How We Learn
From The Bible
Under the direct guidance
of the Holy Spirit, the apostles of Christ were to make disciples of all nations
- Matt. 28:19. They were the teachers of the
world, instructing all to deny ungodliness, worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously and godly in the world looking for the soon return of Jesus - Titus 2:12-13. By the time Peter was guided to write 2 Peter he claimed that all things pertaining to life and godliness had been given by the grace of God - 2 Pet. 1:3.
With the special divine grant these men were told, "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven" - Matt. 18:18 (NASBU). Paul, the last addition to this select group, wrote: "Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church - 1 Cor. 4:16-17. Apostolic instructions are the standard for every church that claims to belong to the Lord.
Apostolic instruction comes
not only through their direct teaching; it comes by observing the precedents
set by apostolic authority. They set divine
precedents the Lord intends his church to follow. Thus Paul could write, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample" - Phil. 3:17. (Note also Phil. 4:9). Following Paul means to imitate his model, to copy and duplicate the actions of the apostles.
How does one learn when apostolic precedents are to be imitated? There are a couple of maxims about biblical interpretation that determine this.
The Bible is a book or harmony. Interpreting one biblical teaching to contradict another is fundamentally wrong. Since the New Testament teaches us through precedents set by the apostles, no precedent is binding if it contradicts plain teaching found elsewhere in the Bible.
The New Testament is applicable to all men in this dispensation of time. Nothing the Lord requires of man to be saved and stay saved is beyond man's ability. Paul wrote the Corinthians about their giving and said, "it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" - 2 Cor. 8:12. Apostolic prededents that are in harmony with the sum of New Testament teaching and are possible in this present dispensation are binding precedents to be duplicated by the church.
It is evident that apostolic authority did not bind some things on the church. Paul required Titus to submit to circumcision "because of the Jews" - Acts 16:3. Paul also loosed this in his letter to the churches of Galatia - Gal. 5:6. Anything tied to custom or culture, not wrong in itself, is not necessarily bound on the church.
Only the apostles have the right to bind. When they set a precedent for the church to follow only they could loose it. We have a precedent that applies to the first day of the week -- Sunday. The fact that Acts 2:42 relates what was done on the first day of the week; the fact that at Troas the disciples met to break bread - Acts 20:7; and the fact that the Corinthians were to contribute of their material means on the first day of the week - 1 Cor. 15:2, sets a precedent for that day. A New Testament church must duplicate this today.
In the absence of any information
that these activities were done on any other day, the fact that nothing in this
precedent contradicts any New Testament teaching, and the fact that it is possible
in any age for the church to duplicate these activities on the first day of
the week, makes this a
precedent for us to duplicate.
The conclusion to which all this brings us is that we have precedent for meeting together on the first day of the week to observe the sacred memorial feast in memory of the suffering of Jesus. We also have the precedent of meeting on the first day of the week to contribute of our material means in order for the Lord's church to carry out its divinely assigned mission. The apostles bound the first day of the week. Where is there any evidence they ever loosed it?
Go to Part Three
By Dudley Ross Spears
Return to the General Articles page
Return to the Beginners page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /