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These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have preached in the Church of Christ since 1968. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  Bernie Parsons

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Collection For The Saints

By Bernie Parsons - January 18, 2002

In the "Church of Christ", we have been taught that one of five mandated "Items of Worship" (read the article: "Five Items Of Worship".) that constitute a formal, God-recognized "worship service" is the "giving", or "laying by in store". It is preached as a commandment that must be kept every first day of the week. Is it, indeed, a commandment for every Christian to donate money every first day of the week? The basis for this "commandment" is:

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

It is argued that the Apostle Paul  here gave a binding commandment ("order") for every Christian to donate money every Sunday. There have even been those who argue that it must be 10% or more of one's income, in order to "exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees". Others argue that every believing member of the family must give, even if there is a sole bread-winner, such as the father, for the family. All these doctrines are erroneous, and sadly, distract the Christian from truly understanding the Biblical concept of giving to others.

Should we hotly debate and "withdraw fellowship" (read "Disfellowshipping") over the "church treasury"? No, because there is no "church treasury" mentioned among the Christians! I have heard extreme arguments on the "collection" all of my life, from those who cite the words of Jesus about the poor being with us always, as an excuse not to help the poor, to the fanatic who wants everyone to sell everything they own and give it to the poor, citing the case of the rich young ruler to whom Jesus spoke about wealth.

Matthew 26:11 "For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always."

These words of Jesus are based upon:

Deuteronomy 15:9-11 "Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land."

Rather than giving a reason for not helping the poor, the Deuteronomy passage requires help for the poor. On the other hand, the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler were spoken because wealth was a problem for this man. It is not the receipt of wealth that is a sin, but rather how one handles that wealth before God.

Mark 10:21-23 "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!"

The earliest Christians tried an experiment that proved inadequate. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, verses 43-47:

"And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

Acts 4:32-37 "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

"Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet."

While these acts of charity and kindness appear to be ideal, sparking some modern church members to proclaim that we must today own nothing, sharing everything, a closer study reveals the flaw in this system. Once everyone had sold everything, and all the resources were depleted, no one had any wealth, and the Jerusalem church fell into severe poverty. It is apparently this situation that prompted the Apostles to admonish Paul to "remember the poor".

Galatians 2:9-10 "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do."

Thus, the statement that Paul made to the church at Corinth takes on new life.

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

For which group of saints was this collection intended?

Romans 15:25-28 "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain."

2 Corinthians 9:1-2 "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many."

We see, then, that this "ordered" collection for the needy saints was a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, made poor by virtue of their having depleted all their wealth.

What is interesting is that Paul retreats from the "order" he gave in his First (Letter to the) Corinthians when he writes the letter that we now refer to as Paul's Second (Letter to the) Corinthians, or Second Corinthians. In this second letter, instead of "ordering" them again to make up the collection, Paul takes a different tack. This time he cajoles them, reminds them that all their material blessings come from God, and tries to "shame" them, as it were, into sharing their wealth with the needy saints at Jerusalem. You have to admire his courage, and his approach.

Paul first praises the Macedonians' willingness to give not only what they can afford, but to sacrifice for their Jerusalem brethren. He states that the Macedonian brothers had asked that he and his associates take the gift to Jerusalem. (Macedonia was the region north of Achaia, containing such cities as Berea, and Thessalonica.)

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."

Paul says that, since Macedonia has done so well, in their poverty, giving to the poor saints at Jerusalem, that he is going to send Titus to the city of Corinth in Achaia to ensure that they measure up to their Macedonian brethren.

2 Corinthians 8:6-7 "Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also."

Now comes the language where Paul backs away from the original statement in his previous letter wherein he had ordered them to do as Galatia was doing. (Galatia was in Asia Minor, to the east of Macedonia and Achaia.) He withdraws the previous "commandment", instead urging them to match the generosity and dedication of others.

2 Corinthians 8:8 "I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love."

Next, he reminds them that Jesus gave up heaven's riches to die in poverty for all our sakes--a precedent that they should follow by giving up their riches to help needy saints in Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 8:9 "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

He follows this with a reminder that they had promised to take up a collection for the Jerusalem saints a year earlier, but had not yet done so. (It seems that the Corinthian Christians were fond of their wealth, hating to part with it. This is obvious when Paul makes remarks about not taking their money for preaching the gospel. Read "Paying The Preacher".)

2 Corinthians 8:10-12 "And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."

What follows next is of vital importance. Abandoning the previous Christian experiment of selling all possessions and forming a common pool from which to withdraw funds to meet necessities, Paul invokes the familiar pattern of giving learned under the Law of Moses. It is not God's intention that the wealthy give up everything they own. Instead, God has always called upon the wealthy to share their wealth with the poor. This fits with God's orders that, during the collection of manna by the Israelites, those who gathered more than the daily supply were to share with those had had not gathered enough. By this approach, all had enough to eat, and none were able to hoard, as any leftovers were spoiled, thus discouraging hoarding and selfishness.

2 Corinthians 8:13-15 "For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."

Relate this to the following description of the manna-gathering.

Exodus 16:16-27 "This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

"And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.   And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none."

What we have just seen runs counter to the main thrusts of American capitalism, wherein the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Paul writes that the more wealthy in the church are to share that wealth with the poor in the church. What this serves to do is to level the wealth, having it distributed among all the church. Note that this is done on a voluntary, rather than a forced, basis. That is the difference between Christianity and communism or socialism. The motivation is not that we have to share, but that we want to share.

Paul next describes the people--Titus chief among them--that he is sending to see to the collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem. He mentions that such honorable men will see that the bounty makes its way to the intended recipients. There is also a thinly veiled reminder that these folks were coming there to assure that the collection in Corinth would actually be made.

2 Corinthians 8:16-23 "But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf."

Paul soothes the church at Corinth, telling how that he has boasted to other churches of Corinth's willingness to give, an activity that resulted in other churches agreeing to send aid to Jerusalem. This put the Corinthian church on the spot, since other churches would be anticipating what the wonderful people at Corinth would donate.

2 Corinthians 9:1-2 "For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many."

Next, to make sure that Corinth doesn't slack, Paul tells them that he is sending trusted associates to help provoke the Corinthian church to round up its collection. He couches it in terms of not wanting to shame them, thereby shaming them ahead of time if they don't follow through! In verse 5 we see the emphasis placed upon their contributions as a "matter of bounty", or charity, on the behalf of the givers, not covetousness on the part of the receivers. (After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive! Acts 20:35 "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.")

2 Corinthians 9:3-5 "Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness."

Paul next encourages them to give generously, not stingily. Bounty refers to generous giving. This giving is to be done liberally, cheerfully, and out of the goodness of the heart, and not because it is a stringent requirement! This exactly opposes what many of my brothers teach in the church, when they teach that giving is a commandment, according to I Corinthians 16. Paul continues with the ages-old idea that God rewards those of generous and charitable heart.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

Paul follows this by reminding them that all Christians are involved in the work of God, and that all good things come from God. Therefore, if God gives a person--or family--more than they need, it is because there is someone with whom it should be shared--the poor. This is not a new concept, as Paul later points out, using the manna from heaven as an example.

2 Corinthians 9:8-12 "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; "

What is interesting is Paul's next choice of words--he refers to this collection as an experiment, or a test, or a proof. The Christians had earlier experimented by selling all their possessions and doling out the resources as individual needs arose. This did not work well, once the resources were depleted, as noted earlier. This second experiment deals with not giving up everything, but sharing the surplus, or excess, not only with the needy saints, but with "all men".

2 Corinthians 9:13-15 "Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."

Now we understand that what Paul referred to in his first recorded letter to Corinth is the collection, over a period of weeks, even months, for a one-time gift to needy saints in Jerusalem. The gathering of the gift was to have taken place over the previous year, rather than upon the arrival of the men who would carry it to Jerusalem. ("...that there be no gatherings when I come" indicates that Paul originally intended to make the pick-up himself.)

1 Corinthians 16:2 "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

But Paul doesn't stop there--he leaves the door open for a wider ministry when he commends the Corinthians' willingness to distribute to "all men". Some in the church argue that our aid cannot be used for anyone other than the "poor saints". But this has never been God's intention. Those poor strangers among the early Israelites were to be assisted, as well as were the poor Israelites.

Leviticus 23:22 "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God."

I have heard some pervert the scriptures to say that we are "only to help those of the household of faith". This is not at all what Paul wrote. The very verse that they pervert states that we are to "do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith".

Galatians 6:6-10 "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  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. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

2 Corinthians 9:13 "Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;"

Christians (the church) are to help the needy among the brotherhood, as well as in the community at large. They are also to meet the needs of the teaching brothers. (Read "Paying The Preacher".) We can do this by following the Bible example of gathering wealth over time to meet those needs when they arise. This giving is to be done cheerfully, out of one's surplus, as Paul instructed. It is not done as a matter of commandment, but a matter of charity (love unearned and undeserved). We are to be a friendly, charitable, hospitable people.

Romans 12:13 "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality."

Hebrews 13:16 "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

1 Timothy 6:17-19 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

We see that the welfare of widows and fatherless, always of concern to God, were also a concern to the Christians.

Psalms 68:5 "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation."

Deuteronomy 10:17-18 "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment."

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."

Acts 6:1-3 "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. 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. 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."

1 Timothy 5:3-4 "Honour widows that are widows indeed. 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 5:16-18 "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

Notice the verses about the elders, because it is obvious from the statements about them that their payments were relevant to the discussion of the church's use of its wealth. This should stop the mouths of those who insist that "preachers should not be paid", or "the 'church treasury' is only for the poor saints". Those who make such statements show their ignorance of what the scriptures actually say. (Read "Paying The Preacher".)

Let us not be like the Corinthians, unwilling to share our wealth with others, but let us remember that all wealth comes from God. Those who are overly blessed have been so blessed that they might relieve the poor. Giving is not some commandment that must be followed to avoid damnation, it is the very essence of Christianity.

Matthew 25:34-40 "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

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."

James 2:14-18 "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

James 2:5-9 "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."

James 4:17-5:4 "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth."

Those who love riches more than God's people, and God's will, shall suffer for that love.

Matthew 6:19-24 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

1 Timothy 6:9-10 "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 perdition. 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 many sorrows."

We must always remember that all good things come from God, to be used to His glory.

Deuteronomy 8:12-18 "Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;  Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day."

1 Corinthians 10:26 "For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."

James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

1 Timothy 6:17-19 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

Christ and the Apostles drew their teachings from the previously established laws of God.

Deuteronomy 16:17 "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee."

(Compare to: 1 Corinthians 16:2 "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

2 Corinthians 8:12 "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.")

Leviticus 25:35-37 "And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase."

(Compare to: Luke 6:34:  "And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.")

Deuteronomy 15:2-6 "And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD's release. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release; Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:  Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day. For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee."

Herein lies the blueprint for the success of the church. If the wealthy members would help out their poorer brothers and sisters, the poor would not be beholden to the financial institutions of the world. Instead of paying out large amounts of interest to banks and other lending institutions, that money could flow into the church's collection. Instead of the poor becoming poorer, they become wealthier. In turn, they have more to donate to the church collection. The larger the collection, the more help that can be offered to the church's members, and to others in the community. God's plan works--generosity is rewarded. The more wealth that the church has collectively, and the members have individually, the more money there is to reach out to the community's poor, as well as to preach the gospel to the community, and to the world. (Read "Distribution Of Wealth".) Talk about letting your light shine before men!

1 John 3:16-19 "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him."

There is an example that is given in I and II Corinthians, and it is a good way to accumulate wealth to relieve the needs of the suffering, and to support preachers of the gospel. After all, I am my brother's keeper! Is giving a required "Item Of Worship" commanded by God in order to have an "acceptable worship service"? No, the Bible teaches no such thing. Instead, a giving spirit undergirds the entire Christian life (read "That Which Is Perfect"). If we have not the spirit of Christ, we are none of His!

Love, in Christ,


Revised 02/09/02 bp

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