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Question #106

How is money to be used in the church?

What is the commentary on money in the church, what the treasury is to be used for, and what is right and not right. Where can I find the verses to study myself?

The Answer:

There is no scripture that speaks of a church treasury as such. The closest is Paul’s instructions to lay by in store on the first day of the week so that there would “be no gatherings when [he came],” 1 Cor. 16:2. Collections made before he came that were to be given to him when he arrived had to be kept somewhere. Wherever they were kept and by whatever name they were called, they constituted a treasury. In Acts 6:1 we learn that there was a “daily ministration” (“daily distribution” ESV). It is not likely that funds were collected daily, thus necessitating a treasury. Most likely, the apostles were the first treasurers. In Acts 5:34-37 we read: “34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.”

But for what purpose can these monies be used? If there is no direct command of the purpose(s) for which they can be used (and there is not), does that mean that there are no limitations at all? Most assuredly not. God has given the church a mission. It is generally broken down into three areas – benevolence, edification of the saints, and evangelism. Thus, the monies contributed to “the Lord’s work” may and must be used to do the work of the church, and may not and must not be used to do anything else. Most people agree on that principle, but disagree on its application. For instance, some believe that providing and opportunity for Christians to play together as well as to pray together contributes to their edification and provide a multipurpose building that includes, for example, a basketball court. Others believe that providing such a facility is not included in edification of the saints and that it is wrong to spend from the treasury to provide it. Both are trying to accomplish the same purpose; they disagree over what may be included in accomplishing that purpose. Some believe that benevolence extends only to Christians and monies from the treasury cannot be used for non-members who are in need. Both are included in the mission of the church – benevolence to Christians edifies while benevolence to non-members evangelizes. Many a conversion has come from helping needy outside of the church, not only of those helped, but also of those who observe the spirit of love and generosity displayed. Again, there is no disagreement on the principle but on that which is covered by the principle.

It is regrettable that the Lord’s church has such disagreements. Of all people we should be able to arrive and a common understanding of what the Bible teaches on doctrinal matters. At best it makes us look foolish; at worst it harms the body of Christ.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)