We Are His Body – His Mindset Applies
By: Brian A. Yeager
I know the title of this article may not give away the subject exactly. Therefore, let me do so right away so that we can all know what we are about to study. It is a common division amongst “churches of Christ” as to whether or not the church can collectively use the Lord’s money in aiding non-Christians. There are many Scriptures that show the local church is supposed to help needy saints (Romans 15:25-27, I Corinthians 16:1-4, II Corinthians 8:1-9:14, I Timothy 5:3-16, etc.). However, there are no Scriptures that show the local church can or should help alien sinners who may financially need assistance.
There are Scriptures that show that Christians, aside from the work of the local church, should help people who are clearly in need. For example, if you see someone who has been robbed, beaten, and left for dead you should stop and help that person (Luke 10:25-37). There is no debate there. Both sides of this issue agree on that principle. There are other Scriptures wherein there are debates as to whether or not the individual is being addressed or the local church as a whole (Matthew 25:31-46, Galatians 6:10, and James 1:26-27). An honest Bible student cannot look at those Scriptures and see the writing of checks (individually or collectively), the building of homes, etc. However, they are Scriptures that are often debated.
The Scriptures are our blueprint to follow as individual Christians (II Timothy 3:15-17) and for the local church collectively (I Timothy 3:14-15). There is not one time in God’s word where any local church used the Lord’s money to assist alien sinners with carnal needs. That should settle the debate. Sadly, it does not. Thus, I am making an attempt to write another article that may provide a thought provoking study of this subject. I am not going to address the twisting of Galatians 6:10 and other Scriptures. I have done that already (http://www.wordsoftruth.net/studyofinstitutionalism.htm). Rather, I would like for us all to consider the Lord’s view on alien sinners and make an application to that point that should help honest students of God’s word on this subject.
God’s View Of Sinners
From the Old Testament, notice God’s view of sinners: “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity… The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright… The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous… He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination… Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear… Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it… Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Psalms 5:4-5, Psalms 11:5-7, Proverbs 15:29, Proverbs 28:9, Isaiah 59:1-2, Jeremiah 6:19, and Jeremiah 14:10-12).
From the New Testament, notice God’s view of sinners: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity… While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For who soever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother… Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth… For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 12:46-50, John 9:31, and I Peter 3:12).
Now here is a question to think about… Why, considering the Scriptures you just read, would anyone think that God wants His money used to help people who aren’t obeying His will? He doesn’t even listen to their prayers, but some think they can use His checkbook to help them. Now, what does this have to do with the church?
The Church – His Body
The Scriptures teach that we, the church of Christ, are the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:20-23, Colossians 1:18, and Colossians 1:24). Christ does not have a fondness to sinners (Hebrews 1:8-9). All He cares to do for sinners, which we all have been, is help us to change (Luke 19:10 and I Timothy 1:15). For one to receive the blessings that come from Christ, they have to obey His word (Luke 11:28 and Revelation 22:14). By the local church aiding those whom He does not bless, we’d be ignoring the mindset of the very head of the body we belong to.
There is a spiritual separation between saints and sinners (II Corinthians 6:14-18). Yet, some want to bridge that gap by allowing that which belongs to our Lord for His work to be used to help those who despise Him. When we act as the Lord’s church, we cannot cut Him out of our thinking process (Colossians 2:18-23). What the church should focus on is the spreading of the Gospel so that there are more saints and fewer sinners. That’s the Lord’s will (I Thessalonians 1:6-8).
Volume 14 – Issue 6 - October 27th, 2013