2 COR 8:1-5
INTRO: If you look carefully at v. 3, you realize that the apostle is reporting that the Macedonian churches (Christians) gave money beyond their ability! The liberality of those saints is one of the great examples of selfless, loving giving in scripture. These precious saints have been memorialized in scripture for all to see ... as long as time shall stand. They were in poverty ... yet, gave to others whose need came to their attention. And they gave beyond their ability. I would like to have known these people personally. I would like to have been inspired by their great faith, love and generosity. Still, can we not be, even now, inspired by them? And there is a very important question to ask. How does one give beyond his ability? To that question I want to address my thoughts.
I THERE MUST BE A DESIRE TO GIVE
A. Praying us with much entreaty...
1. the Macedonian Christians begged to be allowed to give
2. the desire to give had to be a key element in the quality, quantity of their giving
B. Note 2 Cor 8:12 - ...first a willing mind...
1. two examples of willing hearts and great giving:
a. Ex 25:21,22 - ...whose heart stirred him up... - here was desire
b. 2 Chron 29:9 - does their rejoicing say anything about desire?
2. perhaps desire is the thing upon which we need most to think ... if our desire to give is weak, can our giving be acceptable? an odour of sweet smell? (Phil 4:18)
C. The cause is so great ... so needed ... so urgent
1. but do we see the cause in that light? do we think someone else will respond to the need?
2. Lk 16:19-21 - what an opportunity! what lack of desire!
II THERE MUST BE PLANNING
A. Planning certainly involves priorities
1. yes, we must provide for lifes necessities: shelter, food, clothing, etc.
2. where in our planning do we think of giving to God?
3. Prov 3:9 - does first fruits suggest something about priority?
B. Planning may involve eliminating
1. someone recently mentioned to me living below our means
2. are there not so many things which we really do not need? I have an idea that every family here could do some eliminating without hurting a thing
3. does the word sacrifice ever really come into view in our giving?
C. Planning may involve some discussing
1. my conviction is that family members need to be part of the giving
2. children need to hear parents discussing, praying about how great giving might impact the family economically
3. and the needs should be discussed - selfishness too easily sets in!
III THERE MUST BE PURPOSING
A. This speaks of intention
1. I desire; I plan; I intend to accomplish
2. 2 Cor 9:7 - ...as he purposeth in his heart...
3. I wonder if the purposing in ones heart may involve more than just a hurried hunt through ones wallet, or scribbling a check at the last minute
B. And does purposing in ones heart open the wells of possibility?
1. if there is real thinking about the gift, there may be a greater awareness of possibilities in giving
2. thinking: I can give a dollar more - thinking: fact is, I can give two dollars more - etc.
3. but do we really think within ourselves of the possibilities of our giving?
IV THERE MUST BE BELIEF IN GODS PROMISES
A. Two passages: 2 Cor 8:15 & 2 Cor 9:6
1. there are some assurances from God
2. there are some blessings to be enjoyed in our giving
3. but do we ever get to the blessing point?
B. Prov 11:24,25 - Have we become liberal souls?
1. I dont know how God works out all of this - dont presume to suggest
2. but I know that God has made some promises, given some assurances
3. and until we trust those promises, Im very much afraid that our giving will be unsatisfying to us
CLOSE: I have a strong suspicion most of us do not know what our potential in giving really is. Maybe it is time for us to begin to test the limits! Maybe it is time for us to begin living below our means so that we can give beyond our ability.
Cecil A. Hutson
29 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)