The Expository Files.

Social Reform

Modern Controversies #11   

Is this a work of the Church Belonging to Christ Jesus?

Bible students that believe in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures understand the principle of interpretation that accepts God's wisdom over man's. 1 Corinthians 2:1-3

God has spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "My ways are not your ways, My thoughts are not your thoughts,.." (Isaiah 55:8.9)

We hear the rebuke of the Lord Jesus to those individuals that went to great lengths to seek Him out, "... verily, verily I say unto you, you follow Me not because of the signs you saw, but because of the loaves and the fishes you did eat," (John 6:26).

Jesus told His disciples, "...the poor you have with you always," Matthew 26:11. Bible students that are seeking Jesus according to His commandments will search the scriptures with the attitude Samuel had, " ... speak Lord thy servant hearth

Keeping all these scriptures in mind will help the Bible student to recognize the false concepts that have been taught in religious circles over the centuries. Humanistic concepts have been perverting religious thought since the establishment of the Church belonging to Christ.

The devil has always had a plan to misdirect the energy of the Church belonging to Christ in order to thwart the preaching of the gospel to all people on earth. We will be discussing the direction the Church belonging to Christ Jesus is to take in reference to "Social Reform."

Jesus revealed through His apostles, by the Holy Spirit the concept of Individual Responsibility. The Bible student will find it difficult to locate scriptures supporting an organization on earth that is to meet all the needs, for all the people, all of the time!

When we speak of the Church belonging to Christ Jesus, we will be considering the New Testament Church of the first century. The Bible reveals only one kind of Church, (Ephesians 4:4-6), and this Church Jesus claimed He would build which death itself would not prevail against it. Matthew 16:13-18. Bible students can see this to be the only church revealed in the New Testament text.

Paul referred to this one kind of Church in his epistle to the Romans as, "the Churches of Christ." It would be a fair observation for the Bible student to draw the conclusion that the Church of the New Testament was called the Church of Christ. Luke reveals a basic truth by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit concerning the true nature of the New Testament Church which is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 2:40-47; 4:32-37, reveals to the Bible student an accurate history
of the early Church belonging to Christ. The practice of the early Church was to supply the physical needs for those Christians that were truly in need of physical necessities. Yet, we can see the apostle Paul later write to the Christians at Thessalonica, "..he that will not work, neither let him eat...," (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

We can see in the balance of the scriptures a pattern that confirms the early New Testament church as being an organization no larger than a group of Christians meeting in a local place.

We don't read of an organization that was to oversee the local Churches belonging to Christ. Jesus is the King in His Kingdom the Church. (Colossians 1:13-18)

All of this evidence points to a local church meeting by the authority of Christ in which individual Christians do the good their hands find to do! (Galatians 6:9,10)

We can read of the individual responsibility found in James 1:27, "... to help the fatherless and widows in their distress, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Paul wrote to Timothy " ... Let not the church be burdened," (1 Timothy 5:8,16).

Bible students must understand that the Church belonging to Jesus Christ was never established to bring about a "Heaven on Earth." The work ethic of the Old and New Testament confirms clearly that God expects all people to work and supply their own needs. (Leviticus 19:9,10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12)

The grand assumption by many people is that God is responsible for the pain and suffering that is in the world today - starvation, poverty, mental illness, and all physical illness. It is true, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, what a man sows this he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7), but no one should come to the conclusion that God is to be blamed for the consequences of men's sins.

Most of the social problems, poverty, and political unrest found in the world today is a direct result of men's sins. People that do not believe in God or the power found in His word find Christianity an easy target for their abuse and ridicule when attributing the problems of the world to Bible teaching.

It is true that God's word has brought about powerful changes in the lives of many people, but for the most part men have ignored the power of God's word and believed the lies spoken by the devil.

We can read of many men in the history of the world that have twisted the scriptures to their own ends. The influence of their kind of false teaching has shaped the concepts of many Bible students. We hope that a clearer understanding of God's word will lead the student to abandon the false concepts of the past. Bible students must ignore the false concepts of feigned humility, self righteous motivation, and self satisfying altruism. Quoting the Apostle Paul, " ... Which things have indeed a
show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body," (Colossians 2:18-23).

Do not be thrown off the your search for the truth by feelings and emotions that are based in empty subjective faith. It is extreme indeed to lay the sins of the world at the feet of God, or any one individual. We can lay the consequences of men's sins at the feet of the devil, but this will not help the world become a better place to live. Men must individually change in order for society to change. We may strive to change men through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we must
not give up our belief in the effective power of God's word to change men's lives for a human concept of cheap shows involving quick meals and cheap entertainment.

We can see much truth in the saying, "God so loved the world that He didn't send a committee." One can observer many different churches today devoting large amounts of money to the relief of human suffering, which on the surface seems to be doing some temporary good, but in the end are just momentary "quick fixes!" We must ask the question, do the ends really justify the means? Please notice how quickly one can find themselves in trouble with organized religions of our day if they were to even suggest that these "wonderful works" according to men have no Bible basis whatsoever! Remember Matthew 7:21-23!

People want to serve God in their own way. Cain did offer a grain offering (Genesis 4), Nadab and Abihu did offer something to God (Leviticus 10:1,2), King Saul did go according to God's will (1 Samuel 15), and many other Bible characters found in the Old and New Testaments started on the road of doing God's will, but were destroyed.

God has always condemned the things men have given to Him, which He has not asked for in His word. Paul made this very clear to those men of Athens who did not know the God of the New Testament found in Acts 17:21-23, "The God that made the world and all things in it does not dwell in temples made with men's hands, neither is He served by men's hands, as though He needed anything seeing that He gives life and breath to all men."

We can see many churches today that claim to be the "churches of Christ." They have established practices that date back hundreds of years in Church tradition based in the commandments of men. Jesus did not accept such things when He was upon the earth. We need to consider Matthew 7:21-23; 15:7-9, if we would understand the true teaching of the Lord Jesus. Please consider all the scriptures that have been presented.

We must not approach the Bible with the concept of establishing what we think is right, but rather what the Bible teaches to be right in the sight of the Lord Jesus. God has never left man to his own devices when giving him instructions concerning His righteousness. We must not be like the Jews of old striving to establish our own righteousness, thereby disregarding the will of God today. We must obey His will. (Romans 10:1-3)

 By Dennis Scroggins  
From Expository Files 3.11; November 1996