Paden City West Virginia
All power (authority, ASV) has been given to Jesus, and he is "the author and finisher of our faith." (Mt. 28:18; Heb. 12:2). Paul charged Titus: "But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine," and also to "speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:1, 15). Every deed must be done and every word must be said "in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Col. 4:17).
A practice may be authorized by a direct command. (Rev. 22:14; Jno. 15:14). However, we must be certain that the command is directed to us, or includes us. Some commands, such as those given to Noah, Naaman, and others, were never intended for us.
Christ left us many examples to follow. (1 Pet. 2:21). Jesus delegated the apostles as his ambassadors, and told them to teach for observance "all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (2 Cor. 5:20; Matt. 28:19, 20). Some of these things-were taught by precept, others by example. The early church "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).
For instance, we have been commanded to, observe the Lord's Supper (Lk. 22:19), but we have no command telling us when to observe it. We even have a command as to how we are to observe the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-34), but still have no command as to how "often" it should be done.
However, we do have an apostolic example showing us that the disciples observed this supper "upon the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7). This was not an assembly to observe a common meal, for Paul condemned such among the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11: 20-22, 34).
Paul commands, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you." Some contend that a command is binding, but that an apostolic example alone is not. Yet, Paul commands that we do the things seen in him. He also commands, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." (Phil. 3:17). Even as we must make certain that a command applies to us, we must also determine if an apostolic example is approved. In showing partiality between Jews and Gentiles, Peter did something that we cannot do. However, the context plainly indicates that his example is not to be followed. (Gal. 2:11-13).
Since the inspired Luke records some of the acts of some of the apostles; since one of these acts was to observe the Lord's supper on "the first day of the week"; since we are commanded by Paul to use the apostles as an example; and since we are assured that "the, God of peace shall be with you" when we do these things; then -we can only be safe by following this course. Any other course will lead to confusion and contention, and the endless introduction of practices which are foreign to sound doctrine.
A thing may be authorized by necessary inference. For instance, we are commanded to "go," "teach," and "baptize" (Mt. 28:18, 20). It is necessarily inferred that we must find a way to go, a way or a place to teach, and a place to baptize. We have specific authority for what is to be taught (the gospel), and specific authority as to the design and importance of baptism (Rom. 6:3-5) but we have general, authority for anything necessary to carry out the teaching and do the baptizing. Whether the authority is general or specific, it is authority nevertheless, and the giving of a command or approved apostolic example also authorizes us to do whatever is necessary to carry out that obligation.
Here is where we need to be careful. Some try to get instrumental music, creeds of men, and human institutions in this category, claiming they are "aids" or "expedients" in carrying out the will of God. However, we have been told what kind of music to use, what gospel to preach, and what institution is the "fullness of Christ." (Col. 3:16; Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 1:22, 23). Remember, the act must first be authorized, before incidentals employed in carrying out that act are authorized. Let us not do something else, and then claim we are only doing what the Lord said do.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 31, pp. 5-6