Introduction: Heb. 8:5 (In religious activity, people are often prone to do what suits them rather than what God asks us to do. This gives rise to many discussions over issues like instrumental music, etc. In defense of these innovations, people often argue "the Bible doesn't say you can't." While they question the restoration theme "Be silent where the Bible is silent." This sermon will deal with the silence of scripture, or more accurately, what to do when God has a pattern. During this study, we will deal with two main questions;
1. When God specifies a certain way of doing something, does that exclude all other ways?
2. Must God specifically forbid something in order for it to be wrong?
Of course there are many areas where God has not left a specific pattern. In these situations we are at liberty to use whatever means are expedient to fulfill a certain command, if no scripture is violated.
1. Examples Of This Principle:
A. Nadab And Abihu: Lev. 6:13, Num. 16:46, Lev. 16:12-13 (The fire under the altar was to be kept burning. Only this fire was to be used in the burning of incense. Take note that he did not say "thou shalt not use strange fire." [Exo. 30:9 strange incense] He merely specified which fire was to be used and by that excluded all other sources of fire.) Lev. 10:1-2 (When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire, God killed them! Note, they did not violate a specific "thou shalt not." They violated the pattern that God set forth. They offered strange fire "which he commanded them not.")
B. Uzzah: Exo. 25:12-16, Num. 4:15, Num. 7:9 (God set forth a pattern for carrying the ark of the covenant. It was to be carried by hand with staves. He did not say "thou shalt not use an ox cart." But when he specified a certain way that excluded all other ways.) 1 Chron. 13:7-10 (In this passage, we find that Uzzah was killed for touching the ark. Israel violated the pattern by carrying the ark in a new cart.) 1 Chron. 15:13-15 (When the situation was corrected, they had only Levites carry it and it was carried by hand. Thus we see another example of someone sinning by violating a specified pattern, rather than violating a specific "thou shalt not.")
C. Priesthood: Num. 1:50 (God specified that only those of the tribe of Levi could see to the priestly work. He did not have to specify every other tribe and exclude them from service. He did not have to say "people of Judah shalt not offer priestly service, etc.." He merely had to specify Levites.) Heb. 7:13-14, 8:4 (The Hebrew writer says that since God spoke nothing concerning people of Judah being priests, they couldn't be priests. Because God had specified one tribe, all other tribes were forbidden! For example consider Saul, Jeroboam and Uzziah in 1 Sam. 13:8-14, 1 Kings 12:33, 13:1ff, and 2 Chron. 26:17-19 respectively.)
2. Statement Of This Principle: Num. 22:18, Jer. 7:31 (In each passage we have a clear statement of the principle of adhering to God's pattern.)
3. The Principle In The New Covenant: Gal. 3:15 (Once a covenant is sealed, it is not to be changed. We are not at liberty to change God's covenant!) Rev. 22:18-19 (We have learned that the principle here stated of the book of Revelation is applicable to all scripture.)
4. This Principle Applied:
A. Communion: Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7 (In both cases, the breaking of bread was done on Sunday. This is the consistent pattern set forth after the death of Jesus. Even though God didn't say "thou shalt not have it on Tuesday," the pattern set forth is binding and should not be changed.) 1 Cor. 11:23-26 (The same could be said of the food and drink used in the communion service.)
B. Assembly: Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 14:26, Heb 10:25 (The consistent pattern for the arrangement of the assembly is a together arrangement. To have children s church, junior worship, divided classes, etc., violates this pattern.)
C. Singing: 1 Cor. 14:15, Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16 (The pattern is for us to sing. Playing instruments goes beyond this pattern. Though he did not say "thou shalt not use instruments of music", the command to sing excludes all other ways of musical praise.)
Conclusion: (There are some areas where God has given us liberty to act within certain limits. But there are other areas where God has a pattern and we must follow that pattern in order to please him.)