Study the Word: Bulletin Articles
Let me start by saying that this is a Biblical lesson. The concept of expediency is taught in God’s word and it is vital that we understand what it means. We shall first start with the apostle Paul speaking on this when he wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful to me, but all things edify not.” (I Cor. 10:23). The word expedient means to be helpful; however, not all things are helpful.
The easiest way to understand what is considered expedient would be the place of worship. Local churches are required to assemble on the first day of the week to worship God (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2; Heb. 10:25, etc.). The scriptures reveal that brethren set up a time and place for them to fulfill the Lord’s desire (I Cor. 11:17-18). Knowing that it is expedient for the brethren to rent or purchase a place to assemble, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Would it really be in the best interest of a local church consisting of two families to go out and build a million dollar facility? The answer is obvious – no, this would not be helpful. Having a place to meet is expedient, but there are times wisdom dictates that something that is lawful, in and of itself (finding a place to meet) can be the wrong thing to do.
The same thing can be said for a congregation that wants to evangelize. It’s an expedient to use TV as a tool to share the gospel. But if a local church cannot afford to fund such an effort, it would be unwise to engage in it. This is why the Lord Jesus stated clearly the need for His followers to use “righteous” judgement (Jn. 7:21-24).
Keep in mind that expediency is not some sort of loophole for the local church to do whatever they want with church funds. Staying with the discussion of the church building: it’s one thing to rent or buy, it’s another matter altogether for a church to rent or buy a meeting place to use it for social events. It’s the lack of discernment that has opened the door for religious groups to use the building for a daycare, Boy Scout meeting place, providing chicken dinners and celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Folks, these do not fall under the area of expediency. They fall under the realm of being unscriptural.
The best way to clear this up is by looking at two passages of scripture. First, in I Corinthians 11:22, after rebuking the brethren for turning the Lord’s Supper into some sort of meal, Paul said, “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.” Now, before we examine this, let’s now note a text in Romans 16, where Paul speaking about Priscilla and Aquila, mentioned, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house.” (vr. 5).
Now, can brethren have social events in their own homes? Of course they can. I don’t know where the brethren were meeting when they were rebuked by Paul for turning the Lord’s Supper into a feast. Could they have been meeting in someone’s home? Possibly. Even so, does that mean the apostle could not have said what he did in I Corinthians 11? Not at all. Brethren could just as easily turn the Lord’s Supper into a feast even if meeting in someone’s home. The fact is, the church comes together to worship God His way (Jn. 4:24). When brethren have finished their worship, the brother and sister can now go back to the regular use of the home and even be hospitable (Rom. 12:13).
When brethren own a church building, it was bought with the purpose for which it is to be used. The local church doesn’t use its funds to build a kitchen or gymnasium onto the meeting place. Why not? It’s because it isn’t expedient. It doesn’t aid in worshipping God. In other words, it is not a help, it’s a hindrance. You don’t mix the two. Those who don’t understand expediency fail to see the error in using their church building for whatever use they see fit. This doesn’t respect the word of God.
Have you ever wondered how the early Christians knew when to gather together when the Bible didn’t state where and where on Sunday? Was it just a coincidence that all the brethren showed up at the same place and at the same time (Acts 20:7)? It is reasonable to conclude that the church decided this ahead of time.
Knowing there had to a decision that needed to be made, did they do this with Biblical authority? The skeptic will jump in and say no because there isn’t a book, chapter and verse to tells them when and where. That is not true. The passage is found in I Corinthians 11:17-29. This is where Paul pointed out that brethren were to gather to take the Lord’s Supper. You cannot fulfill that command without understanding necessary inferences. No one can function in this world without doing such.
For example, a mother tells her child to clean their room today. Is that enough information for the child to get the job done? Absolutely. They will use their legs to walk into their room. They will use their eyes to look around. They will use their hands to pick up things and put them where they belong. They will schedule time that day to get it done. Now, if the child doesn’t do the job because their mom didn’t provide all those inferences, will the mom accept that? Not a chance.
The question is, does the principle of inference, open the flood gate so people can infer anything they want? No. There are boundaries. Going back to the mother and child example. If the child gets their baby brother to clean the room, they violated the command – “you clean your room.” If the child opts to clean it another day, they violate the command. If the child opts to clean their parent’s room, they violate the command.
Abiding in the teaching of Christ (II Jn. 9), consists of doing what we are told by thinking about the inferences that are connects with what we are told. Look for next week’s bulletin where we deal with aids and additions, in understanding authority.
Have you ever had someone tell you that the church they attend is such a loving church, as if to imply they are a faithful group? Oh, I don’t want to suggest that they are not loving. The problem is, a loving church is often viewed as faithful when they are not. Let me explain.
In Revelation chapter 3, we read where our Lord wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus because they lost their first love (vr. 4). Because of such they were commanded to repent (vr. 5). However, let’s take a close look at what they were commended for:
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” (vr. 2-3).
Many of the “loving” churches that I am told about don’t respect Biblical authority and don’t test anyone with specific teaching. They keep it general so as to not offend anyone. They have become the religious stand for “political correctness.” This is done so as to not upset anyone and make them feel uncomfortable. You do that by living under the umbrella of “love.”
This article is not to belittle the importance of love. Let’s face it that it was a specific problem at Ephesus which was specifically addressed. To not heed that warning would cost them their salvation. The point of this article is to see that the Lord was not telling those brethren that “all you need is love.” No, they needed to love and they also needed to continue to do the other things they were commended for.
The reason this article was written to help us see the danger of going to extremes. A church without love is in sin. A church without standing and respecting Biblical authority is in sin. The church of Christ is to be the pillar and ground of truth (I Tim. 3:15). Why? Because it’s Christ’s!
Originally published 02/12/17
Is right to eat in a church’s meeting place? This verse often comes up. Paul and the brethren gathered on the first day of the week to take the Lord’s Supper (verse 7). Paul had preached until midnight, and a young man fell out of a window and died (verse 9). After Paul raised him from the dead, they went back up into the upper room. Paul nourished himself with food and then continued speaking until he had to leave that day by ship (verses 11-13).
This is a far cry from the “fellowship meals” people hold at buildings today. The brethren allowed Paul to be refreshed with food as they supported his missionary work. Paul spoke about times he was hungry and full (Phil. 4:12). Brethren gave him support to supply his needs (Phil. 4:16). This would include food. It would seem odd to be able to support a preacher with funds but not food directly.
In religious discussions, the focus is often lost. It is silly to think that a mother giving a bottle to a young child is sinning because one is “eating” in the building. If a brother came to preach and became weak from a lack of food, would it be wrong to feed him? Of course not.
However, using this text to conclude that the brethren can have potlucks at a church-owned building or holding “fellowship meals” in conjunction with worship goes far beyond the text of Acts 20. Paul ate, spoke and then departed that day. To establish a need to organize meals at the building based upon this text would be an abuse. After all, this is the same apostle who rebuked brethren for turning the Lord’s Supper into a meal (I Cor. 11:17-22). They were told they had houses to eat and drink in.
People cannot see the truth (II John 9) if they do establish proper authority for their actions or follow the doctrine of Christ. The key is to search the scriptures when facing questions (Acts 17:11). No one passage of scripture is “greater” than another – instead, we must rightly divide the word by consistently harmonizing them together (II Tim. 2:15). By doing this, we can lead lives with the confidence that we are pleasing the Lord.
Originally published 02/12/17
Our last couple of bulletins looked at issues where Biblical authority needs to be understood. When we know how to understand the scriptures, we can find Biblical answers to questions concerning instrumental music in worship, forsaking the assembly, the Lord’s Supper, etc.
However, many of the unscriptural practices carried out by “churches” today involve the use of church funds. The local church is to take up a collection to do the work Christ designed it to do (I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 9:7; Eph. 4:12). Using these funds for nonscriptural purposes is an affront to Christ as He is the head of the church (Col. 1:18; I Tim. 5:16). A church cannot just do anything they consider a “good work” if it is unauthorized.
The misuse of church funds is a widespread problem, but it is not truly the main issue at hand – the root cause is Biblical authority once again. Without a standard in establishing authority, brethren will never be able to see eye to eye. Remember, no scripture is of any private interpretation (II Pet. 1:20). Either there are stipulations put upon the use of church funds or there are not. If there are, how do we determine them? That is what we need to find out. If there are not any stipulations, then the discussion is over.
We know for certain that churches used their funds for evangelizing (spreading the gospel). The apostle Paul received wages from different churches (Phil. 4:15; II Cor. 11:8). Churches also sent directly to other churches that needed food (II Cor. 8:4,19; II Cor. 9:3-4). Churches also were able to use funds to help edify the local church (Eph. 4:11-12; I Tim. 5:17-18).
Let us now focus on some questions about church funds. We know that brethren gathered in a home (Rom. 16:3-5), in an upper room (Acts 20:8) and other facilities that would accommodate the brethren coming together in a certain place (I Cor. 11:17-18). Because these various meeting spaces were used for edification, could the church let the local Boy Scout troop use the facility when the church was not gathered? Could they run a daycare center out of that upper room if it belonged to the church? To answer these questions, we must understand the limitations placed upon the use of church funds.
Does the Bible contain any examples of restrictions being placed upon the collection of the saints? Yes! In I Timothy 5:16, Paul clearly said the church was prohibited from using its funds for certain purposes even if they were a “good work”. In that text, it shows that individuals can and should do things with their own funds, not the church’s (Acts 5:1-11).
Therefore, if a church owns or rents a building, they should do so for the purposes of evangelism and edification. This means their uses for the building should be limited to those purposes as well, not to support the Boy Scouts or to run a daycare. What about having a kitchen? There is nothing wrong with having a kitchen if it was found to be helpful (expedient) for making the unleavened bread and storing the fruit of the vine. Often though, it is more expedient to simply buy the unleavened bread or have members make it and bring it.
In our last couple of bulletins, we have been pointing out the ways to establish authority: direct command, approved example and necessary inference. Biblical examples lead us toward this manner of reasoning. This is why churches send money directly to the preacher they want to support rather than an intermediate organization. This is why churches only send funds to other churches to support members during times of great need, not to other organizations. Everything that the church does is governed by Biblical authority (Col. 3:17). Let us simply allow God’s word to define “good works” so we can put our energy into accomplishing them.