Dec 19

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For those who desire to be saved, what question is more important, than “How do we ascertain New Testament Authority?” Understanding, that the New Testament is “the teaching of Christ;” therefore, let us note the words of John the apostle of love: “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” (2 John 9). The danger of being outside “the teaching of Christ,” is seen in the words, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the teaching of Christ;” and what is their spiritual state: “hath not God.” The person who “hath not God” is in the state of being lost! Thus, the importance of “abiding” in “the teaching of Christ,” is abiding in the “Authority of the New Testament.”
Learning what the church did, under the oversight of the apostles, with their approval, are the only things that the churches of Christ may do today! Question, what would any saved person desire to do, other than obey by doing what the churches of Christ did under the oversight of the apostles? Here we are addressing the things the church must do, to continue to be saved! The idea of Martin Luther and authority was, “What is not against Scripture is for Scripture, and Scripture for it” (Newman 1902, 308). Newman then wrote: “How tragic it is that Luther’s course of doctrinal digression is now pursued by so many today.” These words state Luther’s view of authority! The wording is different from our earlier words. What I have being writing is, “If the New Testament does not forbid it, then, that is authority for it.” This does not mean that I was incorrect the first time, but that he may have said it differently at a different time!
Just what would be allowed, or shall we say, what would be authorized, if the church operated under the Lutheran view of authority? Let us go back to my favorite, “cornbread and buttermilk” for the Lord’s supper, is there a place, is there a scripture that condemns “cornbread and buttermilk” for the Lord’s Supper? No, but if we have the right understanding of “New Testament Authority” and how we ascertain it! We have taken a giant step forward and make it clear, that in the authority of Christ, the New Testament, we know what makes up the Lord’s supper. Paul to the Corinthians: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:20). These words may appear puzzling at first, but when we get the context, Paul makes it clear, understandable! So, why did Paul write such? It was because some in the Corinthian church, “For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken” (verse 21). These folks had made what should have been a time to take the Lord’s Supper, they had made it a common meal, and even here they revealed their “un-Christ spirit.” Paul asked a declarative question: “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not” (verse 22). The Lord’s Supper should never, I mean, never, be made into a common meal; but even more so, a common meal should never, I mean, never be done in an “un-Christ” spirit! Here is the “forbidden” Martin Luther was looking for!
Paul now goes on with the subject of the Lord’s Supper. He wrote: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 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” (verses 23-25). Here the Lord took Paul back to the introduction of the Lord’s Supper, and yes, Paul does call it the “Lord’s Supper.” It is Matthew that recorded the event, wherein Jesus introduced to the disciples, who would be his apostles, his “ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20) the “Lord’s Supper.” Matthew wrote: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:26-28). Paul, of course, was not present at this time; thus, his words, “For I have received of the Lord.”
With this, we know what the Lord’s Supper is and we know that nothing else, and I mean, nothing else, is the Lord’s Supper! But, if we are working with the view, “that if it is not forbidden,” then, that is scripture for it; even though we know what the Lord said what the Lord’s Supper is, my “cornbread and buttermilk” is not forbidden! Do you now see what a real problem things become, when we use the Lutheran doctrine of authority?
This brings us to the question: “When must the Lord’s church take the Lord’s Supper?” There is no command that directly reveals the answer to this question, but there is New Testament Authority for the day when the Lord’s Supper must be taken! We will get into this subject in the next article.

Frank R. Williams

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