By George T. Eldridge
The church was “purchased with” Jesus’ “own blood” (Acts 20:28). No other association, club, fraternal organization, labor organization, social service organization, or youth organization has the purchase price of the New Testament church. The value of the church is further seen in that Jesus “is the head of the . . . church” (Col. 1:18) and is “the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22). Has that value sunk into your heart, your soul, and your mind?
“Purchased with,” “the Head of the church,” and “the head over all things to the church” are words of authority. With the right and power to command, enforce law, exact obedience, determine, or judge resting in Jesus, all activities of the church must have the approval of her head. Do you agree? That approval for church action comes from the Scriptures in (1) apostolic command, (2) apostolic example, and (3) necessary conclusions from commands and examples (Acts 15:6-29). Is that true?
Individuals and churches, too many times, desecrate that which Jesus purchased and that church over which He is head. Consider the following few examples as activities abusing the sacredness of that divine institution, the church to which the Lord adds the saved (Acts 2:47).
“Our first skating party this fall is scheduled for Thursday, September 29, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Anderson rink. See your Bus Captain. . . for further details’,.’ (Hillcrest Hi-Lights, September 25, 1977, I3illcrest Church of Christ, 2201 Hillcrest Drive, Anderson, Indiana 46012).
A church skating party is not an activity sanctioned by Jesus who “is the head of the . . . church” (Col. 1:18). Jesus did not buy the church with His “own blood’; (Acts 20:28) so that she could engage in recreational activities and then advertise these pursuits. Is there any wonder that many unsaved people believe the church is unnecessary for salvation and the church is a relic of the past when they see the church engaging is such merriment? Refreshment of one’s body or mind through play was never practiced by any New Testament church. Why? Jesus never approved church involvement in recreation! The Holy Spirit never revealed it! The apostles never taught it! Where is the Scripture approving a church skating party?
The church of the living God is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). “Pillar and ground” is used metaphorically to teach the church, in her collective capacity, her responsibility in maintaining “the doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9). This maintaining is done by the church teaching “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and practicing what inspired men taught “every where in every church” (1 Cor. 4:7) Do you agree?
A church skating party is not maintaining “the doctrine of Christ” in either teaching or practice! I request any individual or church to provide the Scripture approving “our . . . skating party.” Recreation provided by the church is not having Jesus as “the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22). Will anyone answer my request? What New Testament church ever, remotely engaged in any activity akin to “our . . . skating party”?
There is not anything wrong with a skating party or any other legal recreational activities, provided individuals and./ or organizations, which do not claim Jesus as her head and the Scriptures as a guide, furnish the play. Examples of those organizations would be (1) The American Legion, (2) The Girl Scouts of America, (3) Young Men’s Christian Association, (4) Senior Citizens Community Center, Inc., (5) Police Pal Club, (6) Big Brothers-Big Sisters of America, and/-or (7) Skatemor Roller Rink.
More recreation is needed by all. ages, not just the pre-school age, elementary school age, junior high age, and high school age! This needed recreation cannot scripturally be provided by the church! Church recreational activities desecrate the church bought with the blood of God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16). We request that all church recreation cease and that the church permit Jesus to be “the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22). Let the church be the church. Are those expressions your thoughts, too?
“Our annual Thanksgiving Supper will be next Saturday, Nov. 19, at 6:00 p.m. in the church fellowship hall” (Nov. 13, 1977 bulletin, Free Will Baptist Church, 1125 East 38th Street, Anderson, Indiana).
“Sunday Evening Fellowship-This evening, the Lord willing, we will meet again for a period of fellowship and refreshments. . . We will meet for an hour or so after the evening services” (January 26, 1975 bulletin, Meadowbrook Church of Christ, 601 W. 38th Street, Anderson, Indiana).
“Two eight-foot tables have been ordered for fellowship . . . in the fellowship room” (August 24, 1975, Hillcrest Hi-Lights, Hillcrest Church of Christ, 2201 Hillcrest Drive, Anderson, Indiana 46012).
Those three quotations are examples of multitudes that can be provided showing how churches are desecrating that blood bought institution for which Jesus died and influencing the world to look upon the church as a “glorified” restaurant. A dining room is a room in which meals are served. Churches, in order to give some semblance of respecting Jesus, will not call their room in which meals are served a dining room! Churches call their room in which meals are served “the fellowship room” or “the fellowship hall.”
The word “fellowship” is a New Testament word, but in reference to activities of the church “fellowship” is not used once to have any meaning or implication toward food for the body. Why do churches desecrate a Bible word?
Activities for the church are “. . . the perfecting of the saints …. the work of the ministry …. the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). “The perfecting of the saints” means the church teaches and motivates her members, saints, to be mature, act like adults. This is done by using “the gospel of Christ . . . the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). Why use the gospel? The saints will then “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “The work of the ministry” means the church relieves “the poor saints” (Rom. 15:26) in whatever county, city, state, or nation those “poor saints” might reside. The relief the church provides is based on the ability the church possesses (2 Cor. 8:1112). Saints become “poor” through events over which they have no control such as a “great dearth” (Acts 11:28). For saints to receive church benevolence, they cannot become “poor” through improper use of credit or bad money management or laziness. “The edifying of the body of Christ” means the church preaches “the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12). The result will be that responsible individuals will “repent, and be baptized . . . in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and . . . shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
“The church fellowship hall” or “the fellowship room” cannot be placed in either of the three divine activities: (1) “the perfecting of the saints,” (2) “the work of the ministry,” and/ or (3) “the edifying of the body bf Christ.” The conclusion is that the church dining room is not a divine activity for the church and must therefore be rejected by all churches wanting Jesus as “the head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22).
We ask any church wishing to justify a church dining room to provide the Scripture permitting “the church fellowship hall.” Why can “dining room churches” not learn “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17)?
“Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17) must be the guidance for the church in all of her activities. When that guidance is in the heart of the church, all of her actions or pursuits will reflect that she was “purchased with” Jesus’ “own blood” (Acts 20:28). “A church skating party”-recreation church and “dining room churches” desecrate “the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10). Let the church be the church.
Truth Magazine XXII: 27, pp. 444-445
July 13, 1978