Some Response to Massey (II)
This is the second in a series of four articles regarding the recent charts and lectures by Brother Jim Massey in Nigeria and in special consideration of his efforts in Lagos, the capital of that great African nation. In our work in Nigeria, especially in the big cities of the western part of the country, we have from the beginning taught the following significant principles:
1. In regard to help for the poor, individual Christians are always obligated to help all people as we have opportunity (Jas. 1: 27; Gal. 6: 10).
2. In this same regard, churches may always help other congregations providing the receiving church is indeed destitute. Thus, in the days of the living apostles, sometimes one church sent unto a number Of Churches that were in need (Ac. 11: 29,30). And sometimes several congregations, sent unto one needy church (I Cor. 16: 1; 2 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 15:26).
3. In regard to evangelism, Christians may support a preacher individually (Gal. 6:6).
4. Likewise, the church may support such (I Tim. 3:15). Thus in the days of the living apostles, sometimes one church supported a preacher as Philippi did when Paul went to Thessalonica (Phil. 1:5; 4:15, 16). And sometimes several churches supported a preacher as was done when they sent to Paul in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8).
Brother Massey really objects to direct support of a preacher in a distant field. He argues that it was not so done in the days of the apostles. In vain efforts to sustain his position he makes the following arguments:
1. Brother Massey says Philippi was a sponsoring church. He says other churches sent to Philippi and then Philippi sent it to Paul. He says, "Philippi received and sent. Other churches sent wages. Only way Philippi could receive and send." In commenting on Phil. 4:15 he says, "Paul is not saying that the church and Paul had fellowship in the matter of giving and receiving, but that the church had such fellowship. He is not saying that the church sent and he received, but that the church had the unique kind of fellowship of sending and receiving." Thus he argues that even in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8) Paul received wages from Philippi only, and that Philippi thus sponsored his work which was supported by other congregations sending to Philippi.
Really it seems strange that we should have to refute such an argument. The Bible speaks plainly. "No church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only." In other words, Paul said the only church that helped him in Thessalonica was Philippi. They gave. He received. Thus they "had fellowship" as the Revised translates it. There was genuine partnership, in that Philippi gave and Paul received from them. Goodspeed's Translation says, "No church but yours went into partnership and opened an account with me." The Twentieth Century New Testament renders the verse thus: "no church, with the one exception of yourselves, had anything to do with me as far as giving and receiving are concerned."
2. Brother Massey argues: "When all the information on Paul's receiving wages from Macedonian churches is assembled together, we have evidence against Paul's support from these churches coming directly to him. Since at this time no church but Philippi sent and received, and yet other Macedonian churches sent wages, how else could both things be true. Philippi received money from other churches, likely the ones Paul took wages of, and sent or forwarded it to him."
But this is a weak and careless argument. There is nothing to indicate that Philippi received from anyone. Only because of a determined effort to defend a sponsoring church arrangement may one be forced to such speculation and conjecture. And because he is determined to oppose direct support of preachers in Nigeria, Brother Massey is forced to abuse and misuse the simple, plain language of his own New Testament.
Paul says he and Philippi had fellowship in giving and receiving. Brother Massey says it is not so, but that Philippi and other churches had this fellowship. Whom will you believe?
3. Brother Massey also argues that there should be a "Missionary Messenger" between the churches that send and the preacher who receives. He says, "One congregation sent through one man to one man." He is referring to Epaphroditus (Phil. 1: 25). But the scriptures teach that Philippi sent by one man to one man. That is, Epaphroditus was nothing more than a servant, a messenger, a delivery-man. He had no supervision of funds or of men. But the "messengers" in eastern Nigeria who receive funds and distribute usually have the power to determine who gets the money and even how much. There is nothing in the Bible like unto the men at Aba, Ukpom and perhaps now in Lagos who receive American money and distribute it quite arbitrarily according to their own will.
4. Then, strangely, Brother Massey says -the sponsoring church should send the support it furnishes to a local church where the receiving preacher resides and labors. He says that since benevolence was sent to the brethren in Judea and yet that it was first given to the elders (Ac. 11: 29, 30), surely this would be the correct way for evangelism also. But in the case of benevolence, the scripture specifically says, ". . . which they did and sent it to the elders." But in the case of evangelism the same Bible says, "I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you. . . ." Purposely the help for needy saints was sent to the elders of the churches for their knowledgeable distribution. Likewise, purposely, support for the preacher was sent to him, not to a church, for his personal wages.
In next week's issue of Truth Magazine I shall discuss more of Brother Massey's unscriptural positions and arguments.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 7, pp. 6-7