By Jimmy Tuten, Jr.
We conclude our study of the second assembly communion with a discussion of the “One-Meeting” theory. According to this position there can be held, scripturally, only one service each Lord’s Day for the purpose of partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an individual congregation. Those who were unable to attend the meeting were the communion is served have no right to meeting at the church building at some other time to commune with their Lord. This second meeting for the Lord’s Supper is considered as an innovation.
The Theory Answered
Those who take this position are really saying, “If you do not worship with us at the time and place where we worship, we will forbid you to worship at all.” There are some conclusions we need to consider. I realize that in pointing out the consequences of a theory we do not necessarily prove it unscriptural by the Bible, yet it can be shown that their position leads to some rather foolish results. It certainly indicates that the reasoning leading up to the conclusions needs to be reexamined to detect the faults.
Now take times of disaster or persecution for example, when the church could not gather in one place. We have always felt that it was the privilege of Christians to gather from house to house in small assemblies to engage in divine worship. Such would be out of order according to the “One-Meeting” theory. According to this position the Lord’s Supper could not be served until the entire church could once again assemble in one place. In Acts 8:4 when the Jerusalem church was scattered except the Apostles, we have this unique situation: The very disciples who were present when the communion was instituted could not now gather to observe it because the whole church could not meet with them. This is a foolish conclusion to draw, yet it is the necessary conclusion to the “One-Meeting” theory.
If we should accept the One-Meeting-in-one congregation theory, there is perhaps a solution to the problem: form two congregations! Let those who work in the morning form a separate congregation. The regular time of worship for this congregation would be Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. Those who do not work in the morning would be in a separate congregation which would observe the communion at 11:00 a.m. These two congregations could use the same building, employ the same preacher, and work together in every way. Those who attend at night could invite those who attend during the day to visit with them at the evening worship. If for some reason a brother who usually works in the morning did not have to work some particular morning, he could visit with the 11:00 a.m. assembly, and take communion.
There is nothing unscriptural about visiting other congregations. We certainly would be justified in establishing a congregation for the convenience of time as to establish one for the convenience of place, as is often the case.
Some Proof Texts Exampled
(1) Acts 20:7-The word “together” in this passage is said to prove that all members of the Troas met in one place at one time to partake of the Supper. The truth of the matter is that “together” modifies the verb “came” and answers the question “where”? The word “together” does not demand that all disciples eat the Lord’s Supper in one assembly on the Lord’s Day. The word “together” does not prohibit a second assembly for the benefit of those unable to attend the first assembly.
Arguing that it is sinful for just one disciple or a few to eat in a second assembly is just a dodge. Actually, those who teach this false doctrine admit that it would be just as sinful for 1,000 to eat in an evening assembly if some disciples had already eaten in an earlier assembly. Sometimes we are challenged to produce a passage which shows that one disciple ate the Lord’s Supper alone. A disciple never eats alone when he partakes of the communion scripturally, for in eating and drinking he eats and drinks with Christ (1 Cor. 10:16-21).
Let me suggest also that when Acts 20:7 states that they met to “break bread”, the breaking of bread is no more important than the other acts of worship, such as singing, praying, etc. If mentioning the Lord’s Supper makes that more important than singing, etc., then the expression “breaking bread” makes the bread more important than the fruit of the vine. If not, why not? The facts are that the Bible frequently uses a figure of speech known as metonymy by which one thing is mentioned, but others are included and understood. The expression “breaking bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper; one part of the communion is mentioned but the other part is included and understood. Then the text says the disciples came together to “break bread” it simply means that they came together to worship.
(2) 1 Corinthians 11:20-This passage is used to prove that all must come together in one place at one time. If the passage is studied carefully, one will see that the emphasis is not on one as a definite number, but rather the idea of the word is some place or any place. It simply signifies a gathering at some place. Actually, this passage does not apply to the problem under discussion. Rather it forbids the spirit of revelry and gluttony accompanying the supper at Corinth.
It is interesting to observe that as far as we know from reading 1 Corinthians 11, the disciples were eating and drinking in one assembly. Yet, they were guilty of sin. The sin that brethren claim to find in the second assembly was found in the one assembly at Corinth. If brethren are guilty of sin today in respect to the manner in which they eat the Lord’s Supper would they not be guilty of the same thing condemned in 1 Corinthians 11? One could as easily be guilty of this sin in the first assembly, as in the second.
(3) 1 Corinthians 11:33-We are concerned in this passage with the expression, “tarry ye one for another”. If this passage has any bearing on the issue, it proves that those who meet at 11:00 a.m. are in the wrong by refusing to wait for those who are working in the morning and cannot come until later. Rather than condemn the evening service, it condemns the very ones who use this passage to condemn the evening assembly. The passage does not demand that people quit their jobs in order to attend the first assembly. It commands those who arrive earlier to tarry for the others. If some object that this would involve too long a wait, we ask, what else do you have to do? Do we not have an example of an all night service? Why not have an all day service?
This however is another case of mistaken application of scripture. It is too bad that people will wrest scriptures out of their setting and make them apply to some hobby which they are determined to justify in some way.
(4) Hebrews 10:25-Some make an effort to bind Hebrews 10:25 and Acts 20:7 together and come up with the theory that the Lord sets the day in Acts 20:7 and an hour in Hebrews 10:25. Such people admit that other assemblies are authorized, but have difficulty in showing such authority since they apply Hebrews 10:25 to one particular hour on the first day of the week. There is no one service of the church called “The Assembly”. To call the 11:00 a.m. service “The Assembly” is to depart from scriptural terms. This is just another example of objector inserting their opinion.
Hebrews 10:25 does authorize assembling. It condemns those guilty of forsaking the assembling. But Hebrew 10:25 does not authorize one assembly to the exclusion of all other assemblies. If so, where is the authority for the disciples to assemble a second time on the Lord’s Day? Where is a command for disciples to assemble twice on the Lord’s Day? Where is an example of the disciples assembling twice on the Lord’s Day? Hebrews 10:25 doe authorize one, two, three or more assemblies on the first day of the week.
We conclude this series of three articles on “Sunday Night Communion” by stating simply that when disciples
break bread in one assembly on the Lord’s Day they are doing that which is authorized. When other disciples break bread in another assembly at a later hour on the same day, they are only doing that which is authorized. If either changes the elements, or the day, or the manner of eating and drinking, they act without authority.
Abuses of the Lord’s Supper should be dealt with a Paul dealt with as such in 1 Corinthians 11. Those who do not respond to such teaching must be disciplined. However, it is not our obligation to throw the Lord’s Supper out of the assembly of the church in order to punish those who did not attend an earlier assembly. Why not deal with sinful members as they were dealt with by the Apostles? We did not advocate that the church cater to the whims of the unfaithful, rather such should be dealt with in a scripture manner.
Truth Magazine XXI: 7, pp. 104-105
February 17, 1977