THOUGHTS

SHORT, THOUGHT PROVOKING ARTICLES PUBLISHED BI-MONTHLY.

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

The Messenger 2011

Published Weekly by Main Street Church of Christ

306 West Main Street, Newbern, TN 38059

mainstreetcofc.com  

Bulletin Editor: T. Sean Sullivan

VOLUME 006: ISSUE 009: February 27, 2011

A Working Church

The Responsibilities of a Local Church

Introduction:

More than ever before the world needs the Lord’s church to be effective in their responsibilities. The reason that this statement is true today, and will be even truer tomorrow, is because we have never been this close to the Day of Judgment, and tomorrow, if time continues, we will be closer still.

We have a responsibility to meet the true needs of the world around us. Often today, our offers of true help are met with disdain, much like those of a parent trying to get their children to eat their green vegetables—but we must strive to help anyway. There have always been ebbs and flows in world’s interests—especially toward God. In order to counteract this problem, many “mainstream” religious groups are changing their approach—with enticements and entertainments—instead of spiritual edification. The problem is that they have changed the focus of worship toward “the worshipper” instead of God.

The world’s most true needs are: Freedom from their sins (Rom. 6:16-18)—through obedience to the gospel (Rom. 1:16).  A perpetuated relationship with God, through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6)—driven by our encouragement (Eph. 4:16); and also, care when times of trials are upon them (Ac. 6:1-6)—so that the world and its pressures do not take them away from faith (Ac. 4:34-37)                 

To boil it all down into point form, the church is responsible for three works: Spreading the gospel; sharing the hope of salvation with others—which is evangelism. Building up the converted to be faithful, patient, and strong— which is edification. Caring for the spiritual well-being when financial burdens distract— which is benevolence.  Let’s consider these three areas according the scriptures.

The Work of Evangelism

To help others gain their freedom from sin, the local church is the “pillar and ground of truth” (Eph. 3:15)—holding high, and holding fast, the word of God (2 Th. 2:15). The local is the voice and example of truth in our area, like those the church at Thessalonica (1 Th. 1:6-9). In this we fulfill the requirements of the great commission (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16)

The New Testament examples of evangelism are many; for the sake of our study consider these: The first day the church came into existence, Acts 2:14-40—Peter proclaimed the gospel message. Paul also preached the gospel in many local congregations (Ac. 14:21-22, 25 - Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch of Pisidia, Perga, Attalia). We know that Timothy and Titus were “evangelists”—commanded to “Preach the wordwherever they were (2 Tim. 4:1-5; Tt. 2:1)

According to the scriptures the local church can also spread the gospel in other places. The example of support for preaching in other placed, as part of our work of evangelism is clear from passages like:  2 Corinthians 11:8-9, where the brethren were at Macedonia were commended for their support of Paul. Also, what is told to us about the brethren in Thessalonica (1 Th. 1:2-8) and Philippi (Phil. 1:3-5; 2:25-30; 4:14-20) demonstrated a scriptural precedent for this action.             

The Work of Edification

Once converted, we need to perpetuate a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6). This need is met by mutual encouragement—which is edification (Eph. 4:16).  Edification is strengthening and encouraging. When we choose to become a Christian, we choose a difficult way in life.  Jesus spoke of the one true way as the narrow” and difficult (Mt. 7:13-14).  Of necessity, we need help along the way (1 Th. 5:9-11). 

The New Testament examples of edification are many; for the sake of our study consider these: In Acts 16:40, Paul edified the disciples in the Lydia’s house. In Acts 20:1-3, Paul embraced them…encouraged with many words. Also in 1 Th. 5:11, Paul encouraged the brethren at Thessalonica to continue their practice of edifying one another. 

By edifying one another we accomplish the necessary relationship of brotherhood. We work on our relationship, to provide brotherly kindness and love (2 Peter 1:10). God has seen fit that we would have this safety net of brethren to help us along the way. We are commanded to care for one another. Romans 12:1-10 instructs us in Giving preference to one another Ephesians 4:25-32 commands us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving.  We are to work toward the building up of each other toward perfection according to Ephesians 4:11-16—this good work is leads to the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

The Work of Benevolence

Life can be very hard at times. Benevolence can take on many different forms, but in the most part it is financial. When a brother or sister falls on hard times, the church is authorized to offer benevolence to aid in the situation.

The New Testament examples of benevolence are many; for the sake of our study consider these: The first days of the church (Acts 4:34-37). Our brethren’s willingness to help the saints in Judea—like the brethren in Macedonia and Achaia (Rom. 15:25-27); and also those in Corinth (1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:1-7).

According to the examples of the collection of funds in the New Testament we are only authorized to do so on the first day of the week and this collection is strictly for the saints (1 Cor. 16:1-2).  We are only authorized to help the saints with the Lord’s money.

Individually, we can help anyone we want; with wisdom, and within our ability: Just as Jesus taught us to be “good Samaritans” (Lk. 10:25-27); just as Dorcas demonstrated with her generous use of talent (Ac. 9:36-43); and just as it was reputed to Cornelius (Ac. 10:1-2).

Conclusion:

We clearly see the need for money in the work of the church: In evangelism, we support preachers including our own (Ph. 4:10-18). In edification, we supply a place and those things that facilitate worship and learning (Mt. 18:20; Heb. 10:24-25). In benevolence, to assist those who have no other help (1 Tim. 5:4-8).

We must also understand that these works are independent in purpose. We do not use benevolence as a tool of evangelism—we do not ply converts with money. We do not seek to edify those outside of Christ—we must not encourage wrong-doing.

We must not refuse the responsibility of the works God has given the church to do. We have a responsibility to help lead others to Christ; to encourage and uplift one another; and to supply one another’s needs.

This lesson was intended to be edifying to those who are “in Christ”; so  that we might have a more confident knowledge of God’s expectations. But we must end, as we do all articles, with a note of evangelism. The opportunity of obedience to God’s plan of salvation is yours right now.  What can be said to encourage you? The gospel of Jesus Christ is about your salvation—will you find it today? ~ tss