Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 7, 1960
NUMBER 34, PAGE 9,12b

The Church Treasury - (II.)

N. W. Allphin, Tahoka, Texas

Continuation Of The Study Of Questionable Church Spending

First: To any who may wonder why I do not give full scripture quotations, citing scripture texts, my answer: The conclusions reached are — to me — so obviously scriptural that to insert all such would make my article unduly long with quotes and citations. Thus, mainly to conserve space.

In addition to items for which churches are paying, as mentioned in my former article, are these: flowers for funerals, for the sick, for anniversaries, and other occasions. All this may not exhaust the list, but it is enough to make sober-minded "elders" stop and think!

Now there are people in about every congregation who have serious convictions against the propriety of such reckless spending of what is usually called "the Lord's money." These people believe that some of the previously named things are strictly personal matters and individual responsibilities: that some of them deserve no support at all; and that NONE of them should be paid for out of the church treasury. They prefer that their part, at least, be spent only for Bible approved purposes. You know something? They are 100 per cent right! And I will add this: If one does not want to put his money into hands where it will be spent on unscriptural projects, there is not a verse in the New Testament that says he must do it! And that's that.

What about care of orphans? Is it an obligation of a church to take care of orphans? Many seem to believe that it is an obligation of a church to gather up and provide for all orphans throughout the country, of every kind, even those whose parents are living, though separated for one cause or another. But, seriously, readers, logic, reason and scripture all unite in asserting the fact that one must have higher, more authentic evidence for believing a thing than just because some prominent men have said it a lot of times! If the scriptures do not contain the evidence to support one's claim, he may think it is right, but he cannot believe it. Now; this over-stressed orphan care by churches (as practiced now) is not authorized in the apostolic writings.

I have said before, and I here repeat — not by actual count, but by estimation — that not less than 95 percent of New Testament instances of admonition, commendation or censure in relation to Christian duties was directed to individuals, not to -churches. Moreover, according to the best of my knowledge, there is not a passage in the New Testament that contains either precept, example, or inference that makes a church, "as such," responsible for the care of orphans, unless it is some that might have been among "the poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem." shared the help that was sent from Antioch. "The disciples, every man, according to his ability, determined to send relief" — not to everybody in Judea, but — "to the brethren." Thus, by their handling the matter in that way, the implication is, that this is how they had been taught by the apostles to take care of such benevolent work.

To be as liberal as possible, it may be granted that there were orphans among the poor at Jerusalem and elsewhere in Judea. And since the custom of the apostles was, in some cases (Maybe in all), to deliver the contribution to "the elders" to be distributed by them or the deacons, we may say that the churches, in a restricted sense, did aid orphans along with other needy persons; but that help was to those "among them," certainly not to all orphans that could be gathered "from Dan to Beersheba."

From the above inferences we may assume that there are orphans today who could qualify as temporary charges of a church, viz: If they are children of deceased parents who were members, or of a deceased father, when no other provision is readily made for them. Yet the fact remains that "benevolence," be it in contributions of time, work or money, is still primarily our personal Christian duty — "whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it" — the Bible way. And why mature Bible readers can't see this is no less than a puzzle to me. What are we following, a pattern set by "the sects?" Or is it a "tradition of the elders?"

For years and years people have put their money into the collection basket each Lord's day, with little or no thought of what will be done with it, nor caring, it seems, how it is spent, virtually saying, "let George do it" (George is treasurer). In so doing they miss the joy and soul thrilling feeling of satisfaction that comes to everyone for having done a good deed, not to mention the thrill, the good will and lasting gratitude that fills the hearts of the recipients of our gifts or service.

Giving assistance to orphans, the sick, the aged, the poor and other subjects of misfortune in the community as far as we can, "especially to them that are of the household of the faith," is a divinely required personal service. It is expected of each of us as we have opportunity and ability. Not enough of us are doing our duty in such matters. Why? Largely because elders have not instructed their flock on the subject. If elders don't know, then they need to be taught.

Many good people suppose that putting their money into the treasury on Sunday terminates their obligations for any and all causes; that in so doing they have discharged their duty. Not so. In beneficence much more is involved than just contributing to a church treasury. As to what we may do in rendering service to the Master, the scriptures are not silent; the what, when, where, why and how are all pretty plainly shown therein.

Some say if we give for any cause otherwise than through the church, we "are robbing the church." Let that soak in a minute! Is it the language of Ashdod? What else? The saints in any locality constitute the church there! Having searched the record thoroughly I find where churches, or members of the church, gave money to preachers and to needy people; but if there is even the shadow of a hint therein that people gave, or were asked to give, all money to the church, it is a most elusive text, it escaped my vision entirely. All Christians are admonished to give, and that liberally and cheerfully; but not necessarily all to, or through, the church treasury.

Many elders, preachers and some editors think James 1:27 applies to a church. It does not. And they could no more prove it so than they could prove that Paul married Demetrius' daughter and was elected mayor of Ephesus! But if it did so apply, thereby binding a church to take care of all orphans and aged, elders act in poor grace and show little regard for New Testament authority when they shirk their duty and, instead, send these people off to a humanly devised institution, and support it out of the treasury.

Too many churches today are much like our federal and state governments; they set up a big budget that calls for a lot of unessential spending, and are constantly calling for money and more money to "balance the budget." Also, like civil governments, their trend is toward centralizing the resources of all members strict church (elder) control, thus greatly curtailing the possibility of essential individual activities.

But don't misinterpret me. I am not trying to dissuade any from contributing to the church fund as usual. I am only trying to get both flocks and shepherds to study the record more closely on such questions. They can see how (if they try) that if the members contribute all they conveniently can, to the regular collection, nothing is left for individual use in charitable deeds and personal helpfulness, which is a vitally necessary element in development of Christian attitude, spiritual growth and influence. If the average church budget called for more funds for gospel preaching in "regions beyond," and less for things that members, severally, ought to do, they would not be too big.

Finally, take a look at the closing verses of Matt. 25. In the judgment, we will not be judged and set on the right hand nor on the left hand as churches, but as individuals! Our great need? — read and heed!