Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 14, 1961
NUMBER 19, PAGE 3b,11a

The Christian And The Church

Paul K. Williams, Columbus, Ohio

"Christians are in the church all of the time. Therefore whenever Christians do anything, it is the church doing it." Thus will some reason in trying to justify getting the church into work the Lord has not authorized.

But let's test this reasoning. "Members of the Kiwanis Club are in the Kiwanis Club all the time. Therefore, whatever those members do, the club does." Or — "The members of Union Local No. 4 are in the union all the time. Therefore, whatever those individual members do the union does. So when Christians A and B, who belong to the Kiwanis Club and to Union Local No. 4, begin a filling station business, the church, the Kiwanis Club, and Union No. 4 are all in the same filling station business!" This is utter nonsense.

The Christian sustains a relationship to the community, to business enterprises, to his family, to the government, and to the church. All of these relationships are governed by the word of God. When a Christian is functioning as the employee of Westinghouse Corp., he is to work "as unto the Lord." (Eph. 6:7) But he is not the church, nor is the church working for Westinghouse. If several, or all, of the members of the church were employed by the Westinghouse Corp., the church would not be working for Westinghouse.

The church is spiritual in its nature and in its work. (Rom. 14:17) In its broadest sense, it consists of all those who are Christians. (Just as, in its broadest sense, the Kiwanis Club consists of all its members.) But in its function, it is limited to that action which the Lord has authorized it to do in its congregational capacity. So it is perfectly consistent for Paul to instruct Christian men and women who have widows to relieve them that "the church" may not be "charged." (1 Tim. 5:16) When Christians are taking care of their widows, they are not the "church." The church is to take care of those Christian widows who are destitute and have no believing relatives to care for them. The church does this through the only organization given it — the local congregation.

There are some things which the Lord has not authorized the church to do which some brethren are foisting onto the church. Secular education is one. Secular education is the responsibility of parents and of government. Christians, functioning as parents or as helpers of parents, may build and maintain schools, but the church is restricted to teaching the gospel and is not to function in the realm of secular education. Entertainment is another realm which is not to be entered by the church. Christians may eat together and may play baseball together. But the church can't because God has not authorized the church to function in that realm. In fact, when it came to eating common meals, the disciples at Jerusalem were "breaking bread at home;" (Acts 2:46) and Paul wrote the Corinthians, "If any man is hungry, let him eat at home" (1 Cor. 11:33) and asked the question, "What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?" (1 Cor. 11:22)

Brethren, let the church be the church.