When Are Biblical Examples Binding?
Text: II Thessalonians 3:1-18
I. At first glance, the question seems to be trivial
A. But then do people think of Judas hanging himself?
1. Well, obviously examples of sin is not to be followed
B. How about meeting in someone’s home as the disciples did?
1. There are people who believe that a church owning a building is wrong.
C. Why do we bind the example of eating the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week, but not bind traveling on foot to spread the gospel as Paul did?
D. What we are really searching for is how to distinguish when an examples tells us how we may do something versus telling us how we must do something.
II. Examples are authoritative
A. Paul commanded the Philippians to do the things both learned from Paul and seen in his behavior - Philippians 4:9
B. Following Paul’s example was taught in all the churches - I Corinthians 4:15-17
C. Commanded to imitate Paul as he imitated Christ - I Corinthians 11:1
III. Examples that violate a command of God are not binding
A. It is “as he imitated Christ”
B. God is not the author of confusion. He does not tell us one thing and then allows people to do differently. - I Corinthians 14:33
C. Bad examples
1. Demas deserting Paul - II Timothy 4:10; I John 2:15
2. Simon desiring to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit - Acts 8:18-23; I Timothy 6:5
D. The command is simple, don’t imitate evil - III John 11
E. Why are there examples of wrong doing in the Bible?
1. To serve as warnings - I Corinthians 10:5-12
2. We don’t want to fall by following their example - Hebrews 4:11
IV. Which covenant?
A. We do need to rightly divide the word - II Timothy 2:15
B. The Old Covenant was nailed to the cross - Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15
C. But because the Old Covenant is by the same by the same God of the New Testament, there are things to learn - Romans 15:4
D. Examples of what to do
1. How to endure - James 5:10
2. Faith - Hebrews 11:1-2, 32-40
E. Examples of what not to do
1. Not to follow lusts - I Corinthians 10:6-11
2. Not to fall to unbelief - Hebrews 4:11
3. They did not escape - Hebrews 2:2-3; 12:25
4. Lot’s wife - Luke 17:32-33
5. The example of Sodom and Gomorrah - Jude 7
F. There times the New Testament tells us what we must do or not and we can go to Old Testament to find examples and illustrations
1. For example - Ephesians 6:4
2. We can find bad examples, such as Eli or David who did not restrain their children - I Samuel 3:12-13; I Kings 1:6
V. Incidental or Essential?
A. Was something a critical part of example, or a chance detail?
1. The first disciples were baptized in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41), do we need to go to Jerusalem to be baptized?
2. The meeting at Troas, do we need to meet in upper rooms or have lamps? - Acts 20:7-8
B. Incidentals vary. Essentials are consistent
1. People were baptized in many places and in different bodies of water, therefore the place is incidental, but the fact that required much water is essential.
2. People met in a variety of places for worship, so the upper room was an incidental.
a. By a river - Acts 16:11-15
b. In a rented upper room - Acts 20:7-12
c. In homes - Romans 16:3-5; Colossians 4:15: Philemon 1:2
d. Since no particular place was used, we justly conclude that any place of worship is acceptable.
C. In examples where a command was obeyed, the incidental had nothing to do with the command
1. Hebrews 10:25 - Commanded to not forsake the assembling
2. I Corinthians 11:18 - See the Corinthians did assemble
3. I Corinthians 16:1 - Know the assemblies happened on first day of the week
4. Acts 20:7 - Noted that the first day of the week was when the disciples came together
a. But the lamps had nothing to do with the command
D. If an act symbolizes something, then the things necessary to symbolism are essential.
1. The Lord’s Supper
a. The unleavened bread - Mark 14:22; I Corinthians 5:7-8
b. Fruit of the vine - this is my blood - Mark 14:23-24
c. Any substitution destroys the symbolism.
VI. Temporary or Permanent?
A. Things based a custom of that time
1. Foot washing was common in a time when people walked dusty roads.
a. The examples of washing feet are examples of hospitality and service.
b. We don’t have to wash feet to be hospitable today. It is not a custom expected today.
2. Greeting with a holy kiss.
a. We are to give greeting and that greeting must be holy.
b. But a kiss is not always a means of greeting in every culture
B. Things based on temporary conditions
1. The lack of resources when the church first started - Acts 2:44; 4:32
2. Putting off marriage - I Corinthians 7:8-9, 26
C. Things limited in availability
1. The miraculous gifts were temporary - I Corinthians 13:8-10
a. They were there to confirm the word - Mark 16:20
b. But that work was completed - Jude 3
2. Apostle was a temporary office - Acts 1:21-22
VII. Why people have had difficulty
A. They already have decided what they desire to do. If they Scriptures are twisted, or applicable verses are ignored, so be it.
B. Some are too lazy to look deeply for everything that does apply and so they draw the wrong conclusion.
C. Others rely solely on what others tell them. They never search to verify the truth of a person’s word.
D. Follow the pattern - II Thessalonians 2:13-15
E. We invite you to open your Bibles, open your hearts, learn what the Lord wants of his people. What better time than now for becoming a New Testament child of God?