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 Vol. 4, No. 6 

June, 2002

Since You Asked

~ Page 15 ~

Image Special Servants

By Louis Rushmore

I am particularly interested in your insight to the current issue of "women's role in the church." There are some congregations which are eliminating the 'office' of deacon in what I perceive to be an effort to allow women to serve in unique positions and avoiding calling them 'deconess's' by calling them 'special servants' (both men and women). There is also the issue of women participating in the worship services in a public, leadership role. ~ Paul Dennis, Bedford, TX

The role of women in the church and in the home has been a topic of keen interest in recent years. Consequently, several articles in Gospel Gazette Online are dedicated to that question. Go to the archive page and search for "role of women" and opt for "find exact phrase." That search ought to yield sufficient resources to ascertain that God does not permit a woman to occupy "in the worship services in a public, leadership role."

The New Testament reveals that there were special servants in addition to deacons. These special servants did not displace deacons and some of the special servants were women. "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea" (Romans 16:1). The word "servant" here is from the same Greek word from which the word "deacon" comes. Yet, depending upon the context in which "diakonos" (in one of its forms) occurs, it may mean "servant" or minister (Ephesians 3:7). In the case of Phebe, given that there are no qualifications for female deacons listed in the New Testament, she was more accurately a servant (special if you like). Romans 16:6 and 12 may also refer to female workers in the church.

Both men and women are obligated to Christian service and may serve especially well in any number of ways, to include benevolence, edification and evangelism, in ways that do not violate any divine role assignments. None of these servants are equivalent to nor replace deacons, who have qualifications to meet (and maintain) and are responsible to the church especially for certain, assigned aspects of local church work. Even the work of deacons is not accomplished in our time without the participation of numerous other servants, both men and women.

Image Mothers' Day Out

By Louis Rushmore

I have a question about the church building being used for Mothers' Morning out programs and day care centers. Recently, a congregation with which I am familiar, started a Mothers's Morning Out program. It is available on Friday mornings at a certain price each month. I understand the work of the Church is covered in three areas, Evangelizism, Benevolence and Edification of the Saints. Is this congregation crossing a line with this program?  Can these types of programs fit into one of the areas of the work of the Church? I cannot find much of anyting that helps me here. I need some guidance. I just don't know how to answer this when I am asked about it by my children or anyone else for that matter. Thanks for your help and the GGO. Kind regards, Bob Butler

Church buildings are not mentioned in the New Testament. Therefore, restrictions some may want to make regarding the use of those facilities cannot be made based on commands or direct statements and approved examples respecting church buildings. One must rely, rather, on principles coming forth from implications present in Scripture. From those implications, we must correctly infer applications. New Testament commands and examples pertaining to the church worshipping imply the necessity of a place in which to worship. We infer, then, that the church may secure a regular place in which to worship. A place in which to seek edification and from which to pursue evangelism or benevolence likewise contributes to the successful accomplishment of the mission of the church.

The primary purpose of a church building pertains to spiritual matters. If it were not for the spiritual function of the church (e.g., worship, edification, evangelism, benevolence), there would be no justification for church buildings. Yet, secondary purposes for which a church building might be used that are not wrong in themselves and which do not burden the church financially do not displace the primary and legitimate purpose for acquisition and maintenance of church buildings. Typically, we allow our buildings to be used for weddings, bridal and baby showers, etc.

Further, we often use our buildings for Vacation Bible School (VBS) or other Bible classes in which the children may play some games or have snacks. We generally realize that the primary purpose of such activities is not the entertainment of children but teaching them God's Word. Often churches spend church funds to send children to a church camp, during which children play games and eat, but the primary purpose of which is to teach them the Bible. Both of these scenarios may be viewed as optional or judgment calls on how to fulfill the Great Commission respecting teaching, baptizing and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20).

Mothers' Day Out programs have a similar purpose as VBS and church camps, teaching the Bible. As such, a Mothers' Day Out program may be a useful tool as an outreach into the community, contacting children and their parents that we may not otherwise be able to reach as easily. A Mothers' Day Out program might be viewed as a one-day-a-week VBS.

In my opinion, the church should not charge non-Christians to finance its efforts to teach them the Word of God. Personally, I am uncomfortable with the practice of churches soliciting businesses for food, decorations, etc. to grace our ladies' days, lectureships, etc. It was not the apostle Paul's practice, for instance, to solicit support even from babes in Christ in the churches newly established (even 18 months) through his preaching in areas formerly without the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:8).

If a program meeting in a church building is really a separate entity from the church, such as a school, it might well charge for its services. Then, such an organization would also do well to shoulder its share of the financial responsibility respecting the church's facility (e.g., utilities, maintenance).

Generally, we need a place to study God's Word together (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 2 Timothy 2:15), to assemble for worship during which we will also be edified (1 Corinthians 14:12, 23), sometimes a place associated with benevolence (Acts 4:32-37) and a place from which we launch out to do evangelism (Acts 13:1-3). If a Mothers' Day Out program accomplishes any of this, it may be a good tool with which to reach a part of the community with the Gospel.

Image Image Saints Only Benevolence?

By Louis Rushmore

... benevolence towards non-christians. The Bible warns us against burdening the church in 1 Tim. 5:16. It also gives limitations concerning a christian widow who should be allowed to receive help. A few are she should have devoted herself to every good work, washed the feet of the saints, and have a reputation for good works. These limitations seem to be pointing only to a Christian woman. One other thing I would like to say is the Bible seems to tell me in Acts 5:4 that while money is ours we can do as we please, but once it is in the church treasury it is no longer under our control. That we as a church should use this money as according to examples and direct command. It doesn't make much sense to me to use the church's money for schools and other things which burden the church. It seems to me these things and others are the responsibility of the individual christian. We have to draw a line somewhere and it has to be where God has drawn it. Very Sincerely, Loria McCrimon

First Timothy 5:3-16 pertains to Christian widows. Some of these are destitute and have no families able or willing to care for them. Christian widows who meet certain qualifications listed in that context may become the permanent beneficiaries of the church. Widows who have family members, though, are to be cared for by those family members. Young widows are charged to marry.

None of this addresses whether the church may practice acts of benevolence to Christians other than widows or even non-Christians who may have legitimate needs. Two passages in particular state that church funds were collected for poor saints (doubtless, not all destitute widows, especially in Acts 4:32-36; 5:1ff) were also available for non-Christians.

"For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men" (2 Corinthians 9:12-13).

"As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

Both of these passages contrast Christians with others in addition to Christians, with a preference for Christians. That the word "men" is italicized and not in the Greek does not change the meaning of the passage. Obviously, the verses, with or without the word "men," do not refer to goats, but people. Two groups of people are entertained, Christians and others (non-Christians). The apostle Paul further characterized the contribution he brought to Palestine as for his "nation," which is a larger category than saints only. "Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings" (Acts 24:17).

If by "schools" one means colleges where one primarily receives a secular education, yes, that ordinarily would be a function of the home, and the church ought not to be funding "schools." If by "schools" one means schools of preaching, that is an entirely different matter. In one sense, a school of preaching is comparable to any Bible class a congregation might have, except that this one is geared for preparing men to preach the Gospel. Unnamed "other things" cannot be addressed. Truly, "We have to draw a line somewhere and it has to be where God has drawn it." The problem arises when anyone draws lines that God did not draw and proposes, even with the utmost of sincerity and good intentions, to make them tests of fellowship (where God did not make tests of fellowship).

Contemporary Christian Music

By Louis Rushmore

1. Do Bible principals allow for Christians to listen to any religious music as a secular form of entertainment with the instrument, such as Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) that is so popular among the youth of our time as well as adults? 2. Can a Christian perform individual acts of worship during the week in addition to that of the primary worship of god on the Lord's Day, such as the songs we sing during mid-week Bible service or Gospel meetings or singings? ~ Edward R. Henderson, Jr.

Every instance of religious music associated with the church or Christians and about which one can read in the New Testament is a cappella or singing without instrumental accompaniment (Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:15; James 5:13.). The two primary New Testament passages that address singing in Christian worship are:

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

Singing is the type of worshipful music authorized in the New Testament. Naturally, then, singing is the type of music authorized for use in the Lord's Day worship each first day of the week. Likewise, whenever and wherever Christians assemble (e.g., Bible classes, Gospel meetings, lectureships, chapel services), the type of music authorized is singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Whenever and wherever one (James 5:13) or more Christians sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, that worshipful music, singing, ought to be without the accompaniment of instrumental music. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 do not address singing within the limited context of a time or a place, but they address worshipful music that is authorized, irrespective of when or where it may occur.

Personally, I cannot make the distinction between singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in a context of worship from singing the same psalms, hymns and spiritual songs merely for entertainment. I fail to see how the time and the place that psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are sung transforms lyrics about heaven, God, Christ, grace, the church, etc. from worshipful music to entertainment. Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs should be enjoyable, whether in the worship assembly, a Bible class or simply when and wherever one or more Christians sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

The only act of worship limited to the first day of the week in the church's assembly is observance of the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7). Each of the other four acts of worship may also occur on other days of the week: prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Acts 10:9; Colossians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11); giving (Acts 4:32-36; 5:1-10); preaching (Acts 13:14ff, 42; 18:4) and singing (Acts 16:25). What one does rather than where he does it determines whether it is worship; Paul and Silas worshipped in song while they were imprisoned.

None of the references about singing address what one hears, but what one sings. Scripture does not seem to anticipate, for instance, playing recorded music in the car as one drives along the highways. In many other areas in which God obviously cares, he saw fit to have Scripture anticipate those matters (e.g., objections to baptism pertaining to salvation, 1 Peter 3:21). In my judgment, (1) it is inappropriate to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with the accompaniment of instrumental music, even if it is outside the worship assembly or Bible classes; (2) it is going beyond what is written to forbid listening to recorded psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, but (3) it is unwise to develop a taste for singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with instrumental accompaniment (which is not authorized in Christian worship) by listening to worshipful music that is augmented with instrumental music.

Worshipful music, which is enjoyable when sung, doubtless is enjoyable when heard as well. While trying to be biblically correct in our application of doctrine and doctrinal principles, we need to be careful that we do not legislate where God has not, even with the good intentions. Yet, CCM or psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with mechanical instruments (e.g., guitars, pianos, organs, etc.), whether sung or listened to is counterproductive and undermines what is authorized for worshipful music. The very next verse following Colossians 3:16, which authorizes singing, is this verse about religious authority: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Colossians 3:17).

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