BY: Gregg Purcell

Theme Verse: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Rom 1:16)

- As denominations around the Lord's Church become deeper and deeper steeped into a social gospel, it becomes increasingly important for Christians to arm themselves with preparation to "contend earnestly" against such a gospel. But, what can be the harm, many will say, in going a bit beyond Scripture if it does good? How can there be anything wrong with helping orphans or hospitals in foreign lands. To answer this, we must 1)define who is doing the helping, and 2)respect God's authority!!!!!

1. The Individual vs. The Church

- It is very important right away to understand that there is a difference between one Christian and one congregation!

- The Greek term for church - ekklesia -- literally, "a body of members called together"

- Churches have specific characteristics. Read the following Scriptures and indicate what a Church has that individuals do not.

- Acts 2:41, 47 --

- 1 Cor 16:1-2 --

- Acts 20:7 --

- The church is also commanded to do things that don't apply to individuals!

- Read the following Scriptures and write the commands given to the Church:

- 1 Cor 14:34-35 --

- Titus 1:5 --

- 1 Cor 11:18 --

- Is there any way that an individual could do these things?

So, we see that the Church is different from the individual, and has different commands and characteristics!!

2. The Work of the Church

- To speak, then, of commands given to the Church -- the Scriptures reveal only 3 areas the Church has authority to work in!

- Evangelizing -- The Scriptures give God's kingdom, as a primary purpose, the authority to spread the Word

- Read the following Scriptures and write how this authority is clearly given:

- Matt 28:18-20 --

- From who? To do what?

- Eph 3:10-11 --

- How long had it been the plan for the Church to evangelize?

- 1 Tim 3:15 -- How is the Church to be in relation to the truth?

- Edification -- The Scriptures also give God's kingdom the authority to upbuild its members worldwide!

- Read the following Scriptures and prove that this is the case:

- Heb 10:24-25 --

- Eph 4:11-16 --

- using v12, what does the service, or work, of the saints do?

- 1 Cor 14:26 --

- Benevolence -- Finally, the Scriptures give God's Church the right to help the needy AMONG THEM!!

- Read the following commands and examples and write who was helped by the Church:

- 1 Tim 5:16 --

- Acts 11:28-30 --

- Rom 15:25-26 --

- What is the common thread among these passages? What is true about everyone who was helped?

- How are these commands different from Eph 4:28 (Hint: Think about the 1st section of this discussion):

So, God's kingdom has authority to evangelize, edify, and have benevolence with the saints. Church funds can and should be used for these purposes, but only these purposes.

3. A Spiritual Purpose contrasted with a Social Purpose

- Further, the works above must be done to attain spiritual good, and not social good -- this is what the Scriptures dictate.

- Consider these passages and note what the mindset and work of the church should be:

- 1 Pet 2:4-5 --

- Eph 2:20-22 --

- Col 3:1-3 --

- There is a very simple reason we are to be spiritually minded. We have moved from the Old Testament, which was about physical sacrifice to a New Testament, which exists on a higher, spiritual plane!! Those who teach and practice a social gospel would bring God's purpose back down to an earthly level. We can't do that as God's kingdom!!!

4. Practices identified with a Social Gospel Doctrine

- Many practices that have come to be commonplace in the "religious" world are actually part of this false doctrine!

- Read the following example, then, using the Scriptures listed, prove it to be false according to God's word

1. Church kitchens or cafeterias, which use treasury funds to feed the poor and homeless

- Use: Rom 14:17, 1 Cor 11:34, John 4:10, John 6:26-40

- Note: In John 6:26-40 - Jesus had originally fed these 5,000 -- they stomachs hardened their hearts!!

2. Church-funded orphanages and hospitals, again supported by treasury funds.

- Use: Heb 12:12-17

- What type of healing should God's church be promoting?

3. Fundraisers, bingos, and socials, all intent to make more money for the Church to use.

- Use: ! Cor 16:1-2, 2 Cor 9:5-12

- How is the Church to be funded?

4. Recreation such as camps, basketball leagues, and gymnasium, funded by treasury dollars

- Use: Ex 32:6, 1 Cor 10:7

- We when try to play in the name of religion, what has that recreation become to us?

Jesus, who at separate times fed 5,000 and 4,000, could've fed the world! Jesus, who healed disease and cast out spirits could've rid the world of disease. This, however, was not his mission. Neither is it ours!!!!!

5. The sufficiency of the Gospel to save souls

- Many will respond to these Scriptures with an argument that states "By healing, by feeding, we are bringing people closer to the Gospel. By taking kids of the streets and giving them a place to play together, we are bringing them closer to God." Friends, this is a compelling and emotional argument. None of us want to see those who are destitute and afflicted be denied help. None of us want to see kids shot on the street. The point, however, is not whether or not these things can or should be done (they should)! The point is, as far as the church goes, the Gospel needs to be, and frankly, is sufficient for salvation.

- Read the following verses:

- Rom 1:16 --

- Eph 1:18-:23 --

- What is sufficient? Who fills all in all?

The church cannot skirt God's authority when it has a Gospel that is sufficient to bring souls to God!!!

6. Christians to do social work, but to do it as individuals!!

- May it never be said that I, nor any other Christian, nor the Gospel say that Christians should not help out those who are around us in the world and in desperate need of help! Friends, we have a gospel duty to do just that, help these ills, but we have that duty as an individual , and not as a church!! Remember Section 1? There, we examined commands that applied to the Church but not to individuals. In the same way, individuals have commands to do social works that do not apply to the church as a whole!!

- Read the following Scriptures and examine the responsibilities of a Christian individually to help those in social need!

- James 1:27 --

- What do the words "one" in v25, and "oneself" in v27 tell us about this command!

- Does this make it any less important?

- Gal 6:10 --

- What do the words "a man" in v7, and "the one" in v8 tell us about this command!

- Does this make it any less important?

- Matt 25:31-46 --

Friends, we certainly have an individual duty to be helpful to those who are less fortunate. Read Jesus's words in John 12:8! We'll always have the poor to help. I'm afraid that because we don't do this together as a group, too many of us lose sight of the fact it is still our duty!! Don't let that be you!!!

7. Conclusion and Final Points

-- To many, this whole discussion may seem to be nit-picking and completely unimportant. It is crucially important, however, to always remember that when we are discussing God's authority revealed to us, everything is important. It is not out of disrespect for the poor that these words are written in this section, but, rather, it is out of respect for God's authority!

-- Refresh your mind with these two verses concerning God's authority:

- 2 John 9 --

- Rev 22:18-19 --

- Is it important that we follow God's will to the letter?

- Does this mean we can also shirk our individual duties to the poor?

All we are saying when we fight the social gospel is that the means are wrong, never the end!!

Let us all truly respect God's word and dedicate ourselves to be

faithful both as members and as individuals! Praise be to God!!