PICK AND CHOOSE

Lee Howell

ave you ever wondered who decided which example or command is binding? Just how do some brethren decide these matters? I know some people who think that Sunday is the only day you can observe the Lord's Supper without sinning. Then, there are some who claim that musical instruments are sinful if you use them to sing praises to God. However, none of these people have ever shown me a passage of scripture to prove that these things are, in fact, truly sinful. The purpose of this article is to show why I disagree with those brethren who make such statements.

Have you ever heard someone make the statement that, "we must speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent"? How well do those who preach such actually practice what they preach? For example, the writer of Hebrews says "exhort one another daily" (Heb. 3:13). Is this binding? Am I a sinner if I don't exhort my brothers and sisters each day? Consider this scripture: "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). If someone doesn't hunger and thirst for God's word as a baby does his mother's milk, is he sinning? Consider 1 Timothy 2:9:"1 desire that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands". Must I raise my hands when I pray? What about the example in Acts 2:44-47? Must one sell his possessions and meet daily?

The point of all this is to show that those who make Sunday binding for the Lord's Supper and musical instruments sinful, do not make all examples, commands or inferences binding. They pick and choose those scriptures which are convenient to them. Now let us look more closely at the Lord's Supper and musical instruments.

LORD'S SUPPER

It is often taught that the example in Acts 20:7 is binding and we have no authority to observe the Lord's Supper on any day except Sunday. Please get your Bible and read Acts 20:7-11. Notice that Paul spoke to them until midnight. A young man fell down from the third story. Paul quit speaking to go down and revive the young man who died from the fall. Paul then returns and breaks bread. He continues to speak until midnight, which would make it the next day or Monday. Now, how do some brethren handle this scripture so as to hold to their teaching that Sunday is the only day to observe the Lord's Supper?

Burton Coffman, in his commentary on Acts, states that the Lord's Supper was observed on Sunday and then they had a common meal early Monday morning. He argues that in verse 7 the "breaking of bread" refers to the Lord's Supper; but in verse 11 ("he ... had broken the bread and eaten...!) it refers to a common meal.

Guy N. Woods, in his Questions and Answers book (page 350-355) states that they met according to the Jewish time (Saturday evening) and broke bread on Sunday morning after Paul preached till midnight. He argues that there is no support in the text to make "breaking bread" in verse 11 a common meal, and that it does refer to the Lord's Supper.

So, we see then, that to eliminate the "midnight problem'' one person argues that the meeting started on Sunday and there were two meals. The other argues that the meeting started on Saturday and there was only one meal which was served on Sunday morning. In this manner both writers dispose of the problem of the meal occurring after midnight in a way that will still allow them to keep their preconceived belief that the Lord's Supper must be only on Sunday.

Please read Acts 20:7-11 again. The text says nothing about the Lord's Supper. All it states is that they "broke bread". In Acts 2:42 and 46 we find the words "breaking bread". They did this daily. Was this the Lord's Supper? In Acts 27:35 they "broke bread". Was this the Lord's Supper? What about Luke 24:30, 35? "Breaking of bread" may refer to the Lord's Supper at times but then again, it may not. If God wanted us to understand Acts 20:7 as the Lord's Supper, I believe He would have said so. Now read Matt, 26:26 and 1 Cor. 11:23-27. In these passages it is very clear that "breaking bread" is the Lord's Supper. In Acts 20:7 it is not clear.

If Acts 20:7 is a binding example, then so is Acts 2:42-47. We must also greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20. etc). This leaves no authority for shaking hands. Some one may say that the holy kiss was just a tradition. By the same token, perhaps meeting on Sunday was just a tradition.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

Is it sinful to sing praises to God while playing a piano, harp, etc.? If it is, please show me a scripture that teaches such. I have heard lots of talk, but I have yet to find someone who can quote me a scripture that shows this practice to be sinful.

Those who argue against musical instruments must once again pick and choose. Please get your Bible and read Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16. Some brethren teach that to use musical instruments is unauthorized and to do so would be adding to these verses. If these verses teach anything negative, it is that not all songs are acceptable for exhorting and edifying one another and for singing praises to God. Only those songs which are spiritual would be acceptable. NOTHING IS THESE VERSES PROHIBITS THE USE OF INSTRUMENTS.

Those who argue that there is no authorization to use musical instruments need to consider that there is no authorization for multiple cups for the Lord's supper. We read that Jesus took "the cup" (Matt. 26:27). Our "one cup brothers" argue that to use multiple cups is wrong and we have no authority to use them because it is adding to the scriptures. Other brethren say that it is a matter of opinion and not faith, therefore, we can have multiple cups. These same brethren, however, say that there is no authority for musical instruments. Our "Christian Church brethren", however, say that musical instruments are a matter of opinion and not faith, therefore to use them is permissible. Here is another example where some pick and choose what is to be binding. If it is wrong to use musical instruments because the scriptures are silent about them, then it is also wrong to use multiple cups, because the scriptures are silent about them.

Burton Coffman states in his commentary on Eph. 5:19, that the use of musical instruments in the Old Testament was an innovative change made by David and that the Lord did not approve. He does not quote any scripture to prove his point. I believe that David did as the Lord commanded (Read 2 Chron. 29:25). Why would God allow the book of Psalms to be written if He did not approve of musical instruments? (Read Psalms 150).

The scriptures also teach us about singing in James 5:13 and 1 Cor. 14:2G. The word "Psalm" is used. What does this word mean? I believe that it means to sing songs with musical instruments. Compare several Greek lexicons. Some argue that the word has changed in meaning. Who changed it? Did God? Some argue that the instrument we now "pluck" is our heart. James 5:13 and 1 Cor. 14:26 mention nothing about the heart. Was God allowing sin in heaven when He was being worshiped with harps? (Rev. 14:23, 15:2&3, 5:8&9) Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).

Are not these examples? Many of the Jews still kept the law along with their customs after they became Christians (Acts 21:20-24). Wasn't it their custom to worship God with musical instruments? Do you think they burned their harps, trumpets, etc. when they were baptized? I believe that after studying the word "psalm" and reading Revelation, that the use of musical instruments can be scripturally justified. I don't believe that you can prove the view that they are sinful. If you insist that there is no authority to use them, then you must confront the proposition that there is no authority for multiple cups, church buildings, etc.

CONCLUSION

I have freedom in Christ (Gal. 5:13). I have been set free from the bondage of sin and from man's rules and regulations (Col. 2:16&17, 20-23)