The Care of God, Part 5
A sermon by Bernie Parsons
Part 5 in a series of five, presented at the Load, Kentucky,
church of Christ on Sunday, 03/12/2006
From the earliest times,
God has provided for those who serve spiritually. Consider the case of the
High Priest Melchizedek, long before the Law of Moses.
Genesis 14:18: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine:
and he was the priest of the most high God.
19: And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God,
possessor of heaven and earth:
20: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies
into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”
(You can read about this also in Hebrews 7:1-4.)
Under the Law of Moses, the priesthood and the Levitical families were
supplied through offerings, the gifts brought to the festivals, donations,
and through annual and third-year tithing. (Read Numbers 18 for more on the
tithes that were wave and heave offerings.) See Leviticus 7:29-36. They were
also given cities in which to live, and land to farm.
Numbers 35:1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan
near Jericho, saying,
2: Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the
inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also
unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.
3: And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall
be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.
4: And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites,
shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round
5: And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand
cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two
thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits and the city
shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.
6: And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be
six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may
flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.
7: So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and
eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.
8: And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the
children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from
them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities
unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.”
(Read more about the tithing for the priests and Levites in Nehemiah 10, 12,
and 13. There is much more written about what was to be give to the priests
and their families, but that would take a whole lesson in and of itself.)
Jesus and the twelves apostles were financially supported by wealthy,
Luke 8:1: “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city
and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God:
and the twelve were with him,
2: And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
3: And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many
others, which ministered unto him of their substance.”
Jesus told His disciples that the spiritual worker is worthy of his wages.
Matthew 10:7: “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at
8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:
freely ye have received, freely give.
9: Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10: Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet
staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11: And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is
worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.”
Luke 10:1:”After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and
sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he
himself would come.
2: Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the
labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would
send forth labourers into his harvest.
3: Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
4: Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
5: And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
6: And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not,
it shall turn to you again.
7: And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they
give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
8: And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things
as are set before you:
9: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God
is come nigh unto you.”
Some have argued that they were merely given room and board. That is not
what Jesus said—He spoke of wages. A place to stay, and food to eat, was
only part of it. There had to be money to pay for travel, and the attendant
costs, including clothes and food.
Mark 10:28: “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and
have followed thee.
29: And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that
hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or
children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
30: But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and
brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with
persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
This is not a promise of personal riches, but a promise that
fellow-believers would share.
Some cite the following pasages to say that a preacher must do his own work,
and not take pay from other Christians.
Acts 20:33: “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
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.”
In fact, the apostle Paul warned Timothy against the snare of lusting for
1 Timothy 6:3: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome
words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is
according to godliness;
4: He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of
words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,
supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6: But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7: For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
8: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9: But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into
many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and
10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted
after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with
11: But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12: Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou
art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many
Yet, Paul points out that it is proper to finance the ones who preach and
teach the gospel.
Galatians 6:6: “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that
teacheth in all good things.
7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that
shall he also reap.
8: For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but
he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap,
if we faint not.
10: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
1 Corinthians 9:6: “Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear
7: Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard,
and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not
of the milk of the flock?
8: Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
9: For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of
the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
10: Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this
is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that
thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11: If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we
shall reap your carnal things?
12: If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather?
Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we
should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13: Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the
things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with
14: Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should
live of the gospel.
15: But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these
things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die,
than that any man should make my glorying void.
16: For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for
necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
1 Corinthians 16:5: “Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through
Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
6: And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may
bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
7: For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with
you, if the Lord permit.”
Philippians 4:10: “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last
your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye
11: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever
state I am, therewith to be content.
12: I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and
in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to
abound and to suffer need.
13: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
14: Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my
15: Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when
I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning
giving and receiving, but ye only.
16: For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
17: Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your
18: But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus
the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice
acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory
by Christ Jesus.”
Paul also depended on those traveling with him to help support his efforts.
He also had his material needs met by individuals in places where he stayed
to preach the gospel and help establish various congregations of the
Philippians 2:25: “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus,
my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger,
and he that ministered to my wants.
26: For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye
had heard that he had been sick.
27: For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and
not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28: I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye
may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29: Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in
30: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his
life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”
2 Timothy 1:16: “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he
oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found
18: The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day:
and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very
Not only evangelists, but ruling elders also received financial support.
1 Timothy 5:17: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double
honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18: For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out
the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”
1 Peter 5:1: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder,
and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory
that shall be revealed:
2: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof,
not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3: Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the
4: And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of
glory that fadeth not away.”
1 Timothy 3:1: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a
bishop, he desireth a good work.
2: A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant,
sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3: Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient,
not a brawler, not covetous;”
Titus 1:7: “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not
selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to
There is a warning for ruling elders not to make decisions and render
judgments based upon bribery. This warning was issued under the Law of
Deuteronomy 16:18: “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy
gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they
shall judge the people with just judgment.
19: Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither
take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the
words of the righteous.”
In other words, it is acceptable to pay ruling elders for their spiritual
services, just as the ancient Israelites supported the priests and the
Levites. However, the warning is that ruling elders must not take bribes in
order to favor certain persons over others.
As the apostle Paul said, those who preach the gospel should live of the
gospel. This is as it has always been, as appointed by God. Whether preacher
or ruling elder, those who look after spiritual matters on behalf of others
are to be willingly and happily sustained by those to whom they minister.
This is a part of the care of God for His people.
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