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Question #353

What about targeted giving?

My husband and I attend a small congregation with about 45 members. Last year, 2008, the congregation decided to hire a full-time minister. At that time they were able to support him and his family. But there has been a financial burden placed on the church, as of this year 2009. With the declining economy, some members have lost their jobs and some have been reduced down to lesser hours and days. One was asked to retire. I have said all that to lead up to my question. In order for the church to continue to help support the minister and the work of the church, is it wrong if my husband and I decide to use our lay by and store to help pay off a loan the church has acquired in order to help the church where the church would not be faced with an extra burden? The loan was acquired a few years ago for the reconstruction of the building. A letter was given to the leadership to let the congregation know that is where our lay by and store would be directed. We do not want to do anything that would put our souls in jeopardy.

The Answer:

You will also find information at “Class: 2 Corinthians,” Lessons 14, 15, 16, and 17 on the subject of giving. It is clear that you are giving. You do not say if members of the congregation were required to individually guarantee a certain portion of the loan. Are you giving to reduce your personal liability while letting others take care of the congregation’s ongoing expenses? Has the congregation indicated that it cannot keep the debt current? Has the congregation established a program for the payment of its expenses with which you disagree, and that disagreement has led you to follow your own will rather than that of the congregation? Are you giving the money into the treasury of the church, or are you making a direct payment to the bank? As is often the case there is not enough information to give you an answer. The one thing that is certain is that you are concerned about your course of action, and that uncertainty led to this question. Read and study the scripture. Do that which you know to be right and that cannot be questioned.

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)