Copyright © 1997, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas

     In matters of everyday life, people usually like to walk the sure path in everyday affairs. Examples are: (1) A chemist will mix chemicals and he is reasonably sure that it will not explode in his face. It would be dangerous to take two chemicals and mix them if he is uncertain about how they will react. (2) People usually do not cross bridges if the sign in front says that there is a 10% chance of getting across; they pick the one that has a 95% certainty of getting across. (3) No one will jump out of an airplane with a parachute they are unsure of. (4) Most people try to give their boss something for Christmas that they know he likes instead of just making a guess at it.

     Yet, it is a curious thing that in matters of religion most people don't seem to care about believing and doing what they are certain of. They walk both sure and unsure paths toward God. And when questionable things are done or believed, religious division occurs.


     Consider this analogy: Father's Day is coming up. He has made it known that he really likes fancy Jellybeans. No question on this. But you like chocolate. You are not real sure if dad likes chocolate or not. He has never said anything one way or the other. It is a questionable item. What are you going to get dad? What will love for dad direct you to get?

     Now, God is our Father. The only way we know what He likes is through what He has told us in the New Testament (1 Cor 2:11). What will we give him? Will it be those things and attitudes that are questionable or those that are certain to please him (as revealed in the New Testament)? What will love for God motivate us to do?


     What about baptism? There is no question that the New Testament practice and teaching point to immersion in water and the corroborative testimony of church history firms up this conclusion. This is a "sure thing." Will that be our practice? Will we change this and offer other options according to our likes and dislikes? What will love and honor for God motivate us to do?


     Take, for example, the Lord's Supper. It is a without question that Jesus wants us to remember Him by "breaking bread" (Mt 26:26-29). And Jesus told His Apostles to teach the disciples how to observe it (Matt 28:20). Hence, meeting on the first day of each week to take the Lord's Supper has apostolic approval (Acts 20:7) and must have come from apostolic instruction (Matt 28:20, Acts 2:42). And since the death of Jesus and His resurrection are literally tied together (Rom 4:25), then logically the memorials that mirror those events are tied together. Hence, the practice seen in Acts 20:7 has a clear theological design and is centered on the core of the gospel. So, why change it into something that is questionable? What other day would fit the picture like the first day of the week (Lk 24:1-20, note that the first day of the week = the third day = resurrection day)? (It is interesting that the early church was not taught to meet on Thursday, the day when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. That would have been a logical choice.)

     The Acts 20:7 practice is corroborated by early church history (see Ferguson, E., Early Christians Speak, pp. 81-105, Sweet Pub. Company, 1971). And there is a practical design to it: 52 times a year a person is reminded of what Christ has done for them and its vindication by the resurrection! What other practice can deliver this? God's wisdom is surely apparent. Shall we modify it or honor it? To use the analogy above, why offer God, the Father, "chocolate" when it is revealed that He likes "Jellybeans"? Wouldn't love, respect and trust for our Father motivate us to follow the sure path in this matter?

     An attempt to counter the force of Acts 20:7 is to ask, "Why not also take the Lord's Supper in an 'upper room' with 'many lights'?" First, place is not important in Christianity (John 4:21). Second, the Lord's Supper and Resurrection day are memorials to key events of the gospel. What is the gospel significance of rooms, lights and windows? Third, Christianity moves in the progress and culture of the first century. They had to meet somewhere. They had to get around somehow . . . by horse, walking, or chariot (Acts 8:28). There is such a clear, common-sense contrast between Christian practice as seen here and the ordinary ways of the first century that it seems to be a mere "quibble" to ask the question above.


     Look at the instrumental music issue. In the Old Testament, God asks for instrumental music to be used in worship to Him (2 Chron 29:25-26, Ps 150). There clearly was no question about it. It was a "sure thing." Note this contrast: God has not said one word to that effect in the New Testament writings as per worship! As such, using instrumental music in New Testament worship is questionable as per pleasing God.

     Everyone admits that acapella music is acceptable to God. This is because singing is an apostolic directive (Eph 5:19, etc.). And if the use of an instrument is in Eph 5:19, then it took the church about 500 years and a Pope to discover it! The Greek Orthodox Church still hasn't found it; hence, they just sing to the Lord. This is even more interesting since the Greeks read Eph 5:19 in the original Greek language like we read a newspaper! So why divide the church on a questionable item?

     The contrast is clear. Why not give our Father what he has asked for and leave off what he has not asked for? What else could love for God and trust in His wisdom motivate us to do?

     The case against instrumental music above is not based on silence but on a contrast in what is being asked for by our Father. To see how we understand the principle of contrast in instructions, consider this: At basketball camp, a coach left written instructions for his team to go down and do lay-ups with "dunks." That was their practice. This year, he wrote instructions for them go down and do lays-ups. Same context, but contrast the instruction. This year, "dunks" were left out. He did not ask for them. Was this by oversight or design? Did the coach have a different purpose? What would be the wise thing for the team to do to please the coach? What practice could they be sure of? Would it be presumptuous to practice as they did last year and argue, "But last year you said . . ."

     When God gives contrasting instruction between the Old Testament and New Testament worship, shall we argue, "But in the Old Testament you said . . ."?


     The Restoration Plea deals with following the "sure path" in religion. It is not a restoration of first-century ways of moving, dressing and eating but of a Christ-centered religion . . . one that is internal, not physical, as contrasted to the Old Testament system. The New Testament way is aimed to conform us into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). The "sure path" is to trust what God has revealed in matters of worship, etc., (1 Cor 2:11) and leave off what is questionable as per God's design of things.

     So, what path will you follow? The way that is certain as far as being pleasing to God or the way that is uncertain?

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