Paul said, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Cor. 13:5 NASB)
Paul wrote this to the Corinthian members of the church of Christ, who themselves could have failed the test. The Bible states plainly, "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9 NASB)
Today, many so called Christians do not want to talk about what constitutes one being in the faith. Many are afraid of losing what they have, for what they have may provide evidence that they are not in the faith of Christ, but in a faith of man.
Many churches offer to people things they are looking for which the church does not have authority to provide. Some churches offer entertainment, recreation, physical health and wellness programs, and business opportunities, which the scriptures do not authorize. General benevolent provisions (food, clothing, or housing) are given without any scripture authorized limitations.
This is commonly known as the "social gospel." Certainly, individuals can provide these things and at times should, but not the local church, seeing that never in the scriptures was the local or even universal church organized collectively to function as such.
The function of the local church is to:
1. Preach the gospel to the lost. Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 14:23-25.
2. Edify the saints by providing scriptural spiritual words and examples that will cause spiritual growth of its members. Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:11-16.
3. Practice limited benevolence toward members of the church. 2 Cor. 8:1-7; 1 Cor. 16:1&2; 1 Cor. 5:16.
In terms already stated, the church that Jesus died for is not concerned about social or political pursuits. The local church of Christ has been given a greater, nobler pursuit and reaches into heaven itself. It is fitting that she be called the spiritual kingdom of God . . . unless she fails the test.