The Rules are Written on your Heart

There is a theory put out by the hard line Churches of Christ that Jesus gave the apostles all the rules for the work, worship and organization of the local congregation between his resurrection and his ascension. This is then called the “doctrine of Christ” or the “gospel” by these Churches of Christ. Why do they believe this? Because their raison d’être relies upon the belief that they have discerned all the rules for the work, worship and organization of the congregation, by looking at the examples of the apostles in the book of Acts and the epistles, that no other religious group or denomination has discerned these rules, therefore they are the only ones who are pleasing to the Lord.

This belief is based on the fact that during the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt Moses received the Ten Commandments and the plans for the tabernacle worship on Mount Sinai. Therefore if Jesus is the new Moses then Jesus must have given the plans for the work, worship and organization of the New Testament church to the apostles. It just isn’t written down in the same way as the tabernacle worship is written.

Nothing could be farther from the truth of what Jesus accomplished.

Several authors have noticed that the Exodus motif runs throughout the Bible story

Image1. Matthew takes up the theme in his gospel account. Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus journey into Egypt and return to Israel, just as the Israelites spent 400 years in Egypt, finally returning to the land of Canaan in the book of Exodus

Image2. Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness fasting, just as Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness tending sheep, and the Israelites spent 40 years being tempted in the wilderness. 

Image3. Jesus is transfigured on the mountain, just as Moses was transfigured on Mount Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments, the Law and the tabernacle worship. At Jesus’ transfiguration he meets with Moses and Elijah who speak to him of his coming “Exodus”

4. Jesus is the Passover Lamb, sacrificed to deliver us from slavery to sin.


Day of Pentecost by He Qi

5. The Day of Pentecost is the Feast of Booths or First Harvest. 3000 are baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit. Not just Moses is filled with the Spirit. And the fiery pillar in front of the tabernacle is now on each one of them. The Law is delivered in their hearts, not on any written stone or format.

6. Annanias and Sapphira are struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit, just as Nadab and Abihu were struck dead for using strange fire before the Lord. 

So the book of Acts, far from being a book that contains all of the rules of the work, worship and organization of the church, is really a record of the response of the first believers to the good news of Jesus Christ leading us in our exodus. 

There are no specific rules for the work, worship and organization of the church. The rules are defined by the moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. So James tells us that the law of liberty which judges us with mercy ought to be motivating us to treat poor people equal to rich people. Forgiveness should be coursing through each vein in our bodies such that we ooze forgiveness towards everyone. That is the work of the church. 


About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
This entry was posted in Bible, Command, Example and Necessary Inference, Faith and Works, Grace, Instrumental Music, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Rules are Written on your Heart

  1. says:

    I love getting the messages you send!! I grew up in a hard line church of Christ, I know how hard it has been on me. I found a TV and online teacher by the name of Les Feldick and I love to hear his teachings. If you want to check him out go Les Feldick .org and let me know what you think. He says Paul was the one Jesus left to teach us.

  2. Gary Cummings says:

    No specific rules were given. What the heck does the COC think the New Covenant is– a new Law of Moses? Of course they do, I forgot!
    The first NT writing was probably Galatians, per many scholars about AD49, and the last was probably the Gospel of John about AD 98. in that period of about 50 years, the rest of what we consider the NT came into being, as Paul and others responded to different needs from the scattered churches over the Roman Empire. The COC thinks the first thing the NT writers did was to crank out the New Testament to give us “the New Testament Pattern” or Blueprint”. This is a fallacy because of the time it took to write all the New Testament and the time it took to gather the documents into some form of what we now call the New Testament. According to the COC theory, “if you miss one command, example, or necessary inference, you will go to hell.” How could the early church “get it all right per the COC theory, when they did not have the same NT we have now? Different parts of the Empire had different Gospels. Paul’s letters were written to various churches and kept there. The Book of Acts was not written till about 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Per the COC theory the early Church was not the true church because they did not follow everything in the book of Acts for at least 30 years. Are those good Christ followers going to hell because they had no blueprint from the book of Acts to follow for that time period?

    Thanks, Gary

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