Are Bible Classes Authorized???
by Hiram O. Hutto
First of all, let it be noted that Bible classes or any other work of the church must be authorized by the Scripture. Col. 3:17 says, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Whatever is done in word (doctrine) or deed (practice) must be authorized by the Lord and Bible authority is established in one of 3 ways:
1. By an express statement, e.g., a command or prohibition,etc. The Lord's Supper furnishes an illustration of this. Jesus said, "This DO in remembrance of me" (1 Cor. 11:25).
2. By a necessary implication. In this instance it can be seen that the kind of bread used in the Lord's Supper was unleavened bread. No leaven was permitted during the Passover (Ex. 12:15-20).
3. The time of eating the Lord's Supper is seen by the example of Acts 20:7.
If Bible classes are to be authorized, it will be by one of these three ways. It does not need to be all three.
While it is true that authority is established in one of these three ways, it comes to us in one of two forms. That is, it may be specifically mentioned, or it may be in a generic form Specific authority excludes everything else in the class except what is specified. General authority includes all that is included in the general statement. An illustration of specific authority: God told Noah to make an ark of gopher wood (Gen.6:14). While there are many different kinds of wood, God did not simply say, "Make a wooden ark". He specified the kind of wood Noah was to use. All other kinds of wood were excluded. God specified; thus there was no choice allowed as to the kind of wood. So when God specifies a thing, everything else of that class is excluded.
However, there is Bible authority that is not specific, but it is general. When God says something is to be done, but does not specify the details, such is included in the general requirement so long as it does not violate some other scripture. The familiar passage in Matt. 28:18-20 and Mark 16:16 records the command to go, but does not specify the means by which the going was to be done. There are numerous ways to go: ride, walk, sail, etc. Any of these is included (hence, authorized) under the general statement "go". You will not read where God said, "Go in an airplane." He did say "Go" and since there was no further specification, He left it up to us as to how the going was to be done. Any method may be used unless it is statedly forbidden or violates some scriptural teaching.
In the same way, there is the matter of the church assembling. Sometimes people ask, "Where does the Bible mention that a church owned a meeting house?" It doesn't, but it doesn't have to because the church is required to assemble and you can't assemble without a place. Any place would be authorized under the general command to assemble. It may buy, rent, or have one donated. Since God did not specify, any of these is authorized under the general requirement to assemble. In general authority, choice is authorized and a thing need not be specifically mentioned for a thing to be authorized. When it comes to the matter of the church's role in teaching the Bible, it is important to remember this last statement: a thing need not be specifically mentioned for it to be authorized.
WHAT IS A BIBLE CLASS?
1. It is not the assembly of 1 Cor. 14:23 and 11:18ff. In that assembly the Lord's Supper is eaten on the first day of the week, but the Lord's Supper is not to be eaten in a Bible class. The church is to have a collection on the first day of the week. A Bible class is not the place for that. So Bible classes are not the assembly of the whole church in one place.
2. Bible classes are not a separate Sunday School organization - not any more than the seven men of Acts 6 who were chosen to wait on tables was a separate organization. Such is simply a systematic arrangement of doing what the Lord authorized.
3. Bible classes are simply an arrangement made by the church where a teacher and student get together at a time and place,other than an assembly of the whole church in one place,in which arrangement the Bible is taught.
AUTHORIZED CHURCH TEACHING
1. Anything the church scripturally supports is a thing the church is authorized to do.
2. The church may support Bible teaching. Phil. 1:5; 4:15-16; 2 Cor. 11:8; 1 Cor. 9:14; 2 Th. 3:8-9.
3. The church supported teaching in various arrangements.
a. In "the assembly". Acts 20:7.
b. In synagogue. Acts 17:1-3; Phil. 4:15-16.
c. In an individual's house. Acts 18:5-7; 2 Cor. 11:9.
d. A "private group" outside the assembly. Gal. 2:2; cf Acts 15:3.
e. In jail. Acts 28:30-31; Phil. 2:25; 4:14.
Therefore: The church is not limited to JUST ONE ARRANGEMENT. It
may use VARIOUS ARRANGEMENTS. It may CHOOSE any arrangement:
1. that is not statedly forbidden, or
2. does not violate some Bible teaching.
On this basis, TV programs, church bulletins, formal debates, are all authorized.
Since God told the church to teach (1 Tim. 3:15) but did not specify any one arrangement (if so, what), such teaching is authorized under the general requirement to teach. Bible class arrangements need not be specifically mentioned since they are authorized under the general command to teach. - H.O. Hutto
(Much of the preceding material was obtained from debates by Elmer Moore, Jess Jenkins, J. T. Smith and others. If that seems to be plagerism, just remember what Kipling said about himself and Homer:
When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin lyre,
He'd 'eard men sing* by land an' sea;
An' what 'e 'e thought 'e might require;
` "e went an' took - the same as me!
(And be as kind as Homer's audience was)
The market girls an' fishermen,
The shepherds an' the sailors** too,
They 'eard old songs turn up again,
But kep' it quiet - same as you!
*Or, speak **Or, sailor
They knew 'e stole; 'he knew they knowed,.
They didn';t tell, nor make a fuss,
But winked at 'Omer down the road,.
An' 'e winked back - the same as us!)
[Thanks to brother Hutto for the article! ]
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