James P. Needham
Winter Park, Fla.
"Is it wrong for Christians to partake of the Lord's Supper on any other day than the first day of the week? I do not wish to remove the first day of the week for partaking, but am wondering if it could also be partaken of on another day such as on a Wednesday evening when the church assembles to study the word of God. "--Indiana
This question involves some discussion of how to establish scriptural authority, with particular attention to the question of the binding force of apostolic examples.
A study of Acts 15 will show that Spirit-guided men used three ways to establish divine authority: (1) Direct statements from God, (2) Approved examples, and (3) Necessary inferences. In recent times, some have charged that the old time-worn three methods of establishing authority are based upon human wisdom, and should be discarded. The main force of the attack has been directed at apostolic examples. This has been done in order to try to find some authorization for certain unscriptural promotions. A close study of Acts 15 will dispel any notion that these methods of establishing authority are of human origin.
The binding force of apostolic examples is clearly stated in several passages: (1) Phil. 3:17, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." (2) Phil. 4:9, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do..." (3) 1 Cor. 11:1, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." How can anyone read such passages and say that apostolic examples have no binding force?
Only one passage specifically connects the first day of the week with the Lord's Supper.
That is Acts 20:7. It reads: "And upon them first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread "There is some discussion as to whether these refers to the Lords Supper, but consider the following facts:
1. This was a special breaking of bread for which the disciples came together.
2. Paul called the Lord's Supper the breaking of bread (1 Cor. 10:16).
3. Therefore, this breaking of bread at Troas must have been the Lord's Supper.
Thus, Acts 20: 7 is an example of when the early church partook of the Lord's Supper under the guidance of the apostles. Since there is no other passage connecting the Lord's Supper with any other day in the practice of the early church, we are limited to the first day of the week in its observance. How could we learn that some other day would be acceptable? Since we must have authority for everything we do (Col. 3:17; Heb. 8:5), by what authority could the church partake of the Lord's Supper on a day other than the first day of the week? There is no command, no example and no inference to support such a practice. It would therefore rest upon the flimsy foundation of human opinion and be an excursion into the deep dark dungeon of denominationalism.
It so happens that another act of worship is specifically connected with the first day of the week, namely, giving. 1 Cor. 16:2 states, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered you . . ." Some brethren contend that it is scriptural for the church to take a collection any time it assemblies, and some of the black brethren practice this. If approved apostolic examples are not binding, then they are right; the church can do like the denominations and "lift an offering" any time it desires, hut it can also take the Lord's Supper at the same time. Any argument that will authorize one will also authorize the other. Any argument that will condemn one will condemn the other. If not, why not?
Yes, it would be wrong, sinful, for the church to take the Lord's Supper on any other day than the first day of the week. I might put it even stronger and say that the church cannot take the Lords Supper on any other day than the first day of the week. Any supper the church takes on any other day, would not be the LORD'S, but rather man's. Other-than-first-day-of-the-week communion is sinful because it is without authority. Being without authority, it would fall into the same class with instrumental music in the worship, and human inventions in the work of the church. If the church can do one thing without authority, it can do anything and everything without authority. Once we establish the rightness of the principle of working without authority, the sky is the limit, and denominationalism is the destination.
Let us all be content to "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11).
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 48, pp. 9-10
October 15, 1970