Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Misquoting God

(Disclaimer: If you do not share my Church of Christ heritage, the specific illustrations given here may not apply to you. You'll have to brainstorm your own.)

God:
"You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

The Serpent:
"Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

Eve:
"We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

I can't count how many Bible classes I've been in that chastised Eve for her misquote of God. Oh, we expected Satan to get it wrong, after all he is the father of lies. But Eve added the phrase, "and you must not touch it," and we like to look down on her for that mistake.

Here's the problem:

I've seen some of us do the same thing.

The Bible says not to get drunk.
Some have added that you can't drink a sip of alcohol.

The Bible says to sing.
Some have added that the singing must be unaccompanied.

The Bible says they met together one Sunday to break bread.
Some have added that if you take communion on any day other than Sunday it is sinful.

The Bible says not to give up on meeting together.
Some have added that it is sinful to miss any gathering.

I imagine there are more.

Like Eve, I'm sure there were good intentions as these doctrines took shape. After all, if you don't touch, you can never eat and die.

But, instead at times, they have simply opened the door for Satan to confuse, manipulate, cause division, and alienate us from each other and from God.

38 comments:

Linda L said...

Good post, Shane, I couldn't agree more!

Robin Brannon said...

How about "Ask and you shall receive..."?
Where's my million dollars?

Not necessarily a misquote, but definitely a misunderstood promise.

Great thoughts, Shane!

Norsemanrm said...

Great Post Shane!
Insightful and Thought provoking.
Wonder how more we can identify.
Might be healthy to begin to uncover them like Robin has

Steven Hudgins said...

These are the lies we tell ourselves everyday. It is difficult in not believing them. We see, touch and use our senses every day. Mom tells us not to touch the pot because it is hot. Yet, we still touch it and don't learn until we do it. We think because it is said it is so. One can't measure themselves in the eyes of others. One must search the truth for as Christ said the truth sets us free. These will help test the lies, seek the truth, and someday sit down eating with Jesus at the table. Good post!

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Let’s reason from the scriptures and not emotions (Acts 26:25; 17:2). You used an alleged argument to try and prove your following points. First, it was not an argument but an assertion. You asserted that Eve added to the commandments of God. You have no evidence of this and could not come close to proving it. She said that “God said nor shall you touch it…” (Genesis 3:3). The only way that you could have known if God didn’t say that was if you were there. Just like in the Gospel accounts, information adds to information, not subtracts. Therefore, you’re basing your whole reasoning on an assertion. However, let’s say you were correct and that she did ADD to His command. Adding to God’s commands do not justify taking away from them (Galatians 1:6-10; Acts 20:27). This would still not prove your conclusion(s). You obviously have a terrible misunderstanding of authority (Colossians 3:17; 2 Timothy 3:7). We must test all thing’s we do (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Romans 12:2). We do not assume everything we do is OK unless God specifies that it is not (Isaiah 55:8-9; Proverbs 16:25). WE are the ones who must prove what we are doing is scriptural (Ephesians 5:10). Consider the following syllogism:

(A) If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God and that which is not done from faith is sin, then it is a sin to participate in any activity that God in His Word does not authorize.
(B) Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God and that which is not done from faith is sin (Romans 10:17; Romans 14:23).
(C) Therefore, it is a sin to participate in any activity that God in His word does not authorize.

Let’s use your reasoning:

God said to take unleavened bread, yet God did not say we couldn’t add cheese to the unleavened bread.

God said to use fruit of the vine, yet God didn’t say we COULDN’T use water.

Question 1: If a congregation decided to start adding cheese to the unleavened bread, would that be scriptural? If so, cite the verses that would authorize such. If not, why not?

Question 2: Could one use water (like the Mormons) instead of fruit of the vine and be scriptural since God did not say NOT to use water? If so, cite the verses that would authorize such. If not, why not?

I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Kevin Pendergrass

Mike Morton said...

Very good post, Shane. Amen!

Terry Rush said...

Great post Shane. Accurate, on target, and biblical.

Way to point out things from good thought to help us seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness!

preacherman said...

Excellent post!!
Keep up the great work.

Brenda said...

Wonderful post Shane. I'm enjoying studying the different views and aspects in the Wednesday night class. This is a great perspective and totally agree!!! I can't tell you how many times that I have misquoted or misread something with my human eyes and made it to be something that it wasn't ever supposed to be. Sometimes I have to stop and look at things from His perspective before I get it. It helps to have other that have that discernment and can lead you in the right direction.

Shane Coffman said...

Kevin –

Based on your questions, I’m not sure you understand the point I am making. Your questions certainly do not follow my line of reasoning at all. So, to be clear, let me restate the point:

When we impose additional requirements beyond what the Bible actually says, we open the door for Satan to confuse us and others regarding what God really said (vs. man’s additions), for there to be division between believers because of differences in opinion regarding what to require, and quite possibly to even be alienated from God ourselves.

Would you not agree with that statement?

The point is not true because of Eve’s response. That was simply a new perspective I found in study last week and from class teachers in the past who have chastised Eve for her misquote. You bring up a new perspective (to me anyway) in saying that God might have commanded them not to touch the tree and it just wasn’t recorded until Eve spoke the words. While I would grant it to be possible, I’m skeptical that is the case. Your comment that the only way one could know for sure what God said is if they were there seems to open all sorts of cans of worms. How could we trust anything that God said if that is the case? After all, we weren’t there to hear any of it. Where do you draw the line? What words can we trust?

Regardless, the point is not at all dependent on Eve for its support. Jesus’ dealings with the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath in Matthew 12, the Jerusalem Council regarding the Gentiles and circumcision in Acts 15, and Paul’s words in his letter to the Galatians make it abundantly clear what God thinks of adding rules and requirements where He has not made them. The point stands alone regardless of your beliefs about what God actually commanded Adam and Eve.

As far as this post goes, let’s stick to the point as the basis for discussion and not confuse everyone or waste time with a bunch of other side issues.

Terry Rush said...

Besides, how do you know when Jesus spoke of the bread and the wine that there was no cheese on the table?

TREY MORGAN said...

I'd say we all agree ... that we can be VERY much like the Pharisees.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Shane,

His Word is truth, therefore, I can trust the Bible (John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). You misunderstood my point regarding the only way we could know if God commanded them not to touch the tree. Since Eve said that GOD said not to touch it, who are you to say that God didn’t say that since she said GOD did (Genesis 3:3)? That was my point. It had nothing to do with making sure we were there for everything God said. However, since in the scriptures it says “God said,” if you disagree, you must show conclusive evidence as to why.

Adding to or taking away from any of His commands is condemned throughout all of scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Galatians 1:6-10; Revelation 22:18-19).

-Bible: Don’t even look at the wine when it’s alcoholic (Proverbs 23:31; Ephesians 5:18)
-Some have added to His command and have said you can drink a little for pleasure

-Bible: Sing (exclusive of mechanical instruments-Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)
-Some have added to His command by handclapping, humming, and using mechanical instruments

-Bible: Sunday, the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Acts 20:7)
-Some have added to His command by saying it doesn’t matter when you partake

-Bible: Come together, not forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25; 1 Cor. 11:20)
-Some have added that you can come whenever you want

Adding additional requirements and allowing additional alterations to His commands are indeed sinful.

I ask that you please answer the questions that I asked in my former post. I am curious as to how you will answer them.

Kevin Pendergrass

p.s. Terry, are you saying that you believe it is scriptural to have cheese on the unleavened bread during the Lord's Supper?

Franklin Wood said...

Kevin,
You said,
-Bible: Don’t even look at the wine when it’s alcoholic (Proverbs 23:31; Ephesians 5:18)
-Some have added to His command and have said you can drink a little for pleasure
I respectfully disagree with your interpretation.
First of all, read the verses surrounding Prov. 23:31. We MUST always remember to read the CONTEXT surrounding the verses we use!
Verse 30, for example, says, "Those who LINGER over wine..." which suggests to me that it is the lingering and longing that is sinful.
Read also, verse 32, which says, "In the END it bites like a viper."
Let's correlate this with Jesus making wine at a party. If wine was wrong, why didn't He refuse to change the water into wine?
Don't misunderstand me. I know people who have been ravaged by the evil of alcohol. I personally do not drink it.
But I think you have "added to scripture" by saying, "we have added to scripture and said we can drink a little for pleasure."
I just don't see that anywhere in scripture.
Blessings to you and yours.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Shane,

If you do not want to answer those questions, please answer these:

(1) Do you believe the Bible teaches that we must have authority for the things that we do (Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Ephesians 5:10)? Refer back to my syllogism if you disagree.

(2) Where is the authority for using mechanical instruments under New Covenant worship?

(3) Where is the authority for taking the Lord's Supper on any other day besides Sunday?

It is so sad that you and many on here have such a terrible misunderstanding of Gods Word. Are you willing to be wrong and change? Or will you continue to pervert the Way of the Lord?

Kevin Pendergrass

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Franklin,

Since "oinos" (Greek word for wine) is generic, prove from the text in John 2 that the wine Jesus made was alcoholic.

What passages in the New Testament would authorize social drinking (alcoholic)?

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Franklin,

First, if Jesus did make alcoholic wine, then what the INcarnate Christ did contradicts what the PREincarnate Christ taught.

"Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk So as to look on their nakedness!" Habakkuk 2:15

Would there be any possible way for Jesus to prevent the awful results mentioned in this passage? Did He provide alcohol and thus, "make His neighbors drink" for all practical purposes? Could He have prevented the groom from being in such a drunken stupor that He was unable to have relations with his wife on their wedding night? What about her as well? Could you possibly imagine Jesus being involved in such a thing as this at all?

Second, if Jesus did so, then what INcarnate Christ did contradicts what the INcarnate Christ taught.

"Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. "Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. "But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,'and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know," Matthew 24:45-50

The expression "eat and drink WITH the drunkards" shows that such conduct in a social context, even if the individual is not "technically" drunk (in the minds of some) is just not behavior that a "faithful and sensible slave" would be found doing. The Bible condemns drinking parities (not just the act of being drunk-1 Peter 4:3). If what Jesus did was not considered a drinking party by making 180 gallons of alcohol AFTER they had well drunk (John 2:10), then what is?

If you can harmonize either or both of these passages with what Jesus did at Cana, then I would like to see the argumentation. I submit that both passages contradict what Jesus did, IF (and only if) He made wine of alcoholic content! The scripture proves that He did not!

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Franklin,

One more thing.

In Hab. 2:15 Nebuchadnezzar is the one under consideration, who figuratively intoxicated the nations and exposed them. Could Jesus have prevented this sort of thing from happening if He made the absolutely huge amounts of alcoholic beverage to give to guests who are already consumed the entire supply of the host? Such could not be controlled, and therefore, such alcoholic production would have made Belshazzar's drunken feast quite tame by comparison.

Kevin Pendergrass

Shane Coffman said...

Kevin –

It is interesting that according to Genesis 2, Eve hadn’t even been created when God gave the command not to eat from the tree. The command was given to Adam. We don’t know if God Himself repeated it to Eve, or if Adam passed it on to Eve. Therefore, we do not know if God, Adam, or Eve added the directive not to touch. As I stated, the principle I am speaking to is not dependent on this example for its proof, so if you want to believe that God made the rule from the beginning even though it wasn’t quoted in Genesis 2:16-17, I’m fine with that. You cannot prove your belief anymore than those previous Bible teachers I’ve had could prove theirs. And in the end, no one’s soul is dependent on how they interpret that detail anyway, so that’s the last I’ll have to say about that.

Best I can tell, it seems we agree on the principle that adding additional requirements to what God expressly stated is dangerous at best. So I’m going to assume the disagreement at hand is over what God has expressly stated.

Let’s let the readers decide for themselves.

Shane said: “The Bible says not to get drunk.”
Kevin said: “Bible: Don’t even look at the wine when it’s alcoholic (Proverbs 23:31; Ephesians 5:18)”

Scriptures referenced:
Proverbs 23:31 “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!”

Ephesians 5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

Now, who more correctly stated what the Bible says?

I see no mention of “alcoholic” in Proverbs 23:31 (and I checked about 15 different versions). Even if that were the intent by the word “red” (a stretch at best), the Proverbs are the wise sayings of Solomon, hardly hard and fast commands for all time. Also, you’d have to figure out a way to explain away Proverbs 31:6-7, which says, “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish, let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” I’m not sure we want to count that as a command unless we’re ready to add beer and wine to our food pantries... Besides, the point isn’t that I’m disagreeing with Solomon – as Franklin stated, there is great wisdom in avoiding wine, especially for those who lack self-control. The difference is I’m not adding that to God’s laws, Kevin is.

Shane said: “The Bible says to sing.”
Kevin said: “Bible: Sing (exclusive of mechanical instruments-Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)

Scriptures referenced:
Ephesians 5:19: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.”

Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

Again, who more correctly stated what the Bible says?

I see no reference to “exclusive of mechanical instruments” in the verses quotes, as Kevin felt the need to further qualify for God. If you asked Kevin who his favorite singer was, he might answer Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, Britney Spears, The Beatles, or any number of other artists. However, by Kevin’s definitions, those folks aren’t singers at all! Why? Because they all “sing” with instruments, therefore they are not actually “singing”. Incredible. You have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to get to that understanding. Here are the facts. Instruments in worship were approved by God in the Old Testament (Psalms), are in heaven around the throne per John’s Revelation (5:8), and are never spoken about negatively in regards to New Testament worship. You have to add to God’s word, as Kevin has, to even get in the neighborhood of an understanding that God disapproves of instruments in our worship to Him.

to be continued...

Shane Coffman said...

Shane said: “The Bible says they met together one Sunday to break bread.”
Kevin said: “Bible: Sunday, the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Acts 20:7)”

Scriptures referenced:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread or drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Acts 20:7: “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

Who more correctly stated what the Bible says?

The 1 Corinthians passage never mentions Sunday, only “whenever”. Since it was instituted at Passover, one might reasonably understand “whenever” to mean as often as they ate the Passover meal, which would be once a year. Additionally, it was instituted on either a Wednesday or Thursday evening, depending on how you reckon time during Jesus’ final week, either way meaning NOT on a Sunday.

The Acts 20 text says they met on the first day of the week. It gives no indication they had done that before, that they intended to do it again, or that it was a rule for all time. In fact, if they were following the Jewish keeping of time, it means they actually met on our Saturday evening, not Sunday. Conversely, if they were following the Roman keeping of time, they met on Sunday evening but didn’t actually “break bread” until Monday morning (after midnight). All of a sudden, we don’t have a single text that clearly shows the Lord’s Supper taken on a Sunday! You have to add to God’s Word, as Kevin has, to come up with the Sunday-only rule.

Shane said: “The Bible says not to give up on meeting together.”
Kevin said: “Bible: Come together, not forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25; 1 Cor. 11:20)

Scriptures referenced:
Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

1 Corinthians 11:20: “When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat,”

Who more correctly stated what the Bible says?

The 1 Corinthians passage really has no relevance to this point. I’m puzzled as to the reason for its inclusion. As other versions of Hebrews 10:25 use the phrase, “Not forsaking the assembly,” it actually (finally!) looks like we are in agreement on something.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t last long, as Kevin then seems to suggest that you need to add attendance regulations or else people will just come whenever they want (“Some have added that you can come whenever you want.”). I say if God didn’t specify an attendance policy, neither will I. The instruction I read in the Bible is to not give up and to encourage each other, not to take role.

Kevin, based on the above, it seems to me that your accusation of me is incorrect...that in fact you are the one with the misunderstanding of God’s Word, and you are the one perverting scripture.

(P.S. I believe I answered your latest questions 2 and 3 pretty clearly above. Regarding the first question, your syllogism is flawed…you’ve lifted two texts from their context and tried to create a rule from their pairing. You should reconsider.)

Shane Coffman said...

To be clear, folks, I'm perfectly fine with abstaining from alcohol, a cappella singing, taking communion every Sunday, and perfect attendance at church functions.

I am AGAINST binding them as rules for everyone and judging those who do not practice such things exactly the way I do as sinners and unsaved.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Shane,

You like many others have made the same mistake. Instead of answering my questions, you ignored them and used emotions, not scripture to falsely justify your points (Proverbs 18:2). Any one reading this post will see how easily you dismissed my questions. You said my syllogism was flawed…why didn’t you prove it was flawed. Instead of saying “it is flawed” show that it is flawed. I say it is not flawed. If it is flawed, prove to me that it is.

In regards to social drinking:

You never cited one scripture that authorizes social drinking (Colossians 3:17). Tell me, what scripture authorizes social drinking? All we need is one.

You said Proverbs 23:29-35 is not talking about alcohol? Please read Proverbs 30-35 of Proverbs 23. This is clearly talking about alcohol. You used Proverbs 31:6-7…Alcohol was an authorized use as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). What does that have to do with social drinking? In Ephesians 5:18 the word "methusko" is an inceptive verb, marking the process of becoming drunk. The verse in the Greek literally means, "Do not begin the process of being drunk," which would forbid drinking at all. There is simply no authority for social drinking.

In regards to Mechanical instruments, a good friend of my did a good job showing what the scriptures say:

Tragically, so many members of the Lord’s church these days appear to be untaught as to exactly why churches of Christ refrain from instrumental accompaniment in their worship.
The simplest, most concise answer is this: It is a matter of authority. There is no authority for the use of a mechanical instrument in Christiai> worship. We are not concerned with how the ancient pagan worshipped his gods. Nor is the Hebrew method of worship germane, since that system was abrogated by the death of Christ (Rom. 7:4; Gal. 3:24-25; Col. 2:14).
For this age, the crucial question is: How is the Christian authorized to worship?
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote: “And whatsoever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus . . .” (3:17). The expression “word or deed” encompasses two realms — teaching and practice. Our teaching and practice must be “in the name of the Lord.”
The Greek expression en onoma, when used with the dative case, signifies “in the power of” or “by the authority of” (J.T. Mueller, Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology, p. 371).

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Too, the designation “Lord” emphasizes the Savior’s authority (cf. Mt. 28:18) in matters of faith and practice. The child of God must operate only within the bounds of Christ’s authority (see Jn. 4:24; 17:17; 1 Cor. 4:6 – ASV; 2 Jn. 9).
If the auto mechanic is instructed to do a “tune-up,” that does not mean he is authorized to rebuild the transmission. If a physician authorizes a certain medication, the pharmacist is not at liberty to improvise otherwise. The “wheel chair” symbol authorizes a handicapped person to park in a certain place; there are heavy fines for ignoring this authority designation. Each day, in many different ways, we are required to respect the limitations of authority.
So it is with worship; we are authorized to sing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We are not authorized to “play.” It is a matter of authority.
Some folks respect the authority of the New Testament; others do not. They yield to the impulse of “will-worship” — the practice of which embraces both that which is “forbidden” and “unbidden” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary). Such disobedience brings only condemnation.
This term “will-worship” condemns the use of mechanical instruments in Christian worship.
Furthermore, history confirms that mechanical instruments were not used in the early church. Note the following quotations:
“Although Josephus tells of the wonderful effects produced in the Temple by the use of instruments of music, the first Christians were of too spiritual a fiber to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to accompany the human voice” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1913, Vol. X, p. 651).
“There is no record in the NT of the use of instruments in the musical worship of the Christian church” Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998, p. 1163).
“Whatever evidence is forthcoming, is to the effect that the early Christians did not use musical instruments” (William Smith & Samuel Cheetham, A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, London: John Murray, 1880, II, p. 1365).

Kevin Pendergrass said...

“The foregoing argument [of this book] has proceeded principally by two steps. The first is: Whatsoever, in connection with the public worship of the church, is not commanded by Christ, either expressly or by good and necessary consequence, in his Word is forbidden. The second is: Instrumental music, in connection with the public worship of the church is not so commanded by Christ. The conclusion is: Instrumental music, in connection with the public worship of the church, is forbidden” (John J. Girardeau, Professor, Columbia Theological Seminary (Presbyterian), Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church, Richmond, VA: Whittet & Shepperson, 1888, p. 200).
The devout Christian, who wishes to respect the Lord’s authority,
will worship in song (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) — without the encumbrance of mechanical instruments.

God who took away the Old Testament law as an authoritative standard for religious worship. Regarding that system, Paul wrote, “he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). Moreover the verbal tense (perfect) suggests that the law has been removed permanently. The Mosaic law is not the standard for Christian worship. This means that if valid authority for the use of instrumental Christian worship is to be found, it will have to be found in the New Testament — not the Old Testament.
Additionally, if a “failure to use instruments” places one under the condemnation of Revelation 22:19, then one cannot worship God without them. Is our respondent ready to take that position? One needs to consider the logical consequence of his argument before he makes it.
Moreover, if one appeals to the Mosaic code for the justification of a religious practice, he may not selectively choose only those items that are objects of his affection. Paul clearly contended that if a man contends for one element of the law, as a binding obligation, he is required to accept all of that law. “Yes, I testify again to every man that receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal. 5:3). This does not mean, of course, that the Old Testament is irrelevant for the child of God today. There are many principles from which we may learn and profit (cf. Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6,11). The Mosaic law, however, is not the pattern for the format of Christian worship. (See our article, “The Value of the Old Testament for Today”.)
“The book of Revelation sanctions the use of instruments in the worship of God (Rev. 5:8; 14:2)”
It is a tragic circumstance when a Bible student does not comprehend the symbolic nature of the book of Revelation, as indeed the very first verse of the document suggests (see “signified”). The “harps” of the Apocalypse are no more to be viewed as literal than are the images of a seven-horned lamb (5:6), or golden bowls of incense (5:8). This type of crass literalism is the very flaw that is fatal in the “Watchtower Witness” argument that only 144,000 people will be in heaven (7:4ff; 14:1ff).
Moreover, if the status of heaven is the norm for today, why do Christians continue to enter the relationship of marriage? The marital union will not exist in the spiritual environment of the future (see Mt. 22:30; Lk. 20:35).

Kevin Pendergrass said...

“David praised God by the use of instruments. Was he an evil man? The New Testament does not cancel Old Testament practices that were pleasing to God.”
Yes, David praised God with instruments; but David did not live under the New Covenant. He lived under a regime that was characterized by numerous “carnal” features (Heb. 9:10) — material elements that were to be replaced by a more spiritual system of worship, as the Testament of Christ became operative.
If David is the Christian’s pattern for acceptable worship in this age, why not worship God by the offering of animal sacrifices — as Israel’s illustrious king did (Psa. 66:13-15)? Or perhaps a Christian worship assembly could be transformed into a “dance” festival, reminiscent of the shepherd’s activities (2 Sam. 6:14; Psa. 149:3).
And if the “David-was-a-good-man” argument justifies doing anything the king did, would polygamy be justified today? David had many wives (2 Sam. 5:13), from whom he was never commanded to separate. Some Mormon sects would applaud the “David-was-a-good-man” argument!
To suggest that every practice that was “pleasing to God” under the Mosaic rule is obligatory and/or allowed today is an amazing statement. It was pleasing to the Lord, under the former regime, that every male Jew visit the temple three times each year (Ex. 23:14,17; Dt. 16:16-17). Does this fact therefore mean that this responsibility abides today?
“If you contend that one must have authority for what he does in worship, where is the authority for song books, speaker systems, etc.? Why do you oppose instruments, and yet not these items?”
This question reveals that this sincere novice does not understand the nature of how “authority” is established. The authority for a practice may be provided in either a generic or a specific fashion. If the authorization is framed in generic terminology, the person under that authority may use his own judgment (expressed in expedients) in the implementation of the obligation. If the authority is expressed in specific terms, the subject may not exceed what is specified.
For example, if a traffic sign reads, “Drive With Caution,” the driver is at liberty to use his judgment within reason. If, however, the sign indicates, “Speed Limit — 25 m.p.h,” the motorist may not exceed the limit specified.
Further, a generic authorization implies some method of implementing the duty. For instance, a command obliging Christians to meet for worship (e.g., Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25), implies some sort of facility — whether such should be a rented hall, or a building owned by the church. A command to evangelize (Mk. 16:15) necessitates some mode of travel. The permission for any expedient is implicit in the authority itself.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

When Christians are commanded to praise God by “singing,” which is a specifically authorized form of melody (Eph. 5:18-19; Col. 3:16), they are restricted to that mode of melody. “Playing” on a mechanical instrument is another kind of music.
But in the passages authorizing singing, there is no specificity as to whether the authorized songs are to be sung from memory, or from a written copy. And so, whereas one is free to exercise his choice in the matter of a printed copy, he is not granted the liberty of adding another type of music.
The case is similar with reference to “speaker systems,” etc. These “aids” do not change the nature of what has been specified. With an amplifier, or without one, the teacher is still merely teaching the gospel. If, however, one should add human dogma to the gospel, he has altered the nature of the message, and has transgressed.
When one adds mechanical playing to simple singing, he has not merely facilitated the singing, he has added an element that does not inhere in the originally authorized action. See ""Aid" or “Addition” — What Is the Difference?".
“God has given men wonderful abilities to invent and make music on instruments. Why should it not be permissible to use these gifts in worship to the God who gave them?”
The fact that men have certain abilities does not endow them with the authority to use those abilities in an unauthorized act of worship to God. Isaiah described the skill of those in his time, who went to great pains to design and craft an image “after the beauty of a man,” the purpose of which was to create an object of worship (Isa. 44:12-17). The prophet rebuked this exercise as the epitome of foolishness, wholly void of “understanding” (vv. 18ff). One can almost hear the protestation of the pro-idol crowd as they appealed to their “God-given talents” in defense of their wicked practice.
Nebuchadnezzar erected a magnificent golden image approximately ten stories tall. He then issued a command that, at a certain time, his subjects were to fall before the structure and worship. Three Hebrew lads refused to do so (see Dan. 3:1ff). Had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego been tutored in the school of logic under review, they might well have admired the “God-given” talent of the Mesopotamian artisans, and gone “belly down” before the image!

We would remind our sincere readers that altering God’s plan for worship is not an insignificant offence. Read the record of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, in 1 Kings 12:25ff. He recklessly “taught Israel to sin” by changing Heaven’s plan of worship for the Hebrew people, to that which he “devised with his own heart” (1 Kgs. 12:33). Devastating tragedy followed in the wake of that rebellion (1 Kgs. 14:1-20). Read and be warned!

Kevin Pendergrass said...

In regards to the Lord’s Supper, please show scriptural support in which Christians met on any other day other then Sunday to partake of the Lord’s Supper. What scriptural support do you have for taking the Lord’s Supper on any other day other then Sunday?

There is much disagreement in the religious community of “Christendom” as to when the Lord’s Supper, commanded by Jesus, should be observed (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20). Several theoretical views may be entertained.
(1) Some allege that the communion need not be observed at all; they contend it was a cultural phenomenon of the first century, and thus not binding today.
(2) Many argue that the time element is inconsequential. Thus the supper might be served at any time—daily, weekly, monthly, or even annually.
(3) Members of the church of Christ generally have maintained that the Lord’s supper ought to be eaten each Sunday, and that the communion is restricted to that day.
What does the New Testament evidence suggest?
The Cultural Argument
The notion that the Lord’s supper was merely a cultural circumstance of the early church, and so was never intended to be an abiding obligation upon Christians for all time, is refuted by the explicit testimony of the New Testament. Paul instructed the saints in Corinth that as long as they ate the elements of the sacred supper, they would proclaim the Savior’s death “till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The apostle clearly anticipated that Christians would be honoring the Lord, by partaking of the communion, until the very end of time. This view, therefore, can hardly be given serious consideration.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

The Cultural Argument
The notion that the Lord’s supper was merely a cultural circumstance of the early church, and so was never intended to be an abiding obligation upon Christians for all time, is refuted by the explicit testimony of the New Testament. Paul instructed the saints in Corinth that as long as they ate the elements of the sacred supper, they would proclaim the Savior’s death “till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). The apostle clearly anticipated that Christians would be honoring the Lord, by partaking of the communion, until the very end of time. This view, therefore, can hardly be given serious consideration.
The Any-Time Position
A vastly greater segment of those who profess an allegiance to Christianity maintains that the time factor is irrelevant. These folks, though obviously sincere, overlook, we believe, two important matters:
(1) The issue of authority—what does the New Testament actually authorize?
(2) The spiritual connection between the Lord’s supper and the Lord’s day.
Let us explore the matter of authority. We will assume, for the moment, that the concept of authority is important to most people. Some argue, therefore, that there is authority for

Kevin Pendergrass said...

observing the Lord’s supper on days other than Sunday. The main passage advanced in support of this position is Acts 2:46.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat [food] with gladness and singleness of heart.

Not a few writers contend that “breaking bread” in this passage is an allusion to the Lord’s supper, and that the communion therefore was being observed daily. The argument is flawed in two particulars:
(1) The term “daily” denotes the frequency with which the disciples were meeting in the temple. Grammatically, “daily” does not modify “breaking bread.” There is no support for “daily . . . breaking of bread” here, regardless of what “bread” signifies in the text.
(2) The “breaking bread” of this passage is not a reference to the Lord’s supper. This is evidenced by the fact that the phrase is paralleled with “eat their food” in the same clause.
“Food” translates the Greek term trophe, which essentially means “nourishment”(Arndt and Gingrich 1967, 835). The word is employed sixteen times in the Greek Testament, and never is it used of the communion, for such was not designed as a nourishment for the body.
Note the comment of Presbyterian commentator Albert Barnes:
Here [“meat” (KJV)] it means all kinds of sustenance; that which nourished them—trophes—and the use of this word proves that it does not refer to the Lord’s supper; for that ordinance is nowhere represented as designed for an ordinary meal, or to nourish the body(1956, 59).
A. T. Robertson, a prominent Baptist scholar, observed that the language is “clearly referring to the regular meals at home” (1930, 3.39).
Aside from the considerations discussed above, there is no historical evidence from the post-apostolic period that Christians partook of the Lord’s supper on occasions other than Sunday. One historian notes: “The Lord’s supper was a constant feature of the Sunday service. There is no second-century evidence for the celebration of a daily eucharist” (Ferguson 1971, 96).
Finally, this factor should be taken into consideration: there is a spiritual connection between the Lord’s supper and the Lord’s day that is severed when the communion is attempted at other times within the week. The supper consists of two elements—the bread and the fruit of the vine, which symbolize the Savior’s body and blood, i.e., his death.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

At the time of his death, Jesus’ flesh was broken open (his bones were not broken), and his blood was poured out. This was to pay the price for human redemption (Matthew 26:26-28; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7). On the first day of the week, three days after his death, Christ came out of the grave (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
When, therefore, the communion is eaten on Sunday, there is a vital link between the Savior’s death and his resurrection—a connection that does not exist at any other time. This point, taken with other supporting evidence, is compelling indeed.
Sunday Communion
The only authoritative case that can be made for the frequency of the Lord’s supper is this: it was observed each Lord’s day by the early Christians, and, so far as the evidence reveals, on that day only.
There is the suggestion in the inspired record that after the Lord was resurrected, the disciples began meeting together on the first day of the week. For example, John 20:26 indicates that “after eight days,” i.e., on Sunday, the Master’s men were assembled again. Robertson says this passage “seems to mean that from the very start the disciples began to meet on the first (or eighth) day” (5.336).
Some fifty days following Jesus’ death, the church was established on the day of Pentecost, which always occurred on a Sunday (Leviticus 23:15-16). Noted historian John Mosheim wrote:
All Christians were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Savior arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship (1959, 35).
From that first Lord’s day the members of Christ’s church were observing the communion in a regular fashion. Luke records that they “continued steadfastly [the imperfect tense form suggests a sustained practice] . . . in the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42).
Scholars are almost wholly agreed that “the breaking of bread” is a reference to the communion supper.
Luke is speaking of the greatest things done in this first congregation and characterizes the celebration of the Lord’s Supper by use of the expression that was common at that time: “breaking the bread” (Lenski 1961, 116).
But the evidence gets even stronger!

Kevin Pendergrass said...

Near the conclusion of his third missionary campaign, Paul departed from Philippi just after “the days of unleavened bread” (which followed the Jewish Passover [cf. Acts 20:6]). He was hurriedly making his way toward Jerusalem, where he hoped to arrive by Pentecost, slightly more than a month away (cf. 20:16). In spite of the fact that he still had a journey of several hundred miles remaining, he took the time to “tarry” seven days in Troas, the port city of Mysia.
Why this delay in view of his urgent mission? The most reasonable answer is this: the apostle wanted to meet with the whole church in Troas, and he knew the brethren would be assembled on the Lord’s day. Note Luke’s use of a conjunction to mark the transition between verses six and seven of chapter twenty.
Certain texts, as reflected by the King James Version, simply state that the “disciples came together.” Most others have “we were gathered together”—which is another of those references indicating Luke’s presence with Paul. But the expression, “were gathered together,” is a passive voice form, signifying to “bring or call together, gather a number of persons” (Arndt and Gingrich, 790).
The suggestion is this: this assembly was convened by an extraneous directive—the most logical inference being by divine authority. Sunday worship was not an arbitrary decision of the first-century church.
The primary design of the meeting was “to break bread.” In the grammar of the Greek Testament, this reflects an infinitive of purpose. In other words, the prime purpose of the Lord’s day meeting was to observe the supper.
The implication is clear: if the communion is not observed, there really is no authority, certainly no necessity, for even meeting every Sunday!
There is, however, convincing evidence that the primitive church did assemble every Lord’s day. In his first Corinthian epistle, Paul commanded those Christians to contribute into the church treasury “on the first day of every week” (16:2, NASB).
While the term “every” (Greek kata) is not brought into the English rendition by either the KJV or the ASV, it is present in the original text. J. H. Thayer translated the phrase: “on the first day of every week” (1958, 328).
When one draws these points together, here is the irresistible conclusion:
(1) The early church, under the oversight of inspired apostles, met regularly—upon the first day of each week.
(2) The primary purpose of their Sunday meeting was to observe the Lord’s Supper.
(3) The communion supper, therefore, was observed each Lord’s day by the apostolic church.

Kevin Pendergrass said...

What clearer evidence could be desired for those who wish to replicate the practice of the ancient church in their own lives? Where is the authority for doing otherwise?
Christians must urge their contemporaries to return to the apostolic pattern of worship. Worship must be according to divine truth (John 4:24), not mere human inclination.




In regards to not forsaking the assembly…

How sad, a Christian that would say it doesn’t matter if you come to worship or not…Hebrews 10:25 could not be any more clear in regards to forsaking the assembly. In 1 Corinthians 11 and 16:1-2 we see the church came together on the first day of EVERY week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2 literally every first day of the week in the Greek text).


Shane, your problem can be summed up in one word. Authority. You do not understand authority. I use to be in your shoes. I was in sin and unfaithful at one point in time under Satan’s greatest weapon right now called liberalism. I have repented and you must to (Luke 17:3-4). However, the Bible warns about not casting pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). I have much to do and people to talk with who are willing to follow God and His authority. Remember, on the Day of Judgment MANY will think they did the will of God (Matthew 7:21). However, the Lord will remind them that they practiced lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-24). This will be my last post, If you are willing to learn and go to the scriptures rather then letting your feelings lead you to hell, I will be more then happy to talk with you and show you the scriptures (Kevin@thegospelofchrist.com). Christ is the way…won’t you follow it (Matthew 7:13-14)? We have much material on our website (www.thegospelofchrist.com). Everything we offer is free and we want to help as many soul’s go to heaven as possible. However, we can only help those who want to be helped.

Sincerely,

Kevin Pendergrass
www.thegospelofchrist.com

Mike Morton said...

WOW, Shane a post that has 32 comments! Way to go! Although, I'm really biting my tongue on this one.

Lindsay said...

"If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false in him." John 7:17-18

Though in this passage Jesus is addressing His own teaching, I believe it can be applied to any teaching. If we choose to do the will of God, we will find out whether a teaching comes from God or simply from the one speaking it. So let each one do the will of God, and let GOD reveal to him what teaching is from Him. Jesus said, "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." Matthew 7:20 Shane, my brother, I see the fruit of the Spirit in your life, and since "a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit,"(v.18) I must conclude that you're a Spirit-tree since you bear Spirit fruit. :-)

I think some of us need to step back for a moment and remember Whose job it is to determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.

"Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother and judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:11-12

"This is my command: Love each other." John 15:17

It is GOD'S place to judge, it is OUR place to love. We would be wise not to confuse those roles.

Lastly, this is my prayer, drawn from the prayers of Jesus and Paul:

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." John 17:23
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5-6

Shane Coffman said...

Kevin –

Good call on ending the discussion here. Thank you for giving an e-mail and website where those who are interested can find out more about what you believe.

Although I could say plenty more in response to your last 11 posts, I think I’ve said enough for the readers to understand where I’m coming from. If any are interested in discussing a particular point, I’m easy enough to find.

Surely it is obvious to the reader that we approach God’s Word in entirely different ways. To our own Master each of us will stand or fall.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:17-18

Terry Rush said...

Shane,

I'm impressed! 35 responses so I want to make it an even three dozen! That's never happened on my blog!

You wrote a great article and Kevin has made all your points...when he surely didn't mean to.

I like him. I don't know him. But I like him because he cares. The Word will have its way among us and lead us from syllogisms to Jesus...which was a very tough transition for me...and still is.

Jeremy said...

Shane,

I admire your desire not to add to God's Word and impose restrictions and judgments on others where they are not warrented. This has gone on in many churches. This is an issue we need to understand better.

I do not agree with Kevin Pendergrass on every point, but it does seem you are confused about the issue of authority. If you are willing I would like to study the issue with you so we can become better servants of God and teachers of His word.

I think two of the questions Kevin asked show some of the problems with your understanding of authority:

Question 1: If a congregation decided to start adding cheese to the unleavened bread, would that be scriptural? If so, cite the verses that would authorize such. If not, why not?

Question 2: Could one use water (like the Mormons) instead of fruit of the vine and be scriptural since God did not say NOT to use water? If so, cite the verses that would authorize such. If not, why not?

To my knowledge you never gave a response to these questions. I can certainly understand why since they are designed to trap you. There is no way to answer them according to your understanding of Biblical authority (please correct me if I am wrong). Jesus also used this tactic with the Pharisees in Matthew 21:23-27. In the hardness of their hearts, they didn't want to answer Jesus' question because it would show them to be wrong so they answered "we do not know." What is your response going to be?

Shane Coffman said...

Jeremy –

The difference between Kevin’s questions and Jesus’ questions to the Pharisees is that Jesus’ questions got right to the heart of the matter.

That said, I agree with you and Kevin that a part of our disagreement revolves around differing views of authority, which is an issue worth some discussion if folks are interested and can keep their focus (and their cool).