1 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another”
Is there a more direct command to obey the Lord’s command carefully. We can’t add to it and be pleasing to Him. Let’s remember what Paul also wrote:
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”Colossians 3:17
Clearly, we must have God’s authorization for all we do in life especially when it comes to religious thinking and action. Let’s never go beyond what God has authorized or come short of it either.
God can authorize in three ways:
1) Direct Command/statement – “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” Matthew 6:33. If I am going to be pleasing to God then I must seek Him and His righteousness. By the way, the Bible tells us that all of God’s commands are righteousness (Ps 119:172). Another simple command is to “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Th 5:21). Prove means to ascertain what you are doing to see if it meets God’s approval.
2) Implication or Necessary Inference – God doesn’t have to spell every command out to the smallest degree. He gave the ability to discern, apply wisdom and knowledge to infer from a statement what He implies. A very simple example of this is when Paul taught that it was okay to pay a preacher (1Co 9:9-10). Note that He goes to the Old Testament command to feed your livestock where he quotes Deuteronomy 35:4. A farmer is bound to feed or not muzzle the ox that is working for him. Paul shows that if God cares for oxen he much more cares for a person who is devoting his time to the Lord’s work for man.
3) Example – One of the ways God helps us learn His will is to show us how to do it. In regards to the Lord’s supper He showed us in Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread” again 1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” Here we have apostolic approval and teaching of when we are to gather to take the Lord’s Supper. Wisdom and common sense must be used to see that God approves of this example.
We also can learn easily what is approved by God for the Lord’s supper emblems; the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread (1Co 11:23-26). Through example and by implication that we must meet each Sunday to observe the Lord’s Supper consisting of grape juice and unleavened bread.
Adding to or taking away from what God commands is a dangerous activity. He tells us that our names will be removed from the “lamb’s book of life” and the “plagues recorded therein will be added to them” (Rev 22:18-19).
Joseph D Chase
Church of Christ