Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Seventh Benefit of Being A Church Member: In The Place of Giving”

First Corinthians 16.1-4

 

When you are a Church member, you are in the place of giving.

At the urging of Dr. Jack Bier some years ago, we began an annual exercise in cheerful giving here at Calvary Road Baptist Church called PayCheck Sunday. Dr. Bier, now with the Lord, was our church’s business manager, and his practice was to recommend to every Church that retained his professional services an annual PayCheck Sunday.[1] Dr.Bier testified that his experience in serving Churches over many years was that God does wonderful things in those Churches that have an annual PayCheck Sunday. Our own experiences with PayCheck Sundays for the last fourteen years show us that God really does love a cheerful giver.

Please understand that our annual PayCheck Sunday is a completely voluntary special offering that we take up once each year. If you are a visitor or a regular guest to our Church, we have no expectation whatsoever that you will participate in this offering. If you are a member of our Church, you are well aware that this offering is a free will offering, and is not mandated by law or by any requirement that we lay on any Church member. It is something we do because we want to honor God and because we want this Church ministry to rise higher, ever higher, as we seek to reach the San Gabriel Valley with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our desire is for God to use us, our Church, in an extraordinary way.

Though I will be all over the Bible in this sermon that surveys God’s plan for a Christian’s giving during the age in which we live, my text is First Corinthians 16.1-4. When you find that passage, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

1      Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

2      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.

3      And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

4      And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

 

In these last days we find that, as in the times of Israel’s judges, when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” we have multitudes of freelance Christians these days who behave as though God has no plan or purpose for their giving, no order or rule for their charity, no directive or design to govern their generosity.[2] However, in Paul’s day, even in the case of the troubled Corinthian congregation, we have clear evidence that God’s place for a Christian’s giving was His Church. Several important observations in our text, before the sermon:

 

First, CONSIDER VERSE ONE

 

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.”

 

The first half of the verse informs us of the purpose of the special offering the Apostle Paul was seeking to raise for the Christians back in Judea who were experiencing famine. This lets us know that there are times when special offerings are appropriate, and the offering Paul was raising would have far-reaching consequences for the spread of the gospel. Now notice the last half of verse 1:

 

“as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.”

 

To be sure, ordinary giving is to be done through ordinary channels. And the ordinary channel through which a Christian’s giving should be directed is his Church. But what about extraordinary needs that require extraordinary giving? When that special need arises, you should get with other Christians and form a special organization, a parachurch ministry, to collect money and address the problem. Right? Wrong. Though the need was great and the offering was crucial, Paul’s apostolic directive is very clear. The offering was to be raised by Churches and through Churches. Christians are to give through their Churches:

 

“as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.”

 

And though hyper-independent pastors sometimes try to pretend that the Churches referred to in this verse did not do what they certainly did, it is clear that the Churches Paul spoke of actually cooperated in a harmonious fashion with each other to accomplish the task set before them.

 

Now, CONSIDER VERSE TWO

 

“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.”

 

If verse one shows us the reason for special giving, and the means by which such gifts are to be given, verse two shows us when such giving should take place, where such giving should take place, and by whom such gifts should be given:

When?

 

“Upon the first day of the week”

 

That is, Churches following the Corinthian example should take up their offerings on the first day of the week, meaning that Christians should do their giving on the first day of the week. Why so? Because that is when Christians gather for worship, on the first day of the week.

Where? Where would Christians give, some place other than where they gathered? Paul writes,

 

“lay by him in store . . . that there be no gatherings when I come.”

 

The phrase “lay by him in store” means that the amount that is set aside for this special gift should be set aside at home. The phrase means “set by himself.”[3] Thus, a Christian’s special gifts should be well thought out, prayed about, and should not be the result of someone tugging at your heart strings. It is one thing for God to break your heart to give, and another thing for someone to manipulate your emotions. The offering begins at home, but it ends up at the assembly. After all, the only way there would be no gatherings when Paul arrived was if the offering had already been gathered. And where is the offering gathered? The offering is gathered where the people are gathered.

Who?

 

“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store.”

 

Understand that it is a free will offering Paul was raising up, but he was very clear about the fact that every Church member should participate in it.

How much?

 

“as God hath prospered him”

 

God’s people do not give the same amounts when they give. God’s people give proportionally.

 

Finally, CONSIDER VERSES 3 AND 4

 

3      And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

4      And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

 

In verse 3, Paul assures the Corinthians that their congregation would be free to send delegates along with the offering if they so chose, to make sure there was proper accountability for the funds that were given. According to verse 4, even Paul himself would accompany the offering to its destination if it was deemed appropriate, and the Church delegates could accompany him. And it turned out that Paul did lead the group with the special offering to Jerusalem, where he was arrested and later transported to Rome.[4]

 

The entire topic is so very simple and straightforward that it is a wonder so many people are so confused about it. God’s place for most of a Christian’s giving is to and through local Churches.

God’s place for Christian giving is not TBN.

God’s place for Christian giving is not the 700 Club.

God’s place for Christian giving is not Voice Of The Martyrs.

God’s place for Christian giving is not Jimmy Swaggart or Benny Hinn or Joyce Meyer or T. D. Jakes.

God’s place for giving is not directly to missionaries or evangelists.

God’s place for a Christian’s giving is to and through His Church.

 

SERMON:

 

I want to present to you an overview of giving from God’s Word. Allow me to describe for you the principle, the plan, the privilege, and the program for Christian giving to God through the Church. It is my desire that you be informed so as to understand God’s program for planned Christian giving. To be sure, there will come upon you opportunities to be generous, to someone in need. However, the believer’s regular and routine giving, and a Christian’s large contributions to the cause of Christ should follow the precepts outlined in the Word of God.

Four main points for your consideration:

 

First, THE PRINCIPLE . . . OF THE LESSER GIVING TO THE GREATER

 

It is right and proper and good for Christians to give to God. Indeed, it is the way of things for the greater to receive from the lesser, for the lesser to give to the greater. How right and proper it is, then, to recognize God’s preeminence and to worship God by giving to Him. Notice how this is illustrated in God’s Word:

First, consider how the example of Melchizedek and Abraham illustrates this principle. Nephew Lot had been kidnapped and uncle Abram took trained men and, in a night time raid, slaughtered the enemy and rescued his nephew. This is found in Genesis chapter 14. Returning from the conflict with his nephew and the booty that was recovered, Abram met with Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the most high God. What did Abram do? Genesis 20.14 informs us that Abram gave him tithes of all. In other words, he gave ten percent of the recovered booty to Melchizedek. The event is also recounted in Hebrews chapter 7. What principle do we see in action in the life of Abram when he met with Melchizedek and gave tithes to him? The principle of the lesser giving to the greater.

Next, consider how the example of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba illustrates this principle. The history of Solomon’s encounter with the Queen of Sheba is told in First Kings 10.1-10:

 

1      And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

2      And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

3      And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

4      And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,

5      And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

6      And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.

7      Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

8      Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

9      Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

10    And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.

 

This incredible woman had heard of Solomon, so she came to see for herself. After beholding the wonder of God’s blessings in Solomon’s life with her own eyes, the Bible says that “there was no more spirit in her,” meaning that it all took her breath away. Her response was to give then Solomon, already without question the richest man in the world, an offering of astonishing value. What principle do we see in action in the life of the Queen of Sheba when she met with Solomon and then gave to him? The principle of the lesser giving to the greater.

As a third illustration consider the Israelites giving to their God. Did they not give animals to be sacrificed?[5] Did they not give free will offerings?[6] Did they not give offerings of wine and flour?[7] Did they not give to support the ministry of the tabernacle and the temple?[8] Did they not give the materials from which the tabernacle furniture was fashioned?[9] Did they not give to support the priesthood?[10] They gave and gave and gave to the God Who has no needs, to the God, Who owns everything.[11] Read Exodus and Leviticus and you will find abundant evidence that the Israelites were encouraged to give to God, and were told precisely how to give to God. Does not the principle of the lesser giving to the greater apply when considering the Israelites giving to God? Sure it does. Should there be any surprise that God had a plan for His people to honor Him with their gifts, rather than letting each man do that which was right in his own eyes? Not at all.

Thus, there should be no shock or surprise to see the same principle operating during our own era. If Abraham gave to Melchizedek as the representative of God, and if the queen of Sheba gave to Solomon once she convinced herself that he was the representative of God, and if it was God’s will for the Jewish people to give in a directed way in days gone by, why should it be a surprise to discover that the principle of the lesser giving to the greater applies today? Is God not high and lifted up? Does He not reign in majesty supreme? Is He not still the Lord God omnipotent? But we have the additional advantage over those saints in days gone by of knowing God as our Father through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it must be granted that showing our Father worship and homage, and giving to Him honor through our gifts to Him, is a reasonable thing, a righteous thing, a proper thing, and a spiritual thing. Though the verse was written three thousand years ago, the principle of the lesser giving to the greater still applies:

 

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase,”

 

Proverbs 3.9.

 

Next, THE PLAN GOD HAS ORDAINED FOR GIVING

 

For thirty-three years, the Lord Jesus Christ walked this earth. But for only about three of those years did He conduct public ministry and gather and train the disciples He would eventually send to the uttermost parts of the earth. It is often overlooked that during our Lord’s earthly ministry it was possible for a believer to give directly to Him. Most people who have read the Bible remember that the wise men who visited the Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem worshiped Him and then gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.[12] But how many people typically take note of the gifts given to the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry? Remember, He had no possessions except for the clothes He wore. So, how did He survive? Of course, He turned water into wine and multiplied the loaves and fishes. But those miracles were for the benefit of others. It is in Mark 15.40-41 that we find evidence that there were those few who gave to Him directly. At His crucifixion mention is made of some women who looked on from afar off, who had followed Him and had ministered to Him even from the time He was in Galilee.

But how was one to give to God before the birth of Christ, or after the resurrection and ascension of Christ to the Father’s right hand? During those times before and after Christ’s earthly ministry God had in place, and now has in place, a plan for institutionalized giving. And what do I mean by institutionalized giving? I refer to the Levitical system prior to the time of Christ and the Church congregation after the time of Christ, an organization through which to give to God. When God is not in the midst of His creatures, in the way He was when His Son Jesus Christ walked the earth, He establishes representative institutions through which to work to accomplish His will, from which to receive glory, and by means of which His people can honor Him with their giving. During this age in which we live God’s plan for His people is to be members of Churches of Jesus Christ, to worship Him in conjunction with others in those congregations, and to give to Him through the congregations.[13]

 

Third, THE PRIVILEGE OF GIVING IS RECOGNIZED BY CHEERFULNESS

 

I grant you that there are some who give to try and work their way to heaven. Great edifices have been financed by Jewish people doing mitzvahs and by Gentiles attempting to buy their way into heaven. But there is a genuine discernment that is reserved to the spiritual child of God that recognizes the benefit, the blessing, and the exalted privilege that enables a person to give to the cause of Christ through the Church.

As well, those who have been taught the Word of God realize the awesome weight of personal responsibility that falls upon those of us who know Christ. Paul said it best in Romans 1.14:

 

“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”

 

So, if discernment is the possession of the spiritual, and responsibility is recognized by those of us who are taught, where does cheerfulness come in? Second Corinthians 7.9 reads,

 

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

 

The cheerfulness comes from the child of God recognizing that giving to God is wholly of grace.

Imagine! God giving to you life and ability and the means to give to Him. And then there is the recognition that the God, Who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine, has condescended actually to allow us to give to Him. Astonishing. No wonder there is joy and delight in giving. And no wonder God loves such a cheerful giver for recognizing that it is none of you, and it is all of God to experience this grace of giving.

Oh, how marvelous God is that He gives to me the ability to give to Him, that He gives to me the desire to give to Him, that He gives to me the means through which to give to Him, and that He has so graciously overcome my natural stupidity and selfishness that I do, in fact, give to Him.

 

Finally, THE PROGRAM THAT IS RECOGNIZED BY BAPTISTS

 

It is a sad fact that in these last days so many Baptist preachers have the reputation of being ignorant buffoons. It was not always so. It was once recognized, and is still true, that a considerable number of Baptists have a greater understanding of the divine program for this age than many other movements have been blessed by God to know. That program, of course, is the true nature and function of the Church congregation as God’s institution for the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Baptists recognize that one of the features of this age is an organized ministry. An organized ministry is not unique to this age. God instituted an organized ministry under the dispensation of the Law, with a clearly defined priesthood, as well as well-established roles for both kings and prophets. Such organization did not exist before the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, but it was the order of the day for some 1600 years until the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law and superseded those offices. But most Christians these days are of the opinion that when the Lord Jesus Christ left earth to ascend back to heaven, He left without an established Church, without a well-defined pastorate, and without clear instructions for every Christian’s involvement in ministry. They view the Church as a nebulous abstraction that was brought into existence after the Lord’s ascension. But among Baptists, there are those of us who see the Lord Jesus Christ establishing the Church while He was yet on earth, directing His disciples to be involved in the Church, and authorizing His Church to resolve disputes between brethren and discipline those who could not be reconciled. In the New Testament, we see what the qualifications are to be met by those aspiring to pastoral ministry, what roles such men are to occupy in the lives of other Church members, what tools are given for their use in the ministry, and what their relationship is to the Savior they serve. So, this Protestant notion of a Church begun on the day of Pentecost, that consists of all believers everywhere in some ethereal mix of spiritual abstraction that frees them to do what they want to do when they want to do it how they want to do it, is nonsense. The Lord Jesus Christ created, organized, and left behind when He went to heaven His Church. Baptists have historically been careful not to over-organize, but they recognize that in the Bible God’s program is organized into Church congregations. This is something most Protestants do not see as clearly as many Baptists.

Baptists also recognize that one of the features of this age is a staffed and financed ministry. First Corinthians 9.1-14 is Paul’s argument that, just as the priests who ministered in the Temple were supported by the offerings given then, and just as the ox that treads out the corn should not be muzzled to prevent it from eating from the field it toils in, so gospel ministers should be supported by the ministry they invest their lives in. This reality is not recognized by cultists such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Neither was it recognized by the Brethren denomination that rose up as a rebellion against pastoral oversight, or even the Quakers. And while those men who serve in the gospel ministry should avoid the dangers of denominational control, such as can be seen in the Roman Catholic and Episcopalian and Lutheran denominations, so should they avoid the complete undermining of their calling and position that is found among Brethren congregations, Quaker congregations, and the so-called home Churches here in the United States that for the most part exist only to avoid real pastoral oversight.

 

What is a Christian to do?

There is a gospel ministry to underwrite.

There are gospel ministers to support.

There is a Great Commission to undertake.

There is God to honor and glorify.

There are missionaries to support.

There is a Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world to reach for Jesus Christ.

My friend, here is where yet another benefit of being a Church member comes in. Being a member of Calvary Road Baptist Church puts you in the place of giving. And when you give through your Church you are, by a single act, accomplishing all of these things that please God. You honor Him with the first fruits of your increase, advance the Gospel, fulfill the Great Commission, staff and support the gifted man who has responded to God’s call on his life, and you can do it all with a cheerful heart attitude.

Please keep these things in mind on the first day of the week.

__________

 

[1] http://www.bacassoc.org/

[2] Judges 21.25

[3] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 446.

[4] Acts 22.22-25.12

[5] Leviticus 1.2

[6] Leviticus 22.18, 21, 23

[7] Leviticus 23.13

[8] 2 Kings 12.4-15

[9] Exodus 35.20-29

[10] 2 Kings 12.16

[11] Psalm 50.10

[12] Matthew 2.11

[13] Ephesians 3.21; Acts 4.32-5.11; 1 Corinthians 16.2

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org