- Is this the return of the weekly mind dump? Maybe!
- Praise the Lord we had a wonderful Sunday. We have several first-time visitors. The teacher for our older children’s class was out-of-town this week, so I was able to teach for him. It was a blessing to give the next generation the gospel! We had 8 kids in there between 7-12 years of age.
- In the morning and afternoon services I preached on “What Is The Ambition Of Missions?” and talked about having a zeal for the evangelization of the unreached which extends to much of their friends and family. Pray that our church members will become even more zealous about reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus.
- Pray as we prepare this week for our couples retreat coming up this Thursday through Saturday. We will be going about an hour away and renting a place for all of us to stay. We have several families committed to going but praying for a few more. Pray for this to be an edifying time and for some of the spouses who don’t come to our church to get connected with our church members.
- We have looked at several locations for a church plant. Interesting story, while we were looking at a building to possibly rent, we found a church for the Korean minority group in the same building that we were looking in. We met the pastor and he said they have around 20 or so and everything is done in Korean. He also warned us that they had recently been visited by the local police and religious bureau. That reminds me that our work here is important and we need to be busy about our Father’s business…thanking Him for every day He allows us to serve here. Praise God with us for what He has already done and please pray for our continuing work here in China.
1:1-25 The Genealogy And Birth Of Jesus
Memory Verse: Matthew 1:21
1:1-17 The Genealogy Of Jesus According To Joseph
- 1:1, 16c The gospel record of Matthew opens with “the book of the generation of Jesus.” Matthew wants us to know that Jesus is a real person with a heritage that is traceable. His Jewish roots will help us identify who Jesus really is. First, Matthew says he is the Christ—the anointed One, the Messiah, the promised Saviour of the World. Second, he says Jesus is the son of David—meaning He is the promised son of David who will establish an eternal kingdom. Third, he says Jesus is the son of Abraham—meaning he would be the Blessing by which all families of the earth would be blessed. Matthew is going to reveal to us that it is Jesus alone who can fulfill the promises of God, all other human efforts (King Solomon, Israel, etc.) have failed, but God will remain faithful to His word.
Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:25; Acts 2:29-36
- 1:17 Matthew gives us the list of forty-two generations to show that Jesus is of true Jewish lineage. He breaks it up into three sections with each including fourteen generations. The list is not to show an unbroken line of ancestors, but to show Jesus is of the lineage of the Jews founder, Abraham, and the great king David. The list includes women, which is isn’t normal for Jewish culture, and people who committed great sins, or didn’t have a good reputation—showing that God will accomplish His will even though man has failed.
- 1:2-6 The first group—from Abraham to David: Abraham (1) begat Isaac (2) whom begat Jacob (3) whom begat Judas (4) and his brethren. Judas begat Phares (5) and Zara of Thamar. Phares begat Esrom (6) whom begat Aram (7) whom begat Aminadab (8) whom begat Naasson (9) whom begat Salmon (10) whom begat Booz (11) of Rachab whom begat Obed (12) of Ruth whom begat Jesse (13) whom begat David (14) the king.
- 1:7-11 The second group—from David until the carrying away into Babylon: David the king whom begat Solomon (15) of her that had been the wife of Urias. Solomon begat Roboam (16) whom begat Abia (17) whom begat Asa (18) whom begat Josaphat (19) whom begat Joram (20) whom begat Ozias (21) whom begat Joatham (22) whom begat Achaz (23) whom begat Ezekias (24) whom begat Manasses (25) whom begat Amon (26) whom begat Josias (27) whom begat Jechonias (28) and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
- 1:12-16 The third group—from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ: After they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias (29) begat Salathiel (30) whom begat Zorobabel (31) whom begat Abiud (32) whom begat Eliakim (33) whom begat Azor (34) whom begat Sadoc (35) whom begat Achim (36) whom begat Eliud (37) whom begat Eleazar (38) whom begat Matthan (39) whom begat Jacob (40) whom begat Joseph (41) the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus (42), who is called Christ.
- 1:16b Before the list concludes with Jesus, we are introduced to Jesus’ parents. But the list never says that Joseph begat Jesus like it does with the other father and son relationships. This is because Jesus’ birth was supernatural. Joseph never had sexual relations with Mary to produce the child Jesus. Instead, as we will learn in the coming verses, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. This means Jesus was not Joseph’s literal, physical offspring—but Jesus was Joseph’s legal offspring because Joseph was Jesus’ step-father, making Jesus part of this important lineage (thus fulfilling prophecy).
1:18-25 The Birth Of Jesus From Joseph’s Perspective
- 1:18 After presenting Jesus’ royal and important lineage, Matthew now turns to explain how Jesus was born. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was espoused to Joseph—which in Jewish culture was a one-year engagement only breakable by divorce. During this time they were not permitted to sexually come together, but must wait until after the official marriage ceremony had taken place. Therefore, it was during this time of the engagement and before they came together sexually that Mary was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Mary was a virgin (as noted in Luke’s Gospel)—meaning God supernaturally caused Mary to become pregnant with Jesus without the natural means of procreation between humans.
- 1:19 Joseph was a just and righteous man. He believed, worshipped and served God. Thus, when Mary told him the news of her miraculous conception he had to be shocked and confused. The news was that an angel told Mary she was going to supernatural conceive a child who would be the Son of God. Knowing he never had sex with her and not understanding how his wife could become pregnant except for the only other option he could think of which would mean she had sexual intercourse with another man, he decided to divorce her. The third, and supernatural option, of her conception was unthinkable. He loved her, but how was he to believe her? Joseph knew the punishment for adultery according to the law was death by stoning, but he didn’t want to make her a public example or put her to shame, so he decide he would just do a private divorce.
Luke 1:28-38; Deuteronomy 22:23-24
- 1:20-21 While Joseph thought about everything the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream. The angel addressed Joseph by name and as the “son of David”—emphasizing his royal lineage. He told Joseph not to fear but to take Mary as his wife. He took away all doubts about how Mary conceived the child, explaining that the baby in her womb truly was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Mary was still a virgin and had never committed adultery, this truly was a miracle. The angel then explains the baby will be male and they are to name him JESUS, which means “God Saves,” and as the angel reveals, that is exactly what He is going to do “save his people from their sins.” Jesus’ virgin birth would mean he would the first person born in human history without sin. This was required for salvation to be possible, which is Jesus’ mission in coming to earth.
- 1:22-23 Everything that was done fulfilled what was spoken of the Lord by the prophet Isaiah: (1) A virgin will be with child, (2) she will bring forth a son, and (3) they will call his name Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” God’s word is the authority from which we know truth. He promised a Saviour would come. This birth marked His coming. His word verified how he would come. Everything points to Jesus as the Saviour of the World.
Isaiah 7:14; Philippians 2:5-11
- 1:24-25 Joseph woke up and did as the angel said. He took Mary as his wife instead of divorcing her. Also, he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the child (probably to keep anyone from doubting). Finally, Joseph named the child, “JESUS.”
- Why is knowing Jesus’ genealogy important?
- What is the difference when we are introduced to Jesus’ parents in the genealogy?
- Why was Joseph going to divorce Mary?
- Why didn’t Joseph divorce Mary?
- Why was Jesus birth a miracle and what does it point to?
Below are praises and prayer requests for this month:
- We are well into our summer semester with the two couples (4 full-time students). We have already completed 4 modular style classes this summer and are working on at least one more. Please continue to pray for these students as they grow in the Lord.
- We hosted a group from Vision Baptist Church. They were a blessing to our church and our students. We were blessed to have one of the pastors and deacons teach classes for us while they were here. They were also four young men considering missions and/or where God would have them serve. Pray for direction in their lives as they do all they can to serve the Lord.
- We have been researching different locations and searching for a building to launch our second church plant in October of this year. Please continue to pray with us for wisdom to make the right decisions and for the souls in that area to be humbled and saved by the gospel.
- We are excited to announce that we are expecting twins! After dealing with some infertility issues at the beginning of this year, the Lord blessed my wife with conceiving not one but two babies. They are due in January.
- My wife and our two oldest daughters made a safe trip to the USA and back to China for a little over a week to visit with family. It had been several years since they have been back and we didn’t have a furlough scheduled when we planned the trip for them. They had a wonderful trip and we praise the Lord for keeping them safe and allowing us these little blessings.
- Furlough 2018—as we look to the future, we are planning, Lord willing, to take our first year-long furlough on August 10, 2018. This will put us at eight years exactly from the day we left. We left with 1 child and, Lord willing, we will be returning with 5. This furlough will allow us to raise more support for the growing ministry here, present our ministry in many new churches, report back to our supporters, allow us to reconnect with family and friends, allow our children to experience American life (all of them have spent more time in China than the USA), and give us a break from the demands of the mission field. Our home base for our time back will be near our home church in Alpharetta, GA. Even though this is more than a year away, if you are interested in booking us, please send an email.
- Our teammates who were here studying the language moved to Shanghai this past month. The church had a send-off service for them as they stepped out to into a new phase of life and ministry. I am thankful for the church being so loving towards them. We look forward to having two more families come to learn the language and train near the end/beginning of the year.
- I am writing this prayer letter as I am returning from Vision Baptist Missions’ Asia Regional Conference. This was technically the first of its kind and was hosted in Nepal. The conference was a huge blessing as we received encouragement, counseling, and training. My wife and I were both able to attend as our children stayed in China. We are blessed to be a part of a mission board who loves us and provides continuing care for us while we are serving on the field.
Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China. We are especially fond of you!
What Is Our Responsibility Towards The Poor?
Our responsibility towards the poor is to do whatever we can to help relieve their affliction. As believers, we are to have compassion for believers in need but also towards our neighbors—those whom we come across that are in need and we are able to help. We should consider the reasons for their situation and help accordingly.
Compassion For The Household Of Faith
- The Bible teaches that an evidence of (or fruit of) true conversion is brotherly affection and love—meaning showing true compassion towards “the least of these my brethren” or other believers whatever their “rank” (especially those who suffer because of serving Jesus) and it is equal to doing it for Jesus Himself. This compassion should be evident within the body of Christ and we should be willing to care for each other. This compassion within the body of Christ includes: providing food for the hungry; providing drink for the thirsty; being hospitable to the homeless and foreigner; to clothe the unclothed; to check on the sick; to visit those in prison; to check on the fatherless (orphans) and widows in their affliction. We are to do good unto everyone, but especially unto them who are of the household of faith. We do this in love and our motivation for this love comes from Jesus laying down His life for us, thus we ought to lay down our lives for the believers.
Matthew 25:31-46; Galatians 2:10; 6:10; James 1:22-27; 2:14-18; 2 Peter 1:3-15; 1 John 3:16-24; 1 Corinthians 13:3
- God’s people have always been responsible to helping the poor and it has always been characteristic of one who loves and obeys God. The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their agricultural produce for that year and store it up in their cities to feed the Levites, the strangers (foreigners), the fatherless children or orphans and the widows that lived in their cities. This was only to be done once every three years. Also, there were rules to govern how to make payment back to others who suffered loss in interpersonal relationships or to keep people from taking financial advantage of others or the poor. They would leave the corners of the field for the poor and stranger to glean freely. They were to “open their hands wide” to the poor and in certain situations they were to furnish others liberally from what God had blessed them with. The year of jubile (every fifty years) was instituted to liberate the people from all kinds of indebtedness and enslavement. This included property, indentured slaves, etc., and it helped moderate the economy and those with financial hardships.
Exodus 22:1-17; 21-30; 23:3-6; 8-11; 16-19; 25-26; Leviticus 19:9-10; 25:1-55; Numbers 18:20-24; Deuteronomy 12:17-19; 14:22-29; 15:1-23; 26:10-16; Isaiah 58:6-10; Jeremiah 22:16
Compassion For Our Neighbors
- The Bible says that we are to love God with all thy heart, soul, strength and mind, and we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. A man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus responds by telling a parable about a man who ran into thieves who stole his clothes and injure him to the point of almost being dead. Two men passed by the man and didn’t help him but one man had compassion on him by immediately helping the man’s physical condition, taking the man to an inn and caring for him and paying the cost for his immediate and continual care until he recovered. Jesus then tells them “Go, and do thou likewise.” Believers have a responsibility to show compassion to all in need. To be compassionate is to be generous and we shouldn’t just be generous to those who can be generous back to us, but we should purposely be generous to those who can’t be generous back to us. Nor should we have respect of persons based on status: rich/poor.
Luke 10:25-37; Luke 14:12-14; James 2:1-13
- Being poor means lacking the wealth (money and possessions) needed to live at the normal standard of your community (this has varying levels) with the destitute being those without the basic necessities of life (this is the lowest of the levels). The poor will always be in the world. There are legitimate and illegitimate reason for a person being poor. Our responsibility to care for the poor is towards those who reasons are legitimate, such as: victims of some kind of affliction; an inability to work because of a handicap; the result of a natural disaster; famine; being orphaned, etc. As believers, we are to help those within our communities that are poor or destitute as we are able to—meaning we use our wealth (money and possessions) to show compassion on them. The Proverbs gives us many principles concerning the care for the poor:
Deuteronomy 15:11; Mark 14:7
- The righteous are aware of the “the cause of the poor”—meaning the just treatment due to the poor (by God’s command), but the wicked is not concerned with it. If we despise our neighbors we sin, but if we show mercy on the poor we are happy and blessed. We are to have a bountiful eye and give from our own food to those in need.
Proverbs 14:21, 31; 22:9; 29:7; 31:9
- When we show gracious kindness to the poor we know that we are lending to God and He will repay. We don’t have to worry about becoming poor becomes we give to the poor, we are promised to that we “shall not lack” but whoever closes their eyes to the needs of the poor “have many a curse” or afflictions.
Proverbs 19:17; 21:13; 28:27
- If we oppress the poor we reproach or insult our Maker—the God who created the heavens and earth, the God who created us. But if we honor God, we will have mercy on the poor. Therefore, honoring God means actively caring for the poor and destitute.
Proverbs 14:31; 17:5; 22:2
- There are also “illegitimate reason” for a person being poor—meaning our responsibility to care for the poor isn’t towards those who reasons are illegitimate, such as: laziness or negligence; overindulgence in pleasure; borrowing money or debt; selfish and oppressive decisions against God, etc. These are all decisions that a person makes and their “state of being poor” is a consequence of their wrong decisions. The person is reaping what they sowed. This person should be exhorted to repent and correct the situation. If the person is willing to be restored, then we should be willing to help them accordingly.
Proverbs 10:4; 19:15; 21:17; 20:4; 22:7; 22:16; 22:22-23; 24:30-34;
- Exhort to work: The Bible says, “If any would not work, neither should he eat.” Therefore, if they are undisciplined, irresponsible, able but unwilling to spend any time working to earn money then they should be exhorted to work to fix their situation (especially if they are a believer). If they don’t obey the Bible’s command to work, then they should be noted and avoided—meaning other believers shouldn’t have anything to do with them, hoping, they will repent and be restored.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Proverbs 16:26
- Consider a person’s reason for their current situation and respond with the proper type of compassion and help. We don’t want to “enable” wrong behavior, nor do we want to ignore the needs of the poor, thus if the situation is uncertain, it is better to be considerate than inconsiderate. It might be wise to have a process to determine who is really without resources, just like that of determining who is a true widow in need.
1 Timothy 5:3-6
- What does compassion for the household of faith mean?
- What are some Old Testament examples?
- What does compassion for our neighbors mean?
- What are legitimate and illegitimate reasons for being poor?
- Are you fulfilling your responsibility towards the poor?
Our schedule has changed many times since we have started doing ministry in China. I often write down our schedule to think about what we need to change and do better. I also like hearing from others about their ministry schedules because it gives me new ideas. (Comment and share yours below.)
We have tried many things, and through trial and error, here is what our current ministry schedule looks like (this isn’t an entire daily schedule but just the weekly scheduled ministry events):
- Monday-Friday morning from 9:00-13:00 we host seminary classes (Chinese) at the church.
- Wednesday evening from 18:30-20:00 we have a meal and small group Bible studies (Chinese/English) at the church. Currently, we have four groups. Two of the groups are Chinese only and two of the groups are a mix of English and Chinese. I teach a Chinese group and it is specifically for married couples.
- Friday night outreach 17:30-finished (Chinese). We often try to get together with others in the church to share a meal together and get to know them on a more personal level. We have started hosting these in our house so the whole family can be involved.
- (Saturday is our day off now.)
- Sunday is broken down as the following:
- From 9:00-10:15 we have Kids’ Bible Club (Chinese/English). The kids club is bilingual for outreach purposes. The English is the draw but the Chinese is used to make sure everyone understands the lessons.
- From 9:30-10:15 we have Adult Sunday School (Chinese). Currently, we have two classes.
- From 10:30-11:30 we have morning worship (Chinese).
- From 11:30-12:00 we have a quick lunch at the church.
- From 12:00-1:00 we have afternoon worship (Chinese).
- From 19:00-20:00 we have an English corner outreach (English).
We had another blessed month in the ministry this past month. Here are praises and prayer request for this month:
- As of this writing, we have two days left of our first semester. The three students have done a great job and are spending these two final days preparing for and taking their end of the semester exams. Through the summer we plan on doing module style classes, the first being hosted by two teachers from our home church, Vision Baptist Church. We are excited about them arriving this week. Also, Lord willing, the wife of the other man training will be joining us this coming semester, as she desires to learn more. This means we will have 4 full-time students. Please pray for them and also for more students this semester.
- Praise the Lord we had 4 baptized last month. One of the men that were baptized was led to the Lord by one of our students as he was coming back to the city on the train. The Lord is really using him to reach souls.
- The church voted last month to financially take on one the Bible college students (Lebron) as the assistant pastor. Praise the Lord! He will be receiving 50% of the offerings until he can receive an honorable wage. This is a great step for the church to become more indigenous.
- We are praying about and planning for a second church plant this fall, Lord willing. Please pray with us for wisdom about location, building, and all the other decisions that need to be made to start a second church in the city.
- We are considering purchasing a building in the future for the church to use and also for a central location for our training center. We have been researching the process of purchasing a building in China and the necessary requirements. Although the prices are high (minimum of $150,000) because we are working in the inner city, it is definitely a possibility and it would be an incredible help. Please help us pray for wisdom about making this decision and necessary fundraising.
- We are excited about our teammates who have confirmed–with plane tickets purchased–that they will be joining us this coming December, Lord willing. Please pray they can raise their final support and for the upcoming transition they will be making.
- Pray for laborers. We need more laborers, but many are afraid to step out and serve God for a various amount of reasons. Fear paralyzes us from action. Inaction allows us to ignore our problems. Ignoring our problems leads to a wasted life. Face your fears by taking action and facing your problems to live a victorious life! What are you waiting for? There is an incredible life for you to live through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the gospel of Jesus. Step out into the deep waters and give everything!
Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China.
Why Should A Church Financially Support A Pastor?
A church should financially support a pastor so he can be fully engaged in ministry. A pastor has the right to be supported by those he ministers to. Thus, the church should be willing to generously give to financially support their pastor if he is worthy of support.
Pastors Should Be Financially Supported
- Paul uses his unique position as an apostle to help illustrate that even though all things are lawful not everything edifies. One of the evidences of Paul’s apostleship was the fact that the church in Corinth existed because of his preaching and work among them. He then goes on asking more rhetorical questions to show that he also has the right to be financially supported (power to eat and to drink) and to be married (power to lead about a sister, a wife). He wanted them to know that he has the right to refrain from working for a living because He is a minister of the gospel and thus has the full right to receive his “living” from the churches he is ministering in. The principle is: you should earn your living from your work.
1 Corinthians 9:1-6; 10:23
- Examples from life: He shows this principle is a normal pattern in life: (1) a soldier who goes to war doesn’t do it at his own expense; (2) a farmer who plants a vineyard also eats of the fruit from it; (3) a shepherd who tends to and feeds a flock also eats of the milk from the flock.
1 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Timothy 2:1-7
- Example from the law of Moses: Then he show that a part of the law about “oxen” was actually written for our sakes and not just for the concern of oxen. He says, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” An ox would either pull a threshing sledge or trample over stalks of corn and they were not to muzzle its mouth so that it couldn’t eat, but allow it to eat as it worked. Paul continues to apply this saying that it was written to teach us that we should plow and thresh “in hope” so we can be partakers of this hope. Thus, a pastor works in the church “in hope” by sowing spiritual things, hoping to reap material things for his livelihood.
1 Corinthians 9:7-11; Deuteronomy 25:4
- Examples from the temple: Next, he points to those who worked in the temple to “minister about holy things” also lived of the things of the temple and those that served at the altar also partook from the sacrificial offerings of the altar.
1 Corinthians 9:13 (Compare: Genesis 2:15 to Numbers 3:7-8; 18:7 and the words “dress” and “keep”.)
- Example from Jesus: Finally, Paul says that even the Lord Jesus has ordained that, “They which preach the gospel should live of the gospel”—meaning that full-time ministers of the gospel should earn their living or have a right to be financially supported by this “gospel-work” alone.
1 Corinthians 9:14
- But Paul didn’t exercise his right to receive financial support from the church at Corinth (and Thessalonica). Instead he worked as a tentmaker and would minister every sabbath (and most likely other times). He did this because he didn’t want to hinder the gospel of Christ by people thinking he was financially motivated while He was “in the regions of Achaia.” Also, it allowed him to undermine his opponents, the false teachers, who were claiming they had the same authority as Paul and were greedily seeking money for their “false ministries.” But eventually Paul became poor enough to need help from others. Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia giving him money from the church(s) at Philippi or those in the region (even though they weren’t receiving direct ministry from Paul at this time). So while Paul was at Corinth He did receive support from other churches and this allowed him to become fully engaged in testifying that Jesus was the Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:11-12; 9:12; 2 Corinthians 11:7-15; Philippians 4:15-20; Acts 18:1-5; (1 Thessalonians 2:9)
- Paul’s motivation for ministry was because “necessity” was laid upon him and that a “dispensation of the gospel” was committed to him—meaning the task of preaching the gospel was entrusted to him and thus his reward was that he could boast that he preached “the gospel of Christ without charge.” He also exemplified that believers should work hard, help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
1 Corinthians 9:15-18; Acts 20:32-35; (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9)
- In response to what seems to be a charge against Paul, he asked the church at Corinth in what were they inferior or less fortunate than other churches. The only thing was that he himself was not “burdensome”—meaning he did not freeload off of them. He ironically but sincerely asked for their forgiveness if they were offended by this, but continues to stand by his decision not to accept financial support from them because of his original reasons and also affectionally explains He is their spiritual father and was willing to spend and be spend for their souls—he didn’t want what was theirs but he wanted them. He didn’t want money to change their relationship.
2 Corinthians 12:11-18
- After Paul finished teaching the Galatians that we are to help cary the heavy burdens of others as we carry the load of our own personal responsibilities that God has given us individually, he continues to encourage that there is teamwork and fellowship that takes place between believers. One of the areas where there should be sharing is between the “teachers of the word” and the “learners of the word”—all believers should fall into this category because every believer should be in a local church under the guidance of its leadership. The learners should share (communicate) their financial means (all good things) to support the teacher so that he can do his work full-time (help guard against false teaching). This is a fellowship that benefits both sides. The teacher will have adequate time to study and teach the word, while the learner benefits from the teaching. This could also indicate serving where it is needed so that the teachers have enough time to study, pray and teach the Bible. God wants full-time pastors—teachers of the word.
How Much Financial Support Should A Pastor Receive?
- Paul tells timothy the elders—(pastors who oversee an assembly of Christian believers) that rule well—(pastors who fulfill their roles in a good and satisfactory way that meets the high standards of the Bible’s requirements) be counted worthy of double honour—(receive twice as great the compensation), especially they who labour (particularly those who work very hard) in the word (preaching) and doctrine (teaching). Paul then quotes scripture to prove his points:
1 Timothy 5:17-18; (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17)
- First, he applies part of the law from the Old Testament saying, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.”—meaning a pastor can partake from his ministry.
1 Timothy 5:18a; Deuteronomy 25:4
- Second, he quotes Jesus in the New Testament as saying, “The labourer is worthy of his reward.”—meaning a pastor who ministers is deserving of financial support.
1 Timothy 5:18b; Luke 10:7
- Does a pastor have a right to be financially supported by the church he leads?
- What are the four examples that Paul used?
- Did Paul exercise his right to receive financial support at Corinth? Why?
- What two scriptures does Paul use to prove his points?
- Are you giving to help support your pastor?
What Is The New Testament Paradigm for Giving?
The New Testament paradigm for giving is that of generous grace giving—meaning that believers are to give freewill offerings to supply the needs of the church and its outreach to the community (including the poor) and the world—to accomplish its mission here on earth. Giving is a Christian virtue or grace that all believers are to abound in.
2 Corinthians 8:7
The Paradigm Of Generous Grace Giving
- The local church started with Jesus and His disciples, and it was established when they received and were filled by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was part of the “festival of weeks” in which the Israelites were required to come to Jerusalem. So when Peter preached His sermon at Pentecost there were many people present to hear it and they “added unto them about three thousand souls.” Also, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Presumably, many of those who became believers that day were living away from home and, understandably, they wanted to continued steadfastly in all they were learning about Jesus. Thus, as the church was in its infancy and having a great need before them, the believers sold their possessions and goods, and then distributed the proceeds to anyone who had a need, so that all who believed had all things in common. Through Acts, this becomes characteristic of the church, that is: generous grace giving.
Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 9:36, 39; 10:4; 17:9-10; 21:23-25
- As the church continues to grow and spread, the giving within the church (as presented in the rest of the New Testament) doesn’t fit the Old Testament patterns of the four different “tithes,” but it does resemble the freewill offerings to the Lord. These offerings are characterized by: (1) giving with a willing heart; (2) giving to God and for His work; (3) giving according to what a person had and what they wanted to give; (4) giving was done by expressing great joy before the Lord; (5) giving expecting it would be blessed by God.
Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-9, 20-29; 36:1-7; Deuteronomy 16:9-12, 16-17; 1 Chronicles 29:6-9; Proverbs: 3:9-10; 11:24
- The believers and the church at Jerusalem exemplified generous grace giving in there specific situation, but they eventually suffered “great persecution” and there was a great famine throughout all the world. They became in great need financially. Believer’s from Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia determined to send relief unto the believers in Judaea/Jerusalem to help meet their needs. From these examples, we can learn principles about how God wants us to meet needs through generous grace giving. Today, believers should continue to grow in this Christian virtue of giving. First, we give ourselves to God—meaning we make a personal commitment of our lives to God. Second, we earnestly desire to give generously as we have opportunity because of the grace of God in our lives and strive to abound in this area, knowing: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Acts 8:1; 11:25-30; 20:4, 35; 24:17; Romans 15:25; Galatians 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:4-7
Principles Of Generous Grace Giving
- Giving should be complementary—the spiritual and material workings within the church should be characterized by “equality” or “balance”. This means things should be equally sufficient or that one’s abundance in an area meets the needs of another where he is lacking in that area and vice versa. For example, at this time the Corinthian church (Gentiles) could financially help the Jerusalem church (Jews) and the Jerusalem church (Jews) could spiritually help the Corinthian church (Gentiles). This principle also overflows into pastors having the privilege to work in the ministry full-time and to be supported by the church, thus refraining from working for a living outside of their ministry. They sow “spiritual things” among the people they are ministering to, thus in return they have the right to reap “material things” from them.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15; Romans 15:27; (1 Corinthians 9:1-18; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; Galatians 6:6)
- Giving should be proportional—the amount we are to give should be: (1) within our financial ability and how God has prospered us—meaning our ability to give is based on what we have (if we have much, we give much; if we have little, we give little). This also means there is no required amount that we are to give, but it is proportional to what we are able to financially give within our means; (2) beyond our financial ability—meaning we are to make sacrifices so that we can give more than what would be comfortable. (3) below our financial ability—meaning we are able to give more than we are but we don’t.
Acts 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:2b; 2 Corinthians 8:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
- Giving should be regular—the process of giving should be routine or have a pattern to follow so that we can excel in our giving. Paul told the church at Corinth to store up the amount they were to give every Sunday (this amount could be different each week based on their occupation etc). This way the collection of money they were going to give to the church at Jerusalem would be ready and there wouldn’t be any last minute pressure on the church to give (often results in giving little). We might be very eager and enthusiastic to give but we have to be intentional about our preparation and execution to give so that it can be done joyfully and generously and not covetousness or have to be coerced.
1 Corinthians 16:2a; 2 Corinthians 9:1-5; 2 Corinthians 8:10-12
- Giving should be cheerful—the process of giving should be a delight or joy and not a burden. Everyone must give as they purpose in their hearts. It is a privilege and not an obligation. It should be voluntary and not involuntary. It should be deliberate and not impulsive. Thus, we need to have the following motivations when giving: (1) To emulate Jesus—He was rich but became poor for us that we might be made rich. (2) To trust in God’s abundant provision—if we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly, but if we sow bountifully we will reap bountifully—meaning there are temporal and eternal rewards for giving based on how we give. (3) To glorify God—God loves a cheerful giver and we want to please Him—thus we don’t give grudgingly or with a sad heart, nor because we are forced to, but because we want to worship God. (4) To testify of grace—our giving gives evidence of the exceeding grace of God in us and our confession of the gospel of Christ; (5) To give thanksgiving to God—many people will give thanks to God because of our giving just like we have given thanks unto God for His unspeakable gift—salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone.
2 Corinthians 8:8-9; 9:6-15; Romans 15:26-29; Hebrews 13:15-16; (John 10:18; Romans 8:32)
- Giving should be honest—the process of dealing with money that is given through the church needs to be done in a way that is accountable so that it can be done with honesty before God and men. When they were going to send the money to Jerusalem, the churches chose people they judged to be commendable to deliver the money so there would be no reason for criticism. Also, we should be honest personally—meaning that we shouldn’t be deceptive about how much we give or give just to be praised by others. We should strive to be honest in all financial matters.
1 Corinthians 16:3-4; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24; Acts 5:1-11; Matthew 6:1-4
- What did giving look like at the establishment of the church?
- Does the giving in the church look like the Old Testament tithes or freewill offerings?
- What are five principles of generous grace giving?
- What are five motivations for giving cheerfully?
- Are you excelling in the Christian virtue of giving?
What Is The Biblical Understanding Of Tithing?
The Biblical understanding of tithing is that God commanded the children of Israel to give multiple “one-tenths” of their agricultural produce and/or livestock as a way to support the Levites, celebrate festivals, to help others in need and worship God. Ultimately, the multiple tithes were fulfilled in Jesus and believers have a new paradigm for giving.
The Misconception Of “The Tithe Offering”
- The “tithe” in the Bible is often misrepresented and therefore leads to a misunderstanding about the responsibility of a believer and how God has planned for him to be a giver. The definition about tithing that has led many to misunderstand it is: “Tithing is a required universal offering by which you give a total of only one-tenth of all your income to God”. This is an oversimplification and wrong definition of the “tithe” that is found in the Bible because: (1) the Bible presents more than one type of tithe; (2) the requirements for these are specific and not just based on a person’s income; (3) the total amount given of these comprised more than one-tenth when added together (even though the word “tithe” means one-tenth); (4) it is never commanded as a universal obligation for all people for all times but for a specific people for a specific time.
- The Bible describes four different tithes that were commanded in the law of Moses. We need to examine each of these “tithes” to consider: (1) who was the giver; (2) what were they to give; (3) where was the gift to be given; (4) why were they to give; (5) when were they required to give.
- The Levitical Tithe—The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their seed or fruit and every tenth animal from their herd or flock to the children of Levi in return for their service that they did in the tabernacle of the congregation. They were to give this tithe when their crops were harvested and as their livestock increased accordingly.
Numbers 18:21-24; Leviticus 27:30-33
- The Priestly Tithe—The Levites, who were the priest, were commanded by God to give one-tenth from the Levitical tithe that they received from the Israelites as a heave offering for the Lord.
- The Festival Tithe—The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their “increase from the field” including the firstlings of their livestock to celebrate their festivals (i.e., passover, tabernacles, weeks). They were to do this once a year and bring this tithe to “the place which He shall choose to place His name” or Jerusalem to learn to fear the Lord their God always. If you couldn’t take the stuff to Jerusalem, then you could sell the tithe of the crops and livestock so that you have money and then take the money to Jerusalem and buy what you needed to celebrate the festivals with your family.
Deuteronomy 14:22-27; 16:16 (Exodus 23:14-17; Leviticus 23:1-44; Deuteronomy 16:1-17)
- The Charity Tithe—The Israelites were commanded by God to give one-tenth of their agricultural produce for that year and store it up in their cities to feed the Levites, the strangers (foreigners), the fatherless children or orphans and the widows that lived in their cities. This was only to be done once every three years. In response to this tithe the Lord said He would bless them in all the work of their hands that they do.
Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-15
- The Sabbatical Year—The Israelites were commanded by God to let the land rest for one year, meaning they weren’t allowed to sow or gather in their crop, thus possibly excusing the need for the tithe in this year. This was only to be done once every seven years. The natural crop that grew could be taken for food by anyone and God would bless the sixth year’s harvest to produce a crop sufficient for three years for them.
Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7; 17-23
- What was the total amount that an Israelite was required to give through the different tithes? This is actually impossible to calculate because: (1) it is “possible” their agricultural produce and livestock were only subject to the tithes and not their entire income i.e. money earned like a fisherman or carpenter; (2) they were only required to give every tenth animal from their livestocks, so this would be a different percentage based on how many animals you had at the time i.e. you only have to give one cow if you have fifteen (6.6%). Therefore, the best estimate that we can see from the Bible’s tithing requirements was that they gave around 20% of their agricultural produce and livestock every year but gave around 30% every third year because of the added charity tithe. Thus, it doesn’t seem that 10% was ever a total amount they gave—it was always more. Finally, we must remember that there were still other offerings that were obligatory and voluntary that the Israelites were to give (i.e., burnt offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, trespass offerings, meal or meat offerings, heave offerings—although some might be included within the tithes).
The Different Tithes Before And After The Law
- Before the law of Moses there is no command concerning tithing—nor any examples of the levitical, priestly, festival, or charity tithes. But there are two examples of people giving one-tenth (both are descriptive and not prescriptive). First, Abraham gave away 100% of the goods seized in his military victory, giving 10% to Melchizedek who was king of Salem and the priest of the most high God, and then giving a portion to the men who went with him and finally giving the rest to the king of Sodom. Second, Jacob promised to give one-tenth to God of all that God gave him when the conditions of the vow were fulfilled.
Genesis 14:17-24; 28:18-22
- After the law of Moses was fulfilled in Jesus, there is no command concerning tithing—nor any examples of the levitical, priestly, festival, or charity tithes because each have been fulfilled in the New Testament and are no longer necessary. Instead, we are given a new paradigm for giving. Also, the only time the “tithe” is mentioned in the New Testament is when Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, He is telling a parable or when it is referenced in an Old Testament story (all are descriptive and not prescriptive).
Matthew 23:23-24; Luke 18:9-14; Hebrews 7:1-10 (Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 10:4; Colossians 2:16-23; Ephesians 2:11-22)
Principals Learned From The Different Tithes
- Even though the four tithes are no longer binding on believers living under grace like they were for the Israelites living under the law, we can learn the following principals from them: (1) God wants His people to support those who serve Him full-time; (2) those who receive this support should also be givers and not just takers; (3) we should use our money to worship God and lead our families to worship God; (4) God wants His people to care and proved for those in need especially the poor and marginalized.
- As believers, we live by faith and grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We allow the Bible to change our conscience and preconceived ideas. Not every believer understands these truths concerning the tithes or some may even disagree with these conclusions. Either way, we should not judge or despise each other. Thus, in an effort to not offend others it is “recommended” that giving should be at least one-tenth of your income if you can do so by faith and with an attitude of “giving God thanks”—because no one disagrees with giving 10% or more to God, the contention is always on the minimum.
Romans 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13
- How many tithes are commanded in the Old Testament?
- What are the different tithes?
- What was the total amount of all the tithes?
- Was their required tithing before and after the law?
- What are principles we learn from the different tithes?
Each month there is growth. The growth looks different each time. Some of it can be measured by numbers on a sheet, but some of it is the unseen spiritual maturity taking places in our lives and the lives of those we are around and only known from seeing how far we have come. April has been no different. God is working and we praise His name!
Easter: The Lord blessed with great attendance on Easter Sunday. We had over 80 people in attendance. The kids’ ministry had hosted a special time where they had different stations that explained part of the Easter story in a fun and yet clear and convicting way. One of the mom’s (who is an unbeliever) mentioned to me that she thought the kids were really understanding what Easter was all about. I was happy that she was understanding what Easter was all about. The Lord allowed me to prepare and preached a clear and bold gospel message. We had one man that we had worked with for almost two years make a profession of faith after the service. He is getting baptized this coming Sunday. Afterward, we had a big meal and enjoyed the fellowship with all of our visitors.
Seminary Update: The three full-time students are working and studying very hard. We are more than halfway through this semester and it has been a blessed time for all those involved. We are excited to see the students and teachers all growing in the Lord.
Marriage Class: To help strengthen the marriage of the couples in our church, we started a marriage class during our Wednesday night bible studies. This class is designed to be attended by both spouses and we study what the bible says about marriage, how the gospel changes our thoughts about marriage and how to use biblical principles in our everyday lives to have a God-honoring marriage.
Vacation: At the end of the month and into this month, my family was also able to enjoy a 10-day vacation to Thailand. We enjoyed the time together as a family and it gave us the much-needed rest and relaxation before we head into a very busy summer.
Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China.