Thursday, March 9, 2017
Have you ever wondered if a specific action was right or wrong? Some might counsel that if we haven’t done it in the past, it shouldn’t be done now. Why? Because, if it was right, we would already be doing it! Since we aren’t, it must be wrong! That may sound reasonable, but usually isn’t. After all, we aren’t that perfect!
In the past, most preachers explained that elders could set the time, place, and when the church would assemble to fulfill Acts 20:7-11 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. One congregation might meet on Sunday morning for an early assembly at 8, Bible classes at 9:15, and the second assembly at 10:30. Another congregation meets at 10 for classes and 11 for the assembly. This is a matter of human choice because God did not specify the hour.
In the first century church, no example exist of the Lord’s supper being offered in a morning service (Acts 20:7-11). Also, in Acts 2, they met daily rather than limiting it to our traditional Sunday and Wednesday. Jewish timing was observed rather than the hated Roman one. After the Acts 15 meeting, Gentile congregations may have preferred Roman time. The Lord’s supper may have been switched to a morning partaking by Gentile Christians and the Jewish congregations continued to follow the biblical example of Acts 20:7. Romans 14:5-6a infers that Gentile churches did not observe the Sabbath, whereas Jewish ones did because of their zeal for the Law of Moses (Acts 21:18-26). Decay and age, coupled with two cultures, seems to be the motivator based upon the short letter to Gentile brethren (Acts 15:23-29; Hebrews 8:13).
Today, churches don’t “restore” the evening service as the only time to partake of the Lord’s supper nor observe Jewish time to practice it. Neither are we comfortable with anyone mimicking Paul’s “long preaching” (Acts 20:7, 9, 11). Daily “church” is considered an impossibility. T.B. Larimore (July 10, 1843 – March 18, 1929) held a five month meeting and when it ceased he said they were quitting “too soon.” If ours lasted that long, the crowds would drastically disappear. Gospel meetings have shrunk from three to one week in length, usually beginning on Sunday and ending Friday night. Recently the erosion has brought it down to 3 days. Some have replaced it with mission meetings. Does that illustrate a fall from grace or lack of spirituality? Some believe one has left “the old paths” to do so! Yet that decision is based upon tradition rather than truth. Today’s quality has drastically dropped from the standard set by T.B. Larimore! Are we less spiritual than Christians in his day? If so, will it diminish our standing before God? Who decided to begin that five month meeting which Larimore engaged in? Who decided to end it? Was it men or God! When men make their judgments, based upon their culture, opinion, or comfort zones, into a command of God, their “right” becomes “wrong” (Matthew 15:9)! Sometimes the plans of men go the wrong direction! That’s why we need to continually “examine” ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Corinthians 10:12). Remember, a lot of our decisions are based upon convenience labeled as “an expedient.” Expedients are changeable because they are not commands from God!
We have borrowed a lot of things from others. Yet, no one today is upset by that practice. To believe others are lacking in spirituality because they don’t follow the traditions of yesteryear, illustrates a restoration of Phariseeism rather than New Testament Christianity. When our understanding collapses to that point, something that started as good, ends up wrong!