Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 13 No. 11 November 2011
Page 16

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to rushmore@gospelgazette.com

Is Giving a Part of
New Testament Worship?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis Rushmore

In looking at the Scriptures I have grown up hearing on giving in the New Testament that we use as a command to give, I noticed that the Scriptures we use as the command to give are in reality a command by Paul to the churches to give for the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem due to the great famine prophesied by Agabus. We pull Scriptures out of the context they were written in and make them a command to us today. I know that the principle of giving is seen throughout the Old and New Testament, and God wants us to give, but I believe we may have done an injustice to these Scriptures. The whole context needs to be taught not just a few Scriptures we want to pull out to support what we believe and what we want commanded. To use these Scriptures as a direct command for us to lay by in store on every first day of the week is not really a command to all Christians for all time but as I said for a special offering commanded by Paul for the Christians in need in Jerusalem. I am not saying we should not give, but what I am saying is that we need to look afresh at these Scriptures we use and the way we use them. In Christ, Timothy in Sherman, TX

I am one who certainly acknowledges that especially Christians need to use Scripture within the context in which it appears to teach what God desires to be taught from respective passages. For instance, to use the latter phrase of Romans 14:23, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” to teach that whatever is not contained within the system of faith – the Gospel – is not a correct application of Holy Scripture; rather, it is a cardinal, sinful abuse of God’s Word. The context surrounding Romans 14:23 pertains to one’s conscience, not “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Though it is true that whatsoever is not in the Christian faith or Gospel should not be taught, believed or practice, we ought to appeal to the verses of Scripture that teach so (1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19) instead of corrupting passages of Scripture to make them teach what we want them to say.

However, appealing to 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 for contemporary instruction respecting Christian giving in worship today is not in the same category as the misuse of Romans 14:23 noted above. Yes, the greater context of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 cites as the reason for which those Christians in the first century were commanded to give the needs of famine stricken Christians. Yet, this context provides contemporary Christians with invaluable information respecting the only way in which the New Testament authorizes the Lord’s church to finance itself.

A child of God is not abusing Acts 20:7 when he concludes that Christians today ought to partake of the Lord’s Supper and have preaching or teaching in the worship of the local church on the first day of each week. Neither is the child of God abusing 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 when he concludes that contemporary Christians ought to give from among their prosperity weekly on the Lord’s Day when they assemble for worship. In both instances, the information contained in the biblical text pertained first to those Christians under consideration in the respective passages. Then, through the correct use of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics), one discerns that the ways in which the first century church worshipped satisfactorily under apostolic guidance are the ways in which the Lord’s church today must also conduct itself if its worship is to be satisfactory to God, too.

Although the context of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 cites benevolence therein as the motivation for giving, other passages in the New Testament cite various circumstances in addition to benevolence for which the Lord’s church needs to spend money: financial support for some elders, 1 Timothy 5:1718; financial support for preachers, Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 9:1-14; general benevolence toward Christians and non-Christians, Galatians 6:10; financial support for missionaries (evangelists), Philippians 1:5; 4:14-16; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9. In addition, the fact that the church must assemble somewhere implies that expenses may be incurred (e.g., rent, mortgage), and observance of the Lord’s Supper weekly implies that expenses for the bread and the fruit of the vine may be incurred.

Anything for which the Lord’s church spends money relies on the only biblical authorization for financially funding it – 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. First Corinthians 16:1-2 is the sole biblical precedent for funding the worship and work of the churches of Christ! Yes, the context of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 needs to be taught, but additionally, correct biblical interpretation needs to be used to ascertain by what authority we do whatever it is that we do religiously in our time. Were one to discount application of this important passage to the Lord’s people today, we would be left without any biblical authorization for funding the necessary expenses of the Lord’s church. Like weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7), weekly giving according to our prosperity (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) is a part of New Testament worship that God’s children today ought to implement when the whole church comes together in one place (1 Corinthians 11:20; 14:23) each Lord’s Day.


Are Christians Perfect?

What does the bible say about perfection or being perfect? Wasn’t and isn’t it attainable for Christians? ~ Harrison Maduike

Are Christians perfect? That depends on what one means by the word, “perfect.” We have a tendency to think of “perfect” religiously as being sinlessly perfect. However, that is not the way in which the word “perfect” is used in the New Testament respecting Christians. Notice some following examples of the way in which the words “perfect” and “perfection” are used in the New Testament regarding Christians.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The word “perfection” here comes from the Greek teleiotes, which means “(the state) completeness (mentally or morally)” (Strong’s). In this verse, the Christian is urged to continue toward completeness as a Christian. Second Corinthians 13:9 reads, “For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.” Here, the Greek word for “perfection” is katartisis, and it means “thorough equipment” (Strong’s). Paul wrote that he desired the Corinthians to be thoroughly equipped in the Christian faith.

The English word “perfect” likewise appears in several New Testament passages, too. Matthew 5:48 reads, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” In this verse, teleios is translated as “perfect”; it means “complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.)” (Strong’s). Vine’s notes that the word can mean “having reached its end… finished, complete, perfect… fully grown, mature.” God’s children are to be complete, comparable to the completeness of God, as we imitate Him. We need to finish our transformation into becoming faithful Christians (Romans 12:2); we need to mature spiritually. The “perfect man” of Ephesians 4:13 is a spiritually mature man, and it is used in the same way in Philippians 3:15 and Colossians 1:28 as well as in Colossians 4:12 and James 3:2. The rich young ruler would have demonstrated that he was perfect or mature had he followed the instructions of our Lord (Matthew 19:21).

Second Corinthians 13:11 uses the English word “perfect” from the Greek katartizo, which means “to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust” (Strong’s). “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” The Christian walk is one of perpetual repair toward the end of making ourselves thoroughly complete in the practice of Christianity. That is the sense of Hebrews 13:21; “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The 1 Peter 5:10 reference to “make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” also demonstrates the chronic adjusting that Christians undergo to be thoroughly complete Christians.

Then, 2 Timothy 3:17 refers to being made “perfect,” too. “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Artios appears in the Greek in this place, meaning “fresh, i.e. (by implication) complete” (Strong’s).
All of the occasions in the New Testament where the English word “perfect” appears have to do with the process through which we as Christians go and continue to go to maintain our status as faithful Christians. We are ever in the process of maturing and completing our Christianity. None of the references pertain to a state of sinless perfection attained by even the children of God who are governed by the New Testament. Yes, Christians are “perfect” if they are mature and involved always in the process of thoroughly endeavoring to completely conform to Christian instruction, or to imitate God.

Works Cited

Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 2006.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words. CD-ROM. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985.

 


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