The church we read about in the Bible belongs to God and was planned by Him before the creation of the world (Eph.3:8-11). It was to make known the wisdom of God (3:10). It was built by Jesus Christ, our Lord, (Matt.16:18), who is its foundation (1 Cor.3:11), and was purchased by His precious blood (Acts 20:28).

When God raised Christ from the dead, He gave Him all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt.28:18) and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is described as His body (Eph.1:20-23).

Jesus Christ commissioned His apostles to take His message to the whole world (Matt.28:18-20). He gave them the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth (John 16:13) and reveal to them the things He wanted us to know (Eph.3:1-6). His apostles and prophets spoke and wrote what God revealed to them for our benefit (2 Peter 3:1-2), including how we should conduct ourselves in His church (1 Tim.3:15). Inspired letters were written to local congregations (Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica, etc.) and to individuals (Timothy, Titus, and Philemon) instructing us in what He would have us to do individually and congregationally.

All of these points show the importance and value God places on His church and the emphasis He places on carrying out His will and purposes in His church. Thus, whatever we do in His church we should do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, or by His authority (Col.3:17).

From reading the New Testament we learn that local congregations carried out the following functions related to our subject at hand:

  1. They sounded forth the word of the Lord — 1 Thess.1:8
  2. They sent out and supported preachers — Acts 13:1-3Phil.4:15-182 Cor.11:8
  3. They equipped Christians for the work of serving and speaking the truth in love — Eph. 4:11-16
  4. They cared for needy Christians both in their local congregations and in other places — Acts 6:1-7Rom.15:25-281 Cor.16:1-42 Cor.8:1-15. God made a difference between individual and church responsibility in this matter — 1 Tim.5:3-16.

God’s design of His church was sufficient for local congregations to carry out His will completely in these matters. Nowhere do we find authority from our Head for the church to build and/or maintain separate organizations/businesses to carry out the work that the Lord gave the church to do—whether it be a missionary society to carry out the work of sending out preachers, a college to carry out the work of equipping Christians for the work of serving and speaking the truth in love, or a benevolent organization (hospital, orphans’ home, etc.) to carry out the work of caring for needy Christians.

If we are to “speak as the oracles of God … that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 4:11) we will preach and practice what God authorized in our local congregations. Local congregations will collect money by contributions of the Christians there and use that money to support preachers, to equip Christians for godly service and to help needy Christians. They will use that money in the local congregation for the purposes God ordained, or send it directly to the preachers or to the congregations where there are needy Christians. That is the pattern seen in the passages cited above and thus we know that is pleasing to God Who designed His church.

Individual Christians or groups of Christians are certainly at liberty to establish businesses, profit or non-profit, which do good things (grocery stores, hospitals, colleges, benevolent homes). There were masters (employers/owners of servants) who were Christians whose activities were regulated by God’s principles in Scripture (Eph.6:9Col.4:11 Tim.6:1-2).

However, you will search in vain for the authority from God for the church of our Lord Jesus Christ to establish or maintain a business with its contributions. There is as much authority for the church to make a contribution to a grocery store because it provides food for hungry people as there is for it to make a contribution to a hospital because it provides medical care for sick people. Local congregations provided food for needy Christians, but they did not enter into the “food business.”

God established the purposes for His church before the creation of the world. He revealed them to us in His Word. Let us reverence Him by honoring and fulfilling those purposes in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord!


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