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Scripture Reading: Acts 4:32-37

Bible Authority, Part 12

Individual Action and Local Church Action

 

Intro.

1.  Extreme: “Whatever the Christian may do the local church may do.”

  a.  Misunderstands or ignores the functional differences between the local church and the individual Christian.  (“Whatever the Christian does, the church is doing,” and/or, “the Christian is the church.”)

  b.  Leads to local church support of and involvement in recreation and entertainment, secular education, business endeavors, general benevolent enterprises, political campaigns, etc.

2.  What does the Scripture say? (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 4:30)

 

I. CHRISTIANITY EMBRACES EVERY AREA OF LIFE.

  A.  Social Relationships (community), Matt. 5:14-16; 1 Pet. 2:12; Rom. 13:8.

  B.  Economic Relationships (business), 1 Ths. 4:11-12; Col. 3:22-4:1.

  C.  Family Relationships (the home), Col. 3:18-21 (Eph. 6:1-4; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).

  D.  Civic Relationships (the government), Rom. 13:1-7.

  E.  Spiritual Relationships (the church), Eph. 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:20-21(4:1-16)

 

II.  INDIVIDUAL DUTIES OF CHRISTIANS EXIST THAT CANNOT BE CARRIED OUT BY THE LOCAL CHURCH (collective).

  A.  The Above Duties are Concurrent (simultaneous, coexisting). 

      -Personal responsibilities and works exist in each area, Gal. 6:5.

  B.  No Bible Authority to “Funnel” Personal Duties of Other Relationships through the Local Church.  For instance:

    1.  Civic:  Vote (1 Pet. 2:13). No authority for local church (LC) to become a polling station.

    2.  Family:  Educate (Eph. 6:4).  No authority for LC to organize, sponsor, fund schools to teach secular education.

    3.  Economic:  Provide living (1 Tim. 5:8). No authority for LC to become a job search center; to enter business; buy and sell (Jas. 4:13).

    4.  Social:  Entertainment (1 Cor. 10:31).  No authority for LC to plan, promote or provide such for its members (1 Cor. 11:22, 34).

    5.  Spiritual:  Bear burdens (Gal. 6:2).  No authority for LC to bear some burdens (cf. 1 Tim. 5:16).

-None should think that because the LC cannot scripturally practice these things that the individual Christian cannot.

-There is a work for the individual and there is a work for the group (LC).

 

III.  CLEAR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE INDIVIDUAL (his Duty and Action) and THE LOCAL CHURCH (its Duty and Action).

  A.  How we Deal with Sin Shows the Distinction, Matt. 18:15-17.

    1.  One brother acting is not church action (18:15); Two or three brethren acting is not church action (18:16); Local church action (18:17).

    2.  Cannot say: “Whatever the individual can do, the LC can do.”

  B.  Separate Treasuries Shows the Distinction, Acts 4:34-5:4.

    1.  Personal fund is for personal use with personal control, 4:34-37; 5:4.

    2.  Congregational fund is for LC’s use under LC’s oversight, 4:35.

    3.  Peter had no personal funds, yet the LC funds were at his feet, Acts 3:1-6. Therefore...

      a.  LC treasury is not at the individual’s disposal…it is no longer his!

      b.  Cannot say:  “Whatever the individual can do, the LC can do.”

  C.  Separate Reasons and Places to Eat Shows the Distinction, 1 Cor. 11:20-22, 34.

    1.  LC: Come together in one place to eat Lord’s supper, 11:18, 20, 33.

    2.  Individuals: Houses to eat in; Eat at home, 11:22, 34.

    3.  Cannot say: “Whatever the individual can do, the LC can do.”

  D.  Helping Needy Christian Widows Shows the Distinction, 1 Tim. 5:16.

    1.  Any member of LC: Relieve own (family) widows, 5:8; do not charge LC.

    2.  LC: Enroll “widows indeed” (5:3, 9-10); Refuse younger widows, 5:11.

    3.  Cannot say:  “Whatever the individual can do, the LC can do.”

 

Conclusion

1.  We must determine through correct Bible study skills (2 Tim. 2:15) whether individual action or LC action is commanded / allowed.

  a.  cf. General benevolence:  Gal. 6:10; Jas. 1:27 (individual context).

  b.  Otherwise, we will act without Bible authority (Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jno 9).