Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 20, 1958
NUMBER 45, PAGE 2-3b

Ninety Years Later -- A Study Of Congregational Cooperation (No. 6)

Forrest D. Moyer, Napa, California

B. Cooperation in benevolence.

Now what kind of cooperation has God authorized in benevolence? We have it authorized by an expressed statement and by approved example.

1. The statement: 2 Cor. 8:13-14.

For I say not this that others may be eased and ye distressed; but by equality: your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality: as it is written, he that gathereth much had nothing over; and he that gathered little had no lack.

The "ye" in this passage is, of course, the Corinthians. The "others" are those who should be "eased" by Corinth's contribution. Now who was relieved or eased by that contribution? Why, it was the poor in Jerusalem, the ones to whom the contribution was made. Corinth's abundance would supply the want of Jerusalem. And that, said Paul, was "by equality." The equality was produced by Corinth's supplying Jerusalem's want. Still further, "that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality." Should the situation be reversed, Corinth would be relieved by Jerusalem's abundance, which would again produce equality. Therefore, there were two times under consideration here:

Chart Goes Here

Now Later "At this present time" "Also may become" "By equality" — Corinth "Jerusalem's abundance supplying Jerusalem's supplying Corinth's want want "That there may be equality."

Observe that "abundance supplying want" is mentioned twice in this passage.

First, "at the present time" Corinth's abundance supplying Jerusalem's want.

Second, if conditions are reversed, Jerusalem's abundance "may become a supply" for Corinth's want. "May become" is from Genetai which is 3 pers, sing. aor. 2, subj. of Ginomai. "The subjective mode is a mode of doubtful statement, or hesitating affirmation, or contingency." (Davis, Beginner's Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 74) The same word is translated "may be" in the expression "that there may be equality." Paul is making a conditional statement, i. e., if the situation becomes reversed (Corinth in want and Jerusalem with abundance), then Jerusalem's abundance should supply Corinth's want, producing equality. Equality, then, was "abundance supplying want." It was not conditioned upon a reversal of situations.

Now, what does this authorize? It authorizes a church with power (abundance) to give or send to a church in want — that is, one that was an object of charity. Did they send to one that had planned a program of work larger than they could support? No! But when a church was in want (troubles of poverty), they sent to the direct object of that charity. Therefore, in benevolence, a church with power to give is authorized to send to a church in want. But someone says, "What about the church in Macedonia. They were in deep poverty." But here is the point: in 2 Cor. 8:2 Paul said they had the power to give. They gave according to that ability. They were willing to go beyond that ability! They were not then objects of charity, but they had the power to give and they did so. But Jerusalem was an object of charity, and the funds were sent directly to them as the object of charity. Never do we see funds sent by one church to another church that had planned a program of work larger than they could support.

2. The examples. Every example of one church's sending money to another church was in harmony with this statement. The receiving church was always an object of charity, and churches with power to give sent to it.

a. Acts 11:27-30. Here we see a drought in Judea, and the brethren in Antioch sent to relieve the want of the brethren in Judea. The disciples in Antioch had power to give — "every man according to his ability." The churches of Judea were in want — "send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea." But someone says, "How do you know that they didn't send their money to the Jerusalem elders and let them disperse it to the Judean churches." Well, the Bible says that they sent to the Judean churches. It teaches that they did not send just to Jerusalem. Look at it: "The disciples . . . determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea." Where did they determine to send that relief? To the brethren in Judea. Did they do it? Did they send that relief to the brethren that dwelt in Judea or just to the Jerusalem elders? Read the passage. It says, "Which they did." They did send it to the brethren which dwelt in Judea. How? They delivered it to the elders. What elders? Of the brethren in Judea. For that's where they sent the funds.

b. The same thing was true in Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:9 where we read of the churches of Macedonia and Achaia making a contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem — their abundance supplying the want of the poor saints. These churches sent money directly to the church in Jerusalem which was an object of charity.

Now, to defend this kind of cooperation, all I need to defend such is the New Testament. In benevolence, sending to the church in want, as so many congregations did last year in the Yuba City disaster where we sent directly to the church in Yuba City — to defend that, all I need is the New Testament. I can just open it up and read authorization for such. But when you establish a man-made scheme such as a sponsoring church or human institution, you have to employ the wisdom of man, the wisdom of Aristotle, etc., in an effort to justify such. But they still fall; they are not authorized. All we need to defend the truth is to open the Bible and read what the apostles taught and what the early churches did. What is wrong with our following the example of the early churches in their cooperation?

I will say this, and the lesson is yours. Concerning the kind of cooperation for which we are contending:

1) It is authorized; it is scriptural.

2) Not only is it scriptural, but it is a safety measure. The autonomy of the local church forms a mighty safety measure; the whole church could not be swept away by the apostasy of a central head, for we have none.

3) It is effective. Will it retard the progress of the church? No, Sir! It will cause the church to spread even more. It will put more individual initiative into the individuals and congregations. It will cause each congregation to realize that it can have its part in the spread of the gospel without depending upon some big church somewhere to sponsor a program of work.

Make up your minds that according to your ability you will serve in your individual capacity in the Lord's work. Secondly, that you will help the congregation of which you are a member to do more in the Lord's work in harmony with His will. You do that and the cause of God will go forth the result will be that fruit will abound to your account. (Phil. 4:17.)

We must restore the purity of the church in all things. The way to do it is to walk by a "thus saith the Lord" and to practice that which the Lord authorizes. The church of the New Testament operated in all phases of its mission on full scale without man-made schemes and human organizations, and the church today can do the same thing. In all our work, let us keep the church of the Lord free from institutionalism. Let it be overshadowed by nothing. Let nothing be tied to it nor allow the church to be tied to any man-made organization. Let us keep our eyes on the New Testament pattern, and we shall go forth and conquer the work as a result of our sticking with our God and His way.

I thank you, very much.