Oct 17

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It was the intent for this to be a series of three articles, but after thinking a little more, the need was seen for a fourth article. The intent of these articles is to get the reader to think about the question: “How do you ascertain truth?” Of course, the question relates to what the local church of Christ must do in order to truly be one of those “churches of Christ” of which Paul wrote of in Romans the sixteenth chapter, verse sixteen: “The churches of Christ salute you.”
Not long ago it appeared in an article that the early church, meaning in the days of the apostles of Christ, did not assembly on Sunday night. (One might study Acts 20:7, and see that the worship included Sunday night.) This was in a context of congregation having trouble getting brethren to come to worship on Sunday night. This is not a new problem. More than thirty years ago, I did a study of bulletins I received, and the numbers of those who were in the assembly on Sunday morning and night. It was about half who came back to worship on Sunday night. The numbers may be somewhat worse these days, but the problem is the same. It is largely a spiritual problem! Having said this, let us go back to our subject! Is there a commandment for the local churches of Christ to assemble for worship on the first day of the week?
The phrase, “the first day of the week,” appears eight times in the New Testament, six of these relate to Jesus’ resurrection and his appearances after being resurrected (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2 and 9; Luke 24:1; and John 20:1 and 19. The seventh time is in Acts 20:7, where Luke records this historical event: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” This clearly is an assembly of worship, but there is no commandment anywhere in the context. The final place the phrase appears in First Corinthians, where Paul is writing about “the collection for the saints,” and he does give a commandment: “as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye” (1 Cor. 16:1), but the commandment is about the collection and not about the assembly of worship. It might be argued, and correctly so, that the “collection” is an act of worship; thus, part of the assembly of worship. It should be noticed that the “collection” was to be done, “Upon the first day of the week.” There is evidence that the Greek should read: “every first day of the week.” Do you realize that this is the closest we can get to a commandment for “first day of the week” assembly of worship?
Yet, the churches of Christ in America, indeed, most denominational churches, assemble for worship on the first day of the week! Have you ever thought, before reading this article, that there is no commandment for the churches of Christ to assemble to worship upon the first day of the week? The same thing is true when it comes to the Lord’s Supper, as has been pointed out in earlier articles in this series. So many times brethren quote these words: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). But read these words as many times as you want to, but you will never find the words, assemble on the first day of the week! We know the churches of Christ assembled to worship during the days of the apostles; we know the saints assembled to worship upon “the first day of the week;” and we know that as part of this worship they came together to “break bread,” upon the first of the week;” but we also know there is no commandment for these actions!
It is for these reasons that we must understand “How we ascertain truth!” When we read that the local churches did certain things under the watchful eyes of the apostles of Christ, “the ambassadors for Christ,” (2 Cor. 5:20), those who spoke with the authority of Christ; they were abiding “in the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9). If not, the apostles rebuked them; just as they did when these churches stepped outside “the teaching of Christ!”
When the local church of Christ assembles to worship God “in spirit and in truth” upon “the first day of the week,” she is abiding within “the teaching of Christ,” just as those early local churches of Christ did under the oversight of the apostles of Christ.
There are yet other questions which have not been addressed in this series of articles, but if these have caused you to think, and to study, then the effort has been worthwhile. A final word of caution as we conclude, there have always been some who assert that “silence” authorizes. How do you abide in silence? Does silence go to the left, or to the right? Or, does it stand still? One thing for sure, those who advocate for the authority of “silence,” never intend to stand still! No, they intend to do things the churches of Christ under the oversight of the “ambassadors for Christ” never did! Nevertheless, let us remember John wrote: “Whosoever transgresseth (to overstep, frw), and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God….”

— Frank R. Williams

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