Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Throughout the history of the church it has been necessary for believers to reexamine the scriptural foundations of the church. It would seem that we as human beings have a tendency to fall into certain patterns of behavior and to stick to those patterns, losing sight perhaps of the original reason, or why these behaviors were adopted. To put it another way, mankind has a tendency to go their own way (Isa 53:6). This can be true even of believers.
Let me offer an illustration; I heard a story once of a young, newly-married woman who was preparing a roast one day for her family. At one point her husband saw her cut off a few inches from one end of the roast before placing it in the crock-pot. The husband asked, “Why do you cut off that part of the roast?” “That’s the way my mother always did it” was her reply. When they got a chance they asked her mother why she did that. She said that her mother always did it that way. Finally they asked the grandma what the reason was for cutting off that portion of the roast. She said, “Oh, I only did that because my crock-pot was too small to hold the entire roast.”
Now let me give an example of something that actually happens in some churches today. In the days before air conditioning (which some still recall) the meeting places would get quite hot in the summer. In order to compensate for this heat people would often open the windows to let some breeze pass through the building. In addition to letting in some fresh air, this would also often let in some flies. These flies would inevitably find the bread and sometimes end up floating in the wine (or grape juice). This renders these emblems somewhat unpalatable. A simple solution was found of draping a cloth other the emblems. In some assemblies, however, this ritual has survived even though the reason for it has ceased to be applicable. It seems to me that if our Lord gave us visual reminders of His body and blood then it would be preferable that we should be able to see them.
I propose to present a series of articles in which we examine the foundational principles of the church as found in the scripture. I want to carefully explore what is part of God’s pattern, and what is not. My purpose for this is as follows. There are many things which we might be practicing that are very important for the proper functioning of the assembly, yet if we do not know where they are taught in Scripture or understand why they are important, then they will be lost in successive generations. There might also be some things that are practiced that are not taught in Scripture and that are even hindrances to the proper functioning assembly. These may be things that run contrary to God’s principles, or they may simply be man-made things that are not the best. Thus in the language of Scripture we want to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).
One further comment, this series of articles is for Bereans only. When Paul preached to those in Berea we are told that they searched the Scriptures daily to find out if those things were so (Acts 17:10-11). I have no intention of presenting my view on things. I hope to study the Scriptures carefully with the readers, and come to an understanding of what God has to say on the subject of the church. This may require from time to time setting aside what “we have always thought,” or even setting aside what “seems reasonable” from our human perspective. Thus throughout this process I welcome comments, questions and responses, especially when someone does not think that I have given sufficient Scriptural justification.

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