Sometimes Christians are accused, you've heard this before, of being so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good.
I suppose some people are that way. I've always believed that you can't really be much earthly good unless you are heavenly minded, and the most who do for people now, here and now, are those who are thinking of the hereafter. When we keep our eternal future in the forefront of our minds, we can more effectively represent Jesus on earth. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares about the practical things that concern Paul, and why this matters to you.
But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that helps you dive even deeper into God's truths. Our lives are punctuated by defining moments, pivot points that shape who we are now and who we'll become, such as Choice of Marriage Partner, or where we choose to work, as Skip Heitzig observes. There's predictable events that happens like in your life, but every now and then, life sort of hits you by surprise. It comes crashing down on you. You are going a direction. Your day is planned out, but you get a phone call from a doctor or a friend. The news is not good.
The prognosis is not good, and you didn't see it coming. God's word has the direction to get you through the planned and unplanned pivot points in your life. The pivot point package speaks to marriage, death, depression, recovery, fear of the future, and moving to a new location or job. Get these teachings that include written personal direction from Skip on each of these topics. You'll receive this package when you give $50 or more today to this Bible teaching ministry. We'll send you Pastor Skip's pivot points collection of six messages, plus an encouraging letter from Pastor Skip so you can strengthen your faith in defining moments. A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.
Get these critical pivot point messages today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer, or call 800-922-1888. Now we're in First Corinthians chapter 16 as Skip Heitzig gets into today's message. So by way of recapping the book as we come to the last chapter of the book, you remember that Chloe's household in Corinth got word to the Apostle Paul, who was writing this from Ephesus. They got word to Paul in Ephesus that there were some issues in the church at Corinth, real problems they were experiencing, challenges, as well as some questions they had about a number of issues.
Paul covers lots of practical and theological ground. So Chloe's household got word to Paul. That was reinforced by three more people, maybe people you've not heard of. Stephanos, Fortunados, and Akakus. You go, who are those people?
You're going to meet them before the night's over. They're mentioned in chapter 16. They came from Corinth as well, probably to either carry the letter or to bring Paul's word back to the Corinthians. But as you remember, the first issue on Paul's agenda in writing this letter was to deal with the division that was in the church.
And he does in chapter one and chapter two, he speaks about that division, congregational disunity. Some were saying, I'm of Paul. Some were saying, I'm of Apollos. Some were saying, I'm of Cephas.
Others were saying, I'm of Christ. So Paul deals with that in chapters one and two. After that, Paul speaks about spiritual immaturity. He says that, I couldn't speak to you as spiritual people, but as to carnal people, babes in Christ. And he lists several problems that rendered them spiritually immature.
So that's chapters three and four. In chapter five and six, he speaks of sexual impurity that was going on. There was a case of incest, something that Paul said isn't even done or tolerated in the unbelieving world, but you have tolerated it and you congratulate yourselves on the fact that you are so liberal-minded and that you tolerate, you know, these people who have these perverted feelings and activities. So he speaks about sexual immorality. In the next couple of chapters, he deals with marital issues, marital infidelity. There were divorce that was rampant in the church and questions about, can I leave my unbelieving husband because he doesn't believe, and I don't want to be unequally yoked.
Besides that, there's this cute guy I saw at church, and it'd be nice to hook up. I don't know if that was going on, but he does address that marital infidelity. As the book continues, Paul deals with the issue of personal liberty, what you can and cannot do.
What are the guidelines when it comes to gray areas, not the black and white issues that he has dealt with previously in the book, but gray issues, marginal issues. He deals with that in chapter eight. Then for a few chapters, he speaks about imbalanced spirituality, that there were issues when it came to the Lord's Supper. There was an immaturity with that.
People were taking food at the potlucks that they were having and consuming it and eating it before the poor people could. And also, they were out of balance when it came to spiritual gifts. So in chapters 11, 12, 13, and 14, he covers those areas. Then chapter 15, that long chapter that could have easily been divided into two by those who did it later on, but decided not to, 58 verses of doctrinal perplexity. And so they were questioning the resurrection of Christ. They were certainly questioning their own physical bodily resurrection. How are the dead raised?
What body will they come back with? So that takes us all the way now to chapter 16, where we go from the lofty lessons of doctrinal perplexity down to practical generosity. And here's what I love about Paul. Paul was able to, on one hand, speak about the depths or, shall we say, the heights of the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ and the glorification of our physical body, which is some pretty heady doctrinal material, to then immediately in the next paragraph, chapter 16, verse 1 and following, say, now, let's talk about that offering that I want to take up, the collection for the church in Jerusalem. And so he goes from these doctrinal heights to these practical matters. You know, sometimes Christians are accused, you've heard this before, of being so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good.
I suppose some people are that way. I've always believed that you can't really be much earthly good unless you are heavenly minded. And the most who do for people now, here and now, are those who are thinking of the hereafter.
But certainly Paul the Apostle could never be accused of being heavenly minded and no earthly good. He is very practical when it comes to earthly matters. And here's what it tells me, as he deals with heaven and the glorification of the body and the celestial bodies in heaven and the plant life on the earth as a model for physical resurrection, he gets into some deep stuff.
And then he talks about practical issues. It shows me, the lesson to me, is that we can never detach the future from the present. In fact, we are motivated by the future truths, these heavy doctrinal areas. It should motivate us in the present.
And that's what it seems, that's the feel that I get if I were to continually read chapter 15 and then on into chapter 16. And it makes sense, it makes perfect sense. You see, if I really believe that I have a glorious future and that my body is going to be transformed at some point in the future, that I'm going to be in heaven with the Lord forever and then come back and serve for a thousand years in a remade earth, a millennial kingdom, in a glorified body, that should motivate me to do as Jesus said when he said, lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot corrupt, where thieves cannot break in and steal. So knowing the future glories of heaven and bodily resurrection, I want to lay up for myself while on earth, I want to start preparing for heaven.
And so we can never cut or detach the future from the present. And so he gets very, very practical. He takes up or he mentions what he has already mentioned previously, and he's reminding them of because he says, I want to come visit you. I'm kind of spilling the beans before I get into it. I'm going to come and visit you, spilling the beans before I get into it. I'm going to come and visit you. I want you to make sure that you take this offering for the church in Jerusalem and make sure that you do that before I come. And then I'll receive it. I'll send one of you or a few of you there and maybe I'll come with you.
Maybe I won't, but let's get that done ahead of time, which brings up an issue. Why is he taking an offering for those in Jerusalem? Well, they have fallen into some very difficult times. What exactly are they going through? Why are they going through a period of poverty, leanness?
Let me give you two possible reasons, or it could be a combination of both. Number one, it was a famine. Now I'm going to remind you about something we've already read back in Acts 11 when the early church moved its main activity from Jerusalem up to Antioch.
Do you remember that? So there in chapter 11 in Antioch, a prophet stands up in one of the church meetings in Antioch and his name is Agabus. And he makes a prediction that there's going to be a famine throughout all of the world. So it said every one of them determined to send relief according to each his own ability to the church in Judea. That is Jerusalem. Knowing that there's going to be a famine throughout all the world, they're preparing for the hard times in Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Well, the famine, if it's throughout all the world, would certainly affect Jerusalem.
But reason number two, and I think it's not one, but both of these reasons together. Almost all of the employment in the city of Jerusalem during this period of time was temple related. That is, it was related to the giving of the sacrifices by the Jewish people from the surrounding regions that would come up to the temple for a number of feasts and festivals as well as daily offerings. And so almost all of the jobs were temple related. The temple was controlled by a group of the Jewish people known as the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the prime enemies of the early church because the early church taught and believed a resurrection from the dead, what Paul talked about in chapter 15. And because they were such vehement enemies of the early church, they took it out on those Jewish men and women who had converted to Christ, maybe worked in an associate role in those temple sacrifices, somehow they're employed. So they would lose their job, lose their employment, and were being boycotted by the Sadducees in Jerusalem. So up to this point, if you remember, the early church in Jerusalem sort of lived and worked and shared communally. They sold their goods, pooled their resources, and gave to each one as they had need. Acts chapter 2 and 4 tells us that.
Well, that common pot of money, that common pool of resources has dried up. And the early church in Jerusalem is suffering. So Paul is determined, we've got to do something. Now, Paul has instructed not just Corinth, but several of the Gentile churches that he has planted to take up an offering that would be collected and would be sent to Jerusalem. It was very personal to Paul the Apostle. And if you know anything about Paul's writings, you know that he brings this up a lot. Why was it so personal to Paul? Because remember, when the church started in Jerusalem, who was public enemy number one to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem?
It was Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. He harassed them. It says, and Saul, breathing out slaughters and murders against them. And he was the one who remembered Stephen's face as Stephen was being stoned by his Jewish brethren. And he received the clothes of those people who did that stoning at his feet. He remembers all of that. He remembers what an enemy he was to those people. And so it's very personal to him.
He wants to make sure that this is done, that there's no holes in this endeavor. And he is reminding the Corinthians now like he reminded the other churches that he would take this offering. Paul the Apostle, interestingly enough, speaks a lot about giving and is very unashamed to receive an offering. Now, receiving an offering is uncomfortable for some people.
I'm not all that comfortable with it. It's one of the reasons why we have put black boxes. They used to be brown wooden boxes.
Now they're black wooden boxes, same boxes just painted, but all over the campus. And we've never made a big issue of it, never made a big deal of it. Paul didn't want to make a big deal of it. He just wanted to make sure it was done before he got there.
But he did take or receive offerings, and he made no bones about the necessity to do that for the churches. Our relationship to our finances tells a lot about who we are. If you took a tour of somebody's checkbook, you are looking at in that checkbook, and I don't suggest that you look at somebody else's checkbook, but if you were to take a tour of somebody's checkbook, your own, just tour it. You'll find out what's important to yourself, where your priorities are, what's vital to you. Jesus did say, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. And Martin Luther said something interesting. He said, there's three conversions that are necessary. The conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind in a person's thought life, and the conversions, he said, the conversion of their purse, or we would say their wallet, or checkbook, or bank account.
Those three conversions are necessary. And so Paul was speaking to converted people, converted in heart, converted in mind. He wanted to make sure their pocketbook was also converted, and so he wanted to make sure that offering would be taken up. So, chapter 16, verse 1. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also. So the churches of the region of Galatia, churches like Iconium, Lystra, Derby, Antioch of Pisidia, those are all in the region of Galatia.
These are all places where Paul traveled on his first, second, and third missionary journeys. He had established churches there. He had written to churches there. He told them to receive an offering. He's telling the Corinthians also to do that. Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also. On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, by whom you approve, by your letters, I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.
So, get the picture. Usually, it is the mother church that supports the mission churches. They send somebody to an area. The church where things started are the ones that send the people out, send resources to fund those people, continue to sow that spiritual gift to the church.
Continue to sow that spiritual material seed through their finances. But this, we're reading about what you might call foreign missions in reverse. It's now the churches that have been established by that mother church in Jerusalem that are paying to support the church that started all because they are the ones in dire need now. The church in Jerusalem needs the help of the Gentiles, so the Gentiles are going to be supporting the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem.
This really shouldn't be a surprise to us. Paul, when he writes the book of Romans, chapter 15, and he mentions this very same offering, he gives this explanation. For if the Gentiles, non-Jewish people, are partakers of the Jewish people's spiritual heritage, what is the big deal if we minister to the Jewish people with our material things?
That only makes sense. If we are inheritors of their spiritual blessings, we ought to give them some of our material blessings. And Jesus did say to the woman at Samaria, salvation is of the Jews. It came through the Jewish people. It came to the Jewish nation. Jesus was crucified outside the Jewish city of Jerusalem, and so that's where it all started. That's where the salvation story started. That's where the early church first started, and now they need the help of those people in non-Jewish areas. Now in verse two, he kind of tells them how to do it.
You want to know something interesting? I get asked this question a lot. What about tithing? What does the Bible say about tithing? How much should I give in my tithe?
I get that question a lot. You know that Paul never once mentioned tithing. He never used the word tithing.
You want to know why? Tithing is not a New Testament concept. It's an Old Testament concept. Tithe means a tenth, and in the Old Testament, you know, a lot of Christians don't understand the tithe. They think, well, they gave a tenth in the Old Testament. Actually, if you tally it all up in the law, they gave 30 percent, not 10 percent, 30 percent to the Lord.
And so when people say, Skip, you ought to teach on tithing, I'm thinking, you really don't want me to teach on tithing, do you? Because they gave 10 percent, and then throughout the year more for different things, so it was a total of 30 percent to the Lord. I mentioned tithing is an Old Testament concept. It actually predates the law when Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek in the book of Genesis. It's fleshed out in the law. It's part of the covenant for the nation of Israel.
When it comes to the New Testament, it's different. You might start at a 10 percent base. That's what I do with my family.
I start there. But then there are special gifts and special offerings for special needs that we see and we want to be a part of. But the New Testament regulation is every man should give as he purposes in his heart, 2 Corinthians chapter 9, not grudgingly nor of necessity, not because you have to, not because you're cajoled into it. For God loves, He said, a cheerful giver. That's how you give. You give cheerfully. You give as you purpose in your heart. So when somebody says, How much should I give? I say, How much do you want to give? I don't want to give anything.
Then don't give anything. Because actually, if you think about it, if you don't want to give it, it's really better that you keep it. Because God loves a cheerful giver. And it is, Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than receive. But if you can't get your head around that, your heart around that concept and give cheerfully, hang on to it.
God loves a cheerful giver. Now, He does tell us how to do it, though. He said on the first day of the week, first day of the week.
Why? Because the church met on the first day of the week. The Saturday Sabbath was over in terms of the church practicing that, especially in Gentile areas. People say, Well, the Bible says we ought to keep the Sabbath.
You're right. The Bible says that to the Jewish nation. I'm not part of the Jewish nation. That's a covenant for the Jewish nation, as circumcision was for the males. And so was the Saturday Sabbath. But the early church started meeting on Sundays pretty early on. Acts chapter 20 says they gathered for worship on the first day of the week. So they were doing that way back in the book of Acts. And that is probably because of something that happened before the church was even started.
You know what event I'm talking about? The resurrection. Jesus rose on not the seventh day of the week, but the first day of the week. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from his series Expound First Corinthians. Now, here's Skip to share how you can help keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and others around the world with God's word. Jesus is coming back for his church, and we want to make sure that as many people as possible hear the good news of salvation in him.
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That number again is 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your generosity helps keep this biblical encouragement coming your way and going out around the world to help change more lives. And did you know there's an exciting biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device? You can find several of Skip's Bible reading plans in the YouVersion Bible app. Simply download the app and search Skip Heitzig. Next week, Skip Heitzig shares insight from Paul's life to encourage you to keep devoting your life to Jesus and the gospel. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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