By Larry Ray Hafley
From Indiana: “Is it scriptural to change a mid-week meeting service from group singing to Bible study or a Preacher Training Class under a stumbling block objection? The stumbling block consists of a family that feels their presence is not bound at the monthly singing service on Wednesday or Thursday night but is bound for Bible study or a Preacher Training Class scheduled instead. Since this is a stumbling block to them, is it scriptural to change the service under this pretense after studying with the family and showing them they are bound to attend the assembly unless providentially hindered? I realize the mid-week service could be changed to all preaching or studying, but can the above stumbling block objection be scripturally used as “the reason?”
What? Is “group singing” not “teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16)? It is a spiritual service because it consists of “spiritual songs.” This family’s feeling is capricious, arbitrary and self-serving. Truly, their reasoning, if not their sincerity, is suspect at best and weird at worst! There is nothing in the Bible nor in a “stumbling block objection” that says one household’s excuse for forsaking an assembly is to dictate the worship program of the church. Continue to study with them. Do not waste your time in endless wrangling that tends toward strife. Live an example before, them.
Stumbling Block Scriptures”
“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). This passage is probably one our querist had in mind. It tells brethren who differ over a matter of indifference not to condemn one another (Rom. 14:5, 6, 13). Both are received and accepted of God (Rom. 14:3, 4). But singing is not comparable to the eating of meats or the esteeming of days. It is not something which a church may regard or disregard. It is necessary for a church to develop its talents and abilities in praising God in song.
“It is good neither to eat flesh or drink wine nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Rom. 14:21). Remember, Paul is discussing matters of personal insignificance in the context. He is not saying brethren must succumb to the whims of every brother. He says, if necessary, abstain and refrain from those contextual inconsequential items that trip, offend, or weaken a brother. He does not say, “Put away an authorized function of the church if some brother decides to use it as a pretense not to do what God has commanded.” Will attending a special singing service cause one to stumble?
“Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor. 8:13). This text is dealing with “things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols” (1 Cor. 8:4). If a brother is “emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols” while he considers it to be in honor of a god, he sins and so do you by leading him to do it against his weak conscience (1 Cor. 8:7-12). If this family in question is “emboldened” to attend a singing service, will they sin when they do? No, hence, the text is not applicable.
If every scruple of every saint had to be bowed to, the church could not function. Suppose a family argued they were not preachers, therefore, they did not have to attend a “Preacher Training Class.” Should we disband the class for them? I know brethren who feel that no Sunday evening or mid-week service is essential to attend, and they do not attend. Shall we do away with those worship periods lest they sin by not attending? On and on we could go. Teach such people. Pray for them, but do not engage in contentious shouting matches that demean the gospel and embitter the soul. They are babes. Be patient with little babies, but do, not pet them. Too much acquiescent petting spoils babies, both the physical and the spiritual kind.
Truth Magazine XVIII: 7, p. 103
December 19, 1974