“Now Concerning the Collection” – Part 5: Correlation Between Giving and Fellowship

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Various works are carried out using the funds collected by the church. Since all the brethren at a local congregation make contributions into the treasury, they are working together in these activities. In Scripture this is called fellowship – joint participation. Paul warned, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11, KJV). Another translation says, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness” (NASB). When we participate together in a work, we have fellowship with one another. When we place funds into a common treasury, we are working together in the works that are supported out of the treasury. Therefore, our giving on the first day of the week is one way in which we have fellowship together.
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“Now Concerning the Collection” – Part 4: Institutionalism and the Sponsoring Church Arrangement

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As we noticed in the previous section, there are many who use funds from the church treasury for things other than just the works of the church – evangelism, edification, and limited benevolence. Some use money from their treasury for these works, but they do so by sending funds to another organization (either a human institution or another congregation) so that organization can carry out these spiritual works. We often refer to this practice as either institutionalism or the sponsoring church arrangement, depending on the nature of the organization to which the funds are sent. Does God authorize this in His word?

First we need to be sure we understand what exactly is being done before we can compare the practice with Scripture. Institutionalism refers to the forming or use of organizations separate from the church to carry out the works of the church. The sponsoring church arrangement has to do with one or more churches sending funds to another church that collects funds from these various churches and uses that money to do the work of the church. Much could be said about these issues; but so as to not divert too much attention away from our topic of the collection, we will briefly compare these concepts with the word of God.
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“Now Concerning the Collection” – Part 3: Use of the Treasury

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Some question whether we even have Bible authority for a church treasury. While the term “church treasury” is not used in the New Testament, the concept certainly is. In Acts 4:32-35, aid was provided for those in need using funds that had been pooled together. This collection of donations was, for all intents and purposes, a treasury. We clearly see that the church in Jerusalem had a treasury into which individual Christians deposited money. The apostles then used this treasury to distribute to those in need.

The concept of a church treasury is also found in Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians. Paul was coming to take money they had raised to Jerusalem to benefit needy saints (1 Corinthians 16:3). In order that the “gift” would be ready and that “no collections be made when I [Paul] come” (1 Corinthians 16:2), the church was to take up a collection “on the first day of every week.” These funds that were collected every week were saved so they would be ready when Paul arrived. Where were they saved? In the church treasury. Again, the term “church treasury” is not found in the New Testament; but as we have noticed, the concept certainly is. Congregations have Bible authority to have a treasury into which they can collect funds for safe keeping until the time when these funds are to be used.

But do we have authority to use the church treasury for just anything or are there certain things to which we must be limited? That is certainly an important question. We have authority for a treasury, but do we have the right to use that money for anything we choose? No! Ultimately, the money in the church treasury belongs to the Lord. After all, the church itself belongs to Christ. He “purchased [it] with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). He is the “head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). He possesses “all authority” (Matthew 28:18) – we possess none. Therefore, we must use the funds from the treasury of His church in the ways He has authorized.
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“Now Concerning the Collection” – Part 2: The Act of Giving

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Before beginning a study, we must first have a clear understanding as to what is under discussion. What sort of giving are we talking about? The giving under consideration here has to do with the monetary contributions that are made to the church. We read of this when the church in Jerusalem was engaged in the act of giving – Christians were selling property and bringing the proceeds to the apostles. These funds were then distributed to needy saints (Acts 4:32-35).

Paul also spoke of giving to the Corinthians when he wrote “concerning the collection” (1 Corinthians 16:1) and gave them certain instructions regarding this practice. These instructions that were given to the Christians in Corinth were not peculiar to that congregation. The churches in the first century had a uniform teaching. Paul spoke of this when he told them of Timothy – another gospel preacher – who would come with the same message he had brought them. That message that Paul brought was the same message he preached “everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17). So the instructions concerning the collection found in the New Testament apply to us today, regardless of where we are or the congregation of which we are members.
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“Now Concerning the Collection” – Part 1: Introduction

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While Paul was journeying back to Jerusalem, he stopped in Miletus and “sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church” (Acts 20:17) and reminded them of the work he had done among them in preaching the gospel. He was able to confidently say that he was “innocent of the blood of all men” because he “did not shrink from declaring to [them] the whole purpose (counsel, KJV) of God” (Acts 20:26-27). This was his responsibility as a gospel preacher – to preach the word of God without holding anything back. By doing this, he was “innocent of the blood of all men.” Conversely, he would stand guilty before God if he failed to teach anything that was necessary and “profitable” (Acts 20:20).
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“Now Concerning the Collection” – A Study of Giving

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In February 2006 I was asked to present a lesson on the topic of giving. This was to coincide with our discussion in the adult Bible class on the subject. We were studying 1 Corinthians 16 and decided to spend some time talking about this seemingly oft-neglected subject. We spent two or three classes, followed by a sermon in the assembly discussing the topic of giving. All together, I believe it was a good study and profitable for all Christians to consider.
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