Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 30, 1950

The New Testament Pattern

J. C. Hay, Carter, Okla.

The New Testament church is made up of a body of men and women who have heard, believed, and obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 12:27; Acts 18:8) Paul spoke of them as the "body" of Christ. Luke says that they "that gladly received the word were baptized," and that "they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." (Acts 2:41-42) The New Testament church was always ready to give of its means to help their brethren who were in need of help (1 Cor. 16:1-3; Acts 11:27-30), and all Christians are to be of that mind (Gal. 6:2; Jas. 2:14-20). The relief was sent directly to the church that was in need of help. (Acts 11:30).

The pattern of New Testament Christianity calls for a working church. The Jerusalem congregation gives an. example of diligence in teaching both publicly and privately (Acts 5:42; 8:4) Preachers and teachers went into all the world to preach the gospel of Christ to lost and dying people. It was God's plan that those who preached the gospel were to be supported. (II Cor. 11:7-9; Phil. 4:14-18) The church supporting a gospel preacher in some distant field sent their support to that man directly; they used no agency, organization, or other group of men to direct the spending of their funds. All we do today must be such as is authorized by the Lord and according to the pattern set forth by Paul and other inspired men. Any departure from that example is a departure from the will of God. (Phil. 3:17; Col. 3:17).

Church And Schools

The primitive church knew nothing about a "Christian school." It did not depend on any school to teach its members how to preach or how to live a Christian life. The church did the teaching. So far as I know there is nothing wrong in Christian people building and supporting a school to teach their children. But the building of the school and its support is not the work of the church; it may be done by individual men, but is not authorized as a part of God's plan for the church. The church is under no obligation to support such a school in any way; nor is the church to depend on such a school to teach and prepare men to preach the gospel.

The New Testament churches did not do their work through some organization (either school or society). Each church did its own work as the Lord directed it to do. For example, when there came a need for some charitable or benevolent work, each church sent its own contribution to the place where the need was. (1 Cor. 16:1-3) They did not send their contributions to some distant place, for the elders of some other congregation to "oversee" it and distribute it in the needy field. Each congregation worked independently of all others; each church had its own elders, and these men directed the work of their own group, leaving all others to do the same. This is the New Testament pattern; any departure from it is a departure from the will of God.

Legislating For God

The New Testament is the law that God gives to direct the churches. No man, or set of men, has any right or authority to make any new laws, or to change any old ones. It seems some people, especially some preachers, have not learned that yet. But I know God did not overlook any good work or the way it should be done. If we are very careful to do exactly what he teaches, he is certain to bless us in the doing.

I hear a lot these days about Wednesday night meetings. Some men are now teaching that it is as essential to assemble together on Wednesday night as it is on the first day of the week. Now, I wonder where they learned that? I have never seen anything in the New Testament that reads that way. In fact, nobody has ever learned that idea from the New Testament. I have read what Luke said (Acts 20:7) and I understand that to teach the necessity of our assembling on the first day of the week. And I know that the early Christians did go about every day from home to home teaching the people (Acts 5:42; 20:20); I know that when they were scattered abroad they went "everywhere" preaching the word (Acts 8:1-4). But what has that to do with a Wednesday night assembly? In all the congregations only a few of the members assemble on Wednesday night; and in some congregations there is not Wednesday night assembly at all.

What did the Lord say about this? What legislation did he give concerning a mid-week assembly? Not one word. It will be well for those who teach that the Wednesday night assembly is an "essential" to read what Paul said about "going beyond the things that are written." (1 Cor. 4:6) Certainly there is no harm in meeting any time of the day or night; there is no reason why Christians should not meet every Wednesday night if they want to. But when a person, no matter who it is, tries to teach that such a meeting is as essential as is the meeting appointed by the Lord on the first day of the week, that person is teaching something which is not in the New Testament. He is "going beyond" that which is written. But Jesus will judge us by what is written. (Jno.12: 48).

Mid-week meetings, helpful though they may be, can never take the place of the personal teaching that Christians ought to do. Just go into any city where they have Wednesday night meetings, then go in any direction from the meeting house and count the homes that neither the preacher nor any member of the church has ever visited! We have a New Testament pattern for visiting in homes and trying to teach the people. Let us not neglect that in favor of something for which we do not have an example. I am not opposed to mid-week meetings; but I am opposed to anybody trying to make them equal to the Lord's day worship, and failing to do the personal work which the Lord commanded.