Jump Start # 3395
Philippians 4:9 “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”
One of the beginning points in any Bible discussion is to be on the same page about the word of God. This is essential and this is the starting point. If one immediately starts talking about differences in what they believe with another, it quickly turns into here is what I think and here is what you think, and around and around you will go. But if one establishes the fact that God’s word is absolute and the final authority, then it really doesn’t matter what I think or what you think. It doesn’t matter how I feel or how you feel. It doesn’t matter what I want or what you want. What God says becomes our only concern.
That was the spirit of the early American restoration movement as whole congregations returned to following the pattern that was established in the N.T. But how does one begin with “authority”? That very word seems dull in our times today. There are ways to teach the authority of God without even using that word. Our passage from Philippians is one that I often begin with in a very first study that I have with someone. One doesn’t need a handful of verses. This one will do that job. If Paul did it, we ought to. If he didn’t, why are we? Great questions.
I like to use the illustration of a blueprint. Sometimes I’ll actually bring a blueprint to illustrate what I’m wanting the person to see. Every house, church building, office building, airport was designed and drawn by an architect. He makes the drawings, showing where windows and doors are and how long walls are. The plans are then given to a construction crew. When they follow the blueprint to the letter, the outcome is the what the architect intended. When there is a problem, the architects are called in and sometimes modifications are made, but they are first made on paper.
To look at a blueprint you’ll notice little symbols, like sideways triangles. Those are doors, detailing which ways the doors are to swing open. There are symbols indicating where the windows are to be. All of this is fairly standard. But here comes two key components of blueprints and Biblical authority.
First, the architects draw where windows and doors are to be. He does not have to indicate on other walls, “No doors here,” and “No windows here.” The construction crew understands how blueprints work. In Biblical authority, we call this the silence of God. God tells us what He wants, but He doesn’t have to say, ”No doors there,” and “No windows there.” To be specific, there is no N.T. verse that says a church cannot have a band. You won’t find that in the N.T. When someone says, “The Bible says you can have a piano in worship,” one would be hard pressed to back that up with a verse. It’s not there. Can we then have instruments in worship? NO. Why not? God did not say you can’t. Neither does the architect say you can’t put a door where it’s not shown on the blueprint. The blueprints shows what is supposed to be there.
Why was Cain’s sacrifice rejected? Many will say his attitude wasn’t right? Where did that come from? Not the text of the Bible. In Hebrews 11, Abel offered his sacrifice by faith. Faith is not an attitude but a heart that obeys the Lord. Faith comes from hearing and trusting what God says. God must have told them. Vegetables were not on the blueprint and Cain put them there.
Second, when the builders decide to make changes from the blueprint, they have moved from being builders to being designers and architects. That is not their job. We once built a house from scratch. As the house was nearly done, I was walking through it with the main foreman. We went into the bathroom and there was a skylight. I told him we did not order a skylight. He pulled out the blueprints and with a puzzled face said, “Merry Christmas.” They had not followed the blueprints. When it comes to following God, He is the designer and the architect. We are the builders. When we start modifying the blueprints to our liking, then we have moved into the realm of God and we do not belong there.
Back to the illustration of music in worship. The word “music” is very broad. It includes all kinds of music. But you remember from high school that there was a difference between band class and chorus class. You didn’t bring a trumpet to chorus class. And, if you showed up to band class without an instrument, everyone would wonder what you were doing. Band and chorus—very different. In the N.T. when it came to worship, God never said, make music. What we find on the divine blueprint are nine passages and all nine involve singing. Would it be wrong to include a band? Would it be wrong for a construction crew to modify what is on the blueprint without authorization from the architect or the owner?
If you paid a lot of money to hire a designer and an architect to draw the plans for a new house, but the construction company ignored that and built what they wanted to build, you’d be furious. Lawyers would be called. Someone would be fired. It would be a mess. And, why? Because someone didn’t follow the blueprint.
It works that way in construction and it works that way Biblically. It’s a matter of following what the blueprint says. And, just like that, you have taught someone the valuable lesson of Bible authority. God doesn’t have to tell us everything wrong for it to be wrong. God tells us what He wants. We are not in the position to alter or change what God has said. If we made the assumption that things were Ok unless God specifically said, “No,” we would find ourselves looking more and more like the world and not like Christ. The Lord has shown us what pleases Him and how to walk in holiness. Our job is to follow and build our lives according to the plans that God has given us.
It’s a matter of following the blueprint. The real issue is that some do not like the way the blueprint looks. And, that is a whole other issue and a matter of faith.