Thursday, January 5, 2017

Book Preview from Chapter 7


“Financial stewardship is controversial. The Christian public encounters frequent disagreements in the matter by sincere Christian leaders. Some tell the believer to tithe as a Christian obligation. Others transfer the legality of the tithe into the realm of moral obligation. Still others insist that giving has nothing to do with tithing but is a matter of grace. The present inadequate state of financial stewardship among Christians lies exactly where Christian leaders ought to expect in view of such discord.
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“This study demonstrates that God’s financial stewardship pattern for the Church of Jesus Christ parallels the pattern established in Israel. There are no theological differences between the Testaments on this point—The Bible has only one theology of financial stewardship, a theology that centers on justice, mercy and faithfulness. True, there are some peripheral items of the Old Testament giving practices not adopted in the New Testament such as tithing, but the theological issues remain constant. That God’s people learn to live together in a community relationship where worship needs and social needs are met has ever been God’s overriding concern. This biblical conclusion, however, needs to be integrated into the theological system of the Church and into the every day function of every local community of believers.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Preview from Chapter 6


“The Bible presents a unified pattern of financial stewardship. God’s desires for His people do not change. This gives rise to various theological and practical issues that have either been overlooked or avoided. The purpose of this chapter is to explain their relationship to the central thesis without necessarily trying to resolve these problems.”









Theological Considerations:

·     Proof-texting

“What text does one select to preach or teach financial stewardship? . . . What one needs is a passage that bridges both Testaments and leads to the theological underpinnings of the doctrine.”

·    Religious maturation

“The religion of Old Testament Judaism was theologically immature in comparison to that of New Testament  Christianity. Given this conclusion, some aspects of the Old Testament religion, though good in their own context, have little or no place in Christianity. . . . The development of religion has not been incorporated into many theological statements when the topic of financial stewardship takes center stage.”

·    Divine intentions

God’s purposes for financial stewardship transcend money. He longs for the spiritual commitments that giving involves. A legitimate biblical theology of financial stewardship must center on spiritual ends.”

·    Local church autonomy

However, the theology of the Church must in some way include an interdependency of local churches. The Body of Christ is an organically connected entity, and this connectedness includes financial stewardship.”

·    Community consciousness

Koinonia defines the biblical pattern of financial stewardship for the New Testament Church. Correctly understood, this community consciousness denies the validity of a profit motive within the Body of Christ. Any stewardship emphasis that includes such a motive to raise funds is unchristian and unbiblical.”

·    Non-Christian money

Biblically the people of God shoulder the responsibility to support God’s programs and people. . . . Expecting God to ‘spoil the gentiles,’ so to speak, to marshal funds to support His people and program must be considered outside the biblical norm.”

·    Non-Christian poor

Christians supporting Christians takes priority over Christians supporting non-Christians.”

Practical Considerations:

·    A Leadership goal

A focus of every Christian leader should be to bring every believer to full maturity in Christ (Colossians 1:28). If tithing was in truth related to the spiritual immaturity of the Old Testament religion, as presented in the preceding pages, then it would be spiritually defeating for any Christian leader to promote tithing as the Christian mode of giving. Tithers may never grow into full Christian maturity; willing givers cannot help but grow in Christ. . . . One should not construe, however, that tithing is necessarily wrong or sinful or taboo.”

·    Christian fellowship

For believers in Christ to be able to exercise biblical fellowship  . . . , they must know the needs of the Body of Christ. But, given the ingrained and permanent cultural norm in American society of the sanctity of personal information, financial needs are rarely shared by hurting individuals or church leaders. Herein lies a conflict between Christianity and culture, and Christian leaders must grapple with this knotty problem if they expect God’s people to open their wallets. God holds His people responsible for meeting the needs of the Church. He does not expect or encourage them to give blindly or irresponsibly. Neither should Christian leaders.

·    Cooperative programs

“Local church autonomy is an important but not necessarily an overriding issue. The New Testament knows nothing of minimizing or eliminating local church responsibility within the larger Universal Church. . . . However accomplished every local church has a God-ordained connection with and share the responsibility for the economic well-being of the Church universal.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Preview from Chapter 5

“The Jerusalem Church set the New Testament paradigm for Christian financial stewardship. As the Old Testament projected its influence into the Jerusalem Church, so the Jerusalem Church provided the pattern for the Church after Acts 8.  
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 “The local Church at Jerusalem in the early days experienced fellowship in a way that became the pattern for fellowship in local churches elsewhere. The believers in Acts gave money or property to maintain social welfare, community worship, and personal devotion. These same ideals were carried on by the believers in the churches that sprung up after Acts 8.

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 “The early Jerusalem Church was both local and universal with one pattern of financial stewardship. After Acts 8, however, the situation changed radically. The Jerusalem Church, now only local, continued its giving pattern locally but necessarily altered its giving in the universal realm. The same held true for every other local church in the world.  

 “The greater number of financial stewardship verses in the New Testament discuss Universal Church giving. While individual churches knew their responsibilities at home, they were often unaware of the economic circumstances of Christians elsewhere. The problems of geography and non-awareness, however, did not set aside responsibility; rather they intensified the need for accurate information. This explains Paul’s repeated remarks about the needs of the Judaean believers. He not only gave out needed information, but also used it as an opportunity to teach believers about their financial fellowship obligations towards all members of the Universal Church.

 “Like local churches, the Universal Church gave (1) to maintain the social welfare of Christians elsewhere in the world, (2) to maintain worship, in this case promoting missionary enterprise, and (3) to maintain personal devotion to God.

 “The Universal Church, like its Jerusalem predecessor, functioned similarly despite geographic hindrances. The similarities include (1) the recognition of a financial need, (2) the recognition of a fellowship responsibility to alleviate that need based upon the unity of the Body of Christ, and (3) the practical outworking of the principle of holding all things common. As above, the κοινός [koinos, “common”] word group is the center of attention.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Preview from Chapter 4


“The New Testament partly explains the Old Testament. For this reason, setting the Old Testament stage properly before discussing the New Testament pattern of financial stewardship for the Church was necessary. A clear connection exists between the two Testaments regarding financial stewardship, and this chapter brings the essence of the biblical teaching into bold relief. The essential ingredients stem from the character of the Jerusalem Church and its pattern of financial stewardship.
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“The theological importance of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was its distortion of the meaning of Christian fellowship. As discussed above, the essence of fellowship is an attitude of mind based upon the essential unity of the entire community which places one’s goods at the disposal of any needy member of the community. The antithesis of such fellowship is selfishness defined by the term ἴδιος [idios, “one’s own”]. Ananias and Sapphira desired the benefits that Christian fellowship offers without being themselves in harmony with the spirit of that fellowship. Purves concludes that their sin ‘was an offence against the very spirit by which the community was organized; for it exhibited falsehood, worldliness, and essential unbelief.’ Batey concurs, ‘their prevarication was an offence against the Holy Spirit and a violation of the nature of the community.’ (See the book for complete bibliographic data)


“In light of the uniqueness of the Jerusalem Church and its central position in the economy of God, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was extremely grave. For these reasons God rooted this sin out of the Church in a manner that has never been repeated and will probably never be repeated. The Jerusalem Church was unique, being universal and local at the same time. Also, this Church was God’s pattern upon which other local churches would be organized. The doctrine and fellowship of the Jerusalem Church, two key elements in the Church’s activities (Acts 2:42), served as the foundation for church life in other locations. God could not tolerate a distortion of community fellowship as exhibited by Ananias and Sapphira.”

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Book Preview from Chapter 3


“It is not only possible but necessary to teach the Old Testament in the Church. The authoritative Scriptures consist of 66 books in two testaments. Preachers expect their people to read the whole Bible and their people expect them to preach the whole counsel of God. Both must understand how to properly apply the teachings of the Old Testament to the Christian faith. Preachers in particular should model the interpretation and application processes from the pulpit. To do less may leave the people afloat on a sea of confusion and abandon them to unscrupulous teachers of religion.
 
“With regards to financial stewardship, pulpiteers must help people understand the biblical subject as taught in both the Old and New Testaments. When done properly much confusion can be dispelled alleviating significant guilt and perhaps enhancing the giving patterns in the pews.”

Book Preview from Chapter 2



“For many Christians tithing is a matter of custom, based, presumably, on the teaching of the Bible or family or church upbringing. However done the commitment is commendable. Many have testified about the blessings of God associated with tithing and this is not to be slighted. But the divine blessing may have come because of tithing or because of spiritual commitment or because of both. These are separate issues but one is indisputable—God blesses spiritual commitment however it is shown by His people.”

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Preview from Chapter 1


 

“One of the wonderful truths of Christianity is that God is in control—even with regards to money and the need for individuals, churches, and parachurch organizations to have the financial ‘wherewithal’ to operate and advance the kingdom of God on earth. For God, money is no problem; He can supply and has done so throughout history to advance genuine Christian causes. The tragedy is not that there is not enough money to meet all needs but that many sincere Christian people live with a guilt-ridden question, ‘Am I pleasing God with what I do with my money?’ The intent of this book is to provide an understanding of the biblical data regarding why and how we are to give and thereby be in a position to live and give without guilt.”