The Church and Benevolence

Text: Acts 11:27-30

When tragedies affect Christians in other parts of the world, there is often a desire among churches to help. This desire is good, but we also need to be sure that we do all things by the authority of Christ (Colossians 3:17). So in this lesson, we will consider what the New Testament teaches about the local church’s involvement in benevolence.

Benevolence is Authorized

  • The local church has two primary works – evangelism (1 Timothy 3:15) and edification (Ephesians 4:16)
  • Benevolence is authorized, but is not an ongoing work – evangelism & edification are always necessary; benevolence (done by the church) is varied and intermittent
  • Examples of churches engaged in benevolence – locally (Acts 4:32-35; 1 Timothy 5:9-10, 16); elsewhere (Acts 11:27-30; Romans 15:25-26; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 3)

When is Benevolence Authorized?

  • When the recipients are Christians (Acts 4:32, 34; 11:29; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:12) – no example authorizing churches to help non-Christians; this is left for individuals to do (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27)
  • Under exceptional circumstances – establishment of the church (Acts 2:9-11, 42, 44-45; 4:32-35); widespread famine (Acts 11:27-28); a widow with no family to care for her (1 Timothy 5:4, 16)

How is Benevolence Carried Out?

  • With the right attitude (closely connected to giving) – cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7); liberally (2 Corinthians 9:6, 13); sacrificially (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
  • Using the funds of the church – regular first day of the week collection (1 Corinthians 16:1-2); the collection of funds implies a treasury
  • Individuals can choose to give more than normal when a need arises (Acts 11:29; 4:34-35) – but this is at their own discretion, not required (Acts 5:1-4)
  • Locally – appoint men to see to it that the needs are met (Acts 6:1-6)
  • Elsewhere – appoint individuals to deliver the funds (Acts 11:30; 1 Corinthians 16:3-4); be careful that the funds are entrusted to those worthy of confidence (2 Corinthians 8:20-21)

Why it is Good to Engage in the Work of Benevolence

  • Christ sacrificed for us (2 Corinthians 8:8-9) – we are following His example
  • That there might be equality among brethren (2 Corinthians 8:13-15) – not that everyone has the same thing, but that everyone has their needs met
  • To demonstrate love for other brethren (2 Corinthians 8:24)
  • Because God has richly blessed us (2 Corinthians 9:8-10)
  • To produce thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11-12)
  • To be obedient to our confession (2 Corinthians 9:13)

Conclusion

  • Though benevolence is not an ongoing work of the church, the church is authorized to do it at times
  • It is good to take advantage of opportunities when we can – use what God has blessed us with

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