The Congregation And It’s Money – Part 3

Giving our Money

 

 

How Should We Use God’s Money?

 

The question that we’ve been examining is;  How is a congregation authorized to use it’s money?  We have clear examples in the new testament, of congregations sending money to other congregations who are in need, and also of congregations using their money to help members of their own congregation.  But the question remains;  Do we have the authority from the bible, for the congregation to use the money collected through the weekly contribution, to assist non-Christians?

After examining the scriptures, we find that we have no examples of such being done.  But yet we have many commands instructing us, as Christians, to help the poor, and those in need, and to be a neighbor to everyone.

For example, we have the well-known story about “the good Samaritan”, from  Luke 10:30-37.   This story teaches us clearly that we need to be a “neighbor” to anyone and everyone who is in need.  And this story also clearly authorizes us to use our money to help strangers.  For instance..

Luke 10:35  says,  “And on the next day, he took two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper and said;  Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.” 

And Jesus says in V-37,  “Go and do the same.”   So, go and be a neighbor to anyone who needs a neighbor, and be willing to use your money if you need to.

 

But this is a command to individuals isn’t it?  The church didn’t even exist yet when Jesus gave this command.

 

Here Lies The Debate

 

DebateHere’s a verse that Christians often use to show that the congregation does have the authority to help non-Christians.   Let’s see if this verse actually proves that belief.

Galatians 6:10     “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to ALL men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”   We can easily see, that as Christians, we’re commanded to help all people who are in need, with a special emphasis on “those who are of the household of faith”,  in other words, Christians.

Here’s the question:  Is this a command given to individual Christians only, or is it a command for the congregation as a whole to obey?

 

This command was given in a letter that Paul wrote to the various congregations located in Galatia.  Listen to how he opens the letter.  “Paul, an apostle, not sent from men, nor through the agency of men, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead, and all the brethren who are with me;  To the CHURCHES (or, in other words, to “the congregations, or the assemblies”) of Galatia.”   Gal 1:1-2.

  So then this letter was addressed to everyone residing in the region of Galatia, who had been called out of the world by God, who God then added to His church.   So they were “the called out of Galatia”. 

And one of the commands that Paul gave to all these people, was..   “..while WE have opportunity (do you see how Paul includes himself in this number of called out people..  They’re all one, they’re all one body) “So then, while WE have opportunity, let US (the command is for all of us, even for Paul)  “..let US do good to ALL men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”   Especially to church members..  Church members have priority!

But some people contend that this command is ONLY for individuals, not for the congregation collectively.

Remember though, that individuals make up the congregation.   “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”   1 Cor 12:27  

Can you even separate individual Christians, from the body of Christ?  Do individual Christians stop being the body of Christ, when they’re not gathered together in a group?  Are they not the body of Christ, 24 hrs a day?

So were these people who read this letter, supposed to think of themselves as individuals, separate from one another?  Or were they supposed to think of themselves as the ONE body of Christ, and individually, members of it?

 

How Do We Feel About Ourselves ?

 

Reading a LetterHow about YOUR congregation.  If Paul had written specifically to your congregation, he might have started it like this..

Paul, an apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ;  To those who are “the called out”, in “Yourtown”, USA.  And here’s one of the things that he writes..

“Brethren, if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”   Gal 6, verse 1. 

 “You who are spiritual..   Which one of us, from the congregation is supposed to restore the one caught in a trespass?  Just one of us?  Two of us?  Isn’t the command given to ALL of us?  So then ALL of us, who are spiritual, should restore such a one!   And we should do it in the spirit of gentleness  “lest we also be tempted”. 

Doesn’t this verse place a responsibility upon the whole congregation, to attempt to restore one of it’s members who’s in sin?  Would anyone actually contend that this verse PROHIBITS the whole congregation from joining together to help restore someone in sin?   Does the fact that we don’t have an example of a congregation attempting to restore one of it’s members, prohibit the congregation from doing this?  Of course the whole congregation isn’t restricted from helping to restore such a one.  That would simply be ridiculous!

 

Let’s keep reading Paul’s letter.   “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”  What does that mean?  Does that mean we should all pick a partner, and take turns, bearing each other’s burdens, to make sure it remains just an individual, one-on-one process?

That doesn’t even sound logical.  Instead, doesn’t it mean, that if any ONE of us has a burden, or if SEVERAL of us have burdens, that all whoa re able to, should bear those burdens?   Isn’t it a joint effort?  It could very well be, that any given one of us, isn’t able to bear someone’s  burden all by himself.  But it’s very possible, that collectively, we CAN bear that burden.

Does this verse PROHIBIT the congregation from acting collectively, to help bear the burdens of one of us?  Of course not, that is completely irrational!  And what if it’s a neighbor, who isn’t a Christian, that has a burden?  What if a tornado ripped the roof off of the house of our neighbor?  And what if took more than just one person to fix it?  What if an entire congregation of Christians joined together to help put a new roof on that neighbor’s house?  Is that contrary to the will of God?  Of course not!

 

 

How Do We Bear One Another’s Burdens?

 

Bear a BurdenGalatians 6:1  doesn’t tell us HOW to bear one another’s burdens, does it?  And that’s because HOW we go about bearing the burden, depends on what the burden is.  Nothing is said here about giving financial help, but then, no other kind of help is specified either.  So what kind of help is authorized?

What if the burden is emotional?  We can ALL, as a congregation, offer emotional support, to a non-Christian.  That;s simply common sense.  Maybe some of us will be better suited then others, to help emotionally.  But the point is, that everyone in the congregation, who is able, should be involved in helping bear that burden.   Is that wrong to do, because we don’t have any example of it?  Of course it’s not wrong, because we have the command to bear one another’s burdens, an thus fulfill the law of Christ!

 

What if the burden requires physical help?  What if someone’s of our home is damaged, and we need the help of several people to repair the house?   Can the congregation all join in and help repair the home?   We don’t have any example of that in the bible.  Does that mean we can’t do it?  Why can’t we all join together, and say that WE, acting as the church of Christ in Buffalo, are going to help you repair your home.  Is that wrong to do?

Of course it’s NOT wrong!?

So then, why can’t that same principle be applied to the congregation’s money?  If we apply the principle to the congregation’s collective time, and it’s collective abilities, why not it’s collective money?  Money is “mammon” according to God.  It’s not something sacred.  It’s simply a tool that we use to achieve a goal!   God certainly does not elevate physical money, “mammon” as a sacred commodity.  Do you personally have such a “love” for money, that you will withhold it from a non-Christian, whose soul is every bit as important as yours?  Does your  congregation of the Lord’s body have such a “love” for money that you will withhold it from a soul in need, when God’s love is extended to ALL souls?  What is more important, souls, or money?   Do you truly believe that the Lord Himself has a greater love for HIS money, than He does for a person’s soul, a person that He created?

 

Do Good To All Men

 

Do Good to All MenLet’s go back to  Gal 6:10,  “So then, while WE have opportunity, let US do good to ALL men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”    WE (plural) are commanded to “do good to all men”.  But God doesn’t specify HOW WE are to do good.   How WE do good to others, depends on their needs.

If we would just take the scriptures for exactly what they say, without trying to twist words around, there wouldn’t be this debate in the first place.  The simple definition of that words “we”, and “us” proves who this command is for us collectively as well as individually.  We as individuals, are given the same command as WE are given collectively.

The bible warns us about distorting the scriptures, doesn’t it?   2 Peter 3:16  says this about some of Paul’s writings..

“..Which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do the rest of the scriptures, to their own destruction.” 

How would someone “distort” the scriptures?   Well, one way is by changing the meaning of the WORDS of the scriptures.  It’s as simple as that.

 

WE, and US, Denote Collective Action

 

So,  Galatians 6:10  says,  “as WE have opportunity”, and “let US do good”.  The very words, WE, and US, describe collective action.  In other words, a plurality of people are involved.  But those who contend that this verse applies only to individuals, want to distort those two words, by changing their very meaning.  The verse does NOT say;  “As we as individuals have opportunity..”  And it does NOT say;  “Let us as individuals do good..”

People try to claim that “we”, means we as “individuals”.  And that the word “us”, means us as”individuals”.  But those words are NOT singular, they are both plural, and the bible dos not say “as individuals”!  Here’s the very plain definition of the word “we”..

“A word used by a speaker, to refer to himself AND one or more other people, considered together”!  In other words collectively!  Not singularly, but collectively..  Together.  And the same holds true for the word “us”.  It is a word denoting collective action!  Let us not twist the scriptures.

And the very same also holds true for the original Greek words.  Both Greek words, are in the plural sense, denoting collective action.  NOT individual action.

The Greek language is VERY specific.  There is a word that means, “to have opportunity”.  And there’s a word that means “to do good”.  And in the Greek, there’s actually are different FORMS of those words, depending on whether it refers to an individual, “having opportunity”, or “doing good”, or to a group of individuals collectively, having “opportunity”, or “doing good”.    In our English language, we simply use a different pronoun;  Such as I have opportunity, or WE have opportunity.  And, I do good, or WE do good.

So then the meaning of this verse isn’t a matter of debate, as some people would have you believe.  Doing good to all men, as we have opportunity, definitely, and without any doubt, is a collective action referring to the whole congregation taking part!  And so then, WHO is spoken of in this verse, as collectively, acting together?   The congregations of Galatia, that’s who are being referred to!

 

The apostle Paul wrote to ALL the congregations of Galatia, and to all the individuals that make up those congregations.  And he’s writing to every other congregation that has ever existed, and that ever WILL exist, and to every Christian who has ever lived, both as individual members of the ONE body of Christ, and collectively, as THE body of Christ.

 

What Is God’s Attitude Toward Money?

 

Money is MammonHow does the bible depict God’s feelings, and His attitude toward money?

First of all, the bible tells us that,  “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”   1 Tim 6:10    Do you think God “loves money”?  God loves people, doesn’t He, not money.

Secondly, God calls money;  “Mammon”!  And Jesus says,  “You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Mat 6:24.

Mammon is money, and riches.  It’s what a person might trust in, rather than God.  It’s earthly and it’s worldly.  And it perishes with the using.  That’s how God views money.  Money is simply a tool to be used.  It’s NOT sacred, and it’s NOT something to be used only on ourselves, or to be hoarded!

Eph 4:28  says,  “Let him who steals, steal no longer.  But let him labor with his own hands, doing what is good, in order that he may have something to SHARE with him who has need.”  Sharing what we have, is a fundamental aspect of Christianity.  Now listen to this next verse..

1 John 3:17,   “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need, and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”   It’s a fact that in a spiritual sense, members of the kingdom are our “brothers” and our “sisters”.  However, in the sense of all people being created by God, and in the spirit of Christianity itself, all people of the world are our brothers and sisters.  And that’s a biblical fact!

Here’s a verse that commands us to love everyone, not just our “spiritual” brothers and sisters.   Jesus calls it the second greatest commandment of all time..  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   Mark 12:31 

How could individual Christians love their neighbor, without the congregation loving their neighbor?  The individuals ARE the congregation.  When Christians love, the congregation loves!

 

In conclusion, we’ve seen that the EXAMPLES of congregations using their money to help other Christians, does not alter nor restrict the direct COMMAND of God, to do good to ALL men.  “As WE (collectively) have opportunity, let Us (collectively) do good to all men.”   

And we’ve seen what God’s attitude has always been toward money.  It’s simply mammon, and its purpose is to be used, and to be shared with those who are in need;  And the love of it, is the root of all evil.  In other words, if we think that money takes priority over the love of God, we’re headed down the wrong path.

And we’ve seen that when Paul wrote to the various congregations of Galatia, he wrote to all the congregations as a whole, and he wrote to each congregation individually, and he wrote to each member of each congregation, as individual members of the whole body of Christ.  And he wrote to your congregation as well.  And there’s no separating any of us, from His one body.

 

How much more valuable than money, is the precious blood of Christ?

Is it at all consistent with the bible, to say that God would give His blood for sinners, but we had better not give them His money?   The very words of the bible prove, that the congregation’s love for PEOPLE, has to take precedent, over the concept, that the congregation’s money, has somehow become sanctified, and can ONLY be used to help Christians.

WE are sanctified, but our money is not.  We need to be careful, that we don’t put too much emphasis on money, when God’s emphasis, is on the souls, that money can help!

 

May God bless you in the study of His word, and in the handling of His money, and most especially, in the handling of your faith, and your spiritual health.

 

We welcome any and all comments or questions.  Please don’t hesitate to leave your remarks in the space provided below. 

If you oppose any of the bible verses used here, or if you oppose any of my conclusions derived from these verses, please let me know, but please be specific in what you disagree with, so that we can thoughtfully address those concerns.  And thank you so much for visiting and for reading, and thank you in advance for your comments.

 

 

 

 

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This article has 30 Comments

  1. I agree that many people are afraid of the prospect of having to make changes in their thinking, in their religion and in their lives. This makes them unwilling to consider the possibility that they might be wrong and unwilling to approach the Bible with an open heart and an open mind. Without an open mind and an open heart, one is not apt to come to a correct understanding of the scriptures. I think any honest person who has studied the Bible for a substantial period of time will change his/her thinking about some things in it. I have changed my mind about some things and I expect that you have also. Continuing by email is fine with me.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

  2. I live in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and I preach for the Hickory ridge church of Christ in Lebanon, Tennessee. From the photograph on your web page it appears that our congregation may be just a bit smaller than the Buffalo church. We have been able to supply the truly needy non-Christians who have requested help from us by the participation of individual members of the congregation. It sounds like the Buffalo church could do the same. Individual Christians are free to band together to form an agency to help needy non-Christians. The Hickory Ridge church has sent help to brethren in missionary efforts and disasters in the past. We are currently providing partial support for two preachers, one in Missouri and another who preaches in a prison ministry in Florida. Another thought on this subject. Once a church begins to use the contribution for things that are not authorized in the scriptures it opens a door to use the contribution for many other things. You may never want to provide “cookies with Santa”, but those who follow you may go further. The church I mentioned would not have done that when I worshipped them as a boy. I am glad that you agree with me on the past division in the church. The brethren who were involved (on both sides) will have to answer to Jesus for their actions in the future. He prayed that those who believed on Him might be one (John 17) . No christian or church should ever want to exclude other Christians when it can be avoided. I will answer your next response, but if you should like to contact me in the future my email address is ronwhackney@gmail.com.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. Hi Ron. I’m sorry that I’m late in responding, but I’ve had a couple of very busy days that took all my time. I feel strongly about the unity among brethren, as you do. There’s no mistaking the fact that the bible calls for unity, however most people refuse to talk honestly and openly about their understanding of the scriptures. And what I find to be the biggest hurdle, is that most people refuse to even entertain the possibility that they may need to change their views on something. Changing what one has been previously been taught scares the daylights out of most people, and they simply refuse to do it. Humility is what we need, not pride and stubbornness! We supposedly study the bible so that we can learn and grow, but both learning and growth implies change!

      I would like to ask you for your thoughts on a couple more things. Would you prefer that I email you?

  3. I used the word “anything.” Since we have been discussing financial matters, I thought that you were including one’s money when you answered, yes. I am glad to hear that you do make a distinction between an individual’s money and the money contributed to the Lord’s work. I am also glad that you recognize and oppose the the many unscriptural practices in which churches of Christ are involved today. We agree on these things. Without question, we must love all people and do good to all people including our enemies. But we can love non-Christians and demonstrate our love by helping them individually without creating a barrier to fellowship with other brethren. The greatest good we can do for them is to teach them the gospel and help them to become Christians. Do you agree that this issue and the support of human institutions should never have divided the Lord’s church. The important thing is not what I think about how we show love for those who are not Christians , but what does God say about it in His word. Looking at the issue practically, most churches are not able to feed, clothe and house those who will present themselves as needy non-Christians in the community. To attempt to do so, will burden a local church and take away from it spiritual work of evangelism and edification and also its ability to provide for needy members. I appreciate your willingness to discuss this most important matter with me. One preacher only responded once, then said, “he had been through all this before” and wouldn’t discuss it further.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. Ron, without a doubt, you are a caring and loving Christian, and I do appreciate your kindness and patience is our discussion also. I feel privileged to have had this opportunity with you to talk about God’s word. You mention the preacher who said that he’d been through this all before, and of course so have I and so have you I’m sure. But I’ve never had the opportunity to go into the depth that we have, because like that one preacher, rarely is anyone willing to take the time to truly study the issue. And so once again, thank you. Would you be willing to tell me where you live at? I’d love to meet you if I’m ever in your area.

      Of course I agree that the support of human institutions shuld never have divided the Lord’s body. Nothing should divide us! May I say a word concerning your example of most congregations not being able to feed and clothe and house those who would present themselves as needing this help. Whether that be true, would depend on the size of the congregation being considered. I know most congregations here in Wyoming are certainly limited. But that’s exactly why christians must work together to help alleviate those needs of the people of the world. We agree that individual Christians are obligated to help those in need, that’s what the scriptures teach us, that everyone is our neighbor. And therefore since just one or two individual Christians can’t fill all the needs, Christians inevitable must band together in some way, to meet these needs. Wouldn’t you agree with that? How would you suggest we do that?

      As I think back on the ways the congregation here has used it’s money, ( and I don’t think it’s wrong to share this information) the majority is given to either members right here, who have run into a specific need, mostly health related, but some other reasons too, and to support a couple of specific missionary efforts conducted by our brethren, in both India and Peru. We have given to Christian families who have had major health related expenses, and have put out a plea throughout the brotherhood. And in the past, (probably not for the past few years though) we have given to help individuals of our community, who are not Christians, but are people who we have known personally, whose needs we have known of personally. I know you don’t agree with that last one, but we have done that on occasion.

      So I guess my point is, that the great majority of the time, our money always goes to Christians, or to missionary efforts anyhow. I would imagine that’s the way it is with most congregations (at least small congregations) though I have no real knowledge of other congregation’s personal business.

  4. For some reason I was unable to access your web site yesterday. I am glad that it was only temporary. Concerning Gal. 6:10 to which you keep returning, the immediate context indicates individual instruction. The plural pronouns simply indicate that Paul was including himself with those to whom he wrote. Because of the fact that Paul addressed the letter to the churches of Galatia, you claim that it is a “clear command” for church benevolence to non-Christians. You have admit there is no New Testament example of such benevolence. Paul addressed I Corinthians to the church of God at Corinth, but it contains much instruction both for individual Christians and the church. According to your theory, all of it must be intended to regulate collective church action regardless of the context. I believe that the reason you keep coming back to this passage is that you know you have no other scripture. That it is a command for church benevolence to all is simply your opinion with which I and many other disagree. I am sorry to hear you admit that you believe that anything an individual Christian can do the church can do. This explains why you don’t see any difference in what you have in your wallet and what you give to the Lord on the first day of the week. I strongly disagree with that. Individuals can operate businesses, support the Red Cross, conduct Easter egg hunts and many other things. The church is the spiritual body of our Lord. To follow this theory results in the profaning and polluting of His church. This is evident in what many congregations are doing today . I saw a sign in front of a church of Christ this past winter that said”cookies with Santa” Do you really believe that such things are the work of the Lord’s church We are not discussing church cooperation, so let’s not get sidetracked. Concerning the example of the priests, the Hebrew writer tells us that the Law of Moses provides types and figures of many things that pertain to the church. I was just asking you to consider this type. We both know that Jesus’ feeding of the multitude was a unique miraculous event that only benefited those Jews who were present. It is not at all parallel to church benevolence. I never suggested that christians should ignore needy non-Christians. But the New testament pattern is that we do so as individual Christians. Again , I ask you to consider the consequence of your practice. Brothers and sisters who do not agree with your opinion are not able with a good conscience to be a part of the Buffalo church of Christ. You said you once told a brother to worship with the Buffalo church and make his contribution somewhere else. Would you be a part of a church that you could not support financially? I believe that the members of the Buffalo church of Christ could worship with the church where I attend and help needy Christians from their own resources without offense to their consciences. It is a serious matter to be responsible for dividing the spiritual body of Christ.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. First of all, the brother I spoke of with reference to contributing elsewhere was only here for a short time while on a job in this area. That’s why I suggested that option. Now, as for the subject of a congregation doing what an individual christian can do, I thought that we were speaking of only spiritual matters, not secular matters. Of course the body should not be involved in such secular matters as you describe. So then we’re not in disagreement there. (By the way, I don’t believe that any Christian should be involved in Easter celebrations or such games at all. I don’t know how you feel about that though)

      As to what we give to the Lord, as opposed to what’s in our wallets, of course there’s a difference. For example, the congregation’s money is not to be used to furnish my house (or your house) There’s lots of things that the congregations’s money obviously should not be used for, but to help non-Christians is not one of those things.

      Let me ask you this; Aside from the specific examples of congregations giving to other congregations, and to other Christians, which form what you see as a pattern of congregational giving, is there any other aspect of Christianity that you believe would forbid a congregation from spending it’s money on a non-Christian? (and I’m not trying to completely discredit your reasoning about those examples) But here’s why I don’t think that those examples, and that pattern, is not sufficient, to condemn using the congregations’s money for helping non-Christians. The whole point of Christianity is to love God first, and to love your neighbor as your self. That’s it. Christ emphasized that all other commands are dependent on those two. However, when you forbid a congregation to use it’s finances to help non-Christians, you completely throw out the second most important command that was ever given. That does not make sense! How about giving me your views on just this one point. Do you think that God would really deprive the world of the opportunity to be helped by congregations of His people, when that’s one of the two most important points that God has ever stressed?

  5. You don’t seem to get the point I have been making that the New Testament provides a pattern for churches and Christians today. I Timothy 5, Acts 2, and Acts 4 are all part of that pattern for church benevolence. You answered your own question about the “where”. The areas mentioned in the New Testament were places where there were Christians who needed help. Benevolence was supplied to Christians where there was a need, other Christians knew about it and were able to supply that need. By that pattern the church can help needy brethren wherever they may be. There is no pattern for the church (collectively) ministering to non- Christians . I suggest that you be careful in telling me or any other person what their belief is. What you may think a person believes could well be wrong. Your perception of what I believe does not provide scriptural authority for you stated position. What brother Burleson was saying is that he is convinced that Gal. 5:10 does not conclusively provide authority for church benevolence to non-Christians nor authority for church benevolence to Christians only. As I have shown, there is ample scripture comprising a pattern for church benevolence to Christians without Gal. 6:10. Remember you are the one claiming that what you practice has scriptural authority. You need to provide some scripture rather than these ridiculous arguments about where brethren can be helped. Since you like examples from before the church was established, I ask you to consider the eating of the holy offerings in Lev. 22:10-16. Only the priests and his household were allowed to eat those sacrifices that were given to the God. Christians are priests in God’s spiritual temple today- I Pet. 2:9 . Would not this example restrict the use of money given to the Lord to priests and their households today. I noticed that on one occasion you referred to the money collected on the first day of the week as the “Lord’s money.” Do you believe that or did you just use that term because I had previously used it. The term evangelism is usually understood to mean preaching the gospel to non-Christians. There is ample authority for churches to do this. Let’s stay on the subject of church benevolence and not get sidetracked on other subjects.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney
    Ron Hackney

    1. Of course I understand the principle of new testament patterns. Everyone who studies the bible is familiar with patterns. However neither Acts 2, nor Acts 4 have anything at all to do with a pattern of how we are authorized to use the congregation’s money (or the Lord’s money if you prefer. It’s all the same money) Those two examples were talking about a very specific circumstances within the body, which only existed for a short period of time. Once the disciples were dispersed, it would have been quite impossible for them to have “all things common”. So those examples have nothing to do with what we’re talking about. The care of widows spoken of in 1 Tim 5 is but one facet of how the congregation is authorized to use it’s money. Another facet is to help other Christians AND other congregations, as the various verses that we’ve talked about show us. (Acts 11, 2 Cor 8, 1 Cor 16, for example) However you are ignoring yet another facet of the patter, which is helping ALL people who are in need.

      Now, I agree with you that those verses mentioned are indeed examples which authorize congregations to help other Christians. I’m curious though as to whether or not you believe those verses also authorize congregations to help other congregations. Do you accept that as being authorized by those examples? I ask because usually when I have a discussion with someone who is against a congregation helping non-Christians, they are also against what we refer to as “church-cooperation”. Do you agree that congregations are authorized to help one another financially as those examples clearly describe?

      As to Gal 6:10 and brother Burleson; I’m sure he’s a find brother in the Lord, but his feelings really are not what’s in question here. All that matters is what the bible says. And the bible clearly states that the congregations of Galatia are being addressed (Gal 1:2) and that they are commanded in Gal 6:10 to do good unto ALL men, and especially those of the household of faith.” Those are the clear words of God. You can argue that “doing good” doesn’t include spending the congregation’s money (or the Lord’s money if you choose. It makes no difference how you phrase it), however God does not add that stipulation to the command. Whether you like the verse or not, it says what it says.

      When you talk about the new testament pattern of benevolence, helping all people is a part of that pattern. A specific example of a congregation using money to help a non-Christian, in order to “do good” to them, is not needed, when we already have a command to do exactly that. I don’t think that anyone would argue that Christians come first with benevolence, because the scripture says so.. “especially those of the household of faith”. But there is simply no biblical evidence which would exclude non-Christians from being helped, by a group of Christians who make up a congregation.

      As to old testament laws and practices, these have absolutely no bearing on new testament conduct. An example of what Jesus did as He ushered in the new covenant laws and practices, would have relevance. As a matter of fact, His whole life and teachings are an example of NEW testament Christianity! But old testament laws and practices certainly have no part in our discussion.

      Concerning those scripture examples of congregations giving to the relief of Christians in Judea and Jerusalem, you answered and said; “The areas mentioned in the New Testament were places where there were Christians who needed help.” And I agree with that, because that is simply common sense, and rational thought. And therefore logic would dictate that if we can give to needy Christian in one area, then we can give to needy Christians anywhere. And so we agree on that.

      But my point is that it is no longer rational to think that if non-Christians were the ones in need, that God would have the congregations of His children ignore that need! That is not rational thinking when applying Christianity to our lives. You asked me once if I thought that what an individual Christian can do, a congregation can also do? And my answer would be Yes, I do. Unless you can show me a specific situation where that would not be logical. Can you show me such an instance? I’m very curious about that. And please do continue to respond, because I find this very interesting, and at the least, we can both come away with a better understanding of how we each think about these things.

  6. You know that there are other examples of church benevolence to Christians in the New Testament such as Acts 2, Acts 4 and Acts 6. All of them involve helping needy Christians. Taken together, they provide a pattern for churches today. These examples do not restrict churches in benevolence to specific locations as you suggest. Following your reasoning, we would have to baptize in the rivers of Palestine, meet in upper rooms and sing the same chants that were sung in the 1st century. As you said, Jesus fed the multitudes before the church was established . Feeding the multitudes is not a parallel situation with church benevolence at all. The pentecostals might use your reasoning to insist on miraculous healing services. You did not respond to my statements concerning special family blessings. Do you agree with that or not? You did not respond to Brother Burleson’s statement.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. I wasn’t suggesting that the examples of church benevolence restrict us to only helping in certain areas. But rather, it is your belief that these verses restrict us to helping only Christians, which prompts the question.. If they restrict us to helping only Christians, then why don’t they also restrict us to helping only in those areas. I believe we can help in all areas of the world, and all people of the world. It is your belief that suggests the restrictions. And so the question remains.. If those examples restrict WHO you can help financially, then why don’t they also restrict WHERE you can help financially? You really need to explain why one restriction would apply, but not the other. I say that those examples are NOT restrictive, in who or where, given what the rest of the new testament teaches about helping all people. You say they are restrictive in who, but not where. You need to give a reason for that.

      Your point about the irrationality of restricting our meetings to take place in upper rooms, and our baptisms to being done in the Jordan river, is exactly my point! None of the examples can be rationally used in such a way, and neither can your insistence on helping only Christians be rationally accepted. Please give me a reason, why you think that you can rationally use those scriptures to restrict who you are allowed to give to, but not where you are allowed to give. The very same verses specify both who and where. How can you restrict one without the other? My point is that such a restriction is not warranted. There must be some rational reasoning behind your decision, or else the decision to do so is unwarranted.

      I don’t recall your statement concerning special family blessings, nor a statement by brother Burleson that you mention. Can you refresh me on those two things please? I’ll go through your comments and see if I can locate either of those, but otherwise please advise me of what was said.

      You suggest considering Acts 2, and Acts 4 in our discussion. But neither example applies. Both examples speak of the fact that all people in the kingdom had all things common. Do you live by that example? I’m sure that you don’t. It’s not rational for us today, since the kingdom is spread across the entire world. What the apostles did to supply the needs of all the people who had come to Jerusalem at that very specific time has nothing to do with the congregation’s use of the money collected in the weekly contribution.

      But once again, please tell me why you choose to look at the examples of congregations giving to the relief of Christians in Judea, and decide to limit the congregation’s giving to only Christians, but not limit your giving to the area of Judea. The example mentions both who and where, at the same time, but you choose to restrict only the who. Why?

      I see the comment about brother Burleson. Sorry I forgot about that. I’m not sure what you’re saying there though.. Let me just copy and paste here what you said.. “Finally, given the nature of Greek number and syntax any conclusion that suggests the context of Galatians 6 could only be for congregations or individuals is tenuous..” my question is.. If Gal 6:10 is not for individuals and congregations, then who is it for? Of course the instructions can only be for individuals or congregations. What other group of people is there?

      And now I see what you mean by your statement about “special family blessings”. Of course members of the kingdom have special blessings bestowed on them that the rest of the world does not have. But that fact has no bearing on whether or not a congregation can help non-Christians.

      You brought up the idea that a congregation can help non-Christians through evangelism, but what about the money spent on those evangelical works? Do you believe that a congregation can use it’s money in evangelical works, toward non-Christians, but not in other kinds of works?

  7. I never said that I Timothy 5 prohibited church benevolence to non-Christians. It simply provides a positive example of how the churches used the funds they collected in the first century. This stands in contrast to the lack of any example of such benevolence to non-Christians. Your example of Christ feeding the multitudes is not parallel to this issue. All those fed were Jews who were in covenant relationship with God under the Law of Moses. Jesus never fed a multitude of Gentiles and only healed two who were Gentiles during His ministry. I do not elevate money by saying that what is given to God is His and should be used ONLY for the work which He has authorized. Do you subscribe to the theory that what an individual Christian can do the church can also do? Providing Bibles for non-Christians is evangelism not benevolence and is one of the collective works of the Church. YOU keep going back to Galatians 6:9-10 because it is really all that you can claim for your position. Certainly churches are to do good and not evil toward others. But Galatians 6:10 is definitely not a clear command to churches to feed and clothe the world. Doug Burleson who is a professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University said this- “Finally, given the nature of Greek number and syntax any conclusion that suggests the context of Galatians 6 could only be for congregations or individuals is tenuous..” Though he holds your position, he admits that Gal. 6:9-10 does not provide a clear command for church benevolence to all people. I simply mention him because he knows the Greek language and the Bible. God loves all people and he sends the sunshine and the rain for the benefit of all. But He has reserved certain promises and blessings for those who are part of His family. One of these is to supply their material needs. (Matthew 6:33) He has not made such a promise to all people. He has given His church the responsibility of providing for the needy members of His family not to all needy people. The church of which I am a member does not hoard money nor neglect the poor. We minister to poor non-Christans using our individual resources.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. Good morning Ron. We agree on 1 Tim 5. However we still disagree on Gal 6:10. I also disagree with you on the example of Jesus feeding the multitudes. The question is not whether the people were all Jews. The question is whether they are believers or not. And the Jesus Himself affirmed that most of them were simply after the physical food, and not spiritual food.

      I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you or your congregation did neglect the needy, I was simply using that language to try to make a point. My apology If it sounded bad.

      But here’s what I wanted to get your take on concerning your use of the various verses that speak of congregations sending financial aid to other congregations. (I hope you’re not against congregational cooperation, because that’s exactly what those examples are showing) But here’s my point. All the examples that you base your beliefs on, are the examples of congregations contributing to the assistance of the brethren in either Jerusalem or Judea.

      Now, if those examples are so binding on the subject of the use of a congregations money, then where is your authorization to give to anyone else BESIDES the brethren in Jerusalem or Judea? You don’t have any examples authorizing that, yet you do it! The reality is, that you are picking and choosing what you will take out of those verses, and what you will leave out. It doesn’t work that way. If those verses are indeed your authorization to use the congregation’s money to help ONLY Christians, then you are bound by those very same verses to use your money ONLY to help the brethren in Jerusalem and Judea! Do you see how irrational that is though? Yet that is your stance, even if you didn’t realize it until now. There is absolutely no way around it.. If those verses are where your authorization comes from, to limit the use of your congregations’s money, then you must stand by those verses precisely, and limit yourselves to giving ONLY to brethren in Jerusalem or Judea. Either that, or you must find some other authorization for your beliefs. It’s that simple.

  8. Yes, I Timothy 5 is dealing with church support of needy widows. But it also gives us one example of how the congregations were using the Lord’s money in the 1st century. You did not answer the question that I asked about the lack of an example for your position. Neither have you dealt with Acts 5 concerning the individual’s money and the money he/she contributes on the first day of the week. Does this mean that you in agreement with what I wrote? The plural pronouns in Galatians 6:9-10 do not conclusively prove that it refers to churches doing good to all men. The context suggests individual instruction to me. Have you never said when teaching, “let us be sure to do this” when you expected that the individual members who heard you would do it individually. Paul often includes himself with those whom he addressed. Do you think that your position might cause some members to think that the church will do their individual benevolence to non-Christians for them?
    your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. 1 Tim 5 gives us the example, and thus the authorization, for a congregation to support widows when needed. It also gives us the command to support our own family members as needed. Those are the two subjects spoken of, and that is the extent of the authorization given in 1 Timothy 5. This passage authorizes the support of the widows of the congregation when truly needed, and nothing more.

      Now we must ask ourselves, are there any other ways in which we are authorized to use the congregation’s money? Indeed, passages like 1 Cor 16, and acts 8, and Acts 11 give us the example, and thus the authority, to help needy brethren in general.

      Acts 5 (Ananias and Sapphira, has nothing to do with how the congregation’s money is to be spent. It is simply an example of the fact that our money is under our own control. We are not forced to give any of it, let alone all of it, to the church. That is the extent of that example.

      As I’ve said before, there are no examples of congregations giving money to non-Christians, however there is the clear COMMAND to help ALL people who are in need. There is no need to have an example of something, when we already have the clear command to do that thing.

      Here’s a good example for you though. We have the example of Jesus commanding His disciples to help in feeding the multitudes. I realize that the church had not been established yet, but this is still an example of a group of believers (this was a group of believers who had been called out of the world, to follow Jesus, and that’s exactly what a group of Christians is. It was a congregation of disciples) And they were commanded by the Lord, to help everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus and His disciples had on hand, their own bread and fish, and Jesus did not hesitate to share all they had, with everyone present.
      There’s a lesson to be learned there. What a group of Christians possess, is not to be hoarded and used only on themselves. It is to be shared with others who are in need. If Jesus and His group of believers did it, then I and the group of believers that I assemble with will do it. It’s that simple. I doubt if you’ve ever looked at it that way, but that is indeed an example of group of called out believers, sharing with the world. And that is exactly what a congregation of the Lord’s body is today; It is a group of believers who have been called out of the world, to follow Jesus.

      There is absolutely nothing in the scriptures that would indicate that money, is in a separate category from all else that might be possessed by a group of believers, (by a congregation). Quite the opposite is indeed the case. Instead of money being elevated in the scriptures as if it were something sacred (and it doesn’t matter whose money it is, ours or God’s) money is treated and described as simply being “mammon”. It is a apart of this world, that can be used in any righteous way necessary. As a matter of fact, to elevate money, to be something special, is the very same thing as “loving ” money, which is the root of all evil. You get the point. Your view simply elevates money to a position that is not biblical, or even reasonable, and it may even border on being sinful.

      We have the clear command to help everyone. We have the clear example of Jesus and His called out group of believers doing exactly that.. Helping everyone. It makes no difference whether they helped with bread and fish, or with the money which could have been used to purchase bread and fish. The heart of Christianity is helping others, period! And once again, it is impossible for a congregation of believers to do the Lord’s work here on earth, without spending money in the process.

      Can your congregation buy a bunch of bibles and give them to needy non-Christians, so that they can read the word of God for themselves? If not, then your congregation is not practicing Christianity very well. And if your congregation can look at a non-christian who is in need, and not supply that need, then your faith is useless and vain, as it says in James chapter 2.

      Please, I don’t intend to be harsh, I am simply trying to make a biblical point.

      You keep going back to Gal 6:10 and claiming that in your opinion, it refers to individual Christians. Well, that is a total disregard for what the words say! The whole letter is written to CONGREGATIONS! Please stop ignoring that fact. And also please stop ignoring the fact that the personal pronouns found in verses 5 thru 8 have stopped, and now a plurality i being spoken of. Please simply accept what is written, even though it doesn’t support your case. When members are properly taught the scriptures, they will understand clearly their personal responsibilities, and also the purpose and responsibilities of the congregation which they are a part of. And therefore, NO, my position will not cause members to misunderstand, because my position is the position laid out in the bible, and it will not cause any misunderstanding at all.

      I do have another aspect of this to ask you to consider. And it has to do with the manner in which you use the examples of the first century church taking up collections for needy brethren. But I will wait for your next response, before I point out some facts about that, and ask for another response to that.

  9. While the instructions in I Timothy 5 deal with the support of widows, they do have a bearing on collective church benevolence. They are part of a pattern of limited church benevolence that we see in the New Testament that includes the support sent to Christians in Judea because of the famine (Acts 11:29-30 )and the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem (II Cor. 8:1-5). Don’t you think it odd that we have these examples of collective church benevolence to saints but not a single example of church benevolence to non-Christians? You say, “Any teaching or prohibition on helping non-Christians would have to come from some other scripture than this one.” Scriptural authority does not require a prohibition against a practice, but a command, approved example or necessary inference “for” the practice.
    your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. I was hoping that I’d hear from you today. Thanks for your reply. I Timothy has no bearing on any other aspect of benevolence except the immediate context of the subject being discussed, which is the support of widows within the congregation. Our beliefs simply must be limited to the facts as presented in the scriptures, otherwise we will be guilty of going beyond the teachings of Christ. (2 John, verse 9) So then let’s talk about what you describe as “a pattern of limited church benevolence” which you say includes the example in Acts 11:29-30, and 2 Cor 8:1-5. Are you referring to that benevolence as “limited” because it specifies “relief unto the brethren of Judea”, and not “relief unto ALL people of Judea? I know that there are passages like this that deal specifically with relief for the brethren, but I believe that the reason for that, is the fact that it was the brethren who were specifically being persecuted to the extent that they were put in such dire need. And therefore the church HAD to support their own brethren at this particular time. That is what the dire need was at that time. I do not believe that if the dire need was for non-Christians because of some different emergency, that the apostles and the church would have ignored those needs.

      I completely understand your point of differentiating between prohibition and authority. Of course we base our faith on the authority of what God specifies in His word. But I believe that our difference lies in how we view passages like Galatians 6:9-10. Paul is without a doubt addressing the congregations of Galatia, in this writing. And just because he also gives these congregations some important individual instruction, that doesn’t take away from the fact that when Paul says “as WE have opportunity, let US do good to all men”, that he is indeed instructing the various congregations that he himself said that he was writing to in the first place, and thus we have our authority right there. I wish we could see this alike, because that seems to be a major divide for us here. I’m really only concerned that we as brethren do our very best to study and truly try to be united on all topics. I’m certainly not wanting to criticize or anything like that. But just to honestly study God’s word, so that we can all live according to it, and as the scripture says, to be the example to the world, of Christian faith and unity.

  10. You have said a lot, but much of it does not pertain to the issue we are discussing. In I Timothy 5, Paul said that Christians with needy relatives were to supply their needs so that the church would not be burdened and could take care of widows who had no family to provide for them(NKJV- v. 16) . This looks like limited benevolence to me. If churches are not to supply all needy members, then they are certainly not responsible for feeding and clothing non-Christians. Yes, every member of the local church is a part of Christ’s spiritual body. But the scriptures make a distinction between our individual finances and responsibilities and the collective work of the church using the money given to the Lord. Ananias was told there was a difference in what he had and what he claimed to have given to the Lord. (Acts 5:1-4) One of collective works of the church is evangelism. This is to be also done by individual Christians (Acts 8:4). But all the examples and instructions for churches indicate that collective benevolence is to the saints only. Confusing the two works does not establish authority for your position. James 1:27 describes pure and undefiled religion as practiced by individual Christians. Note that involves keeping “oneself ” unspotted from the world. The members of the church where I worship have ministered to poor non-Christians on several occasions. Does the church for which you preach supply all the poor non-Christians in your community? in your state? In your preaching have you never said “Let us be sure to do this” when referring to something that you expected individual members to do . I have. The position for which you contend has opened the door for churches to support all sorts of organizations and activities with the Lord’s money .
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. I appreciate your willingness to continue our discussion and study. I’ve always found it better to deal with just one aspect of an issue at a time, so as to not confuse matters. If you will agree, let’s discuss the example of the widows in 1 Tim 5. We both understand that the focus there was on the fact that family members have the responsibility to take care of widows, before the congregation is burdened with that expense. And yes we agree that in effect, that could be referred to as a sort of “limited benevolence”. The limitation being that the family needs to fulfill their own responsibility first, before the congregation accepts that burden. And that’s only right even from a purely logical standpoint. But here’s where I think we differ on that example. You view that as somehow having a bearing on whether or not it’s proper for us to help non-Christians, out of the church treasury. But I don’t see any connection there at all. That is simply teaching us our responsibilities as families, and that’s all. To read into that any more than that is simply conjecture. Any teaching or prohibition on helping non-Christians would have to come from some other scripture than this one. Can we agree on that? There simply is nothing else said or implied in 1 Tim 5 that would indicate any kind of instructions concerning non-Christians. This is strictly a teaching regarding widows in the congregation. And to read anything else into it, is definitely to speak where the bible has not spoken. Can we agree here?

  11. I did not identify myself as anonymous, why did you? I am glad that we agree that the first part of Galatians 6 is instruction for individual Christians The plural pronouns in Gal. 6:9-10 do not prove authority for church benevolence to non-Christians. One Christian in each of the churches of Galatia would make an us or a we. Paul may well have been including himself in those pronouns, and plural pronouns can be used in a distributive sense. Please reply to Paul’s requiring limited church benevolence in I Timothy 5. Again, I ask you to consider the consequence of the position that you take apparently based on your interpretation of these two verses of scripture.
    You brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. Hi Ron. I don’t know why you were listed as anonymous. It wasn’t anything that I did, it just showed up that way. I noticed that right away, but I thought maybe you didn’t include your name on your latest comment. I’ll have to look into that. Let me ask you though about your reference to 1 Timothy 5. You must be referring to the section about putting widows on a list to be taken care of by the congregation.. Is that correct? Is that what you meant by “limited benevolence”? That actually has nothing to do with the question of helping non-Christians out of the collection money. It has only to do with the fact that a widow’s immediate family should be taking care of her needs, when at all possible. And also that a younger widow will most likely remarry, and therefore not need to be taken care of by the congregation. There is nothing more than that in the context of that chapter.

      As far as Galatians 6:9-10, those two verses are certainly not the entire “basis” for my beliefs about the use of the Lord’s money. As my article explains, there is the entire bible, which talks about helping everyone, and how everyone is our neighbor. And I made specific reference to the fact that money is simply a tool in doing the Lord’s work here on earth. The Lord certainly is not so selfish as to withhold the needs of non-Christians, just because the money was collected during the first day of the week worship service. God doesn’t need our money, as you surely know. Of course we’re going to help other Christians first, but according to James chapter 2, it’s sinful to see people in need, and to not do anything about it. Also, I believe the point was well-made in the article, that all Christians are a part of the Lord’s body, whether they are assembled together or not. And as such they are doing the work of the body, whether they work alone, or as a group, such as the entire congregation. You simply cannot separate individual Christians from the body of Christ. What we do as individuals, we do as members of the body.

      And as far as the use of the pronouns “we” and “us”, you are simply wrong in thinking that those words do not refer to the collective body of Christians, which make up the various congregations in Galatia. That’s who Paul is writing to in the first place! The collective body of Christians, in Galatia, which means the various congregations in Galatia, and congregations everywhere. That’s who this letter was originally written to. Paul’s opening words from verse 1 says; “..unto the congregations of Galatia.” Paul wasn’t writing simply to individual Christians, although it applies to individual Christians, but just as his greeting says, he was writing to congregations! The fact is that when Paul writes to these congregations, and he says “as WE have opportunity”, and “let US do good unto all men” he is obviously telling the congregations to do good unto all men. To try to claim that Paul is talking about himself and one or two individuals out of all the congregations is absolutely ridiculous.

      When individual Christians are gathered together, they are the called out assembly of the saved, whether it’s two Christians, or three, or four, or a hundred and four. You simply cannot separate the work of a Christian, from the work of the body. Period.

      The consequence of my position, is that I, and those whom I worship with, will help with the needs of the people of the world, and especially those of the household of faith, just like Jesus did, and just like all Christians are commanded to do. Whereas the consequences of your position, is that precious souls will continue to be in need, while your congregation withholds the money that is needed, in order to “visit those people in their affliction”. That my friend, is pure religion, as per James 1:27. And if we think that an individual Christian should be involved in “pure religion” but not a congregation, then maybe it’s time to rethink the whole purpose of Christianity.

      And what about the purpose of the congregation? A congregation doesn’t exist solely for it’s own benefit, but for the benefit of the world around it. A congregation, just like a Christian, is a tool of the Lord, used for the purpose of bringing the gospel to the world (as we’re told in Ephesians 3:10) and to bring relief to those who are in need (benevolence, and pure religion) and to edify itself also, so that it is capable of preaching the words and of practicing benevolence. And just once again, in closing here.. Jesus didn’t die and shed His blood for people who were already in His kingdom, but for everyone who was outside of His kingdom!

      Think about the consequences of not being able to spend any of the money collected on the first day of the week, for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the lost. If the congregation can’t spend that money to preach the gospel to the lost, then you would be forbidden to invite the lost to a worship assembly where the gospel is preached. And you couldn’t invite the lost to a gospel meeting. And a congregation couldn’t advertise, in any form, because it all takes money. You would have to contend that it’s not the job of the congregation to reach the lost, and that is in direct contradiction to Eph 3:10 The very purpose of the congregations of Christ is to make known the manifold wisdom of God! The very idea of not using the money from the collection to help non-Christians is totally irrational from start to finish. It totally ignores the very purpose of the congregation.

  12. First, Though the money given into the treasury is given in the assembly, I believe it is given to the Lord, and it is really His money not the church’s money. The point being that it must be used only for His work and by His authority. Your article suggests that you believe this too. Though the Galatian letter was written to the churches in Galatia, it contains much instruction to individual Christians. I and many others believe that Galatians 6:10 is part of that instruction to individual Christians. You seem to imply that individual Christians using their personal funds to do something is the same as the church using funds given to the Lord to support His work. Surely this is not what you believe. In Acts 5:1-4, Peter told Ananias that the money from the sale of his and his wife’s property was in his control until he laid it at the apostle’s feet. This shows that there is a difference in the ability of individual Christian’s to use their money and the church to use the money given on the first day of the week. Matthew 18:15-17 tells us that the restoration of backsliding Christians involves individual Christians. If individuals are successful, It will never involve the whole church. Again, the issue is not what is prohibited but what is authorized in God’s word. Several Christians using their own funds and their own labor could certainly repair the roof of a non-Christian neighbor, but I find no authority for the church doing it as collective work. I have already dealt with the pronouns in Galatian 6:10. I am not suggesting that you or any member of your congregation intentionally exclude brethren from your worship or fellowship. But that is the result of your insisting that the collective work of the church includes benevolence to non-Christians. Those who think the church should do so can worship with the church where I attend and help non-Christians with their own funds. But those who believe that it is without scriptural authority, would have to violate their consciences to contribute money they believe will be so used. Please respond to the scriptures and reasons that I have given in my responses.
    Your brother in Christ,
    Ron Hackney

    1. Hi Ron. I appreciate your thoughtful response. To begin with, please let me reply to something from your original comment, that you referenced in this latest comment, and that is the use of personal pronouns in Gal 6:5 thru 8. Those four verses are indeed speaking to individuals, as we see not only from the use of the singular personal pronouns, but also from the context of what is being spoken of. Verse 5 speaks of each person’s personal responsibility for their own actions. Verse 6 speaks of someone who is taught the gospel by another, being willing to share material things with the one teaching. Verse 7 teaches that each one of us individually, shall reap what we sow. In other words, we are all held accountable for our own actions, just like verse 5 said. And verse 8 is a continuation of that thought, contrasting sowing to the flesh, as opposed to sowing to the spirit. And so we see that three different subjects were addressed in those four verses, and they all applied to individuals.

      But now, the subject changes, and so do the personal pronouns which are used. No longer is the subject matter talking exclusively about individuals, but it switches to talking about a plurality of people. Now, just as an example of switching from the singular to the plural, verse 1 speaks of both individuals, and a plurality of persons. Listen to what it says; “Brethren ( plural) if a man (singular) is be overtaken on a trespass, you (plural) who are spiritual, restore such a one (singular) in the spirit of gentleness, looking to thyself (singular) lest thou (singular) also be tempted.” Let me break that down a bit. If a person is overtaken in a sin, you who are spiritual (that refers to a plurality of persons) It could be the whole rest of the congregation, or it could be several members of the congregation or it could be two, or three, or it might be that there is only one member who is strong enough to restore an erring brother or sister. Whatever the case may be, all those who are willing and able, must be trying to restore one who is in sin. And the verse goes on to say that each and every individual member, needs to also consider themselves, lest they fall into sin. (after all, we cannot do that collectively, because as we know, verse 5 says, “each man shall bear his own burden”) And so we really must be aware of exactly what is being spoken of, and exactly who it is that is to be involved.

      Now let’s talk about verse 9 & 10. As I said, the subject has now changed in verses 9 & 10, and so have the pronouns changed. They have gone from singular, to plural exclusively. Listen to what it says; (V-9).. “Let US not grow weary in doing well..” (that’s all of us as Christians, the whole of us. whether it;s the whole body world-wide, or just the body in one location, it’s all of us) “For in due season WE (plural) shall reap, (we shall all be granted eternal life, all at the same time the bible teaches) if WE (plural) do not grow weary.” (V-10).. So then, as WE (plural) have opportunity (that’s we collectively. WE plural, as WE have opportunity) let US (plural) work that which is good, toward ALL men. (All persons. not only members of the body, but ALL persons) and especially toward them that are of the household of faith.”

      We, collectively, as a group of Christians, as a body of Christians, are COMMANDED to do good to ALL men! Especially to other Christians, but also to ALL men. Paul is saying in no uncertain terms, that YOU Christians (plural), it doesn’t matter if you are the body of Christ in Wyoming, or Georgia, or New York City, but YOU Christian, but you Christians, are to do good unto ALL persons. Period! That’s what the scripture says. There’s no doubt about what it says. Now, although you might argue the meaning, there is no doubt about what is said. And there’s no doubt about the fact that a plurality of Christians is being spoken of.

      Now, you may argue that indeed, a congregation is commanded to “do good” unto all persons, but, in “doing good” you might say that we are still prohibited from using money given through the first day of the week collection, for that purpose. If that is your argument, then fine, let’s talk about that specific issue. But there is really no debating what Gal 6:9 & 10 says. Would you agree thus far sir?

      I have found out long ago, that if we don’t break things down, and discuss smaller pieces of a subject, then we will never really learn exactly where it is that we differ, and thus we can never become united in thought and in faith as we should be. I very much appreciate your willingness to study and discuss. Thank you Ron.

  13. I’ve always thought it interesting that after Jesus died and rose again, the disciples lived in communes with each one’s treasure being shared according to one’s needs. Then when the one couple didn’t share, they were struck down. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but in these communes, if one didn’t work they didn’t eat. The difference between these communes and today’s communism, aside from the religious aspect, is that the communes of the disciples were voluntary, whereas a communist state is imposed and therefore doesn’t work.

    1. Hello Fiona. Thanks so much for your visit here and for your comments. I don’t agree though with your assumption that Christians lived in communes. The bible does say that many people did sell what they owned and shared with everyone (Acts 2:45), but it also says that they went “from house to house, taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart”. (Acts 2:46). So it does sound like Christians still lived in their own homes, and everyone did not actually live together in a commune.

      I believe that the two people you refer to as being “struck down”, were Ananias and His wife Sappfira. Their story is in Acts 5:1-10. But the cause of them being struck dead was not that they didn’t share, but it was because they lied about the money that they were sharing.

      The command was given much later in the new testament, that if one refused to work, neither should he eat. (2 Thess 3:10).

      Christianity was never a commune type of living arrangement. But the Christian principle of bearing one another’s burdens has always been a law of God. Thanks again for your comments. I truly appreciate them. May God bless you according to your needs and His will.

      1. In your article you ask “does it prohibit?” That is not the question that should be considered. The question is , “is it authorized by the scriptures?” You freely admit that there is no example of a New Testament church extending benevolence to non-Christians. You seem to think that Galatians 6:10 provides authority.
        I suggest you take another look at Galatians chapter 6. Notice the singular pronouns just before verse 9 & 10. Verse 5- his, verse 6- him, verse 7- he, and verse 8- he. Us or we do not a church make. Paul often included himself with Christians in his letters. Paul and one other Christian would make an us or a we. Paul’s instructions to Timothy in I Timothy 5 show that New Testament churches practiced limited benevolence. He said that the church was not to support Christian widows who had family members to take care of them. Christian widows who were to be supported by the church on a continuing basis had to meet certain qualifications. There is no command, approved example or necessary inference in the New Testament for benevolence to non-Christians from the church treasury. Consider the consequence of your position. You exclude from your fellowship all those whose understanding of the scriptures will not permit them to support church benevolence to non-Christians.
        Your brother in Christ,
        Ron Hackney

        1. Hi Ron, and thank you very much for your comments to this post. It’s always good to discuss these things freely. I want to just respond to the last comment that you made concerning excluding some from fellowship. Neither I nor the congregation that I worship with has never excluded any Christian from fellowship with us. Any and all brethren are always welcome here. With that said, we as a congregation have had some people exclude themselves from worshiping with us, because of their views on not giving financial aid to non-Christians, from the congregation’s treasury. We suggested to one such man that he could always give his contribution elsewhere, but he felt that he couldn’t worship with us because of this difference of view. But again, neither I nor anyone else in the congregation, nor the congregation as a whole, has ever suggested to anyone that they are not welcome to worship with us. I want to answer some of your other comments also, but please allow me a little time to do so. I’ll get back with you again by tomorrow. But thanks so much for commenting so that we can have the opportunity to discuss this topic. None of us ever really knows where a better understanding might come from, or when. So I always try t keep a very open mind to God;s word, every time I study it. May God bless you and your family.

        2. Hi again Ron. If you will look again at the very first paragraph of the article, you will find that I indeed did ask the exact question that you say should be asked, namely.. “is it authorized by the scriptures?” Also, you didn’t mention any of the reasons for concluding that the congregation CAN indeed use it’s money for helping non-Christians. Please go back and re-read the reasoning behind the conclusions, and then you can respond to that reasoning with your own reasoning, and we can make this a good study and maybe we can both learn more as a result. Please let me hear your comments on the reasoning; Let’s brake this down into smaller pieces and discuss each piece of the issue.

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