The Ward - Brooks Debate
Mark J. Ward's First Affirmative
"The Scriptures authorize a given local church to come together to break bread, tarry, and eat together the Lord's Supper in only one assembly on the same first day of the week.."
Ward's First Affirmative
Greetings to Ray Brooks, the list moderators of www.religiousdebates.com, and all readers of this discussion whether at that site or at http://www.religiousinstructor.com). Let me begin by stating that I am very appreciative of this opportunity to engage in a Bible study of this type. I will try to be loving and yet very clear in my teaching. Please do not confuse any "pointedness" with a lack of "niceness" in my approach in this study.
As I submitted this proposition not knowing "who" would be in the negative, I certainly have no personal axe to grind with Ray, who will be responding to my affirmative articles. I will press my points and want my opponent to press his. Scriptural argumentation that is sound has no problem with open investigation. Truth has nothing to fear from testing. I look forward to a profitable discussion with Ray on this subject. I want to commend Ray Brooks for engaging in public discussion! Many of my own brethren will NOT discuss this or other matters over which there is disagreement. Many will even preach and write publicly on this topic, but decline when asked to engage in honorable discussion to have their teaching tested.
I would kindly ask that all readers, as well as my worthy opponent, to please try to keep open minds and open Bibles during this study. I recognize the soberness of teaching only God's revealed truth on any Bible subject. We all will be judged on what we believe, teach, and practice. If we learn that our beliefs and practices are not in line with God's Will, let us adjust properly and conform to truth. I ask that we engage in a loving, profitable study of this good Bible subject. Truth is not ambiguous. There is a Bible answer to this question. Studying in this format (debate) is a wonderful approach to trying to reach agreement on issues of belief that divide us. May we grow into the truth of God's Word on every Bible subject!
Let me hasten to define the terms of my proposition. By "The scriptures" I mean the 66 books of the Bible, with specific emphasis on the doctrine of Christ, since we today are to live by, and will be judged by, the perfect law of liberty (2 John 9; Jas. 2:12; Jas 1:25). By "authorize" I mean to allow, permit, deem scriptural. By "a given local church" I mean a group of Christians who agree to unite and work and worship together as a congregation with a common treasury, to evangelize, to edify, and to engage in scriptural church benevolence in a given locality. By "to come together" I mean to assemble in one place, to gather. By "to break bread" I mean for the purpose of eating the Lord's Supper. By "tarry" I mean to wait. By "and eat together the Lord's Supper" I mean partake of the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine in worship unto God, remembering the Lord's death, in the same observance. By "in only one assembly" I mean limited to the single, sole assembly for the purpose of breaking bread. By "on the same first day of the week" I mean on any given particular first day of the week.
5 Questions for Ray Brooks
In the spirit of conducting a good Bible study and discussion, I would like to ask 5 questions of Ray (to hopefully help us all better understand each other and how we come to different conclusions on the same topic when we have the same Bible. My answers to these same questions are given below.)
1. Do you believe that the practice of a local church setting one particular assembly on the first day of the week to eat the Lord's Supper is authorized? If not, on what scriptural basis would you oppose such a practice?
2. Do you believe that it is scriptural ~to add to~ the elements of the Lord's Supper found in Scripture (i.e. the unleavened bread and grape juice) ~or substitute for~ those elements in worship to God? If so, on what scriptural basis?
3. Do you believe that the only scriptural frequency of eating the Lord's Supper is ~weekly~ and that such is to occur on the ~first day~ of the week exclusively. If not, why? Passage(s) please.
4. Do you agree that specific authority limits, and thus is exclusive? If not, why?
5. Do you acknowledge that God's command in I Cor. 11:33, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." applies to us today? If not, why?
MY ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS
1. YES (See Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34).
2. NO/NO (2 John 9; Col. 3:17).
3. YES/YES (Acts 20:7).
4. YES (this is really axiomatic, or self evident, whether in spiritual matters or secular).
5. YES (I Cor. 4:17; I Cor. 14: 37; 2 Tim. 2:2).
Simply stated, I contend that the local church is obligated to set a time for the church to assemble for the purpose of eating the Lord's Supper, tarry one for another at that assembly until the time to eat, and eat together in that same, single assembly (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34). What is right, is authorized of God (Col. 3:17). That we may ~do~ with His approval. What is not authorized, is a trespass and is wrong (2 John 9; Col. 3:17).
AN ARGUMENT BASED ON SPECIFIC AUTHORITY
This discussion rests very much on the matter of the specific authority that churches have in the doctrine of Christ to properly observe the Lord's Supper. What God authorizes will be found in the doctrine of Christ, for God has given us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). To cite authority other than "the doctrine of Christ" will not suffice in this discussion. We look forward to a good Bible discussion on God's authority regarding the scriptural observance of the Lord's Supper. All readers are encouraged to open your minds and Bibles. Search the Scriptures and consider the arguments that are advanced on this good topic.
When we read ALL that God chose to reveal to us in the inspired doctrine of Christ concerning the Lord's Supper, we see that we have authorization to do certain things and other things are not allowed. For example, unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine were used...this is authorized (Matthew 26:2,18,26,27; I Cor. 11:23-33). To add or substitute wherein God has specified would be to "go onward and abide not in the doctrine of Christ". Also, the first day of the week is authorized...it is specifically mentioned in Acts 20:7 in conjunction with a scriptural observance by a local congregation. To partake on another day in addition to taking on the first day, OR to substitute and partake on another day of the week is trespassing, or acting outside the doctrine of Christ for we can find no authority in God's word for such actions.
Similarly, the church at Corinth was wrong in the way in which they were eating and in I Corinthians 11 Paul rebuked them and gave instruction that was to be followed...inspired authorization as to how to partake properly. Such instruction included the inspired mandate, "Wherefore my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another". Eating together would be action in the same, single assembly. To do otherwise is to act without the authority of God. That is the point of this discussion. Wherein God has specified, we simply do NOT have permission to act otherwise! We look forward to seeing how Ray deals with this matter, for "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". Eating together can be done "by faith" (Rom. 10:17; I Cor. 11:33). I do not believe that multiple observances (i.e. separate eatings) on the same day in the same local church can be done "by faith"; God actually condemned eating separately in the New Testament (I Cor. 11:17-34)!
If God has NOT been specific on this matter, it does not matter about eathing together. If that is so, we will read such in His Word for it is a perfect, complete guide for us in all matters that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Where is the authority for eating separately? There is none.
Christians must have authority to please God in any word or deed (Col. 3:17).
Worship that is acceptable to God today must be authorized of God (John 4:24; Col. 3:17). It would properly be "in spirit" (from the heart) and "in truth" (in accordance with the doctrine of Christ) and thus would be "in the name of Jesus" (authorized by Him). Approved action regarding the Lord's Supper is found in Acts 20:7; disapproved action is found in I Corinthians 11:17-34, along with some remedies for scriptural observance. Jesus said, This do in remembrance of Me. Then, while studying what God teaches us, we see that the disciples are to come together in the church for the purpose of eating the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, tarry, and eat together the Supper in the same, single assembly (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:33). Eating together requires the same time and the same place...thus, the same assembly.
- Any action that is not authorized in the doctrine of Christ is a trespass. (2 John 9)-
To eat the Lord's Supper in the wrong way, or on the wrong day, or not in the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread, and/or without tarrying one for another, is to eat with no authority from the doctrine of Christ! Since God has specified the day, the assembly, and the manner of partaking after tarrying, we trespass the doctrine of Christ when we act otherwise (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34).
AN ARGUMENT FROM I COR. 11:17-34, A DISAPPROVED EXAMPLE
When the church of God at Corinth abused the Lord's Supper, part of the remedy given included, "Wherefore my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." The Corinthians were not eating together, some were taking before others. In doing so, the Supper ceased being the Lord's and became their own (to the displeasure of God). To remedy this part of the problem, the inspired record teaches that scriptural observance includes waiting until the time purposed to eat...and thus eating together (I Cor. 11:33). Please notice that the Corinthians were not taking on the wrong day of the week, for they were not corrected for that. God desires that the children of a local church eat together (i.e. same assembly, same time, same place) His Supper. My friend, Ray Brooks disagrees with the proposition. He must believe that at least one, or some, or possibly all, of the elements of the current proposition are not taught in God's Word.
CONCLUDING THIS AFFIRMATIVE
We anxiously await Ray Brooks' response to this affirmative article wherein we conclude that since there is specific, limiting authority on the matter... a given local church is to come together to break bread, tarry, and eat together the Lord's Supper in only one assembly on the same first day of the week.
[-end of first affirmative by Ward]
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