"THE COLLECTION FOR THE
First Corinthians 16.1-4
1. If you have a map section in the back of your Bible, please turn
there. I want you to look at the map of the Holy Land, the region of
2. If youíve turned to the map I have in mind, you will notice two
rather large lakes at each end of the Jordan River., one at the north
end and the other at the south end. Allow me to describe those two lakes
3. One of the lakes is relatively poor in resources. There are very
few minerals. Very few of the kind of resources that we would value in
an industrial society, yet the lake is teeming with life. All manner of
fish thrive in that lake thatís at the north end of the Jordan River.
I speak, of course, of the Sea of Galilee.
4. At the south end of the Jordan River is another lake. Quite
different than the Sea of Galilee, this lake is the most concentrated
deposition of mineral wealth in the entire world. So valuable are the
minerals in this southern lake that notable Bible scholars suggest that
the next major war in the middle east might conceivably be a struggle
for possession of the mineral resources in this little lake.
5. But this lake, for all its wealth of mineral resources, is dead.
It, quite literally, is almost totally without life of any kind. It is
appropriately named the Dead Sea.
6. Whatís the difference between these two bodies of water? They
both lie on the Jordan River. They both have exactly the same water
running into them.
7. Folks, the only difference between a body of water with abundant
life and a body of water that has no life is this: The Sea of Galilee
gives what it receives while the Dead Sea only takes and gives nothing.
8. In your Christian life, are you a receiver and a giver? Or are you
just a taker? Do you take the Word of God in on Sunday and keep it? Or
do you go out Monday through Saturday and give it back out again?
9. And what about money? Are you a somewhat less wealthy (but alive)
Galilee, or are you a grasping and taking (but dead and dying) Dead Sea?
10. In my text for this evening you will learn the particulars of
becoming a Sea of Galilee Christian. Turn in your Bible to First
Corinthians chapter 16.
11. Some background information: There was at the time of Paulís
writing a great drought and famine back in Palestine, and many believers
there were experiencing great hardship and deprivation. Remember, also
that the believers back in Jerusalem were Jewish Christians. They were
folks who had a definite history of racial bias against the Gentile
believers that Paul ministered to in Corinth and other Gentile cities.
12. Seizing upon the opportunity that the famine presented to help
the Jewish Christians back in Jerusalem, we find Paul in the midst of
organizing a relief project to send money back to Palestine so that the
brothers and sisters in Christ back there could buy food. That is, Paul
is organizing members of Gentile Churches, many of whom were themselves
extremely poor, to help feed Jewish believers.
13. And what was Paulís goal through all of this? There are
actually several he might have had in mind. First, he knew that this
effort would help to overcome the serious racial prejudices of those
Jewish Christians. Second, he knew that the legitimate physical needs of
brothers and sisters in Christ would be tended to. Third, involvement in
this project will place the Gentile Christians Paul ministers to in a
position where God will greatly bless them, because God blesses cheerful
givers. And finally, this project gave Christians an opportunity to
demonstrate to the whole civilized world of Paulís day what genuine
love really was.
14. And remember, those people were giving to people they had never
and probably never would meet . . . until they got to heaven, that is.
Not giving their tithe, mind you, since the tithe stays in the Church.
This is giving above and beyond the tithe. This is an example of giving
15. Folks, there are many of us who try to do good and try to help
people the way Paul did, but we must be careful. Whether the need is
within our Church or without, God has very definite procedures that He
wants followed in any organized effort at giving.
16. Why would God want the giving of His people to be organized along
certain defined limits? For several reasons that I can think of: First,
God wants giving to be done corporately to give Him the greatest glory,
instead of an individual getting it. Itís more likely that a Church
being thanked for gifts to a missionary will result in God being
glorified than if an individual gives that same amount to a missionary.
17. Second, God wants giving to be done corporately to insure the
greatest benefit to all concerned, because Church support of a ministry
is more likely done under the leadership of the pastor. While
individuals oftentimes give for sentimental or genuinely unwise reasons,
or insist on giving to ministries and projects that are not fit to
receive missions giving, pastors are in a better position to discern the
strategic benefits of a Churchís missions giving.
18. Finally, God wants giving to be corporate because it is so much
easier to make sure that Godís people are not taken advantage of when
their giving is directed someplace a pastor can hold accountable and can
verify the use of the missions money thatís given.
19. In todayís text the organized effort is to meet a legitimate
need outside the congregation. Letís stand and read of Godís recipe
for giving, recognizing that there are principles and guidelines we
should take steps not to violate in our own lives. First Corinthians
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
20. Two ingredients that go into Godís plan for giving to
meet a need outside the Church, to show that God has definite procedures
that He wants His people to follow.
1A. FOR GODíS GLORY AND FOR YOUR PROTECTION, A PROPER
PLAN FOR GIVING TO MEET A NEED OUTSIDE THE CHURCH MUST HAVE THE
INGREDIENT OF THE APPROVED METHOD
I want you to notice two points Paul makes about Godís
approved method for giving.
1B. First, Itís A Common Method
1 Now concerning the collection for the
saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do
1C. To be sure, every Christian is an individual and
God does not want us to run around like little robots, each behaving
in exactly the same way all the time. Let there be no mistake about
2C. And we do not, for one instant, want to deny that
at times the Holy Spirit of God deals with individuals about what
they, individually, can or should do to meet a special need they
become aware of.
3C. But realize, Christians, that for a congregation to
function effectively in accomplishing certain things, as Church
body, there has to be some level of uniformity in our actions.
4C. One of the places where uniformity is desired by
God is in evangelism. We need to turn out en mass on Saturday nights
in our efforts to reach the lost.
5C. Another place where uniformity is desired by God is
when we gather for preaching. Itís no more Godís plan for folks
to stay at home Sunday morning than it is for them to skip out on
the evangelism time.
6C. A third place where uniformity is critical is with
regard to our method of giving. Not so much in the amount that a
person is to give as in the method of giving.
7C. All of the Churches of Galatia were to do it, Paul
informs his readers. The Church in Corinth was to do it. And, by
application, we are to do it. This method of giving, whereby the
members of a Church respond in unison to meet a specific need
outside the Church, is for all Christians in all Churches.
8C. There can be no doubt, then, that this method was
the common New Testament method for giving to meet a legitimate need
outside the Church. It should also be our method. Amen?
2B. Next, We See That Itís A Continual Method
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.
I want you to recognize four things in this verse:
1C. First, recognize the timing involved. This extra
giving is to take place on the first day of the week. Thatís
Sunday. Different than the ordered worship of the nation of Israel
in observance of the Law of Moses, these Gentile Christians gathered
for worship and giving on the first day of the week, not the
seventh. And as they gave their tithes on the first day, they were
to give their offerings, as well.
2C. Next, recognize the place. The phrase reads,
". . . lay by him in store."
1D. Folks, the word "store" refers to a
place of storage. Now, in a letter to a Church, if Paul told them
to put money in a place of storage, where do you think he expected
their money to go? Their Church. Not a television ministry. Not a
radio ministry. Not a Christian publication. Not even their own
freelance Christianity pet private missions project. Their Church.
2D. Beloved, we need to understand that although this
Church is not intended to be the only avenue through
which you give, it is the only avenue through which you should regularly
give, it is the only avenue through which you routinely
give, as designated by the Word of God.
3D. That means, when you are involved with other
Christians in mobilizing resources to meet a specific need outside
this Church, those other Christians should be your fellow Church
members, and your giving and theirs should be channeled through
this Church to accomplish that goal.
3C. Now that youíve recognized the timing and the
place of your giving, recognize the amount. ". . . as God hath
1D. When your Church tackles a problem outside the
membership requiring our financial help, when we as a congregation
mobilize our resources to accomplish a specific task, the amount
of money that you are to give to accomplish that task is related
to the amount that you are able to give. And no two people are
able to give the same amount of money.
2D. Know what that means? It means that it is both
impossible and improper to judge or evaluate people by their
giving. All we do know, all you ought to know for yourself, is
that you ought to give something above and beyond your tithe, and
that as God prospers you more you ought to give more.
3D. Second Corinthians 9.6 reads, "But this I
say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and
he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.."
Should you want increase your free will offerings you can expect
to reap more bountifully.
4C. The final thing we ought to recognize is the
reason. Why should you give above and beyond your tithes on a weekly
basis through your Church as God enables you? "That there be no
gatherings when I come."
1D. Obviously, the long term reason Paul wanted the
Corinthians and the Galatians to give was to raise money for needy
believers and pull them out of a jam.
2D. But the short term reason, the reason why the
weekly giving must occur, and the reason why everyone must have a
part, is so that, little by little, piece by piece, the Church
will be able to do the job when the job finally needs to be done.
3D. Paul did not want these people to be unprepared
to do their part in this massive undertaking he had planned the
next time he arrived to take up the collection.
4D. Folks, do you see how the procedure fits
together? The timing now is the same as then. The place now is the
same as in Paulís day. The amount now is determined in the same
way as back those many years ago. But instead of giving to feed
menís bellies we give to save menís souls.
5D. Paulís immediate goal was to get an offering of
love to people who were already saved. Our immediate goal is to
benefit the advance of the Gospel to see people saved and to see
Churches strengthened and new Churches established.
2A. FOR GODíS GLORY AND FOR YOUR PROTECTION, IN
ADDITION TO HAVING THE INGREDIENT OF APPROVED METHOD, THERE MUST ALSO BE
THE INGREDIENT OF APPROVED MEN
Notice why the approved men are needed:
1B. First, They Are Needed To Accept The Offering
3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall
approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your
liberality unto Jerusalem.
1C. Who approves the men who receive the offering? We
do. This Church approves the men by whom the offering is conveyed to
its ultimate destination.
2C. Okay then, who are the men approved? For you see,
the word "approved" refers to testing and evaluating
something, like a gold nugget is tested in an assayerís office to
determine whether it is real gold or foolís gold.
3C. Folks, right away we see the danger of not giving
through your Church when you give, or of your Church not actually
approving the men to whom the offering is given to use in
accomplishing the urgent task.
4C. Unless you can actually see, unless you can
actually hear, and unless you can actually talk to a missionary or
an evangelist, you cannot test and evaluate them to your own
satisfaction to determine their genuineness and fitness. And what if
they used to be fit, used to be clean, used to be orthodox, but are
5C. Jack, would you trust your wife to evaluate the
fitness of a used car you were thinking about purchasing? Ron, how
about you? Did Eva evaluate that big green monster you drive, or was
it you? And what if itís a pretty vehicle thatís a piece of junk
under the hood? Does that make a difference to you guys who know
automobiles? Of course it does.
6C. This is why no Christian should just send money to
some guy he likes. And this is why giving to some cooperative
program, whereby someone other than the local Church evaluates and
approves of the missionaries they support, like the Southern Baptist
Convention does, is not Scriptural.
7C. Iím sure there are vehicles that used to be in
good shape that arenít in good shape anymore. And so with
missionaries and missions projects. And just as you who are good
with automobiles know the folly of allowing a novice to determine
what car you buy, so it is with missions giving. Itís pure folly
to direct missions money to individual projects and to pursue
private and individual goals.
8C. Example: Early on in my Christian life I was made
aware of a Korean orphanage that received millions of dollars every
year from the United States for the longest time. Every summer their
boys choir would travel across America to raise money. But once
entering the ministry I found out from a missionary to Korea that
that boys choir was not composed of orphans, but the children of
high ranking Korean government officials. Further, I learned that
the organization had one, very small, orphanage, not the dozens of
homes they said they had. It was all a scam. But most missionaries
operate one man scams, rather than million dollar scams, and are
harder for even Church members to detect.
9C. Another example: Would you give money to a famous
television preacher if you knew that he showed first run Hollywood
movies to his college student body every Friday night...uncut and
unedited? Would you give money to another who lived in a
multi-million dollar home in Palm Springs that very few people knew
10C. Folks, the point is this: For your sake and for
the sake of Godís work, give in an approved method and give only
to approved men. We as a Church must approve the men. God has
already approved of the method.
2B. Approved Men Are Needed, Not Just To Accept The
Offering, But Also To Accompany The Offering
4 And if it be meet that I go also, they
shall go with me.
1C. Turn to Second Corinthians 8.21 and read:
"Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the
Lord, but also in the sight of men."
2C. Folks, Paul was willing to go to any reasonable
length to insure that his actions and motives were construed to be
proper and above board. "You want to send someone along to make
sure the money gets there? Send anyone with me you want." That
was Paulís suggestion.
3C. Our Church is the same way. Why do you think we
want two people to count the offerings? Why do you think I never
count the money? Why do you think our Church books are open to our
Church members to examine anytime you want? Why do we use a safe?
Why did we always use a two signature checking system before we
employed a business manager?
4C. And beyond that, what is one of the reasons I have
traveled to the foreign mission fields of Korea, Hong Kong,
Thailand, the Philippines and the Middle East? I learned things
about missionaries on those trips of long ago that is still
affecting the way we and other Churches support missionaries. Such
trips are extremely important to make. I am still working on a
couple of missionary problems that came to light on trips I made
more than 10 years ago.
5C. Folks, these kinds of things are done to comply
with the Biblical imperative that we make sure that what we intend
to accomplish with our giving we actually accomplish with our
giving. And to be honest with you, I donít think most pastors
exhibit much competence in these areas, and Church members are even
less competent, as a rule.
6C. So, do yourself a favor and donít try to function
as a private mission board. You are without the expertise and you
are without the Scriptural authority. Give through this Church.
1. Folks, the common and continual method which God has set
before us to accomplish a mission project beyond the reaches of this
Church is this: You give weekly. You give on Sundays. You give above and
beyond your tithe to the cause of Christ through this Church.
2. The amount that you give to accomplish this specific
task is a matter to settle between you and God, but Scripture indicates
that it should be a reflection of your material prosperity. And what is
the specific task that we have undertaken?
3. Heretofore our Churchís effort has been to support
Church planting missionaries through our Churchís missions fund. And
most Churches expend great effort in this direction without a great deal
of thought and intelligent prayer. But I think itís time we took stock
of some things and reevaluated our objectives. Back to this in a moment.
4. As well, there are the approved men. We give to men that
we approve of. We examine. We scrutinize. Whether it be me, missionaries
that we support, or the various evangelists that we have from time to
time. If we cannot approve of them personally, we need to be very
cautious in our support of them.
5. Do you remember my opening illustration of the two
lakes? One lake is a giving lake and is, therefore, full of life. The
other lake is a taking lake and is, therefore, almost completely
6. Realize that this illustration from nature is repeated
in a Christianís life every day. Itís found in the lives of
believers who are quite willing to take from God eternal life, physical
health, a fabulous lifestyle by world standards, and the privilege of
owning and studying a Bible of your very own.
7. But instead of being a Sea of Galilee, so many who claim
to be converted want to stay at home and study their Bible on their own.
Instead of being givers, they are content to sit in the pew and only
receive. Though someone made it possible for them to receive the gift of
eternal life, they will avoid the commitment of Church and giving
through the Church so that others might hear. And you most certainly
will not see them evangelizing on Saturday nights.
8. I would not ask what kind of lake you are. Rather, I
would ask what kind of lake you purpose to be henceforth? Will you make
the same kind of commitment the Corinthians made? Had they not decided
to be givers, instead of remaining the kind of carnal takers they had
been, where would we be today? We would be lost.
9. Purpose to be a tither and also to give beyond the
tithe. You see, the tithe isnít your money, itís Godís money. So,
when you cut a check for the tithe you are not really giving to God. You
are simply conveying to this Church what God gives us through you. But
when you give above your tithe, thatís when a Christian begins to give
for the first time. So, be a giver in addition to being a tither.