Vol.XVI No.III Pg.4
May 1979

Truth Is A Sword —

Robert F. Turner

Brother Turner:

I have been attending a relatively new church, and love these fine people. I have great respect for newly appointed elders. But now I learn we support from our treasury a brotherhood orphanage; and our elders plan to put a kitchen in our new building, for use in social functions. I don't want to be a troublemaker, but I can not conscientiously take part in the support of denominational type institutions, or of activities that are not the work of the church.

My husband is not a member so I have no voice in the business meeting. Should I go to the elders, explain my position, and send my contribution elsewhere? I have discussed this with a few members, and some see my point, while others just become quiet. There is a so-called "Anti" church about an hour's drive from here; should I go there? I do not want to cause dissension, but neither do I want to go along with something unscriptural. Thanks for any advice you can give to help me in these matters. —————————


Your letter (abbreviated above) indicates a basically sound concept of God's will and a desire to serve Him. What is best, under difficult circumstances, involves fallible human judgment. But God reads the heart. Make certain whatever you do is done in an honest effort to serve God, not self.

As you evidently know, each local church should be independent, i.e., NOT dependent upon other churches for any part of its oversight, funds, etc. When a church plans a work that is beyond its own ability to perform — even plans to be the overseeing medium through which other churches will support and function — it clearly violates the N.T. principle of organization. The basic issue here is not what is done (as preaching, or caring for needy) but a departure from God's plan for congregational independence. A church which has become dependent through no fault of its own may be given "alms" (Acts 24:17), its "want" supplied (2 Cor. 8:14) by other churches; as you no doubt understand.

The obligations and functions of a local church are not determined by what we think is "good work," but by what God authorizes saints to do collectively, or as a team (2 Tim.3: 17). In the N.T., the church out of its treasury supported its own needy members (1Tim.5: 16, Acts 4:34-f), assisted churches that had become dependent (above, Rom. 15:25-f), supported the preaching of the gospel, at home (1 Cor.9: 11-14) and abroad (Phil.4: 15 -16). There is nothing in the N.T. to suggest that the work of the church included social parties, recreation, secular education, etc.

When funds from the treasury are used for such all contributors are forced either to participate or cease to supply funds to that treasury. We may differ on various things and continue to worship together. Many differences will be removed by our mutual study and "striving" to be one in Christ (Phil.1: 27-f). But when the public worship is corrupted (as by use of piano) or our common fund is put to unscriptural use — when our (continued next page)