Some brethren assume they should not TALK about the Bible when visiting one another, unless a minister is present. Let's understand when and how we should talk about the Bible — and to whom!
HUNDREDS of you brethren still have no local church. Yet you can and do visit one another. Because God forbids His people to assemble without a minister, some have hastily concluded they should never discuss the Bible with brethren unless a minister is present. Several ministers have had brethren — who have no local church — tell them: "We visit each other on occasion during the week, sometimes on the Sabbath. But we want you to understand that we are especially careful not to talk about the Bible! We discuss personal things, the weather, current events, but we keep away from Bible subjects!" Brethren, let's understand.
What Should You Talk About?
We have never said you must not talk about the Bible unless a minister is present. We have said you should not assemble as a local group for Bible study and teach each other without a minister. But that is something altogether different from occasionally visiting with brethren. If the Bible isn't something you should ever talk about, why talk at all? Why visit brethren, if you cannot talk about the very Book that tells you how to be brethren? Why, the very reason you should want to be with brethren, instead of the world; is that you can discuss the Bible and spiritual topics. If you cannot talk about the Bible with each other, then you are no different from the world! The one thing that makes the people around you worldly is that they have nothing else to talk about except material things and other people! The one thing that ought to make your conversation different from the world is that you can talk about God and His Word! The society around us became worldly when it refused to retain God in its knowledge. The world today has its mind on the things of this world, this present age and time, this world's inventions and gadgets, its philosophies and speculations. How many people of this world really talk about God and the Bible and understand the Plan of God? Are some of us becoming so material minded, so worldly, that we no longer find the Bible interesting, inspiring, the one book we most enjoy reading and talking about? If you cannot talk about the Bible with brethren during weekly social occasions, then you had better stay at home, pray and read the Bible by yourself.
When to Visit
The time to visit brethren as a social occasion is during the week or after the Sabbath. But being sociable does not mean being like the world. We are to come out of the world, to be separate from the world, no longer to think and act like the world. We are to think and act like God-like Jesus Christ. We should have our minds on spiritual truth, not mundane, transitory physical things. If you have farm problems, talk it over from the Biblical point of view. If your brethren are feeling downcast and in need of social entertainment, invite them. Inspire them by your experiences — what God has done for and through you — and turn to the Bible and read Bible examples of what God did and has promised still to do for us today. But if there is any doubtful problem that you have never heard God's ministers discuss before, and about which you are not clear, write us at Headquarters, or write your nearest local minister. Don't continue discussing it. Only hard feelings can result if you are not in harmony. This is the way God ordained to keep unity in the Church. The Sabbath day is not a day for social visits. On occasion a converted mate, living with an unconverted family, may feel the need to visit converted neighbors for an hour or so for spiritual invigoration. But the practice of visiting on the Sabbath should be avoided. It is a day for us to study and pray, read and meditate on the Bible in private communion with God, or together wherever there is a local church of God. Yet some brethren carelessly have acquired the habit of visiting on the Sabbath without talking about the Bible. Shame on you! God expressly forbids us to speak our own words — worldly, material conversation — on His Holy Sabbath. Isaiah was inspired to write: "...call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable;... honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, NOR SPEAKING THINE OWN WORDS" (Isa. 58:13). The Sabbath is the one day we especially ought to speak of, and talk about, God's words — the Bible. At times some have even made the Sabbath a burden and not a delight by spending most of their time at the homes of brethren instead of praying and reading and studying their Bible in their own home. The Sabbath is not a day for social fellowship — it is a day for personal spiritual fellowship with God in Heaven, and with Christ. Our spiritual fellowship with one another is always through Christ. Most of our time needs to be spent with Him, in prayer, in reading and studying His Word. Then, if time permits, it is encouraging to visit on the Sabbath for a little while those brethren who are elderly, or afflicted, or who have no other spiritual contact because of unconverted relatives and family. Read the Bible to them or the magazines if they are unable to read. But this does not mean you can begin regular visiting that leads to planned Bible study where you or someone else inevitably becomes a kind of leader to teach all the others what he (or she) thinks he knows. Notice what James was inspired to write about visiting brethren: "If any man among you seems to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue," — talks about worldly things, or wants to take the lead over others in Bible study — "but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world" (James 1:26-27). When the Holy Bible ceases to be your guide, when you begin to want your own way, when your tongue begins to lead you astray — you have become spotted, contaminated by the world. Your religion is vain! You have become like the world! It is your responsibility to properly use your liberty to visit one another. You ought to be spiritually mature enough to know what to say. Finally, brethren, remember this: you can and should open your Bible and read verses about a subject that might come up in your conversation. How else are you going to know exactly what God says about any problem? If you are not sure about it, you have the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course, the Good News and The Plain Truth and the booklets to check up in. If you don't find the answer, write us. And when you do visit one another for a social occasion, keep your conversation guided by what God thinks. We don't mean use pseudo-spiritual sounding phrases. It is not the spiritual words you use that count, it is the spiritual thoughts you think and the spiritual deeds you do that count! Keep your mind on the goal — the Kingdom of God, and on your part in it — not on the little petty physical things around you. Your social visiting should never be from a selfish, getting motive, but always from a spiritual, giving motive — seeing how much you can inspire others by your presence and conversation. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20: 36).