"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Brethren who advocate church-provided social events believe they have found scriptural support for their practice in Jude 12, where Jude mentions “love feasts” (“feasts of charity,” KJV). There is nothing in the text or context of Jude 12 that leads one to the inescapable conclusion that these “love feasts” were meals for the stomach. Furthermore, these “love feasts” are nowhere called “fellowship meals” in the Scriptures. Why then, you might ask, do brethren use Jude 12 as an endorsement of the modern practice of “fellowship meals” offered by local churches to their members?
First, those who make such an appeal know they must have scriptural authority for their practice, so they have satisfied themselves with Jude’s “love feasts.” As we have already noted, however, Jude makes no argument for church-promoted and church-provided social meals in this verse. Silence and assumption do not make for scriptural proof.
Secondly, the pronouncements of history are received as authoritative. What I mean is this: History records a second century practice of church feasts that were held in connection with their assemblies. Brethren who wish to justify their church feasts today appeal to the historians as proof for the practice. What they fail to remember is that the “mystery of lawlessness” was already working in the days of the apostles (2 Ths. 2:7), not to mention during the second century. These brethren are using the historical accounts of an apostate church to support their current practice. They have elevated history to authoritative status in the absence of clear Biblical statements that “love feasts” were “fellowship meals.”
Thirdly, attempts are made to give Scriptural evidence that “love feasts” were indeed church-sponsored meals. It is said that Acts 2:46, Acts 20:11 and 1 Cor. 11:17-34 refer to this practice. Examination of these passages, however, makes it clear that the modern-day practice of “fellowship meals” is not under consideration.
Acts 2:46 plainly separates common meals from the assembly. While the early Christians were meeting daily in the temple (no doubt to learn the apostles’ doctrine, v. 42), they took their food “at home.”
In Acts 20:11, the issue is not that a meal was eaten at the same place where the church had worshiped. The text says Paul ate a meal that revived his strength after several hours of preaching. This is a far cry from saying that the church provided a “fellowship meal” (or a “love feast”) as many churches do today.
In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, the apostle rebukes and corrects an abuse of the Lord’s Supper that had turned it into a gluttonous feast. Paul’s solution (inspired by the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 2:10-13) was to separate common meals from their assemblies. They had “houses to eat and drink in” (v. 22), so if they were hungry, they were to “eat at home” (v. 34). This divine separation of common meals from the assembled work of the church should forever answer the question of whether the love feasts of Jude 12 were “fellowship meals” as some claim today. To make the love feasts of Jude 12 meals to feed the stomach sets Jude against Paul. We must never set Scripture against Scripture as we study to understand its true meaning (2 Tim. 2:15).
In the absence of scriptural support that “love feasts” were some sort of pot-luck meal, what were they? At least two explanations satisfy the context of Jude without doing injustice to the rest of the New Testament. Jude’s “love feasts” could refer to the continual life of the Christian as he lives in the love of God and divine truth. This seems to be Paul’s use of the term “feast” in 1 Corinthians 5:8: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jude could be warning Christians of the apostates who pretended to love God, His truth and the brethren, but who were in fact harmful “rocks” among them.
Or, Jude could be referring to the Lord’s Supper. It is a feast the church has been commanded to observe (Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:17-34). We partake of “the Lord’s table” (1 Cor. 10:21) to remember his death for our sins (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:26). Under this explanation, Jude is warning of false brethren who “crept in unnoticed” (v. 4). Although they ate the Lord’s Supper with the saints, their error was in fact endangering the spiritual well-being of the innocent.
We must be careful not to force our own, uninspired practices into the text of inspired Scripture. Human wisdom and divine wisdom are not the same (1 Cor. 1:18-25; Isa. 55:8). We must be content with what God has said – and what he as not said – about “love feasts.”
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 66:16-20
1. Prayer is conversing with God.
I. THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER IN OUR LIVES.
A. Prayer must have Precedence in our
Daily Lives, Mk. 1:35; Lk. 5:16; 6:12; 9:28-29; Psa. 32:3-5; 1 Tim. 2:1.
II. THE POWER OF PRAYER IN OUR LIVES, Jas. 5:15-18.
A. Almighty God Listens to You; Prov.
15:29; 28:9; Neh. 1:11 (cf. Heb. 5:7); Jer. 11:14 (Isa. 1:10-15).
III. THE PERSISTENCE OF PRAYER IN OUR LIVES, Lk. 11:5-8; 18:1-8 (Acts 10:2); Eph. 6:18; 1 Ths. 5:17.
A. Trust in God, not yourself (Mt.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Acts 3:18-26
1. “Preach Christ, not baptism or the church”
is the cry and feeling of those who are self-designated as “change agents”
in the church.
-The call for change and Bible answers.
#1: “It has been a mistake to emphasize ‘the old paths’ because we need to be open to change. The church has got to change.”
1. The “old
paths” are established by God, Jer. 6:16-17.
#2: “It is a ‘mistaken assumption’ that we should ‘restore the church of the 1st century.’ The model we are to pattern after is Christ, not the New Testament church.”
Which church do you want to restore?
#3: “The pictures of the church recorded in the NT are ‘only flawed attempts’ to follow Christ.”
1. Our task
is to learn & follow God’s pattern, 2 Tim. 3:16-17 (2 Tim. 2:15).
The Gospel of Judas?
On Thursday the National Geographic Society presented to the world the Gospel of Judas, an apocryphal (of unknown origin) document probably written about AD 300. It “purports to record conversations between Jesus and Judas in the last week of their lives -- conversations in which Jesus shared religious secrets not known by the other disciples” (“Rediscovered gospel offers radically new look at Judas,” Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times).
Historically, the Gospel of Judas was never received as authoritative due to its obvious and late disagreement with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Now, as then, people will be excited at the prospect of telling or hearing some new thing (cf. Acts 17:21). But, the facts are clear: Judas betrayed Jesus and killed himself. The Gospel of Judas is of human origin.
It offers a distorted and false picture of Judas, who is
“the good guy in this portrayal,” said Bart Ehrman, a religion professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “He’s the only apostle who understands Jesus.”
“In a key passage, Jesus compares Judas to the other disciples, saying: ‘You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.’ By helping Jesus get rid of his flesh, Judas will help liberate the divine being within.” (Ibid.)
--The Bible says…
● Jesus understood Judas; not the other way around (Jno. 6:64, 70-71).
● The devil put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus; it was not Jesus who did so (Jno. 13:2).
● Judas was a thief and betrayer who killed himself (Jno. 12:6; 18:5). Jesus did not give him special apostolic status.
Gospel means “good news,” but there is no good news in the life of Judas; only betrayal, sin, death and judgment (Matt. 26:24-25).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA