Separation – Life experiences, putting it into practice

The question is often raised ‘why are you people so fussy about who you eat with?’……’ Jesus when He was here ate with sinners’!!! It’s a fair question and demands an answer.

The comment is sometimes made in criticism of our practices of separation that ‘Jesus ate with sinners when here on earth ‘. Yes, when He was here and He could do so because he was holiness personified.

Now look at Acts 10 v 34-43:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

After his resurrection Peter makes it quite clear that Jesus was openly seen, not of all the people but of witnesses who were chosen before of God – ‘even to us who have eaten and drunk with him after he arose from among the dead’.Jesus only appeared to His disciples and those who believed in Him AFTER the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ and His ascension now relates to those who love Him and believe in Him. That is why we only eat with those we break bread with……because such believe in Him are linked with him where He NOW is. The public appearing of Jesus lies ahead.The resurrection and ascension of Jesus means that every link with Him is where He is now i.e. ascended beyond all heavens – till the APPEARING which follows the rapture.


My Personal Experiences

One example is that “eating together is fellowship” and the observance of the Lord’s Supper is the very centre of our fellowship and so we do not eat with anyone who does not observe the Lord’s Supper with us.

I well remember before 1960 that from time to time I ate with various persons – in restaurants or while travelling together in a car and very occasionally in the home of an employee [sales representative] who I was working with in a rural area.It was not an habitual practice because ‘giving thanks to God for my meals’ was a habit from boyhood and I found it awkward when with persons I did not break bread with.Early in 1960 I  remember hearing the words – ‘eating together involves a form of fellowship’ – it struck me with considerable force that this was true and that it explained why, on some occasions I had felt uncomfortable or, as in 3 particular cases the surroundings were also distasteful to me.

By mid-1960 it had become clear that from then on it was to be a different way of life – no eating ever again with persons we did not break bread with.An example of explaining it to people I was connected with in business was that a company from Melbourne I represented in N.S.W. to do with fire ratings was owned by a family who were Lutheran. I explained my position and they immediately declared themselves as to what they believed. Over a period of several years the whole functioning of the activities was very smooth and profitable and there was respect for one another. There were several occasions when WHY we did things my way was accepted by them. In fact, when the time came for them to sell the business the management of the new business sought me out in view of continuing the marketing activity even though they knew of my peculiarities!!!!

On another occasion I was active on behalf of another specialist manufacturer’s client. I advertised the business and one of the repliers asked for an appointment. It was agreed that we meet and discuss the details at Sydney Airport in the terminal building. When we met at the building we found that the only place available with a table was in the cafeteria.Before we started I said “I am a believer in the Lord Jesus and I only eat with persons I break bread with at the Lord’s Supper.’ His answer was very interesting……’that’s all right by me – you know what it means?’  ‘What?’  ‘That I can trust the information that you give me’!!

Jim L Joyce

8 thoughts on “Separation – Life experiences, putting it into practice”

  1. Liu says:


  2. Rudi Kunz says:

    Dear Sir,
    I must honestly say that your reasoning here makes no sense to me. For in this passage Peter makes it clear that what he was saying was relating history as one of the witnesses. This is clearly not a prescriptive passage only a descriptive one.
    However , assuming this is prescriptive, are you not neglecting one of the aspects Peter is mentioning here all together ? He clearly mentions that Jesus only appeared to believers after His resurrection ! Would this not mean, if you are saying that because He only ate with believers after His resurrection so now you only eat with believers, this would require you to only allow other believers to see you ! Or at least only have contact with other believers !
    I do not see how you could engage with unbelievers at all !
    It seems clear to me that Jesus life here on earth is what relates to us, this is what we are to model our lives on. During His life on earth He as tempted in all things and He overcame not relying on His own power ( himself being God) but on the Holy Spirits enabling. Also we have not yet died physically and been raised from the dead like He has . Yes we are born again, brought to live spiritually !
    I do however agree that the Bible clearly teaches us to be separate from the world ! However this should show in our lives in other ways, like in our honesty, we always do what e say, naturally we never lie ( including “white lies”),loving one another as Christ loved us (not just talk about it but do it), no divorce and remarriage, instead of relying on insurance we actually trust God , throw out our TV (the world out of our houses), only use PC for what is necessary and does not dishonor God ! I could list more,but trust you are getting my drift .
    Rudi Kunz

    1. gypsylass1 says:

      So the question becomes then – what constitutes a believer? Does this assume that if all other religions or spiritual practices throughout the world are different from the PB faith, that they are classified as non-believers?

  3. Robert says:

    I feel although we are to live separate lives from unbelievers we are to reach them with the gospel. The apostle Paul wrote in 1Cor 5: 9 “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world”.

    I believe we need to relate with them and demo Christ’s love and values. It’s an opportunity to share the gospel.

    1. Tom says:

      Brethren actively street preach and associate with people from all walks of life every day through business and community service.

      God in His infinite goodness has made the gospel available to all.

  4. Jane says:

    Thank you, Mr Joyce, that’s very helpful, and incredibly interesting.
    So well explained, and makes the ‘issue’ of separation so clear. Personally I don’t understand how people CAN accuse you of being fussy, etc, but I’d like to think that they just don’t understand – and I wish they would all read this post, because it makes it so simple!

    1. oddsox says:

      Your last comment hits the nail on the head, Jane – some people don’t understand – basically because they don’t bother to find out the truth!

      While at college several years ago I befriended a fellow student who witnessed the insults and abuse I received from a few biased students – and her advice to me was “Take no notice of them – they are just completely ignorant”…

  5. JStar says:

    Excellent! Very much appreciated.

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