|Vol. 1, No. 4||Page 16||April 1999|
True Christianity Vs. Denominationalism
Thank you for your comments of Saturday, December 19, 1998 regarding my internet article entitled "American Idolatry." Following are some additional thoughts for your consideration.
You cited Rev. 7:9 regarding a multitude in heaven which no man could number. You concluded that in order for such a large number to be in heaven that God must choose souls from among all those who claim to be Christians, irrespective of what they believe or practice.
First, your solution is not the lone remedy for what you suppose is a mathematical dilemma. Souls in that number will include those who have lived since creation through the end of time. Billions of souls will comprise the vast host of living souls from which the "multitude" in heaven will be drawn. As such, then, members of that heavenly multitude are not even limited to the Christian Age, but include souls who lived under Patriarchy and Judaism.
Further, it is possible to worship God in vain (Matt. 15:9) or be disobedient to the Gospel for which God will dispense punishment instead of reward (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Rather, those souls who obey God's law under which they live (for us the Gospel) will be saved eternally (Heb. 5:8-9).
Finally, Scripture clearly indicates that the majority of mankind will be lost (Matt. 7:13-14). The only confidence anyone can entertain regarding an eternity in heaven is compliance with God's stated will for mankind. God's grace and mercy are not operative on our behalf in the face of rebellion against his will. Denominationalism stands at odds with biblical directive regarding redemption, worship, service and doctrine.
Jesus promised to build one church (Matt. 16:18), to which he adds the saved (Acts 2:47). The New Testament ascribes saving qualities to faith (John 8:24), repenting of sins (Acts 17:30), professing Christ (Rom. 10:9-10), immersion in water for the forgiveness of sins (Col. 2:12; Acts 22:16; 2:38), and faithfulness (Rev. 2:10). God has not promised to save mankind despite his failure to comply with his will, worship him in God-appointed ways, etc., but to the contrary has promised that disobedient souls will not be in heaven.
I hope this proves to be food for thought.
Yours in Christ,
1. What is the Bible teaching about "Special Collections" as special mission efforts, building programs, etc., etc.?? At best, are these not abused because Christians don't give as they have been prospered?I certainly can appreciate your concern over the Lord's church succumbing often to the influences of denominationalism instead of being wholly guided by the Bible. Further, I too may have some strong feelings how various aspects of worship and service should be conducted. We both, though, must distinguish between matters of opinion or expediency and biblical mandates. The New Testament does teach some definitive, doctrinal matters regarding giving. Also, the New Testament teaches some things by implication (which are no less binding) about giving. However, the New Testament does permit latitude in some areas regarding giving.
First, the "tithe" or ten percent giving of the Old Testament was part of that law from which we have been relieved. Tithing has not been reinstituted in the New Testament. Yet, if a tenth (tithe) corresponds with other New Testament teaching and principles, one may give a tenth portion of his income.
Second, giving in the New Testament is to be as one purposes in his heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Third, giving in the New Testament is regulated according to one's prosperity (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). From the latter passage, we discern that part of the Lord's Day assembly for worship includes a free will offering. Similarly, Acts 20:7 includes preaching and the communion upon the first day of the week in the worship assembly. Of course, praying and singing are a part of the Lord's Day assembly for worship, too.
Whereas from available biblical evidence, the communion appears to be restricted to the first day of the week, some other expressions of worship are not confined to the Sunday worship assembly (e.g., prayer and singing). So far, as one purposes in his heart and according to his prosperity have been established by biblical evidence as God's pattern for the Lord's church in giving. However, though that giving is to be a part of the Sunday worship assembly, is giving, like communion, restricted to the first day of the week? No.
In Acts 4 we read of special needs experienced by Christians in Jerusalem. These needs were perhaps a result of Jews who were converted in Acts 2 (unexpectedly) who tarried due to that conversion beyond the time for which they anticipated and for which they made advance preparation. As they lingered in Jerusalem and were being edified in their new religious faith, they began to have needs.
Consequently, generous Christians sold some real estate and gave the proceeds to the apostles for distribution among the needy Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 4:34-37). In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira sold some property and pretended to give all the proceeds to the church for benevolence. The contribution there was presented to the apostles under circumstances that cannot be conclusively assigned to the Lord's Day assembly. The day is not specified. The whole congregation was not assembled (Sapphira was not there initially and several men left to bury Ananias). There appears in that context (Acts 5:1-10) to be a coming and going over the space of three hours. Acts chapters 4 and 5 evidence a "special contribution" additional to a free will offering in the Lord's Day assembly.
One might reason that if he were to give all he can or at least ought in the Lord's Day assembly contribution, he would have nothing remaining with which he could part for a special contribution. Yet, though one gives as he purposes and according to his prosperity, that does not necessarily preclude the possibility of making a sacrifice whereby even more is given. The Macedonian Christians were said to have given more than according to their prosperity (2 Corinthians 8:2).
Regarding your second question, inferences from implication contained in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 must be developed to explain how God intended the Lord's church to finance itself. Strictly speaking, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 only authorizes collections for benevolence (and then only for poor saints in Jerusalem, verse 3). Yet, clearly the church is obligated to spend money for other matters, too (e.g., financially supporting preachers, 1 Corinthians 9:1-15). Lacking any other procedures for finance upon the pages of inspiration, biblical principles derived from 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 must be applied to other matters for which the church has an obligation to spend money.
Gambling (bingo), church suppers, festivals and car washes with which Catholicism and denominationalism finance themselves are (1) not authorized, (2) contrary to free will offerings, and (3) not supported even in principle by any New Testament passages. (Incidental interest income on church checking or savings, though not free will offerings, in principle is a matter of good stewardship, Matthew 25:27. Yet, I would discourage both the Lord's church banking great amounts of money instead of using it for the Lord's work at home or abroad and purposing to support itself in any degree from interest income.)
I hope this helps and satisfactorily answers your question.
Yours in Christ,