Know Your Bible
February 2000

Common Meals And Fellowship

For many years, denominational churches have practiced "fellowship" through the eating of common meals. However, in the last decade or two, this type of "fellowship" has slowly crept into the Lord's Church and is now very prevalent. Hundreds and thousands of dollars have been and continue to be spent in the construction of church kitchens and fellowship halls. What does the Bible say about this kind of fellowship?

In order to properly examine this subject, one must first consider the work of the church, that is, the work authorized and designated to the church by the Lord. The apostle Paul states, in Ephesians 4:11-13, "(11)And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12)For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13)Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: ".

Verse 11 discusses God's organization of the church. It is clearly evident that the need for apostles and prophets ceased long ago, because in order to be an apostle, one must first be a witness of Christ's resurrection (Acts 1:21, 22) and the need for inspired prophets ended when the Gospel was fully revealed (1 Corinthians 13:8-12). However, evangelist, pastors(elders), and teachers are still functioning elements of God's organization of the church. Verse 12 explains the work that God has set forth for His kingdom. Verse 12 begins, "for the perfecting of the saints," perfect meaning complete as it is also used in 1 Timothy 3:17. "For the work of the ministry," or all things pertaining to the ministry( i.e. spread of the Gospel). "For the edifying of the body of Christ," or the building up and strengthening of the church. Finally, verse 13 reveals the divine purpose of the work set forth in verse 12.

As examined, there is nothing carnal or worldly about the church or the church's work. God did not design the church to fulfill the physical and social needs of man but rather the spiritual. "For the kingdom of God is NOT meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom.14:17). 1 Corinthians 11:22 says, "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God...". The fellowship that God intends for us to have with Him and each other is found in 1 John 1:3,7. (3)"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (7)But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." Therefore, this is the only fellowship that the church should engage in.

Ephesians 5:11 says to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness". What spiritual fruitfulness or profit is physical nourishment? To partake of meals gathered together as individual Christians, separate and apart from the church, is absolutely fine! However, there is no Biblical authority to participate in the eating of common meals assembled as the church. Therefore any use of the church's facilities or funds, for purposes other than the Lord's designated work, is wrong. No where in the Scriptures do we find eating common meals as a form of spiritual fellowship. If Christians have a genuine love for God's word they will keep His commandments and follow His divine scheme. "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it" (2 John 1:6).

---Ruben Hall

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Are You Sure Or Just Satisfied?

When the salvation of one's soul is at stake, every precaution should be taken. I suppose that all of the 537 million church members in the world are satisfied with their religious status, but can everyone of them be sure that he has even been saved and that he is right?

Just because one is satisfied with what he has done religiously does not mean that he has done the right things nor that he has been saved from his past sins. Evidently there has never been a more satisfied man than Saul of Tarsus because he said he lived in all good conscience before God until even after he became a Christian. (Acts 23:1). In spite of his satisfied state, he said that during the time that he was a follower of the Jewish religion that he thought within himself to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts 26:9). On different occasions he severely persecuted the followers of Jesus. He was in need of conversion and his sins had not been washed away until after he was converted. (Acts 22:16).

Evidently, the Ephesians who had been baptized under the preaching of someone, possibly Apollos, with the baptism of John were completely satisfied with what they had done until Paul came along and preached to them and convinced them that they had not been baptized with the Lord's baptism and then they were re-baptized. (Acts 19:1-5)

Actually, in all of the cases of conversion in the New Testament the ones who were converted had, prior to their conversion, been perfectly satisfied with their status until they learned that they were wrong. By the very fact that God foretold that there would be false teachers, it is evident that there are such today. Yet, the followers of such teachers are perfectly satisfied with what they are hearing and with what they have obeyed.

The truth of the matter is that everyone ought to be dissatisfied with his religion until he can take his Bible and thoroughly study it in search of every doctrine that he has believed. THERE SHOULD BE NO SATISFACTION UNTIL THERE IS A SURENESS, FROM THE BIBLE, THAT GOD APPROVES THE ACTIONS OF MY CONVERSION AND MY LIFE. ARE YOU SURE OR ARE YOU JUST SATISFIED?

---Jim Sasser

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Gambling Impact

A report issued by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission was sent to Congress on June 18, 1999. Here are some of their findings:

1) More than half the states in the U.S. have casinos and 48 states allow some form of legalized gambling.

2) Americans gamble more money each year than they spend on groceries.

3) A mountain of evidence presented... demonstrates a direct link between problem and pathological gambling and divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, bankruptcy, crime and suicide. More than 15.4 million adults and adolescents meet the technical criteria of those disorders.

4) Eight-five percent of young people are already gambling on everything from card games to sports teams to casinos and lotteries. Fifteen percent of these have been shown to be problem or pathological gamblers.

(5) Republicans have been given $6.1 million and Democrats $7.6 million in recent years [by the gaming industry] ... DNC Chairman Joe Andrew proudly proclaimed that Democrats in Washington want to "be the party of the gaming industry."

---Matt Hennecke

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