Are We Bound By Examples

To my mind, it is not correct to say that the examples of inspired men represent divine instruction. Neither the Christ nor the Holy Spirit have had speech problems; when they wanted to give specific instruction, they gave it. It is presumptuous to assume examples as commands. First century church activities should not necessarily be our criterion for perfection in worship, life, or practice. Our King has allowed us much more flexibility in method and practice than we are willing to allow ourselves. It is this very inflexibility of attitude that has, through the centuries, been the cause for most of the divisions and animosity existant in those who claim to follow Jesus Christ.

As an example of our misapplication of example, consider the imperatives we derive from the single verse of Acts 20:7, "on the first day of the week, when the disciples met together to break bread, Paul preached to them." First, we assume that the first day of every week is the time to meet together; next, we assume that we are to "break bread" the first day of every week; thirdly, we assume that to "break bread" is necessarily eucharistic communion; next, we assume that we are to have "preaching" the first day of every week; even though a more literal translation would be "Paul talked with them. There are no reasons to assume any of these separate premises; much less is there reason to assume all of them, as we have done.

Note in verse 42 of Acts 2 that teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (not necessarily eucharistic communion), and prayers are mentioned, but "worship services" are not mentioned, perhaps because these Christians were constantly worshipping God in all their activities. Note also that fellowship (not fellowships) ranked next to teaching in importance, perhaps suggesting that our meeting should be primarily for the purpose of strengthening each other, in humility remembering that any perfection that we may possess is by imputation from the Christ. - Gene Peacock