Should the Church "Celebrate America"?
"Celebrate America, sponsored by First Assembly of God Church" of Brazoria, Texas included "$10,000 worth of fireworks, a 50-foot United States flag, and a replica of the Liberty Bell . . . drama presentations including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and an illustrated sermon . . . A moonwalk, antique car show and volleyball ... Homemade apple pie, snowcones, sodas, and hot dogs . . . at 25"" (Brazoria County News, [29 June 1995], p. 1). Is this the work of the church?
Who decides what the work of the church is? God does because he created the church. God the Father planned it "according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:10-11). Jesus Christ as the Son of God died to purchase the church "with his own blood" and he is "head over all things to the church" (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22). The Spirit of God revealed God's perfect plan for the church in Scripture, the pattern or "form of sound words" (2 Tim. 1:13; 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:13). God tells us what the work of the church is in the Bible.
What does the Bible say the work of the church is? God ordained a three-fold mission for the local church. 1. Evangelism. "The church of the living God" is "the pillar and ground of the truth" of the gospel, always sound-ing out "the word of the Lord" (1 Tim. 3:15-16; 1 Thess. 1:8). 2. Edification. "Let all things be done unto edifying" (1 Cor. 14:26). Saints assemble for spiritual growth through spiritual activities ordained by God: prayer, congregational singing, gospel teaching, and on the first day of the week observing the Lord's supper and taking a collection for the church's work (Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). 3. Benevolence. The mission of the church includes "ministering to the saints," i.e., meeting the needs of destitute saints.
"Celebrate America" is not gospel evangelism, not spiritual edification, and not benevolence; therefore, is not the work of the church. Such programs proclaim not the simple gospel of Christ but provide a mixture of patriotism, politics, recreation, and entertainment (with a few religious symbols thrown in). In teaching "all the counsel of God," the Bible gives instructions for godly conduct in business, education, sexual purity, patriotism, social affairs, recreation, and every area of life. The church must preach all these principles without compromise, but God did not ordain the church to sponsor businesses, schools for secular education, social affairs, recreation, patriotic celebrations, or political campaigns. All such activities are the responsibility of individuals, homes, communities, and governments.
The home, the government, and the church have distinctive duties. God assigned procreation and child rearing to the home, not to civil government. God assigned the administration of civil and criminal justice to government, not to the home or the church. God ordained the church and not the government to provide for the observance of the Lord's supper. The church has no more right to sponsor political and patriotic programs than the home does to conduct kangaroo courts and vigilante executions. We must learn to let the home be the home, the government be the government, and the church be the church!
The true church of Christ in the Bible proclaimed the gospel of Christ to lost sinners, calling them to the cross of Christ in faith, repentance, confession of Christ, and baptism into Christ. The true church of Christ in the Bible maintained its divine mission without addition or subtraction. The true church of Christ follows the same Bible pattern of faith and practice today.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 20, p. 1