By Lewis Willis
It has long been evident that modern religion has little concept of the truth. Religious leaders demonstrate that they do not know the function of the Bible in establishing conduct. They do not know what the church is. They seem to have no idea how it is to be organized.
When you listen to their teaching, it is obvious that they do not even know what a person must do to become a member of the Lord’s church. They do not seem to realize that the terms of pardon for the sinner are the same terms upon which entry or membership in the church is realized. All of these things are clearly defined in the Scriptures but, for some reason, religious leaders have been unable to discover them or they have been unwilling to implement them in the organizations they have founded.
With the rampant error that has been introduced regarding the simple truths referred to above, it should not surprise us that error would be introduced regarding what the church can and cannot do. It is not that modern religions are inactive. To the contrary, they are extremely active. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the fact that their activities are as erroneous as in the case of those items mentioned above. The masses, who depend upon religious leaders for knowledge and direction, have been so deceived that it never occurs to them to pause and ask, “Is the Church authorized by Christ to do these things we are doing?”
In Churches of Christ we have sought to exercise care in both our teaching and our practice. We have carefully investigated the teaching of God’s Word to discover what he desires the church to do. We found out that one of its obligations is to assemble and worship God (Heb. 10:25; Jn. 4:24). We also learned that it was assigned a work to do (Eph. 44:12). That work consists of three things:
1. In its work, it is to edify its members. This is the process by which Christians are grounded and established in the Truth. This would include such things as teaching in classes and from the pulpit (Col. 1:23; 2:7).
2. God assigned to the church the benevolent work of caring for other brethren who are in need (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35; 6:1-6; 11:27-30).
3. It is the responsibility of the church to evangelize the world (1 Tim. 3:15; Acts 13:1-3; 8:4).
Everything the Church does must fall within the heading of one of these God-assigned functions. If it is not worship, if it is not edifying in the faith, if it is not fulfilling benevolent responsibility and if it does not evangelize the world with the gospel, then the Church has no right to engage in it – no matter what the activity is! The Akron Beacon Journal (9-18-85) reported that the United Methodist Church has given $37 million dollars, between 1981-83, to support the following organizations: Coalition For New Foreign and Military Policy; lobby efforts for the Equal Rights Amendment; National Conference of Black Lawyers; Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; Planned Parenthood World Service and the lobby for the Law of the Sea treaty.
Now take that list of organizations supported by the United Methodist Church and determine into which category of the church’s work each of those things would be placed. Which ones are evangelistic, which ones are benevolent, which ones edify the saints, etc.? I was just thinkin, the evidence is in, and the religious world really does not know what the church is supposed to do. This little reminder should help us guard ourselves against making the same mistake.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 12, p. 371
June 16, 1988