They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying,

“See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”

Hebrews 8:5 RSV

All things according to the pattern must be hailed as one of the most significant statements in Hebrews.

The instructions of God to Moses to which reference is here made are found in Exodus 25:40; and this reiteration of them in the New Testament is of the utmost consequence.

If God required Moses to proceed exactly according to the pattern God showed him, it is also required of worshipers today that they do all things according to the pattern God has revealed.

It is of no great concern how God showed Moses the pattern; and we may therefore reject the speculations of people on that point and dwell upon the far more important fact that there was a pattern and that God required the strictest adherence to it in the things Moses made.

One of the great delusions of modern worshipers is the fallacy that there is no pattern, actually, and that it makes no difference what people do religiously, just so they are sincere in it; but this text reveals God as a pattern-minded God.

How could God be supposed to be otherwise?

If God made a mosquito or an eclipse of the sun, the divine pattern is always followed.

God never created a round snowflake, nor a cubical planet, nor a quadramaculatus mosquito without four spots on his wings.

The tiniest bird is constructed according to an invariable pattern; and of all the billions of South Carolina wrens that God ever made, every single one of them warbled his plaintive little melody in the key of G.

Dr. Leonidas Holland of David Lipscomb College discovered that about the wrens during thirty-five years of study.

If God takes such care in his making of birds, or of working honey bees, not one of which was ever discovered without a sting, how could it ever be thought true that God does not care about how men shall worship?

Even of those types and shadows made by Moses, God was jealous of the strict adherence to the divine pattern; and a part of the wickedness of Ahaz, king of Israel, was his rejection of the divine pattern of the altar and fashioning one like the pagan altar in Damascus (2 Kings 16:10,11).

And if God cared about that, does he not care if the prayers of which that altar was only a type shall be offered through the one Mediator God established, and not through the saints of all ages?

Applying the principle of a divine pattern to the realities of the new covenant, one can be certain that there is a plan of salvation, even if it is not called that in the New Testament.

That “plan of salvation” can be discovered by studying the examples of conversion recorded in the book of Acts.

From this, it appears that every person converted under the preaching of the apostles and inspired evangelists, without exception:

  • Heard the word of God
  • Believed on the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Confessed the Saviour’s name before people
  • Repented of their sins
  • Were baptized into Christ
  • Became members of the body of Christ
  • Received the Holy Spirit, continuing stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and in the breaking of bread and in prayers.

If there is any other way to be saved from alien sins, the scriptures have no record of it. See more on this in Hebrews 10:26.

And regarding the worship, is there a pattern of scriptural worship?

Of course there is.

  • The New Testament declares that God must be worshiped “in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)
  • That teaching human commandments for doctrine constitutes “vain worship” (Mark 7:7)
  • That “God is not worshipped with men’s hands” (Acts 17:24,25)
  • That man shall not “add unto these things” (Revelation 22:18)
  • That one who “abideth not in the teaching of Christ hath not God” (2 John 1:1:9)
  • That men “make the commandment of God of none effect” by their traditions (Matthew 15:6)
  • That all Christians should learn “not to go beyond the things which are written” (1 Corinthians 4:6).

If such scriptures as these do not provide warning against departure from God’s pattern of worship, it is hard to imagine how a warning could be stated.

But what is that pattern?

God is to be worshipped:

  • Through prayers (Acts 2:46; 2 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 14:15)
  • Through observance of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 2:46; 1 Corinthians 11:28)
  • By giving of one’s means to support the truth (Acts 20:35; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:7-14)
  • In reading, studying, teaching and preaching God’s word (Acts 2:46; 20:7; 2 Timothy 4:2)
  • By the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs unto God (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:15).
  • Furthermore, there is a clearly revealed pattern for every component of Christian worship, as for example, the singing.
  • Not even all singing is acceptable, for God requires only psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Unspiritual songs do not meet the requirements; and, as for instrumental music, it was never part of the worship of Christians until centuries after Christ.

There is a pattern for baptism; and for details on that, see our blog: “Six Fundamentals”

The Lord’s Supper also was designed with regard to a heavenly pattern.

The so-called emblems are not many but only two, bread and wine; and the primitive church observed it not every day, but upon a fixed day.

Pliny the Younger (A.D. 63-112), in his letter to the Emperor Trajan stated that the guilt of Christians had amounted only to this, “that on an appointed day … they had been accustomed to meet before daybreak, and to recite a hymn antiphonally to Christ as God, etc.”

Thus from the shadow of the first century comes the certain word that the Christians met on a fixed or “APPOINTED DAY,” just like they still do; and the New Testament reveals that day to have been on the first day of the week.

(Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

Pliny’s letter goes on to say that the Christians, at those appointed meetings, partook of food “of an ordinary and harmless kind”; and thus it may be concluded that from apostolic times, THE LORD’S SUPPER was observed weekly by Christians on the first day of EVERY WEEK.

Nor is that all. There is a pattern of Christian living, a pattern to be observed in giving of one’s means to support the gospel, a pattern of prayers, which must be “in the name of” Christ, a pattern of preaching, and a pattern of decency and decorum for public worship, and even specific instructions for ushers at the public assemblies of the church! (James 2:1-3).

It is the life-work of every Christian to learn and follow the pattern of heavenly things in the religion of Christ.

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15‭-‬16 RSV

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