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God's Formula for Great Giving

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 24, 2021 8:00 am

God's Formula for Great Giving

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 24, 2021 8:00 am

As the young church in Corinth grew in size, its membership faced new struggles on the path toward holiness, just as believers and churches do today. The Apostle Paul sent the letter we know as II Corinthians to encourage these believers to grow up in their faith. Dr. Boice illuminates all of Paul’s key points, including God’s comfort in affliction; forgiving people who have hurt us; the blessings of generosity; and why God allows thorns in our lives.

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Welcome to the Bible studio reviewing Internet ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically the text in the section of second Corinthians were looking at sunlight in most people's minds. And I suppose the one from this passage that has been most preached on in history is verse nine.

Verse nine says, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. I suppose thousands upon thousands of sermons have been preached on what the Lord Jesus Christ gave up in order that we might be. Say, and thousands upon thousands more have been preached on our great spiritual blessings in Christ all that is right of course that is what the text is talking about but it is most significant that it's in the context of the passage that is not talking about spiritual blessings but rather very material ones and in particular the obligation of the Christians that Corinth to give generously of their substance to God's work and to the relief of the poor in Jerusalem other words, this text which is often spoken of spiritually is brought in in the illustrative sense to say luck, you should be great in your giving because your model is the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave everything he had for you. I think this is one of the most remarkable passages in this entire book. It certainly is a break in the flock, to some extent you know if you've ever studied second Corinthians in a academic way that scholars divided up and parked. Some may find portions of it which of their judgment of the lost letter that this all seems to refer to elsewhere. Some of said because chapters 8 and nine form.

Section somewhat by themselves, or perhaps this is the lost letter in the chapter 10 really picks up at the end of chapter 7 and so on. There's no textual reason to believe that when you analyze it carefully. There's no real logical defense of that either. Yet it's clear that Paul has been talking in a general way about other subjects in the first portion of the book certainly of his ministry and is suffering in the nature of Christian work in general and Maui stops and he talks about this very practical question of giving and later on he goes back to talk about some of the other matters would seem that Paul, as he traveled around the Roman Empire spoke again and again giving churches was a good thing in itself, of course, Lord said, though we don't have his words in the Gospels, the disaffected Paul quotes it undoubtedly something you heard from the eyewitnesses that the Lord loves a cheerful giver and it's more blessed to give than to receive. Certainly Paul taught that is part of his general teaching to the churches, but in addition, as we read these various references to giving in the collection that Paul talk among the Gentile churches we sense that he had a bigger picture in mind, the church in Jerusalem was a poor church. We don't have an analysis anywhere of why that was true, but we can understand it when Christianity came under disapproval of Judaism as it undoubtedly did in the early days, and when that was followed, as it inevitably was by ostracism of those whom the Jewish community would perceive as repudiating the Judaism people who would thus become Christians and had been repudiated would lose job opportunities sometimes would lose opportunities for employment altogether and in addition to that they were increasing in numbers and large majors.

We know that in the early preaching where we have records of the numbers of respondent you have 5000 would, and 3000 would come doesn't take much preaching of that nature to have a huge Christian congregation there in the capital city of Jerusalem, and many of these people suffering with the loss of their job support region of the world to begin with. We understand how does poverty develop was out of that, in my judgment that this original form of communal sharing rose up in the early church is nothing in Scripture that says the Christian should necessarily live in a communal fashion so that what one possesses becomes the property of all this is what the Christians in Jerusalem did no doubt to meet this great situation of need that when you do that, of course, the money that has been contributed to the common pot doesn't last for long.

And here you had a situation where many people in the mother church of Christendom were poor and in great need and the apostle Paul, as he traveled around preached that it was the special burden of the Gentile churches to relieve the need of the churches and the Christians in Jerusalem because Paul argued you've been blessed by them. Spiritually, the gospel, but began in Jerusalem and spread them now you who have benefited spiritually must help them in their physical date. So, as he traveled through Asia minor. The raise money for the poor in Jerusalem. We know he brought that on occasion we read the book of acts earlier that the Christians in Antioch send money down to Jerusalem and then when he passed over in the Macedonian went on down in the grease proper he collected money there also and he had one trip. The refers to it several times where, together with representatives of the Gentile churches.

He went up to Jerusalem to present this great offering. I suppose Paul probably was thinking of it. Also, as a testimony to the great unity of the Christian church because here was an entity that was not as the Roman world was divided up into hostile factions so that one part would have nothing to do with the other parts, but rather a common brotherhood exclude brotherhood of those who had been born again and were brothers and sisters with Jesus Christ. These showing a family concern for one another.

That's the background. What Paul is talking about here is writing to the Corinthians, always encouraging them to give as he writes early in this chapter he talks about the giving of the churches in Macedonia that were Philippi was Thessalonica, Berea and especially Philippi and he says look they gave abundantly and that should be a model that should be an example to you only know that these churches in Macedonia had given even a Paul hadn't said that here. So I said Philippi was the chief church was the major city in the area and we know a good bit about this church because of Paul's letter to the Philippians and also other references we have scattered throughout his writings in the fourth chapter of Philippians. In verse 16, as is writing to them from Rome. He refers to giving that they had made to him when he was still in Macedonia. He had left Philippi gone to Thessalonica and he had been preaching there and he says that particular verse toward the end of his letter to the Philippians written much later. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent again and again my help.

Now, again and again at a minimum, is twice and maybe it's more than that Paul when he was with them was taken care of by them.

They knew he lived by the preaching of the gospel.

What he wasn't making tense when he went on his missionary journeys. They sent people after to find out how he was doing when they heard that he had need.

They sent money to take care of them and they do that more than once. Then we read in second Corinthians 11 just several chapters further on here verse nine that when he got down to current.

They did the same thing here is you see moving down the Greek mainland and as he goes. They keep sending representatives to find out they want to take care of them and they want to get and then I guess that would have been.

And there when the Christians at Philippi would've lost touch with Paul and his missionary efforts.

I would know knowing what it happened in word came in last. Paul had been arrested. He'd been taken as a prisoner to Rome and Rome. He was a need and when they heard that they got a new collection together and they sent a man off to Rome to bear that offering to him and that was the occasion for the letter to the Philippians. Some people of said it was one of the best thank you letters was ever written. I think Paul had more in mind than that, but among other things, he was certainly writing. In that letter to thank them for that great gift that was what Macedonian churches were like. Not only did they get to Paul personally.

They gave this relief fund for the poor in Jerusalem as I indicated, and they did so quite generously. Paul talks about these questions in Macedonia here and what he tells us about them is what I would call a formula for great Christian giving we would think this is often the way giving a spoken of the day and are technical age that what you need to do is canvas people that you're concerned raising money from and find out what their income is and then that you plan a campaign to decide how much it is you think you can get from that group of people to decide how you're going about it about know about it. Usually they say the first third of the first half to come from a very small number of givers people have lots of money.

They set the pattern for the rest and then you try to make up the middle portion of that with other large gifts and then a small portion of it to the little gifts that the MMM that's that's the way we think about great giving today. This is not what Paul found from the churches of Macedonia and it's not the formula.

The passions on the Corinth end because he passes it on the Corinth. He passes it on the loss and all other Christians read this book as well.

What Paul says is what you find in verse two out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. I have all had enough map to know what kind of a formula that is that's a simple one a plus B plus C equals D and D is rich generosity ballet severe trial be their overflowing joy and see their extreme poverty ballots, not what you would expect is I said are techniques for raising money are quite different. Here is Paul saying this is the way it happens spiritually when Christians go through a particularly difficult time and we know that was true of many of the Christians in Macedonia. They were not the poorest people of the world in every case, no all mentions extreme poverty here, but they didn't door all kinds of persecutions. Paul himself was persecuted.

We know he was arrested he was beaten such things, we would expect the same sort of thing that happened was converts and undoubtedly did on many occasions whenever this trial was that they went through. It was severe. Yet, Paul says, rather than being the case that this severe trial crushed the Christians in Macedonia, so they almost gave opposite Warren said well we won't be able to live the Christian life.

It's just to talk. Let's go back to doing what we were doing before know he said rather than that happening there joy in the Lord just came bubbling to the surface because they said is Christians doing circumstances like that and is Paul himself died when he was imprisoned in that jail. Philippi was a great pleasure it is to suffer. That's for God so out of this severe trial.

There was a joy beyond all measure Matt.

He says, coupled to their extreme poverty brought forth this generosity that he commands the Christians Corinth. The reason for that is that when we look to our resources, we really are trusting human ability, whatever were trusting human ability were trusting that which is inevitably finite and even our trust is sinful and what happens is that we measure what we have.

We take a small portion of that that we think we can give away and we give that to the Lord when we get out of our poverty were not trusting what we have because we have nothing were trusting God to see what God will provide for the extension of his kingdom in the world.

Great example of that which is often given missionary services for missionary giving is that a Boswell J.

Smith, the founder people's church in Toronto, Canada. Great model of missionary giving Oswald Smith explains how when he went there in his early days. I called him the founder of the church was actually there before he grew under his ministry. When he went there in the early days, they had a missionary program and part of that program was the distribution of the Faith promise cards which, because of the bottle of people's church in Toronto now spread through churches all over this country.

Faith promise card is a little card that says wanted independence upon the grace of God. I promise to give the following to his work in the coming year. The point of a faith promise card is that it is not a pledge or pledge is something that you say you're going to give out of what you already have the faith promise card is something which you believe God will give you that you don't yet have that you receive on faith and say you're going to get back to him and Oswald Smith looked at that guy never seen one before. He was a pastor he was sitting on the platform and was handed to him and that he was chagrined that they would even do such a thing to their pastor, but he took it and reread it and that being a spiritual man. He prayed about it, he said, Lord, here is this is card I ought to do my part, I suppose, we began to think over what he had done now. Back in those days nobody was paid very much, and besides it was a bad period of history in a depression and all of that. He thought back over his getting any said that he could remember on one occasion, one only that he had given five dollars to missions and he can remember another occasion when he had given free and another occasion when he given to when I was about all. And he said to the Lord as he was praying about this.

The Lord, you know, I can't give very much is the only pay me $25 a week and I don't have any money in my pocket. I don't in any money in the bank. No savings, I'm really poor and so he said I can't give much, that settles it.

And as he prayed he said the Lord seemed to tell them that that didn't settle it at all because God wasn't asking him what he had in the bank. I knew he had nothing in the bank.

I was asking him how much he could trust God to give him so that he could give it to the mission work of the church and he said well I suppose that's a different matter, and God seemed to confirm his judgment yes indeed it was, well, he said if if that's what's required of me how much can I trust you, for he said he was almost afraid to ask and when he finally got it out. The Lord seem to say to him, well, you can trust me for $50 this year. He said what $50 $50. I had never given more than five dollars one time in my life and he only gave that once and $50 is to weeks salary. Where will I ever find $50 and as he waited. God seemed to say, well, can you trust me for $50 or not. And finally he said well yes I guess I can. So with the trembling hands.

He put down that amount in the past regarding his testimony is that to this day doesn't know where the $50 came from every month you had to pray for the four dollars was going to make up the 50 but at the end of the year you paid the 50 and he was so blessed by the 50 that he paid that he doubled its in several years. After that, he doubled it again and he doubled it again. His testimony reads like this came to my heart. Such a fullness of the spirit. But as I paid the final amount. I realized I had received the greatest blessing that it ever come into my life I trusted God for a certain amount and he had met it.

So great was the spiritual blessing that the next year I doubled the amount gave 100 and I doubled the amount again and gave 200. I doubled it once more, and a 400 later I doubled it again and made it 800 met date of this I have been increasingly amount and sending it to the bank of heaven year-by-year by wait until I have it. I never would've given it because I never would've received it but I gave it when I didn't have it. I gave a faith promise in God honored the faith promise that's a great illustration of what the apostle Paul is saying here to the Corinthians about the churches in Macedonia. He was saying they did not look in the bank to see how much they had, but they pray they trusted God and they gave out of their extreme poverty and were exceedingly generous.

As a result, I've often said in Christian work that the way Christian work is sustained is not why the gray enormous gifts of benefactors who have a great deal of money to spare.

Sometimes special projects can be launched in that way and that's good. I am glad for people who will give money for that kind of purpose but the great bulk of Christian work work that goes on day after day and week after week and every city of Hamlet of the land and even throughout the world that is done by normal people who simply trust God to provide an give even beyond what they're able and as a result, that God richly blesses that kind of giving. Now at this point. I suppose someone would say that sounds great but I'm not sure I really up to it.

While it may be true but if that's the case you have to read on the chapter because Paul not only in this chapter gives a great formula for giving, but he gives a secret that I kinda giving again illustrating it from the Christians in Macedonia verse five and they did not do as we expected. It is expected of them to give something, but they didn't give justice be expected, but he said they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. That's the secret you say as long as you're holding yourself back from the Lord. Well, you hold yourself back from other people as well. And if you hold yourself back from other people.

You certainly are not giving generously.

When you get yourself to the Lord. So you are is entirely well then it follows naturally that you give yourself to others and especially to his people and because you've already given yourself to God so that all you have are never hope to be as his already given yourself and other people in that respect, then giving flows naturally. Most of us only given to get were like Jacob when he was going back to Esau and was afraid that Esau was going to kill him and he wanted to get out from under the threat of extermination by his brother and so he said well if I'm to get out from under this site better pacify them and so he began to give away the things he had and he had the 200 female goats and he sent them ahead with the servant to many sent the 10 male goats within the 200 cows and then the 10 bulls and then the 40 camels and then the 10 male camels after Latin so on and so on. And all these groups of his livestock, together with servants were stretched out across the fields going toward Esau because he said I'm going to surrender them if perhaps I can get what I want freedom to enter the land and do my own thing. That's the way we give that isn't giving yourself first of all to the Lord and then to one another's only giving to get what has to happen with many Christians is what happened to Jacob that very night you sent the flocks over and he divided the remainder into two bands and then he sent his concubines with their children and then he sent Leah the least favored wife with her children and then he sent Rachel with her child and then there was the brake job and then there was Jacob and he said I surrender everything, but he hadn't surrendered himself. That night the angel of the Lord, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ himself came in wrestled with Jacob and brought them to the point of personal submission. When that wrestling match was over, Jacob was a different man. He was never the same after that it affected him physically because of the wrestling matches typically put out a joint good look at him and you say well he been weakened by X. After that he limped that poor cripple you'd say limping Jacob all but Jacob had actually become strong and that encounter because the final analysis of the ultimate extreme heat surrendered himself to become the Lord's, and then everything you had belonged God. His life was different. After that that's what Christian people need to do if people today would really give themselves first of the Lord then they find themselves giving of their time and their money.

Everything else one another. The work of God would go forward in ways in our days, that we couldn't possibly believe this is what Paul says to the churches at Corinth. They gave like so many they started well didn't continue and Paul says look here's this great example of the Macedonians. I just want to say to you, you began the work is what he's talking about. Verse 11. Keep it up. He said that he should carry through to the end. When is the end for Christian work. The end of Christian work is the day you die is good to have that in mind, you say because soon Christian work is always one appeal after the other know you meet one appeal and there's another one meet that and there's another one. Eventually you get weary and that sort of thing you say oh my goodness.

Why don't they just let me alone to spend my money the way I want. And Paul is saying to these questions and he says that us as well. Don't get tired of doing that because that's what you called your called by God to be a Christian to live on this life and then this earth this life and enjoy yourself and indulge yourself. Do everything you want you're here for this very purpose to meet that kind of you. Who else is going to do it at the Christians don't do it world is going to do in the world does only for its own prestige once to get its name listed as a patron of the arts or some such thing. Christians need to get because serving God in the give themselves to one another. So just keep up. Don't give up on that one day your reward will be in heaven but right now you make sure that that's the pattern of your life. Very handy talks about what we would call equality but it's not the kind of thing.

We usually talk about when we mean that he says look at the Christians do this if those who can give give what they can some cases it will be a lot.

In some cases, it will be a little because some have more than others, then says there will be plenty. God will have all that's needed in the church will have what it needs. Mission societies will have what they need. Service agencies will have what they need and even the Guineans will have at their data. Nobody Bibles all over the world. I I've sometimes reflected just in practical terms on what could be done.

Some years ago and I haven't brought this up to date. Some years ago when giving had fallen off a little bit here attends church. I just made an analysis to see what could be done. We had about 500 giving units of the church at the time. I've been reading somewhere about the average income people in America and I assume that ours was more than that, but at any rate, I picked an average was about $20,000 giving unit. I suppose it's higher than that would be now and certainly our numbers are higher, but when you put the 500 giving units together with 20,000 a piece you come up with $10 million and if a congregation that size with that kind of average income. We just hide its income, not to mention giving sacrificially out of severe poverty, and so on.

But in a congregation that size. We just tied its income.

The giving per year would be $1 million sale lot can be done but it's not the money. It's not how much it totals up to which the heart whether the heart is first of all, given the Lord's prayer. Father, we stand before you is people who are much like the world and who, when we give something think it well even if were not being listed as a patron. Some procure on earth. We certainly expect that that's happening in heaven and so we give our substance rather than our hearts and as a result we give less than we can give and we miss the blessings that you are anxious to give DOS what help us learn from these Christians at Philippi, and from what Paul says in writing to the Corinthians and become those. Just think about this from time to time, but those who by your grace actually make this pattern of life pattern that says first and foremost in all things I belong to Jesus Christ because he gave everything for me. I give everything to him and to his people. Wherever the needs of the people of God become clear That in we pray we know that as we walk that way there will be a blessing.

We pray in Jesus.

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