By Earl E. Robertson
It is quite obvious that .some do not believe what the New Testament says about this matter. The difficulty arises over the work of the individual and the work of the church. Some allege that the church is at work when one Christian is doing his own daily work; at the same time, some think the individual is at work when the local church is engaged in some activity. Often the mistake is made in failing to recognize that two or more Christians may concurrently work some spiritual service without their action being that of the church. Just because a certain duty is imposed upon all children of God (see 1 Tim. 5:8, 16 as an example), one should not conclude that such is church action. The very opposite in this example is true.
Though the church of the Lord is composed of people blood washed people – it is not made up of just one. Paul wrote, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). Again, he wrote, “For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). The local church has its work to perform, which work is done in its aggregate capacity; however, the diligent Christian knows all his responsibilities are not discharged in that capacity alone. There are some things peculiar to the church -a collective body – which are not duties of individual Christians. The Lord’s supper is in the church ( 1 Cor. 11:20; Lk. 22:18). Elders are peculiar to the local church (Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2). The Lord’s supper and elders are recognized by the Scriptures in no place but in the church. Now individual Christians, banded together in forming a local church, eat the Lord’s supper together and they all submit to the elders who have the oversight.
Paul wrote, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” (1 Tim. 5:8, 16). Here inspiration says any believer (Christian) who might have a widow in need must relieve that widow and not the church. That is what the Bible says! Man says, “Anything that is commanded of me as my duty as a Christian is also commanded of my fellow Christian; and therefore, commanded of the church.” Further we are told, “To say that individual Christians are obligated to do certain things that Christians as a collective body cannot do is a misunderstanding of the nature of the church.” Well, Paul misunderstood the nature of the church! Who can believe it? Paul said if believers should have widows let them relieve the widows, and “let not the church be charged. “This is a specific case where “individual Christians are obligated to do certain things that Christians as a collective body cannot do.” Whom will you believe: (1) the human voice, or (2) the divine voice?
Truth Magazine XXIII: 40, p. 648
October 11, 1979