What is a Liberal?
TEXT: 1 Cor. 16:13-14
A. "LIBERAL" – MUCH USED TERM. EVEN THE LIBERALS USE IT.
B. DEROGATORY – USED OFTEN BY THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW MEANING.
C. WEBSTER – "Not restricted to literal meanings, not strict; tolerant of views differing from one’s own; broadminded; not orthodox or conventional … favoring reform or progress." Change is implied. "…excessively free or indecorous behavior, licentious."
D. RATHER THAN USE A TERM THAT IS SIMPLY CONNOTATIVE, WE SHOULD ADDRESS THE ISSUES THAT MAKE DIVISION …
E. WE WANT TO DISCUSS INSTITUTIONALISM IN THIS LESSON.
F. 3 QUESTIONS INVOLVED:
1. What is the work of the church?
2. May the church do its work through a human institution?
3. How may churches cooperate?
I.WHAT IS THE WORK OF THE CHURCH?
A. THIS PASSAGE OUTLINES IT FOR US ( Eph. 4:11-12 ).
1. Perfecting of the Saints – Edification.
2. Ministering to the needy Saints – Benevolence.
3. Building up the body of Christ – Evangelism ( 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Thess. 1:8 ).
B. THE CHURCH IS LIMITED IN BENEVOLENCE TO NEEDY SAINTS.
1. Our only examples ( Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 1 Tim. 5:3-10 ).
2. But what about Galations 6:10 and James 1:27?
a. These verses address individual concern for the poor.
b. Can the church do anything that the individual can do? ( 1 Tim. 5:16 ).
3. Isn’t general benevolence referred to in 2 Corinthians 9:13?
a. Word study needed:
i. liberality, haplotes; 1)singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty the virtue of one who is free from pretence and hypocrisy; 2) not self-seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity (Thayer ).
ii. contribution, koinonia; fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse (Thayer ).
b. Comments by the experts:
i. Liberality haploteetos . From haplou, single, simple. "The passage from single-mindedness or simplicity to liberality is not quite obvious" (Robertson).
ii. Simplicity haploteeti. In 2 Cor 8:2; 9:11,13 "… liberality" is, at best, very doubtful. The sense is unusual, and the rendering "simplicity or singleness" is defensible in all the passages (Vincent's Word Studies on Rom. 12:8 ).
iii. See also Lenski on 2 Cor. 8:2 and 9:13, and Pulpit Commentary.
c. Verses in the context: 2 Cor. 8:2, 7-8, 24; 9:3-4.
C. BUT EVEN IN THIS, THE CHURCH WAS NOT ESTABLISHED THAT IT MIGHT DO BENEVOLENT WORK. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH? ( Eph. 3:10-11; 3:21; 1 Tim. 3:15 ).
II.MAY THE CHURCH DO ITS WORK BY MEANS OF A HUMAN INSTITUTION?
A. A HUMAN INSTITUTION IS A SEPARATE ORGANIZATION.
IS SUCH ANORGANIZATION AUTHORIZED?
1. Heb. 8:1-5. "… all things according to the pattern …" ( 2 Tim. 1:13-14 ).
2. 2 Tim. 3:16-17. All that we need is revealed.
3. Eph. 1:22-23. Jesus is the head of the church.
a. All must be by his authority ( Col. 3:17 ).
b. Presumptuous sin is condemned ( 2 John 9 ).
Where is the Authority?
B. WOULD A SEPARATE ORGANIZATION BE NECESSARY OR EVEN WISE?
1. Eph. 3:20-21. Would an incomplete church glorify God?
2. To try to improve on the church would mean we think we are wiser than God.
a. Human wisdom always competes with the Divine ( Col. 2:8 ).
b. Yet God is so much wiser than we ( Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18-20 ).
c. Submission to God means submission to His Wisdom ( 1 Cor. 3:18 ).
3. Gal. 1:10-11. Since it is God we are trying to please, shouldn’t we allow him to tell us what pleases him? ( Matt. 7:21-23 ).
4. A warning should be sounded whenever a new practice is justified simply on the basis that it is not condemned.
C. WHAT ABOUT EXPEDIENTS?
1. Must truly expedite.
2. Must be lawful.
3. Must expedite an authorized work.
A. Jer. 10:23; Prov. 16:25; Isa. 55:8-9. GOD’S WAYS ARE BEST.
B. WE WILL DISCUSS LATER CHURCH COOPERATION.
C. THIS IS WHAT THIS CHURCH AND ITS MEMBERS STAND FOR AND PRACTICE.
D. WE NEED TO FOLLOW HIS WISDOM IN ACCOMPLISHING HIS WORK.