Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Patternists: Applications of Authority – Benevolence

patternist-2.pngThe Bible emphasizes the work of benevolence. To be benevolent to another is an expression of love. Jesus taught in Luke 10 the importance of benevolence by recounting a certain Samaritan’s actions. The man encountered an unfortunate traveler who had been mugged and left for dead. He bandaged his wounds, took care of him, and made provision for further care. Jesus instructs us to “Go and do likewise” (25-37, esp. 37).

James wrote, “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” (1:27). Though we must not reward indolence (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:10), Christians are to take advantage of the opportunities we have to relieve suffering or want.

God expects benevolence to be accomplished primarily by individuals. He has limited what the church is collectively to do in the practice of benevolence. In every instance where congregational benevolence is practiced, it is directed to indigent saints, (for example, those hit by famine in Judea, Acts 11:29-30. See also, “the collection FOR THE SAINTS,” 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

This limitation is clearly affirmed by Paul (1 Timothy 5). Though certain qualified Christian widows were to be cared for by the church, those who had believing children were to be cared for BY THE CHILDREN, “and do not let the church be burdened” (3-16, esp. 16).

The work of benevolence is primarily an individual responsibility. The work of congregational benevolence is limited only to certain needy saints. A failure to recognize and respect this pattern has led to apostasy, division and sin.

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