Series on the church of Christ
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST:
THE WORK OF BENEVOLENCE
1. The church's responsibility in benevolence has been at the heart of much of the division in Christ's body over the past 50+ years.
2. Issue: "May a congregation, in its benevolence work & from its church funds, render aid to one not a member of the church?" General or limited benevolence?
3. Heb.8:5 - Since God provides patterns of attitude & actions for His people, we must seek & sustain both.
I. THE WORK OF BENEVOLENCE WAS NEVER USED AS A MEANS OF INTRODUCING THE GOSPEL
TO THE LOST. -(Salvation Army; Rescue Mission, Social
A. Benevolence Is The Fruit Of Christianity, Not The Means Of Spreading It - Acts 4:32-35 (Rom. 15:28).
1. cf. Mk. 6:34 - Jesus taught multitude - 5000 fed.
a. Jno. 6:25-27 - Chided for seeking Him for physical food!
b. Jesus didn't use benevolent help as means of spread-ing gospel!
2. Jno. 6:66 - Many turned away - Had wrong motives - Gospel no longer attractive (cf. benevolence tactic).
3. Jno. 6:44-45 - Gospel draws men to Christ! (Rom. 1:16)
B. Yet, Brethren To This Day Make This Argument To Support & Defend General Benevolence!
1. Bill Jackson, 1984 LaCoste-Jackson Debate: "We are saying also that in the benevolent work of the church there are some occasions wherein aid is rendered to one who is not a Christian & that this in itself has opened doors of evangelism." (End justifies means!!)
2. Mac Deaver, 1987 Holt-Deaver Debate: Argued the work of church is to "save souls." Thus, when benevolence is used to spread gospel, church is doing its work!
3. Where is the Bible authority?!
4. Use 2 Cor.9:13 - pantas "All (men)" - KJV.
a. "All" who? - Christians everywhere! (context).
b. What proves too much proves nothing! (All people? Includes lazy, withdrawn from, false teacher !!)
c. 9:1 -- Saints.
d. 9:12-14- Recipients would thank & glorify God, while praying to God! -- Saints!
e. Rom. 15:25-27 - Gentile Christians partook of (koinonia - fellowship) spiritual things from those who received the benevolent help! -- Saints!
f. 15:30-31 - Pray that Paul be delivered from the disobedient, & accepted by saints!
-Why would disobedient attack Paul if $ for them?!
-Did Paul misapply these funds?! NO!
g. 2 Cor. 9:13 - A class (Jewish saints) within a class (all saints).
II. GOD HAS GIVEN CONSIDERABLE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN IN
BENEVOLENCE - 1 Tim. 6:17-18. -(Ready & willing); Heb.13:16 (Don't forget,
sacrifices); 1 Jno. 3:17-18 (Love of God, action).
A. Passages Of Conflict: Individual Or Congregational Responsibility To All Men?
1. Gal. 6:10 - Individual action, church action, or both?
a. v. 7-9 - Individual concerns.
b. "Can't funnel."
c. cf. Response: "Written to churches" (1:2).
d. Ans. cf. 3:27 - Baptize churches?!! (1:4)
2. Jas. 1:27 - Individual action, church action, or both?
a. v. 19-26 - Individual self-control, implant word, doer of word, this man blessed, keep oneself (same man!).
b. Response: "Prevents church from practicing pure & undefiled religion!"
c. Ans. 1 Tim. 5:16 - Local church is not authorized to do some things!
B. Issue Remains: Individual Action vs. Church Action. (1 Tim. 5:16).
1. Charts - Distinctions exist.
2. We must respect these distinctions.
III. GOD HAS RESTRICTED THE BENEVOLENT WORK OF THE LOCAL CHURCH FROM ITS
COLLECTED FUNDS TO RELIEVING NEEDY SAINTS.
A. A Pattern Exists - NT Pattern in Benevolence.
B. An Revealing Dilemma - Acts 3:1-6.
1. 2:44-45 - Funds available for benevolence.
2. 3:2-3 - Alien sinner in need.
3. 3:4-6 - Had no silver or gold for him! (yet, Acts 4:35, had $).
a. Apostles did have the power of God (healing) to give him.
b. Had the gospel (salvation) to give him (3:12-26)!
c. Did not have $ to give him from the local church!
d. Didn't (couldn't) use benevolent $ to "open doors of evangelism!"- Acts 4:4
1. Acts 20:34-35 - In laboring, we must help the weak.
2. 1 Tim.5:16 - The church must meet its responsibility.
3. We dare not alter the roles of either!