OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew




A.             In Nehemiah 8, the Law of Moses is opened and read to the Jews in Jerusalem.  Nehemiah 8:8 indicates that more than just reading was involved.


So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused the people to understand the reading.


1.                There read distinctly.

2.                They gave the sense.

3.                They caused the people to understand the reading.


B.              The words “gave the sense,” involve the process of interpretation.

1.                This phrase involves intelligence, discretion, knowledge, and insight.

2.                To give the sense involves using intelligence and knowledge to discern the meaning of the Biblical text.


C.              Within the churches of Christ, most believe that this process involves three elements:  commands, examples, and necessary inference.


D.             However, since the late 1980s and early 1990s, many have been calling for a New Hermeneutic.  In two previous lessons, we have examined some of the tenets of the New Hermeneutic.  We want to continue with this study in this lesson.




A.             Keirgegard:  “To read the Bible thoughtlessly or carelessly or academically or professionally is not to read the Bible as God’s word.  As one reads it as a love letter, then one reads it as the word of God” (Protestant Biblical Interpretation, p. 75).


B.              For some reason man wants to approach the Word of God with deep emotionalism and sentimentality.  Those who approach the Word of God out of sheer emotionalism despise those who approach the Bible as a rational, legal document.

1.                There is no doubt that the Bible is an expression of God’s love for man.  In the Bible, He reveals just how much He loves humanity (Rom. 5:8).


But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.






2.                However, the Bible is a covenant, a binding law.

a.         Hebrews 8:6-8


But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.   For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for a second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.


                                    b.         Romans 8:2


For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


C.              This tenet of the New Hermeneutic is an attack on the authoritative nature of the Word of God.

1.                A love letter just contains a message to the one loved.

2.                A constitution involves laws and regulations to be obeyed.


D.             The book of Hebrews makes it very clear that the NT is a covenant.  It is a covenant that is far superior to the Law of Moses.  As a covenant, it is to be heard, heeded, and refused not.

1.                Hebrews 2:1-4

2.                Hebrews 10:26-31

3.                Hebrews 12:24-25


And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.  See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him which speaketh from heaven.




A.             Pattern theology is the ideal that the NT contains numerous patterns that are binding upon us today.

1.                The plan of salvation.

2.                The organization of the church.

3.                The worship of the church.


B.              Those who tout the New Hermeneutic are very critical of pattern theology.

1.                “Pattern theology has been our undoing” (Rubel Shelly).

2.                “Strict pattern theology must be abandoned” (Michael Moss, CSC, 1989).

3.                “Much division in the Restoration movement has resulted from interpret-tative disagreements regarding the exhaustive blueprint and attendant prohibitive role of silence.  Perhaps our history of fragmentation suggests that the pattern concept of Scripture may not be consonant with the New Testament itself” (Woody Woodrow, CSC, 1984).


C.              Pattern theology can be traced back to the days of Moses, and even farther back to the days of Noah.

1.                Noah and the ark (Gen. 6:14-16).


Make thee an ark of gopher wood:  rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without with pitch.  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of:  the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, and the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above:  and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories, shalt thou make it.


2.                Moses, the tabernacle and its furnishings.

a.         Exodus 25:9


According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.


b.               Exodus 25:40


And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.


c.               The pattern that Moses was to follow was important because the things he built were patterns, shadows, images, and types of things to come.  In fact, they were patterns of heavenly things to come (Heb. 8:5).


Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle:  for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.


D.             God has always used patterns.  For us to follow the patterns set forth by the apostles and church of the first century is not our undoing.

1.                One of the patterns is found in Acts 20:7.


And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and he continued his speech until midnight.


a.         Do we follow this pattern and partake of the Lord’s Supper only on the first day of the week?

b.         Those who reject pattern theology say, “No.”  They partake of it on Saturday nights, at weddings, and at other times they deem appropriate.

2.         In I Timothy 1:16, Paul affirmed that his salvation was a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

a.         First, Paul must have been mistaken.  Pattern theology is to be abandoned.

                                    b.         Second, part of Paul’s conversion involved baptism (Acts 22:16).

c.         Those who reject pattern theology want to accept individuals into our fellowship even though they have not been baptized into Christ.  They want to accept others who have been baptized, but who were not baptized for the remission of sins.




A.             The attempt on the part of the New Hermeneutic is to diminish and destroy the authority of the New Testament.

1.                The Bible becomes a good story book.

2.                The Bible becomes a wonderful self-help book.


B.              God’s Word is more than this.  It is a law to be obeyed and a pattern to be followed.  It is the standard by which we will be judged in the last day (John 12:48).


He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him:  the word that I have spoken the same shall judge him in the last day.