The Ward - Brooks Debate
Ward's First Negative
"The Scriptures teach that the Lord's Supper may be observed by some members of a local church in one assembly and others in a later assembly (or assemblies) of that same congregation on the same first day of the week.."
Ward's First Negative
Greetings to Ray Brooks and the readers of this good Bible study!
I am happy to continue this debate. I want to continue to commend Ray for his pointedness and the demeanor he displays as the discussion progresses. I agree that this is the way God intends for us to study our differences. Please continue to give careful thought to the points that are being made by the both of us. Give particular notice to what "the Scriptures" teach. May God bless this study!
It is now my privilege to offer my position concerning the following proposition:
The scriptures authorize the taking of the Lord's Supper in more than one service on the First Day of the week.
The proposition we actually agreed to discuss is, "The Scriptures teach that the Lord's Supper may be observed by some members of a local church in one assembly and others in a later assembly (or assemblies) of that same congregation on the same first day of the week."
While the two statements are not necesssarily identical in meaning, I will take it that Ray is intending such (correct me if I misunderstand, Ray). Ray, then, should be showing us FROM SCRIPTURE that saints of a local church can eat separately and please God: some in one assembly and others in another assembly (or assemblies) on that same day. This he has not done.
PURPOSE & THE LORD'S SUPPER
Purpose is essential in the proper observance of the Supper. First of all, the Bible specifies "the assembly" FOR THE PURPOSE of breaking bread upon the first day of the week in Acts 20:7. Also, the Bible clearly teaches us the purpose of the Supper is to remember the Lord's death (Matthew 26; I Cor. 11). But Ray errs in his assertion that we can scripturally eat the Supper as long as our purpose (i.e. our intent) is correct concerning meditation and honoring the death of Jesus Christ! John 4:24 teaches us that worship must be in spirit AND in truth. God has prescribed the assembly, the first day of the week, the elements, proper meditation, tarrying, and eating together (as opposed to fragmented observances). Ray's "component parts" of scriptural observance are lacking.
Ray, can you see that one could have the proper purpose of heart concerning honoring the death of Christ and still ~incorrectly observe the Lord's Supper~ by adding to or changing the elements (for example)?
Ray overlooked the facts already presented in this discussion:
- The approved example in Acts 20:7 in which the scriptural eating was together in the same, single assembly (not fragmented)
- The disapproved example in I Corinthians 11:17-34 complete with remedies and instruction for scriptural observance (the Corinthians were not eating together and were taught to do so)
- The fact that while the saints may have met "daily" there is no proof that the church observed the Lord's Supper daily (Acts 2:42 is the Lord's Supper, but not Acts 2:46)
- The fact that just because one can worship "daily" does NOT mean that ALL ACTIONS of worship (if God limited some) can be done daily (compare giving into the local treasury and the Lord's Supper versus church teaching, church singing and church prayer).
- Every time disciples ate separately in the New Testament they were wrong; scriptural observances were together (same, single assembly).
"...Honoring the sacrifice of God's Son is the PURPOSE. The frequency MUST be understood in light of this FACT..."
Ray needs to show that God approves in Scripture a fragmented, separate eating in multiple assemblies on the same day in the same church by different members. To join hands with him (as to what the proposition states) we need to see that SCRIPTURES TEACH a thing to believe it. In this Ray has failed in his first affirmative.
From Ray's second negative, note the following:
"Mark: Where is Ray's passage to support engaging in multiple, fragmented observances "by faith"?
"Ray: Once again, "As often as you eat". It's all a matter of principles of interpretation..."
Ray is actually contending in affirming his proposition that folks can scripturally eat the Lord's Supper in an assembly of the local church that is NOT for the purpose of breaking bread! Ray overlooks the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread as being an essential part of scriptural observance in Acts 20:7 and in the remedy in I Cor. 11!
The BIBLE teaches that the saints scripturally ate together and when they ate separately, they were rebuked for it (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34).
"WHENEVER YOU DRINK IT" DOES NOT IMPLY IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE CONCERNING FREQUENCY
Paul said only one thing about frequency. He quoted the events of the Passover night and stated, "whenever you drink it", implying frequency makes no difference. If frequency had been important, in such an explicit context, he would have said specifically "take it once a Sunday, every week" like a prescription. He didn't do that. Obviously, frequency was not an issue with Paul. And we have already seen it was irrelevant to Jesus.
Paul's APPROVED EXAMPLE in Acts 20:7 that we are supposed to follow (according to the passages we previously cited that proved that God commands us to follow approved examples) must not be overlooked. Paul waited in Troas to meet with the saints and the church came together "to bread bread". They ate together. This is an approved example of following Jesus' command "This do in remembrance of me". At Corinth, the church was WRONG in eating separately. Ray contends we can eat separately, but has no scripture to prove such.
The only thing in scripture regarding judgment for communion was taking in an unworthy manner. The qualification for an unworthy manner was failing to discern the body and blood of Jesus. In other words, the ONLY THING MENTIONED in scripture that would be judged regarding communion was violating its PURPOSE. NO OTHER ISSUE receives a warning, judgment, criticism, or rebuke.
But Ray has already answered his own argument above by properly pointing out previously in this good discussion that you cannot ADD TO the elements of the Supper and properly observe the Lord's Supper. One could be "discerning the body and blood of Jesus", but eat unleavened bread with jelly and the fruit of the vine and be WRONG. Ray and I AGREE on this...but that is NOT what he argues above! Immediately above he has argued that it is only wrong to violate the "purpose". Shifting the focus from worshipping God "in truth" to shedding light on the "purpose" of the Supper does not help Ray in his efforts to prove his proposition. Ray is obligated to prove that the Scriptures authorize some saints to eat in one assembly on Sunday and other members of that church to eat in a DIFFERENT assembly on that same day! This he has not done.
Similarly, to take on the wrong day, with substituted elements, in different assemblies, or even outside the assembly of the church for the purpose of breaking bread would be wrong.
Some regard the 1 Cor 11 rebuke as a statement that affects communion itself, but the error in that reasoning is that the rebuke regards CHANGING communion into something different. When it is made into a different event, then it is judged. Not judged for taking communion wrong, but for getting drunk. The drunkenness is condemned. That's all.
No, Ray is simply wrong about LIMITING the error to changing the communion into something different "for getting drunk". I contend that "taking before other" (i.e. separately) was ALSO wrong. Even in the ABSENCE of "getting drunk" (to use Ray's terms) it was wrong for the saints at Corinth to "take before other" and they were told, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." Thus, they were to tarry and eat together IN ADDITION to not eating to satisfy hunger or thirst! Ray is simply overlooking this part of the instruction in God's Word.
"...As for me and my house, I honor the Lord whenever I choose, and always with my fellow church members..."
Ray has already stated that he takes the "supper" away from other church members (i.e. doesn't believe it has to be in the church) and contradicts himself in the writing above!
"Always with my fellow church members" (from Ray's first affirmative) is in direct conflict with "... And I have OFTEN taken communion on my own, with no one else around, in my private worship..." (Ray's second negative). Ray! Please straighten this out in your next. Thanks.
5 MORE QUESTIONS FOR RAY
My answers follow below.
16. Do you agree that IF God specified a frequency for the Lord's Supper (whether once weekly, once a month, once quarterly, or once a year) that REGARDLESS of the frequency specified man could honor Christ and show the Lord's death til He come by observing the Supper in harmony with THAT PARTICULAR frequency?
17. Do you really contend that we are NOT ABLE to follow the approved, applicable WRITTEN examples in the New Testament (Since you "argue" you are to only follow the ones you see, while alive today, in the lives of your fellow brethren)?
18. Do you agree that the Bible teaches that part of the problem at Corinth was that the church was not eating together, but was eating in a fragmented, divided fashion?
19. Would you agree that the term "communion" means joint participation, fellowship, a sharing together in some activity?
20. In Numbers 9, God gave instruction for those who missed the first opportunity to observe the Passover. Some could take and some could not, given God's instruction on the matter. Please compare this to your view of those who miss the Lord's Supper on a Sunday and want to partake at a later service. What "scripture(s)" do you refer to as to who is allowed to partake and who should not?
My answers follow:
16. YES. God specified once a week (Acts 20:7; Ex. 20:8 teaches us a point on "every": though not being in the verse but since every week has a sabbath, God meant every and since every week has a first day, so we should take every first day of the week) and we CAN and MUST honor Christ's death til He come by observing the Supper "in spirit and in truth" in accordance with that specific frequency (as well as ALL other aspects God has revealed we should keep regarding scriptural observance).
17. I have contended that we are to follow ALL EXAMPLES that are applicable and approved for us today: whether in Scripture or authorized in Scripture, but seen in person in the lives of those around us. Ray contends he can't follow a written example!
18. YES. They were "taking before other", meaning taking at different times and not together. I Cor. 11:33 is the remedy to this...tarry and eat together.
19. YES. The very nature and meaning of the word is joint participation. Fragmented observances of the Supper are not "communion" but rather separate eatings.
20. God has given specific instruction in the New Testament to eat together (I Cor. 11:33; Acts 20:7). If you miss, God knows the reasons. You are either excused or not. There is no authority to eat until the church gathers to break bread the next Lord's day (2 John 9).
CLEARING UP A FEW LOOSE ENDS
Ray had a few things in his third negative that need to be addressed.
EATING TOGETHER IS REQUIRED & REFUTES RAY'S POSITION
While Ray admits that it is scriptural for a church to have the Lord's Supper every week, and that a church can be right in eating the Lord's Supper together in the same, single assembly on that day, he still believes that frequency is "open" and not limited! We continue to point out (and press the fact) that the BIBLE TEACHES that part of the error of the Corinthians (in ADDITION to being "drunk") was that they were "taking before other" their own supper (i.e. eating AT DIFFERENT TIMES). The solution from God to remedy the fragmentation or separate eating was, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." Eating separately is condemned in the Bible; eating together is approved and required (I Cor. 11:33; Acts 20:7). Until Ray can see this (whether he EVER sees our points about the authority of scriptural, applicable examples) he will not believe "eating together" is required of God!
"AS OFT AS" DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN "AS OFT AS YE CHOOSE"
I gave one sentence in my 3rd affirmative that PROVED "as oft as" does NOT HAVE TO MEAN "as oft as ye choose". Ray's response proved this as well! I made SURE that I used a sentence that Ray would have to agree with (birthdays do only come once a year)! Ray then quibbled that we can't ~choose~ to have a birthday and tried to dismiss my point. But he really ADMITTED the point I was making that "as oft as" does not have to mean "as oft as ye choose"! Please read further as we try to move closer to agreement with the following.
In an effort to "close the gap" between Ray's quibble and the truth, let's look at the following sentences:
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death til he come." (I Cor. 11:26).
For as oft as ye take your medicine, ye will enjoy good health.
For as oft as ye eat the Passover, you do remember the release from Egypt.
Now, in the case of the sentence about medicine, "as oft as" really means the frequency by which the doctor prescribed the medicine to be taken. You cannot take it "as oft as ye choose" and be right! There IS a frequency, but it is not given in THAT sentence. Such is the same with the Lord's Supper sentence.
Concerning the sentence involving the Passover, the frequency is annually (but found in ANOTHER sentence), beginning the first month the 14th day (Ex. 12:18). In the case of both of these sentences, IF you take "as oft as ye choose" you are WRONG! My point is twofold: (1) "as oft as" does not ~have to mean~ "as oft as ye choose" and, (2) scriptural frequency must be determined from elsewhere for it cannot be determined soley by the language "as oft as". Thus, we once again refute Ray's assertion that "as oft as" teaches that the Lord's Supper may be taken anywhere, anytime, with any frequency man desires.
The BIBLE authorizes us to eat the Supper upon the "first day of the week" in Acts 20:7. Ray continues to fail to see the LIMITING nature of this specific authorized example. If we follow the approved example, we walk by faith.
RAY ERRS ON EATING TOGETHER
"...Yes, we disagree here. Five assemblies or one assembly, the group is still eating together, no matter how many times they do it in one day..."
If different folks eat in 5 assemblies on the same day, "the group" is NOT eating together! At Corinth, in I Corinthians 11, the "group" was in the same assembly and were NOT eating together! Fragmentation, or separate eatings, is wrong whether in one or multiple assemblies on the same day! Ray, did you miss-type the verbiage above, or do you still really think folks who eat in DIFFERENT assemblies are "eating together" (i.e. some eating and other folks not eating having previously eaten)?
Furthermore, Ray applauded the church that had 3 separate observances in the SAME ASSEMBLY! The reader will note that he gave no scripture to support the separate eatings, just a lot of information as to why Ray THINKS it was a great thing. God desires that His children eat together (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:33). There is simply no authority from God for separate eatings.
RAY VS. RAY ON "ALL-SUFFICIENT
Please read Ray's first and then his last sentence in the paragraph below.
"...I fully and firmly believe that the scriptures are ALL-SUFFICIENT. However, in our modern times the usage of that phrase ALL-SUFFICIENT has been so abused and generalized as to make it almost meaningless. I chose to disagree with this point because I believe what most people mean by ALL-SUFFIENT to me has NOTHING TO DO with what the scriptures mean. So I decided to claim they are not all-sufficient to see what you would say..."
We have BOTH agreed to affirm propositions that read "The Scriptures teach" in this debate. EVEN IF Ray's position that we need direct help from the Holy Spirit today apart from the Bible were right (which we question, without limiting in any way the providence of God working today in answer to prayer), the point is that Ray has agreed to prove it from "The Scriptures". The fact of the matter is that the Scriptures do teach us all we need to know about the scriptural worship involving the Lord's Supper (John 4:24; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; Jude 3).
DRIVING IN ENGLAND AND APPROVED, SPECIFIC EXAMPLES
Concerning the example of driving in England, Ray wrote:
Yes, the example is approved. The laws of England approve the example. Yes, the folks are limited to driving on the left side by the laws of England. No, the example is not binding; the laws of England are binding.
My point is that the Bible is a "closed universe" concerning God's will for man in that it is a perfect and complete revelation from God to man (2 Tim. 3:16,17; Jude 3). God did not just give us explicit statements (direct statements and commands) in authorizing activity. Whatever God implied in His Word and applicable, approved examples are also means of establishing authority for our actions today. We have cited several verses to prove this point (Remember Hebrews 13:7; I Cor. 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9). Ray dismisses them and says he can't follow the examples that are written in the Bible! He wants to only follow the examples of his brethren who are living today!
I contend that we CAN follow the examples that are WRITTEN. Consider that Paul was WRITING to the Corinthians when he wrote them I Cor. 11:1! If Paul expected those who READ his WRITING to follow his approved examples (and those of others in the inspired writ) we should do the same! Ray, couldn't the Christians of the first century follow written AND seen in person approved specific examples? If so, why can't we? If not, why not?
Ray then wrote:
Mark, please, listen to me carefully. If I were in England, I would follow the examples just like you did. But that doesn't make the EXAMPLES the source of authority. The source is still the laws of England.
The ultimate TRUE SOURCE of the authority is God in spiritual matters! That is not in question. Jesus lets us know there are only two sources of authority: of heaven and of men (See Mt. 21:25). The EXAMPLES that are approved by GOD (the source of authority) carry the weight of His approval/acceptance IN THEM. That is how I can contend that ~inherent in approved examples~ is God's authority.
Similarly, inherent in the approved example of a Brit driving correctly on the left hand side of the road is the AUTHORITY to do so. The SOURCE of authority is in a written law. But the approved example carries the weight/approval of the English government. The approved example is LIMITING, BINDING in that it is the ONLY WAY to properly act in that regard. In this sense, all approved, applicable specific examples are binding.
Spiritually speaking, God COMMANDED US to follow examples, so we KNOW that He did not limit the means by which He (the Source) expressed His authority in Scripture to direct statements only! Implication and approved applicable examples also carry the authority from God for us to act! God told us so in the passages previously given.
Another point that should not get lost while we study the authority from ~examples~ is that in I Cor. 11:33 we are dealing with a COMMAND to tarry, which necessitates EATING TOGETHER. While Acts 20:7 is essential to properly observing the Lord's Supper (only passage that gives us the authorized "day" of the week) in this discussion we pray that Ray can see the force of the command to tarry and the necessary implication from God to eat together! God implied it; we should follow it.
Ray then wrote:
"..the scripture commands us to watch our friends and brothers in the Lord who obey Him. They are obeying the specific commands, not the examples, and they are to be imitated. I can't imitate what I see in scripture, I can only imitate the men I watch each day. That is my point. "
IF the inspired writer PAUL expected folks to follow the examples that they could READ AND SEE, so should we. (Ray argues as though it is impossible to follow a written example. Is that what you want us to believe Ray?) This is enough to disprove Ray's contention of "got to see it in person ONLY examples". Written examples CAN be followed (like first day of the week observance in Acts 20:7) and neither Ray nor I ever "saw" that example in person...but we can read of it..and follow it! Why would we want to do otherwise? Get the point?
As for our actions, we are liberty in Christ to pull our worship from ANY WHERE in scripture.
And for the record, NO LAW OF ANY KIND will judge my eternity. Christ settled that on the cross. I will be judged for rewards according to my works, but not my eternity.
The BIBLE teaches differently than what Ray contends for above. New law activity would NEVER be authorized by old law requirements! Colossians 2:14 teaches us that Jesus nailed the old law to the cross, taking it "out of the way". James 1:25 calls the new testament the "perfect law of liberty" and James 2:12 teaches that we will be judged by "the LAW of liberty". Notice again the lack of SCRIPTURE in Ray's assertion above.
Mark, what appears to you as inconsistency is nothing more than my putting a priority on purpose before method. I firmly believe the purpose of an act must be addressed before the method of the act will be relevant to me or to God.
Again, no scripture to support the contention that we should put a premium on purpose before method with regard to determining that separate, fragmented eatings constitute a scriptural observance of the Supper. I believe we should give proper adherence to method AND purpose as outlined in God's word. Since God disapproved separate eatings and approved eating together, why don't we do that which is approved? There is no authority for fragmented/separate observances as Ray contends for. Worshipping in spirit and in truth will include the proper purpose AND frequency as given us in scripture.
CONCERNING SCRIPTURAL UNITY
"...Mark apparently believes we should be a fragmented and scattered body, refusing fellowship and showing the world a divided body instead of loving each other as Christ commanded and prayed. I guess Mark thinks there is merit before God in showing the world how much more important it is to be RIGHT in doctrine than to make EVERY EFFORT to regard one who names Jesus as Lord as my brother. Mark, my standard of fellowship and unity is the person and work of Christ. I will not divide on any other basis. If you insist on such division in the body, then I suggest that you are guilty of what Paul is condemning in the very passage you quoted..."
I am for the unity God desires: agreement in doctrine and practice and belief based on a proper understanding and application of His Word. Ray's "unity" is really division. God's Word CAN be understood (Eph. 3:4) and man errs "from the faith" when "departing" from the proper understanding and application. Paul wrote that divisions must come that those who are APPROVED would be made manifest (See I Cor. 11:19). We are not to "agree to divide" on spiritual matters, but work towards AGREEMENT in faith and pracatice! Ray cannot defend such a large "fellowship" from God's Word as the right path is narrow and few are on it (Matthew 5-7).
Actually, concerning the PRACTICE of the Supper, I am contending for UNITY in observance. It is RAY who contends for division, separate, fragmented, eatings and even those AWAY FROM the assembly of the church!
"...You have spent your entire time defending obedience as a way to RECEIVE God's love, not show Him yours. It seems you have a problem. Which way is it? Do you obey to get His love or do you obey to show your love for Him? You can't do both. It's impossible..."
Ray errs in his statement above in confusing "God's love" with "what pleases God". Please note: God loves EVERYONE (John 3:16) regardless of whether we obey Him or not! We express our love FOR GOD by obedience (I John 5:2,3). God is PLEASED with loving, sincere obedience and DISPLEASED with disobedience (Mt. 7:21; Mk. 3:35).
"...His position stands disproved on the grounds that the examples and specific commands were not proved to be limiting or exclusive."
Ray cannot (yet) see that specific commands and examples (by the very fact that they ARE "specific" as opposed to "generic") are limiting and thus exclusive! I pray that as we all continue to reflect on the points being made in this discussion that we can see that specific authority excludes and generic authority includes.
I want to again thank Ray for this good study and encourage him to put forth the scripture that would allow saints in a church to eat separately on the same Lord's day, some eating in one assembly and others eating in a different assembly. This he has yet to accomplish.
[-end of first negative by Ward]
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