Tag Archives: eating in the church building

Is It A Sin To Eat In The Church Building? — Robby Eversole

Back in the mid 1940’s a movement was born that has worn the moniker anti-ism. This name was given because those of this persuasion were against many things. This nomenclature was given to them before I was born. I mean no disrespect by the use of the term anti.

A little history will perhaps prove needful. This movement had its roots in condemning how money was spent in evangelism. In 1952 the Highland Avenue Church of Christ in Abilene, TX, was presented a marvelous opportunity to preach the gospel on the radio. The church didn’t have the money, so the elders signed the contract at the radio station and sent letters to sister congregations for financial support in preaching the gospel. The money came in and the gospel was preached. This was the beginning of the Herald of Truth Radio Program.

In 1954, this same church was invited to put the Herald of Truth Radio Program on national television. Again, they didn’t have the money. So the elders signed the television contract and mailed letters to sister congregations asking for help. The funds came in and the gospel was preached. Eight years before this in 1946, a man by the name of Roy Cogdill, the father of the anti movement, preached a sermon in California condemning one church helping another church in evangelism. This resistance grew as individuals began to speak against these cooperative efforts and by the mid 1950’s the church was in a civil war.

They were guilty of making laws where God had made no laws. They had no respect for expediency as it relates to Bible authority. It is equally wrong to bind where God has loosed as it is to loose where God had bound. “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 17:15, NKJV). Liberalism justifies wicked things like abortion, homosexuality, and the like. Legalism (anti-ism) condemns just or right things. Both are wrong!

There were multiple divisions within their own ranks. False doctrines began to be propagated on every hand. There arose among them the doctrine of “No Bible class.” They taught that it was a sin to divide the Bible classes into age groups and teach everyone on their level. Then there was the “anti orphan home” movement among them. They taught that it was a sin that would send one to hell for taking a penny out of the church treasury to feed a starving little child. Some said that it was a sin to preach the gospel to the church. Others said that the fruit of the vine had to be drunk from one cup or container. Again, there was no understanding of expediency. In evangelism money had to be given to the preacher. In benevolence the money had to be given to the elders. There were many webs of error that were all based on a failure to understand how the Bible authorizes.

Let’s notice the verse they abused then and continue to abuse today. “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” (1 Cor. 11:22). In this letter Paul was condemning the abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Notice how Paul condemns their actions and attitudes in 1 Corinthians 11:19-21: “For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” They were not doing what they were assembling to do, which was to eat the Lord’s Supper. They were not waiting on one another (1 Cor. 11:33). Some (the rich) were eating to the point of gluttony (KJV, drunken), while the poor were going away hungry (1 Cor. 11:21). They had turned the Lord’s Supper into a common meal, prompting Paul to tell them they were not eating the Supper of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:20).

It was in this context that 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” (1 Cor. 11:22). They had houses in which to eat their common meals. They had despised the church of the Lord because they were not sharing. The problem had nothing to do with eating a meal at the church building. The problem in this instance was that they had replaced the Lord’s Supper with a common meal and the rich were not sharing with the poor. Paul condemns this ungodly behavior. The rich were eating to excess and the poor were leaving hungry. How deplorable!

Paul asked a question in 1 Corinthians 11:22 that we must consider. He asked, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” (emp. mine). The same verse which is used as a proof text to condemn eating in the church building would also condemn drinking in the church building. Eating and drinking are tied together by the coordinating conjunction “and,” which ties together two things of equal rank. If it is wrong to eat in the building, then it is also wrong to drink in the building.

If this is to be a mandate with no qualification from the context, then the only place one could eat would be at home. You couldn’t eat at restaurants, go on picnics, or eat on the job. Travel would be limited. You could be gone from home no longer than your ability to abstain from food. Business travel would be limited. What about the homeless? Where do they eat? What about people in hospitals? They must be brought home three times a day so they can eat and then be taken back. Why? Because one must eat at home! This is the implication of their doctrine if they take Paul’s admonition without any qualification.

Many congregations begin in homes (1 Cor. 16:19). Where are people to eat who do this? Did Aquila and Priscilla have to build a separate structure in which to take their meals? Why didn’t Paul correct this?

This is not just an oversight by Paul and the Holy Spirit because he wrote about churches who met in houses to the Christians in Rome also (Rom. 16:3-5). Church buildings as we know them today were not common in the first century. What church building is found in Acts 20:7-11? It was simply an upper chamber; to whom did it belong? Note that Paul both worshiped and ate in this same upper dwelling. The breaking of bread in verse 7 is the Lord’s Supper, while the breaking of bread in verse 11 is a common meal, both eaten in the same upper room. Apparently Paul did not know that it was sinful to eat in the same building in which he had worshiped. Was Mary’s house rendered unfit for meals? (Acts 12:12) What about Lydia’s house? Could they no longer eat there? (Acts 15:16, 40) The New Testament knows nothing of holy buildings used for Christian worship that were rendered contaminated because someone ate a meal in them.

Is it a sin to eat in the church building? The answer is no. It is wrong to make up laws for God.

Robby lives in Summerville, GA, and preaches for the Pennville congregation. He studied at the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions in Knoxville, TN.

The Challenge To Teach The Truth – Dave Wood

The Proverbs writer once challenged young men to, “Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23).

One might wonder why Solomon needed to challenge any young Israelite to appreciate the truth.  Is it possible that Israel suffered from the very issues that plague Christians today?  Namely, there will be times when the truth is not popular and you will be pressured to “sell” it.  Paul would instruct his “child in the faith” to “preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Marshall Keeble explained that preaching the word, as used in this verse was “…preaching when they want to hear it and preaching when they don’t.”

Solomon’s challenge is still pertinent to preachers today: “Buy the truth and sell it not…”

There is considerable pressure for a preacher to just use pleasing words and not disrupt the status quo.  A preacher, however, is a proclaimer of God’s Word.  With that thought in mind a preacher ought always to let God have His say in every lesson and sermon given.  Let us consider this challenge issued by God’s inspiration.

“Buying the truth.”  What should this mean for the preacher, especially the preacher who is involved in a new work?  Naturally with a new work there can be great pressure on the preacher and his family.  This man has many new faces and names to learn and alongside those faces there are personalities for this preacher to understand.  There exists a desire in every man to be accepted and appreciated.  To meet these pressures, a man might think to soften his Sunday morning sermon or to skip certain verses in a Bible class.

But we are to buy the truth, which gives the idea of making an investment.  When it comes to truth (i.e., God’s word, the Bible, the gospel) no expense is too high.  “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).

Men, in order to “take heed…unto the doctrine” you must know the doctrine.  You must know the truth!  Because you cannot proclaim what you do not know, the challenge is to invest time in studying God’s Word.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Timothy was challenged to study, to give diligence to the truth of God’s Word.  There is a sense of urgency in Paul’s admonition.  Do not put off knowing God’s will, do not put off doing God’s will, and do not put off teaching God’s will!

“Buying the truth” also means that you might, at times, be at odds with people.  In Romans 1:18 Paul described some people as holding down the truth by their unrighteous behavior.  When mankind shrugs off the truth of God’s word they certainly do not appreciate a reminder of God’s counsel.  It becomes offensive to such a darkened heart.  Those at Galatia had listened to false teaching and Paul reminded them again of the truth.  “For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

If there is a choice to make between pleasing God or men, make sure to please God.  It is difficult to know which way the winds of men are blowing.  What is popular one day has perished tomorrow, but truth is always right.  The preacher’s challenge is to buy the truth.

Solomon’s warning is two-fold.  It is not enough to make an investment in the truth, but never, ever sell it.  In other words, the challenge given is to not be a sell-out.  Balak, the king of the Moabites, had a problem.  The Israelites were coming.  Balak had heard about a man who lived a long way from the Moabites, in Mesopotamia.  Balaam was a man whose talents were for hire.  do you remember this man?  Balaam had a reputation for blessing people or cursing people.  His reputation was such that representatives in Moab would make the journey to Mesopotamia to secure the services of Balaam.  Balaam had a great opportunity to stand firmly with the Lord and he wasted it.  Both 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11 mention Balaam and how he sold the truth for financial gain.  This man had a price.  Do you?  Do not sell the truth, no matter what!

A preacher sells the truth when he fails to teach all of God’s commands.  Paul confidently declared to the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

When Paul declared the whole counsel of God, was there anything that he left out?  What would happen if Paul felt fear of being rejected and shunned?  Preachers have put a price tag on godly counsel by refusing to preach on Matthew 19:9 where Jesus stated there is only one reason which a person can seek a divorce and be remarried without living in adultery.  Preachers put a price tag on the truth when they add to God’s word by teaching that the inclusion of mechanical musical instruments in worship is acceptable to God.  This is not God’s counsel because there is no authority for it anywhere in the New Testament.  Preachers put a price tag on the truth when they bind their own scruples on others.  There are those who feel it is wrong to eat “in the church,” so they wrest and twist the scriptures to their satisfaction.  Either way, whether a preacher is taking away from the counsel of God or adding to the counsel of God, he has auctioned off the truth.

There are members of the church who will attempt to persuade preachers to teach and preach their own way.  There is only one thing that will save souls and that is the pure, unadulterated gospel of God.  Consider Paul’s thesis statement for the book of Romans:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

To hear some preachers teach, it is obvious that they think their abilities are the power to salvation, because in their lessons they make more references to their personal stories than to scripture.

There is one path that is always right, there is one message that is always true, and it is found in the Bible, not in the minds of men.  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

The challenge stands to everyone in the Lord’s body, whether preacher, teacher, elder, or deacon: buy the truth, and sell it not.  Now what will you do?

Broad Street Church of Christ, Statesville, NC