Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 8, 1959
NUMBER 35, PAGE 10-11a

Authority And Efficacy Of Exaniples

Vaughn A Shofner, Camden, Arkansas

Much is said today to discredit the examples of the New Testament. Due to the fact these examples of church co-operation and churches assisting churches do not include the organizations and plans of the day, it is said they do not bind us to any pattern.

The examples of the New Testament include churches helping a needy church, but they do not include a pattern of churches helping a strong church do what it has "assumed" beyond its own strength. The New Testament includes examples of churches "operating" within their own sphere and under their own elders, and thus "cooperating" with all other "operating" churches. However, not one example can be found as a pattern for "cooperating" which reaches beyond the oversight of church autonomy — that is, beyond the elders' oversight of the church among them.

What is an "example"? Mr. Webster's definition: "1. One or a portion taken to show the character or quality of all; a sample. 2. That which is to be followed or imitated; a pattern; as an example to live by. 3. That which resembles or corresponds with something else as a precedent, a model, or a parallel case. 4. A warning case, esp. a punishment inflicted to serve as a warning. 5. An instance serving to illustrate a rule or precept, esp. a problem to be solved, or a case to be determined, as an exercise in the application of the rules in any study or branch of science; as, in algebra and grammar, principles and rules are illustrated by examples."

I quote this complete definition to offset any quibble that might arise. Gentle reader, intelligence disposed to act fairly cannot possibly say an example is not binding! Get this! The environmental circumstances and influences of any given example are not binding. Some brethren either do not know the difference between an example and the environmental influences and circumstances amidst which the example is given, or, knowingly they use the circumstances to becloud the issue. I marvel that the power of prejudice can force men of letters to stoop that low in an effort to justify some unscriptural practice which happens to be popular. If the examples of the New Testament are not binding, then pray tell me, what useful purpose do those examples serve? Did God place "useless examples" in the New Testament?

0, yes, good friend, the New Testament examples are binding! They are samples of correct conduct! They are patterns to be imitated! They are warnings to heed! Without fear of successful contradiction, I categorically state that it is utterly impossible to "begin to commence" to serve the Lord without respecting New Testament examples as being authoritative and binding. This blanket idea that "examples are not binding" is another weapon the devil is using in the mouths of some preachers to overthrow Bible authority.

It is common knowledge among Bible students that God is no respecter of persons. In every nation, in every clime, God accepts those who submit to his righteousness. Time was when God's people were picked as a family and peculiarly dealt with through the family's head. At that time God's laws to them could not be and were not universal Time was when God's people were named through nationality. At that time God's laws for them were not universal. But when Christ came he removed those barriers of a physical nature, and to his cross were nailed all things which in any way designated God's people by transient and temporary things. God's laws then became universal in scope — for all nations, throughout the earth, and for all time Consequently, from the completion of the plan of salvation for man and the inauguration of the universal kingdom of Christ, the things done by any person or any group which received divine favor, serve as an example for all future generations. Examples therefore are binding patterns in this age, because all peoples throughout all its time are under the same laws.

Look for a minute, honest reader, at the great commission. "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." Here are commands to be obeyed and promised blessings to be received. To whom were they given? Why, specifically, to the apostles. Were the commands obeyed? Certainly! "Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words into the ends of the world." Wise were the ways of those inspired men. They acted under the universality of God's laws in this age, and their report went into all the earth. The unsaved man, Jew or Gentile, had no one to blame but himself.

Now, gentle friend, am I relieved of all responsibility to this commission simply because it was given specifically to the apostles, and because they obeyed it? No, for the commission is universal in scope and for all time to come. Therefore, the examples of God commissioning them, and their obedience to him, serve as binding patterns for all mankind throughout all time to come. The word which Christ gave the apostles, they used, and in their use of it, and by the examples of the use of it, the perpetuity and universality of God's laws are presented today. Separate if you can, honest soul, the word Christ gave the apostles from the examples of the apostles using that word. Why, only in that very way do we receive that word. Examples not binding? God forbid!

Where do you go, kind reader, to find information which you can use to convert a sinner to Christ? Why, to such a place in the New Testament as Acts 2. Let's look at it. This chapter contains our record of 3,000 souls being saved. Then it is an example! In it are found the terms of salvation. To whom are they specifically addressed? To the thousands who were assembled in the city of Jerusalem on that memorable pentecost following the resurrection of our Lord. The Word, the truth, by which we are set free today is revealed in that chapter. But, honest inquirer, how are we supplied that truth? Through the apostles to whom Christ gave the word, as they used it in converting those people of that day. Therefore, the truth by which men are saved comes to us only through the examples supplied as the truth was used! Examples are not binding? God forbid that such blasphemy should shame an enlightened people and deceive trusting souls! To be sure, the environmental circumstances of that day are not binding, but the examples are binding! Men are the masters of circumstances! And the examples, which do bind and restrict, may be copied in Constantinople; may be repeated to all regions through-out the reaches of the earth to any assembly, but the examples are binding, from now to eternity. None can be saved apart from their authority.

As you read this, fellow sojourner, stop for a few minutes and by the force of your imagination slowly turn the pages of the New Testament to the other places which inform you about the terms of salvation. Now, you've found each and every one of these places presented in examples of conversion. Therefore, friend, you couldn't preach, you couldn't believe, the plan of salvation unless you believed and preached by the authority of examples. The same conditions must be met today that were met in those yesteryears, because God's laws are now universal and perpetual. Consequently, all humankind are required to evaluate their condition and follow the examples in the New Testament which point to their needs. Examples not binding? 0, God, hasten the day when such blasphemy will be no more than an unpleasant memory!

Gentle reader, consider every act of worship, each labor of love; any and all things which we do to show adoration to and respect for Jehovah God, and the only way we can discharge our actions with the assurance they are acceptable, is to accept and respect the authority of the New Testament examples. The environmental circumstances do not bind, and as, "upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread," we are bound only by the examples given. The example to break bread is binding. We are bound by the example to break bread upon each first day of each week. Since the environmental circumstances do not bind us, we therefore can break bread upon the first day of each week wherever the "coming together" can be done. There is no action which can be scripturally engaged in, individually or collectively, that in any way violates or overthrows any example of the will and testament of Jesus Christ. Examples are binding!