"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER" Preparing For Persecution (3:13-18) by Mark Copeland


Preparing For Persecution (3:13-18)


1. Having described the proper conduct of Christians in various
   relationships, Peter now turns more specifically to the subject of

2. That the first recipients of this epistle were experiencing or would
   experience persecution is evident from 1:6; 4:12-19; 5:8-10

3. Now, under normal circumstances, what Peter writes in verse 13 is
   the rule...

   "And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what
   is good?"

4. But there are times when Satan will make every effort to bring harm
   to those who try to follow the will of God (remember Job?) - cf.
   1Pe 5:8-9; Re 12:17

5. How, then, should Christians prepare themselves so that they might
   be victorious in overcoming whatever persecution might come their

[In verses 14-18, we can glean at least five points in "Preparing For


      1. In our text - 1Pe 3:14
      2. Even more definitively in 1Pe 4:14
         a. Where he adds that the "Spirit of glory and of God rests
            upon you"
         b. Those who suffer for the cause of Christ are fortunate, for
            God is with them

      1. That those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are
         blessed - Mt 5:10-12
      2. In this passage, two reasons are given for such blessedness:
         a. Your reward will be great in heaven
         b. You are in the company of God's prophets of old

      FOR EVIL...
      1. As Peter writes in 1Pe 3:17
      2. Suffering for evil is what WILL happen if we are not willing
         to stand up for Christ
      3. And suffering for Christ is only temporary, but the suffering
         for evil is eternal!


      1. The word "sanctify" means "to set apart"
      2. Thus it means to set the Lord up on the throne of your heart,
         to make Him the Lord and Ruler of your life
         a. Ruling over your own desires
         b. His Will taking precedent over your own will and that of
      3. The NU-Text suggests that it is Christ under consideration

      1. For unless we sanctify the Lord in our hearts, we will be
         afraid of what man might do, or be troubled by what he
      2. But when we make Christ and God Lord, we will not fear what
         man might do - cf. He 13:5-6


      1. He is NOT saying that we need to be ready to give an answer
         for EVERY question on religious matters that someone might ask
      2. As some have used this verse as a proof-text
      3. While we should certainly strive to be able to explain why we
         do what we do in matters of religion, that is not the point
         Peter is making here

      1. To always be ready to give a reason why you have the HOPE you do
         a. I.e., to explain the basis of your hope (your strong desire
            and expectation)
         b. This implies that our desire and confidence for the future
            is so strong that it is observable by others
         c. Even in the midst of persecution, we are demonstrating joy
            over the hope we have - cf. 1Pe 1:6,8
      2. To do so in the proper spirit
         a. In the spirit of MEEKNESS
            1) This pertains to our attitude toward men
            2) We should be humble, not arrogant or angry
         b. In the spirit of FEAR
            1) This pertains to our attitude toward God
            2) It should be reverent, not flippant


      1. As given by Peter in our text
      2. That this together with your good conduct will likely to cause
         your enemies to be ashamed for mistreating you
      3. If not ashamed in this life, they will certainly be ashamed on
         the day of judgment!

      1. A guilty conscience will not enable one to face the threat of
         death without fear and trembling
         a. For before we can stand before men without fear...
         b. We need to be able to stand before God without fear
      2. That is impossible without a clear conscience! - cf. 1Jn 3:21


      1. That He might bring us to God - 1Pe 3:18; cf. also 2:20-25
      2. So we see that suffering for good can sometimes accomplish
         much good in the long run

      1. As Peter already indicated in 1Pe 2:21
      2. And which he does again in 1Pe 4:1


1. More will be said later in this epistle on the subject of how to
   deal with persecution

2. But in this text, we find five good ways to prepare ourselves...

3. By applying these five principles to our lives...
   a. We will be more useful to the Lord, ready for whatever may come
   b. Even if we are not faced with the prospects of physical
      persecutions in our lifetime, it will help in times of social or
      verbal persecution

In this lesson, we noticed the value of having a good conscience; in
1Pe 3:21, Peter speaks of that which he calls "the answer of of good
conscience toward God" (i.e., baptism).  Have you considered what else
he says about it in that passage...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Seeing God in a Box...Fish by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Seeing God in a Box...Fish

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Constant competition between car companies rages to see which one can design the lightest, toughest, most aerodynamic, fuel efficient models. It seems that the DaimlerChrysler Company has recently put itself several steps ahead in the race by designing a remarkably efficient economy car for Mercedes-Benz. The idea that inspired this car was very simple. The designers looked to the natural world to find a model of highly-efficient, aerodynamic design, coupled with a sturdy structure that could withstand collisions. The model on which they finally settled seemed an unlikely candidate: the boxfish.
At first glance, the boxfish’s body does not appear very aerodynamic. As its name implies, it has a rather “boxy” look, and not the streamline “raindrop” shape that is used for many aerodynamic models. Upon further investigation, however, the boxfish’s shape and design happen to be amazingly efficient. As one author put it, “Despite its boxy, cube-shaped body, this tropical fish is in fact outstandingly streamlined and therefore represents an aerodynamic ideal. With an accurately constructed model of the boxfish the engineers in Stuttgart were able to achieve a wind drag coefficient of just 0.06 in the wind tunnel.” In order to grasp the importance of this drag coefficient, it “betters the drag coefficient of today’s compact cars by more than 65 percent” (“Mercedes-Benz Bionic...,” 2005, emp. added).
But the aerodynamic aspects of the boxfish were not the only helpful features used by the DaimlerChrysler engineers. The skin of the boxfish “consists of numerous hexagonal, bony plates which provide maximum strength with minimal weight” (“Mercedes-Benz Bionic...”). By reproducing this skin structure, the car company was able to achieve “up to 40 percent more rigidity...than would be possible with conventional designs.” The report went on to say that if the entire car shell were designed with these hexagonal structures, the weight of the car could be reduced by almost one-third, without forfeiting any safety features during collisions.
Boxfish design
Such copying of the natural world is not a unique event. A popular field of study known as biomimicry has arisen of late in which scientists and technologists look to nature to supply optimal designs and functions. Ironically, the writer of what appears to be the primary article on this amazing boxfish/car relationship misses the logical conclusion of the biomimetic design, as do other scientists who study the field—that design demands an Intelligent Designer. The said writer commented, “[T]he boxfish possesses unique characteristics and is a prime example of the ingenious inventions developed by nature over millions of years of evolution. The basic principle of this evolution is that nothing is superfluous and each part of the body has a purpose—and sometimes several at once” (“Mercedes-Benz Bionic...,” 2005).
Notice the concession made in the writer’s statement that the boxfish, indeed, exhibits “ingenious invention.” Such a statement implies that some type of “genius” or intelligence is behind the invention. Furthermore, evolution has been consistently presented as a process that is maintained by naturalistic, random, chance happenings that are incapable of producing anything “ingenious” or “intelligent.” And finally, the author states that evolution leaves nothing “superfluous,” and that each part of the evolved animal has “a purpose.” This remark is ironic considering the fact that many defenders of evolution continue to use the argument that humans and animals maintain several “vestigial organs” that are supposedly useless leftovers of evolution (see Harrub, 2001, for a discussion of vestigial organs). Indeed, any theory that explains too much, explains too little. On the one hand, evolution maintains an underlying principle that nothing is superfluous, while at the same time evolution is a “fact” because animals and humans supposedly have left-over vestiges that are no longer useful? As one can see, the concept of evolution is so “flexible” and self-contradictory that it sustains no real ability to explain anything.
To the contrary, the only valid explanation for the optimal design in the boxfish is the fact that whenever we see efficient, complex design, there must be an intelligent designer behind it. Considering the fact that many of the most ingenious engineers that the car-manufacturing world can boast spent thousands of hours copying the design of the boxfish, which proved to be 65 percent more efficient in some ways than other designs, one must logically conclude that whoever designed the boxfish has outsmarted the brightest car engineers for many years. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).


Harrub, Brad, (2001), “Hey Cut That Out...On Second Thought, Hold That Scalpel!, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2050.
“Mercedes-Benz Bionic Concept Vehicle,” (2005), [On-line], URL: http://www.germancarfans.com/news.cfm/newsid/2050607.004.

Seal Whiskers Sensing God by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Seal Whiskers Sensing God

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

As it turns out, seals (as in the animal, not the trained U.S. military personnel), sport a remarkably well-designed feature for sensing underwater objects: their whiskers.  These little appendages that bristle from the sides of their faces might help seals to look cute, but they also have a far more technical purpose. Seal whiskers have been specially designed to sense activity underwater. Reporting on recent research, Jennifer McDermott from the Associated Press explained how the shape and design of seal whiskers helps seals survive. She wrote: “When a fish swims by, a hungry seal senses the wake with its whiskers. It can tell characteristics of the fish, such as shape and size, and track the location even when it’s murky or dark.1
The benefit of this technology over the current sonar technology the Navy uses is that seals do not have to send any sound or wave out. Their whiskers gather information based solely on what is coming in. McDermott wrote that researchers are attempting to “reverse-engineer the system” that is built into seal whiskers. Such reverse-engineering begs the question: If highly intelligent scientists are attempting—so far without success—to reverse-engineer the technology behind seal whiskers, then the original Engineer must have been more intelligent than those who are now attempting to understand the design. Such examples of humans looking to nature to find usable technology (often called biomimicry) validates the conclusion that there is a Grand Engineer behind the workings of the world. The idea that random, chance processes of evolution worked over millions of years to “design” a system such as that found in seal whiskers does not provide an adequate or rational answer. If it takes intelligence to reverse-engineer it, then it took intelligence to engineer it in the first place.
McDermott went on to state that seal whiskers are not the only natural technology that has peaked the interest of the U.S. Navy. She wrote: “The Navy, which is also funding bio-inspired work at universities, has taken a greater interest in the field in the past decade. Animals do things well that the Navy wants its underwater vehicles to do well.” When we look to the natural world that God, the Grand Engineer, designed, we can truly see that the beasts, cattle, great sea creatures, and even the whiskers on a seal bring praise to the Lord (Psalm 148:7-12).


1 Jennifer McDermott, “The Seal Whiskerers: Navy Looks to Sea Life for New Ships,” Associated Press, 2017, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/seal-whiskerers-navy-sea-life-ships-46136863.

Scientists, Soldiers, and Fish Scales by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Scientists, Soldiers, and Fish Scales

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Operating on a grant from the U.S. Army, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing better body armor for soldiers. Surprisingly, the inspiration for their work comes from a foot-long African fish known as Polypterus senegalus.
According to scientists, the fish’s “armor” is able to protect it from others of its own species, as well as other carnivores. Its overlapping armored scales “first dissipate the energy of a strike, then protect against any penetrations to the soft tissues below and finally limit any damage to the shield to the immediate area surrounding the assault” (Crane, 2008). What makes the fish’s armor so effective? Aside from its four layers of overlapping scales, “researchers believe the dermal scales’ different composite materials [including bone and dentine—EL] and the geometry and thickness of various layers” all contribute to the armor’s strength and effectiveness in protecting the animal (Crane, 2008). Dr. Christine Ortiz, lead MIT researcher on the Polypterus project, stated: “Such fundamental knowledge holds great potential for the development of improved biologically inspired structural materials” (Bryner, 2008).
Brilliant scientists in the 21st century are spending an untold amount of time, energy, and money studying the scale structure of a fish, in hopes of designing new and improved armor applications for U.S. soldiers and military vehicles. Scientists admit that the “design” of the overlapping scale layers is “fascinating, complex and multiscale” (Crane, 2008). Yet, at the same time, we are told that this fish, which is inspiring state-of-the-art human armor systems, had no Designer (Bryner, 2008). Once again, naturalistic evolution allegedly was the great cause of a “fascinating” and “complex” creature. But design demands a designer. An effect (especially one of this magnitude) demands an adequatecause. In truth, blind chance, plus non-intelligence, plus random mutations, plus eons of time, neither designed nor caused Polypterus senegalus. Only an intelligent Designer could make such an awe-inspiring creature. As the psalmist wrote: “This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all” (104:25,24, emp. added).


Bryner, Jeanna (2008), “Incredible Fish Armor Could Suit Soldiers,” LiveScience, July 27, [On-line], URL: http://www.livescience.com/animals/080727-fish-armor.html.
Crane, David (2008), “Flexible Biological Scalar Body Armor for Future Soldiers?” Defense Review, July 31, [On-line], URL: http://www.defensereview.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article& amp;sid=1159.

Teachings of Jesus Seen in Luke’s Gospel (Part 2) His Return Home Reading Luke 4:14-30 by Ben Fronczek


Teachings of Jesus Seen in Luke’s Gospel (Part 2) His Return Home

Reading Luke 4:14-30
Our Lesson from Jesus today comes from when He finally returned home after He was baptized and then fasted and was tempted by the devil, and after beginning His ministry in Galilee. Some believe it was almost a year into His public ministry.
Imagine what it must have felt like for our Lord to return home to Nazareth, the place where He grew up. As a child He was born into a very humble home. Jesus may very well have suffered the scorn or rejection of other children, especially those who came from more influential or well-to-do families. As a child who never sinned, He would very likely have been rejected by His peers as a “goody goody,” or by whatever terminology that was used in those days. It must have been a very strange feeling to walk those familiar streets into Nazareth, streets He had walked for years, streets where He had played as a child and later worked a common laborer and handyman. But still, Jesus was coming home. Lets start by reading..
4:14-15 14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”
Here we see that news about Him had begun to spread. Exactly what news we are not sure. Maybe what happened at the river when He was baptized, maybe it had to do with His preaching throughout Galilee, or maybe He had begun doing some miraculous signs, or all of the above. Luke does lets us know that Jesus returned to the area “in the power of the Spirit”, or under the control of the Spirit. And people were impressed and started to say nice things about Him.
The Commentator Dr. Constable writes “The Spirit” empowered and enabled Jesus in His words and deeds. Luke would stress His teaching ministry and attributed Jesus’ success to His orientation to the Spirit, not His essential deity. Consequently, Jesus was a model that all believers can and should copy.
The point is, we are told that as disciples of Christ we should also do our best to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-17, Galatians 5:16-25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit.” ) The Spirit of God which indwelled us as baptized believers may not empower us with supernatural abilities, but I believe He helps us by guiding us and teaches us and provides us with the fruits He would have us enjoy (the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control)      if we would trust Him and give our self over to Him and His will as Jesus did.
So for lesson #1 I can say. We need to get better at walking in the Spirit as Jesus did. And if we do that it may also improve our serve and reputation and bring praise as it did with Him.
Then we read where He returned home 4:16-17 “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.”
Some don’t feel that going to church on a regular basis is important or necessary. The 2nd lesson I see here from this text is the fact that Jesus did.
The text says that it was a custom (or regular practice) for Him to go to this synagogue in His home town.
I would like to share with you a couple of things that commentators say about this passage:
Wiersbee writes,“It was our Lord’s custom to attend public worship, a custom His followers should imitate today (Heb. 10:24-25). He might have argued that the ‘religious system’ was corrupt, or that He didn’t need the instruction; but instead, He made His way on the Sabbath to the place of prayer.”
And Ryrie writes: “From the start of His public ministry, the Lord made a habit of attending the synagogue worship (Luke 4:16), and he continued that practice to the end of his earthly life. His example speaks to individuals who excuse themselves from attending corporate worship because they ‘get nothing out of the service.’ No defender of public worship should ever try to make his case on the basis of the ability of the preacher. We worship to meet God.”
So we see here another part of Lesson # 2 is that gathering together is more about not what you get out of it, rather from what I see over and over in Scripture, it’s a time we gather together to pay homage to and worship God as a group, and based on what the Hebrew writer wrote in 3:13 and 10 :24-25, it is also meeting together to encourage and spur one another on so that we may not be overcome by all the garbage and evil that this world can dish out. But because our generation is so hungry for entertainment and feel a personal need to reach higher plain of in our worship service I believe that some modern day churches their members have twisted our meetings to make them more about what we get out of the service. Bible worship on Sunday is about paying homage to God and loving others.
Luke continues on Read 4:17-21
“He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:  18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The passage Jesus read was Isaiah 61:1-2a This passage prophesied the mission of the coming Messiah. It seemed appropriate that Luke would have Jesus read this at the beginning of His ministry, and recorded here.
– As the Servant of the Lord, in the context of the Isaiah, Messiah would possess “the Spirit.” And God’s Spirit would make Him the bearer of good news which He would preach to the poor.
– The “poor” to whom He was sent were not just the economically poor, or
the spiritually impoverished, but people low status in society.
– He would preach freedom for the prisoners (especially those who are captives of sin and Satan and He would free those who were oppressed.        – Likewise, the “blind” refers to those who need to receive revelation and experience salvation.
– The reference to “the favorable year of the Lord” is an allusion to the year
of jubilee, when all the enslaved in Israel received their freedom (Lev. 25).
It points to the messianic kingdom, but is more general, and includes
God’s favor on individual Gentiles, as well as on Israel nationally.
 He concludes by telling them that the scripture He read was fulfilled in their hearing. Lesson #3 is that this is where Jesus makes an official proclamation that the Messiah had arrived and His ministry had begun.
Read 4:22 says 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.”
They could not help but admire the way He spoke. It says that they were even amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. But they also marvels because of who He was. They ask, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Or isn’t this the local carpenter and handyman? They did not understand how He could be the Messiah, since He had grown up with them and they knew Him.
Based on His response I would imaging that they were saying this in a snooty or a mocking manner trying to put Him down because they knew Him.
Because of this statement, and probably how they said it He responds by saying in 4:23-27 23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
Maybe he had healed others in Capernaum or maybe he had driven demons out of some individuals. Were they implying that He should do that to Himself? I think so. And so He goes on and says this…24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
Jesus knew that they were not willing to accept what He was telling them. They refused to believe just like those during the time of Elijah and Elisha refused to believe. And they got upset with Jesus because He was letting them know that they were just as bad as those unbelieving Israelites of old.
Concerning this commentator by the name of Bock writes, “This remark [of Jesus’] is strong for two reasons: (a) It compares the current era to one of the least spiritual periods in Israel’s history, and (b) it suggests that Gentiles, who were intensely disliked among the Jews, were more worthy of ministry than they were.”
Another commentator writes, “Jesus not only cited the principle that Israel’s prophets were never honored by their own people, He illustrated the fact by showing that the prophets were often more kindly treated by Gentiles, and that the Gentiles received blessings at their hands. He cited the case of Elijah’s stay with the Gentile widow at Zerephath (1 Ki. 17:9) and of the healing of Namaam,
Then in verses 4:28-30 it says, “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”
They were obvious so angry with Him they were ready to kill Him, but it was not time for Him to die yet. So He pushed His way thru them.
I see a couple more sad truths and lessons here: #4 ‘A prophet isn’t accepted in their own home town.’ We may not even be accepted or believed by those who have known us for many years, even if your give them proof or a sign. I believe that’s why Jesus was not willing to do a miraculous sign for them.
Someone once wrote, “People are always more ready to see greatness in strangers than in those they know well.” (Morris)
How many times have you tried to share good ideas, health remedies, or even religious instructions with close family and friends but they ignore you or worst. It’s like, “Who are you to teach me something new? I know who you are and where you came from.”
I’ve been preaching and teaching God’s word fulltime for almost 28 years and part time 5 years before that, and not one of my family members have ever heard me nor have they asked any questions related to religion (that is with the exception of my wife & kids.) Why? Because it doesn’t matter what I know, they have not chose to honor what I know because it coming from me. I makes me sad just as I am sure it made Jesus sad that day to be rejected by those He grew up with. But the fact is, if it happened to Him, it’s going to happen to us. And many of you may have experience this already.
#5 Another lesson I see here is the fact that sometimes those closest to us are going to get upset with us when we speak the truth and show them their error of their ways. He spoke the truth (actually quite bluntly) and for that they were ready to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff.
And the final lesson I see here #6 is the reality that sometimes being a devout believer and follower of Christ is not going to be easy. You may feel ignored even rejected at times. If Jesus did so will you. But that did not discourage or stop Jesus, nor should you let others get to you. Just do your best, remain faithful and pray for those who will not listen. But don’t give up on God no matter what.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566
All comments can be emailed to: bfronzek@gmail.com

What is the work of the church? by Roy Davison


What is the work of the church?

In Revelation Jesus says to each of the seven churches: “I know your works”1.
He is not satisfied when the works of a congregation are inadequate. To the church at Ephesus He says: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Revelation 2:4, 5). To the church at Sardis, He says: “I have found no works of yours perfected before my God” (Revelation 3:2 WEB). He commended the church at Thyatira: “As for your works, the last are more than the first” (Revelation 2:19).
We must be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

The work of the church is prescribed in Scripture.
Paul told Timothy: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15).

The work of the church is done by its members.
The church is the body of Christ.2 “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4, 5).
Christians are always members of the body of Christ. We are to do everything in the name of the Lord (Colossians 3:17) and to present our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).
In a sense, then, all that Christians do, is done by the church. But some things are done by individual members and some things are done at the congregational level.3
Because all the work of the church is done by its members (either in their own name or as a congregation) New Testament letters addressed to churches deal both with congregational and with personal matters. A sharp distinction is seldom made because many things apply to congregations and to members.

Various tasks are entrusted to believers and to congregations.
Individual Christians earn money to support their families.4 Believers are to care for their own relatives (1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16). “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Lydia was a seller of purple.5 Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers.6 
A church of Christ, however, has not been authorized to operate a business. Jesus condemned those who conducted business in the temple: “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” but you have made it a “den of thieves”’” (Matthew 21:12, 13).
Jesus condemned dishonest gain, but also using the temple for something other than its intended purpose! This also applies to the church. It may not be used for wrongful purposes.
Congregational resources result from free-will offerings on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2)7 and from special gifts (Acts 4:34, 35). These resources may be used for all assignments God has given the church.
Christians administer their own resources. Referring to the land Ananias had sold, Peter said: “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?” (Acts 5:4).
Congregational funds are administered by the elders: “Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:29, 30).8

What are tasks of a local congregation?
One must read the entire New Testament to get a complete picture of the tasks of the church. Here are some examples.

1. The church is to assemble. 
Christians come together to “stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).9
About the Jerusalem congregation we read: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
This fellowship included friendly association, eating together and helping one another: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:44-46).
The believers came together both as a large group (in the temple) and in smaller groups (in homes). The expression ‘ate their food with gladness’ refers to ordinary meals, not to the Lord’s supper as in verse 42. They enjoyed being together and they enjoyed eating together.
Where a congregation is to meet is not specified. Meetings were held in the temple at Jerusalem,10 in an upper room,11 in homes,12 and in their own synagogues: “For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring,” etc. (James 2:2). Some translations have ‘assembly’ for ‘synagogue’, but it is synagogue in Greek.13
The command to assemble authorizes a congregation to make arrangements for a place to meet.14

2. The church assembles to eat the Lord’s supper.
The church assembles on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7).15 The Jerusalem church continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread16. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).17

3. The church prays and sings to God.
The Jerusalem church continued steadfastly in prayers.18 In the assembly, Christians sing with the spirit and with the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15), “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody” in their heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).
Singing is melodious speaking. Unspiritual songs are excluded, of course, but the general command to sing includes all types of singing whether in unison or with harmony, whether in the chromatic scale or some other scale, whether in a major or minor key. It is all singing.
If the command had been “to make music” instrumental music would be included. But the command to sing excludes non-vocal music.

4. The church preaches the gospel.
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15). No single congregation or individual can preach to everyone in the world. All Christians and congregations work together to carry out this assignment.
Exactly how the gospel is to be preached, is not said. Thus Christians and congregations may decide the best way to go (on foot, by boat, by train, or by airplane) because they have been given the general command19 to “go.” They also make use of available means of proclamation (sermons, tracts, newspapers, radio, TV, Internet) because they have been given the general command to “preach.” 
Christians preach both in their own vicinity and in other parts of the world. Some go and others support those who go20 (Romans 10:11-15).

5. The church teaches disciples to obey Christ.
“Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you’” (Matthew 28:18-20).
God gave apostles and prophets in the first century to found the church (Ephesians 2:20) and evangelists, elders and teachers for all times to build up the church21 (Ephesians 4:11-16). 
To teach disciples to observe all that Christ has commanded, each congregation provides instruction according to its needs, abilities and opportunities.
Exactly how the instruction is organized is not prescribed. Such details may be decided by each congregation according to their own circumstances. Many congregations, for example, have special classes for children of various ages, for women, for people with various levels of knowledge,22 and to train men for leadership.23

6. The church is financed by gifts from its members.
A collection is taken on the first day of the week. “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside,24 storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2).
This example authorizes a congregation to have a collection on the first day of the week and to form a treasury from which needs can be met.25 Special contributions may also be given (Acts 4:34, 35).

7. The church does good works.
Paul prayed that the church at Colosse might be “fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10). Pure religion includes helping orphans and widows (James 1:27).
In connection with the gifts collected by the church at Corinth,26 Paul says that they shared with the saints and with all men. “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men” (2 Corinthians 9:12, 13).27 By doing good, the church brings glory to God. 
In the letter “to the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2) Paul wrote: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9, 10).
Since the church cannot alleviate all needs, fellow Christians have priority.
In the second letter “to the church of the Thessalonians”28 Paul wrote: “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
Jesus is our example: “He went about doing good”29 (Acts 10:38). One of His distinctive teachings is that we should do good to all, not just to brethren (Matthew 5:46, 47).
The church at Jerusalem (with more than 5000 members30) distributed food daily to the widows (Acts 6:1-4). The church is to support older, godly widows, who have insufficient help from their family (1 Timothy 5:3-16).
Congregations helped brethren in other places who were in need because of famine.31 This help was extended “to all” (2 Corinthians 9:12, 13).

8. The church appoints elders and deacons.
After seven men had been “sought out” by the church at Jerusalem, they were appointed by the apostles to take care of the widows (Acts 6:3).
The appointment of elders and deacons who meet the Biblical qualifications, may be done with the help of an evangelist. Paul told Titus: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you” (Titus 1:5).32 

9. The church withdraws from Christians who persist in sin.
A congregation may not allow its members to bring reproach on the church by their conduct or by false teaching. After a loving attempt to bring the person to repentance, if he refuses to repent, he must be excluded from the fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).33 
A congregation can give letters of recommendation to traveling Christians to confirm that they may be accepted as fellow believers (2 Corinthians 3:1).

May our works be acceptable to God!
We have examined several tasks God has given the church. The church is to assemble for worship and for other suitable purposes. A collection is taken on the first day of the week and special contributions may also be given. With these resources the gospel is preached and believers are edified. The church does good, especially to believers. The church appoints qualified men as elders and deacons, and withdraws fellowship from those who persist in sin. These are some examples of works of the church.
Both in our daily lives and as a church, let us be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Amen.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise. Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive

1 Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15. This is according to the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text. A few manuscripts lack this statement for Smyrna and Pergamos.

2 Ephesians 1:22, 23.

3 A Christian, for example, may place an ad offering to study the Scriptures with people. He does not have to ask anyone’s permission to do this if he uses his own name and address, and pays for it himself. He may not do something in the name of a congregation, however, without asking permission. This also applies to preachers. They may preach whenever and wherever they wish. But they may not do something in the name of a congregation without permission.

4 Christians may not burden the church with their personal responsibilities. Believers are commanded to work with their own hands so they will lack nothing (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12). Christians are to work in quietness and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12). They must work with their hands so they will have something to give to those who are in need (Ephesians 4:28). Children and grandchildren ought to help their needy mother or grandmother (1 Timothy 4:4, 16). The church has a back-up responsibility with regard to such needs (1 Timothy 5:16).

5 Acts 16:14.

6 Acts 18:2.

7 See also 2 Corinthians 9:7.

8 This proves that one congregation may send funds to another congregation. Division has been caused by some who condemn churches that send funds to another congregation for mission work. Although this instance relates to benevolent work, the principle, like the Sunday collection, applies to all works a congregation is authorized to do.

9 Christians assembled to pray for Peter when he was in prison (Acts 12:5, 12) and to hear a report given by missionaries (Acts 14:27). Everything must be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).

10 Acts 2:26; 5:12.

11 Acts 20:8.

12 Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2.

13 In the New Testament, the word usually refers to a meeting house. The statement ‘come into your synagogue’ suggests a building, as does the reference to seating arrangements. Compare with Mark 1:21; Luke 4:16; Acts 18:19; 19:8.

14 The meeting place has no special meaning for Christians because under the New Covenant the believers themselves are the temple of God (1 Peter 2:4, 5). Thus special rules about what may or may not be done in ‘the church building’ have no Scriptural foundation because a congregation can just as easily meet in a field, under a tree, in a cave, or in someone’s home. What one may do in the assembly or with congregational resources are Scriptural questions.
Discord is sometimes sown by people claiming that Christians may not eat in a building that belongs to the church. To support this they usually appeal to Paul’s statement: “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” (1 Corinthians 11:22). In that context, however, Paul is discussing a situation where the Lord’s table was being degraded to a regular meal. In the assembly it is indeed true that one may not have a regular meal rather than the Lord’s supper! The Lord’s supper is not intended to satisfy hunger.
Paul ate in the meeting place at Troas. In Acts 20:7 the believers came together in an upper room on the first day of the week to break bread, which refers to the Lord’s supper. Paul preached until midnight. After he raised Eutychus from the dead, he went back upstairs. Then we read: “Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed” (Acts 20:11). This refers to a regular meal since it says only that ‘he’ ... ‘had broken bread and eaten’. If it referred to the Lord’s supper, it would have said when ‘they’ had broken bread and eaten. The informality of the situation makes it clear that this was not a part of the regular assembly “and talked a long while, even till daybreak.”

15 See also 1 Corinthians 11:18, 26, 33; 14:23; Hebrews 10:25.

16 Acts 2:42.

17 See also 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

18 Acts 2:42.

19 Sometimes discord is caused by people who insist that an example must be found in the Bible for every application of a general principle or command in the New Testament. But a general command authorizes all ways of obeying that command that do not conflict with other principles or commands.

20 Churches have an obligation to support preachers and missionaries (1 Corinthians 9:6-14; Philippians 4:15-18). When Paul preached at Corinth, he received support from churches in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 11:8, 9), and he suggested that the church at Corinth might “help him on his way” at a later time (2 Corinthians 1:16). Churches also sent men to serve Paul on their behalf (Acts 19:22; Philippians 2:25; Philemon 12-14).

21 There can be several brethren in one congregation who are teachers (Acts 13:1). Not everyone is a teacher in this sense (James 3:1). Elders and teachers can be supported (1 Timothy 5:17, 18; Galatians 6:6).
Teaching disciples to observe all that Christ has commanded includes combating false doctrine (Ephesians 4:14; Titus 1:9). When false teachers from Judea came to Antioch, the church sent Paul and Barnabas and a few others to Jerusalem to discuss the problem (Acts 15:1-4).
A congregation can send someone to help build up a congregation in another place (Acts 11:22).
Although each congregation has its own responsibility, evangelists sometimes give instruction in more than one congregation. Titus taught several congregations on Crete (Titus 1:12-14; 2:6, 8, 15; 3:1, 2, 8). This does not mean that Titus exercised authority over these congregations, as is sometimes claimed, but simply that he provided instruction.

22 A new Christian must be fed with ‘milk’ until he is able to digest ‘solid food’. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 2). “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age” (1 Corinthians 2:6).
In time, Christians are to advance in knowledge. The Hebrews were reprimanded because they had not grown: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

23 To fill the need for advanced instruction, some congregations set up a program of concentrated or even full-time Bible study with teachers from their own congregation and from other congregations. The instruction is given to people in the area, some of whom may have moved there to study. A congregation is authorized to do this by the commission of Christ: “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20) and the brethren who teach are authorized by Paul’s command to Timothy: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

24 Some translations have “at home” although the original has “by himself,” corresponding with “as he purposes in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7). That “at home” is not intended is clear from the context because Paul wanted to avoid a collection being taken after he arrived. Also, why would it have to be on the first day of the week if it were not in the weekly assembly?

25 A congregation may agree to give something in the future (2 Corinthians 9:5). A congregation may appoint a brother to take a gift to its destination (1 Corinthians 16:3). One brother may be chosen for this by several congregations, and accountability should be maintained (2 Corinthians 8:18-23). Paul made these arrangements so no one could question his integrity in financial matters. In church finances, high accounting standards should be maintained, providing for what is honorable “not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21). 

26 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.

27 Since “them” in verse 13 refers back to “saints” in verse 12, “all” includes non-Christians. Some condemn churches that help needy non-Christians. They say individual Christians may help them, but that the church may not. They claim that “all men” means “all Christians” and they deny that “Let us do good to all” (Galatians 6:10) applies to the church. Considering the subjectivity of their opinion, ought they not to at least admit that “all” possibly refers to “all men” and that Galatians 6:10 possibly applies to the church? Then they could be less judgmental.

28 2 Thessalonians 1:1.

29 Once when Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath, He replied: “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:11, 12). 

30 Acts 4:4.

31 Acts 11:28-30; 1 Corinthians 8:1-4, 12-15; 9:12, 13; Romans 15:25-28; Acts 24:17.

32 See 1 Timothy 3:1-15; Titus 1:5-9.

33 See also Matthew 18:15-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5, 13; Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 2:6.