Jul 01

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As a new generation arises there will be a few who see themselves as “lights” to the church and it is their duty to reinvent Christianity! They are sure that the older generation missed a few points and it is their solemn duty to restore true Christianity! Never mind that these subjects have been debated over and over; point after point has been met in debate and truth triumphed! Christianity as revealed in “the teaching of Christ” stood the test, and men and women who loved the truth stepped forward and obeyed it.
These precious souls came out of denominationalism while giving up family and friends; some lost jobs and the respect of the community in which they lived. They were treated as traitors! Why? Because they held truth as the “polar star” that was to guide them in this life to eternal life. They possessed a godliness that humbled them before God: “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). But the word “godliness” needs a little attention just here as it is much misunderstood. It is the Greek “eusebeia” and means: “reverence, respect, piety towards God” (Thayer). “Piety” means: “the state or quality of being pious.” The point is that “godliness” refers to a person who reverences God in obedience! Obedience is “profitable” in this life and the life “which is to come!” Of course, this brings us to the subject of truth, of law!
Part of this reinventing of Christianity is heard in the words, “If there is no law against it, then, there is no violation.” There is nothing new in this thought! Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) looked at the New Testament in this way; and he is, of course, well known. On the other hand, Ulrich Zwingl who lived at the same (Jan. 1, 1484 – Oct. 11, 1531) believed that if it was not authorized, explicitly or implicitly, then it was not lawful. He is much less known! Much of Christendom is divided between these two camps today and there is nothing new in it! It is just an old teaching resurrected from the dust bins of history!
Some twenty-nine years ago I wrote a series of articles entitled, “Cornbread and Buttermilk.” The point of these articles was if we are looking at the authority of Christ as “Thou shall not” type of law, then, there is no law against using “cornbread and buttermilk” in the Lord’s Supper. Why “cornbread and buttermilk?” I just happen to like “cornbread and buttermilk!” This sums up the thinking of many then and now; if there is no law against it, then, there is no violation of the law to use “cornbread and buttermilk” in the Lord’s Supper! It is a gross misunderstanding of the authority of Christ! It forbids as it authorizes!
Jesus said: “All power (authority – exousia) is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). Just how does Jesus exercise this authority? Is it through a series of “Thou shalt not” statements, or is it what we are authorized to do through explicit and implicit statements and accounts of action? Some things we are free to do, but not commanded to do. For instance, there are “accounts of action” of the early church fasting when elders were appointed (Acts 14:23). It should be noted that they prayed and fasted; there is no spiritual edification in going without food, but if one is praying, and or studying the word of God, then, there is spiritual edification.
The same thing is true of brethren who sold land and brought the money to the apostles (Acts 4:36-37); this is an account of action, but there is no command, either explicitly or implicitly given for brethren to sell their land. In fact, Peter said to Ananias, “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power (authority – exousia)” (Acts 5:4). At the same time, brethren were/are free to sell land and other goods and if they so choose, they could/can keep the money, or they could/can give all, or any part of the money to the Lord (church) to be used in the work of the church. As they give they are to keep in mind, they should give “as God hath prospered him” and remember: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (1 Cor. 16:2 and 2 Cor. 9:7).
It should be noted that in giving, we have both explicit and implicit authority! When Paul wrote the church in Corinth, he wrote: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1). These words follow the order given in verse one: “as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.” Therefore, the explicit, “upon the first day of the week,” which implicitly means every “first day of the week” as every week has a first day!

— Frank R. Williams
Archived Article from July 15, 2015

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