The Demands Of Consistency
All people who are consistent are not Christians but all Christians are consistent! Consistency means, "having agreement with itself or with something else; having harmony among its parts" — Webster.
Christianity is a consistent religion. When one finds himself defending or practicing something which is out of harmony with other things backed up with scriptural authority, something is wrong. This person has either mis-applied the scripture he based his first practice on or the last one must be given up.
For example, Acts 20:7 says "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." This teaches us by APPROVED EXAMPLE that the only time for the observance of the Lord's supper is on Sunday. The authority of this passage is inclusive as well as exclusive. It tells us when to observe the Lord's supper and excludes any other time. This great truth has been proclaimed by faithful gospel preachers for years. Yet we have many people today who teach that Acts 20:7 is exclusive and inclusive but reject the same thing in 2 Cor. 11:8. We are also taught by APPROVED EXAMPLE that churches cooperated in the field of evangelism by sending directly to the evangelist. Hear the scripture, "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them to do you service." Goodspeed says in his translation, "I robbed other churches, letting them pay me so that I could work for you!" So we have it! Paul received his salary from the churches in Macedonia while he preached in Corinth. They didn't send his salary to Corinth and allow that church to pay Paul even though he was "their" preacher at the time. We have exactly the same thing in Phil. 4:16-18 where the church at Philippi sent directly to the support of Paul. This chapter even names Brother Epaphroditus as the man who delivered the money to him. Since Phil. 4 deals with only one church and not the cooperation of several, we shall focus our study on 2 Cor. 11:8. I might add just here that Acts 20:7 is the only scripture that supplies us with the proper TIME to observe the Lord's Supper; and I Cor. 11:8 is the only scripture that tells us HOW churches cooperated in the field of evangelism.
Let Us Notice The Parallel In The Two Passages:
I. (a) Acts 20:7 is an approved example. There is a difference in an example and one that is approved. The reason Acts 20:7 is binding is because the harmony and consistency of God's word teaches that this is the only TIME the Lord's supper was observed. No other scripture teaches that it was observed any other time since this is the only one that gives the TIME element.
(b) 2 Cor. 11:8 is an approved example. The reason 2 Cor. 11:8 is binding is because the harmony and consistency of God's word teaches that this was the only way churches (plural) cooperated. No other scripture teaches church cooperation any other way since this is the ONLY scripture that gives the HOW in the field of evangelism.
II. (a) Acts 20:7 excludes observing the Lord's supper any other time except Sunday.
(b) 2 Cor. 11:8 Excludes church cooperation any other way except sending directly to the preacher.
III. (a) But someone says, "the Bible doesn't say they didn't observe the Lord's supper on Thursday or some other time."
(b) But someone says, "the Bible doesn't say they didn't send the money to a church or some organization." ANSWER: We go by what the Bible says and not what it doesn't say in both cases.
Someone may ask, "What position do brethren take on these two passages"? ANSWER: There are about three positions advocated on the two scriptures, and they are as follows:
1. Those who are consistent and right.
2. Those who are inconsistent and wrong.
3. Those who are consistent and wrong.
The first group are those who accept both Acts 20:7 and 2 Cor. 11:8 as approved examples and are consistent in doctrine and practice.
The second group are those who accept Acts 20:7 as an approved example but reject 2 Cor. 11:8. This group not only violates the word of God but are inconsistent as well.
The third group are at least consistent! They reject both passages as being approved examples. Most of them teach that Acts 20:7 includes but does not exclude. They are also consistent by teaching the same on 2 Cor. 11:8. They tell us that churches have Bible authority for sending directly to the evangelist but it may be done other ways also. They say we have the authority to observe the Lord's Supper on Sunday from Acts 20:7 but it does not exclude any other day. A gospel (?) preacher in Arkansas expressed it this way to me; he said, "I believe we must eat the Lord's Supper on Sunday but I see nothing wrong in eating it every day if we desire." This man is consistent but wrong! I said, "have you told your elders your conviction on Acts 20:7". He said, "no," I believe lots of things that I have never told my elders" and so it goes.
A good friend of mine. Brother Gavle Oler, wrote me a letter dated December 23, 1955 in which he said about the same thing. This letter was written to me in answer to a question on Acts 20:7. I had asked Brother Oler about a statement made to Brother Tant in Mt. Pleasant. Texas. I shall give the letter in its entirety so that I will not be accused of mis-representing.
December 23, 1955 Mr. Ward Hogland
1900 Jenny Lind Fort Smith, Arkansas
Dear Brother Hogland:
I regard and respect your convictions about benevolent work, and I assure you that I also regard and respect every word the Bible says about the care of the fatherless. I believe as completely as anyone does that when the word of God testifies that is our standard. I also recognize that we are not obligated at all to abide by the preconceptions that we find ourselves often entertaining as regards the practices of our Lord's religion.
Brother Tant misrepresented me at Abilene, but as you know, he was hard pressed because he had no affirmations of his propositions and was concerning himself with everything else. The statement that I did make was "THAT BY THE EXAMPLE OF ACTS 20:7, I PROVE AND JUSTIFY MY RIGHT AND OBLIGATION TO EAT THE LORD'S SUPPER ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK." (caps mine WH) I further stated at Mt. Pleasant that if any person proposed to eat the Lord's Supper on any other day than the first day of the week, he does so presumptively and the burden of proving his right to do so rests upon him — it is no burden of mine to prove he has no right.
I further stated, and by the statement I stand, THAT AN EXAMPLE NEVER LOGICALLY CARRIES THE FORCE OF EXCLUSION — IT CARRIES ONLY THE FORCE OF INCLUSION. A SPECIFICATION CARRIES THE FORCE OF EXCLUSION, AND AN EXEMPLIFICATION CARRIES THE FORCE OF INCLUSION. THERE IS NO LAW OF LOGIC THAT WOULD PERMIT OTHERWISE. (Caps. mine WH)
I appreciate your writing me to see for sure what I said, and what my position is. It is lamentable that Brother Tant was careless; because, of course, he misrepresented me and as a result, there will be many young preachers — because of his misrepresentation — that will likewise misrepresent me, because they will not have the same carefulness that you manifested in writing me. Come to see me whenever you can, and I hope to see you again in the near future.
Faithfully and fraternally, Gayle Oler
I doff my hat to Brother Oler for at least being consistent! He saw the demands of consistency and gave up Acts 20:7. Why aren't others willing to do the same? Notice he says an approved example never carries the force of exclusion. That is about as plain as one could make it.
Brother Oler said if one eats the Lord's supper any other time he would have to prove his right to do so. Now would he? Or has Brother Oler proved it for him? If Acts 20:7 does not carry the force of exclusion has not the man already received his right to eat the Lord's Supper on Thursday night? If not why not? This is the only passage that deals with the time element and if it doesn't carry the force of exclusion the man has his right! Since the Bible teaches by (approved example) that each congregation is to have a plurality of elders — would it not be wrong for a congregation to have one elder? Is the force of exclusion here? Since the Bible teaches that baptism is a BURIAL would sprinkling be scriptural? Is the force of exclusion here? Brother Oler says it is not his burden to prove that a man does not have the right to eat the Lord's Supper any other time. Is it our burden to prove that it is wrong to use steak on the Lord's table? Is it our burden to prove that Instrumental music is wrong in worship? Is it our burden to prove that one Elder over a congregation is wrong? Is it our burden to prove that counting beads in worship is wrong? IF we take Brother Oler's logic could we scripturally oppose anything? Please don't let the love of an institution drive you to such an extreme position.
Brethren do you believe that Acts 20:7 excludes? If not where will we be ten or fifteen years from now in our worship and organization of the church? Can you have faith in a preacher who would tell you either in words or practice that Christians could eat the Lord's Supper on Thursday night? Yet this is being done all over the country. Why don't you ask your preacher about Acts 20:7 — and when he gets through ask him about 2 Cor. 11:8. If he accepts one why not the other? These matters are serious and far reaching. Where are you? Do you accept both or reject one and take the other? Brethren, please think carefully on these matters. We must be consistent and right!