Tommy Thornhill

Throughout my years of preaching, teaching and writing I have always challenged people to examine the things I write and say from the scriptures. If anyone reading what I have written in this bulletin feels I am wrong in what I have written, then correct me and show where and how I have misinterpreted or misused the word of God. I don’t want to be guilty of violating the word of God by teaching error and leading people astray. You will be my friend in pointing out where I have erred Jn.7:17. So, let’s all heed the words of Isa.1:18“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD.”


I am getting ready to deal with the subject of “using a plurality of containers in partaking of the Lord’s Supper.” But first I want to make a couple of points about this series, “Why we believe and practice these things.” I use the word “we” in discussing the things we believe and practice in the church here at Etna, even though I am the one writing the articles. The word “we” assumes the brethren at Etna agree with me in the things I write. I certainly do not believe myself to be infallible (without error) in what I write or say, so the reasons I give for the things I write are based on my study and understanding of the scriptures. I sincerely believe the things I teach and write to be true, but I recognize the possibility I can be mistaken. If I am wrong, I need to be corrected. One day I will have to stand before God and give answer for the things I have believed and taught.  So, I want to make sure I am commended by the Lord, not condemned.

In previous lessons in this series I first sought to show that it is scriptural for a local church to have divided Bible classes conducted under the same roof in the church building, simultaneously. Since each congregation is independent, each congregation can decide for itself whether to have divided Bible classes or not. Whether they choose to have classes or not is the choice of the local congregation, but whatever they choose, they cannot bind or legislate their decision on other congregations.  

From that discussion I then launched into a study of whether a woman can be a public preacher, elder or teacher over men. Regardless of public opinion today to the contrary, it is unscriptural for a woman to be a preacher, elder or teacher over men publicly in the assemblies of the church. In this matter people in the Lord’s church have no choice. From the beginning, according to the scriptures, God assigned woman a subordinate role to man. She is not to exercise authority over man, but is to keep her place, which prohibits her from taking the public lead in a congregation. This is God’s order and we must respect it. Woman is not permitted to lead in the public assemblies of the local church.

Now, let’s consider the subject of whether a church can use a plurality of containers in serving the Lord’s Supper. This subject arises because there are some brethren who believe that when a local congregation serves the Lord’s Supper to the brethren only one container (cup) holding the fruit of the vine can be used. But the brethren here at Etna use multiple cups in serving the Lord’s Supper because we believe the scriptures allow us to do so. In fact, the majority of congregations with which I am acquainted use multiple cups in serving the Lord’s Supper. Are we wrong? Let’s study it.

As I begin, I want to make it clear the congregation with whom I am associated believes the use of multiple cups in partaking of the Lord Supper is scriptural. Not only do we believe it, we also practice the use of multiple cups in serving the Supper. If we didn’t believe it to be allowable with scriptural authority to do so, we wouldn’t practice it.  

On the other hand, brethren who believe in and practice the use of only one container (cup) in partaking of the Lord’s Supper are sincere. I do not claim they violate any scripture in choosing to use only one container in serving the fruit of the vine. But I do believe they violate the scriptures when they seek to bind their belief and practice on brethren in other congregations who believe it is allowable to use multiple cups. This is a sin, seeking to bind something God has loosed.

Whether to use one cup or multiple cups in serving the fruit of the vine falls under the scope of a general command or rule. My understanding of general or generic authority is that any thing, method or way of doing what is commanded is allowable or included if it falls within the same class, kind or order of the precept, example or thing commanded. Thus, men have the freedom to choose which method will be used in fulfilling the command as long as it falls within the same class, kid or order. With this said, let’s see how this applies to the use of multiple containers (cups) in serving the fruit of the vine in the Lord’s Supper.  (This will be continued next issue).  

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