Love feast v. Formal ceremony

Jude called it a love feast (Jude 12), Peter used similar terminology (2 Peter 2:13), Luke called it the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42), Paul called it the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20) and said,

“Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast…” (1 Cor 5:7-8)

It was during the Hebrew celebration called the Feast of the Passover that Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19) While growing up, He traveled with His family to Jerusalem every year according to the custom of the Feast (Luke 2:41-47), which is when, at the age of twelve, He got left behind and they came back and found Him debating the teachers in the temple.

If you’re not familiar with the origins of the Feast of the Passover, just read Exodus 11-12 real quick. Passover was a yearly celebration in remembrance of God delivering the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It included a full meal with lamb, unleavened bread, the fruit of the vine, etc.

Our Passover

On the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), the day Jesus rose from the dead, we celebrate our deliverance from slavery to sin, our death and resurrection with Christ (Rom 6:1-11), and the love of Jesus which we are to imitate. It’s not a funeral (the impression you get in some places) for Jesus isn’t dead. He rose from the dead, guaranteeing our resurrection! Therefore let us celebrate the feast!

The first Scriptures mentioned above indicate that the first Christians enjoyed a full meal together. It was an informal assembly of Christians in someone’s home, and each one would share a psalm, a teaching, or an exhortation.

After a couple decades of this practice by the growing, spreading Christian movement, the apostle Paul wrote to the church he had planted in Corinth, admonishing them for immature and fleshly behavior. Divisiveness and factions were evident during the time they should have come together for the love feast. He rebuked them saying, “When you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating, each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” Paul instructed them to wait for one another and to eat at home if they were too hungry to wait. (See 1 Cor 11:17-34)

Each congregation has lots of freedom in determining the way they want to do things. The situation at Corinth lets us know that it’s best to celebrate the memorial feast together if your group can behave themselves.

Modern Application

A full meal doesn’t seem realistic when considered from the later developed, widely practiced, formal ceremony perspective. With three thousand converted after the first preaching of the gospel (Acts 2:42-47), how did they all break bread in someone’s home? They didn’t. They were “breaking bread from house to house.”

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matt 18:20)

Don’t be deceived by people on power trips who condemn anyone who doesn’t meet under their roof. First century Christians met from house to house, even in the same city. The home environment is ideal for a joyful family gathering where authentic relationships can be developed and meaningful conversations can take place over a meal.

Organized religion has really given Christianity a bad image. Over a thousand years of rigid ceremonies and superstitious rules has convinced many people that they already know about Christianity and they don’t want anything to do with it.

Many modern sects have reacted by creating a competing entertainment-driven version that is delivered to the masses with a slick marketing package, just like a franchised box store. In either case, it’s basically just a show put on by the clergy for the laity.

After experiencing the superficialness of big religion, I have learned to be content following the New Testament pattern. It’s alright, and really more authentic, if it’s just a few families assembling together. They hold each other accountable and truly become ministers of God.

They get to dig into the meat of the word together, rather than huddling with the malnourished masses who are served up watered down milk every week. They can work together to plant additional congregations in their community, surrounding region, and send preachers all over the world, just like the first century church did.

Next up: Freedom in Christ v. Divisive laws invented >>>


Authentic relationships v. Keep it to Sunday

The Ten Commandments themselves are all about relationships with God and others. If you lie, steal, murder, etc., you’ll quickly ruin any relationship. But good relationships aren’t created simply by the absence of wrong behavior; good relationships require the doing of good.

This is what New Testament Christianity is all about. The seeds of this concept were planted in the Old Testament and quoted by Jesus in answer to someone’s question:

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, o Israel! the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

Please answer each of these questions: How do you love God with all your heart? How do you love God with all your soul? How do you love God with all your mind? How do you love God with all your strength? And if you do all that, how do you have any love left for your neighbor or yourself?

We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 John 4:19-21)

Loving God doesn’t mean hiding out in a monastery, secluded from people. Quite the opposite:

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:16-18)

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 25:40, “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Jesus led by example. He denied every worldly desire, choosing instead to serve others; personally teaching them about the kingdom of heaven and training each one to do the same. You can read about the results in the book of Acts. And the rest of the New Testament is filled with instructions about having good relationships with one another.

Institutionalized Love

The institutionalization of anything always diminishes personal responsibility and initiative. Anyone who’s ever experienced a spontaneous outpouring of love from Christians has benefited a lot more than someone who’s gotten an obligatory visit from the clergy.

Many think Christianity is keeping some rules and attending some ceremonies. Organized religion promotes this idea because it keeps them in business. Don’t be deluded. Dressing up and playing church every Sunday is not New Testament Christianity.

We have received a higher calling! Love takes all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The result of true worship, transformation of character, and becoming a new creature should be authentic relationships.

It’s not the job of ‘the church’ to love people and spread the gospel. If you are a Christian, you are the church. It’s your job! Jesus rolled up His sleeves and got His hands dirty (so to speak), and He expects us to do the same. What does being a disciple of Jesus Christ really look like? Read this very slowly:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:3-5)

Wouldn’t it be easier to just ‘go to church’ on Sundays, split hairs over inconsequential stuff, and pat yourself on the back for paying an institution to do good to others, while living the rest of your life like the rest of the world? Yes, it’s easier to be a hypocrite than it is to be authentic, but the reward isn’t as good.

Will you accept Christ’s higher calling of taking up your cross daily, getting the word of God into your heart, soul, and mind daily, and considering how to apply each verse with all your strength to each of your relationships?

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, [if you warm the seat of a pew once a week? no…] if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)


Next up: Love feast v. Formal ceremony >>>

Meet together v. Divide into age groups

Picture a big family get-together where everyone is happy to encourage others. This is what church is supposed to be like and Scripture teaches us how. The church we’re talking about is not organized religion. That’s a formal ceremony rather than a joyful family gathering. Formal ceremonies and children don’t go well together.

This is part of a discussion about the contrast between organized religion and the highly relational home churches described in the New Testament.

In our next discussion, we’ll be talking about the differences between meeting in homes and meeting in buildings; totally different atmospheres. Here we’re talking about meeting together v. dividing into age groups. Our last discussion was about parents teaching children v. anyone but parents teaching children. These topics are all closely related.

The Bible says the church is a family that is to be devoted to loving one another just as Jesus does. In a highly relational home church, all age groups learn how to respectfully interact with and relate to all age groups.

Related Scriptures

Deuteronomy 31:12 says that men, women, and children were to assemble to hear the word of the Lord. Most children understand a lot more than many people give them credit for.

According to Psalm 127:3, “Children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.” This idea has been aggressively attacked. It is common for people to sacrifice their children for reasons ranging from convenience to careers. Add some disastrous parenting philosophies and you have a recipe for children being regarded as nothing but a nuisance.

Luke 18:15-16 tells how the apostles rebuked parents who were bringing their babies to Jesus. The apostles were accustomed to organized religion. But Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Permit the children to come… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. (Luke 11:17)

Dividing Into Age Groups

The child evangelism Sunday school movement is only a couple hundred years old. A natural extension of organized religion, it has evolved into youth groups, camps, children’s church, vacation Bible school, etc.; and is commonly used as a marketing ploy.

Youth programs are often entertainment driven. God says that bribes corrupt the heart (See Ecc 7:7), and yet bribing has commonly been used to increase attendance, compliance, and participation in class activities.

Competing in today’s religious climate is a tough business. Maintaining manmade traditions has often taken highest precedence. Desperate to find victims willing to teach a group of today’s untrained children, guilt has been used and immature and otherwise undesirable teachers have been used. Those who’ve had their arm twisted to get them to take their turn don’t make very desirable teachers, and neither do child predators who can easily fill the void left by parents.

Recipe For Disaster

Organized religion has invented a new entry level position that’s often called youth minister. Youth ministers are typically young and responsible for entertaining hormone-raging teenagers. Has your town, like so many others, been touched by one of the almost inevitable scandals?

After considering just these few points, it’s not surprising that so many children raised in organized religion reject it when they become adults. They’re Biblically illiterate. They haven’t learned to interact well with other age groups. They’ve been entertained all their life, and entertainment is what they continue to pursue.

What’s More Biblical?

Let me remind you of the reality that everyone’s eternity is at stake. Christians are supposed to teach the whole message of this life; everything pertaining to life and godliness. Parents have been entrusted with a stewardship for which they will be judged. Children grow up and make decisions based largely on their upbringing.

Why don’t we do what God says and teach parents to raise their children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord? Offering all of these unscriptural youth programs enables parents to think that someone else is doing their job so they can continue to neglect their parental responsibilities.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. I have just scratched the surface of this issue. What else should be considered?


Next up: Meet in homes v. Maintain a building >>>

Parents teach children v. Anyone but parents teach children

There are myriads of theories about education. How are parents to sort through the options and make the best decision for each of their children? I felt a little overwhelmed when approaching this subject with my wife.

We did a lot of consultation and investigation, and asked God for lots of wisdom. We found that the best way to cut through the confusion was to start with a foundation based on the word of God. We believe that the One Who made us knows best.

So what does God’s word say about education? Proverbs has a lot to say about it, but the following two passages, one out of the Old Testament and one out of the New Testament, really summarize the Bible’s teaching on education. As you read them, ask the ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ questions:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut 6:4-7)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

Education is a private enterprise. Fathers will answer to God for the stewardship they have been given.

Let’s Come At This from a Different Angle

You may recognize this line, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (The Declaration of Independence)

Did these guys know what they were talking about? Does God endow all men with certain unalienable rights? Show me the B.C.V. (book, chapter, and verse) for human rights.

The commandment, “Don’t murder,” means that your neighbor is not supposed to murder you. It grants you the right to life. The commandment, “Don’t steal,” means that your neighbor is not supposed to steal from you. It grants you the right to enjoy the fruit of your labor, which is the difference between a slave and a free man.

Any man or group of men who violate your rights will answer to God. On earth, civil government is supposed to protect your rights, not assist those who would violate them. Is there a difference between someone who steals the fruit of your labor and someone who’s elected to steal the fruit of your labor? In other words, if criminals gang up on you, does that make it right? What if they say it’s for the children?

Someone once said that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. Democracy is rule by majority. It is a temporary form of government, lasting only until theft by vote leaves nothing else to take.

The Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. understood that rights come from God and cannot be legitimately taken away by the majority. So they founded a republic, which is rule by law (has nothing to do with political parties).

There is no area of life that is exempt from the authority of the word of God!

No man has the right to steal from you to feed or educate his family. He has a responsibility to work and provide. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If a man won’t work, neither let him eat. (2 Thess 3:10) If anyone doesn’t provide for his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim 5:8) This is a salvation issue.

Those who profess to be Christians should teach the whole counsel of God; everything pertaining to life and godliness. How can we be silent about an area as important as the education of children? Unfortunately, this has been the case.

As a result, our society has become saturated with deceptive philosophies. Parents have been convinced to surrender responsibility for their children’s education. Now, anyone but parents teach children! Many anti-Christian ideas are taught, and it’s often paid for by stealing the fruits of our labor!

I pay for the home education of my children and I pay for the education of my neighbors children (public education costs ten times as much per child). At the same time, I am happy to volunteer to help my neighbors home educate their children.

“Restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6)


Next up: Meet together v. Divide into age groups >>>