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 5

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 – Part 2!

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 within 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.

In our previous lesson we looked at the earliest practices of how the Body of Christ cared for its needy saints (Acts 2, 4, 6). These illustrations focused primarily on those needy saints and benevolent work inside the local Body of Christ. In this next illustration, we will be given an example to follow for benevolence towards needy saints in other locations.

Acts 11:27-30And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

After Paul’s conversion in Damascus and a subsequent trip to Arabia (a Roman named area to the east of Damascus), he would come to Jerusalem where his journey had begun (a total of three years from start to finish – Galatians 1:16-18). Then after a rocky acceptance by the brethren in Jerusalem, he would boldly speak in Jerusalem naming Jesus as Lord with the Hellenists (Acts 9:28-29). The brethren found out that the Hellenists wanted to kill him, so the brethren took him to Caesarea, and then from there he returned to Tarsus (his place of birth – Acts 9:30). Just before our text, Barnabas has traveled from Antioch of Syria to retrieve Paul from Tarsus, and brought him back to Antioch. As they worked in this location for a whole year (Acts 11:26), Luke would recognize that it was during this time that the brethren in Antioch were informed concerning a great famine in the entire known world (which in turn seemed to be more drastic for those in Judea than in Syria).

Luke then shares with us the approved pattern that had to be followed in order to assist these needy brethren (once again the Body of Christ was only approved to share these benevolent gifts with needy saints – Vs. 29; this edict of the Spirit of God, did not stop any individual saint, after they had fulfilled this, to assist anyone they chose to, individually). They then selected messengers from among them, and sent this benevolent collection by them to the elders of the Body of Christ in Jerusalem. This pattern was God’s wisdom for protecting the gift from the perception of misconduct, and to make sure that those charged with shepherding the flock would make sure that only the truly needy among these brethren would receive the gift; once again protecting all from the perception of misconduct.

Wouldn’t it be truly a blessing if this was the practice today, instead of the benevolent organizations that exist, by which the executives and administrators are paid generous salaries out of the money tasked for aid to the needy? Is it difficult today to engage in this process the way the Spirit approved, sure! However, how much more satisfying and blessed would we be to know that we have made the effort, shared the blessings of gifts face to face with brethren, and made sure that those tasked with shepherding these needy saints, also made sure they received the gifts they truly needed. I can tell you, that just small acts of kindness from brethren over the years, whether just having us to their home, or any other small thing, have never been forgotten by me or my family. This endearment is also a by-product of the Lord’s wisdom.

In addition, this pattern is followed and enforced again the same way and for the same reasons.

Paul’s Third journey:

1 Corinthians 16:1-4Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.”   

·         Once again, the benevolence is for saints only!

·         It is an ordered (commanded) work!

·         It is a planned work, to be done on the first day of the week, the day the saints assembled to worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:18; 16:2).

·         Each Christian is charged with this work (which is in harmony with rule #4 in the guidelines for how we accomplish His work as a Body).

·         This work is to be systematical – “Lay something aside”; which in turn demands that we must plan to consider other brethren in all that we do.

·         This work is to be done proportionately – “As he may prosper”; not tithing, but greater, because it is motivated by passion and love.

·         This work is to be done preventatively as well – “That there be no collections when I come”. They were to do this to store up for all needs a Body of Christ may be tasked with, so that there are no emergency collections. This allows the brethren to live God first, budget God first, and not become impoverished themselves because of their love (2 Corinthians 8:13).

·         Once again, the pattern of chosen messengers from each body was to travel with the collection to these far away saints, to ensure no perception of misconduct (we can see the list of these chosen messengers that would travel with Paul back to Jerusalem – Acts 20:4; and all the areas engaged in this work).  

·         We will also learn in Paul’s next letter to these Christians, from Macedonia just before he would come to them, that they were to additionally give liberally (2 Corinthians 9:6); cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7); purposefully (2 Corinthians 9:7); and finally, sacrificially (to first give of themselves – (2 Corinthians 8:1-5); the very definition of our service to God through Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1).

The original introduction to the work of benevolence for brethren in other locations is in this second illustration both supported, and further expanded for our edification. It is from the head of the Body, demands the participation of each member of the Body of Christ, it does not rend asunder the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), and glorifies Him who has called us out of darkness. 

Next: “The Purity of the Body!”