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Giving: A Matter of the Heart (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 7, 2022 4:00 am

Giving: A Matter of the Heart (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 7, 2022 4:00 am

Is tithing an outdated practice? Hear the answer on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines the apostle Paul’s instructions to the early church concerning the collection and management of funds.


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Talk about typing is that still relevant for us today or is it an Old Testament practice. That's a sensitive subject will hear answers today on Truth for Life as Alister Brad looks at what the apostle Paul had to say to the early church about collecting and managing funds were beginning a series titled firm foundation.

I invite you to turn once again to the portion of Scripture that was read fries a moment or two ago and first Corinthians 16 three kinds of these precious moments in which we anticipate God speaking to us through his word, we pause further to seek him be known to as Lord in the study of your word. We pray Trent is freedom from every distraction that our minds may be set on you maybe see you more clearly.

Love you more dearly and follow you more nearly as a result of our study for Jesus sake, we ask amen in the 50th verse of chapter 15 Paul was calling his readers to focus stability and to purposeful activity now and coming into these opening verses of chapter 16 he addresses some very practical matters any moves with great fluidity and greater ease from this essential high matter of the doctrine of the resurrection down to the concerns of people and personnel of encouragement and love fellowship and here in these opening four verses, the telling issue of money and what we have here is godliness in working clothes. What is it mean to be godly. While it has an impact on our wallets. What is it mean to be godly. It has an impact on our sex life, and indeed for those who think of the expressions of Christianity as some kind of remote discipline, unconnected disengaged experience, then nothing could be further from the truth now and what Leon Morris refers to as a chatty little section here. These opening verses, Paul provides instructions for a collection of money to be made expressly because of circumstances of poverty and so it is that we address this matter and discover in it a pattern and also a number of principles for giving money to the Lord's work for some of is this is a refresher course for others it may well be new information, but for all of us. It is very very important and I'm glad to be able to address the matter. Just in the course of exposition, not as a special message in order to try and drum up money from amongst God's people remain thankful for the way he continues to work in this regard within our church family. So it's a good time to address the issue of money when nobody thinks that it is a special message just in order to secure further funds.

Now it is not that tall. Now I would like to ask of the passage. A number of obvious and straightforward questions and in doing so hopefully I get to grips with what is being expressed here.

First of all, the simple question.

What was the collection to which Paul refers now about the collection. He says for God's people. While we are. We know that it was a collection for God's people for the saints, for those who have been called to a life of holiness is not a unique group of people who graduated top of their class with religious honors, but it is the company of faith who have been called to holy living. Now, as is often the case when you study the Bible, looking at this verse all on its own, one is hard-pressed to say very much more about it than that. It was simply a collection for God's people, about which the Galatian churches also knew something. That is why in the study of the Bible. It is important to interpret Scripture with Scripture and to look through the New Testament and say no.

Are there other places where this issue is addressed that would help to shed light on this so that I might understand more fully. Something about the nature of this collection and the answer is yes and I want just to address a couple of passages with you so that you would see how this is so Romans chapter 15 and in verse 26 Paul speaks to this issue.

He says I am on my way in verse 25 to Jerusalem in the service of the saints.

There we see this interchangeable use of saints in God's people bearing testimony to this normalcy of what it means to be a saint in the service of the saints. There for Macedonia and a K I were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. So there is this matter that he is telling the Roman church about as well in second Corinthians in chapter 8.

Here affairs to the same thing and tells how the believers in the Macedonian churches had out of their most severe trial and their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity and this is in direct relationship to this question of the needs that were expressed in Jerusalem in the history book of the church and is my last reference. This acts chapter 24 and verse 17 Paul in his trial before Felix makes mention of the same thing. He explains why was that he was showing up in Jerusalem.

He says in verse 17. After an absence of several years I came to Jerusalem to bring my people. Gifts for the poor and to present offerings.

So in Romans 15 in two Corinthians 8 and acts 24 we have these cross-references which help us to understand the somewhat cryptic expression that is made here in the opening verse of chapter 16 what was this collection. It was a collection for the poor in Jerusalem. Why were the Jerusalem believers cooler than the others. While were not told that we can wager a guess, namely that Jerusalem itself, despite its significance as a religious and cultural center was at this time, a poor city. Indeed, Jerusalem was not sustained by the giving of the people that live within its borders within its walls. But Jerusalem was largely sustained by the gifts of Jewish people who lived beyond the environs of Jerusalem and these prosperous individuals send money into Jerusalem to make sure that thing didn't fall apart. Now, the Jews then themselves in Jerusalem somewhat poor. Those who had come to faith in Jesus Christ. Out of that Jewish community were poor, yet because when the funds came in for the Jewish people in Jerusalem. The Jewish people in Jerusalem were so annoyed about the profession of faith had been made by many of their Jewish counterparts that they worn for a moment going to pass any of that money on to these crazy Christian people, and so the Christian people found themselves impoverished as a result of the persecution which broke out upon them.

You can read about in acts chapter 8 in relationship to Saul of Tarsus himself, and you can also read of it in first Thessalonians 2 here. You had a group of people who once were doing fairly well, who once were just going through the normal religious Orthodox framework of their day.

They had encountered Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Their lives have been radically changed in the discovery of his grace and of his goodness, and as a result of that they were not healthy, wealthy and wise. As a result of that they were getting beaten up. Pandemonium was unleashed against them, and they found themselves at the very bottom end of the scale when it came even to the prosperity of the people of God in the then known world. Therefore, says Paul, given that that is the case I want to make sure that we pay attention to the need that exists expressed in Jerusalem and I want to make sure that you participate in giving to others of you who are thinking would realize that the Jerusalem church.

Of course, had led the way in their participation in one another's lives, insofar as the following features preaching on the day of Pentecost.

We read that each of the folks that had committed themselves to the church were together. Acts 244 and he had everything in common and selling their possessions and their goods, they gave to anyone as he had need we say will my mind there was a terrific start. What happened while it's obvious what happened. You can only keep them going for so long.

Eventually without an inflow unit any outflow left and when they had initially come to faith in Jesus Christ and all the benefits of their background and their prosperity and so they sold on the raised finances and they made sure that they cared for one another. But now, in light of the persecution in light of the famine in light of all of this poverty they had dipped into this as often as they could and they now find themselves in dire straits, and so they were needy people that that is the answer to the first and obvious question. What was this collection. It was a collection for the poor in Jerusalem and that is a wee bit of background concerning secondly why was Paul so concerned. Why was Paul so concerned. Well, there are number of tests fairly straightforward responses that I think it would never do for the Christians to lag behind their Jewish and pagan counterparts in the care of the poor people amongst in other words, if the first century equivalent of the United Way was working in Jerusalem and the Jewish people in the pagan people were being supplied in their great want and then their poverty, then it is just not right.

If those who name the name of Jesus Christ, and who have brothers and sisters that have resources scattered throughout the world is just not right for them not also to benefit from the generosity of those who are in the family of faith and of course that is exactly what Paul was calling for. Secondly, the collection about which he is so concerned was that tangible expression of the unity in the oneness that existed in the body of Christ, and this may not be immediately obvious. But if you think about it. I think you will get in fairly quick.

The believers in Jerusalem are largely Jewish almost exclusively so the believers as a result of Paul's missionary journeys were largely Gentile's and some of the most conservative falls within the Jerusalem church actually had real doubts as to the nature of what was going on on these Pauline missionary journeys and you can read all about that in the opening chapters of acts they were unprepared to believe that these people could actually come to faith out of a different background other than Judaism and so Paul sees it as an opportunity to express the unity and the solidarity that exists amongst all who name the name of Jesus Christ. The issue is not whether you came to Christ from a Jewish background or dental background. The issue is not whether we have black skin or white skin or yellow skin. The issue is that we have been united in Jesus Christ and it is that bond in Jesus Christ, which is then to express itself in the most practical and tangible of ways and there is no more practical expression of that love than when a man or a woman reaches into their pockets and taken out of their resources gives to the need of others around and Paul was greatly concerned that it should be so, indeed, and this would be the third thing that I would say it is in our giving that we express one of the key evidences of God's work within our lives crawl area that statement. Of course, is that it is in our failure in giving that we call in question the work of God within our life. First John chapter 3 verse 17 if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in place as you call yourself a Christian and you have resources and there is need in the Jerusalem church. Step up third question, when was this collection to be taken when was the collection to be taken well.

All you need is your Bible and an understanding of the English language on the first day of every week in the Greek it reads on every first day of the week. These are the same instructions as had been given to the Galatian churches. You can find that in acts chapter 18 and now, says Paul, I want you to implement these same things in Corinth and first of all, he says I want you to understand the importance of regular giving regular giving. There is a system about the timing of giving here.

There is a spontaneity, as we shall see about the amount of giving, but the regularity is something to which he calls them and it is incidentally a wonderful illustration of the pattern, which was established by the early church of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the first day of the week on what became known as the Lord's day, when we did the 10 Commandments together. Some time ago now and then aired on the radio. The most vociferous response that I received was to our study in the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. I was unable to engage in a major dialogue over the phone or even by mail. I'm having to unpack it all for you here, but I want you to notice in passing that here is one of the early evidences of the fact that for Christians, despite any lingering Jewish commitment to the temple and Sabbath day worship for Christians. They transferred their allegiance and their worship and their giving to the resurrection day and it was on the day of resurrection, that they gathered as a church and where they gathered as a charge giving was part of their gathering. You can make your own study of this at your leisure. John chapter 20 on the first post resurrection appearance of Jesus. It takes place on Easter evening that is Easter Sunday night. Jesus waits for another complete week before he reappears. He appears again on the Sunday evening and you find that it was normal for Christians to worship in this way, there is one interesting society needs that you find in acts chapter 27 in relation to Paul's ministry himself. Acts 20 I should say in verse seven where in relationship to their movements through Macedonia and Greece were told in verse five of acts 20. These men went on ahead and waited for his approval as we sailed from Philippi after the feast of unleavened bread and five days later joined the others at Troy's where we stayed seven days then it says on the first day of the week. We came together to break bread, Paul spoke to the people and because he intended to leave the next day he kept on talking until midnight's doing those people were hungry for the word of God.

What day-to-day place on the first day of the week. Why did he wait. They waited for the first day of the week so that they might have the opportunity to worship in this way and by the time the apostle John writes the book of Revelation. Sometime around A.D. 90 in Revelation 110. He is referring to it as the Lord's day. So when was this giving this collection to take place on the first day of every week fourth quest who was to be involved. Again, the answer is right in front of you in the next phrase that in verse two. Each one of you each one of it is clear from Scripture that God has given to certain people special abilities to give a special gift of giving in the same way that it is given to some a special gift of leadership to others.

A special gift of proclamation.

This does not mean that they have the exclusive prerogative over it.

But it means they are being uniquely called to this issue and that is certainly true of giving. You can read on it. For example, in Romans 12 and in verse seven, but those individuals who are called and privileged to take that lead role.

If you like are not supposed to do it source to compensate for the absence of commitment by the rank-and-file of the church. Each one who is in the church is called to commitment and relationship to financial giving. Now the American pattern in the church was very, very clear. Acts chapter 4 and verse 35 we find that the people brought their resources and they put them at the apostles feet. There were no needy persons, among them the reason being that from time to time.

Those who owned lands or houses sold them the money from the sales and they put it at the apostles feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. In other words Joel did not sell his field and then go over to Frank's house and save Fred. I really like you. I really like Sammy and I don't like Johnny and they are not getting any of the proceeds of my field, but I like new and you like me and you really do that at that. So here's my money. I great guy and don't you love me. There was not that the guy sold his field.

Even want to let his left and know what is right hand was doing.

He wasn't doing this in order to curry special favor with an individual and so he simply brought the proceeds of his sale delineated in the feet of the apostles and he said okay apostles.

You know the church better than anybody else you again the money as it should be given. There is an essential and necessary principle. There you find the same thing in the final verse of chapter 4 where Barnabas, the son of encouragement sold one of his fields and he brought the money and he put it at the apostles feet.

Acts chapter 5 in verse two in relationship to Ananias and Sophia again in the sale of resources. He brought it and they put it at the apostles feet. We don't want to see more than the Scripture says we don't want to observe less than the Scripture makes clear, namely, that the principle of giving within the framework of God's people is to be done in such a way that those who have been responsible entrusted with the responsibility of the leadership of God's people will themselves be godly men of integrity who will be able to determine how those funds should be disbursed and it is the responsibility of these men to exercise godly wisdom and integrity, and it is the responsibility of the people to exercise godly trust and confidence in those who will answer on the day of judgment for every penny disbursed and every decision may that's the past. Each one of no matter how much you've got no matter how little you God. Each one of you sometimes in receiving the application for membership your Parkside church in response to the question and what is your response to the privileges and opportunities of giving financially to the work of the Lord of Parkside and what are your intentions there.

The answer is sometimes given. While I don't have anything now I'm not planning to give anything now but I will know someday when my circumstances are different as a genuine cause for concern because the issue is not that we have a lot of money out of which we can get.

The issue is that since our giving is to the Lord. We want always to be getting each one of and if all that I can give would be the result of no longer taking the plain dealer, six days a week and put that in the offering plate that would be absolutely fine because each one is to be setting aside a on the first day of every week their resources are giving is a reflection of God work in our lives your listing to Truth for Life with Alastair big message titled giving a matter of the heart here at Truth for Life. We are grateful for the way God is at work in the hearts of so many of you listen to this daily program over the last couple of years we have seen remarkable growth.

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Thanks for listing. Wonder how much money you should give your local church. Join us tomorrow to find out what the Bible says the Bible teaching of Alastair big is furnished by Truth for Life. Learning is prolific

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