Saturday, May 31, 2008

God’s Grace In Missions

Temple Baptist Church - 5-28-2008

2 Corinthians 8:1-6; Revelation 3:14-19


A. In Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthian Church, Paul teaches the church to give within the realm of God’s grace to the necessity of others. In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul instructed the church to take up an offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

A) Because of Famine - Acts 11:27-30
B) Because of Persecution – Acts 8:1

1. This was not the tithe! The tithe belongs in the local church of membership. (It is not to be given to missionaries, evangelists, TV preachers, or to even other good causes.) It was a collection to relieve the financial stress of the persecuted Jewish believer is the sending church. I always find this interesting. As a rule, the missionary contacts his supporting churches when money is needed and I am not entirely against that—as long as the indigenous principle is not hurt—but here we find the mission churches taking a love offering for the Jerusalem Church.

1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

2. This offering was commanded!

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 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. (In other words: you do not give, I will gather!)

Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

B. I am not sure of what had previously transpired between the Corinthian Church and Paul, but—evidently—Paul felt that the Corinthians were hesitant.

1. Possibly because they felt that they were being asked too much! Paul clearly said in the first epistle “as God hath prospered.” Paul, in these verses, sets forth some principles of the grace of giving to encourage the Corinthian saints.

2. Possibly because they felt that they were to give while others did not give though Paul clearly ordered the churches of Galatia to give also. (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:13-14)

3, Possibly because they did not understand how true giving is precipitated! “The grace of God!” People do not understand how God’s people can give as freely and abundantly as they do because it is a grace and grace must be proven! “Prove me now herewith!”

C. I believe that we are now experiencing some of these same problems today and this lesson given to Corinth is a great lesson for our churches today. We live in the Laodicean Church Age with all of its characteristics. Unfortunately, many of the characteristics of this age have crept into and often permeated the local church.

1. Twenty years ago, the fundamental Baptist movement had less churches, more missionaries, and less finances and yet it only took a missionary app. 1 year to go to the field fully supported.

2. Today, the fundamental Baptist movement has more churches, less missionaries, and more finances and it takes a missionary 2 ½ - 4 years to go to the field partially supported. SOMEBODY DROPPED THE BALL! When a football is fumbled, you must then line up at that point and try to get the ball back.

D. I want to look at some of the distinct characteristics of the churches of Macedonia and draw a stark contrast to the Laodicean Church. A comparison of two contemporary churches of Asia Minor will give us some insight into the problems that have assailed the local churches of the last days.

1. These two churches, Thessalonica and Laodicea, existed at the same time.

2. One was assailed with persecution and poverty while the other was basking in peace and prosperity.

Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.let us take note and resolve in our hearts to get the work of the Lord done in Laodicean times.

1. Thessalonica Had Persecution – vs. 2 – “in a great trial of affliction”

Laodicea Had Peace – Rev. 3:15 – “neither cold nor hot”

2. Thessalonica Had Peace With God – vs. 2 – “the abundance of their joy”

Laodicea Had Peace With The World – Rev. 3:16 – “spue thee out of my mouth”

3. Thessalonica Had Poverty – vs. 2 – “their deep poverty” Look at the word poverty! (lest I steal) What an attitude in their deep poverty

Laodicea Had Prosperity – Rev. 3:17 – “I am rich”
(Therefore, it was not a financial problem, but a faith problem)

4. Thessalonica Had Liberality – vs. 2 – “abounded unto the riches of their liberality”

Laodicea Had Lukewarmness – Rev 3:16 – “So then because thou are lukewarm”
(Therefore, it was not a Saviour problem, but a saint problem)

5. Thessalonica Had A Servant’s Heart – vs. 3 – “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves”

Laodicea Had A Selfish Heart – Rev. 3:17 - “(I am) increased with goods”

6. Thessalonica Had A Love For Souls – vs. 4 – “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints”

Laodicea Had A Lust For Satisfaction – Rev. 3:17 - “(I have) need of nothing”

7. Thessalonica Had Spiritual Blessing – vs. 4 – “the fellowship of the ministering to the saints”

Laodicea Had Spiritual Blindness – Rev. 3:17 – “and knowest not … blind”
(Therefore, it was not a partiality problem, but a personal problem)

8. Thessalonica Had A Reward – vs. 5 – “but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God”

Laodicea Had A Rebuke – Rev. 3:19 – “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten”

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