Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 21, 1963

From One Church To Another

Robert C. Welch

Those who try to interpose their human institutions between churches to be supported by churches continue to make the specious contention that the Bible contains no pattern for one church contributing to another for benevolence. G. K. Wallace has perhaps been stronger on that quibble than any other of the institutions' forensic defenders. Their aim in such a contention is not to show that it is wrong for one church to send to another, but to prove that they are just as correct in having their institutions as others are in their practice. They are wrong in their contention, but if it be granted that they are correct, they have not justified their church supported institutions, they have only proved by such a contention that they think both are guilty.

The effort of such men is to deny either the existence of a specific pattern for church benevolence or the necessity of observing the pattern. Most of them insist that the manner and means of church assistance to the needy is as unlimited as the manner of travel by an evangelist. They show by their works that they do not believe this, for they refuse church contribution to human institutions which have sectarian connections, while at the same time they will ride with a sectarian preacher when occasions are favorable.

The basic demand of these men, who deny that there is a pattern for one church sending to another, is to find all the parts of the pattern in one passage. Their specious logic is that if all the pattern is not on one page there is no pattern. They need to apply to their own practices that which they rightly impose upon sectarians; namely, all that the Bible says on the subject, and not just one statement, is essential to possession of truth.

The examples in the Bible of church distribution to those in need without exception shows that it was done within the framework of the local congregation, utilizing the organization which God has given the congregation. In the first days of the church's existence in Jerusalem, men of the congregation were appointed to the task of distributing the contributions, which were given into the treasury or common fund, to the members who were in need. (Acts 4:32-35; 6:1-6)

This same congregational feature is observed in another case of distribution to those in need. In this case, however, that which is distributed does not come from that church's own contributions, it comes from the contributions of disciples in another place. (Acts 11:27-30) The relief for the brethren in Judaea was sent to the elders from Antioch. Elders are overseers of their own flock or congregation. (1 Pet. 5:2) Hence, there is scriptural congregational organization in the oversight of the distribution to these brethren in need. This part of the picture cannot be questioned or denied. The maneuver of the institutional brethren, therefore, is to assert that this is not a pattern for one church sending to another, because, they say, it says "the disciples" of Antioch and does not say "the church." They could as easily deny the part of the church on receiving end as on the sending; it says it was sent to "elders" and does not specifically sari the church. The point is that elders are overseers of the church and that disciples compose the church in a given place.

That does not satisfy them however. So, let us see if we cannot get a little more of the detailed, specific pattern. What is the pattern for such contribution and collection for relief? At the beginning it was laid at the apostles' feet. This was in Jerusalem. (Acts 4:35) The apostles could not be everywhere and they had other things to do besides take care of the collection. Hear the charge: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collection be made when I come." (1 Cor. 16:1,2) From the precise wording we can beyond question see that this collection was a church matter. Also in this case the church was to choose their own man by whom to send the collection to Jerusalem. (1 Cor. 16:3)

When we take all the evidence, we observe that when two places are involved the disciples lay by in store as prospered or according to ability, this collection is sent by that church by one of their own choosing to the elders of another church, who have the oversight of that church and of the distribution to those who are in need. This is one church to another, with no kind of intercongregational organization involved or necessary. It is done with nothing involved but that which is specifically authorized in the Scriptures. Particularly noticeable is the fact that it is done without the addition of, and the church contribution to or through, some human organization such as homes for the aged and orphan homes.

That there is the New Testament pattern for one church to send to another in relief of needs of saints is too clear for anyone to miss. The only way to miss it is to be blinded either hypocritically or prejudicially by the idolizing of these human institutions.

— 1932 S. Weller, Springfield, Mo.