Three Ways To Do God's Work
There is no question that God gave everyone a duty to perform. There are several scriptures that teach us that we are to be doing God's work. This work includes all that is necessary for obtaining salvation, building up and edifying our brethren, and taking care of those less fortunate that ourselves. The individual Christian has a great many responsibilities in fulfilling their obligation to God.
The church has the same responsibilities, but in a more limited fashion. Teaching the gospel, or evangelism, is the responsibility of the church. The edification and building up of the local church ranks high on its priorities. But when it comes to helping the less fortunate, the Bible teaches a limited responsibility for the local church. Only those who are saints are allowed to be taken care of by the church. In reality, God wants this to be done by individual Christians and the benevolence by the church is to be used as a last resort. In 1 Timothy 5, we read that family (and friends) should take care of these without involving the church. Our only examples found in scripture are benevolence to those who are members. In Acts 11, we find Christians in one area collecting funds for those in another area. The funds were sent to the leaders (elders) of the church in Jerusalem to be distributed to those who needed them. There is never an example of Christians sending to a human organization to do its work.
Brethren often use lame arguments to support sending church funds to a human organization to act as an extension of helping the church do its duty. The appeal to do good (which many of these institutions do) seems to over-ride the instructions from the Bible. It appears that as long as the members can feel good about themselves, it is alright to ignore basic Bible teaching. When challenged they will bring up paying the electric company for our energy, or the water company for its services. These to be sure are necessary for a local church to function, but does not fit into the same category as the institutions.
Another way that individuals can work together is by doing things separate and apart from the church. If some brethren want to open a school, orphanage, clinic, or a disaster relief agency, they have the right to do so. What these brethren do not have the right to do is solicit funds from any local congregations. Even though these institutions does a work which we can call a work of God, it must be known that this is not a work of the church, but a work of individual Christians.
In the Bible, the church is the only institution established by God to do His work. And, since the members make up the church, that work is really designed for members to do. Often, it seems that, members contribute and agree to the use of these institutions to make themselves feel good that they are doing God's work.
There is no authority for any church to build or operate an institution other than the local church. There is no authority to collect funds from other local churches to do what they consider a "good" work. Every Christian is to do what they have the ability to do. God does not ask us to do things we do not have the ability to do. To set up an institution is going beyond scriptural authority.
By Carey Scott
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