Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                             July 22, 2012                                                                                                                                                                NO. 26




Too many churches are plagued with an attendance problem. Some Christians think if they partake of the Lord's supper Sunday morning there is no need for them to assemble with the saints that evening or mid-week. This accounts largely for the difference between the crowd Sunday morning and the few that assemble Sunday evening and during the week.


I have seen some who would come and partake of the Lord's Supper and then leave immediately. They would not even stay for the remainder of the one service, much less come to another. Then there is the story of the vacationers who asked that the Lord's Supper be brought out to their car so they could take it and then be on their way without sin. What is ahead? Buildings with drive in windows so one can drive through, take the Lord's supper and be finished with his duties for the week? I do not think it works that way! Many seem to think that the Lord's Supper is the most important part of worship. Some think that to partake of the Lord's Supper is the only reason we are commanded to assemble. All the rest of the things we do - sing, pray, preach - are just to fill the hour. They consider them incidentals. It is just a good time to do some of them since we are already come together.


Their reasoning seems to be based on Acts 20:7, "When the disciples came together to break bread . . ." This shows purpose (it is argued); and it is the only purpose mentioned in this passage. This is the same grievous mistake made by those who advocate "belief only" for salvation. They have seized one passage on the subject and have looked no further. Other passages tell us other reasons for assembling together.


Some have tried to limit Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . ." to the assembly at which the Lord's Supper is offered. But, it is not so limited. Note the context of the passage. The Lord's Supper is not even under consideration. The writer has instructed us to consider one another and to provoke one another unto good works (v. 24). This is the purpose of the assembling spoken of in the text.  It is for edification and exhortation.


When one looks to the early church, he finds that "togetherness" is stressed. The early Christians met together often and for many different reasons. Sometimes they assembled together to learn what was happening in the name of the Lord and to pray and to praise God (Acts 4:31). Occasionally they met to discipline the unruly (1 Cor. 5:4). They assembled to make provisions for caring for the benevolent needs of disciples (Acts 6).  All of this was in addition to and along side of meeting for the purpose of teaching one another and exhorting one another and partaking of the Lord's supper. These passages and examples are given to us for a reason. They are worthy of imitation.

Does not our attendance say something about our attitude toward God, the church, and things spiritual? Attendance is a good thermometer by which to gage our spiritual temperature. Whose company is it that we deem higher than the saints of God?  What is it that we do that we think is more profitable and enjoyable than singing, praying, or learning of God? May we all assemble as often and for as many good reasons as did the Christians of old.


                             ---Harold Hancock    

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Imagine this: you walk into a fast food restaurant and order a hamburger, fries, and a coke - the all-American meal! But then, you notice that it seems to take an unusually long time to get your food. Finally, the gal at the counter brings up your order - piles of food on three separate trays! "What's all of this?" you ask. "Well", answers the waitress, "it's one of every item on our menu. Your bill comes to $85.68". You protest: "I didn't tell you to bring me all of that food!" "But”, she replies, "you didn't tell me not to".

Could this happen? Of course not! We all know that when you specify what you want, you automatically eliminate other options. We operate with this understanding every day. In fact, this logic is so standard, that we don't even think about it. When you order something from a catalog, or call in a pizza, or write a grocery list, you naturally assume that it is understood that you want only what is specified, and nothing else.

What's the point of all this? Simply that in religious matters we ought to employ the same logic. God has perfectly revealed through His word what He wants us to do in His service. We should naturally assume that since He has told us what He wants, other things ought to be left out.

For instance: What about music in worship? The New Testament specifies singing - there is no mention of instrumental music in New Testament worship. Since God has told us to sing, and nothing else, we ought to do just that. Someone answers, "But it doesn't say not to play instruments". The Scriptures don't have to say not to - that's the whole point.

---Greg Gwin

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"Take Heed that you do not your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:1). True righteousness is primarily "God-conscious" rather than "man-conscious." God is pleased as we sing His praises, or teach His truth, or lead in prayer, or help the needy, or give to support His work, if our purpose is to gain His approval and being glory to His name. But woe to that person who sings for the purpose of displaying his beautiful voice. Woe to that person who seeks the praise of men as he leads in prayer. Woe to that preacher who "tickles the ears" of his listeners. Woe to that person who gives to be seen of men. When he gains their praises, he "has his reward in full"; none awaits him from the Father in heaven.

In keeping with this teaching, the Bible reveals God's judgment of two different couples, one enjoying God's approval, the other suffering His disapproval. God disapproved of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). His disapproval was not because of the amount of their offering. They had brought a very liberal offering. They had even sold a possession in order to give, and while we do not know what portion they brought, they obviously brought what they thought would be sufficient to impress the apostles. But herein lies the key to their real problem: They were more conscious of men's reaction to their benevolence than they were of God's. Had they been conscious of God in what they did, and had they been seeking His approval, they would not have lied. But they did their righteousness "before men, to be seen by them," and, in their concern for impressing men, they lied concerning the amount which they brought.

In contrast to Ananias and Sapphira, there were Zacharias and Elizabeth, or whom it was said, "And they were both righteous before God" (Luke 1:6). While many, no doubt, observed their righteousness and, as a result, glorified the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), Zacharias and Elizabeth obviously were not as concerned for man's approval as they were for God's approval. It was God's approval that they sought; it was His approval that they gained. God blessed Zacharias and Elizabeth, choosing them to be the parents of John, the forerunner of Christ. He punished Ananias and Sapphira with immediate death, and, in keeping with Jesus' statement of Matthew 6:1, they "have no reward from your Father who is in heaven."

Hypocrisy is loathsome to the Lord. For a person to appear outwardly religious and sincere, while inwardly he only desires the praise and approval of men is to be guilty gross hypocrisy. Let us seek always to do our righteousness before God to be seen of Him. The glorious and eternal "reward of the Father" cannot be compared with the fickle and fleeting praise of men.

---Bill Hall

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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