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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 16:1-4

12/05/2013

The Offering!
1 Corinthians 16:1-4

We have reached the very last chapter of the book of 1st Corinthians. Paul has spent quite a long time on one very important doctrine, the doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead, dependent upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Paul has dealt with doctrinal matters that touch upon the very heart of the Christian faith, but suddenly he now switches very sharply and without warning, to matters that are intensely practical! The Offering! Some preachers are afraid even to speak about financial matters, but in the Scriptures, the use of money is very important indeed! In Matthew, Mark, and Luke 1 out of every 6 verses deals with money, while of the 29 parables Christ told, 16 deal with a person and his money. Paul’s teaching on giving is very interesting!

Let us see:-

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

* The Object of this Collection. The collection is ‘for the saints.’ This was first and foremost a charitable collection. It was not to provide Paul with a living, or for the normal running of the church. This was an offering over and above the normal giving of the church. But notice where these offerings were to go, in verse 3&4, And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me. The saints who were to benefit from this offering were at Jerusalem. In Acts the prophet Agabus gives us some idea of why such an offering would be necessary, Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Now we may assume, as Calvin did, that Jerusalem suffered badly in this great famine, for there was great poverty in the city. That may well have been as a result of the persecution inflicted upon the church by the Jews, and the gentile churches would be keen to help the saints of that city, whom they would regard as their spiritual parents in the Lord!

* The Obtaining of this Collection. It was from the CHURCHES! Here again we see in passing that the churches of Galatia are addressed as an association of independent assemblies. Paul does not speak of the ‘church’ of Galatia, as we would speak of the ‘Church’ of England. There is no indication here either, of any form of presbytery. They are the CHURCHES – plural. But the fact that they are all autonomous local churches does not stop them from acting together when this collection is ordered!

* The Order for this Collection. Now here Paul is taking a different line than he does in second Corinthians where, when he speaks about the offering he says in 2 Cor. 8:8-11 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. In the passage in 2 Corinthians, Paul lays down no laws, gives no orders, but instead tells the Corinthians to consider Christ, who gave everything for us, to make us spiritually rich. Jesus is our supreme example in giving! But here in 1st Corinthians, Paul is very definitely giving a command! The New King James Version renders this verse, “Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I HAVE GIVEN ORDERS, to the churches of Galatia, so you MUST DO also! Why the difference? It may be found in the word used here for offering! The word used is λογιαs, and this is the only passage where Paul uses this word for offering! It is an ADDITIONAL OFFERING, over and above all other offerings. What is Paul actually ordering us to do, but to go the second mile in our giving! It is not enough just to fulfil our obligations in tithing, and no more. We must give cheerfully and sacrificially for the Lord’s Word and for the benefit of others.

Christians should always be exercising their faith in charitable giving! We should help others less fortunate than ourselves.

I recall organising an event to benefit a child who had cerebral palsy, to help the child to get some particular help which the government would not provide. A charismatic Christian came to see me about the event, and argued that it was wrong to hold such an event. His opinion was that we should call a meeting of the church, and lay hands on the child, and, in faith declare her healed.

Now, regardless of the man’s theological opinions, there is in this passage in 1st Corinthians a good precedent for helping others! If the churches in Galatia and Greece were COMMANDED to help, why not we? Consider the Bible’s teaching on this matter, Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Luke 3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

A Designated Day!
Upon the first day of the week

* The day for the Christians to meet. Now there is a reason why this collection was to be taken on the first day of the week. It was then that the church met. It was the day that Jesus rose from the dead, but even before the resurrection the disciples of the Lord were meeting on the first day of the week.

John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. It was the day for meeting for teaching and preaching and worship.
Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
Rev. 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.

The day that the Christians meet, is the day that the Christians give! Giving is a regular, ongoing commitment, every Sabbath! Paul was very anxious that there was to be no special service of giving when he came. There was to be a ‘laying in store’ in advance.

* The first day as the Christian Sabbath. Now some Christians do not like the Lord’s Day to be referred to as ‘the Sabbath.’ They say, “Oh, the Sabbath is Saturday.” (So it is, – if you are a Jew!) They perhaps think that the term is too legalistic, and would require us to be too rigid in our observances. They don’t realise perhaps that the concept of a Sabbath precedes the giving of the Law to the Jews. The Sabbath is a CREATION ORDINANCE given not just to the Jews, but to all of mankind, for their blessing, their benefit and their wellbeing. To deny Christians the blessing of a Sabbath rest is to completely contradict God’s creative purpose, and to flout His will and purpose for man. But the first day of the week IS the CHRISTIAN SABBATH! The Greek here is very interesting indeed. The text reads, κατα μιαν σαββατων literally, ‘on the first Sabbath.’ The Jewish Sabbath was the last day of the week! By Paul’s day, the first day of the week was the Christian Sabbath, so Paul explains that the giving of the offering and the worship of the church, was to be on the first of these recognised Sabbaths… the Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week!

* The idea of giving as WORSHIP. This leaves us with a great challenge! If the giving of our offering is to be when we meet, and as part of our Sabbath activities, we must regard the giving of our tithes and offerings to the Lord as being PART OF OUR WORSHIP! So it must be part of the service, and it must be reverent in its execution. Sometimes when we give, we take the opportunity to have a chat with our neighbour, or look for our sweets or flick through the hymn book. But giving is worship, and when we worship we must do so in holiness, and in reverence, and decently and in an orderly manner.

So, when we meet, on the Christian Sabbath, for worship unto the Lord, we bring our tithes and our offerings with us. The church has gathered together in the name of the Lord, in a manner which is totally different from any other meeting of the church, and everything that we do on that day is in accordance with God’s expressed Word and will for His gathered church. We sing His praises, we read His Word, we pray to Him, we proclaim His Word and we bring our offerings unto the Lord.

A Distinct Procedure!
let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

Now there is a specific method given for the lifting of this offering. It is well for us to observe these matters, for very often financial matters within the church cause dissent and disagreements, and sometimes even scandal! Let us see now Paul’s practical advise on giving:-
* Giving must be personal! Everyone in the Corinthian Church must give to the Lord’s work. Giving is not just for the wealthy, or for a minority, it is for everyone! We are all to personally support the work of God. Giving to the Lord, please Him, and is honouring to Him. 2 Cor. 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Your personal offering to God’s work is extremely important!

Roger Ellsworth illustrates this point very well in ‘Strengthening Christ’s Church.’ He tells of a village doctor who was retiring, and the village fathers decided that all the villagers who had benefited by his ministrations should each bring a pitcher of wine and pour it into a barrel for the doctor. So they did, and that evening the doctor decided to have a glass of his wine. How surprised he was when he took the first sip! It was pure water! What had happened was that all the villagers had supposed that if they put in a pitcher of water, no one would notice amid a huge barrel of wine!

If you don’t give to the Lord’s work, your contribution will be sorely missed!

* Giving must be planned! We are to lay up a store of funds for the Lord’s work. Not at home, or in a separate account, but in the church! Look at the similar language used in Malachi 3:10. . Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Do you plan your giving? Do you sit down week by week or month by month, and before you spend a penny, make sure that the Lord has first claim upon your finances? Or do you fail to plan, and thus just spend everything, and give the Lord little or nothing? Do you know that He is to have first claim upon every area of your life? Your time… (How much time do you spend watching TV, when you can’t even attend the prayer Meeting?) Your emotions… your will… your MONEY!

* Giving must be proportionate! We are to give as the Lord has prospered us! The more that we have, the more that we are to give! An ambitious young man who told his pastor he’d promised God a tithe of his income. They prayed for God to bless his career. At that time he was making £40.00 per week and tithing £4.00. In a few years his income increased and he was tithing £500.00 per week. He called on the pastor to see if he could be released from his tithing promise, it was too costly now. The pastor replied, “I don’t see how you can be released from your promise, but we can ask God to reduce your income to £40.00 a week, then you’d have no problem tithing £4.00.” 2 Cor. 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. So is there a guideline given in the Bible for us? There certainly is! We have been talking about ‘tithes and offerings.’ For God’s people in the Old Testament the rule was that a faithful worshipper of the Lord gave 10% of their income to the Lord. That rule is no long a legal requirement in New Testament times, but it is still a good guideline for us! And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord. Leviticus 27:30

* Giving must be perspicacious! 1 Cor. 16:3-4 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me. Paul was anxious for these Corinthian Christians to know that he himself would not be involved in any way with these offerings. This is very important. When money in the church is concerned, there must be no doubt whatsoever that everything is being done properly and openly. So the people who handled the offering in Corinth had to have the confidence of the church. They were to be men of good repute, who would be approved of by the church and commended to Paul in writing! Even if Paul himself is going to travel to Jerusalem, he would still not handle that money! The people appointed by the church would come with him and would carry the money for him!

So, Christian giving is commanded to be done on an appointed day in an appointed manner. Every one of us is to be involved, in proportion to our income, and it is all to be done openly and in a strictly honest manner, and the Lord will take notice of our faithfulness!

From → Sermon Notes

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