By Emilio W. Lumapay, Jr.
God has given a plan by which his church can finance to carry out the work. And his plan is recorded in the New Testament as follows:
Now concerning the collection order 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 (1 Cor. 16:1, 2).
Here is a Plan of God For Church Finance
1. What? The collections for the saints. The purpose of this collection is for (a) the needy saints (Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25, 26; 1 Cor. 16:1-4), (b) the work of edification. Ephesians 4:11, 12, “Perfecting the saints …” Saints are built up through Bible study. They must be fed the milk of God’s word that they may grow thereby, ac-cording to 1 Peter 2:2. The saints must exercise themselves in order to grow. Then, (c) the work of evangelism. The local church has an obligation to spread the gospel to the lost world. The first century church sent gospel preachers to spread the word of God (Acts 13:1, 2; 2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15). The local church is involved in a program of work which God authorized. God has given a plan for the work, worship, and organization of his church.
It Tells Us the Reason for Giving
2. When? The collection is made “upon the first day of the week,” which is the day when all the saints come together for worship. The Lord expects his people to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together . . . encouraging one another” (Heb. 10:24-25). By meeting in this way, we obey our Lord’s command to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). We who share in the meetings of the church ought to contribute our part by a cheerful involvement with and encouragement to all our brethren present. Be an active part of what God has ordained for us to do. God says, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that ye build unto me?” (Isa. 66:1). God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
3. Who? “Every one of you” means each Christian who has been born again and added into the Lord’s church (John 3:3, 5; Acts 2:42, 47). According to Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, “If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). It is the will of God that we have to give. All goods committed to man belong to God (Matt. 25:14). God entrusted to us his goods, so we have to expect what we can do for the church to carry out his work.
4. Do what? “Lay by him in store” is a part of our worship. The fact that each Christian is to lay by in store, implies a treasury into which the money is put. This was a practice by the Corinthian church to be instituted in each local congregation which establishes its own treasury from which needs may be met according to God’s plan. In Proverbs 3:9: “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce.”
5. How much? “As God hath prospered him.” The giving is to be done according to how we have been prospered, or according to what we have. God does not expect us to give what we do not have (2 Cor. 8:12). But watch our giving “not grudgingly or of necessity for God loveth a cheerful give?’ (2 Cor. 9:7). Let us not say, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But let us remember the Lord our God. For it is he that giveth us power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:17, 18). God will hold us accountable of our possessions. The context is open wide to all of us; none of us is handicapped by what we have or we don’t have. I tell you the Lord is watching our giving whether we are faithful or not. But remember, the more we have the more we are required. The Scripture says: “Freely ye received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). Giving is not determined by what is in the pocket, but what is in the heart. God is interested in our sacrificial giving to support his work. Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).
6. Why? “That there be no gathering when I come.” The apostle Paul was collecting money from Gentile churches to help the poor saints in Jerusalem (Rom. 16:25-27; 2 Cor. 8:9). God used this plan for church finance to carry out his work. It is to be followed in all local churches in every place in all ages until he comes (Jude 3). The Corinthian church was an example “to all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:2). This is addressed to those of us who are Christians as well as to all the churches of Christ in the first century. According to Paul “he taught the same doctrines at Corinth that he taught everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17).
The Lord’s church will have all the money it needs be-cause each member is required to lay in store on the first day of the week, as God hath prospered him (1 Cor. 16:1, 2). This is God’s plan for us to finance his work. We should not be weary in well doing (2 Mess. 3:13) because this is the will of God for us to finance his work. God blesses us, as we give more than when we receive (Acts 20:35). God sees the heart of the giver rather than the size of the gift. We must dig into our pockets and give generously on the first day of the week to keep the works going on around the world. Let us dedicate ourselves to what we can do for the church to support more evangelists in every part of the world.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 17 p. 14-15
September 4, 1997