Wednesday, September 24, 2008

See that you excell in this act of Grace also

2 Cor. 8:1-7 (ESV)
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, [2] for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. [3] For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, [4] begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— [5] and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. [6] Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. [7] But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you— see that you excel in this act of grace also.

See that you excel in this act of grace also. Offering is something we Christians could do better at all the way around. It is hard though. We often don’t see the need. People give to causes when they see the need. It is sometimes quite awesome to see the generosity that is poured out to help those who have suffered tragedy. But tragedy surrounds us. Hurricanes are nothing compared to the loss of souls to the grip of satan that happens everyday. There is only one relief for that effort the forgiveness of sins Jesus Christ has entrusted to his church. For all the anti-denominational, anti- structure, pro-Jesus movement rhetoric out there, it must be remembered that Jesus instituted a Church. I would not say that that church is identical with any one denomination, or congregation. The Church Jesus instituted is much more transcendental than all that. Yet the Church does live with in these earthly institutions. The institution, the denomination, you belong too should be serving the church Jesus instituted, the one that lives on the forgiveness of sins, stands on Justification by faith alone, and is found where ever the Gospel is proclaimed in its purity, and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. In short this church is the shepherd’s sheep gathering to hear the voice of their shepherd wherever it may be heard. If the denomination you belong to, the institution you belong to, is not proclaiming the gospel and administering the sacraments according to Christ’s institution, if the voice of the shepherd is not to be heard there, then leave and withdraw support, find a place where it is being heard. But if where you go to church, you hear the word of God, the shepherd’s voice proclaiming the forgiveness of sins, stay and support that church that institution. It is needed. Churches have the same bills as any other institution, but there work is much more important. Man can not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Notice, the man still needs bread, but he also needs the word of God. Your church, your pastor, the staff at your church, they can’t live on the word of God alone, any more than they can live on bread alone. They deserve an honest wage, for honest work.
So excel in this act of grace also. Work at it. Be diligent at it. That is budget your giving, figure out what you can afford, and give that. Maybe at first your heart isn’t willing, maybe it isn’t that cheerful to give to the church. Do it anyway and see if your heart doesn’t soften and begin to take more pride in the church you help preserve for your children and grandchildren, so they too can hear the word of God, the voice of their shepherd. And not only for them but for everyone in your community who even now suffers the torments of the devil, and needs to hear from Jesus.

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