The Works of the Church
*There are three scriptural works of the church- evangelism, edification, and benevolence. These are the only works described for the church to engage in. These works are also explained in detail. If we perform one of these works beyond its boundaries, than we have transgressed the written law and committed sin.
*The word “evangelism” means, basically, preaching the gospel. An evangelist denotes a preacher. So, to say that the church is to engage in evangelism is to say that the church is to preach and teach. What should it teach? Obviously, the truth...the word of God.
*The early church often met to study the scriptures. Teaching was a major work of the church. Upon the first day of the week, as commanded, they assembled together, and were taught the word of God.
-Acts 2:42 tells us that the disciples “continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrines...” The word “doctrines” means, teachings.
*Romans 10:14-17 tells us that in order to hear the word, there must be preachers. Faith is increased through the scriptures, and preachers teach the scriptures.
*2 Timothy 4:2-5 says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching...”
*The word “edification” means to build up. Edification is an important role of the church. We are to edify each other, spiritually.
*1 Timothy 3:15 tells us, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The church holds up and supports the truth. We can do this through bible classes, gospel meetings, etc.
*Ephesians 4:11-16 describes edification. It is obvious that the church is to engage in this work.
-Note that the word “pastor”, refers to elders. We no longer have apostles or prophets.
-Edification yields unity- vv. 12,13 (also see Eph 3:9-11)
*Benevolence is, without a doubt, the most misunderstood work of them all. This work in the scriptures, as we will see, does not include orphanages, nursing homes, soup kitchens, or blood drives, just to name a few. Let’s take a look at it.
*Denominations say that it is okay to use church funds to aid the poor. (Church funds will be described in the next lesson, but benevolence is a use of church funds.) The bible, however, tells us that church funds should be used only to aid needy saints.
*In Acts 11:27-30, we read that the disciples in Antioch “determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” The key word here is “brethren” which denotes the Christians in that region.
-There was going to be a famine throughout all the world. Without a doubt, there were sinners and non-Christians in Judea, but the text tells us that relief was sent to the brethren.
*Again, in Romans 15:25-26, we read that Paul was “going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints.” and in vv. 26, we see that there would be a “certain contribution for the poor AMONG the SAINTS who are in Jerusalem.”
-Saints, saints, saints.
*1 Corinthians 16:1-3 describes the “collection for the saints”. They were to take up collection on the first day of the week. Paul would bear their gift to the saints dwelling in Jerusalem.
*2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 9:1 further explain “ministering to the saints”.
*There is no indication anywhere in the scriptures that the church is to aid anyone but the saints. As individual Christians, we are to aid the poor saints and sinners both, but the work of the individual is different than the work of the church.
*It should be noted that relief is not sent to the church, but to the saints.
The three works of the church, as mentioned above are evangelism, edification, and benevolance. These are the only works that the church is to engage in, and they must be carried out according to the scriptures.
Study #6: Church Funds