Adding to the Word of God?
by Wayne S. Walker
Most faithful Christians are aware that through the years many unauthorized additions have been made to what God’s word teaches. Denominations have added their own creeds to the doctrine of Christ. Additions to scriptural baptism, either in the action (sprinkling and pouring) or in the subjects (infants, babies, and small children) have arisen. A lot of churches have added instrumental music to the worship. All such additions to what God has revealed are condemned (Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:18). However, in a recent discussion on adding to the word of God, I found the following post:
“One example of an addition is congregational singing in church. That is completely foreign to the New Testament, but it is commonly preached as if it was a command. Taking the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week and only on the first day of the week. The argument for this requires a person to add to the Scriptures. Having a continuous church general fund treasury. That is foreign to the New Testament. They had specific treasuries for dealing with specific causes, but not general fund treasuries that are used for all sorts of things.”
Is congregational singing in church foreign to the New Testament and thus an addition? In I Corinthians chapter 14, Paul was regulating the activities being engaged in when “the whole church comes together in one place” (I Corinthians 14:23), and in that context says “…I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (I Corinthians 14:15). He also talks about someone having “a psalm” when the church comes together (I Corinthians 14:26). So singing was definitely a part of the assemblies in the early church. I recognize that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 do not specifically refer to the worship assembly but govern the Christian’s singing praise to God at any time; yet the fact that we are to be “speaking to one another” and “teaching and admonishing one another” in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs necessitates being in a situation where we are with one another, and that certainly includes our worship services. So, congregational singing in church is not foreign to the New Testament and thus not an addition.
Does taking the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week and only on the first day of the week require a person to add to the Scriptures? When instituting the Lord’s supper, Jesus mentioned regarding the cup “that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). He just did not specify the day in this passage, but we know precisely the day on which disciples came together to “break bread,” referring to observing the Lord’s supper (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16). It was the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Thus, when we take the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week and only on the first day of the week, we can be assured that we are doing exactly what the Lord has authorized. We cannot have the same assurance in taking the supper on any other day as that would be going beyond the doctrine of Christ (cf. 2 John vs. 9-11). So those who would argue for having the supper on any day other than the first day of the week actually are the ones who are adding to the Scriptures and not those who limit themselves to doing only what God has revealed.
And does having continuous church general fund treasuries that are used for all sorts of things add to God’s word? The only passage that specifically refers to a “church treasury” of any kind is I Corinthians 16:1-2. “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” The old King James reads “lay by in store.” The word translated “store” or “storing up” is actually a verb form meaning “to gather, lay up, heap up…to keep in store, store up, reserve.” It comes from a noun meaning “the place in which goods and precious things are collected and laid up…a casket, coffer, or other receptacles, in which valuables are kept…storehouse, repository, magazine.” Thus the phrase “lay by in store” literally means “put into the storehouse or treasury.” The Corinthian church did not have “specific treasuries for dealing with specific causes.” There had to be a standing storehouse or treasury to which they added every first day of the week so that what was going to be sent for the needy saints in Jerusalem would be available when Paul came. Nope, no addition to the Scriptures here.