Route 22 - The Work of the Church - 1st Timothy 3:15
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised to establish His church.  In Matthew 28:18-20, He told the method by which its
continuation would be guaranteed.  Those who hear the gospel and obey it are added to the church.  They teach
others the gospel, who obey it and are added to the church.  They teach others the gospel, who obey it and are
added to the church.  Today's lesson will look at the church in action:  how, in New Testament times, the church
carried out the work God has given it to do.




Church of Christ
at
Locks Cross Roads
22 - THE Work of the Church - 1st Timothy 3:15

                                                                          Salvation of Souls

This is THE work of the church.  Man has no greater need, and God can offer no greater gift.  We must
be careful not to elevate other works the church may perform to a status that would distract us from the
church's main goal.

The Lost

22 - Romans 1:16-17
  - The gospel of Christ is the only power that can save man from his sins.
  - It is the only message in which he can learn of the righteousness of God.

22 - Acts 2:38, 40-41, 47
  - Just as the Lord had commanded them, the apostles preached the gospel to the lost in Jerusalem, and those
     who believed the message obeyed it in baptism and were added by God to the church.  
       - See Acts 4:4 and Acts 5:14.

22 - Acts 8:1,4
  - Thus, those who had heard the gospel and obeyed it, taught others the gospel.

Edification of the Saved

Definition: "edification"
- (Grk. oikodome, "building").  Means building up.  A building is therefore called an
edifice.  Accordingly, the work of confirming believers in the faith of the gospel and adding to their knowledge and
grace is appropriately expressed by this term.  (From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary.  Originally published by
Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois.  Copyright (c) 1988).
This building up is not just numerical growth but spiritual growth as well.

22 - Ephesians 4:11-16
  - Edification, which is based on truth, builds up each individual saint, and as all the saints continue to edify the
     others and be edified themselves, they form a solid structure, an edifice, the pillar and ground of the truth,
     which is the church.  See Romans 14:19.

22 - Acts 20:17-18, 32
  - In Paul's final visit with the elders of Ephesus, he warned them against those who pervert the scriptures, charged
    them to guard the church over which they served as elders, and to use the word of God to be built up (edified).  
    See Ephesians 2:20-22 and Ephesians 4:29.

                                                       Support of Those Preaching the Gospel

22 - Acts 16:15
  - Lydia (an individual) extended hospitality to Paul and his companions following her conversion.

22 - Acts 13:1-3
  - The church in Antioch of Syria sent Barnabas and Saul into the work of evangelism.
       - Acts 14:26-28
       - At the completion of their journey, Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch where they reported on the
         success of this, the first of Paul's trips to preach the gospel of Christ.  There were converts from among both
         the Jews and Gentiles.

22 - Philippians 1:3-5
  - Paul referred to the material support he received from the church at Philippi as "fellowship in the gospel."

22 - Philippians 4:14-18
  - The gift of support for Paul did not pass through a sponsoring church or missionary organization before reaching
     Paul, but was brought directly to him from the churches sending aid to him.  See 2nd Corinthians 11:8-9.
  - There is no scriptural authority for one church to oversee the work and resources of the brotherhood or a vast
     portion of it.
       - It extends the oversight of one eldership beyond a single local congregation (see Acts 20:28), sacrificing
         church autonomy.  The sponsoring church arrangement destroys equality.

                                                                           The Church Treasury

22 - 1st Corinthians 16:1-2
  - A collection of funds is authorized, a "treasury."
  - The church is authorized to use its funds to provide for performing what God wants it to do (worship, Bible study,
     preaching, teaching).
  - A treasury or collection of funds on hand is an expedient for doing so.
  - Collection made from funds each person sets aside - separate from personal expenditures.  See 2nd Corinthians
     9:7 and Acts 5:1-4.
       - The money in Ananias's pocket was his to use at his own discretion.
       - It was NOT the church's money until he gave it up.
       - When one gives to this collection, he ceases ownership of that gift.  The funds then become church property,
          to be used for the spiritual purpose of the church.

                                                                                 
Benevolence

Individual Benevolence

22 - 1st Timothy 5:8,16
  - An individual is to help his relatives who are in need so the church will not be burdened.

22 - Ephesians 4:28
  - An individual is to help other individuals who are in need.
       - See Luke 10:25-30 and 33-35, Luke 19:8, Acts 10:1-2 and 1st John 3:17

22 - James 1:27
  - While many have used this passage to justify the construction of benevolent homes (orphans, elderly, unwed
    mothers, etc) by the church, the context of this verse and the verse itself clearly shows the command to see to
    the needs of orphans and widows is addressed to THE INDIVIDUAL.  As will be seen later, the church is restricted
    in its benevolence toward widows, but the individual has not such restrictions.
  - Over and over, Jesus stressed the obligation for each individual to recognize the needs of others, and accept
    the responsibility to assist the needy out of a heart of love.

Benevolence From the Church For Its Own Needy Saints

  - Since physical destitution diminishes the power of saints to do the spiritual work God intended, benevolence
    assists the spiritual purpose of the church.
       - Non-Christians were not assisted because they do not serve the purpose of the church.  Neither were funds
         used for things not related to the purpose of the church.  The creation of human benevolent agencies as an
         adjunct of the church has moved toward a program of GENERAL benevolence, which is without authority.  
         See 2nd Corinthians 8:4.  If the church is involved in general benevolence, it is in "fellowship" with
         non-Christians.
  - In the New Testament benevolence from the church assisted the destitute who were involved in the spiritual
    work - Christians,
ONLY IN TIME OF NEED.  
       
- Need refers to the basics of life.  Not to maintain a certain level of earthly treasures and wealth.  Not an
         ongoing program, but an "emergency relief."

22 - Acts 2:44-45
  - The church in Jerusalem helped its own needy saints.
  - Notice that the "all" in verse 44 defines the "all" of verse 45.
       - See Acts 4:32-37.  Funds from individual sales were laid at the apostles' feet, creating a common treasury of
         the church from which distribution was made to the needy saints by the governing office (apostles, in this
         case).

22 - Acts 6:1-4
  - The church of Jerusalem helped its own needy saints.
  - Consistent with the previous texts, distribution was made by the apostles from a common treasury of the church.

22 - 1st Timothy 5:3-10
  - Not only was the church restricted to rendering benevolence to saints only, but even certain widows were not to
    be enrolled for permanent assistance.
  - Benevolence from the church is limited by what scriptures authorizes.

Benevolence From the Church for Needy Saints Elsewhere

22 - Acts 11:27-30
  - Church at Antioch helped church in Judea (whether multiple churches or just Jerusalem).
  - Disciples elsewhere contributed to a common fund to be delivered to elders of receiving church.
  - Elders of receiving church then distributed these funds to their own needy saints.
  - No intermediary church or organizations.
  - The need was destitution of the saints, not "under-budgeted" projects.
  - The need was temporary, not a permanent institution.

22 - Romans 15:25-31
  - Churches in Galatia, Macedonia and Achaia helped churches in Judea with their needy saints.
       - 1st Corinthians 16:1-4
       - 2nd Corinthians 8:1-4, 10-14
       - 2nd Corinthians 9:1-2, 10-14

Conclusion:
THE work of the church is the salvation of souls, whether these souls are in a lost state, or are already in a saved
condition and need to remain in that condition.  The Bible is clear as to how this work is to be carried out by the
church, both in oversight and funding.  Scripture is also clear on the subject of benevolence: the individual is to
recognize the needs of others, both Christians and non-Christians, and assist them from a heart of love.  The
church, however, is limited in the exercise of benevolence, assisting saints only who are in need that they may be
relieved of earthly deprivation and return to the work God has given them to do:  the salvation of the lost.
Back to Mark Your Bibles Index Page