Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 17, 1966

"How Long Can I Contribute?"

Don Bassett

During the last few years there have probably been many Christians who found themselves in the unenviable position of belonging to a local church which used its treasury unlawfully: i.e., for contributions to human institutions, church-sponsored recreation, "sponsoring-church" arrangements, etc., and being conscientiously opposed to such.

"How long can I contribute?" The question indicates that the person who asks it is willing to contribute, which is commendable. It also indicates that he or she is concerned about Bible authority, which is also commendable. But as praiseworthy as these traits are, there may be good reason to rebuke those who ask this question. Those who are sufficiently dedicated to the Lord to be willing to give, and who are sufficiently reverent to desire Bible authority for the spending of the treasury might not be in their present predicament if they were sufficiently courageous to demand Bible authority for the spending of the Lord's money or go where they could get it. Such brethren ought to have departed from their present company when it became obvious that the unauthorized practices were not going to cease and that they would be called upon to violate their consciences and so sin (Rom. 14:23) every time the collection was taken up.

How long can one contribute in a situation where the resultant treasury is earmarked for unlawful activity? The answer is simple: One must cease to contribute immediately because he participates with all other contributors in whatever lawlessness is done with the contribution; yet one needs to give to the authorized work of the church, (1 Cor.16:-12), so he must go where he can do it. This may seem arbitrary, but consider three New Testament passages which deal with church finance:

Rom. 15:26 "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

2 Cor. 9:13 "Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all,"

Phil. 4:15 "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only,"

The words underlined in these passages all refer to financial activity on the part of the local churches involved, and must perforce have begun with the collection. (1 Cor. 16:1-2). The first of them was written by Paul to the Romans telling them that delivery of a contribution from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia for the poor saints at Jerusalem was one circumstance which prevented an immediate visit from him. The second was written to the Corinthians concerning the same matter telling them how the saints at Jerusalem would happily receive their gift, The third was written by Paul to the Philippians in appreciation for the support they had sent him, The word for the action of the churches in each of these verses is the same in the original language of the New Testament, koinonia, Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines it as "a having in common, partnership, fellowship..." vol. 1, p.215. And this is worthy of note. Those who gave in these situations were said to be having something in common or were being partners in something. What was that something? It was giving to needy saints in the first two passages and participation with Paul in the preaching of the gospel in the third. When New Testament Christians gave, the spending of the money accumulated as a mutual endeavor in itself and in the activity for which it was spent.

Now all of this just boils down to the same simple answer to the question before us which was given three paragraphs ago. "How long can I contribute?" Answer: "One must cease to contribute immediately because he participates with all other contributors in whatever lawlessness is done with the contribution; yet one needs to give to the authorized work of the church, (1 Cor. 16 :1-2), so he must go where he can do it,"

If you are now attending where the treasury is being used for unlawful practices and you are still contributing you are participating in the sin that is done with the treasury. It will do no good to say that the matter is out of your hands when you have put your money into the plate and that someone else is responsible. If the evil is done with your knowledge, you are a participant. Nor will it help to say that giving is an individual matter and is unaffected by the spending of that which is contributed, If the giving is individual the spending is not, and one cannot subsidize evil by doing that which is not necessary evil itself. Nor will it help to say that those in charge of the spending do not spend ones contribution for that which is objectionable but rather for an item in the church budget which is acceptable to one. The dollars put in the acceptable area only fill gaps for dollars which can then be channeled into sinful activity.

Paul stood by while others stoned Stephen and only kept their garments. He, nonetheless, felt the guilt of participation in murder in later years, (Acts 22:20.) Brethren don't let your pocketbooks be used for coat-holders nor your heads for hat-racks. Demand Bible authority for the use that is being made of the church treasury. If you don't get it, get out. Once it is really considered carefully, there is little reason for a question like, "How long can I contribute?"

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