Tommy Thornhill

Continued from last week. These are the principles Franklin observed and wrote down after his discussion with the ME (Methodist Episcopal) preacher.

FIRST. We have long since settled the question about the authority of the Bible. We receive what the Bible says IMPLICITY, or because the Bible says it.

SECOND. Then it is THE RULE, and there is not a reason in the world for not taking it and GOING BY IT. It is the rule, the final, the absolute authority. It must be received in all things.

THIRD. Then the gospel preached by the apostles – precisely no more, no less, no other – must be preached by us. What they preached then, or in their time, must be preached now.

FOURTH. The gospel preached by the apostles was precisely what the people were required to believe, and what they must believe to the salvation of their souls, or not be saved at all. 

FIFTH. The things commanded to be done in the preaching of the gospel by the apostles were the same things which they did that they might be saved. These things must be done for exactly the same purpose as they were then.

SIXTH. If, with precisely the same faith, the same things are done for the same purpose, the same result will follow. No man can give a reason against this conclusion.

SEVENTH. When persons are turned to the Lord now, or have become Christians, the same instructions imparted to the first Christians should be important to them, to show them how to serve God and be finally saved. If this is not so, then no man can show how we are to be guided to the everlasting city.

These are vital and fundamental matters, and no man can infringe on them, or treat them with indifference without being held in distrust. No man will turn around and repudiate them all at once, but those who turn away will depart little by little, introducing a little NEW, leaving a little OUT, and encroaching on these principles, first in this, and then in that. Such men will flounder and think themselves abused if we do not think white is black or black is white. We cannot believe without evidence. If men desire us to think they are sound they must give us the evidence to prove it and we will rejoice and believe it. They can easily do this if they are sound” -end of quote by Franklin.

With the above observations by Ben Franklin the preacher let me begin to answer “why we believe and practice certain things. Using the word “we” indicates I am referring to the congregation where I preach. As a congregation we have a divided class arrangement in the building to teach the Bible, we use multiple cups in serving the Lord’ Supper, we do not endorse women preachers and  women elders and we do not use  mechanical musical instruments in our worship services. People want to know why we practice these things as we do since there are congregations who practice otherwise.

In this series of articles, I am going to seek to defend the things we believe and practice here. As the preacher who stands before the congregation each week I am obligated to speak as “the oracles of God” 1.Pet.4:11. Therefore  I must be ready to show from the scriptures that the things we practice as a congregation are scriptural. We read from the inspired apostle Peter that we are to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” 1.Pet.3:15. So, let me begin with why it is scriptural to have divided Bible classes in the church building.

Before answering the question on whether it is scriptural (authorized) to have divided classrooms and classes in a church building to teach the Bible let’s clarify the fact that  God expects His word to be preached and taught Mk.16:15; Matt.28:19-20, 2.Tim.2:2; 4:1-5. From these scriptures and others not mentioned here, we learn that His word can be preached and taught in various ways to people. From a study of the book of Acts we can see that teaching the word of God was not limited to any one place or day. The gospel, the word of God, is portrayed as being taught both publically and privately. The apostles first taught it publically in the temple to a large assembly Acts 2. Later, we learn, they not only taught in the temple but also in every house Acts 5:42; 20:20. As the gospel was being carried throughout the world it was taught in various places, under varying circumstances, to various people. It was taught in the synagogue, by the riverside, in a jailer’s house, on a deserted road, in the marketplace, on a hillside. Sometimes it was taught to a few, sometimes to many, but the important thing is that it was being taught everywhere in various ways Acts 8:4.  

Since God did not limit where or how the word of God could be taught, we conclude the command to teach is a generic command which means God did not bind a specific method or means by which His word is to be taught. So how does this apply to a local congregation of God’s people? Is the congregation limited only to a certain arrangement or does the congregation have a choice?  We will study this in the next issue.

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