Text: Psalm 104
I. The world is evidence of the ability of God to design perfect systems - Psalms 19:1
A. Everywhere we turn the wisdom of God is manifested - Psalm 104:24
B. This same masterful designer displayed His great wisdom in the design of the church - Ephesians 3:8-11
C. Just as man is not able to improve on the design of God’s world, man cannot improve upon God’s church, though they foolishly try.
D. There is just one way for the church to function, as Paul taught in all the churches - I Corinthians 4:15-17
1. He does not author confusion - I Corinthians 14:33, 36-38
2. Our duty is not to mold a church to our satisfaction, but to learn the design of God and follow His blueprint to the best of our ability.
II. The church is to sound forth the Word of God - I Thessalonians 1:8
A. It is the pillar and foundation of the truth - I Timothy 3:15
1. It does not create the truth.
2. The church’s duty is to support the truth and to hold it up on display for the world to see.
3. Unfortunately, many denominations are more interested in putting their buildings on display than in teaching the truth.
4. Like Pilate, many are no longer certain of the truth so they must vote on their beliefs.
B. Churches spread the gospel by sending out evangelists
1. Jerusalem sent a preacher to help a new congregation - Acts 11:20-24
2. When that congregation grew, it was directed to send out preachers - Acts 13:1-3
C. Churches supported evangelists working in other areas
1. Philippi supported Paul while he worked in Macedonia - Philippians 4:15-16
2. Those who preach are expected to receive pay for their efforts - I Corinthians 9:14
3. A local church generally is expected to support a preacher in their area. When they are unable to do so, other churches are expected to help - II Corinthians 11:7-9
III. The church strengthen’s its members in the gospel
A. The assembly for worship is done to strengthen or edify the members of a church - I Corinthians 14:26
B. The duties within the church is to build its members into the likeness of Christ - Ephesians 4:11-13
C. Edification is not making each other feel good. It is not entertainment. It is learning to be obedient to God just as Jesus learned - Hebrews 5:8
D. It is accomplished through the word of God - Acts 20:32
1. This is why we have classes, teach lessons from God’s Word
IV. Aid to needy Christians
A. According to God’s plan, each family is responsible for its own care
1. Each person is expected to work for his livelihood - II Thessalonians 3:7-12
2. Each person is expected to care for his family members who cannot work - I Timothy 5:3-4, 7-8
B. The working Christian is also expected to give aid to others who are needy
1. Work so as to have something to share - Ephesians 4:28
2. We are to do as the opportunity arises - Galatians 6:10
3. James 1:27 -Visit doesn’t mean sending a check or dropping by for tea once in a while. It means going to check on a person, learning what their needs are, and seeing that the needs are met.
a. We live in such a materialistic society that often we think that problems are solved by throwing money at them.
b. True, some needs can only be solved with financial help
c. But widows don’t need just money, they need a friend, they need someone to help them repair the back porch, help them through puzzling legal documents. Their husband is no longer there, so someone must fill the gap.
d. Orphans don’t just need money for food and clothing, they need someone to encourage them, to help them make good decisions, to listen to their hopes, dreams, and problems. Mom and Dad are no longer there, so someone must fill the gap.
C. Some say “That is what the church is for.”
1. Let us examine the case of the widow
a. There are widows and there are widows. There are widows who still have family to watch over and care for them and there are widows who have no one left in the world - I Timothy 5:5
b. Even among true widows, the church is limited in its responsibility - I Timothy 5:9-16
c. Is the church responsible to care for every widow? The answer is clearly no.
d. When the church in Jerusalem relieved its needy widows (Acts 6:1), it was women who met these qualifications who were on the roles.
2. Churches were involved in relieving other Christians as well
a. The needy among them, as they had need - Acts 4:34-35
b. Though a famine came upon the world, relief was gathered for the brethren in Judea - Acts 11:28-30
c. Money was collected for the support of the saints - Romans 15:26-27; II Corinthians 8:1-4
d. It was seen as a service to the saints - II Corinthians 9:1, 12-14
(1) Some may say, “Wait, it says to all in verse 13"
(a) The word in the Greek is pantes, which means all of the same kind.
(b) The word for contribution is koinonia which is the same word translated as a sharing or a fellowship.
(c) Just prior, in II Corinthians 6:14, that Christians cannot become partners (same word) with unbelievers.
(d) Those receiving the service are praying on their behalf. Are you saying that unbelievers are praying on the behalf of Christians?
(2) What is discussed is their services to the saints in Judea and to all saints (of the same kind).
3. There is a consistent pattern of the church being involved in relieving needy Christians, but within the local congregation and in other areas.
V. Too often churches leave the design of God to add additional works to the church
A. It is argued that some responsibility is “a good work.”
B. Any objection is met with a puzzled, “What is wrong with this service?”
C. When asked where it is found in God’s plan, they accuse the questioner as being against those receiving this new service.
D. God is glorified when the church accomplishes the work God gave it.
1. When man adds additional work that God didn’t speak of, then the glory goes to man and not God because it was man’s idea.
2. Jesus gave glory to God by doing God’s will - John 17:4
3. If you think otherwise, try it sometime on your boss at work.
a. “Hey boss, since you didn’t mention it, I decided to invest some of last quarter profits in the XYZ corporation. They had been having a rough time and really needed the cash inflow. Were they ever appreciative!”
b. Would your job last long?
4. This is why Paul said not to alter God’s word - Galatians 1:6-10
E. Give God the glory in executing his perfect design.