By Earl Robertson
Christ and the church of Christ are inseparable in that He is “the head of the church” (Eph. 1:22, 23). Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5:25). The church has tremendous value as far as the Lord is concerned. Though men belittle it, ridicule it, and lie against, it is still the body of the Lord and He loves it. There are many ways men hurt it, even while thinking they are loving it. When the church cannot be just the church, and the Lord the absolute head -though men are using it, allegedly doing the Lord’s work – it is suffering hurt at their hands. This is done many times by attempting to make the church do a work which the Lord, the head, never authorized. But to get some brethren to see that there must be divine authority for the work any congregation may ever engage in is indeed a problem. Sectarian dodges and quibbles are used to justify these iniquities.
Ours is a time of social reform and some brethren feel this is the work God has given to the church. Expensive programs of a social nature have been created within many churches. Often times, these programs were (and are) mutual efforts with various denominations. But does this practice make such work scriptural and right before the Lord? Answer this question, brethren, before ridiculing it. Is such scriptural? Must the actions of a church be circumscribed by Scripture? On this same problem, Brother N. B. Hardeman said in 1922, “The Bible is as silent as the stars about any kind of slumming work characteristic of the church of God.” Further, he said, “The city of Corinth; with its four hundred thousand people, contained its poor; and yet no apostle ever left the word of God and became engaged in slumming or `social uplift.’ Why, the church today in the eyes of the populace is reduced to about a paralled with the Red Cross. I have nothing unkind to say of the Red Cross, but its function is administering purely to men’s temporal and temporary necessities. All ought to be interested in lifting man’s burdens and making life more pleasant; but the `Good Fellows,’ even the best fellows’ organization, is about on a parallel with the idea that many people have of the church; and hence, it is reduced to a kind of social organization for social betterment and for temporal advancement.”
In these social efforts brethren have forgotten the spiritual work to be done. When men “make” the church perform social work, it is a prostitution of the Lord’s way, and men are enemies of the Lord and His church when they so act!
Truth Magazine XXIII: 31, p. 509
August 9, 1979