Does Galatians 6:10 Authorize The Church to Give to Non-Saints? Part 1 (Introduction)

(Author’s note: This is my part of an e-mail discussion with a non-institutional brother on the subject of whether the church has Bible authority to give to non-saints. The discussion occurred by e-mail in February and March of 2003. It was an informal discussion in that there were no stated propositions upon which we were going to debate. There was also no time limit or word limit placed on the discussion. Prior to this point the person with whom I was discussing this information and I had agreed that there was such a thing as specific authority and general authority. I did not think that it was necessary to include this material because it was not specifically regarding Galatians 6:10 and it was mainly short personal statements of belief. It was based upon this agreement [that the Bible does authorize in a general way] that I began the discussion of Galatians 6:10. The e-mails and the name of the person with whom I was having the discussion are not included based upon an agreement not to publish his material without his consent. I have tried to eliminate any personal remarks within the material so as to focus solely on the topic at hand [such as, “How are you today, etc.”]. The premise which I was affirming was that Galatians 6:10 gives general authority to the church to give to non-saints.)

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God’s Worship

We read within the Bible that Christians assembled together upon the first day of the week to worship God through His Son, Jesus (Acts 20:7). When they met together, they studied God’s word, prayed, sang hymns of praise, gave of their income, and partook of the Lord’s supper. We have examples for each of these practices within the New Testament (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 16:1-2). We see in these simple, yet powerful, actions of worship, how God desires to be worshipped in the name of His Son, Jesus.

The worship observed within the churches of Christ is one of the biggest differences that are noted by those who are not members of the church of Christ. Many want to know where the “music” is. Many want to know why the Lord’s supper is observed every Sunday. Many want to know why such emphasis is placed upon Bible study. Many want to know why we do not “tithe.” The answer is really quite simple, though many do not accept it. We seek to worship God upon the terms and conditions that God has set for worship within the New Testament.

One will not find the word “tithe” in the New Testament. One will not find the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the church in the New Testament. One will not find the Lord’s supper being observed once a quarter, or month in the New Testament, but every Sunday. One will not find within the New Testament “self-help” motivational speaking, but rather the preaching and teaching of the word of God. It is our desire to worship God in the way that God would have us worship Him, not in the way that makes man feel good. We seek to serve God in our worship, not to serve self.

We worship God not to gain an emotional experience, but because God is worthy of our worship. Revelation 4:11 states, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” The reason for our very existence is to give pleasure to God; it makes no sense for God’s creation to fashion worship practices which give pleasure to the creature rather than the creator.

Indeed, who ought to determine how we are to worship? The one who worships? Or the one who deserves to be worshipped? Certainly, the creature has no right to tell the creator how he/she is going to worship Him. God Himself must tell us what we may do to worship; we dare not approach God with our own righteousness (Romans 10:1-3).

Jesus said that God desires to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Spiritual worship is worshipping God out of a humble, respectful, and subservient attitude. Truthful worship means to worship God according to His word, for God’s word is truth (John 17:17).

So as we worship together this day, let us focus upon God as the one toward whom we are worshipping; let us acknowledge His wishes in the way in which He would have us to worship Him; and let us be content to satisfy God in our worship as opposed to satisfying ourselves.

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Should Christians Oppose Homosexual Marriage?

One might think that the answer to this question is obvious. Faithful Christians should oppose homosexuality in all forms (Romans 1:26, 27). So where does the question come from? I have heard from a few different people who don’t think that we ought to have laws that oppose the marriage of homosexuals or laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman in this country. I have to admit, that such thinking boggles my mind. Let’s examine some of the “justifications” that have been suggested in this regard.

The broadest “justification” for homosexual marriage is the “civil rights” justification. This is the idea that when we deny homosexuals the right to marry we are being unfairly prejudiced and discriminatory. Many say: “They are people too, aren’t they? Don’t they have the same ‘rights’ as heterosexuals? Shouldn’t they have ‘equality’ with heterosexuals? Why shouldn’t homosexuals have the same civil rights as heterosexuals?” To answer these questions, we need to recognize something about sexuality, namely, that sexuality is not a fundamental human right. No human has the “right” to have indiscriminate sex with another human. One may live one’s whole life without ever having sexual intercourse and survive well. One does not need to have sex in order to live. It’s not like eating food, or drinking water, or having shelter and clothing. Its not even equivalent with the color of a person’s skin. When it all boils down to it, sex is a choice that we can live without; these other things are not. And if it can be lived without, then it is not a fundamental human right.

Additionally, our society recognizes that no human has the right to have indiscriminate sex with another human. We have laws that prohibit certain types of sexual activity, such as sex with minors, the mentally handicapped, and the unwilling. There is nothing inherently unfair about the prohibition of sexual activity. In fact, it is the right thing to do. Indiscriminate sex is not a “right” and as long as it is not a right, then we have the obligation to appropriately discriminate when it comes to such matters. Discrimination is necessary when it comes to sexual activity. And if we must discriminate with regard to the permissibility of sexual activity, then we may also discriminate with regard to the permissibility of marriage. There is nothing inherently “unfair” in so doing and in so opposing homosexual marriage.

Another justification for such behavior has been, “The government should not legislate morality.” Another form of this is, “The government should stay out of the bedroom.” On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable argument, however, under examination the argument falls short. What happens when someone is murdered in a bedroom? Does the government stay out of that? What about rape? Does the government stay out of that? No, it does not and it OUGHT not to stay out of such things. The government has the obligation to judge what is and what is not moral behavior and issue rewards and punishments based upon such behavior (1 Peter 2:14). Murder, theft, rape, and lying are all MORAL issues, yet everyone recognizes the need for government to get involved and stay involved in those issues. We see the need for government to intervene when children are not properly cared for in the home. For crying out loud, we demand that the government gets involved when people abuse their pets! Yet we are expected to believe that government should not legislate morality?! However, for anyone who argues that government must stay out of the bedroom, I will be happy to concede the point as soon as I can get the government to stay out of my wallet!

I have heard some say that government doesn’t have the right to define what is and what is not a marriage and so it doesn’t matter how we view this issue. It is true that the government doesn’t have a right to pronounce something a marriage that God has not pronounced a marriage. Government doesn’t have the right to pronounce two people, living in adultery, married. Government doesn’t have the right to pronounce animals married, and neither does government have the right to pronounce two people of the same sex married. What then does government have a right to do in regard to marriage? Government must support that which God has already defined as right and good. That is really the bottom line. God says that homosexuality is evil and the government has no right to legitimize it in any form or fashion. Government has the responsibility to recognize marriages of which God approves, but government does not have the right to recognize or even tolerate marriages of which God does not approve. Would government have the right to legitimize murder? Theft? Lying? Rape? Of course not. Government may not legitimize something that is not legitimate to begin with. And while government has tried to legitimize some things that ought not to be legitimized (such as abortion and adultery), we should not be deceived into thinking that these things are truly legitimate. Government is not the ultimate standard for what is right and wrong; GOD IS. This means that government has the right to define good as good and evil as evil, not vice versa. Marriage between man and woman is defined by God as good. So government has the responsibility to recognize that.

Finally, we’ve all heard the argument, “Well, it’s not hurting anyone else, so why should we worry about it?” This is the idea that two people can get together and do whatever they want to each other as long as they are not hurting anyone else. However, this is a naive view of sociology. The idea that two people can do certain things in private and not have an impact upon the rest of our society simply is not true. We’ve all heard the expression, “No man is an island.” Well, I would add, no two people are islands, either. Everything that we say and do in private ultimately affects those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis. If we behave violently at home, then that will affect how we do our job. If we behave aberrantly at home, then that will affect our relationships with people in the community. Someone has said, “our ethics are what we do when nobody is looking.” What we do, believe, and think in private has consequences beyond that which is private. It is naïve to think otherwise. Jesus stated that the very sins that we commit in our lives start within the privacy of our own thoughts and ultimately affect other people ( Matthew 15:18-20). What two people do in the privacy of their own bedroom has consequences for the rest of us and it is those consequences about which we, as a nation, ought to be concerned.

One last thought along these lines. We have been told, by all that is liberal in this nation, that if we oppose homosexuality, then we hate homosexuals. Such a statement is simply not true. I oppose fornication. I oppose adultery. I oppose murder. I oppose theft. I oppose rape. However, I don’t hate those people who participate in such activities. I love them and want them to repent of their evil deeds. God certainly does not hate anyone; God loves the world ( John 3:16), but God hates sin ( Proverbs 6:16) and he will not tolerate those who have been corrupted by it. We should also reflect this attitude in our life. We should love the sinner, but hate the sin. Christians have no business engaging in violent behavior or in seeking their own personal vengeance upon those who are acting immorally. As Christians we are called to love others, not hate, but we love by calling those steeped in sin to repentance and conduct based upon the high moral standard which is Christ.

Should we oppose homosexual marriage? Yes, without a doubt. I was taught in a public college psychology class in the late 1980s that homosexuality was abnormal behavior. Psychologically, that is exactly how we ought to continue to consider it—abnormal. Spiritually, we ought to consider it exactly as God has pronounced it, sin.

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An Athenian Attitude

One of the characteristics of the people at Athens was that they were always interested in hearing about something new. Luke records this attitude for us in Acts 17:31 where he writes, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”

The nation in which we live today is not unlike those Athenians in that we delight to hear of “new” things. We glue our ears to the radio to listen to the next blurb spoken by the next popular commentator. We sit transfixed in front of the television set each evening at 5:30 to find out what is going on in the world. We can even surf the internet to get our news sooner than 5:30. We desire fresh information – things which we have not heard. The latest football, basketball, baseball or hockey score must be ours. The latest political quip must be on our lips. The latest election results must be broadcast even before all of the polls close. We just can’t wait for the next update, sound bite, news worthy item! And when someone comes to us with a piece of information that is not up to date we say rather oxymoronically, “That’s old news.”

Then, Sunday morning rolls around. “It’s time to go to worship, to do the same old things every week. To listen to the same old message that we have heard time and time again. Everyone’s heard it all of their life. Why should we go and listen once more?” Let’s note a few good reasons why.

First, while the gospel message may be old news, it is still good news! That is sure to be something that you don’t find in the dominant media today, good news. Oh there may be a story or two that is more or less positive in application, but the majority of the news today is going to be centered around death, war, fighting, tumults, disagreements, and political wrangling. While such news may be “fresh” it is certainly not good. The gospel contains THE GOOD NEWS! That’s basically what the word gospel means. It is the basic message that God sent His Son Jesus to this world to die on the cross so that man could have hope to live with God in heaven. That may be old news, but that is always good news! Paul wrote in Romans 10:15b, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Yes, we, along with Paul should rejoice in the good news of the gospel!

Second, while we may have heard the message before, we need to hear it again. Missing one meal out of a day may not hurt us, but it will weaken us. Such is also true with spiritual food. We need to be feed regularly from God’s word so that we continue to grow stronger in the Lord. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:12 “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” He wanted them to remember the truths of the gospel, even though they knew them and were established in them. Spiritual growth requires spiritual nourishment and if we are not growing, then we are dying. Let’s feast on those good ol’ gospel meals at every opportunity!

Third, while we may have heard the message earlier in our life, we hopefully have grown and the message has new application for us. All Christians are expected to grow in the Lord. Peter writes, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Unlike the human body, as Christians we constantly grow throughout our lifetime. In each phase of our life, the message of the gospel may be applied so that old truths have fresh significance for us. There is no end to the things that we may learn from the Bible. No one person can ever say that they have mastered the depths of its pages. Each of us has the responsibility to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

We may hear the same truths preached each week that we have heard all our life, but let’s rejoice in God’s good news! Let’s feast upon the bread of life! Let’s grow as we encounter life! God’s truth is timeless; our lives are temporary. Let’s not develop an Athenian Attitude toward the gospel.

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