Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Are Jews Jesus' chosen people? And why?
Yay For Yarmulke
Dear Yay For Yarmulke,
The Jews are not Jesus’ chosen people; the church is. Jesus says that christians are His royal priesthood and chosen race (1 Pet 2:9). Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s nation (Deu 7:6). The Jewish nation was warned that if they rejected God’s Son, they would be rejecting God, and God would make a new nation out of those who believed in Christ (Jesus explained this to the Jews in the parable of the vineyard – Lk 20:9-19). The vast majority of Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, and therefore, they never became a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ chosen people are those that love Him and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15). The Jewish people rejected God because they would rather have their traditions than God’s Son (Mk 7:9).
Why do we need to go to church?
Dear Sunday Sleeper,
The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at email@example.com.
I am a member of a Baptist church, but I was thinking about changing. What is the difference between Church of God and church of Christ?
Dear Just Browsing,
The Church of God and the churches of Christ are vastly different. The Church of God is a name used by numerous, mostly unrelated Christian denominational bodies, most of which descend from either Pentecostal/Holiness or Adventist traditions. Most groups that use the title Church of God believe in speaking in tongues, modern prophecy, and visions. All of these things are false teachings. See “Speaking In Tongues”, “The Lost Art Of Prophecy”, “I Dreamed A Dream” for further details on what the Bible says about these behaviors.
Churches of Christ are all individual congregations (we have no centralized leadership other than the Bible) that simply try to follow the Bible pattern for everything they do. This is not the case with every church of Christ, but it certainly is for us in Monroe, WA.
Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15). A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15). Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2). We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21). We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible. Our philosophy is simple: if the Bible speaks, we speak; if the Bible is silent, we are silent.
Hopefully that helps to clarify the differences for you. A faithful church of Christ is simply trying to do just what the Bible says… no more, no less.
(This post is in reference to “No Luck Potluck”)
Y'all have disappointed me this morning... I have been reading your Q/A for the last 4-5 months, every morning, and try to incorporate those into my daily Bible study. But the latest one has faltered. "No potluck"? It almost sounds like you are putting emphasis on the BUILDING being a part of worship. What makes a building holy? You can NOT eat in a building when worship services have concluded? Can you NOT drink water from the fountain? Have lights? Computers? Restrooms? If you follow this line, when does one stop? The first christians were meeting in each others’ homes. Where today, all these things would be available, just NOT during worship services. They were meeting in synagogues where the Jews were still worshiping. OUR bodies make up THE body of the church.
Fork In Hand
Dear Fork In Hand,
You raise a very valid question. You asked: "What makes a building holy?" After all, the building isn't the church – the people are. Whether the church meets in a house (Acts 20:8), a school building (Acts 19:9), or the temple porch (Acts 5:12), it is still the church. The people are God's church – certainly not a building. So should we be concerned at all with what goes on in the church building. The answer is ‘yes’, but not because the building is the church... because the building was bought with the church's money.
A church building is part of a church's finances (the same as your house is part of your finances), and it is important that whatever we use the church's finances for be authorized by the Bible. 1 Tim 3:15 says that there is a certain way that the church must behave when we work together collectively. 1 Tim 5:16 takes it one step farther and says that there are certain financial things the church shouldn't be burdened with. Once our money goes into the church collection on Sunday (1 Cor 16:1-2), it becomes the Lord's money – not ours. The church can spend its money on the church's work. The church's work is simple: teach the saved, preach to the lost, and care for needy christians (read "Purpose Driven Church" for book, chapter, and verse for those commands).
The issue isn't with any food or drink in the building... it is when the church collectively decides to use the building for a primarily social gathering. As Paul said, "Don't you have houses to eat and drink in?" (1 Cor 11:22). Paul lambasted the church in Corinth for making the church's work a social event. As we mentioned in the previous post, if the church needed a potluck for the purpose of continuing their services, that would be one thing... but once we start spending the church's finances (and the building is part of the church's finances) on social things, there is no principle difference between that and church movie night or having a Boy Scout troop use the building on Thursdays. Hope that provides some clarification. It is about the use of the Lord's finances, not a building being sacred.
I attend a church of Christ congregation that has both liberal and conservative members. We have worked hard to accommodate one another for the sake of peace, and for the most part, we have no practices that are unscriptural. However, every second Sunday, a potluck is held in a kitchen/classroom adjacent to the auditorium. The more conservative members, I being one, do not participate because we cannot find anywhere in the Bible where God authorizes potlucks in the church building. Needless to say, this has caused some debate; therefore, the topic is avoided. Is there any Bible authority or example that allows potlucks? We are a small congregation and do not have elders. Sometimes, I worry that by not attending these potlucks, the more liberal members feel I'm being judgmental by not fellowshipping during these potlucks, but I've always been taught that we must have chapter and verse for anything we do. Also, several times, conservative visitors have happened to attend on "potluck Sunday" and have voiced their disapproval. It's difficult to conceal, and in fact, it is announced at the end of services that we are having a potluck – as if everyone hasn't already been distracted by the aroma of roast beef wafting into the auditorium during services. Please comment. The bottom line is: I want my life to be pleasing to God and do not want to make an unrighteous judgment. Thank you.
"Potluck Sunday" Avoider
Dear "Potluck Sunday" Avoider,
We agree that the Lord's church doesn't have authority to use the building for potlucks, social events, etc. You are right on this issue – there is simply no biblical precedent for the church functioning as a social organization. The work of the church is simple, and anything that doesn't fulfill that work shouldn't be done. We posted an answer to a question regarding the work of the church: read "The Purpose Driven Church" for more details on that subject. There was a time when the church needed to hold potlucks because people traveled such long distances by horseback or foot that it was impossible for people to stay for the full day of worship unless they had a meal between... if they went home for a meal, they might as well have stayed home. This was an appropriate use of potlucks because they were an expediency for worship. With today's modern transportation system and the availability of restaurants, that simply is not an issue anymore. Today, potlucks are for the purpose of socializing, not furthering the work of the church. If the work of the church is to socialize, we also ought to have gymnasiums, playgrounds, movie nights, etc. The fact that potlucks are a “tamer” social event than a movie night doesn't make them any less wrong.
Having said all of that, let's now address the issue of your dissenting voice amongst the congregation. Romans 14 is very clear on the subject of stronger and weaker brethren. When one brother believes he can do something (this would be the strong brother), and another believes he can't (the weak brother), how should those two interact with each other? In this circumstance, you are the weak brother. Weak doesn't mean you are wrong or frail; it means you cannot in good conscience participate in these social gatherings. Rom 14:1-4 says that the stronger brother should accept you without condescension or mocking because you are trying to do what you believe is right. Rom 14:13-17 takes it one step further and says that the brother who believes he has the freedom to do something should restrain himself if it is causing his brother to stumble. Your scenario is a good example of this. You believe (and with good reason) that this is an inappropriate use of the Lord's funds, and you do not desire to participate. The congregation should (at the bare minimum) accept your conscientious choice and leave it at that. It is our experience that the opposite is often true. Over time, many congregations as they move toward liberalism try and pressure or demean those with dissenting views. Satan has a way of destroying good relationships by getting more liberal-minded brethren to vigorously fight for their "rights" instead of showing a gentle demeanor with those who don't believe we have the freedom to act so liberally. Sadly, we have seen it time and time again.
In short, you are seeing things clearly, and you are right to be concerned. May God bless you as you stand by your Bible-based convictions.