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In the days we live in today, the loud and brassy doctrine that we hear blaring from the affluent church is that Jesus wants you wealthy. Or at least, He doesn’t mind it one iota…but…
What does God’s Word declare on this vital subject of mammon? Is it vague, or somewhat cryptic? And how much volume does the Holy Spirit spend on its revelation and development?
And, also very important, what are you hearing in the assemblies of God you attend? What are people saying, especially the leaders?
On to the Word…
Our brother the apostle Paul is dealing with his Corinthian church plant. He has mega problems with them. They are arrogant, rebellious to his mandates from God, embracing false teachers and false prophets…and trashing Paul and his apostleship at every opportunity. As Gordon Fee says in his marvelous commentary, Paul is taking them on at every turn to stun them to walk worthy.
Now we come to 2 Corinthians and there’s a famine in Jerusalem. The brethren are very hungry. The famine is actually worldwide, but the saints in Jerusalem are especially hard hit, and the apostles and itinerant church planters are taking up a collection.
But the wealthy Corinthians are dogging it…and Paul pens his piercing words. How would you feel if your babies, and your child, and your teenage daughter, your spouse, and your elderly live-in parents were all half starving? And the so-called brethren in another country were storing up treasures on earth? Be honest now…how would you feel? What would you say or do?
The poor assemblies in Macedonian to the north of Corinth are begging Paul and his fellow workers so that the Macedonians can give even more money for the hungry saints. Amazing grace.
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NASB)
What do we see with this poor church? Joy…deep poverty…deep, not shallow…their “wealth” is in the liberality of their hilarious giving…not some defunct Old Testament tithing but real sacrificial holiness. Begging Paul and company for the gracious privilege to give and give again. [Read more…]