Christian Universe ™
April 04, 2010
Some Christians, especially preachers, are horrified when they hear of the freedoms that we have in Christ. They fear that members, upon learning of this freedom, will go forth and commit every kind of sin. They further feel that many will quit assembling with the body of Christians if they feel that they are not forced to do so. However, our freedoms in Christ are counterbalanced by personal and community responsibilities. Just because we can do something, does not mean that we should do it. There are prices to pay, in this life, and in our judgment before God when our eternal destination is decided.
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 04-04-2010
Presented to Load church of Christ on 04-11-2010
We have spoken extensively about our freedoms in Christ. Some shrink from this fact of Christianity, preferring to be iron-fisted rulers over other members of their congregation. Some have told me that telling Christians about this freedom will cause people to abandon godliness altogether. Some have accused me of telling Christians that “anything goes”!
What these people fail to understand is that our freedoms are counterbalanced with the weight of personal responsibility. Otherwise, any behavior would be acceptable!
We saw recently that we are not to judge one another. God will judge each of us. We shall give personal account of our own deeds, speech, and thoughts.
John 5:28 "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
Matthew 12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."
Matthew 15:18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."
Romans 14:10 "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
We see from the above scriptures that we are personally responsible for our lives, as well as our eternal destinations. No one else will give account of the things that we think, say or do.
We also see this from the following scriptures:
Galatians 6:3 "For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden."
We are each personally responsible for our spiritual relationship with God. We are also personally responsible for our own material well-being, or wealth.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."
We are to work to support ourselves, not depending upon the local congregation of Christians to support us. If we have relatives who need our help, we are also to look out for them.
1 Timothy 5:3 "Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God."
1 Timothy 5:8 "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
This recognizes that there are situations where people are not able to adequately take care of themselves. In these situations, their Christian family members are to assist. Note that this charge is placed on those who are believers, as we can see that it speaks of acceptable behavior before God, and then that one who will not assist denies the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
For those needy who have no believing, close family members who will look after them, the congregation does have an obligation to look after them.
1 Timothy 5:3 "Honour widows that are widows indeed.”
1 Timothy 5:5 "Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless."
1 Timothy 5:9 "Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith."
The apostles were also looking after widows who could not help themselves.
Acts 6:1 "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith."
It was no accident that the writer of Acts connected the fact that the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem right after mentioning that the needy widows were assisted. What better evidence of love for one another than to take care of the needy among us?
James also mentions the importance of assisting the widows and the fatherless.
James 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
This is a universal law of God. It was also ordered under the Law of Moses.
Exodus 22:22 "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.
23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."
Deuteronomy 14:28 "At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest."
Deuteronomy 24:17 "Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge:
18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.
19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing."
We see that, although we are responsible for taking care of ourselves, and our near relatives, those who are in need and have no close believers to take care of them, are to be assisted.
Furthermore, we are to help others among us who fall into need. This might be someone who constantly lives in poverty, or it may be someone who faces a temporary setback.
Galatians 6:2 "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
Acts 20:34 "Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Our freedoms in Christ come with great personal responsibility. Each of us will answer to God according to our thoughts, speech, and deeds. We also have a responsibility to support ourselves and our close relatives. If members of the congregation are unable to meet all of their needs, the members have a responsibility to help those in need.
1 Corinthians 6:12 "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body."
Apostle Paul says that we can do anything, but not everything is good for us, or for others. Therefore, we must be careful what we do, especially when it directly impacts others. We must always realize that we are God’s children, and spiritual people. So, while we have great freedom in Christ, we have to be careful how we use our freedom, and not use it to directly abuse others.