From Sword and Staff I lifted the following anecdote which provoked the thoughts following: President John Quincy Adams called both houses of Congress together for a special session. He walked in carrying two "bushel" baskets and said, "The bushel measure in my right hand came from South Carolina; the one in my left hand came from the city of New York. One of these bushel measures contains sixty-eight cubic inches more than the other." He paused a moment to let that fall on the minds of the Senators and Representatives.
Then, he walked to a table and picked up two one pound weights and said, "This weight in my right hand came from Massachusetts ; this other one came from Maine . One of them weighs nearly an ounce more than the other." He gave them time to think about it, then he concluded, "Gentlemen, we need a standard measurement and a standard weight in the United States of America ."
The result of that speech and demonstration was the establishment of the Bureau of Standards of Weights and Measures, now known as the National Institute of Stadards, or NIST. Now, whether you live in South Carolina or New York City , a bushel is a bushel, and whether you live in Massachusetts or Maine , there are sixteen ounces in a pound.
Now think, the requirement that saints " keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3), and that the same apostolic ways be taught "everywhere in every church" (I Cor. 4:17 ), likewise requires a common standard. If such is required of saints, and those two passages are addressed to saints (Eph. 1:1; I Cor. 1:2), then there is to be a common standard among saints. Those who reject that conclusion for the subjective conclusions of their own preferences, are not saints.
Paul required Timothy to, "Hold the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me" (I Tim. 1:13 ). He then commanded Timothy, "The same commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also (II Tim. 2:2). Paul's message was "the word of God" (I Thess. 2:13 ). The conclusion is that we are not to measure ourselves by ourselves, or by our own varying standards (II Cor. 10:12 ), but by the word of God, that which Jesus revealed to the apostles (Jn. 16:13 -15).
This says that saints have a common standard for life and service. Just as our states have common standards for various measurements, there is a standard for measuring what and who a saint is, and what he does. Those not conforming and not complying are "illegal." Or to put it another way, they are transgressors, not abiding in the doctrine of Christ (II Jn. 9). Since saints conform to a common standard, and we are called to be saints (I Cor. 1;2), those not complying with the pattern are not saints. They may be religious, but they are not the set apart people of God.
Can we think God will take it lightly that some have more respect for the standards of the United States , than they do for his? In the judgment we will not be judged by our own varying religious standards, but by a common one. Jesus said, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him - the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (Jn 12:48 ). There will not be varying sizes of bushel baskets in the judgment. -- Dale Smelser