Question:

On the home page it says that you really don't participate in community activities, fundraisers, home missions or anything like that, in the way I interpreted it anyway. Wouldn't a New Testament church realize that we are our brothers' keepers? And that James said faith without works is dead? I understand totally that God's house must be in order to achieve the fullness of God's calling upon your Church. Please don't take offense to anything I have asked, I am not judging just wondering in what manner other denominations interpret the Word of God, and apply it to their worship and servitude.


Answer:

What you are confusing is instructions God gives to the individual with instructions He gives to the church. For example, in I Timothy 5, Paul gives instruction for the care of widows. The church is instructed to only care for widows who meet specific qualifications. "Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work" (I Timothy 5:9-10). Does that mean other widows who do not met these qualifications are out of luck? Not hardly. Paul is very clear that individuals have primary responsibility for the care of widows in their family. "But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God" (I Timothy 5:4). Thus a distinction is made between the responsibilities of the individual and those of the church. "If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows" (I Timothy 5:16).

What is is happening in today's society is that individuals are shirking their duties. They expect the church to keep everyone else for them. But God laid the burden on the individual. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Notice the use of "oneself" to indicate that God puts the burden on you and me and not on the church.

The church is given very specific duties and very limited ways in which to fund those duties. It isn't a social organization. It's primary purpose is to be a group to offer up worship to God and to spread the teaching of God to the world. In some limited areas it is also expected to handle some needs.

Individual Christians are charged with a much broader set of duties and have greater flexibility in how they can finance their responsibilities. The church is not their brothers' keeper. You are your brother's keeper, I am my brother's keeper. It is shameful how many avoid their individual duty and what some group to take over their duties.

Thanks for your answer. But by saying "oneself," meaning the individual, isn't the church itself as Christ referred to it as a collective group of individuals combined together to make up the church?

Yes, but as I Timothy 5 illustrates, the church is not the individual and individuals are not the church. "If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows" (I Timothy 5:16). A distinction is made between the actions of the individual and the church. Therefore, it is not true that the church is merely a collection of individual.

"If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:26-27).

In this passage, is James talking to individual Christians or the church as a whole? The use of terms, such as "his," "his own," "one's," and "oneself," eliminates a group action and focuses on the requirements of the individual. An individual can't run off at the mouth and claim that it is the church's responsibility to control what it says. For the same reason a person can't ignore people's needs and say that it is the church's responsibility.