Thursday, July 23, 2009

God Loves a Cheerful Giver - part 2

God’s Plan for Funding His Work

The seminar that I attended recently on support raising has really been an encouragement. We are enjoying support raising for the first time in our 15 years of ministry! It is mostly due to the truths of Scripture that I came to understand from the seminar. Last time, in the article To Make Tents or not – that is the Question, I was trying to help clarify what tent-making was and how it was used in Scripture to fund Paul’s ministry. Now that we know that tent-making was not God’s ideal plan to fund His work, I want to talk about what is God’s plan.

In 1 Corinthians 9:1-18 Paul defends his rights as an apostle. Central to this passage and this topic of what God’s plan is to fund His work is vs. 14, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” Paul uses some examples earlier in this passage from life and the Old Testament, but this verse leaves no doubt. Notice that it says that the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should live from it. This is not a suggestion or merely a good idea, but a command. In other words, if you are spending your time preaching the Gospel, it is His command that you are supported from your hard work of preaching the Gospel. By the way, remember that “if a man does not work neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10), so our work of preaching the Gospel is not a call to laziness.

Therefore, if those who preach the Gospel are to receive their living from it, does it simply fall from the sky and land in the lap of those who need it? Again the word of God comes through! Numbers 13:21-32 commands that the Levites were to dedicate themselves to the Tabernacle and the worship of the Lord and that they were not to receive land when it was divided up. They were to be supported by the tithes and offerings of the children of Israel. Notice, however, to Whom the gifts were offered. The children of Israel were to give their tithes and offerings to the Lord and the Levites were to receive from the Lord His provision. This is emphasized in Malachi 3:8-10, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.” The tithes and offerings belonged to God, not the Levites.

In the New Testament we know that it isn’t only the tithes and offerings that belong to the Lord, but all of our earthly possessions, and even ourselves as well. If those who preach the Gospel are to receive their living from the Gospel, then we all should be supporting those who preach the Gospel, whether here or abroad. The cool part though is that we offer it not to the preacher of the Gospel, but to God Himself. To Him it is a “sweet smelling aroma” (Phil. 4:10), but more about that next time!

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