Before the beginning of this world God prepared a plan. Within that eternal purpose God designed His kingdom, the church, which would display to the powers of Heaven His divine wisdom (Eph. 3:10-11).
Through the Old Testament, God promised by His prophets to set up His eternal kingdom of peace which would never be destroyed (cf. Dan. 2:44; Isa. 2:1-4). In the New Testament, Jesus began His public ministry proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:15). Jesus promised to build this kingdom which would be His church (Matt. 16:18-19).
This long planned and awaited promise became a reality on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection. On that day the kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ, was established as those who obeyed the instruction of Peter to repent and be baptized were added to the church (Acts 2:36, 47). The church of Christ was and is built upon the immovable foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). It is a special body of people belonging to Christ, the head of this divine institution. In this relationship the church is the glory and fullness of Christ (Eph. 1:23; 3:21). To this special body, Christ has given a special work of universal scope and everlasting consequence. The church is to be the “pillar and ground of the Truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The church is to support and uphold the eternal Truth of God’s Word in everything it is and does.
But how is the church to carry out this heavenly mission? The church has not been left to stumble in the dark. The God of heaven and earth revealed to His apostles and prophets His complete and final will to men (Eph. 3:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness,” (2 Pet. 1:3), leaving the church a perfect pattern to follow in all it does (Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 1:3). This pattern is not to be altered, added to, or diminished from (Rev. 22:18-19; Gal 1:6-10).
The work of the church in upholding the Truth, according to God’s pattern in the New Testament, is three-fold: evangelism, edification and benevolence. Evangelism involves preaching the gospel of salvation to those lost in sin. Edification refers to the work of teaching and building up those who are members of the church. Benevolence is the work of the church in relieving destitute Christians (cf. 1 Thes. 1:8; Eph. 4:12-16; Rom. 15:26-27).
Since God has given the church a complete pattern in His Word for the work of the church, then it naturally follows that He has thoroughly equipped His church to do everything He has commanded it to do. His church is all sufficient to perform its work of evangelism, edification and benevolence.
Jesus “gave gifts for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” which will bring us “to a mature man, the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:8-13).
There is absolutely no room for human “wisdom,” “organizations” or “improvements” to supplement any aspect of the work of the church. Unfortunately, there are those in the body of Christ who may make a claim to believe in the all sufficiency of the church, yet manifest contrary actions (cf. Matt. 7:15-20). Some churches contribute money to organizations to do the work God has given them to do. They make a mockery of Christ’s provisions for His church.
The church has been hacked to pieces by those who have distributed the church’s work to missionary societies, benevolent institutions, schools and colleges. These human organizations are not built upon the foundation of Christ nor are they charged with upholding the Truth as is the church. When the church distributes its work to human organizations it has repudiated the eternal divine wisdom and planning of God and destroyed the glory and fullness of Christ.
In the New Testament local churches did their own work of evangelism, edification and benevolence without human organizations or schemes. In evangelism they supported preachers directly rather than making contributions “missionary societies” (Phil. 4:14-18). In the work of edification and benevolence, churches never sent money to colleges or benevolent organizations, but carried out this work within the local congregation and under its oversight (1 Cor. 14:26; Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30).
Let us recognize and return to the beauty, simplicity, wisdom, glory and perfection of God’s pillar and ground of the Truth.
By Wayne Gresson