Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 16, 1962
NUMBER 15, PAGE 1,12-13a

Church In Business --- (I)

Herschel E. Patton

Church business enterprises have become an enormous thing in our day. An article in the Feb. 25, 1962, Houston Post by Jules Loh, an AP Newsfeatures writer, points out that various religious bodies today own and operate parking lots, restaurants, apartment houses, rental properties, bakeries, breweries, etc.

Concern has been expressed by many over this "burgeoning wealth of the churches." The fact they pay no taxes thereby having an advantage over commercial competitors bothers some. Others fear that the United States may one day find itself dominated by the wealth of a church or churches. While these, and other matters, may present cause for concern, the question of authority — the right or wrong of churches in business for gain — should be the chief concern of people who want to follow the Scriptures.

These practices have also appealed to some brethren in the church who do not want to be "left behind by the Sects." There are congregations among us today that prepare and sell dinners in their kitchens and Fellowship Halls operate farms, conduct kindergartens-charging tuition, etc. The Manhattan church in New York canvasses the brotherhood to raise funds for a sixteen story apartment building, the first four floors of which is to be used as a church building. Many of these brethren, a few years ago, condemned the Sects for having pie suppers and rummage sales to raise money.

These "on the march" brethren who have espoused the false doctrine of "Whatever the Christian can do a church can do" in order to justify (?) their human enterprises have not bothered themselves with finding Scriptural authority for their practices. Call for such authority and they quickly reply, "It's no worse than some other things we do," making some flimsy comparison which completely misses the point. Recently suggested to Athens Clay Pullias, President of David Lipscomb College, that his position, that a church could do whatever the Christian could, would allow a church to — operate a super market, filling station, etc. His reply, well, don't you have our building in the bank drawing interest?" He could see no difference in a church receiving interest on money in the bank and operating a super-market for profit. The right or wrong of a church in business for gain can not be established by comparison. "What saith the Scriptures?" Is the chief concern of all real devotees of the Lord.

Examples Of Raising Funds For The Lord's Work

THE TABERNACLE" When the tabernacle was to be built, the Lord said to Moses: "Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring me an offering; of every man that Giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering." (Ex. 25:2) Moses said to the children of Israel, "Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord...." (Ex. 35:5), and "they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought...." (vs. 22)

THE TEMPLE: When David purposed the building of the temple, besides giving large sums himself, we are told that the princes of the tribes of Israel, captains, and rulers "offered willingly." (1 Chron. 29:6) The people also participated in this work — "Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord." (1 Chron. 29:9)

NEW TESTAMENT GIVING. When money was being raised for the relief of poor saints in Jerusalem, the Macedonian churches gave very liberally and Paul wrote that they were "willing of themselves"; the result of having "first given themselves to the Lord." (2 Cor. 8:3-5)

The apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give: not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7)

From these references it is very obvious that "from the heart" giving pleases God. The motive behind the gift is of utmost importance. It must come freely from a heart filled with love and devotion for the Lord and His work. This is not only true for material gifts, but the "Spiritual sacrifices" that Christians offer must have this characteristic. We "obey from the heart" (Rom. 6:17), worship "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24), sing and pray "with the spirit and understanding" (1 Cor. 14:15), etc.

Some Offerings Are Unacceptable

When David sinned in numbering Israel, God sent a pestilence upon Israel. To remove the plague, David was instructed to "rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jehusite." Araunah offered to give the threshing floor and sacrifices unto David, but "The king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price; neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver." (2 Sam. 24:18-24) Thus, David knew it would not be appropriate to offer to God that which did not cost the offerer. The matter of sacrifice is therefore essential to acceptable giving.

Offerings acquired through disobedience to God's command are not acceptable. Samuel made this plain to Saul after he had disobeyed in sparing the best of the sheep and oxen of the Amalakites. Saul excused the disobedience on the ground "the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God...." (1 Sam. 15:15) Samuel's reply to this was, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." (1 Sam. 15:22) This one example shows that the good done with offerings unlawfully acquired does not make it right.

The Law of Moses declared, "Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abominations unto the Lord thy God." (Deut. 23:18) Here is another example of an offering being rejected because of its origin. It came from impure actions. It is doubtful that "dog" in this reference has reference to the animal-dog, but to the male prostitute. (See Rev. 22:15)

After Judas returned the silver pieces he had received for betraying the Christ, the chief priests said, "It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury because It is the price of blood." Perhaps this conviction was the outgrowth of the law quoted from Deut. 23:18. At least, they considered money from such a disgraceful source as unfit for the Lord's treasury.

These Bible examples indicate that the Lord is not pleased with offerings that come from impure sources or through disobedience.


TO OBEY GOD is an earnest desire of every true Son. That God commands giving or sacrifice on the part of each cannot be denied. "None shall appear before me empty." (Ex. 34:20) "Every man shall give as he is able...." (Deut. 16:17) "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself ...." (Mk. 8:34) "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give.." (2 Car. 9:7) Personal sacrifice is not only required, but it is also commanded that the sacrifice be the best. shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein." (Lev. 22:21) Jesus taught this same principle concerning, the citizens of the kingdom, saying, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God...." (Matt. 6:33) When our service is the best we can do, it is perfect with God, even though it may not be as much as that from another. The two talent man was as acceptable as the five talent man. (Matt. 25) It is also interesting to note that God's requiring the best from each individual forbids offering that which was not one's own. "Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God...." (Lev. 22:25) Paul wrote, "it is accepted according to that which a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." (2 Cor. 8:12) Obeying God in the matter of giving, therefore, requires each one's giving what is valuable, not worthless; what is one's own, not another's.

GOD'S POSITION AND GRACE are also motives in giving. He is the owner of all. "....for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee." (1 Chron. 29:14) Besides "prospering" us so that we can give "of thine own," His grace has provided for our soul's eternal welfare through the gift of His Son. (John 3:16) Only those who recognize God as the rightful owner of all and who are grateful for his mercies can and will properly give.

A DESIRE TO EXPRESS OUR FEELINGS TOWARD GOD will also enter into our giving. If self be our primary concern, we will travel the easiest and most economic way in our work and worship. On the other hand, if God be our chief concern, we will reject all thoughts of cheapness and convenience. The selfish person is always seeking the most in return for the least effort and expenditure, but the truly converted and consecrated always look upon the expenditure and effort as the chief result.

The proper feeling in our giving is the supreme, merciful God, not self; that nothing is good enough or great enough for Him. This feeling will lead to a renunciation of ease, pleasure, and convenience and a welcoming of privation, opposition, dishonor, shame and sacrifice. It will cause one to declare with David, "I will not serve God with that which costs me nothing."

(To Be Continued)