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The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

1 Corinthians (Lesson 26)



Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                     Published weekly on Friday
                                                          
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

1 Corinthians                                                                         (Lesson 26)

 “It’s essential to know what the Bible says, and what the Bible doesn’t say.”

Last week we began looking through the Scriptures to see what God said, through our Apostle Paul, on the subject of tithing in the Dispensation of Grace.  Far too many Christians are being misled if not “fleeced” by some people in the church.  For instance, I knew a widow; she was 77 years old, living alone in a two bedroom mobile home.  She gave her entire social security check to a T.V. Evangelist because on his broadcast he said the more a person gave the more God would bless the individual.  She took his message to heart, evidently, and gave everything she had, because he also said the need was great…  However, she had nothing left over to pay her monthly expenses:  rent, groceries, electric, water, phone, etc.  She couldn’t pay her medical bills or buy her medications; and I assure you God does not intend for her to live like this, while this evangelist flies around in a Leer jet, drives one of four expensive cars, goes home every afternoon to an 8 million dollar mansion, and enjoys a 7 figure annual salary. 

The blessing she received was when her daughter and son-in-law got wind of what was going on and stopped this woman from being taken advantage of. 

Our Apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 9:10 that God gives us what we need so we can support those who feed us spiritually, i.e. teach us God’s Word:  The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him (or her).
(Galatians 6:6)

Paul’s saying those who are blessed by the Word of God through faithful teachers and preachers are to provide for the material needs of these people as a thanksgiving to God.  Paul speaks of proportionate or balanced giving, each person giving of their own accord, according to their ability, as each one has purposed in his (or her) heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion (pressure), for God loves a cheerful giver.
 (2 Corinthians 8:2-3, 13-14, 9:7)

Paul also wants us to know if we have a willing mind, if we have the desire to give, but find ourselves short of funds and unable to meet this need, our desire alone is an acceptable gift before God the Father:   For if the readiness is present, it (the desire) is (what) acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he does not have (2 Corinthians 8:12).

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Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 9:14. 

Paul has shown us that the Levites lived off of their work in the temple, partaking of the animal sacrifices and the offerings of the land.  This is how Jehovah ordained it.  But now Paul says this is also the command of Christ, and if you know your Bible then you know these two members of the Godhead are One and the same:

1 Corinthians 9

14: So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

Paul quoted Jesus as often as he could, so this is probably a reference to Jesus’ own words when He said:  …the worker is worthy of his support.  (Matthew 10:10b; Luke 10:7)  Jesus Christ declared this arrangement was the proper method of support for His workers. 

I want to point out one additional thing from verse 14 before we press on and that’s these three words, “get their living.”  This means those who teach and preach the Word of God should not expect to become wealthy from performing this service to mankind.  Put another way, it means those who preach and teach God’s Word should be able to live a lifestyle similar to those to whom they are ministering.
 
No preacher or teacher of the Word of God has a right to “make a gain” of preaching the gospel with the goal of making it a lucrative enterprise.  Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:17-18 answers this and stands as a rebuke to those preachers and teachers who have taken advantage of the “untaught” churchgoers and became wealthy off of God:  Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I?  I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him.  Titus did not take advantage of you, did he?  Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?

To those who say, “But that was then, according to Paul’s day, and this is now.  The Bible is out-of-step with the times.”  Paul said:  For the word of God is (what) living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  The Bible was completed approximately 1900 years ago, yet its accuracy and relevance for today remain unchanged.  The Bible is the sole objective source of all the revelation God has given His creation about Himself and His plan for humanity.  It is not out-of-step with the times.  The Bible is exactly what mankind needs for today and tomorrow. 

Permit me to put it this way:  I don’t own a jet plane, so my pastor shouldn’t need one.  I’m not chauffeured to work, so my pastor shouldn’t expect to be driven to work by a paid driver in a stretch limo.  I have a roof over my head so my pastor should expect to have one as well, but not three homes located in different areas of the country, each one worth several million dollars.  My annual salary is nowhere near 7 figures, so my pastor shouldn’t expect his to be anywhere near that number.  By the way, these aren’t exaggerations.  These are the facts.  There are quite a few renowned church leaders living in luxury today off of God and the tithes of unsuspecting Christians who are relatively poor in comparison.  Now, who's robbing God?

I’ve attended church where a basket was placed in the rear of the sanctuary and at no time during the service did the pastor mention it was time to give or take up the tithe.  The congregation understood, as they passed by this basket they could place a “gift” in it, or not, of whatever amount they had purposed in their heart.  I’ve also attended assemblies where no collection was taken up at all.  The pastor simply mentioned, if a person felt inclined to give, the mailing address was posted inside the church pamphlet.  The pastor remarked whether people gave or not, he was convinced that God would supply all the church’s needs…”  Now, that’s faith!  But other church leaders across America continue to mislead their congregations week in and week out on the non-Church doctrine of tithing, distorting God’s Word intentionally or unintentionally. 

On any given Sunday there will be numerous men-of-the-cloth, so to speak, bellowing from the pulpits and from the airwaves that people are “robbing God,” and being “cursed with a curse” because they have failed to pay God His 10% from their paychecks (Malachi 3:8-10).  However, if you read Malachi 1:1-4, you’ll see that this book is written to the nation of Israel and has nothing to do with us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace, aside from the fact it’s there for “our learning.” 

People do not have the right to use this passage from the Old Testament, or any other for that matter, to shame us into tithing.  This is called proof-texting.  Many times when someone discusses what the Bible teaches they may use a Proof Text, and it’s possible they are unaware of what they’re doing.  But all too often they are very much aware of what they are doing, and this takes us into another area called “false teaching.”  But, Proof texting uses certain short passages, many times only a single verse, pulled from somewhere in the Bible in support of a particular belief, Church Doctrine, or personal agenda.  The problem with this is this method can lead to wrong conclusions regarding what is the truth of God, as it does here with tithing.   

Here are some shocking truths about tithing doctrine, which isn’t really a doctrine at all:

1)      Abraham never tithed on his own personal property or livestock.  His tithe consisted of booty taken from conquered nations.  And he only did this once.
2)      Jacob wouldn’t tithe until God blessed him.
3)      Only Levite priests could collect tithes, and there are no Levite priests today.
4)      Only food products from the land were tithable.
5)      Money was never a tithable commodity.
6)      Christian converts were never asked to tithe anything to the Church.
7)      Tithing in the Church first appears centuries after completion of the Bible; which occurred in 367 AD, meaning man came up with this idea and not God. 

In verse 14 Paul establishes beyond question the clear principle that:  a Bible teacher and a preacher of the Word has the right to be supported materially by the church, but he does not have the right to become “rich” off of God, or God’s people, and he never mentions the word tithe once (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

Moving on to verses 15-18, Paul speaks of practicing the principle of self-denial.  We’ll look at verses 15 first. 


1 Corinthians 9

15: But I have used none of these things.  And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.

Why Paul Practiced Self-Denial

Reason #1:  Because of his call to preach the gospel without charge (9:15-18).

I have used none of these things (v15).  Paul did not use his apostolic authority for personal gain, nor did he write these things in order to persuade the Corinthians to support him.  If you’ll recall, Paul had the gift of singleness (7:7); this lifestyle enabled him to meet his own needs without all the unnecessary distractions that might have kept him from his ministry.  Even though this added to his burden, he was able to forego the support of the churches.  Paul adds that he was not writing these things so that it will be done so in his case – he was not asking for their support.

…it would be better for me to die (v15) Paul’s saying he’d rather die from a lack of support than be deprived of the privilege of preaching the gospel, without charge, and as he’s mentioned previously without causing a hindrance to the gospel (v12).

My boast(v15) here Paul means to “glory” or “rejoice” in something:  Kauchema in the Greek language; (pronounced:  kow’-khay-mah), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #2745.  This was not prideful boasting, as some assume, but legitimate rejoicing or glory in what God had called him to do (Acts 9) and that was to preach the gospel and he did this without expense to any one (v18).  But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting (Kauchema) in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another (Galatians 6:4; Hebrews 3:6).

Paul was able to practice self-control, pursuing a course of self-denial that would ultimately result in his joy and happiness, referring to his reward in heaven (9:23-27).  Any man” would have made this null and void, if he had supported Paul in his ministry, and exposed him to the charge of having preached the gospel for profit. 

Let’s go to verses 16-18 now. 

16:  For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

17: For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.

18: What then is my reward?  That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

In verse 16 Paul’s actually saying, if he preached the gospel spontaneously, there was no question about his reward, but even if “against his will,” he was responsible, for the glorified Lord Jesus Christ had committed to him alone “the dispensation of the grace of God. In other words, Paul could have said: “If I don’t want to, it doesn’t make any difference.  My service is compulsory.”  This doesn’t sound commendable, at first.  But taking into consideration he didn’t volunteer to be the apostle to the Gentiles; he was called and/or chosen.  However, that inner compulsion he speaks of is one of the ways a person’s calling is confirmed.  In effect, Paul is saying, “I have to do this; it’s my calling.”

God made it abundantly clear in Acts 9:15 that the gospel belongs to all people.  This not only made Paul responsible to preach the gospel it also made him say, “I am under obligation (a debtor) both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish…” (Romans 1:14-17).

What is this verse saying?  How could Paul help it if people were lost (means:  lacking a relationship with Jesus Christ)?  Paul could not help it if people were lost, but he could help it, if due to his lack of concern, they were not saved.  This is what Paul meant by saying, “for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel (v16).  Paul felt a deep obligation (debt); he felt he “owed” the gospel to every unsaved person. 

Ironically, at one point in his life he felt an obligation to persecute every Christian he could find; but later, after his encounter with the glorified Jesus Christ on the Damascus road, he felt an obligation to preach God’s good news to the lost.

17: For if I do this (preach the gospel) voluntarily I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 

18: What then is my reward?  That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

The reward for Paul was not financial support in exchange for his preaching the gospel, but instead was a spiritual blessing.  Paul is saying that he does not ask for or seek financial support as a condition for preaching God’s good news to the lost.  The
Corinthians, who have been ministered to by Paul, should have been motivated out of compassion to provide him material support, as they most likely did the other leaders.

The Church needs more men like Paul today – a rare man of God indeed!  He felt rewarded if, working as a tent-making to support himself, he could preach the Word without any mention of personal needs and we all know he had personal needs.  But his generosity of spirit did not involve material things alone.  For Paul sacrificed more than money to win lost souls to Jesus Christ. 

*If anyone has any questions pertaining to this Bible lesson or one of the previous lessons, please submit them to:  TruthisTold3@GMail.com

(To be continued)

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