Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
We went to a church that believed if you were married more than once you couldn't be a deacon or preacher. This is because the Bible says you can only be the husband of one wife. Is this a correct interpretation?
Dear Counting Criteria,
The qualification you are referring to can be found in 1 Tim 3:12. The phrase ‘husband of one wife’ literally means a ‘one-woman man’ in the Greek. He must be devoted exclusively and faithfully to his one wife. A man who is widowed and then remarried could still be properly described as a ‘one-woman man’ because he was completely devoted to his first wife until her death, and now is fully devoted to his current wife.
The question a congregation has to wrestle with is if a divorced brother has shown the character trait of monogamous fidelity. Why did he get divorced? Was it for infidelity? Was he always faithful to her? Did she leave him, or did he leave her? How does he behave with his current wife? How long has he been married to his current wife? The answers to these questions will help assess whether he is a faithful ‘one-woman man’.
Divorce is a red flag that should make us pause before appointing a man as a qualified deacon, but depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce, the man may still be qualified.
Your answers about tithing have been very biblical and correct. Thank you. And I already know your thoughts on our responsibilities as stewards of those funds... so what do you think about a huge treasury? If we are to be using these funds to do God’s will, then how can we justify, as His church, “storing up for ourselves on earth”? I mean, if we are to give of our means and know that God will take care of us… then why does His church need to try and keep bulk money in the account?
Not A Hoarder
Dear Not A Hoarder,
A congregation’s leadership would have the same reason for saving money as an individual would – savings is part of stewardship. If someone lives their life without a “rainy day” fund, we consider them unwise. Congregations have regular expenses and unexpected expenses – the problem with unexpected expenses is that you don’t expect them! God says that we must be wise stewards in all that we do (Lk 12:42-43, Matt 25:23). It is possible for a congregation to hoard money – this is wrong. It is also possible for a congregation to spend their money unwisely and not prepare for future expenses – this also is wrong. As in all issues of wisdom, there is a balance. You are right that churches should be using the funds they collect to do God’s will – that isn’t in question. The question is simply how and when to use those funds. That is trickier and requires wise elders to properly manage each individual church’s finances (1 Tim 3:5).
I am happy to write to you. I am wanting to know how you conduct your worship on Sundays.
God bless you.
Looking For Order
Dear Looking For Order,
The Bible gives us examples and commands for five different elements to the public worship.
- Teaching/Preaching (1 Cor 4:17)
- Singing (Eph 5:19)
- Prayer (Acts 12:5)
- Taking A Collection – Sunday only (1 Cor 16:1-2)
- Lord’s Supper – Sunday only (Acts 20:7)
Of these five elements, two of them are specifically allowed only on Sundays. The others can be done any time the brethren get together. The congregation here in Monroe, WA is a simple New Testament congregation, and our worship is just what you find in the Bible.
What are the dangers of church hopping?
Dear Bunny Steps,
Being a member of a congregation is about more than just hearing God’s Word; it is about being a committed, active participant in supporting and encouraging God’s people. There are no examples of christians in the Bible who weren’t members of a local church. Even the apostle Paul, with all of his traveling, was a member of the church in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). God tells us that part of the purpose of the church assembly is to stimulate and encourage one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24-25). Is it enough to just stay at home and watch sermons on television or listen to ones you have downloaded from the internet? If the only purpose of church attendance is to hear the Word, then those would be acceptable alternatives to going to church. We are supposed to get together each Sunday and partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:20), and God intended for christians to be a part of a local congregation with elders and deacons to help shepherd them (1 Pet 5:2). God knows what is best for us, and it is in our best interest to assemble with other christians in a local church. We are all different, and our differences help to strengthen us, protect us, and better serve Christ (Eph 4:14-16). If all you do is “church hop”, then you don’t have the blessings of the local eldership, interwoven lives with other local saints, and participating fully in the growth of the church’s work. Church membership isn’t just about what you get; it is about what you are able to give.
You say you are a New Testament church and not a denomination, but isn't the Church of Christ just an offshoot of the Campbellite movement of the 19th century?
Dear Fess Up,
Historically speaking, the Restoration Movement (sometimes referred to as the Campbellite Movement because Alexander Campbell was a prominent preacher at that time) is a bunch of different churches that adhere to similar doctrines… biblically speaking, the movement to restore New Testament Christianity is a principle, not a denomination. The Monroe Valley church of Christ isn’t affiliated with any other congregation; we aren’t associated with a grouping of churches or national religious body. Our congregation is completely independent of all others – our responsibility is to the Lord and none other, just like the first-century churches (Acts 14:23).
In the darkest days of the nation of Israel, a young king named Josiah rose to power. The nation had reached such a state of wickedness that the temple was near ruins and in complete disrepair. Josiah made a decision to have the temple repaired (2 Kgs 22:3-5). In the process of repairing the temple, the workers found a copy of the Bible (2 Kgs 22:8). The Old Testament Law was brought to Josiah, and he read it for the very first time (2 Kgs 22:10). Josiah was mortified when he heard the words of the law; never before had he realized how wicked the nation was and how deeply entrenched in sin Israel had become (2 Kgs 22:11-13). Josiah decided then and there to simply return to doing what the Bible said. Josiah let the Bible be his guide in restoring the nation of Israel to what God intended it to be (2 Chr 34:30-31). That is the ideal of the Restoration Movement. Regardless of what man says, the church in Monroe is not a part of a denomination or some earthly hierarchy. We appeal to the New Testament as our guide and daily attempt to restore biblical Christianity in our little corner of the world. If other congregations around the globe take this same attitude, that doesn’t make us a denomination; that makes us brethren all serving the one true head, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23).