The Ward - Brooks Debate
Ward's Second 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 Second Affirmative
I am happy to continue this Bible discussion with Ray Brooks concerning what the Scriptures authorize concerning the Lord's Supper. I want to thank Ray for his good demeanor and kind remarks in his first negative speech/article. It is a pleasure to engage in a Bible discussion to test our beliefs, to try to come to a better understanding of each other, and eventually unite on God's truth. I encourage the readers of this discussion to go back and read my first affirmative and Ray's first negative prior to reading this 2nd affirmative. Please consider the points we are both making in light of God's Word.
To be clear in our study, let me offer this by way of explanation. This Bible study is concerned with examining the practice of a given local church serving the elements of the Lords Supper (the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine) in a second assembly on the same first day of the week to those who missed the first assembly wherein the Lords Supper was observed. While it is also true that we could study whether or not a church that is large can have 2 services and "divide the flock" into 2 halves, each worshipping separately AND/OR we could study whether or not a local church can come together multiple times on the same first day of the week and ALL EAT in each assembly (I oppose both and explanation is given at: http://www.religiousinstructor.com/2serving.html) let us focus in on the practice of serving only those who missed, lest our limited number of articles and study be spread too thin. (In reality, the same remedy for scriptural observance given to the church of God at Corinth in I Cor. 11, will teach us the remedy for all these situations, however, the emphasis might be lessened if we don't focus our attention to one, as opposed to all three scenarios.) I fully understand the implications of my affirmative statement with regards to these (and other) situations. The question is: Where is the authority from God? If there is authority, God has told us and we may act in the matter; if not, we shouldn't engage in the activity.
In my first affirmative, I gave Bible authority for the practice of a local church coming together on the first day of the week for the purpose of eating the Lord's Supper, tarrying until the appointed time to eat in ~that particular assembly~, and eating the Supper together (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34). Ray agreed, by his answer to my Question #1, that such a practice was scriptural (Ray, please correct me if you misunderstood the question). Thus, the main area of disagreement, in my estimation, is whether or not this is the ONLY scriptural manner of observing the Lord's Supper. While Ray may believe that any day of the week is OK with God, that any frequency will suffice, that an assembly of the church is OK or no assembly of the saints is required (per previous discussion in email leading up to this discussion), and even that you might be ok if you substitute for the elements of the Supper...I contend that God has regulated the scriptural observance of the Lord's Supper in these particulars (several of which are at issue in the propositions we are discussing in this debate).
The Bible passages given in my first affirmative from God's Holy Scriptures are proof positive that my proposition stands proven. The totality of God's instruction regarding scriptural and unscriptural observances demands it. Let the careful reader note that we are dealing with commands from God in "This do in remembrance of me..." and "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." We are also dealing with an approved example in Acts 20:7. Ray simply errs in his present understanding, in my estimation, on the matter of specific authority on this particular topic. The reader will notice that Ray did not negate the affirmation, though he did admit that he does not know what specific authority is. Ray also admitted, and we highly commend him for his good attitude and honesty thus far in this discussion, that he does NOT believe that examples are binding and/or limiting (he also said they are not "authoritative", but we really don't think he meant that..more later on this topic). Maybe he did. Ray please clarify after reading this article. Thanks.
Our appeal is to the Word of God, as "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). If we have authority from God for some action, we can proceed and engage in that activity "by faith"; if not we trespass the doctrine of Christ according to 2 John 9. This is a principle of authority that is essential for us to understand. We cannot go beyond that which is written (the explicit and implicit teaching). Ray doesn't understand this (yet), as he admits several times in his first negative article. I say this will all due respect, but must be pointed and clear in this area of disagreement. Let us continue our discusssion.
SUMMARY OF FIRST AFFIRMATIVE
Please be reminded that in the first affirmative I proved:
- We are to stay within the boundaries of the doctrine of Christ and will be judged by the perfect law of liberty (2 John 9; James 1:25; 2:12). Will Ray contend that we can act OUTSIDE the boundaries of the perfect law of liberty and be RIGHT with God?
- The Scriptures authorize a church to set the assembly for the purpose of eating the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, tarry until the appointed time, and eat together the Supper in that single assembly (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-34). Ray contends that we are not so limited, but that "...The freedom to worship daily includes all elements of worship. That is a tautology. No command of any kind is necessary to validate it. We are under the covenant of grace..." The BIBLE says, whatever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord. The BIBLE teaches us to worship in spirit and IN TRUTH. God's revealed Word teaches us what is "truth" (John 17:17). We might be able to sing on Friday, but we have no authority to take the Lord's Supper on Friday! A proper understanding of authority (generic and specific) results in the Bible student realizing that we must have authority from God for each activity (i.e. singing, prayer, Lord's Supper, contribution) we wish to engage in, and not merely each "category" of activity (i.e. "worship) to be acceptable. In other words, don't go to passages that authorize singing to authorize the Lord's Supper and don't go to praying passages to authorize giving. Since GOD made some distinctions with respect to those actions of worship, so should we.
- God's revealed Word is all-sufficient as we have "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). Ray, do you believe that God has revealed in His written word all that we need to know to please Him? Or, do you believe in modern day revelation in the sense that God is continually adding to His Word?
- The totality of God's revelation concerning the Lord's Supper is SPECIFIC about the first day of the week, the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread, tarrying in that assembly, using unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, and eating together (Matthew 26:2,18,26,27; I Cor. 11:23-33; Rom. 10:17; I Cor. 11:33). Ray doesn't deny we can do it this way, he just assumes and asserts, without proof, that we can do it other ways also.
- God actually condemned eating separately in the New Testament (I Cor. 11:17-34)! Eating together is God's Will (I Cor. 11:33; Acts 20:7). Ray likes to say that 2 or more assemblies are not under consideration in passages like I Cor. 11, but refuses to deal with the argumentation about "eating together" precludes such fragmented observances spread out over multiple assemblies.
- Worship that is acceptable to God today must be authorized of God (John 4:24; Col. 3:17). I am really confused as to how Ray would teach us how we are to KNOW that our worship is "in truth" as mandated by John 4:24. Do we just pick and choose the restrictions we want to? Certainly Ray believes in ~some~ restrictions. Otherwise there could be no violation in worshipping God! Man is not free to pick and choose; God's Word forever settles the questions concerning right and wrong.
- Any action that is not authorized in the doctrine of Christ is a trespass. (2 John 9). What must one do, according to the position of Ray, to violate the doctrine of Christ on the Lord's Supper today?
NOTE: If there is NO AUTHORITY to eat separately in the SAME ASSEMBLY, where would the authority be to eat separately in DIFFERENT ASSEMBLIES? If God wants members of a local church to eat together (not merely eat when the church is "together"), then such CANNOT be fulfilled by eating in different assemblies.
RESPONDING TO RAY'S FIRST NEGATIVE
Ray requested a definition of "the doctrine of Christ" and "specific authority". Ray did not like my defintion of terms regarding "The Scriptures". Ray also denies that examples are "authoritative" (to use his term). He also stated that he did not believe that examples were binding.
THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST
Ray asked me to define what I mean by "the doctrine of Christ". I used 2 John 9 as a Bible reference several times in my first affirmative. The "doctrine of Christ" is the new covenant (Heb. 12:24), the new testament (Heb. 9:15;), the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12), the 27 books of the Bible rightly divided (2 Tim. 2:15), the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Thess. 1:6-9), the faith (Jude 3), the law of Christ (Gal 6:2). I believe that the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired Word of God. Authorization for new testament activity, however, will be found in the doctrine of Christ and not in the Law of Moses, the Pentateuch, the Psalms, or the Prophets of the Old Covenant.
There is no sin without a law of some type being in effect. The Scriptures are clear that "sin is a transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). Note that Adam and Even "sinned" long before the law of Moses was given. They sinned when they acted out of harmony with God's revealed will for them! Those under the law of Moses sinned when they acted out of harmony with God's revealed will for them!
We are not going to be judged by the law of Moses...we will be judged by the perfect law of liberty (See James 1:25; 2:12). The doctrine of Christ is NOT to be trespassed! If we don't have authority in the perfect law of liberty for a practice (since that is what WE will be judged by), then we should not engage in that practice. Ray does not (yet) understand or believe this. Dear readers (and Ray), please note the authority that exists for the church eating the Lord's Supper together in the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread on the first day of the week in the scriptures we continually provide. Ray disagrees with the proposition, but admits the practice I contend for is authorized (See his answer to my Question #1 in his first negative). Ray, can't you see that there is ~authority inherent in the approved example~ in Acts 20:7?
Specific authority is the requirement or permission to act in a defined, prescribed manner. There are no options concerning what has been specified concerning this type of authority. Generic authority, on the other hand, allows for options. In the home, for example, if the parent tells the child, "You may play in the back yard after doing your homework", the child has been regulated about "where to play" and "when to play". There is both explicit and implicit authority in the instruction. What is actually ~said~ is explicit, but there is also authority that is implied in the explicit statement. Barring any other instruction on the matter, the child is LIMITED to playing in the back yard and can do so ONLY AFTER doing homework. We have numerous examples of specific authority in all walks of life. If one went to a foreign country, for example, and did NOT read the rule books of driving, but followed the approved example of others (i.e. driving on the left side of the road in England, let's say) would not that approved example be such that it is "authoritative", "binding", and "exclusive"? Certainly! Maybe we need more study on how to establish Bible authority, or authority in general...especially in the areas of implicit authority???
Most importantly, in religious matters, wherein God has spoken to us in the perfect law of liberty, we may speak or act. James 2:12 states, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." YES, we are UNDER the perfect law of liberty today! NOT, the law of Moses. YES, it is a "covenant", but a law with regulations. When we go beyond the authority given us, we sin (I John 3:4) for sin is a transgression of law (regardless of what law age you live in).
When God commands, "This do in remembrance of me." We KNOW we are to observe the Lord's Supper. But we do not get ALL of the: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW OFTEN from one verse of Scripture! It takes the TOTALITY of what God has revealed in His Word to us, properly harmonized, to understand God's authorized will for our actions. Don't let Ray's appeal to "law keeping" and references to the OLD LAW diminish your understanding that in the NEW LAW, the law of Christ, there are regulations (albeit much better than the old law) that must be followed. Worship is to be in spirit AND IN TRUTH (John 4:24). Such demands following God's regulatory guidance! Otherwise, we worship in vain (See Matthew 15:9 for an example of how this can be done)!
The TOTALITY of God's word INCLUDES approved and disapproved examples. When we see who, what, when, where, why, and how often the saints observed the Lord's Supper (including the approved examples of such), we can then (and only then) consider God's complete revelation on the topic to us. To EXCLUDE examples from authority is to take needful instruction OUT OF God's Word and leave us lacking. God saw fit for us to have the examples. They are for our benefit. Authority inheres in approved examples. Just as much so as authority inheres in direct statements.
DEFINITION OF "THE SCRIPTURES"
Ray did not like the way I defined "The Scriptures" in defining the terms of my proposition. He wrote, "...3. Definitions: I have no problems with Mark's definitions, with the exception of one. Mark, where you say that "scriptures" means "with specific emphasis on the doctrine of Christ", I think the word "exclusive" would be more appropriate than "specific" for your argument..."
What I actually wrote, in totality was, "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)." Since I do NOT believe that "The Scriptures" are limited to the New Testament (27 books), then I will not define them as such! However, since the Lord's Supper is exclusively New Testament, new covenant, doctrine of Christ, gospel of Christ activity, then we will, of necessity, give particular attention to the new covenant to find what God has instructed/authorized/not authorized on this important Bible subject. That is why I properly defined "the Scriptures" as being the 66 books of the Bible, but noted that we would give specific emphasis to the doctrine of Christ. I hope that clears up Ray's confusion on the matter. One does NOT authorize a particular new testament activity with old testament law.
BIBLE AUTHORITY AND LIMITING EXAMPLES
Logically speaking, one of the following must be true:
1A. ALL examples are binding.
2A. NO examples are binding.
3A. SOME examples are binding.
Also, along this same line of thought only one of the following statements can be true below:
1B. ALL examples are exclusive/specific and thus are LIMITING.
2B. NO examples are exclusive/specific/limiting.
3B. SOME examples are exclusive/specific and thus are LIMITING.
The careful student of "authority" already knows that "3A. SOME examples are binding" and "3B. SOME examples are exclusive/specific and thus are LIMITING". Please consider the following.
The following passages of Scripture are given to prove that God expects us to recognize the authority of EXAMPLES.
Hebrews 13:7, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." Here is a command to follow the example of those doing right! Does God teach through approved example? Certainly? Do we KNOW that when folks engaged in worship in an approved example, that God's authority inheres in that action since it is approved by God? Of course.
I Corinthians 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." Another command to follow examples! Could it be that the new testament (the doctrine of Christ, the gospel, the faith, the law of Christ) does not simply authorize by command only? Could it be that when we read of approved (and disapproved) action in the new covenant, we KNOW wherein the authority of God permits and forbids?
Phillipians 3:17, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." More of the same inspired mandate to pay attention to approved (and disapproved) accounts of action and follow the approved ones as they are authorized by God! YES, examples are authoritative and can be limiting and binding.
Phillipians 4:9, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Not only were they to follow inspired oral teaching and written instruction, but the approved examples (what could be SEEN as opposed to merely TOLD) were ALSO to be followed.
Other scriptures might be given, but these should suffice (shouldn't ONE scripture really suffice?) to prove that in addition to direct statements (like commands) God teaches us by means of examples in His Word. As noted previously, when the totality of the instruction on a topic involves specific authority (including the examples), we are limited in the doctrine of Christ to what is authorized (2 John 9). That is the crux of this study.
I am NOT affirming that all examples are so limiting and are evidence of specific authority. God said "Go" in Matthew 28:18-20. This was "generic" instruction with regards to means of locomotion (i.e. the actual means of transportation). When we read the totality of approved examples of "going" in the perfect law of liberty, we see folks traveling on foot, by boat, in a chariot, etc. God has not specified one mode of transportation in the Book to the exclusion of others. So, all examples are not examples of specific authority being followed. And, all examples are not examples of generic authority being followed. But some are, and it is up to us to diligently study and properly understand the difference.
LORD'S SUPPER EXAMPLES, TOTAL CONTEXT, AND AUTHORITY
When the Lord's Supper is scripturally observed on the first day of the week in Acts 20:7, by approved example, then we KNOW we HAVE AUTHORITY to observe the Lord's Supper on THAT DAY...and since there is no other day noted in the entire New Testament concerning scriptural observance by the church...we must properly conclude that we HAVE EXCLUSIVE, LIMITING, SPECIFIC AUTHORITY on this particular matter. A statement like "This do in remembrance of me." or that "The apostles continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, breaking of bread and in prayers" does NOTHING to authorize another day of the week. We look to revelation, passages God gave us on the matter, to see what day or days God approved. We are LIMITED to first day of the week observance by God's Word. That can be done "by faith" as "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God"!
Again, please note that some examples are examples of specific authority and others are examples of generic authority being carried out. In either case, approved examples in the doctrine of Christ are authorized examples (either we MAY or MUST do them). IF in our study of a matter, we see that God has been specific, then we have no authority to proceed in a different manner! This is at the root of this discussion. Ray almost sees that the Lord's Supper is to be LIMITED to ONE particular assembly per congregation per first day of the week for he understands that there is ONLY ONE assembly for the purpose of breaking bread in I Cor. 11 when the inspired writer is giving divine instruction on how they/we are to CORRECTLY OBSERVE the Supper and ONLY ONE assembly for the purpose of breaking bread is in the inspired record in the APPROVED EXAMPLE of Acts 20:7!
If you can't eat separately in the same assembly, where in God's Word would you find authority to eat separately in DIFFERENT assemblies on the same day? You can't and that's the point of eating together in the same, single assembly! Eating together in the same assembly can be done with God's approval (Acts 20:7). Ray admits defeat when he notes that two assemblies are NOT the subject of I Cor. 11. THE assembly (sole, single) for the purpose of breaking bread (I Cor. 11:33) is under consideration. I challenge Ray to find authority for multiple assemblies "for the purpose of breaking bread" on the same first day by the same church. There simply is none. Churches are to "come together into one place" (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17,18,20,33,34) and eat the Supper of the Lord together...not have mass-like meetings where some of the saints eat in one hourly assembly and other members eat at a later time! (NOTE: I am not talking about another assembly for the purpose of bible study, or singing, or prayer on the same day by the same church for God did NOT specify/limit the frequency of these actions of worship in the doctrine of Christ like He did on the Lord's Supper).
CORRECTING A FEW MISTAKES CONCERNING THE APPLICABILITY OF THIS STUDY
Ray asserted that the only situations TODAY wherein our discussion would be applicable would be (1) where members attending the evening service that did not attend the morning service and (2) a church that has multiple morning services.
First of all, these are NOT the only two situations today wherein a church could have to deal with this question. We will use two examples just to make the point. Please notice the following. Church A has only one assembly per first day of the week (no night service, for example). This congregation always serves the Lord's Supper prior to the preaching in that assembly, for example, and a person obeys the gospel at the end of the sermon and desires the Supper be served again (resulting in: same assembly, multiple observances). Church B (also having only one Sunday assembly) serves the Lord's Supper at the set time of observance AFTER the preaching, near the end of the service. The weather is looking really bad one winter day, roads are being closed, and some saints demand that the Lord's Supper be served PRIOR TO the designated time. Others, who are on their way to that assembly are running a little late and believe they might miss a few songs, but not the preaching and the Lord's Supper. They arrive a little late, only to find out that their brethren did not wait for them! They desire to eat also. These are but two examples, wherein present day situations could occur with a church that has only one assembly on Sunday! Ray is simply wrong in his assertion on this matter. Be that as it may, the major point is that ALL churches today need to do what the Lord requires and NOT violate His will.
Another mistake needs attention concerning the applicability of this study. Ray doesn't believe that "weekly communion" is mandated, therefore he thinks this particular discussion is of critical importance to but a few "churches". In reality, since the Lord actually does require us to observe the Lord's Supper every week, it has a far greater application! EVERY CHURCH should be doing it correctly (and are not)! Just think of how many churches are wrong on this matter (if weekly communion is mandated). Further, those who do practice some sort of weekly observance, if their worship consists of fragmented observances, rather than eating together in the same, single assembly, need to adjust to the requirements of God. Thus, the need for this good Bible study is much wider than Ray admits (so far).
MY FIRST FIVE QUESTIONS
I want to THANK Ray for answering my 5 Bible questions. They served their intended purpose in showing what Ray believes the Bible teaches and making for a better Bible study in my estimation. It is evident that we are not (yet) together on the matter of Bible authority: how it is established and how it is properly applied. I hope we also can all see that there is Scripture lacking for many of the assertions that Ray gave in his answers.
To my Question #1 Ray agreed that my "practice" is a scriptural one. He just believes it is not the ONLY WAY to scripturally observe the Lord's Supper. I can show a pattern from the law of Christ, but Ray asserts that you don't have to follow it. Thus, our discussion continues.
To my Question #2 Ray asserted that we are NOT to ADD TO the elements of the Supper, but we MAY BE able to SUBSTITUTE for such! No Scripture was given (there is none to support such a theory). This goes to the matter of establishing and applying Bible authority concerning scriptural observance of the Lord's Supper.
I wonder if Ray would AGREE that we could use 2 John 9 as a supporting scripture to his answer "It is not scriptural to add to the elements." I AGREE WITH RAY that you can't ADD TO the elements because God has authorized unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine with SPECIFIC AUTHORITY in His Word! (See Matthew 26:2,18,19-29). We KNOW that Jesus did NOT use leavened bread, but unleavened! Why? Because Jesus did NO SIN and He instituted the Lord's Supper during the time of Passover when leaven was NOT ALLOWED. But this SAME SPECIFIC AUTHORITY that LIMITS us to not ADDING TO the elements would also, of necessity, prohibit us from SUBSTITUTING FOR those same elements. I wonder where Ray gets "authority" from God to potentially substitute for the elements (I Thess 5:21)? Ray, will you now admit that we are not authorized to substitute for the elements?
In answer to my Question #3...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.
Another compound question: Is weekly the only scriptural frequency? Is the weekly frequency to be observed on the first day of the week exclusively?
No, weekly is not the only scriptural frequency. (I Cor 11:25) Scripture does not tell us WHEN to take it. We, as Christians, are in relationship by Covenant, not by law. The frequency is up to the individual person or congregation. Example, in my view, is not an authority in scripture that binds us.
I disagree. Ray contends above that "Scripture does not tell us WHEN to take it." But, God DOES TELL US WHEN to take it (See I Cor. 11:24,25; Acts 20:7). Inherent in the approved example in Acts 20:7 (first day of the week) is the authority to take it then! Either that authority is specific/limiting or it is generic/open to options. God has not left us lacking, when we look at the EXAMPLE of APPROVED action on this subject. NO OTHER DAY than the first day of the week is found in all of God's Word with regards to scriptural observance by the church than "the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7). We properly conclude that such is specific.
Ray cites a passage (which we appreciate) and asserts that it teaches that weekly is not the only scriptural frequency for eating the Lord's Supper. I Cor. 11:25 reads, "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." This passage does NOT tell us WHEN, or HOW OFTEN to eat the Lord's Supper. That is found elsewhere in Scripture. The passage does NOT say, "...this do ye, as oft as ye like.." Let us be careful with God's revelation.
No, the first day is not exclusive. ( I Cor 11:26 ) The believers met in homes daily and in the temple courts (Acts 2:46). The freedom to worship daily includes all elements of worship. That is a tautology. No command of any kind is necessary to validate it. We are under the covenant of grace. Frequency is our choice, not God's command. Example does not bind us.
The Scriptures teach that weekly IS the only frequency and that the day is specified: the first day of the week. Ray used I Cor. 11:26 (see his answer above) in an effort to uphold his view that frequency and the day of the week are not exclusive. Ray also asserts that by being in a Covenant relationship we are not regulated! (Ray, please correct me or clarify if I misunderstand you). I Cor. 11:26 teaches, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." Again, the passage does not say "For as often as ye like..." Paul waited 7 days to eat the Lord's Supper in Acts 20:6,7. The Lord's Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week! The Scriptures support this practice; this we can do "by faith".
Ray also inferred that since the believers sometimes met in homes and sometimes met daily that they took the Lord's Supper daily. Such does not follow! The passage in Acts 2:46 actually teaches us that in ADDITION to going into the temple to teach, they ALSO ate common meals (NOT the Lord's Supper in verse 46) in the homes of one another. While it is TRUE that some churches met in the houses of Christians, it is NOT TRUE that Acts 2:46 is talking about the Lord's Supper. Acts 2:42 is talking about the Lord's Supper! Ray, please straighten this out in your next. Thanks.
While God has NOT specified when or how often the church might come together for singing, praying, or teaching, He has been specific about the contribution being weekly (I Cor. 16:1,2) and only on the first day of the week. Further, God has regulated in His Word that the Lord's Supper be observed weekly, in the assembly of the church for the purpose of breaking bread, after tarrying properly, with the proper elements, and in eating it together (I Cor. 11:17-34; Acts 20:7). Specific authority excludes observing the Supper otherwise.
So, Ray assumes the thing to be proven (i.e. begs the question) when he asserts, "...The freedom to worship daily includes all elements of worship. That is a tautology. No command of any kind is necessary to validate it. We are under the covenant of grace..." John 4:24 states that worship must be "in truth" (according to God's regulatory guidance and approval). Search the Bible and see if ANY DAY OTHER than the "first day of the week" is authorized by God for the church to observe the Lord's Supper. 2 John 9 states, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." We simply CANNOT act where there is no authorization from God. Since God DID NOT LIMIT singing, praying, and teaching with regards to frequency, we cannot. Since God DID LIMIT eating the Lord's Supper to "the first day of the week", so we must.
Ray mentioned being under a covenant of grace. Such does NOT exclude regulations. I am not aware of any covenant that is without stipulations. Even if such could be the case, the new covenant is full of stipulations! Ray argues (and may believe) that unless God commands something explicitly or prohibits something explicitly in His Word, we are "free". Is that your current position Ray? Such is not a proper treatment of either God's Word or the application of authority. We must take revelation (God's Word) and proper reasoning (including the implicit authority from God's explicit teaching) in order to know God's complete will.
When I asked, "4. Do you agree that specific authority limits, and thus is exclusive? If not, why?"
Ray honestly responded:
I don't know if specific authority limits because I don't know what specific authority is. My best answer is no, it does not limit, and that's an intuitive guess based on my own convictions. Until I know what specific authority is, I can't tell you why.
We have spent much time (and are prepared to spend much more) on the matter of specific authority. One does not have to "guess", but can KNOW that specific authority LIMITS. When God said "gopher wood" in Genesis 6 to Noah, this specific instruction ruled IN gopher wood...thus excluding/prohibiting other types of wood. When God said to Naaman in 2 Kings 5 to dip seven times in the River Jordan, that specific instruction authorized ONLY Jordan, ONLY 7 times, and ONLY dipping (but the word "only" is not in the text!). Substitutions, additions, or subtractions are simply not allowed in areas of specific authority. Since we can learn from examples (they are authoritative) and they can be examples of following specific authority...they can LIMIT us. We cannot go beyond what is written.
When I asked, "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?"
Yes, it applies to us today, except that tarrying is not necessary, as all assemblies today begin at a set time, so that there is no need to wait on anyone for the elements to be served. Everyone who is going to come is present at the time communion is taken. Those who don't come to that assembly aren't going to take the communion.
We have previously shown Ray to err on this particular matter. Tarrying is inherent in eating together! Ray, do you now admit that the passage applies today INCLUDING the COMMAND "tarry one for another"? If not...please explain the passage (how it applies, but not the tarrying... isn't "waiting" what is being commanded in the passage?) Thanks.
Ray noted where Mark wrote in the first affirmative:
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";
Ray's response (in the first negative) was:
I do believe that multiple observances on the same day in the same local church can be done "by faith".
There is no passage by Ray given that upholds the multiple observances (same day, same church) view! I gave a scriptural reference (which Ray decided not to copy and paste when he quoted me above) in my answer when I wrote, "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)!" Where is Ray's passage to support engaging in multiple, fragmented observances "by faith"? If there is no revelation from God on the matter, it CAN'T be "by faith" (Rom. 10:17)!
Mark wrote in first affirmative:
God actually condemned eating separately in the New Testament (I Cor. 11:17-34)!
Ray's response (in his first negative) was:
First, a practical response: the context that Paul is rebuking does not exist today. This rebuke regards two practices the Corinthians were engaging in that we don't and can't perform. The first issue is that a feast was involved. A sip of juice and a piece of cracker, which is the modern method of communion, could not be the occasion of a drunken feast. We, in our cultural context, are not capable of committing the error of which the Corinthians were guilty. It is my view that such a context must be taken into account before judgment is passed on what may be scripturally done. Also, it is very important to note that only one ASSEMBLY took place in this context. The early church is not recorded as having multiple assemblies in the same day. Therefore, Paul tells them to WAIT for each other because no other opportunity will arise the same day. Since that is not the case today, the waiting for others simply has no meaning for us today. Is it still scripture? Yes. Does it still apply? No. Why? Because it is not scripture? No, because the context in our church experience does not exist today. This passage is not addressing people who come at a later assembly. It is addressing a SINGLE assembly in which people were arriving to feast together, and instead of using the time to honor the death of the Lord Jesus, they were getting drunk.
Does the passage tell us "why" Paul told them to "tarry"? Ray asserts that it was because no other opportunity would arise (no other assembly) on that day to eat. Ray does not believe "tarrying" is a requirement for a church with multiple services on the same first day of the week, but God's Word teaches the requirement for tarrying and eating together. Just because another service occurs on the same day does not NEGATE the mandate to eat together! You can't throw out God's requirement to "tarry one for another" by having another assembly! The Corinthians were told to tarry because they were not eating together! See the point?
Ray really believes folks could eat it as individuals and don't even need an assembly to eat! So, can we take up Ray's belief above and state that the Corinthians that wanted to take "outside the one assembly" at Corinth were ALSO EXEMPT from God's command to "tarry"? Certainly not! Straighten this out for us, please. Ray, if it is OK to eat separately in the same assembly, or if you don't need an assembly...there would be no need to tarry in the ONE assembly! One problem that needed solving that was remedied by the "waiting" was they weren't eating TOGETHER in that same assembly! Ray, is it your position that IF the saints eat in an assembly, they have to eat together, but they don't really have to eat in an assembly?
The passage notes they were "taking before others" (verse 21). Ray addresses what he understands with regards to preverting the Supper into a feast (a meal), but may be overlooking that part of the problem is that they were not eating together...the remedy for them (and us) includes eating together after tarrying one for another. Tarrying is mandated, in the coming together to break bread assembly. Such is proven by I Cor. 11:33! See the point, Ray? So the passage would be relevant to folks today who think they can take away from an assembly of the church (teaches them to come together to eat and tarry), the passage is relevant to folks today who worship in one assembly on the first day (teaches them to tarry and eat together) and it also is relevant to folks today who worship at a church with multiple assemblies on the first day (teaches them that in the come together to eat assembly, tarry and eat together in that assembly). Contrary to Ray's assertions, the passage is very applicable today!
It is my view that the topic of this debate does not engage ANY of the issues Paul is addressing in I Cor. 11. Further evidence: In contemporary services:
1. There is no feast
2. No one could get drunk (not enough juice or wine)
3. The people who are present always take it together.
Ray is incorrect in his view stated above in that there were fragmented observances at Corinth and churches who are not eating together today are having separate/fragmented observances (whether in the same or in different assemblies)! All the specifics are not the same, but the issues DO exist today!
One of the beauties of God's revealed Word is that the Holy Spirit uses an economy of words that might be addressing one particular set of circumstances, but the remedy given is applicable to not only the problems at hand, but is an all-sufficient remedy as to how to please God in the matter under discussion! Since I Cor. 11 includes remedies for scriptural observance of the Lord's Supper, it has a great bearing on the issues in this discussion. Again, Ray is simply wrong in his assertion above. For example, speaking of our services today, Ray wrote, "3. The people who are present always take it together." I fear that Ray has not been exposed to this issue enough. I know of one congregation that served the elements of the Lord's Supper three times in the same assembly! (And all those folks were present IN the assembly the first and second times the elements of the Supper were served!) #3 above by Ray simply is NOT true! Ray, since I proved that your #3 above simply is not true, will you now agree that I Cor. 11 is applicable to our discussion?
Ray also wrote:
Mark basically tries to apply I Corinthians 11 to the concept of having a SEPARATE assembly. That is not the context of this passage. If Mark wants to make a case, he will need to do one of three things, in my view.
1. Provide evidence that a separate assembly on the same day is, in and of itself, condemned.
2. Provide evidence that taking communion in more than one assembly is condemned.
4. Provide evidence that I Corinthians 11 applies to having two separate assemblies.
Notice the language used by Ray above. The context of I Cor. 11 includes a problem with saints in the same local congregation eating separately and not together. The remedy is given in verse 33, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." Eating together would preclude eating separately...whether in one (the same), two (separate), three (separate) or numerous (separate) assemblies! See the point? There is no authority in the new covenant for taking or serving the elements of the Lord's Supper in multiple assemblies in the same church on the same day! Since I Cor. 11 applies to scriptural observance of the Supper (by giving instruction on how it should be done), it is very applicable to a congregation that has two separate assemblies on the same first day of the week. Notice what God authorizes: - verse 17 "...ye come together..." - verse 18 "...when ye come together in the church..." - verse 20 "...when ye come together therefore into one place..." - verse 33 "...when ye come together to eat..." - verse 34 "...come not together unto condemnation..."
God gives specific authority for ~the coming together to break bread assembly~ (See also the approved example in Acts 20:7, besides the verses above). This is limited activity. It is regulated activity. God put the Lord's Supper in the local church for the church to eat together. There is significance in fellowship, sharing, communion, joint participation...such does not occur properly in fragmented observances. Other assemblies on the first day of the week might be for singing, prayer, or teaching, but one assembly should be designated for the church to come together to break bread.
How would serving communion to the people who missed the morning service violate Acts 20:7 and I Corinthians 11:33?
I must assume that the church "chosen", in your question above, has the ~first service~ to be the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread. That being so, the church has not come together for the purpose of breaking bread in the second assembly since that happened in the earlier assembly that day. Just those who "missed" the coming together to break bread assembly are under consideration to be served (in your question). There is no authority for a "make up service" in the law of Christ. The saints of the church are to eat together (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:33). If none at that second service missed the Supper, nothing is served. This is not the same assembly as the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread found in Scripture. This second assembly is authorized for singing, preaching and prayer, but we are questioning the provisions being made for the absent: ~maybe there will be a serving and maybe there won't~ in this assembly. There is no authority for such in the law of Christ.
In general, I disagree. Specific authority (based on what I have been able to discern from your comments) is not a principle I agree with as binding or exclusive, especially regarding examples in scripture.
I knew when we started this discussion that it would center on a proper application and understanding of specific authority. This is at the crux of this study. Ray states above that he does not agree that "specific authority" is "...binding or exclusive, ESPECIALLY (emphasis mine, mjw) regarding examples in scripture.
Well.. what about COMMANDS and specific authority, Ray? I am not sure, but if I understand Ray correctly, he will not accept the specific authority in I Cor. 16:1,2 concerning weekly contributions into the treasury of the local church to be exclusive, limiting, binding (once weekly and only on the first day of the week)...and will probably (if he will let us know his belief and application on this matter of authority) will not oppose nightly/daily contributions into the treasury of the local church! God said give as we have been prospered on the first day of every week in I Cor. 16:1,2 (check the Greek construction to note the "every") and Ray's position (if he is consistent) will allow contributions on other days of the week! Is that right, Ray? Since you stated before that we can worship daily, and giving is part of worship??? Until you see the LIMITING nature of specific authority, we will stand miles apart on this.
I cannot understand what rule of Bible interpretation you use as to decide WHEN you WILL have something be specific and limiting...and when you won't? Even when God commands it (like I Cor. 16:1,2 on giving and tarrying in I Cor. 11:33), your position seems to be that we are "free" to do as we want to "because we can worship daily"! I really would like to know. If you won't do it with a specific command ( like on giving) how can we agree as God would require per I Cor. 1:10?
I don't agree that example carries exclusive authority, and I don't believe it is binding. Since you are making an argument dependent on these two concepts, you will need to provide evidence that examples are authoritative.
I don't believe that ALL examples are examples of exclusive, specific authority, but some are! All examples let us know if God approves of the action or doesn't. Such is authoritative. Such may be limiting. We have shown this above. Sometimes, as in the case of the Lord's Supper and the issues we are presently discussing, we can know (explicitly and/or implicitly) that God is specific about how He desires us to worship Him, for example. God said, This do in remembrance of me. Then we see approved and disapproved examples of such in the new testament. We also have the command, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another." The language used in the totality of passages surrounding the Supper allow us to KNOW the specifics God demands in scriptural observance.
Mark, it seems that in order to defend your position, you need to provide the following:
1. Definition for specific authority
2. Definition for doctrine of Christ
3. Evidence that examples are binding (authoritative)
4. Evidence that examples, being authoritative, are exclusive
5. Evidence that "waiting for each other" as described in I Corinthians 11 or Acts 20, would be violated by having two separate assemblies on the same day.
6. Evidence that "waiting for each other" as described in I Corinthians 11 or Acts 20, would be violated if people who attended the second service and NOT the first service were to be served communion. These six things should take care of your position.
I am happy to have provided for numbers 1-6 above in this affirmative article. I am in the lead, but having proven my proposition in my first affirmative (but not convincing Ray yet) it serves a great purpose to deal with the problem areas of understanding and key areas of difference. We have shown (again) that specific authority applies to aspects of the Lord's Supper under consideration in this discussion. We have explained that the "doctrine of Christ" is synonymous with the new covenant, the faith, the gospel of Christ, the new testament, the law of Christ. If we travel beyond the authorized limits, we sin today (whether in word or deed). I have also shown that while not all examples are limiting, or are examples of specific authority, some are. Specific authority, by its nature, is limiting and exclusive. This is axiomatic (self-evident); although not to everyone. The requirement of eating together in the assembly for the purpose of breaking bread answers numbers 5 & 6 above.
This debate seems to be more about a cultural context problem (that is, our culture having two services on Sunday), and trying to resolve that problem by using a passage from a cultural context that did not have the same issue. Mark seems to regard I Corinthians 11 as evidence that we cannot serve communion to DIFFERENT people in a second service. I believe he will have to be much more specific in trying to connect the scriptures to this cultural context issue. And I see no way that he can be successful.
The entire New Testament was written during the "culture" of that day/period. However, God gave us the written word that is good for the age! God's Word is just as sufficient as our guide today as it was in the first century! Many folks try to dismiss some teaching in Scripture today by appealing to an argument that basically states...it was a just their custom to do that...such is not our custom today...therefore we don't have to do it. No scripture is given that supports the contention; just a bare assertion of custom. Women preachers, for example, are forbidden in mixed assemblies of adult men and women per I Cor. 14:34,35 and I Tim. 2:11,12. I am not sure just what Ray's position is on this, but many today argue in favor of women preachers (as described herein) and dismiss the aforementioned passages as simply "the custom of the day"! Such is a misuse of God's instruction on the matter! Similarly, God's Word on the Lord's Supper is applicable whether the church is in the first century or the 21st! God's Word "fits" whether a church has one or numerous assemblies on the same first day of the week. We can KNOW what is authorized (properly understanding and applying Bible authority).
5 MORE QUESTIONS FOR RAY
6. Do you agree that folks today must have God's authorization from His revealed Word to properly act in a matter of worship unto Him? Why, or why not?
7. Since EXAMPLES are part of God's intended revelation to mankind, would you agree that inherent in all APPROVED EXAMPLES is the AUTHORITY to act and inherent in DISAPPROVED EXAMPLES is the prohibition to act that way (all else being equal)?
8. When the Lord commanded "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8), He did not explicitly state "...EVERY Sabbath day." By what principle of authority or hermenutic do you ~KNOW~ God meant EVERY Sabbath day? (This obviously goes to frequency and deals with implicit authority from explicit statements in God's Word).
9. Do you now agree (having read my second affirmative and clarifications) that SOME EXAMPLES are "authoritative", "binding", "limiting"? Why or why not?
10. Do you now acknowledge that "tarrying" is inherent in "eating together" (i.e. that you cannot eat the Lord's Supper together without waiting for one another until the appointed/set time to eat in that particular assembly)? (This should be axiomatic).
MY ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS
6. YES (John 4:24; Mt. 15:9; John 17:17; 2 John 9; I Cor. 4:17; James 1:25; 2:12 so teach)
7. YES (the very nature of something being approved of God inheres His authority, the very nature of something being unapproved of God is lacking His authority)
8. Every week has a sabbath day. Common sense being applied to the passage results in the knowledge that God meant a weekly observance. "Pay your rent at the first of the month" means "every" month! Applying proper reasoning to the explicit statement, including all the implicit teaching that is properly derived from the explicit allows us to arrive at the truth.
9. YES. Examples of "going" (Matthew 28:18-20 & all examples on the topic) are not limiting with regards to means of transportation; but, first day of the week observance is limited by Acts 20:7 (given the teaching derived from the total context on the topic).
10. YES (I Cor. 11:33, this is self-evident)
I look forward to Ray's response in this good Bible study. May God bless us as we continue to press our points, with love for each other and the truth of God's revealed Word.
[-end of second affirmative by Ward]
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