Jump Start # 2972
Acts 17:11 “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”
Many of our readers know that I have a passion for Restoration history. I will read and read about the old ways. The other day I was reading an article in the Gospel Advocate that was published in 1915. The eighty-three year old editor, David Lipscomb was writing about individual communion cups. He stated, “Some months ago I published an article opposing a change in the manner of partaking of ‘the fruit of the vine.’ I have somewhat modified my views on the subject since…I have reexamined the history and service of the Passover in the Old Testament and its transformation into the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament, and I have been led to doubt if all who partook of it drank from the same cup.”
Now, from this a few thoughts:
First, things that we are accustomed to had to be thought out and searched in the Scriptures. We think nothing of a church building. Originally, the disciples met in synagogues or homes. The first time someone suggested building a church building, some thought and examination of Scripture had to take place. We think nothing of individual cups for communion. I worshipped with a group overseas that used one container. I was told that they served from the back. I sat in the back. Someone came in late and sat behind me. But the transition from “one cup” to “individual communion cups” took some thinking, looking and consideration.
In our times, we have had to do some head scratching, Bible looking and thinking about things. Is giving electronically ok? Don’t just immediately say ‘yes.’ That ought to be thought out and considered. What about Bible classes via videos? What about using social media? Can the preacher be given a retirement package? Can a church only meet once on a Sunday? Can a church have only one sermon on Sunday?
Second, introducing new methods and ideas without thinking things through and searching the Scriptures can lead to series mistakes and departures from God’s divine pattern. Just because we like it or it is more efficient doesn’t mean that it meets the approval of God. What works in the business world doesn’t always work in the spiritual world. Our verse reminds us that those noble Bereans were hearing things like they never heard before. Instead of simply rejecting them because they were different or embracing them because they were new, they went to the Bible. They searched the Scriptures. Their “Scriptures” at that time would have been the Old Testament. It is there that they would have seen that the prophesied Messiah was Jesus Christ. Do your homework first, before you introduce or suggest new ideas.
Third, I appreciate that the old David Lipscomb was willing to change his views and even openly admit to that. Remember, Lipscomb was born in 1831. The Lord’s church in America was still in it’s first generation. In many places, the restoring principles were just being heard for the first time. Little log cabins is where most of those first American disciples worshipped. But by 1915, there was airplanes, automobiles and a world of change. Change is hard on older folks. How easily, Lipscomb could have stayed with the way he had always worshipped. But with thought, careful study, he modified his views. I hope I can be like that. Don’t be against everything new and different. Don’t be the negative one. Check it out. Do your homework. Then be flexible if the Scriptures allow it.
Fourth, there would be some who were not flexible. They were sticking with the one cup. No amount of reason, Scripture or common sense would move them. In time, congregations divided over this very issue. And, surrounding a memorial to remember the Lord’s death that not only united us with God but made us all one in Christ, this was used to get upset, mean and ugly and break fellowship. What was supposed to pull us together became the means to pull us apart. When on disagrees, make sure it’s Biblically based and not a matter of opinion. We stand united upon the Word of God, not one opinion.
An old man saw something and was willing to change. An old dog did learn new tricks. But the foundation in all of this is searching the Scriptures. The desire to please the Lord always comes before our desire to please ourselves. What I want doesn’t matter. What does the Lord require—now that is what matters.