jesus instructing directly on this matter but the Holy Spirit is guiding the apostles into the truth and/or calling to their remembrance what Jesus taught them on the matter of elders in every church. Acts 14:23 is in the form of an an apostolic example and not in the form of a commandment. This example is just as binding as a commandment.
D. We learn the purposes for which the church is to spend its money. It is the mission of the church :
1. to be zealously involved in preaching the gospel in every place possible . This is evangelism. The church at Philippi is a wonderful example in this work, Philippians 4:15, 16. On a different occasion, Paul was supported by "other churches," 2 Corinthians 11:8. These apostolic examples are teaching us what the church is to be doing.
2. to be mindful of needy saints who need to be cared for. Acts 6 provides us with an example of the church being the organization which is to care for needy members. This is the work of benevolence.
3. Edification or building up of the members of the church is a vital work of the church. This is taught by commandment, Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:16,17, and by apostolic example, Acts 6:2; Acts 9:31. Each local congregation needs utilize some of its funds for the important work of edifying or teaching the members.
E. we learn that a local congregation is to support a preacher in his field of work in a direct manner, Phil.4:15,16. This is to say that there is no authority by way of commandment or apostolic example for any other church, "sponsoring church," or organization, such as a "missionary society," to stand between the preacher receiving help and the local congregation giving the support.
IV. BY APOSTOLIC EXAMPLE, WE LEARN THE PROCESS BY WHICH MEN AND WOMEN TURN TO GOD. See such examples in the cases of conversion noted in Acts 2,8,16,etc.
Conclusion: Surely we are on infallibly safe ground when we are careful to follow the examples approved by the apostles, the ambassadors or representatives of Christ.
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