"Boles Home News Article Reviewed
In the Boles Home News, Number 10, Volume 20, there is an article concerning "Benevolence and Church Growth." The author bases his main argument on benevolence that was done in the city of Jerusalem. He concludes that the benevolence did more to build up the church than the preaching of the gospel did. And he concludes (by using Matt. 5:46-48) that this was general benevolence to outsiders.
The author, and his name is not attached to the article, concludes:
a. "The principal outlay of the New Testament church was for benevolence."
b. "Every time the growth of the Jerusalem church is mentioned, it is mentioned in direct connection with the charitable and benevolent practices of the church."
c. "The preachers of the church were virtually unknown in the city. They were observed to be 'ignorant and unlearned.' They were of another province and their language was evidently peculiar."
d. "The specific purpose of the Lord's Day contribution was a 'collection for the saints' (1 Cor. 16:1, 2)."
e. "On the mission fields other religious bodies outgrew us because they have learned the art of opening the hearts of people through good works."
f. "It is high time for the church of the Lord to go and learn what this meaneth: 'For if ye love them that love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? Ye therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.' Matt. 5:46-48. If we want men to see Jesus in us and to glorify God for what they see in us, we are going to have to adopt the same attitude of Christ and God toward a benevolent ministry to our fellow man. And the church will grow!"
Here Are Some Observations I Would Like To Make:
1. General church benevolence is not taught in the New Testament. Matt. 5,6, and 7 include the sermon on the mount, which is addressed to individuals, not churches. Besides, Matt. 5:46 is not talking about "insiders" and "outsiders." He is not saying, those on the inside of the church love you, and those on the outside of the church hate you. You cannot force the verse to say that. And Matt. 5:47 merely mentions "saluting your brethren only." Who ever heard of a salute being benevolence. And "brethren" in the verse means "friends."
In the very same chapters the author used, we can plainly see that the church benevolence was to saints. Acts 2:44: "All that believed were together, and had all things common." Acts 4:32: "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed were his own; but they had all things common." Acts 6:1-6 is discussing benevolence for the poor widows among the "disciples."
2. If the "specific purpose of the Lord's Day contribution was a 'collection for the saints.' 1 Cor. 16:1-6"; pray tell us how the sinner got into the budget?
3. If "the preachers of the church were virtually unknown in the city," how did they go about preaching the gospel on Pentecost and baptizing about 3,000 souls? (Acts 2:37-41) It was their teaching in the name of Jesus that bothered the city officials; evidently they had heard about it. (Acts 4:16, 17) These preachers were present and performing miracles in Acts 5:13,14 when "The believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." Nothing is said about the church giving out funds and causing believers to be added to the Lord. Again, Acts 5:28 has the authorities saying that these (ignorant and unlearned) preachers had "filled Jerusalem with their doctrine." Yet, the Author of that article says they were "virtually unknown in the city." It was the "word of God" that caused the number of disciples to multiply in Acts 6:7. It was the "hearing of the word" that caused the number of disciples to increase in Acts 4:4. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. (Rom. 1:16) Where did the Author get the Idea that it was benevolence, and that the "preachers of the church were virtually unknown"?
4. About 3,000 were added to the church in Acts 2:41, without any charitable or benevolent practices being administered unto them. The churches were established in Samaria (Acts 8:12), in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48), in Philippi (Acts 16:14-34), in Corinth (Acts 18:8), and in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5) by these so-called unknown preachers; and without the aid of a bread line! And the "mission fields" are no different today than they were then, the "other religious bodies" to the contrary not-with-standing. Let the brother tell us what the "other religious bodies" have converted their disciples to, then he may have a point. You know some followed Christ for the "loaves and fishes." (John 6:26)
Yes, people will glorify God, by observing the church as it assists its needy members, and may even be constrained to become members of it. We are certainly obligated to our needy, and as individuals "to outsiders."
5. If the author can prove that "the principal outlay of the New Testament was for benevolence," he would still be unable to prove that the church has a scriptural right to turn this "outlay" over to church-supported Benevolent Societies. He is writing his article in an Orphans' Home Bulletin. Isn't it strange that in all the verses he used from the New Testament he didn't once find his Benevolent Organization? But that isn't as strange as the fact that he didn't realize that he was exalting the church in his article, and completely cutting out his Society. With a little help he may get back on the right tract, whoever he is.
— Box 69, Bald Knob, Arkansas