Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 15, 1956

Two Kinds Of Church Work

Cecil B. Douthitt, Brownwood, Texas

Chapter IV.

A recognition of the fact that the New Testament reveals two distinct kinds of church work is indispensable in a profitable study of the sponsoring church controversy.

A failure to distinguish between things that are different prevents a great many people from understanding the will of God on many religious subjects.

Two Kinds Of Sinners.

Two kinds of sinners are in need of forgiveness: (1) alien sinners; (2) erring citizens in God's kingdom. Many denominationalists are ignorant of the gospel plan of salvation from sin, because they do not accept the fact that the Lord makes distinction between these two kinds of sinners, and that he does not require the same things of both kinds.

To the alien sinner the Lord says, "Repent ye, and be baptized" (Acts 2:38); to the citizen sinner he says "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord." (Acts 8:22.) But many people do not observe the difference in these two kinds of sinners and God's commands to them. Therefore they turn to examples of forgiveness of "lost sheep" (such as the sinful woman, Luke 7:44-50; Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10; the thief on the cross, Luke 23:40-43), and wrest the scriptures and make void God's word to alien sinners by applying to aliens the things required of sinful citizens.

Two Kinds Of Believers.

The Bible makes a clear distinction between two kinds of believers: (1) obedient believers; (2) disobedient believers.

The "faith only" advocates ignore this truth. They read, "Whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16), and similar passages, and apply them to both kinds of believers. When they are told that all passages which contain promises to believers always apply to obedient believers only, and never to disobedient believers, they do not listen. When they are pressed to present a passage in which God promises salvation to a disobedient believer, they ignore the distinction between the two, and usually give a reference that applies only to the obedient believer.

Two Kinds Of Church Work.

The New Testament reveals two kinds of church work: (1) a work to which the churches are related unequally; (2) a work to which the churches are related equally. The distinction that inspiration makes between these two kinds of church work is as clear and definite as the distinction it makes between the two kinds of sinners, or the two kinds of believers.

a. Every church has a work which strictly is its own, and to which it bears a relationship and a responsibility that no other church bears.

Providing for its own indigent is one example of this kind of church work. Every church is responsible for the care and ministration to its own poor in a way that no other church is responsible.

Another example of this kind of work: every church must assemble on the first day of the week and worship God. No church can meet and worship without a place in which to meet and worship. Every church bears a responsibility in the selection and preparation of its own meeting place that no other church bears.

This kind of church work is a work of ministration, and when a church is unable financially to perform this service to its own members, other churches then must supply the poor church with funds for this work "that there may be equality," or mutual freedom from want. Many passages of scripture were presented in chapter three to prove this.

b. Evangelizing the world is the other kind of church work. This work has been assigned by the Lord to all the churches, and therefore they all are related equally to this obligation and responsibility.

The Bible does not contain one verse of scripture authorizing a church to send a donation to another church for this kind of work — the work of evangelization.

All the churches are equally related to the work of evangelization of every creature in the whole world; they are not related equally in the work of ministration to their respective indigent.

In the Abilene debate, Brother E. R. Harper tried desperately to make void the divine distinction between these two kinds of church work in precisely the same way that denominationalists try to make void the distinction between the two kinds of sinners, and the distinction between the two kinds of believers. When pressed for scriptural authority for a church's sending a donation to another church for the work of evangelization, he would cite a reference that applied only to that charity work in Judea, exactly as the "faith only" advocates cite references that apply only to obedient believers when they are pressed for a passage to show that God saves disobedient believers. If it is sinful for denominationalists to misapply and wrest the scriptures, it is sinful for others to do the same thing in exactly the same way.

Two Kinds Of Stewards.

The two classes of stewards in the kingdom of God are: (1) the individual Christian; (2) the local church.

The Lord has legislated as to how a church shall obtain money for its work, and how it shall dispose of its funds. He has placed restrictions upon a church's acquisition and disposal of funds, which he has not placed on the individual Christian.

The theory that a church may obtain and dispose of its money in every way that a Christian may do so is contrary to gospel truth. Those who make proper distinction between the two classes of stewards in the service of the Lord know that the theory is false.

An individual Christian rightfully may engage in secular business or gainful employment for profit. (Acts 18:3; 2 Thess. 3:8-10; and many other passages.) A church as such has no right to engage in either.

An individual may give his money to human organizations: such as Bible colleges, publishers of religious literature like the Gospel Guardian, Preceptor, Gospel Advocate, etc.; to benevolent institutions and many other human establishments. But no church as such has a right to donate one dime of its money to, any human organization.

A church's buying the services or products of a human institution is not parallel at all to a church's donating its money to such.