2 COR 8:5
INTRO: If you want to know something of the spirit which should fill Christian people, you have only to read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. The description here is of the churches of Macedonia ... churches, according to the apostle Paul, which were characterized by deep poverty. But I want you to notice, too, that they are characterized by the abundance of their joy. So, here are Christians suffering a great trial of affliction and in deep poverty who are nevertheless overflowing with joy. What an incredible spirit these people possessed. And I cannot help but wonder if the explanation for their amazing spirit is not found in these words, But first gave their own selves to the Lord. All of this, of course, was manifested in the way the members of these churches shared their money.
I THEY FIRST GAVE THEMSELVES TO THE LORD...
A. A recognition of what Christ had done for them
1. 1 Jno 4:19 - We love him, because he first loved us.
2. these people knew, appreciated deeply what Jesus did
3. 2 Cor 8:9 - they recognized the price paid for their own freedom
4. I frankly wonder if we, 2000 years removed from the crucifixion and the culture which first benefitted from it, truly appreciate what He did at calvary
B. Their response was one of the deepest gratitude
1. they simply could not do enough to express their love for Him
2. they accepted a voluntary slavery as the appropriate gift to Him
3. they acknowledged that they belonged to Him
4. and that meant that their possessions were also His
C. The word first at 2 Cor 8:5 is certainly a significant word
1. something has to happen before we can give as they gave
2. and that something is the making of the kind of commitment to the Lord that they made ... a commitment without reservations
3. I gave my life for thee ... what hast thou given for me?
4. our giving is a measure of our love for Christ - 2 Cor 8:8
D. And could Rom 12:1 have a bearing on this subject?
1. every offering under the law had to be the best one had ... and it had to legally belong to him who offered it
2. and there were situations in which less than the best was offered - the book of Malachi opens with that fact
3. such defective giving meant one simple thing - they were not committed
4. and remember Phil 4:18 - how does our giving smell to the Lord?
II SOME ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE GIVING OF EARLY CHRISTIANS
A. Acts 2:44,45 - ...sold ... and parted ... as every man had need
1. where there was genuine need, the felt their belongings were common
2. but what can we learn about these early givers?
a. they were deeply reverent - fear came upon every soul - v. 43
b. they were unified - with one accord - v. 46
c. they were glad - with gladness... - v. 46
d. they praised God - source of all blessings - praising God - v. 47
e. and their reputation spread abroad - having favor - v. 47
B. Acts 4:32-37 - ...sold them ... and brought the prices of the things...
1. they did not go out asking for community donations and such
2. they sold their own belongings (the spirit of true sacrifice) and gave
a. look at v. 32 - neither said...that aught of the things...was his own
b. we give thee but thine own...
c. these people were of one heart and of one soul - again, unified!
d. by this sacrificial giving real needs were met ... as the Lord intends
C. Acts 5:1-10 - And kept back part of the price, his wife...privy to it
1. here were people who represented their giving to be something it was not - their misrepresentation was a lie to the Holy Spirit
2. the problem: they had not first given themselves to the Lord ... but they wanted all to think they had!
3. if we are give as God has prospered us, rest assured that God knows whether or not our giving represents His prospering of us!
CLOSE: There are so many expressions which could describe true discipleship. But is there any which is more indicative than this one ... they first gave their own selves to the Lord. My question for all of us is simple. Have we first given ourselves to the Lord? Further, how is our having given ourselves to Him manifested?
Cecil A. Hutson
22 August 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
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
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
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
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)
You Must Be Baptized
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!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
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)