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Wednesday, January 31, 2024


"Now concerning[a] the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come."  
1 Corinthians 16:1-2

I recently shared a chart about the church treasury.  Some were upset and their comments required me to leave you with more information.  My intention is to avoid getting involved in an extensive debate.  This explanation should be enough.  Anything further, you may communicate with me by email or private message.  Please see my blog for this contact information.  May God bless you!

Today, many denominations and so-called churches of Christ practice things without the authority of God, though they think they’re doing the will of God.  When one challenges and questions their practices, they immediately get defensive and call us names.  For example, 

  • There are differences in how the church treasury is used.
  • Differences in belief about salvation and the use of mechanical instruments in worship.
  • Differences in divorce and remarriage.
  • Differences in supporting social institutions such as orphanages, nursing homes, daycare centers, Bible schools, and the such where they use the church treasury. 

I must stress that before any church does anything in our worship and service to God, there must be authority from God.  It will be wise to ask ourselves one very critical question.  By what authority are we doing these things?

We cannot know God’s authority in everything we do or say if we are not seeking His will through reading the Scriptures.  It will be impossible to know the difference if we are ignorant of God’s Word.  Ignorance of God’s Word weakens and tosses us by every wind of doctrine.  But if we dig deeper into the Scriptures as the Bereans did, we will be able to follow God’s authority as taught in His Word (Acts 17).


Corrupt and powerful people learn to manipulate others through emotional arguments that are often dishonest.  Governors who wish to enrich themselves and gain more power over us tell of excellent and benevolent purposes they will accomplish if only we will entrust them with our money and support.  God knows that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.  The principles of Bible authority limit the power we give to elders in the church, and those same principles restrict the use of money in the church.  We ignore those principles at our peril, and we tempt men to become corrupt both in their private lives and their public dominion over others.  The apostle Paul warned the elders of Ephesus that some from among themselves would abuse their authority and lay waste to the church as wolves that do not spare the flock of God.  In this study, please note how people use emotional arguments to justify departures from the pattern of God for the church.


In the 1800s, the controversy over the Missionary Society doing evangelistic work began.  Some thought it was an excellent idea for Christians to spread the Gospel better to the lost.  So, they created an organization called the "Missionary Society." The purpose of such an organization was to set up an arrangement to pay preachers, print Bible materials, distribute tracts and other evangelistic works.  But for the missionary society to perform all this, they would need to be funded by local churches from their treasury.  This arrangement would allow several local churches to send money to one controlling board of officers, which would then, in turn, use the money for evangelism.  The controlling missionary society governs all the work, chooses the evangelists, and directs where they must go and preach.

Many churches rejected the authority of this board of directors as unscriptural. Still, they kept the idea by giving the same authority to the elders of a local church called “the sponsoring church.” This arrangement was mostly seen in the national radio and television program, the Herald of Truth. So this resulted in one local church accepting money from many other local churches to pay for a nationwide radio program. Sadly, these arrangements are still seen and being made today to pay for the high cost of television or any other source of evangelism. Unfortunately, many problems arise with these unauthorized works. Why? Consider them
  1. In the first place, this work destroys the autonomy or self-government of the local church and causes the elders of one church to surrender their authority to the central sponsoring church eldership. 
  2. There is no Bible authority for doing this. 
  3.  The advocates of this organization have tried to authorize it under generic authority, but they have abused and misused Matthew 28:19
  4. The only functioning organization authorized in the New Testament is the "local church," which is God's only "missionary society."  
  5. The local church is authorized to use methods and make choices about carrying forth the Gospel Message, that is, the work God has specifically commanded the church to do.  
  6. We are not authorized to create groups of churches with a common creed and denominational name. 
  7. We must not create organizations such as the Missionary Society to do the work of the  local church.  This usurps the role that God has defined for the local church and her elders. 
  8. It is like adding a "strange fire" or "looking for another river." 

My question is:  

  • Is there any Bible authority for churches sending money to another church to do evangelism work? If there is, I challenge you to give me one!  

The answer is a big NO! Any local church has no authority to use its money to create another organization to do its evangelism work. Though these efforts may have very good intentions, they have no Bible authority. These works violate the autonomy of each local church. Why? Because it is the missionary society (the organization) that decides on Bible materials, pays a preacher's salary, etc., instead of a local church. It is a purely man-made organization!  

The sponsoring church violates Bible authority because one church sends money to another local church, leaving her without the right to choose how to use the money. When a local church does this, she has given up her authority to another one. And this is not Scriptural, for each local church must be autonomous!  

In the case of the missionary society and the sponsoring church arrangement, an organization larger than the local church is formed. The New Testament talks about the local work of each autonomous church without headquarters, conventions, or someone else telling another local church what to do. Period! Such organizations violate God's authority for elders to oversee only their work. I can prove this with 1 Peter 5:1-2, which admonishes the elders, saying,

"Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly."  

You see, God has charged the elders of each local congregation to oversee, that is, take charge of the affairs of only the local congregation in their area. The problem with the so-called sponsoring church arrangement is that the elders or overseers of the controlling church have total control over everything each local church does in the Lord's work. They are violating God's command given in 1 Peter 5:1-2!

  • So, what is the primary problem with the so-called missionary society and sponsoring church arrangement?  

The greatest problem is one church (usually a large city church) manages the treasuries of other local churches (usually smaller country churches). 

  • Would there be any problem with a wealthy man creating an organization to help pay a preacher's salary so he can do the Lord's work in other areas?  

No! Any person with the monetary means can do this without any problem. 

Another question.  

  •  Can any individual person give money to this rich man to help send money to other preachers?  

Absolutely, yes! Each of us has the right to give money to those who need it. The problem with the missionary society is that they violate the autonomy of each local church every time they use the treasuries of those churches, thus subjugating them to their governing authority. 

Another question.  

  • Can this rich man help financially with a radio program to evangelize and spread the Gospel?  

Yes, of course! Any individual person can do this without any problem.  

  • Can this rich man be sent money from another individual to help keep this radio program?  

Yes, each individual has the right to use his money as best he can. I must stress that the main problem with the so-called missionary society and sponsoring church arrangements is the abuse of the treasuries of the local churches (each local church). This principle is illustrated in Acts 5:4.

"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.'" 

Our money is our own until we give it to the Lord. Each individual Christian is free to choose at his discretion to spend his money on anything he wants, or he can choose to help a preacher. You see, there is a big difference between what each local church can do and what each individual can do, and we must acknowledge this.  
  • As an individual, can I rent any place to play basketball or any other sport and invite my friends to play and speak to them about the Gospel?  


  • Can a local church do that to spread the Gospel?

No, for no local church has the authority to use its treasury to do such a thing.  

  • As an individual, can I have a garage sale and use my profits to help a preacher in another country or city? 


  • Can any local church sell lottery tickets and then use the money to send to preachers? 

No, there is no Bible authority for any local church to do this. 

  • Can I have a great banquet at my home, invite all my friends who are not Christians, and use this opportunity to teach the Gospel Message? 


We see Matthew doing this in Luke 5:29.  

  • Can a local church have a great banquet and invite people to come as an opportunity to teach them the Gospel?  

No! Why not?

Because the Bible does not authorize the treasury of each local church to be used for things such as these.   Each individual Christian can use every opportunity to teach the Gospel while at parties, entertainment, or any such civil event to save those who are lost, but the local church cannot use the Lord’s treasury to pay for the parties.

Each Christian can do whatever they choose to do with their own money. But this is not the case with the local church. So if any Christian wants to meet at a park, home, or restaurant and talk to his friends about the Gospel, it is okay as long as it does not use the funds of any local church to create a restaurant, sports complex, or theater of entertainment, for there is no authority in the Bible for that. We must stress that the church that our Lord purchased with His own blood is not an institution or a denominational group of churches organized under a charter or creed. It is not made up of many local churches. The church, in general, consists only of people.


  1. The Lord's church consists of all saved individuals from the day of Pentecost to the present day from all over the world. 
  2. The church is made up of the dead and alive in Christ, Matthew 16:18 and Hebrews 12:22-24.  
  3. Again, I must stress that each local church in the New Testament was autonomous, worked independently from other local churches, and made their own decisions, not another controlling “mother” church.  

The following are some questions a brother in Christ asked regarding the missionary society and sponsoring church arrangement since he wants to do what is right to please our Lord.  

  • First question:

"Are the brethren who participate in these things sinning and therefore going to hell?" 
My answer:   

 The question ought to be, What does Jesus want me to do? We study the Scriptures to understand the pattern of living and worship that Jesus left us because He is Lord, and His Will must be our command. If we disobey His Will, that is called sin. How God will judge us in each case is not for me to say because He is the Judge and not me. However, He leaves us with many warnings about the Day of Judgment

  • Second question:

"If I am part of such a group and the Missionary Societies support me monthly with a certain amount of money to preach the good news about Jesus, how do I free myself from them?"
"If I succeed in freeing myself from them and they no longer support me, should I quit preaching and find a secular job to take care of my family?"

My answer: 

The Bible gives us examples of a church supporting an evangelist working in another city(Philippians 4:14-20; 2 Corinthians 11:8). We know that is right. The churches communicated directly with the evangelist. The evangelist is accountable to the churches that support him, and if any of them see you doing or teaching something they believe is wrong, they can withdraw their support. If the evangelist sees one of the churches that support him doing or teaching something wrong, he can refuse to accept their support. In the case of a missionary society or sponsoring church, another group of overseers stands between the churches and the evangelist. He is accountable to them and not to the churches supporting him. Those overseers have usurped the authority that the supporting churches have. Why can you not communicate directly with the churches that provide the support? Do they not know you? Will they insist that you have fellowship with them through this missionary society? 

Historically, such boards of governors have commanded the preachers they support, telling them where to preach, what to preach, and how to live with an authority that Jesus nowhere gave them. If the churches will not support you directly, it is because they do not accept the simple Bible pattern, and you should seek support elsewhere or get a secular job, but you should never quit preaching. The apostle Paul often found it necessary to work as a tent-maker until he could receive the needed support to devote all of his time to evangelism. However, he never quit preaching, Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 4:12.  

  • Third question:

"Is there any scriptural authority for a church to use her treasury to pay utility bills? If there is any, give me the Book, Chapter, and Verse where the Bible authorizes such expenses."

My answer: 

This question usually implies that the churches do many things without Scriptural authority. The Lord clearly authorized the churches to meet together to take the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34), to sing together (Ephesians 5:19), and to be edified together (Ephesians 4:11-16). The authority to assemble provides us with general authority to pay the expenses of the meeting place, such as the utilities. Nevertheless, the authority to evangelize and support the evangelists does not give us the authority to violate the order of the local churches. In 1 Peter 5:1-3, the apostle Peter commanded the elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” Their authority does not extend to other flocks or churches that are not theirs. 

Men who are given authority over the work of other churches violate the apostle Peter’s charge to the elders to shepherd the flock among them. The earliest forms of apostasy began with such men, as prophesied by the apostle Paul in Acts 20:28- 30. The Roman Catholic Church started this way, taking the first step of giving authority to a few men over more and more churches until finally, they had the Pope and the society of the Cardinals governing vast numbers of churches. 

  • Fourth question:

"Does the Missionary Society and Sponsoring Church question have something to do with a man’s salvation?"

My answer: 

The question should be, Does Jesus care if we ignore His teachings about how the church serves Him? Is Jesus Lord? Does Jesus command His kingdom? Can we disregard His teachings and be saved? Jesus came from heaven to bring us life, and that life is the light of men, John 1:4. The light of Jesus is His teachings, all the teachings He brought us through His apostles. He built His hurch, Matthew 16:18, exactly the way He wanted it built. In John 12:44-50, Jesus said, 

"If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” 

Then He said in v. 50,

“And I know that his commandment is eternal life.”

If there is no life in rejecting His words, then there is only death.

So before any local church can do anything, there must be authority from God. This is a very fundamental principle throughout the Scriptures. In 1 John 3:4, we read, 

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” 

Sin is defined for us as acting without law. When we do anything without God's authority, we commit sin. In Matthew 7:21, the Lord Jesus said,

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.'"

Thus, we cannot do things in the name of God without heeding His authority. We may deceive ourselves, thinking we have God's approval or authority. If God does not authorize what we do, it is lawlessness and not the will of the Father. In Mark 7:6, Jesus said,

 “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” 

We may deceive ourselves by thinking we are serving God, but when we lay aside the Law of Christ and His authority, we disobey God and worship Him in vain.

Acts 8:4 provides an example of the work of local evangelism. It is not difficult to find the authority to preach the Gospel. Evangelism must be the focal point for each individual Christian. In Mark 16:15, the disciples were commanded to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  In Acts 8:4, we have another example during the persecution of Christians: “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Individuals must be active in evangelism.  

Each local church, as well as each individual, has been given the authority to evangelize the lost (1 Thessalonians 1:8). Here, Paul commended the Thessalonians for their work, saying, 

“For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out so that we do not need to say anything.”

 The church in Thessalonica sounded forth the Word of God in every place. The church in Thessalonica was doing the job Christ entrusted them!

In Acts 13:1- 2, the church in Antioch sent Barnabas and Saul to spread the Gospel in other places.

  1. Here, we see that a local church had the authority to send workers to teach the Gospel anywhere. 
  2. The local church also had the authority to use its treasury to help evangelists by supporting them, such as in the case of Paul when he preached in Thessalonica. 
  3. Thus, each local church today also has this authority.  

In 2 Corinthians 11:7-9, we see that many churches were supporting Paul while he was doing the work in Corinth. Therefore, many churches have the authority to send support to a single Gospel preacher. In 1 Timothy 1:3, Timothy was to remain in Ephesus to do the work. We also see in Titus 1:5 that Titus was to stay in Crete to set things in order to help appoint elders in every city. So, it is evident that there can be workers who work in local churches to do the Lord's work. Paul then gave the command in 1 Corinthians 9:14,

“Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” 

Those who work for the Gospel have the Scriptural authority to be supported for their work. But we must stress again that nowhere in the New Testament do we find any authority for one church to send money to another church to do the work of evangelism. And if there is one, I want to know!!  

I don't see any church sending money to another church to preach the Gospel. In Philippians 2:25, the church sent a messenger to give monetary support to Paul. But Philippi did not send the money to the local church in Thessalonica to pay him! The same is true of the church in Corinth, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9. The support from other churches did not go to the church in Corinth; instead, it went directly to Paul. We can see the principle of church autonomy upheld in this action.

There is nowhere in the New Testament that a local church engaged in the affairs of another local church. Each local church was able to do the work of evangelism in its area. God specifically commanded that the elders' oversight and functions be restricted to the local church (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Therefore, it is not "expedient" for the elders of one church to oversee the members, monies, or work (or any part thereof) of another church! It is unlawful and sinful! It does not fall within the realm of what the Lord authorized the elders to do. It cannot be Scriptural expediency, for it represents another kind or class of organizational structure!  

The church is the only organization God authorized to preach the Gospel (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 4:12). A Missionary Society and sponsoring churches are not an aid, for they are not within the scope of that which God has authorized. The Missionary Society and sponsoring church arrangement are an addition (another kind or class) to the organization established by God. They are organizations built by men to do the work God gave each local church to do. Therefore, it is unlawful!


  • The Individual And The Local Church:
God has authorized individuals to show benevolence toward Christians and unbelievers. Notice 1 John 3:17,
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”  
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10
    1. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, the rich are commanded to be rich in good works, do good, be ready to give, and willing to share. 
    2. In Matthew 25:31-46Jesus says that what we do toward our brethren in physical things is what we are doing toward Him. The parable of the good samaritan ends with Jesus saying, “Go and do likewise.” 
    3. As individuals, God commands us to do good to all. 
    4. We must be rich in good works.  
God has also given the local church the authority to use its funds for benevolence.  However, there are restrictions about the use of each local church treasury. The local church has limited authority from God. 
    1. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2,  the apostle Paul commands the church to take up a collection for the saints and “store it up”, that is, in a common treasury. 
    2. On the first day of the week, each person must lay something aside
    3. But notice in verse 1 that the collection is “for the saints.” 
    4. Carefully notice that we are not told the collection is “of the saints” or “given by the saints,” which is sometimes how many misunderstand this passage. 
    5. The money collected is for the saints!  
    6. The money used for benevolence out of a local church treasury was always for the needy saints.  

In Romans 15:25-26, we read, 

“But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints who are in Jerusalem.” 
 Who was the contribution for? 

For the poor saints in Jerusalem. 
    1. In Acts 11:27-30we are told that a famine was taking place everywhere.  
    2. In verse 29, we read, “Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” 
    3. Again we can see that the money was sent only to the saints. 
    4. In Acts 4:32-37, we read of “the multitude of those who believed” had all things in common. 
    5. The saints sold their possessions, and the goods were distributed to each one who had need.
    6.  From the very beginning, we see this same situation (Acts 2:44-45). We read, “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” 
    7. Who are those in need? All who believed. 
    8. We can prove this even further in Acts 3
    9. Notice that the possessions and goods were sold and laid at the apostles’ feet to distribute to needy saints.
    10. In Acts 3:1-6Peter and John encountered a lame man on the way to the temple. 
    11. In verse 3, the lame man asks for alms. 
    12. In verse 6, Peter says, “Silver and gold I do not have…” 
    13. Is Peter lying? 
    14. We know Peter had plenty of money and goods available from the selling of the saints’ possessions that took place seven verses earlier. 
    15. Peter was not lying. 
    16. From this passage, we infer that the local church must not use its funds for all the needy of the world. 
    17. The funds must be used for needy saints only.

You may ask, what about James 1:27

Many argue that James 1:27 authorizes the local church to use its funds for the orphans and widows in this world.  The question is, 
Is James 1:27 addressed to a local church or individuals? 

It is not that difficult to understand and determine the correct answer.  
    1. We must first look at the context of the passage. 
    2. We must read the earlier verses of this text to find the nearest reference for this command.
    3.  Verse 26 says,  "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless." 
    4. James is talking about the religion of a person, for he says  “he,” “his tongue,” “his own heart,” and “one’s religion.” 
    5. Our text is clearly talking about what each individual must do.  
    6. Even in verse 19, we see the discussion of what individuals must do. “Let every man…” 
    7. James 1:27 commands and gives authority to individuals to take care of widows and orphans.
    8. Therefore, when it comes to the work of benevolence, the treasury of the local church is limited to needy saints only.  
  • The Church Limits Upon Helping Needy Saints:

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  (1 Tim. 5:8)

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
    1. God has placed further limits on the local church even on which needy Christians she may help.  
    2. The local church cannot immediately step in and help just any needy saint (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  
In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul says, 
“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” 
This same principle is given in 1 Timothy 5:8
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 

If an individual is unwilling to work, a local church has no responsibility to help and must not help until that person is ready to take a job.

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.”  (1 Timothy 5:4)

Each individual must be willing to work before the local church can help.  The family must help before the local church helps him.   

A widow was not allowed to be on the role unless the family options were exhausted. The children and grandchildren were responsible for taking care of them, not the local church. The family is expected to contribute before the local church does. 

In 1 Timothy 5:16Paul says that the church must not be burdened. 

This is an important principle. 

    1. Imagine if each local church were to use its funds to help all the poor in the world, it would run out of money and not accomplish the task the Lord has given each local church. 
    2. Each local church must not use its funds in a way that God has not authorized. 

My question is: 

Did the apostles set up shelters, orphanages, nursing homes, daycare centers, foster homes, or other institutions to take care of the needy? 

And though it might be noble to accomplish such a task, it leaves each local church without funds to do the work God has given it to do in evangelism, edification, and benevolence toward the needy saints.  

    1. In Acts 11 and 2 Corinthians 8-9, we read that a local church was unable to meet the needs of the saints.  
    2. So other local churches sent money to aid those needy saints. 
    3. Here is the only example we have of one local church sending money to another local church.
    4. The money was not sent nor used for any other reason. 
    5. Nor do we see these receiving churches sending it to other churches. 
    6. The saints did not set up a benevolent society to help all needy people in the world. 
    7. Nor did they use a local church as an agency to give aid to all needy people. 
    8. There is no authority anywhere in the New Testament for establishing a controlling local church to be in charge of all the needy in each location.  
    9. If there’s one, I would like to know it!  
    10. The needy Christians were the only ones receiving this kind of help.  
    11. Take heed!
  • No Authority For Supporting Earthly Organizations:
Many teach that a local church must use its funds to support all of today’s charities and needs. 
    1. They want to use the treasury of the local church to send funds to nursing homes, daycares, orphanages, hospitals, shelters, the Red Cross, United Way, or any other charitable organization.
    2. There is no authority for the funds of a local church to be used for such things.  
    3. Nowhere do we find a command, a necessary inference, nor do we see an example of any local church supporting such human organizations. 
    4. We do not find any authority for a local church to give its funds to those who are not needy saints.
    5. Again, let us remember that in Acts 3,  Peter and John did not give the lame man, who sat at the gate of the temple, any money. They said they could not give him money. 
    6. Why not? Because the inference is that the money must not be used for anyone other than needy saints in dire economic need (Acts 11:27-30 and 2 Corinthians 8-9).  
  • The Primary Work of Each Local Church is Spiritual:  

    1. God did not authorize the local church to become a welfare system or an agency to meet the physical needs of others. 
    2. The local church must meet spiritual needs
    3. Peter and John gave the lame man something more important than gold and silverThey healed him so that he and others would believe in Jesus Christ. 
    4. Our faith is the more important thing we can give to people.  
    5. We are not authorized to use the funds of a local church to support institutions.  
    6. When the  Lord commanded us to do good to all and visit the widows and orphans, He was not talking about giving them a check from the church treasury, He was talking about making an effort to help individually. 
    7. It is an individual responsibility. 
Remember Galatians 6:10
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” 

We must help others individually when the opportunity is presented.  Each one of us has been commanded to help believers and non-believers in the area of benevolence. It is up to each of us to determine how we are going to help.

Thus the right question to ask is:  

By what authority are we doing these things?  

We must understand that the church is not a physical benevolent society to feed and clothe or meet the physical needs of the worldly poor. As designed by God, the primary function of the church is to meet man’s spiritual needs.  
    1. The church is not a social club for secular parties, potlucks, entertainment, and music. 
    2. The church is for spiritual worship and spiritual music.  
    3. The church is not a political action force to shape society and culture through public protest.
    4. The church is non-political, and her God-ordained function only is to protest against spiritual things like sin and lawlessness.  
    5. The church is not a  fundraising organization whose primary goal is to collect money or invest money through bake sales, raffles, bingos, business ventures, secular real-estate investments, and speculation in the stock market. 
    6. The church that Jesus purchased with His blood raises money from free-will donations from Christians every first day of the week, Sunday.  
Some say that if it is a good deed, it cannot be wrong.  
  1. They justify doing a particular practice, declaring that it is a good deed.  
  2. They often make this argument when we talk to them about misusing the church funds to support orphan homes and other social institutions that help those in need. 
  3. Of course, it is good to help the helpless, but no one denies that these things are good works. 
But is it okay with God, or does He authorize the church to use the treasury to sponsor man-made institutions such as hospitals or homeless shelters, just because it seems a good thing that they do?  What do you think?   

Take heed and don’t abuse God’s ordained design for the church that His Son purchased with His own blood!


In Mark 11:28, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders ask Jesus.

 “And they said to Him, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?’”

These Jewish leaders asked Jesus by whose authority was He doing these things.  Notice Jesus’ answer in the following verse.  

“But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: the baptism of John, was it from heaven or from men? Answer me.’”

Wow, what a remarkable answer from the lips of Jesus!

Jesus did not turn to the Pharisees and authoritatively exclaim He did not need any authority to do what He was doing.  He did not say how stupid and irrelevant was their question.  Jesus’ response was to compel them to see and accept that His authority was straight from God in heaven.  Furthermore,  Jesus wanted them to accept that He was God and thus had all authority.   And though the question was foolish, it had some validity to it.  The question they asked Jesus about His authority for doing the things He was doing is the same valid question we must ask every time we do anything.  We must acknowledge that all our practices, whether our service and worship to God, must have His authority.    And this is precisely where Nadab and Abihu failed when they offered an unauthorized fire. They did not care about what God asked or commanded them to do.   

Sadly, we often ask the wrong questions with some of our practices of worship and service to God.  We are driven by our feelings or emotions.  We rely more on what others say about a specific practice or issue than doing what God authorizes.  We rationalize everything as a good work or cause, and thus, it cannot be wrong.  We dare to say that God does not care if we do this or not.  We must start acknowledging God’s authority for everything we do or say.  We must ask the question:  

Where is our authority for doing it?  
Does God authorize us to participate in a particular practice or work? 

When the church and its members fail to ask the question, 

“By What Authority?” 

We encounter many problems. Problems such as differences, divisions, and splits.  

How do you suppose we have so many different denominations with different beliefs and practices?  

Because they don’t care and ask the right question:  

By whose or what authority?  

When they fail to ask the right question, serious problems arise—problems about using the church treasury for social things such as building Bible schools, hospitals, and orphanages.  So the question is not whether it is a good work or not, what others practiced in the past, or whether or not God really cares.  

The valid question is,
Do we have authority from God? 

But when we do things our way, not God’s, we have no authority.

You see, there are many divisions over the use of mechanical instruments in our worship to enhance the beauty of our music.  

The valid question again is,  

Do we have authority from God to play instruments of music in worship to God? 

And if we don’t have God’s authority, we must not do it.  Period!  

We establish lawful authority by direct statement, approved example, or necessary inference because that which is not authorized is illegal, excluded by God's will, and, therefore, unlawful or sinful. For anything to be Scripturally expedient, it must harmonize with the will of God as expressed in His Word. Expediency is the right to choose according to what God has authorized as lawful.

We must stress that for a thing to be Scripturally expedient, it must first be lawful or authorized by God(1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). Again, we must stress that lawful authority must be established by direct statement, approved example, or necessary inference. Therefore, that which is unauthorized is unlawful and not in harmony with the will of God; it is excluded by God's authority. If it is not established by divine authority, it is not lawful but sinful.  

In 2 John 9-11, we are forbidden from going beyond what is written and authorized. We cannot know what pleases God if the Holy Spirit has not revealed it to us (1 Cor. 2:10-13). So unlawful things cannot be expedient, even if we deceive ourselves into thinking they are good. Take, for example, what David did when he used the ox cart to move the ark of the covenant. It was not right, whatever he might have been thinking (1 Chron.13:7-10; 15:2, 13-15). Because he failed to do it right, in the lawful and authorized way according to God's divine authority, God got angry, striking Uzza down when he put out his hand to steady the ark. Nadab and Abihu thought the fire they used would expedite their efforts to burn incense (Lev. 10:1-2), but God sent fire to consume them, for they offered God unauthorized fire. It fails to be expedient when we add to, take away from, or substitute for God's Word and His ways. It is not a matter of expediency, for it is a transgression against God's will. Anything outside the realm of those things that God has authorized is sinful. It is an unauthorized act.

Our only standard for determining what can and cannot be done by the Lord's authority is His Word. The Word of God explicitly authorizes via direct statements and examples. Thus, whatever we do in word or deed must be done by the authority of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). The Bible, the Word of God, teaches and authorizes by implication. It is sometimes difficult to understand God’s implications because understanding involves proper and sound reasoning to draw the conclusion that God expects us to draw.  

In the Bible, we find three ways of authority:  authority through direct command, necessary inference, and approved examples. Direct commands are direct expressions of God’s will. In James 2:11, we find an example of this. “Do not commit adultery.” A necessary inference means that we must come to an obvious conclusion based on the information given by God.

In Acts 10, we are given an example of necessary inference. Peter sees a vision in which he is commanded to kill and eat unclean animals. This is done three times in that vision. Peter had to infer from his vision that he was to speak to Cornelius, a Gentile. God never mentioned to Peter to go to Cornelius directly, but it was what he inferred from the message of his vision that he had to understand. The example is simple enough to understand. 

If we see that Christians performed a specific action in the New Testament, then within those boundaries, we are also authorized to perform those actions. In Acts 20:7,  we are given an example of the first-century Christians in Troas partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Therefore, we have the authority to partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. God commands us to be submerged, buried in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4). Since God has not specified the place to baptize, a baptistery may expedite the accomplishment of God's will. Thus, a baptistery is an expedient. Sprinkling for baptism is not expedient, for it is not lawful and does not aid in accomplishing the will of God. It involves another kind or class of action. Therefore, it is a substitution for what God commanded to be lawful.

These issues and teachings in the New Testament are simple to understand when one examines the context. The apostle Paul also deals with similar issues in Romans 14. Unfortunately, some have tried to teach this principle to justify matters of doctrinal error in the church:  instrumental music, fellowship, and all other elements that destroy the purity of the church and the Gospel, for they are not matters of expediency but destruction. We must make sure that we are doing everything to edify and build one another up in the most holy faith (Jude 20).  

Accordingly, elders are given the charge of feeding the church of God, Acts 20:28. This does not mean that they are to abuse their authority by destroying the purity of the church, but rather to expedite their teaching and feeding with the Word of God and His divine authority. It is the only way to radiate unity. Paul's concept of feeding and edifying the church was not through fleshly “expedients” such as entertainment. It is not Biblical expediency! Elders must take this seriously! Why? Because all decision-making must be done according to His will, His doctrine, and not our will.  

God’s instructions are the same today as they were in the first century.  And though many had tried to change God’s specific instructions, they have not changed at all.  Whatever options, choices, expedients, or generic decisions we make must come from what God has authorized in the timeless written Word.  We cannot have God’s approval while we are teaching error and man-made doctrines.  Doctrinal error is to abandon the reliability and authority of God as revealed in His Sacred Word.  

Therefore, we must search the Scriptures to find out what God has authorized, not men.  Let us be careful that all the work of the church is genuinely expedient and not just entertainment. And though elders have been given the responsibility to “feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28), this charge does not imply destroying the purity of the church or the Gospel, but rather expediting teaching and feeding according to the will of God that will manifest unity(Ephesians 4:3). Elders must decide what is most expedient for the congregation. Still, it must be based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17).

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7

May we honor our King and Lord and submit to His Lordship with fear and trembling.  May we place His Holy Word above the words of men.  May the Lord help us always to do what is expedient to the salvation of our brethren while reverencing the sacred authority of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.



  1. I have been a member of the Church of Christ for 51 years. Luci, what you have addressed here is in harmony with all my studying of the scriptures. Thank you for writing this. Many are acting without our Lord's authority and it's sad that they can't understand the importance of only doing what is authorized. They have all kinds of arguments. Let the arguments stop and let's just follow the scriptures. Stop reading into the scriptures what you want to read and carefully read the context.

  2. This has proven to be very beneficial for me. I have a great fondness for it! It's truly outstanding. Excellent job!

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