Hebrews 4:12-13 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

Follow The Rules

Illustrations and examples are a constant within the teachings of the New Testament! The fact that we garner much of the authority for the practices we engage in (on behalf of our collective service to the Lord), are based on illustrations and examples; cannot be denied!

How exclusive is the character of such teaching? Does the New Testament bind upon God's people a practice or method to the exclusion of all others by example or illustration? If this is the case, how is it determined?

These questions are the focus of this lessons intent. Within the rules we will study in this lesson, the answers to these questions are revealed (for brevities sake, I will use some examples of each rule in order to determine the application; keep in mind that there are many more examples in each case!).


 I. The Rule of Uniformity.

This teaches us that when the routines of believers within the scriptures were unified in practice, it excluded any variation, note:

•  In every case of conversion recorded within the Word of God, from the beginning of the Gospel on the day of Pentecost, there is no exception to the fact that the conversion was brought about by preaching. This is also puts practice in harmony with teaching (we will look at this in the next point), when compared to I Corinthians 1:21 .

•  In every case of conversion in the New Testament recorded, we find faith exercised by the person who has heard the Word of God (that seed finding healthy soil in order to flourish). This establishes that unless faith is planted in the heart by the hearing of the Word of God, there can be no conversion ( Romans 10:17 ).

•  The fact that in every case of conversion within the scriptures, the person accepting within their hearts the planted word of God, was immediately baptized impresses upon us, by the very uniformity of it, that it was essential to conversion. Again we also find it in harmony with the teaching of the New Testament; see: Acts 2:38 ; 8:12 ; 8:36-39 ; 9:38 ; 10:47-48 ; 16:15,33 ; 18:8 ; 19:5 ; 22:16 ; in addition to these direct applications, we also find reminders of what entire churches had exercised to be ‘IN' Christ, see: Romans 6:3-4 ; I Corinthians 12:13 ; Galatians 3:26-27 ; Ephesians 5:26 ; Colossians 2:12 ; Titus 3:5 ; I Peter 3:21 .

•  The fact that in every case recorded, the Lord's Supper was observed on each first day of the week only! The fact that there is no other existing example or illustration by itself indicates by this very omission that any other day is excluded. See: Acts 20:7 ; I Corinthians 11:20 ; I Corinthians 16:2 .


 II. The Rule of Unity.

This rule is simply that all scripture (illustration, example, and precept), must be followed in light of all that God has said on the same subject (rule of harmony), for example:

•  The Disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread ( Acts 20:7 ).

•  This example is harmony with the precept, “This do in remembrance of Me” ( I Corinthians 11:24 ).
•  The assembly of saints “to break bread”, is in harmony with apostolic instruction, see: I Corinthians 11:20 ; Hebrews 10:25 .
•  The inference is that this was a practice on the Lord's Day as regularly as it came (each week), is in harmony with apostolic teaching; that the supper was to be repeatedly observed ( I Corinthians 11:26 ).

 III. The Rule of Universal Application.

The scope of all that is taught within the Gospel of Christ is within the realm of possibility of comprehension and practice, for all people of all cultures, and for all times. The scope of the Gospel is world wide, both in its provisions and in its requirements.

•  Baptism in water for the remission of sins is a universal demonstration of the application of the Gospel to all parts of the world (consider the teaching of Jesus to His Apostles concerning their commission to the Gospel – Matthew 28:18-20 ; Mark 16:15 -16 ).

•  Weekly observance of the Lord's supper is likewise possible for all men of all times.

•  Autonomy and independence of each congregation, as taught in the Lord's plan for His church, means that in every locality where Christians are made throughout the world, the work of the Lord's church can be carried on without any necessary connection or cooperation with any other part of God's people.


 IV. The Rule of Materiality.

Whether a thing is pertinent, material, indispensable to the teaching or practice of God's will is a vital consideration. Incidental matters are never relevant, material, or competent in determining the will of God. These need to be separated from the will of God in anything taught in God's word, note:

•  Whether people are baptized in a pool in Jerusalem or in a stream by a city, is entirely incidental. The design, action, and results accomplished were the same in any event ( Acts 2:38 16:13 -15 ).

•  Whether the Gospel is preached in a synagogue, school of Greek , by a riverside, or in a jail, is a matter that is completely irrelevant or material to the conversion of a sinner. The truth preached, believed, and obeyed constituted conversion under any circumstance ( Acts 13:14 ; 16:13 ; 25-34 ; 19:9 ).

•  Whether Christians assemble in a home, rented hall, or a building owned by them is a matter of indifference to God's commands. The assembly of saints for worship in spirit and truth is the essential, regardless of location ( John 4:21 ; Hebrews 10:25 ).

•  Whether the elements of the Lord's Supper are unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, or ice cream and cake, are completely relevant. The emblems of His body and blood on the Lord's table were determined by Him and are constituent elements of the supper He ordained ( I Corinthians 11:23 -26 ). Anything else could not possibly constitute that supper ( I Corinthians 11:29 ).

•  Whether a congregation has elders or not is material, for unless in due time, elders are developed and appointed, God's order has not been established and followed ( Acts 14:23 ; Titus 1:5 ).


 V. The Rule of Competence.

In applying any precept or example in the New Testament, it is important to determine whether or not the evidence from the divine record is actually competent to support the claim that is made for it. Too often, practices are presumed, especially when evidence is non-existent, after all the scriptures have to say are applied to the practice, for example:

•  To presume that the Jerusalem elders took charge of the contribution sent from Antioch , for the churches in Judea , is pure fiction. In the example of Acts 11:27 -30 , Jerusalem and the elders of Jerusalem are not mentioned. We are entitled to presume that the churches in Judea followed the divine order for elders in every church ( Acts 14:23 ). In that case the elders, to whom Paul and Barnabas delivered the contribution to, were the elders among the brethren in Judea .

•  To presume that any New Testament congregation completed any work they were responsible for through another church or organization is pure fiction. There is no example of joint efforts, or pooling of funds among New Testament churches. In the contribution sent to Jerusalem, each church selected its own representative and retained control of its funds through its agents until presented to the elders in the churches of Judea ( I Corinthians 16:3 ; II Corinthians 8:19 ). In addition, as Paul describes the work of the church, he would note, that it is what, “every joint” and “every part” does within the body that edifies itself in love ( Ephesians 4:16 ).


 VI. The Rule of Limited Application.

Every principle of divine law demonstrated in New Testament examples, can correctly be applied only within the circumstances under which the application is made. The case, by which application is made, must in fact be the same fact situation, for example:

•  Virtually all the teaching of I Corinthians 14 cannot be generally applied to any subject, as Paul was specifically dealing with the use of spiritual gifts. The only general principle that can be garnished from this specific teachings is stated in, “ Let all things be done for edification ”, and “ Let all things be done decently and in order ”.


 VII. The Rule of Exclusion.

When there is no precept, approved example, or necessary inference that includes the practice under consideration, there is no authority for such practice and it is excluded (as it is a human perversion to the wisdom of God – He is seeking those to worship in spirit and in truth and has provided all things that lead to life and godliness, John 4:23 ; II Peter 1:3 ). God's silence rules against it and to engage in such a practice is to add to the law of God (transgression).

2 John 1:9-11

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”


Follow The Rules!