By Carol R. Lumpkin
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).
The work of the Lord consists of those works authorized by the Lord as recorded in the New Testament. Any work engaged in, in which the Lord has not authorized would be moving away from the Lord without his approval and would be labor in vain. We now mention some (not all) of the works churches of Christ are doing and that without divine authority:
Support of colleges, fellowship halls and/or youth centers, youth camps, ball teams, benevolent institutions, Herald of Truth, benevolent support of non-saints, hospitals, marriage counselors, sponsoring churches to support gospel preaching, and so forth.
John wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). Elders of the church do not have the approval of God to lead the local church into performing any work not authorized of the Lord. No preacher can contend for the above works and please God. Local members can-not follow elders, or preachers, into such works without also being without God.
Works of the Lord are confined to such works as are found in the New Testament law of Christ. “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). Every work per-formed by the Lord’s church in a given place must fall into one of the above three areas.
The church must preach the gospel of Christ to extent of her ability, both locally and in other places as ability allows (Mk. 16:15-16; Phil. 4:15,18; 1:5; 2 Cor. 11:8). The church does not have the approval of God to assume a work of gospel preaching beyond that which she can fully pay for. Each local church is independent of all other churches of Christ.
The church must edify the local body of saints. This is approval for a place to worship and to have class rooms (Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 2:42; Col. 3:17).
The church must render benevolence to needy saints locally and at other churches as the need arises and according to her ability (Acts 6:1-6; 2:27-30; Rom. 15:25-26,31; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8,9; 1 Tim. 5:14-16).
When the Lord’s church performs these works God is pleased. A church which does any unauthorized work has disobeyed God. This means the entire body is in error and remains in sin until the work is dropped and proper repentance, confession and prayer are made to God (see 1 Jn. 1:9; Acts 8:22).
Paul wrote, “Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Phil. 3:16). “That ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). “That ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). God expects all churches and brethren to abide by the above rule.
The one and only possible way to comply with the above Scripture is to do what the Lord authorizes and stop there. Any work not sustained by the Lord is of the devil regardless of any possible good realized. Paul wrote that some were saying, “Let us do evil, that good may come” (Rom. 3:8). Some are still saying the same today let us perform works in addition to what the Lord authorizes that good may come. How unwise! A good lesson in divine authority is in order. Read 2 John 9; Matthew 28:19.
The authority of Jesus is binding today (Matt. 28:18; Col. 3:17). We as individuals, though members of a local church, will be judged by the words of Jesus. Jesus said: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48).
I would hate to appear before Jesus on the judgment day and hear him say, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23), because I was not pleased to do what he commanded. This is the state of all churches, individuals, preachers, elders, who make themselves wiser than God (Isa. 55:8-9).
Check the proposed work with the divine pattern; if you find it there perform it with all you might. But if it is not there drop the work as you would a hot potato.
Eve thought she could eat the forbidden fruit; she ate and lost. Nadad and Abihu used a different fire than God required; they lost. A man picked up sticks on the sabbath; he lost. Every church and every individual who adds to God’s law are losers (Rev. 22:18-19; 2 Jn. 9).
Let us all serve God as he authorizes, nothing more, nothing less. This is right for it is the Bible truth for God said it. So be it!
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 2, p. 13
January 21, 1993