1st Corinthians 10:23
When Paul wrote that “all things are lawful for me”, he did not intend that to be taken in the broadest, literal sense. If nothing was unlawful, there could be no sin. Within the realm of all things that are lawful, some things are helpful, or expedient, and others are not.
1. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16
Preaching is certainly lawful. It is required for the spread of the gospel, necessary for souls to be saved.
2. Ephesians 4:15
Lawful preaching means telling the truth, and telling it in such a loving manner.
3. 2nd Timothy 2:2
To be qualified to preach, one must simply be faithful and able. Faithful means he lives what he tells others; he’s not a hypocrite. Able means not just that he knows the truth, but that he can present it in such a way as to be understood.
4. 2nd Timothy 4:2; Acts 20:27
Properly done, preaching leaves out nothing at all. It presents both negative and positive aspects.
1. 1st Corinthians 14:34; 1st Timothy 2:12
Unlawful preaching includes preaching by women to men.
2. Philippians 1:15
Improper motives may be a problem. There is no value in competing with fellow preachers.
3. Romans 2:21-24
Hypocrisy is always wrong. We must not engage in activities that we preach against.
4. Galatians 1:6-9
Preaching the wrong gospel is condemnable. The truth is straightforward. There is no reason to stray.
5. Ephesians 3:10-11; 1st Timothy 3:15
Since the church was eternally planned by God to make known the truth and exists as truth’s foundation, then there is certainly no need to establish other institutions through which the gospel is proclaimed. Colleges, summer camps, ladies’ retreats, missionary societies, and such like are totally unnecessary and unlawful for spreading the Word of God.
1. Nehemiah 8:4-5
When Ezra peached, he did so from a platform of wood, elevated above the people. This facilitated the effort and was helpful, but is not essential in all settings.
2. Acts 17:17; 19:9; 20:7-8
Some locations for preaching are more helpful than others. Paul preached in marketplaces, synagogues, schools, and unspecified upper rooms. He would transition from one to another based on local circumstances.
3. Acts 8:30; 21:1-3
Preaching requires going (Mark 16:15), but the means of conveyance are optional. Philip ran, while Paul often sailed.
4. Acts 21:10-11
Visual aids may be conducive to leaving a lasting impression. Not every sermon preached in the New Testament utilized VAs, but they may come in handy.
1. Colossians 2:12
A lawful baptism is a burial, submersion.
2. Acts 10:47-48
Lawful baptizing requires the application of water.
3. Acts 2:38
For a baptism to be lawful it must be performed in the name of Christ.
4. 1st Peter 3:21
Baptizing lawfully requires that it be done for the specific purpose of salvation.
1. John 3:23
Since correct baptism demands “much water”, a cupful won’t suffice.
2. Acts 18:25-26; 19:3-5
People baptized into John’s baptism needed rebaptism into Christ. It would be unlawful to simply have been baptized, but not correctly.
3. Romans 6:17, 3-4
Baptism must be the result of heartfelt obedience to a certain “form of doctrine”. A person who has been taught wrong cannot be baptized right.
1. Acts 8:36
When Philip baptized the treasurer of Ethiopia, they just happened to pass some water, and that’s what they used. One does not need a “baptistery” built in to a church building in order to baptize! Although, there is nothing wrong with using such.
2. Acts 16:33
Similarly, we can only guess what water source was used when the jailer of Philippi was baptized in the middle of the night. Whether we use bathtubs, hot tubs, swimming pools, lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, or baptisteries does not matter.
III. EATING THE LORD’S SUPPER
1. Mark 14:22-25
The Lord’s Supper is essential in keeping the memory Jesus. Doing so requires eating the bread and drinking the cup to memorialize the body and blood.
2. Acts 20:7; John 20:1
To lawfully partake, the Lord’s Supper must be eaten on the first day of the week, the same day Jesus arose from the grave.
1. Luke 22:15; Exodus 12:12-15
When the Lord’s Supper was instituted, Passover was in effect. The rules of Passover forbade the use or even presence of leaven. It would be unlawful, therefore, to eat the Lord’s Supper with anything other than unleavened bread.
2. 1st Corinthians 11:26
It would be unlawful to presume we may eat the Lord’s Supper “as often” as we wish, as if eating it on a Thursday is as valid as doing so on Sunday. “As often” just means whenever it is done.
3. 1st Corinthians 11:17-22
Eating it as a common meal would be unlawful. Eating it without coming together as a church in one place would be unlawful; for instance, taking it to an infirmed brother or sister laid up in the hospital, or bringing the so-called “elements” on a camping trip.
4. 1st Corinthians 11:27-34
The Lord’s Supper must not be taken while distracted or in a bad attitude.
1. Luke 22:17
Whether one cup or more are used is immaterial. Since Jesus told the disciples to “divide it” amongst themselves, they clearly were not confined to a single vessel. However, using just one cup wouldn’t matter either.
2. Acts 20:7
The disciples in Troas ate the Lord’s Supper in the evening. Morning would work just as well. We aren’t obligated as to the time of day.
3. The bread may be homemade or store bought. It doesn’t matter.
4. The Lord’s Supper may be eaten tableside with all members gathering around, or passed throughout the room. It makes no difference.
1. Ephesians 5:19
Proper music in worship is singing to each other and to God.
2. Colossians 3:16
Lawful worship songs are spiritual in nature.
1. 1st Corinthians 14:15
It would be inappropriate to sing what we do not understand.
2. 1st Corinthians 14:7-8; Matthew 9:23
The availability of instruments during the New Testament in such settings as funerals and warfare did not result in those instruments being incorporated into worship. It would be unlawful to add guitar strumming, drum beating, or trumpet blowing to the simple command to sing.
3. Ephesians 5:19
Singing songs that are not spiritual in type, but secular, would be unlawful worship. Singing that is not to-one-another, but rather a performance by a select choir, would be equally unlawful.
1. Some song leaders invite the members to stand during certain songs, while others are content for all to sit. It makes no difference, spiritually.
2. Which song book is used – Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, Songs for the Church, Songs of Faith and Praise, Praise for the Lord, or some other hymnal is merely a choice by the elders or members. Whether a songbook is used at all or if each song is projected onto a screen is ultimately irrelevant, being merely a matter of logistics.
3. Whether all present sing the same words simultaneously or if multiple parts are sung in bass, tenor, alto, or soprano is not a lawful/unlawful difference, but a helpful/unhelpful one.
1. 1st Thessalonians 5:17; Acts 2:42
Prayer is constant necessity. Christians ought to be steadfast in this habit.
2. Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17
Lawful prayers are addressed to the Father in Jesus’ name.
1. 1st Corinthians 11:4-16
A man praying with a covered head or a woman praying with an uncovered head prays dishonorably. (Of course, long hair is an acceptable covering for the woman.)
2. John 16:23; 1st Timothy 2:5
Correct prayer is not addressed to Jesus. After all, His role is that of Mediator.
3. 1st John 5:14; James 4:3
It is unlawful to pray selfishly.
4. Isaiah 59:1-2
Prayer uttered by an unrepentant sinner is prayer that goes unheard by God.
1. 1st Timothy 2:8; Ephesians 3:14
Some prayers are said with hands reaching toward heaven and some are said while kneeling on the ground. Either posture is appropriate.
2. Matthew 26:39; Acts 1:24
There are different names by which a petitioner may address the Father in prayer. While we must speak to Him, not Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, not angels or saints, the fact is that He answers to different descriptions of His deity.
3. Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17
Praying “in Jesus’ name, Amen” at the end of a prayer is a fine choice, but it would be equally valid to put those words at the beginning of the prayer, or even in the middle. And the wording may vary somewhat, as well.
By Bryan Matthew Dockens
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