A young king received a great inheritance from his father and put it into a trust. The trust was used for three purposes: 1) To provide for his household affairs 2) To support teachers (as he was passionate for education) 3) To be used for designated charities fitting his strict criteria. The young son had a Will drawn up which delegated his wealth to the latter two purposes upon his death. The executors, who had power of attorney (oversight of the funds), who were longtime friends and trusted servants of his, were to fulfill the stipulations of his Will upon his death.
The young king disappeared one day and was believed to be dead. After many months, the executors questioned what to do. They had been faithful servants to the wealthy king. Through their labors they helped him to earn the wealth through contributions of their own labor. They somehow rationalized that they had a right to the young king’s wealth. And so instead of appealing to the authority of the Will the wealthy man had left, they usurped his will and divided up the fortune amongst themselves. They reasoned that they would keep some for themselves, but they would also give a portion to teachers and charities that they had selected. They greedily stole what was not theirs. They arrogantly ignored the plain and simple instruction of the Will. They foolishly justified their wicked actions. However, many days later the young king returned home to find that his estate had been divided up amongst the wicked servants instead of disbursed according to his Will; and he rendered judgment accordingly.
The wealthy young king in this parable is the Son of God, the executors are the members of a local church of Christ, the wealth is the Lord’s treasury, and the Will is God’s word (will).
While the money contributed by the members is theirs ("common"—belonging to all, Ac 4:32), they gave it "to the Lord" to do His work according to His will. Therefore, the decision as to how it is to be used belongs to the Lord. According to the analogy of the parable, the local church is merely an executor of fulfilling God’s will with His treasury. This includes all assets including the building and land which was bought with (or donated to) the Lord’s treasury. “…And he put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:20-23) Christ has ALL authority (Matthew 28:18) and there is NO authority above His.
When a local church dissolves it has no right to disburse the funds amongst its individual members unless 1) they are all evangelists and need the support 2) are saints who are in need. It has no authority to do so. The church’s treasury belongs to the Lord and is under His authority of usage, not man’s. Any usage outside the authority of Christ is unauthorized, wicked, and sinful. The treasury is to be used for three purposes: 1) to care of the affairs of the local congregation (Heb. 10:25 – expediency) 2) for evangelism (I Cor. 9:1-14) 3) for benevolence of saints (I Cor 16:1-3; Acts 4:32-35). God has entrusted us to use His funds within the confines of His authority. To do otherwise is thievery; robbing the very God to whom we have committed our faithfulness.
When a local congregation dissolves, the members should not justify that they have a right to the funds because they contributed the funds. The funds are not theirs. (Acts 5:1-10) Neither should they be so foolish as to confuse “Well we could use the money” with “We are in need of the money”. Anybody can use more money. The richest man in the world can use more money; but does he need it? Nor should the members just throw up their hands and say, “We don’t know what to do with all this.” The answers exist in the will of God, if we have the heart to accept them. Read God’s word. While a local church may dissolve, Christ (and His will) reigns on, and He is coming again and will render every man according to his deeds. (Romans 2:6) Let us make sure we are not the foolish servants in the Parable of the Trust, but instead are faithful servants to God’s will.