The Work of the Local Church
in Acts 2
Churches of Christ are involved in many works that cannot be found in the New Testament. We do not intend to be one of them. These churches advertise, arrange and conduct youth rallies, youth trips, and associated recreational activities. Some of them have senior groups that take senior members to visit local tourist sites. Some churches participate in sports leagues, like the North Garland Church of Christ, that "hosts a non-competitive church softball league every year in late spring early summer. This is an easy going, co-ed league that exists to encourage fun and fellowship between churches" (northgarlandchurch.org/softball/, emphasis, theirs). (The "fun and fellowship between churches" is with local denominations in the league.) There are churches of Christ that operate preschools and K-12 schools, and many that arrange all sorts of social activities. Many of these churches have soup kitchens, food and clothes pantries, etc., to give physical relief to their communities.
It is not new that churches do these things; They have been practiced by denominations for a very long time. Like Israel's demand for a king (to be like the nations around them), these churches of Christ have chosen to be like the denominations around them (1 Sam. 8).
For a church to be a New Testament church, it must follow the pattern of work revealed in the Scriptures. A local church cannot add to the New Testament pattern for its work without incurring God's condemnation (Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:13).
In striking contrast to these modern innovations of human will and wisdom, the Jerusalem church of Christ in Acts 2 was wholly engaged in spiritual work (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 4:6). In Acts 2, we find the approved work of the first local church of Christ. Churches of Christ must do the work approved in Scripture. They must not add additional work for which God never asked and approved in Scripture.
The work of edification (Acts 2:42). The church was being built up through its worship together. The church grew spiritually by teaching God's word, by their fellowship of giving, by eating the Lord's supper and by prayer. Notice the spiritual nature of edification. They did not grow because they got together to do "fun" things like softball and camps. They grew by learning and obeying God word, not by "food, fun and frolic" (Acts 20:32).
The work of benevolence (Acts 2:44-45). The Christians were expressing their mutual care for one another by freely sharing their goods, and even by selling them so the daily needs of their fellow Christians would be supplied. In the New Testament, without exception, when churches worked in benevolence, they relieved needy saints (Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9).
The work of evangelism (Acts 2:46-47). Souls were being saved and added to the church daily. This means the gospel was being preached (Rom. 10:13-17). The church's work is to spread the gospel to save souls (1 Thess. 1:8).
We implore churches of Christ to return to doing God-approved work, and to abandon every work devised by human wisdom. These additions distort and defile the church for which Christ died. Without Bible authority, we dare not act presumptuously (Col. 3:17; Psa. 19:13).
by Joe R. Price
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /