FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

THE WORK OF THE BODY OF CHRIST – PART 4

How the Body Accomplishes its Work –

Christ’s Guidelines for this Work:

Predicated on the understanding of the principles divulged by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 4:11-16), with the intent that they were given to establish the Body of Christ in just these principles of purpose, we will look into the work of the Body by these rules of order:

1.       Nothing the Body of Christ engages in can rend asunder the unity of the Spirit (one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God).

2.      There can only be the order that Jesus the Christ established within the Body of Christ (this demands that there cannot be a human organization or institution established apart from this) – Vs. 11.

3.      The work of the Body of Christ is ordained only by its King, and must not fall prey to the whims of what men think or feel are good works – Vs. 12.

4.      Finally, the work that the bodies’ Head has given for it to accomplish, can only be accomplished by the Body. No saint can dismiss their responsibilities, as given by their King, on any other organization or institution by proxy. Each and every member of the Body of Christ must complete; themselves, the growth and edification of each Body in love!

 

Each Local Body of Christ is Authorized to do:

Care for the Needy - Benevolence!

Remember that we are engaged in a study of what the Body of Christ does and how it does it; in other words what the collective of the entire Body does. As such, the Body of Christ is limited in what it can do by the Head!

On the other hand, the individual Christian has a broader scope to work with in some of these areas (still guided by the Head, but has far fewer limitations as to what they may engage in concerning such subjects as benevolence). Universally, the individual Christian in their specific walk of life, has a couple of great universal rules to follow – first, to abhor evil in every form, Romans 12:9; second, to proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness, 1 Peter 2:9; 3:15.

With this understanding, let us take a look at the first century Body of Christ and notice how it accomplished the work of benevolence.

Acts 2:44-45Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

In order to establish precedence, we will go back to the beginning. This will in turn help us to completely understand the commands of Paul to the Bodies of Christ as well. Here on the Day of Pentecost, those who gladly received the Apostles words were converted and continued in the Apostle’s doctrine (Vs. 41-42). They became to one another a family! As such they not only preferred one another’s company, but cared for one another as well.

Please notice that the benevolence recorded here was for needy saints, provided by able body saints!

This will become a repeated pattern that has to be noticed. In addition, did you notice that there is absolutely no verbiage concerning tithing? This was all a free will practice of love inherent to who these saints are ‘IN’ Christ. Family taking care of family!

Once again, I want to head off any concern about the poor and hungry of the world. These saints could easily help individually whomever they wished, provided they did it individually, did not enable sinful practices (Romans 12:9), and did not do it t0 be seen of men (Matthew 6:1-4).  

Acts 4:32-37Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

As we notice that in the early Body of Christ many more have been added to the Body of Christ. In addition, many of these Jews who would have normally returned home after having come for Passover and Pentecost had stayed much longer than normal, they began to have needs. These needs were once again benevolence for needy saints, provided by able body saints! In addition, we see that this benevolence was laid at the Apostle’s feet. The Apostles were acting as shepherds in this early Body of Christ and were assigned the ordered oversight to distribute to those among them that were truly in need.

The logistics of this would not have been easy, as there were many saints now here in Jerusalem; yet, there is no mention of any organization or corporation to accomplish the work of the ministry of the saints, other than the Body of Christ.

Once again, needy saints were cared for by able body saints!

Acts 6:1-7Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

In this, the final passage we will look at in this first probe into how the Body of Christ is authorized to engage in benevolence; we note that many more have been added to the Body of Christ (see also 5:14).

Once again, needy saints are those who will be the focus of benevolence here. We also can notice that not just those who have stayed in Jerusalem longer than expected are being considered for benevolence, but additionally widows are also being cared for. We will learn from the Apostle Paul later that these were not just any old widow. There would be from the Head of the Body, very specific qualifications for these widows in need. Please read: 1 Corinthians 7:39-40; 1 Timothy 5:3-16.

We also note a sense of priority concerning benevolence and the Gospel of Jesus as the Christ. There was to be order for the work of benevolence that would not allow for the distraction of the primary work of the Gospel (which still stands as the greatest benevolence provided for men – Vs.4).

We have to appreciate that the order established to care for the oversight of this specific benevolence (which is still for needy saints provided by able body saints), was internal and not contracted out to any other source (as we have studied in a previous lesson would also be a pattern for the work of deacons to an eldership – see qualifications for deacons: 1 Timothy 3:8-13).

Finally, when the work of benevolence is provided by the wisdom that is from above (James 3:17-18); the results cannot be argued with:

7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

To head off the argument concerning widows whose family will not care for them as Paul instructs in 1 Timothy 5:3-16; are we not individually her spiritual family? We can individually stand up and care for her and still adhere to Paul’s instructions, so as not to burden the Body of Christ (and still follow the pattern of care for needy saints by able body saints).

Next: “Benevolence Continued!”