By Tarry L. CluffFort
What would you think of an organization that was set up for the study of cancer research (that was its charter and reason given for their pleas to solicit funds from the public), one day while they were on their way to the research laboratory they came upon a bridge that needed repairs, so having all the funds with them they decided to pay for the repairs needed on the bridge? Their reasoning went something like this: “If we don’t fix 1 his bridge someone might get killed and what good would cancer research do for a dead person? Besides fixing the bridge would be a good work, so that must make it alright.” Or what would you think of a man in charge of repairing bridges, given thousands of tax dollars to do so, but he decided cancer is such a bad thing that he would take the money and start a cancer research program? After all, cancer research would be a good work, so he tells himself: “Surely no one would object to using the money for such a good cause.”
It should be obvious to everyone that both the cancer research organization and the bridge repair man would be guilty of misappropriation of funds. It is not a matter of what would be a good work for these people to do, but simply a matter of appropriation. The same basic question should always be asked, what were the funds appropriated for?
When you and I give to a cancer research group, we expect them to use it for that purpose. If they spend the money for something else, they have deceived us and misappropriated the funds. Such would be a violation of their charter and against the law. Likewise for the man employed to repair bridges, he would be fired from his job if he took the funds given to him and used it for something other than what he was paid to do, no matter how good the other work may seem to him.
The Bible authorizes the church to spend the Lord’s money for certain things. To spend it for something not authorized by God’s Word would be a misappropriation of the Lord’s money. Jesus has authorized the -funds of His church to be used in three categories:
1. Evangelism-converting sinners to Christ by preaching the Gospel (1 Thess. 1:8).
2. Edification-teaching members of the church (Eph. 4:15-16).
3. Benevolence-relieving the needs of members, when such needs exist (Acts 11:29).
This is the work of the church; the funds of the church are authorized for these three works only. If the church uses its funds for anything other than evangelism, edification and benevolence to needy saints, it would be misappropriating the Lord’s money, because other things are not authorized by the Lord (see 2 John 9 and Colossians 3:17).
Churches today spend thousands of dollars for things you can not read about in God’s Word. The other day I read an article of a church buying a “youth camp” for almost one hundred thousand dollars. Where in the Bible do you read of the Lord’s money being used for such a thing? Remember it is not whether a youth camp may be a “good work,” but what is the church authorized to do? The church has no business being in the entertainment field. Let us not “saddle” the church with entertainment responsibilities which rightfully belong to the home!
If you belong to a church that is spending its money for things like this, please ask them where they get their authority? Ask them to show you where in the New Testament the church ever engaged in such things. I assure you such is not found in the Bible. If they will not stop this misappropriation of funds, get out of it and look for a church interested in doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way (see 1 Peter 4:11).
Truth Magazine XXI: 9, pp.141-142
March 3, 1977