Holmes Osborne said, “Tell the truth, even if they look at you funny.” Words from the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:13-14 get “funny looks” from some people when they are preached these days. In that Bible passage the apostle urged Timothy, “Hold fast the pattern of
sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” To proclaim this Bible truth gets not only “funny looks” but howls of protest from some who insist there is no set pattern” for the church to follow as regards doctrines she teaches – including the plan of salvation, her forms and expressions of worship as well as her leadership organization, etc. Like the once popular green clay humanoid character, Gumby, some want a church that can be bent and shaped into any form and poured into any mold popular thinking and culture might want. But Paul reminds Timothy – and us – there is a pattern by which we must measure and cut and size our faith! The Greek word
translated “pattern” in verse 13 is hupotuposis, and means an outline, a sketch (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).
My wife is a skilled seamstress. Before, and even after we married, she “made” some of her own dresses. To make the garment she would buy a “pattern” for a dress or blouse, etc. I was always fascinated at her ability to take the pattern and create beautiful clothing. Pieces of the garment were sketched out on the pattern which served as a guide and checkpoint. She was not free to cut and size the garment as she wished if she desired the garment under construction to be like the pattern. She cut individual pieces and kinds of
material, measured, sized, sometimes temporarily pinned, and eventually sewed the pieces one to another in a very precise and pre-determined way. And when she did – BOOM! – the new garment reflected the original pattern and in the end turned out as the
original designer intended!
A few verses after Paul penned the words quoted above, in 2 Timothy 2:2 he issued a mandate to Timothy (and by extension to us). Timothy’s precise task is to “hold fast to the pattern of sound words” he heard from Paul (1:13), and also to “commit these things to faithful men who will be able to others also.” In other words, the apostle directs Timothy to perpetuate the divine pattern! Even if teaching these things makes people “look at you funny.” The first century church of Christ was distinctive from all other religious groups.
Her original designer was Jesus who said in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Jesus and His apostles built the church the way God wanted her to be built. She was distinctive in both the Man and plan of
salvation she preached to lost people (1 Colossians 1:28 * Mark 16:15-16 * Acts 4:12). She had a distinctive plan for organization (see 1 Timothy 3), a distinctive form of worship (John 4:24), and a distinctive kind of lifestyle (Romans 12:1-2). Christians in America have sought to hold fast to and perpetuate the New Testament’s distinctive pattern of sound words since the early 1800’s. Will Christ’s church continue to be distinctive in a pluralistic religious world? Will she perpetuate the pattern? Or will her grip on the “pattern of
sound words” prove too loose to hold fast to the original pattern the Lord revealed 2,000 years ago? Will she perpetuate the divine pattern of sound words? God help His church prove faithful to that divine trust. Think about it.