March 1, 1986 Issue
by Don Mc Cord
The above caption is the theme of a recent issue of a religious journal that periodically crosses my desk. It deals with the impact of several things on the church; such as, "Missionary and Benevolent Organizations", "Instrumental Music", "Church-supported Schools", "Sponsoring church Arrangements", "The Social Gospel", "Premillennialism", "Located Preachers"; "Opposition to Cups and Classes"; "Calvinism on the Restorers", "Calvinism on the Church in this Century", and "Unity Movements". No one who has been in the church for long would deny that all these things have had their impact on the church of Christ.
This writer is concerned with all of these things. This presentation, however, is concerned with the article entitled "The Impact of Opposition to Cups and Classes". The writer manifested generally a good spirit. He makes some interesting statements to which I kindly direct the attention of my readers. He says, "I believe that opposition to 'cups' and 'classes' had and still does have an impact for good and bad ." And then, he so truthfully says, "An impact for bad is seen in the fact that contention resulted from both practices". I repeat, how true!! This writer knows firsthand; o' "lest we forget" the saddest Lord's Day I ever spent was more than 45 years ago, when I was in my teens, that those advocating "cups and classes" divided the little congregation where a few months before I had obeyed the gospel; this, as is true with most divisions, was done with no regard for Scripture or the feelings of others. Some of us will never forget the heartbreak, the tears and the devastation that such innovations and their advocates are responsible for; I, for one, as long as I have breath will not let them forget. I am and others are, dedicated to telling "the generation following", and this, Lord willing, we will do. The example mentioned is one of a multitude of them.
The brother recklessly says: "I am convinced that classes (group teaching) and cups (individual containers) were utilized in the first century church". Inexcusable is the man who will make such a statement and give not one Scripture to sustain it. For years, in the crucible of honorable controversy, brethren have begged these men to prove from the Scriptures their practice; let history testify - not one, I repeat, not one has done so. Such innovations were unknown to the first century church!
Under "Examples", we read the following charge: "One of the basic mistakes of those opposing classes and cups is to demand an example (record of action of the early church engaging in such practice". They demand an example of our practice while refusing to produce one for theirs." We kindly ask, where is the "basic mistake", when we demand an example for cups and classes from the Scriptures; if this demand is a "basic mistake," then it is a "basic mistake" for the brother, or any one, to demand an example for instruments of music, sprinkling for baptism, "missionary and benevolent organizations", "church-supported schools", and all other practices the brother opposes. Certainly, we demand an example for their practice, but our brother is mistaken when he says we refuse to produce one for ours; our practice is exemplified in the following four places; Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and I Cor. 11, I Cor. 14.
Our brother truthfully says, "A practice may be authorized without being exemplified". This definitely will not apply to cups and classes though, and for this simple reason. The practice that is exemplified, one cup on the Lord's Table, and one assembly with one man teaching at a time, is in direct opposition to cups and classes; the Scriptures do not authorize a practice that is contrary to the one exemplified. Please mark this well!!
The brother does not seem to understand when an example is binding. We dare not neglect an example or fail to follow or bind one, that is sustained by explicit command. More than one place in Scripture exemplifies the use of one cup and one loaf on the Lord's Table, public teaching in the church in one assembly, with one man teaching at a time, singing with no instrument; but, for one reference, please go with me to Paul's first Corinthian letter. In this epistle, he exemplified singing, one assembly for public teaching, one loaf and one cup on the Table and in chapter 14:37, he by inspiration asserts: "---the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord". Yes, examples sustained by explicit command are binding examples; let it never be disputed! Our brother tries to reason if one cup on the Lord's Table is a binding example, then the "upper room" is a binding example. Not so!! For the cup on the Lord's Table, there is example and explicit command, and a spiritual significance that we dare not overlook; whereas, the "upper room" has no explicit command, and no spiritual significance. The upper room was incidental as are many other things, therefore; this can not be said of the cup on the Lord's Table; it is not an incidental as the brother in this article tries to prove. When brethren stop scrambling their incidentals and essentials, and their figures, they will be able to better ascertain the truth on these issues.
In the article at hand, the brother has a difficult time trying to explain I Cor 11:25, and really ends up by denying it means exactly what it says. Paul, in quoting Christ, in the verse says: "This cup is the New Testament in my blood". The brethren who use individual cups cannot explain this verse; why can they not admit it, and stop trying? The cup on the Table of course is never empty; Christ was talking about a cup of the fruit of the vine, the strongest one cup argument I know, when He said, "This cup is the New Testament in my blood". We no more separate the cup and the fruit of the vine on the Lord's Table than we separate the Covenant and the blood that ratifies it. This is just how important it is to have one cup of the fruit of the vine on the Lord's Table. Our brother needs to learn, too, that for a volume of liquid to be called "a cup", "the cup", it of necessity is in a cup. This is logical; the scholarship of the world, religious and not, sustains this; Scripture does, too. And, dear reader, with that combination, you cannot be wrong in a practice. My mother's tea kettle used to boil; we would say, "The kettle is boiling", meaning the water in the kettle was boiling, but we never had a kettle boiling without the kettle; some times the radiator in my old car would boil, meaning the water was boiling, but my radiator never boiled without the radiator; just so, we never "drink the cup of the Lord" without the cup. Let none dare dispute it!!
One of the dangers of an article such as our brother wrote is that unwary readers are misled, will not study for themselves and will never learn the truth on the matter; they never see the other side presented, may never have the opportunity. Sad! Sad!
Innovations in the church have the greatest impact of anything I know, and by innovations I simply mean such things as instruments of music in the assembly, individual cups, and classes (Sunday School). The impact is so devastating because of the truth, for they (innovations) are errors of the rankest sort; because of the authority of Christ, for He does not authorize them (innovations increase human authority); because of true public worship, for they are essence of "will worship" and doctrines and commandments of men; because of the Bible, for they are anti-Biblical, unscriptural in every way; because of love, for they and their proponents oppose this, the greatest attribute; because of unity, for they and their proponents have historically caused division, rending the body of Christ; because of the soul, for they war against it; because of the very nature of the church, for they adversely effect her purity, unity and mission; because of the very nature of God, for they are the essence of presumption, taking liberties not approved; because of the very nature of error, for they lead away from the truth, the church, unity, God and the Book.
Yes, dear reader, let us be "wise as serpents, harmless as doves"; let us "speak as the oracles of God"; let us seek out the truth that we may know it, "lest we forget" what innovations have done and will do to the Body of Christ.
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