Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 22, 1962
NUMBER 41, PAGE 1,12b

God Tells How To Do It

Cecil B. Douthitt, Fort Smith, Arkansas

Have you ever heard the erroneous statement, "God has told us to care for the poor, but he did not tell us how to do it"? The Lord does not command us to do anything without also telling us how to do it. God teaches by command and approved example every church how to do every thing that any church has a right to do.

"But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon." (1 Cor. 3:10) Why should a man "take heed how he buildeth," if the Lord is so indifferent that he did not reveal how? Did the Lord leave the how up to the faulty judgment of man after declaring that "it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps"?

"And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully." (2 Tim. 2:5) How can he contend "lawfully," if the rules of the game do not tell him how? How can either a man or a church worship lawfully, sing lawfully, pray lawfully, give lawfully, commune lawfully, care for, the poor lawfully, or preach lawfully, if the rule book, the Bible, does not reveal how these things must be done?

How can a man read Acts 6:1-6, and then deny that God has told the church how to care for its own indigent? Is it because he is too ignorant to understand plain English? Is it because he wants to justify his own willful way? Is it because he is afraid of what the devotees of institutionalism will do to him, if he accepts the truth revealed in Acts 6:1-6 on how that model church, under the direction of inspired men, cared for its poor? I do not know why.

When the number of poor disciples in the church in Jerusalem increased to such an extent that the men who had the oversight could no longer personally distribute to the needy and perform their other duties, they "called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God, and serve tables, Look ye out therefore, brethren, from among you seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will continue steadfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude and they chose seven men whom they set before the apostles. (Acts 6:1-6)

The disciples were called together, and they selected qualified men from among themselves to serve the church in the daily ministration to the poor. This work of benevolence was done right there under the oversight of its own members at whose disposal the funds had been placed. The inspired apostles of Christ command the church to do it in this way; therefore, this is God's way. Nowhere in all the New Testament does the Lord express his approval of a church's ministering to its own indigent by surrendering its funds and the administration of such funds to a human benevolent society or any other agency.

If God intends for divinely approved examples to have any influence at all in determining how the churches should do their work, then it follows beyond reasonable doubt that Acts 6:1-6 teaches that God wants every church, through its own qualified and chosen deacons, under the oversight of its own bishops, to administer its own resources in providing food, clothing, shelter and other necessities to its own indigent members, Why do so many Johnny-come-lately's among us think that a benevolent society's board of directors could have managed this work of ministration better than the way the apostles ordered it to be done in the church at Jerusalem? Is it because they have lost faith in God? To lose faith in the way the apostles command the church to do its work is to lose faith in God. Unbelief, a lack of faith in God's way, has been the tap root of every apostasy in both Israel's and the church's history. Why did Eve eat the forbidden fruit? Why did so many Israelites fall away in the wilderness? Why did they demand a king and a change in God's government? What produced the Roman Hierarchy? Why did men want to organize a missionary society to do the work of evangelizing the world? Why did men want to organize a human benevolent society to do the church's work of providing for its own indigent? All these questions have the same answer: UNBELIEF — a lack of faith in God in his way, his system, his order. Apostates lose faith in God without losing faith in the existence of God.