- DOES THE CHURCH OWE THE WORLD? HOW MUCH?
- WHO IS RESPONSIBLE TO FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION?
- WHAT IS THE SYSTEM?
IT IS REQUIRED
1 Corinthians 4:2: it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Each Christian is a steward. One is either a faithful steward or a slack and/or insubordinate steward. A faithful steward is obedient to the Master’s [rightly divided] Word. “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” to the instructions of the Lord God in all areas of his life including finances.
Money can be very expensive. Income costs. A man invests a certain amount of his life to attain a certain income. Spending that income is spending life. Spending money is spending time.
Time is precious. There is so little of it. How one invests time is crucial. And that is why the whole matter of finances [tithing, donations, etc.] is so important to the steward wanting to be found faithful. When an individual drops a sum of money into a collection plate, he is actually contributing that portion of his life it took to earn that money. A wise and faithful steward is choosy as to which collection plate he honors. He knows he is accountable.
Matthew 28:19, 20: Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
This is the Great Commission. The church has been given the awesome responsibility of reaching the world for Christ. Each Christian is obligated to God to invest in the Great Commission.
At this very hour there are possibly as many as five billion souls on that “broad…way, that leads to destruction” [Mat. 7:13]. Five billion is a staggering sum. It is equivalent to five thousand cities each with a population of one million. Financing the Great Commission is a very costly enterprise. Funds are required for everything from tracts to transportation, pencils to computers. Missionaries and evangelists must be sent and sustained.
Unfortunately, so little of the money contributed to various spiritual and religious programs and projects is directed toward the Great Commission. This is criminal. It is shameful. It is sin.
Money, well invested, results in souls for Christ. Entrusting money to the right person or organization will increase that person’s or that organization’s ability to reach the lost and desperate. Or simply investing in quality tracts will bring fruit. A bicycle donated to a zealous native of a Third World country could result in the salvation of dozens or even hundreds of souls [think of it…one bicycle!]. These are just a few ways of responding to the demands of the Great Commission.
LOVE FOR THE WORLD
John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
A man will not finance that which he does not love. A Christian will not give consistent support to the Great Commission unless he loves the world for which Christ laid down His life.
In the above verse, the word ‘loved’ is past tense. God ‘loved’ the world. But God also ‘loves’ the world [the unsaved, the unregenerate]. God loves the world as much now as the day He “gave his only begotten Son.” If it were necessary for the salvation of the world, He would give Him again, such is God’s love for the masses who walk in darkness.
If one truly loves a friend, he will help that friend’s children, if asked, even if those children are not particularly lovable. Likewise, if a person truly loves the Father, he will surely have a place in his heart for the world that Father loves dearly. Anyone not having a burden for the lost does not appreciate his own salvation. He has forgotten from where he has come.
Matthew 7:12: all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do even so to them:
If a hunter was lost he would certainly hope, and even expect, someone was out looking for him. How would he feel if he somehow discovered no one was searching? His friends could have at least financed a search party but didn’t care enough.
Jesus said, “whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do even unto them.” To ignore the plight of the spiritually lost is willful disobedience to Christ.
Matthew 5:7: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
”They” shall obtain mercy. Who? The merciful.
Matthew 7:17: every good tree brings forth good fruit;
“Every” good tree produces good fruit. A tree that does not produce good fruit is not a good tree. A good Christian produces Christians. Sheep beget sheep. Every Christian having possessions to sell or money to spare can readily produce good fruit by simply investing in the Great Commission.
Matthew 10:8: freely you have received, freely give.
Give without charge. Give freely. Give generously. Give.
Matthew 22:39: And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
Who is “your neighbour”? When Jesus told the story of the man robbed and beaten on his way to Jericho (Luke, chapter 10), He asked this question, “Which now of these three [the priest, the Levite or the good Samaritan], was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” The answer is obvious, “He that showed mercy on him.” Jesus then said, “Go, and do likewise.”
Jesus is merciful and He demands mercy from His disciples. ”Blessed are the merciful,” He said, “for they shall obtain mercy.” If there is a crust of indifference around one’s heart [as in the case of the priest and the Levite], one should immediately repent before King Jesus.
Luke 12:34: where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
If one’s treasure [that which one possesses, i.e., one’s life, time, money, etc.] is not in the Great Commission, neither is one’s heart in the Great Commission. A pastor cannot expect an assembly to forward all of its donations into building programs, staff salary, maintenance, social activities, etc. – and expect that assembly to maintain a concern for the lost.
If students of the Word want to monitor their heart, they merely have to catalog their spending. You spend the most on that which you care the most about, whether it be the Great Commission, self, church, religion, or whatever. What matters least, receives least.
John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
He gave His Son to the world. Should not the Christian give to the world? It was for the world Jesus laid done His life. Shouldn’t the Christian spend at least some of his life for the world? Jesus came to planet Earth “to save that which was lost.” Shouldn’t the body of Christ be moved with the same passion and compassion for the same lost people? Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.” It is the Father’s will that none “should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” In the light of these words, in light of the fact every believer once was where they are, how can the church be callous toward the Great Commission.
THE VALUE OF A SOUL
Matthew 16:26: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
By these words Jesus taught one person is worth more than the whole world and all it contains. What is the value of five billion people?
1 Corinthians 4:2: it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful
The faithful steward, the student of the Word, the Christian who takes the mandates of the Lord seriously should ask him/herself an obvious question:
“Is an acceptable portion of my substance and income being invested in the Great Commission?”
God has no alternate plan for bringing the world into His kingdom. The heathen are dependent solely upon the obedience of the redeemed. Should the church fail the lost will stay lost. Eternally.
The Great Commission is a costly undertaking. There is, however, no lack in God’s kingdom. He owns ”the cattle upon a thousand hills.” It is not in the justice of God to commission without providing.
God has always provided. Tragically, these provisions are spent elsewhere. Swimming pools and tennis lessons. Vacations and stamp collections. Diamond rings and saunas. Church buildings, salaries, and parking lots. The problem is not lack, the problem is misappropriation. Christians are hoarding. Christians are building.
The world is like that. There is enough, but distribution is askew. Some plunder, some hunger. But that’s to be expected of the world for they know not Christ. Such selfishness and shortsightedness should not be found amongst God’s people. The example of generosity is before the church and will be a witness against it: Father gave His Son; Jesus laid down His life.
It is my observation the church is actually taught to misappropriate. The new convert is quickly introduced into what I call [not affectionately] The System.
The System is the term I have coined for the financial structure and the mentality adopted by many [most?] fundamentalists. The System is the accepted method of collecting and distributing funds. The System generates and controls the flow of multi-billions of dollars.
The System is hailed as sacred by the denominational and the interdenominational, by the charismatic and the evangelical, by the traditional and the liberal. The System’s most ardent lobbyists are those paid a salary by The System.
The System builds buildings, provides organs and sound systems, finances the pastor and, generally speaking, provides quite well for the local assembly and denominational headquarters. As far as the Great Commission is concerned, however, The System is intolerable and [I believe] God hates it.
While the pastor is relatively secure, the evangelist [as well as the apostle, prophet and teacher] must soon learn the art of fund raising. He is the ox that is muzzled as he treads out the corn. The pagan nations perish from lack of knowledge and yet he is not sent. He is admonished to “wait upon the Lord”, or, “if God is in your ministry, He will provide a way.”
The local church declares itself the “storehouse” and therefore God’s collection agency. The pastor perpetuates The System. He is the first to challenge the believer after payday, faithfully passing the plate under the believer’s nose every Sunday, not once but twice. Often this man has no sympathy for the evangelist and resents him coming to town.
If the Great Commission is ever to be properly financed, The System must be overthrown.
Tithing is the cornerstone of The System. Someone has reached over to the other side of Calvary, pulled the tithing statute out of the Law, built upon this cornerstone The System, and highlighted it to such a degree that the Great Commission has become very, very secondary. If ever The System is to topple, the cornerstone must be removed.
Tithing is the subject of the next chapter.