Response to a Facebook Post: The Lord’s Supper on Sunday?
The following critique is a response to an AP Facebook post which took issue with the article “Sunday & the Lord’s Supper” on the AP website [https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1254&topic=446]. The article demonstrates that the Bible authorizes Christians to partake of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday and only on Sunday. While the author of the post makes no attempt whatsoever to answer the evidence presented in the article, he offers eight points that he considers to be adequate refutation of the article. The writer states emphatically: “I’m tired of people ripping scripture out of context and perverting it to make laws that God never intended.” A consideration of his eight points illustrates even further the validity of the referenced article and demonstrates, ironically, that such critics are often guilty of what they imagine in others.
“Was the Lord’s Supper Made for Man or Man for the Lord’s Supper?”
This statement is an allusion to Jesus’ affirmation in Mark 2:27—“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” The writer apparently assumes that the Lord’s Supper is a direct parallel to the Sabbath. It is not, but even if that were the case, what did Jesus mean by this statement? Did He mean that, since God intended the Sabbath to be a benevolent requirement in which both man and animal would be given a day of much needed rest, it was nothing more than a general guideline that could be altered or ignored at will if the situation necessitated it? And that, therefore, as a parallel, even if God indicated that the Lord’s Supper was to be observed on Sunday, He would not be so “nit-picky” or “legalistic” as to actually expect everyone to comply even if inconvenient?1 If so, how does one explain the following incident?
Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” So, as the LORD commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died (Numbers 15:32-36).
The fact that “the Sabbath was made for man” most certainly did not mean that God approved of violating the Sabbath. In reality, the meaning of Jesus’ statement in Mark 2:27 is that God built into the Sabbath law a compassionate regard for both man and animal—and no one should violate the very precepts that God designed for man’s good. While it was intended as a compassionate law for man’s good, it was not optional. However, the Jews of Jesus’ day had corrupted God’s original intentions by placing their own added restrictions and misinterpretations on the people, thereby losing sight of the original Sabbath laws.2 Further, the fact that every day belongs to God does not nullify the fact that God can and has set aside certain days and required people to observe those days in special ways (e.g., the Sabbath and the annual feast days under Moses and the Lord’s Supper under Christ).
“Some Look at Acts 20 As Creating a Law, I See a Narrative of a Miracle. Paul Brought a Man Back to Life. That’s Amazing.”
Yes, the performance of a miracle was certainly “amazing”—but why? Because it was intended to serve the purpose for which all miracles were performed by God’s emissaries: to confirm or authenticate the orally-presented Word.3 However, Luke’s report of Paul’s meeting with the Christians in Troas in Acts 20 surely had additional purposes—not the least of which was to clarify for all Christians for all time precisely what Jesus predicted would take place:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you…. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come (John 14:26; 16:13).
In other words, the apostles were charged and empowered by God to set into place the legal parameters of the Christian religion, enabling the churches to worship and live in accordance with God’s directives. The observance of the Lord’s Supper by the early churches, like Troas, was intended to be prototypical. It was a demonstration of God’s intention for all the churches. Paul made this very point abundantly clear several times in his remarks to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians: “as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia” (16:1); “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you” (11:23); “the rest I will set in order when I come” (11:34); “as in all the churches of the saints” (14:33); “the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (14:37).
Observe that the Facebook post suggests an underlying assumption that “law” is a negative, undesirable thing. But why would anyone speak derisively as if “law” is somehow bad or negative—and imply that God would not create laws for us? Throughout history, from the Garden forward, God has been a God of law. And His laws are neither “burdensome” (1 John 5:3) nor undesirable (Psalm 19:10). Quite the opposite, God’s law is “holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). An attitude that desires to view the religion of Christ as devoid of law is a shameful attitude—the very opposite attitude of the psalmist who expressed “love” for God’s laws and saw them as desirable and indispensable (Psalm 119:97; 19:7-14).
“Don’t Let Anyone Judge You About Keeping or Not Keeping Holy Days and Feasts.”
This misuse of Colossians 2:16 misconstrues Paul’s remarks which pertained to outdated Jewish regulations: circumcision, sabbaths/feast days, New Moon, etc. The context demonstrates that he was saying that one must not allow himself to be judged for refusing to observe obsolete religion (i.e., the Law of Moses was no longer in effect—Hebrews 8:13; 9:15-17; Romans 7:6; Colossians 2:14). He was certainly not speaking of the religion of Christ. Those who practiced various doctrines that were not part of the religion of Christ were guilty of engaging in “the commandments and doctrines of men” and “self-imposed religion” (2:23). Likewise, observance of the Lord’s Supper on some day other than Sunday is a doctrine that came from the mind of man, not God. It is self-imposed—not God-imposed worship.4 In stark contrast, Sunday has been the premiere day of the week for the public worship of God via Christianity for 2,000 years, and the Lord’s Supper has always been associated with that first day of the week worship.
“Love God and Love Others, Those Are the Only ‘Must Do’s’ In the New Covenant.”
This allusion to Jesus’ remarks in Matthew 22:37-39 leaves the impression that loving God and loving fellowman excludes requirements like worshipping God “acceptably” (Hebrews 12:28). This misunderstanding of Jesus’ words advocates the notion that as long as we truly love God and others, there are no restrictions or requirements to which we are obligated to conform. Ripping Jesus’ words from their context, this view fails to realize that He was saying that the only way to love is to do so through God’s law. For example, when the law says, “Do not steal,” to steal would be unloving to the person from whom the person stole. The laws of Christ that forbid lying, cheating, committing adultery, etc. are divinely intended to specify how to conduct oneself in a loving way. Hence, as Paul made clear, love fulfills the law by obeying it (Romans 13:8-10). Jesus reiterated the same thing in John 14:15—“If you love Me, keep My commandments” and in John 15:14—“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John did the same in 1 John 5:3—“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” No wonder the psalmist declared: “I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly” (Psalm 119:167). No wonder God stated emphatically to the Israelites of Jeremiah’s day: “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people” (Jeremiah 7:23). So the only way, by definition, to love God and love our fellowman is by obeying God’s commands which, in turn, define how to love.
“If a Group Gets Together During the Week and Wants to Honor God and Remember the Sacrifice that Jesus Made, Who Are We to Judge Them?”
This mindset elevates human motives and preferences above God’s instructions. But God has always required both from people—good motives and conformity to His instructions. One cannot and must not elevate one above the other. The chart below demonstrates God’s will on the matter.
According to God, one may not “honor” Him without complying with His directives as to how to do so. Moses recalled God’s explicit articulation of this very fact immediately after He burned to death Aaron’s two sons: “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored” (Leviticus 10:3, NASB). When the two boys chose to offer “unauthorized fire” (vs. 1, ESV), they dishonored God. It would do no good to complain: “If those boys wanted to get together and honor God by sacrificing to Him, who are we to judge them?” The same may be said for many other individuals in Bible history who sought to approach God, but they did so without following divine protocols and were rejected accordingly, including Cain (Genesis 4:5), Saul (1 Samuel 13:9ff.; 15:20-23), Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7; 1 Chronicles 15:13), Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-18), et al. It is just this attitude that has led to a host of other alterations in Christian worship, including candle lighting services, sprinkling babies, instrumental music, choirs, rosary beads, the papacy—the list is endless. All such illicit innovations come from the mind of men and do not honor God (cf. Colossians 2:23).
Further, the querist asks: “Who are we to judge them?” The use of the word “judge” with regard to those who alter God’s worship directives by partaking of the Lord’s Supper during the week is also a misuse of Scripture. “Judge not that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) certainly does not exclude making accurate applications of Scripture in ascertaining correct worship. We are not guilty of unscripturally judging individuals simply because we point out that they have made changes to God’s Word and engage in “will worship.” Rather, Jesus made plain that He and His Word judges them (John 12:48). We’re simply observing, acknowledging, and calling attention to God’s own judgment on such conduct. Read 1 Corinthians 5:12-13.
“The Law of Sin and Death Was Nailed to the Cross.”
Paul stated that the law of sin and death, i.e., the law that pronounces spiritual death upon you when you sin (Romans 8:2), is still in effect. The only way a person can escape the guilt of sin is by the law of the spirit, i.e., the Gospel of Christ. Yet the only way to embrace the Gospel of Christ is via an obedient faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26) which includes such “do’s” as faith (Romans 5:1), repentance (Romans 2:4), oral confession (Romans 10:10), and immersion (Romans 6:3-4). These are divine obligations, i.e., “laws.” Does anyone honestly think that all law has been eliminated in Christ? If so, can we now lie, cheat, steal, and murder with impunity? Or does Jesus Christ have laws against such actions that remain in effect? He absolutely does! The New Testament is filled with laws from God to which both Christians and non-Christians are amenable. For example:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
“Let’s Come and Fellowship Around the Lord’s Table Not Because We Have To, But Because We Can, Through the Love and Grace That He Gave Us.”
Such statements imply that striving to conform precisely to God’s directives regarding the Lord’s Table makes a person guilty of observing the Lord’s Supper only because he has to—again, betraying an attitude of aversion toward law and a disrespectful attitude toward the God Who gave us His laws. But, as already noted, God requires both complete conformity to His specifications as well as a proper attitude of gratitude for His love and grace. The complete inconsistency and self-contradiction of such thinking is seen in the fact that the only way a person even knows about the Lord’s Supper is that it is set forth in Scripture. So why is the questioner not guilty of legalistic behavior for observing the Lord’s Supper, but the person who observes the Lord’s Supper when God said to do so is disingenuous and guilty of making laws God didn’t make? In fact, according to the same “reasoning,” the accuser is guilty of what he imagines in others if he conforms to any of the religious requirements of the New Testament—including prayer, singing, giving of his means, reading the Bible, and so forth. Are any of these actions necessary? If even one is viewed as required, the accuser is guilty of what he condemns in others.
“This Article (Which Is Just Another COC Denominational Creed) Is Another of the Many Reasons I’m No Longer A Part of the Church of Christ Denomination.”
This disparaging allusion to the church we read about in the Bible as a “denomination” is equally inaccurate, unscriptural, and indefensible. After all, Jesus did declare He would establish His church (Matthew 16:18), did He not? Is the questioner suggesting that that very church cannot exist today without being a denomination? If Isaiah, Micah, and Daniel could predict that God would eventually establish His kingdom/church on Earth (Isaiah 2:1-5; Micah 4:1-5; Daniel 2:44), and Jesus then stated emphatically that He was about to do so during the lifetime of His apostles (Mark 9:1), and He did just that 50 days after His crucifixion in the city of Jerusalem in Acts 2, why would anyone speak derisively of that church and act as if it could not possibly exist today—or that it is to be equated with the entire denominational world that consists of a host of conflicting doctrines and practices invented by mere men?5
1 Situation ethics is clearly condemned in Scripture. See Dave Miller (2004), “Situation Ethics—Extended Version,” https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=645&topic=38.
2 See Dave Miller (1996), Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications), pp. 410ff.
3 E.g., Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4. See Dave Miller (2020), Modern-Day Miracles? Do Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, & Holy Spirit Baptism Occur Today? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press)
4 Various English versions capture the meaning of the term Paul used in Colossians 2:23 to pinpoint the concept that Christians have no right to adjust, alter, or supplement God’s directives, including “will worship” (ASV/KJV/YLT), “self-imposed religion” (NKJV/NRSV/OJB), “self-made religion” (ESV/NASB/ISV), “made-up religion” (ERV), “part of a human religion” (NCV), “self-chosen holiness” (NMB); “vain religion” (Wycliffe), “self-imposed religious piety” (MOUNCE).
5 For more on the origin of the New Testament Church, see What the Bible Says About the Church of Christ, https://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/wtbsatcoc.pdf.
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