Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 16, 1951

Do We Drink The Cup Or The Container?

Murray Marshall, Frederick, Oklahoma

A "one-container anti was discussing with her brother-in-law the difference between them and us. At the sink she took a drinking cup, put some water in it, and said to him: "The difference is: we drink the cup, you all just drink what's in it." The brother-in-law, a wise and witty man, an elder of a congregation of the Lord's disciples quietly replied, "I don't see how you can do it."

We think that this conversation which actually took place illustrates the difference.

The fact is our "one-container" brethren just don't know what Jesus was talking about in this case. They don't know what "the cup" is!

Really, we do drink the cup, but not the container. If they think Jesus meant "drink the container" then they stand condemned for refusing to do what they seem to think Jesus commanded. Even in their services the container is PUT BACK on the table after they have taken, passed and drank the cup Jesus commands us to drink.

They call themselves "one-cup" brethren: this is not accurate: hold them to what they are: "one-container" brethren, for they think the cup means the container. They call us and their "anti-class" brethren who refuse to be limited by the man-made rule of "one container to an assembly" (yet the anti-class brother insists on one method of teaching; it seems the "one-container" brother is more consistent, to say the least, of the two!)—they label us all as the "cups brethren!" And yet we have only ONE CUP the world over. We partake of one bread and one cup, but the Lord didn't say for all congregations through all the ages to use the identical container he used, nor one like it, nor just one to an assembly! He didn't say that.

There is only one Bible but each individual may have an individual copy or container of the word of God. The Lord didn't limit us to one copy to an assembly. We sing one song at a time in an assembly, but we are not limited to one songbook, or one copy of the song, to an assembly. Each may have an individual container, or copy, of the song, a songbook for each one! There is only one church but many congregations of that one church and many members to a congregation. So there is one cup, yet many containers of that one cup throughout the world and there may be many containers of that one cup in one congregation. If the members of two congregations may have a plurality of containers, and the members of many congregations may have many containers, by what rule of logic must the members of one congregation be limited to only one container? The very contention that they should is a travesty upon knowledge, logic and scripture. Yes, each may have an individual container of the one cup. Whether one, two, four, two hundred or ten thousand containers of the one cup in one congregation or in all congregations, the NUMBER IS INCIDENTAL. The ESSENTIAL IS "DRINK THE CUP," not from what we drink it! We are obeying the Lord whether we do so from one container for all or more than one. Anyway, each of us uses only one container apiece! After all, I am a "one-container" brother! I have never drank from but one! Why then am I disfellowshipped by the "one-cup" brother? He has made a test of fellowship out of his misunderstanding of what Jesus was talking about; the "one-container" factionist has twisted an incidental into an essential.

Sometimes an illustration is used for proof. But an illustration DOES NOT prove anything. Some people think it does, and will remember an illustration long after they have forgotten the arguments. An illustration ONLY shows clearly WHAT THE IDEA IS, it does NOT prove or establish the idea. "One-container" advocates use the illustration "a kettle boils" trying to show, that although it is the water that is called the "Kettle," yet the kettle is also included, for it is the water in THAT kettle, the water limited to the one kettle. They then presume they have proved that "the cup" as used by the Lord includes BOTH the contents and the one container! Sounds pretty good, but here is the illustration that "answers" it and illustrates the truth.

A mother serves a bottle of apple juice at breakfast, promising "When you DRINK THIS BOTTLE, I'll open another one." Then the family DRINKS IT. Now whether they drink it from the bottle itself, or from one or two large glasses into which "the bottle" is poured, or from a number of small individual glasses, they STILL "DRINK THE BOTTLE!"

So we drink "the cup" regardless of the number of containers involved. We obey the Lord for he tells us "drink the cup." He did not tell US to "drink from this container in My hand," regardless of what he told the disciples that night of the Passover. Jesus never commanded you or me to do so. He didn't command us to drink the cup FROM HIS CONTAINER, from the one he used at the Passover. Nor does he command us to "drink the cup from one container to an assembly," as the anti's of the "one-container" faction demand! They thereby add to the Lord's command and are as guilty of presumptious sin as any sectarian who adds to God's Holy Word!

"Drink the cup," we do whether we use one or a number of containers, just as the family at breakfast "drink the bottle" whether they use one or a number of containers. It is the contents, not the container that we are to drink.

No, our Lord has not legislated the number of containers to an assembly in obeying the essential: "drink this cup." As long as we drink the cup which Jesus said was the emblem of his shed blood, we are obeying the Lord regardless of the containers involved or the way we "divide it among" ourselves. We continue to press for "UNITY IN ESSENTIALS and LIBERTY IN INCIDENTALS."

(Next time: "Innovations")


Christ Clark, Hobart, Oklahoma, Aug. 1: "I concluded a meeting with the church in Thomas, Okla., on July 29. There were two baptisms and one restoration. Five have been baptized and five restored in Hobart recently. Brother Riley Henry of Mangum will be with us in a meeting Aug. 19-29. The church here has purchased material for the construction of a building for the colored church. We believe the completion of this building will announce to the colored people of Hobart the permanent character of our work and encourage many to obey the gospel. Brother C. C. Morgan of Lawton preaches for the colored brethren in their services at 3:00 p.m. each Lord's day."