Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Is a congregation responsible for caring for the health of its needy saints?
One of the things the church is told to do is to take care of Christians in need. Acts 11:28-30 shows the saints in Antioch taking care of the hungry brethren in Judea because of a famine. Paul told Timothy there was a time to help out poor widowed Christians (1 Tim 5:9-10). We also see the church in Jerusalem doing this (Acts 4:34-35). When brethren have needs, including health needs that are beyond their ability to care for, the church has the right and responsibility to step in and help.
This guy made a video that has had over 15 million views on YouTube. It’s entitled ‘Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus’. Is this Scriptural? Thanks.
Dear Viewer 15,000,000,001,
We watched the video, and we can sympathize with that young man’s frustration with religion. We share a lot of his feelings… but like all the other manmade views that he talked about, his views aren’t totally biblical either.
We are saved by grace, and no one can live a good enough life to deserve forgiveness (Rom 4:3-5). If you need forgiveness, that, by definition, means you did something wrong! Salvation is based upon our faith in Christ, not some behavior that we could boast of (Rom 3:27). Yet, what we do does matter. The man that says he has faith in God but shows a life of wickedness isn’t faithful at all (Matt 7:20, Jas 2:17). Faith without works is as dead as a body in a casket (Jas 2:26). Christians must strive to modify their behavior, but we can’t just modify our behavior, we must give our hearts and loyalty to Christ. When the choices we make are controlled by our love and faith in Christ, then we are becoming the people we ought to be. We would agree with this young man that it isn’t enough to “talk the talk”; we must “walk the walk” (Jas 1:25).
On the other hand, to use the blanket statement that, “I hate religion but love Jesus,” makes no sense. The English Dictionary defines ‘religion’ as ‘a) the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, b) a particular system of faith and worship’. Using either definition, Jesus died to set up religion! Jesus purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28), and the church is guided by the systems and laws found in the Bible (1 Tim 3:15). Jesus also died, so people would worship God and devote their lives to Him (Jhn 3:16). Jesus’ death was designed to start a religious movement that would change the world (Acts 17:6, Matt 28:19-20). If we say that we love Jesus but hate religion because it gives us rules and ordinances for “behavior modification” (as that video calls it), we are making a contradictory statement. If we love Jesus, we will modify our behavior (Jhn 14:15). Jesus hated false religion and manmade religion, but He loves His church (Eph 5:25).
So, we would say the video gets some things right and some things wrong… about par for the course when we talk about spiritual things without using the Bible as our manual.
What can a church do when they outgrow their building but do not have the money to build or buy a new one?
Busting At The Seams
Dear Busting At The Seams,
What a wonderful problem! Church buildings have always been an expediency for a local church to assemble and fulfill the commands found in Heb 10:24-25, Acts 20:7, and 1 Cor 16:1-2, etc. The word ‘expedient’ means ‘convenient or practical’. The command for the church to assemble has to be fulfilled somehow, and church buildings have often been a convenient and practical way to do that… but in your situation, the building is no longer practical or convenient.
A congregation doesn’t need to own a building to be faithful. Renting out a school gymnasium, movie theater, or other facility is just as Scriptural and in your case, probably more expedient since it is cheaper than purchasing a facility. The issue of where and how to meet is a matter of wisdom, not right or wrong. A congregation that is getting too big for the space they are in can do everything from starting a second congregation in a nearby town to renting a larger facility for Sunday worship. It is just a matter of what is the most convenient and practical solution to a problem that is really a blessing.
I’m looking to become a pastor/minister/preacher, but how do I know for sure that this is what God is calling me to do? And how do I know where God is calling me to go?
Dear Seeking Direction,
A pastor is not the same thing as a minister/preacher. A pastor is an elder who shepherds a local congregation (1 Pet 5:1-2). You will know you are called to be a pastor when the congregation assesses you as a qualified man to serve in the eldership – after all, elders are always in groups. There is no example of a pastor leading a congregation by themselves. A congregation knows a man is qualified to serve as an elder when he meets the qualifications found in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Tit 1:5-9. There is a lot of confusion in the religious world over this role, and the fact is that pastors aren’t the same thing as preachers!
If you want to know whether or not you are qualified to preach, read through 1st and 2nd Timothy which are letters Paul wrote to the young preacher, Timothy, and see if you are doing what a preacher should do. Preaching begins with studying to know what the Bible says and then actively doing it. If you are in a faithful congregation, you can ask them about how to get practice preaching and experience in the pulpit – that is what we do with our young men in our congregation. If you need a faithful congregation, (after all, lots of them aren’t following the Bible pattern) we would be happy to help you find one. Simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is clearly the will of God for local churches to be scripturally organized with elders (and deacons). Is a local church that is not scripturally organized with at least qualified elders still pleasing to God? Is such a church sinful? How can we know (scripturally)?
By The Book
Dear By The Book,
It is definitely God’s desire for congregations to appoint elders and deacons, but if a congregation doesn’t yet have elders, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are unfaithful. In Tit 1:5, Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in the congregations in Crete, but it is also worth noting that there were already congregations in Crete! The congregations needed elders, but they were already faithful. When Paul and Barnabas preached together, they didn’t appoint elders in the churches of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch until they were on the return trip (Acts 14:21-23). That means that each of those cities were originally without elders.
A congregation that refuses to put elders in place is fighting against God’s will, but many congregations are too young or too new to have qualified men who meet the requirements for elders found in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Tit 1:5-9. The question is whether a congregation is working toward an eldership or whether they are disregarding the command.