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THE PATCHWORK QUILT
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. (Mat 9:16-17)
My grandmother was one for making patchwork quilts. She would use the best parts of old shirts, pants, dresses and the like and create an attractive, usable item that carried with it memories of times gone by. Sometimes she would have people donate a patch with their name and some words on it, and sew it into the quilt she was making. In this way everyone who wanted to could feel as if they had a part in the making of the quilt. Their words and name then became a vital part of our family history.
Grandmothers are not the only ones who like to take pieces of the old and make them into something new. We find this effort in many walks of life. Perhaps the most obvious of these occupations is that of the church.
From the beginning of the Jewish nation under Moses people have been adding their ideas and theories to what God has established. These additions are now called “oral traditions,” found in such books as the Mishnah, the writings and expounding of the Word by the Rabbis.
But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? …..Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Mat 15:3-6)
Jesus had to contend with those who would follow the writings of the Rabbis of old who added their patch to the quilt that God had provided His people. We read the words of Jesus, and we condemn those who were, in our eyes, so foolish as to be led astray by the religious leaders of their day.
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. …. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Mat 16:6-12)
The doctrines Jesus warned His disciples to beware of are those patches added on to the quilt of the Word. The religious leaders of the day would add their interpretation, or an interpretation handed to them by their theologions, and expect everyone to do as the tradition told them to do. Because of this misdirection, the Jews were led to their destruction.
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecc 1:9)
What the Jews did, so did the Catholic church. Even in the 1960's drastic changes were made to the belief system of the church. And there are still changes taking place as we speak.
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Tim 3:6-7)
We think of this passage as describing what we call the cults. These denominations have added their patches to the quilt, and they, as do all churches, continue to tear off old patches, and replace them with new pieces of cloth.
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (Rev 17:6)
Just about every religion and denomination has its martyrs. It's these martyrs that often establish a new piece on the quilt we use for our doctrines.
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1Cor 1:12)
Every one of us says we are of some person. One of those some people identify with is Jesus. We add the name Jesus to our title, and behold, it has to be right, even if it conflicts with the words of the Bible.
Notice that one of those some people identify with is Apollos. Who might be Apollos, and what does it mean to identify with him?
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. (Act 19:1-3)
Here we have twelve men, all baptized and fully confident that they are part of the Church, yet they hadn't even heard of the Holy Spirit, which is the essence of the Church. They are baptized, but not into the Church Jesus created.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. (Act 18:24-26)
Apollos is a man fervent for the Lord, strong on the Scriptures, yet he is leading people astray of the truth. How is he leading people astray? He only knows part of what he needs to teach. And this, I believe, is the problem with the churches today. They only know, and they are only open to, parts of the Scriptures, and are causing people to feel confident with only half a cure, causing people to come short of the mark of the high calling of God.
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:27)
How about missing patches on their garments?
We of the Protestant churches like to pride ourself on our having a perfect doctrine, reading the Word exactly as God intended it to be read. Yet we look back through our history and see where that quilt has been altered, pieces torn out or replaced, and neglected altogether from its beginning. Luther, for example, came to bring us a single patch to add to the quilt, yet that piece is either left out of church doctrine, or it has been reworked to fit the doctrine of the day. Wesley died to bring us a patch, that is also ignored by many. Then there's the very conflicting doctrines brought to us by John Calvin and Jacob Arminius, that can't be accepted unless some parts of one or the other are rejected. Yet we, having only a confusing piece of cloth, declare absolutely that ours and ours alone is what Jesus brought to us.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2Cor 13:5)
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2Cor 10:12)
Instead of comparing our church and its doctrine with that of other churches, and instead of concentrating on where we believe ourself to be right, we have to locate the areas where we are likely to be wrong. I don't see this happening in any of the churches. Instead I see where, if someone feels they have found a flaw in their church doctrine, they have to run off with it and establish yet another denomination.
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