Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           October 3, 2010                           NO. 40

 The Church Treasury - Only In An Emergency?
(Continued from last week)
 Judean Churches Had Treasuries

    Continuing to study our theme, let us read Acts11:29,30: "And the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren that dwelt in Judea: which also they did, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul." Now, while it is not necessarily implied that these gifts were placed in the treasury of the Antioch church, they certainly constituted church-treasure once they were transferred to the hands of the elders of the Judean churches, and remained such until distributed to the poor among the "brethren." Therefore, the Judean churches had treasuries.

The Corinthian Church Had a Treasury

    Let us now consider I Corinthians 16:1,2, which reads: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper that no collections be made when I come." Let us hear the comments of J. W. Garvey and Philip Y. Pendleton on these verses: "The word "thesaurizoon", translated "in store," means, literally, "Put into the treasury;- and the phrase "par' heauto," translated "by him," may be taken as the neuter reflexive pronoun, and may be rendered with equal correctness "by itself." Macknight thus renders these two words, and this rendering is to be preferred. If each man had laid by in his own house, all these scattered collections would have had to be gathered after Paul's arrival, which was the very thing that he forbade. . . . It was put in the public treasury of the church, but kept by itself as a separate fund." - Commentary on First Corinthians, p. 61, Standard Pub. Foundation, Cincinnati, Ohio.

    The order therefore, which Paul previously gave to the churches of Galatia and then extended to the church at Corinth was, that every member should contribute to the store or treasury of the church, when they assembled upon the first day of the week, so that when Paul arrived to receive their "afore promised bounty", it would be ready -evidently in a special fund in the treasury-to be dispatched to Jerusalem. His order and their compliance with it did not institute a treasury in the church at Corinth, but rather involved their use of it for the receiving and distributing of their gifts for "the poor among the saints" at Jerusalem.

Works Impossible For Churches Without Treasuries

    Did the early churches maintain treasuries other than when benevolent emergencies were present? Let us continue the study from another viewpoint. Paul to the Corinthians wrote: "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you" (2 Cor. 11:8). How could churches pay wages to Paul unless these churches had resources -treasuries from which to pay them? Certainly, they could not. The same apostle penned these words: "Ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need" (Phil. 4:15,16). Again, it stands without argument, that the church at Philippi could not have had fellowship with Paul in meeting his physical needs unless they had a treasury! With regard to "desolate" widows, Paul again wrote: "Let none be enrolled as a widow [to be supported by the church - GJP] under three-score years old" (I Tim. 5:9). "If any woman that believeth hath widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed" (I Tim. 5:16).
 Surely these passages not only show that New Testament churches had treasuries but that no real church work can be done without a treasury. To even call in question this fact does not reflect a healthy attitude toward either the Lord's church or the work that he has given it to do.

Author Not Known Except For Initials “GJP”
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Religious Freedom
    Worshipping God however we would like to worship Him sounds like real freedom to man. Yet, the Bible calls it something different. In quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus Christ said of some of His Jewish brethren, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:6-7). Man has always sought to replace God's will for worship with his own ideas and agenda. The Scriptures refer to this as "vain worship."
    Here is an important question for us all to consider on the matter of worship - Who is it for? If it is for God whom we are seeking to honor, shouldn't we worship the way that He wants us to, the way that is revealed in the Bible? Yet, if we are trying to please ourselves, then by all means we should tailor our religion to suit our personal tastes. The problem with this is that God is the one who deserves our praise. Romans chapter 1 condemns people who worship and serve "the creature rather than the Creator" (vs. 25).
    Freedom comes not by doing our will, but the will of our God. When we worship our way, we sin, Sin enslaves; it never liberates.
---Philip Mullins

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    When Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph to commit fornication, he resisted her lascivious advances by expressing 1) his commitment to God, and 2) his loyalty to his earthly master. Note: "But (Joseph) refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:8-9) Joseph’s example of deep devotion to God is often noted, and rightfully so, but his loyalty to his master is also worthy of our imitation.

    It seems that loyalty has largely become a lost virtue. We see signs that people lack this necessary trait in many areas. For instance, this lack of loyalty is seen in family breakdowns where mates violate their marriage vows, and when parents fail to nurture and protect their children. We also see disloyalty in regards to people’s jobs, our nation, one’s friends, etc.

    But we are especially concerned to see a lack of loyalty on the part of Christians. In particular, we sense this failure as it applies to our relationships in the local congregation. Yes, our primary devotion is to God, but there should also be a fidelity to our brothers and sisters in our spiritual family. Too many are ready to ‘up and leave’ over the slightest upset or disagreement. Others will abandon even long standing associations on a whim. This ought not to be.
    Do problems arise in a local church fellowship? Of course! Will we have to deal with issues and conflicts from time to time? Certainly! But, our loyalty to those we love in the local congregation should provide plenty of motivation to work through even the most difficult troubles.
    It is hard to imagine Christians of the first century walking out on each other over some the petty things that separate brethren today.  Can you picture them acting like some modern church members do? What would they say about us?  Think!
---Greg Gwin
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