This morning, Jim Clark spoke on A Relevant Church from Ephesians 1:3, 10, 22-23. 161218-SA-JimClark
“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:17-18).
The things given by the Philippian congregation to Paul’s work are here identified as “a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). Paul clearly points out that he was not interested in the material things given to him, but the fruit that came from their giving (cf. Phil. 4:17). There is something deeply spiritual about this fruit of sacrificial giving. Consider three qualities that come from such.
- Gratification in Helping. While the Philippians could not do Paul’s work for him, they could support his efforts. The sense of gratification that comes from doing good is one of the joys of the Christian’s life. Paul stated of this congregation’s history, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Phil. 1:3-6). While Paul was grateful for their support, they could be grateful to be able to help on a full time basis. Such builds unity and enables the gospel to spread further and swifter. Things given were but the means to greater ends.
- Gaining in Selflessness. Philippi was one of those churches of Macedonia mentioned in Second Corinthians eight. It is said of those congregations, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (2 Cor. 8:2-5). Selfishness was not in their character. If such had been the case, they would have never contributed to the benevolent need. After all, were they not already helping Paul in his preaching work? They would grow to do more and more.
- Growing in Love. The bottom line in sacrificial giving is to develop the love manifested by God Himself. John wrote, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). All commands to give are designed to produce the proper kind of love in the character of the Christian. Paul wrote of the purpose of commandments, “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Tim. 1:5). Think about that goal with these words in mind, “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). Such giving produces an abundance of good works for the cause of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 9:8). May this fruit of sacrificial giving be appreciated and abound!
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Gen. 1:29-30).
Here is the first time in the Bible that the term “give” is found. It does not express man giving to God but God giving to man and to His creation. James wrote of God “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Consider three gifts involved in the fact that God gives.
- God Gives Resources for Life. Paul stated of God to the idolatrous philosophers of Athens, “Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:25). Solomon wrote, “Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:18-19). Jesus impressed upon his hearers the importance of knowing God as the abundant supplier. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:11).
- God Gives Revelation to Guide Life. God knows that man wanders if left without revelation (cf. Amos 8:11-12). Man cannot direct his own steps by his own wisdom (cf. Jer. 10:23). The Bible is, therefore, one of the greatest gifts of God to mankind. Paul stated of divine revelation through inspired men, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). James wrote, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Solomon wrote, “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6).
- God Gives Redemption and the Resurrection for Eternal Life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Paul wrote, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-57). The abundance of physical things pales in insignificance if in this life only we have hope (cf. 1 Cor. 15:19). Man’s salvation is tied to the grace of God (cf. Eph. 2:1-9). If God had not given, man would be hopelessly lost. Seeing that God has given that man might be delivered from both sin and the cemetery, then he should labor abundantly knowing that such is not in vain (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; 58).
Our morning lesson from Jim Clark was Qualities of an Evangelistic, Benevolent, and Edifying Congregation from Acts 2-9. 161204-SA-JimClark
Our guest speaker at our evening service was Jerry Hogg of the South Africa Bible College. He delivered a fine lesson and spoke on the mission work there.