From the Old Testament we learn that God had placed His name on the Temple in Jerusalem designating it as the place for the people to gather and worship Him (I Kgs. 9:3). When Jeroboam rebelled against God, he established altars at Dan and Bethel. He told the people, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.” (I Kgs. 12:28). In other words, God is too narrow-minded for me. Ten of Israel’s tribes followed him rejecting God’s will and God’s way. It is correct to say that the majority believing Jeroboam looked upon the two tribes that remained faithful to God in gathering at the proper place for worship as being too narrow-minded for me. According to that, the faithful to the Lord Jesus should not feel badly as the same is cast in our teeth today. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” (I Cor. 3:18). Think about that!
Continuing with the idea introduced in the last issue, notice that when it comes to worship there are those who say,
YOU ARE TOO NARROW-MINDED FOR ME BY RESTRICTING THE KIND OF MUSIC IN WORSHIP
God has been clear about the music that He desires used to praise Him. Every passage in the New Testament dealing with the subject declares that man from the heart is to utter his feeling in song. Remembering with emphasis, we have the following.
Acts 16:25, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.”
Romans 15:9, “I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.”
I Corinthians 14:15, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
Ephesians 5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in you heart to the Lord.”
Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Hebrews 2:12, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
James 5:13, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms.”
There you have it—no mention of any kind of mechanical instrument—nothing said about playing anything. There are those who believe you are too narrow-minded for me. However, taking the New Testament in hand we must contend for singing without an instrument.
THE NEW TESTAMENT FURNISHES CHRISTIANS TO EVERY GOOD WORK
On occasion someone will declare “Instrumental Music is Scriptural,” then will proceed to read a passage from the Old Testament. The malady of the statement is in the little word “is.” In the Old Testament, men were taught to offer animal sacrifice, to honor the Levitical Priesthood and to keep the Sabbath as well as many other things. These things were scriptural, but it is not correct to say they are scriptural and point to various passages in their regard. Likewise, Instrumental Music was scriptural, but to say it is scriptural is incorrect.
As a teenager, I was invited to the home of a co-worker who promised to show me a passage in the New Testament that taught Instrumental Music as a proper means of worship. To my surprise when I arrived he held up a copy of a large print New Testament with his finger on a passage that read, “Praise the Lord with the harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.” The passage is found in Ps. 33:2. I immediately saw that he thought because the book of Psalms was bound with his New Testament it was a part of it. It took a while but finally I convinced him that David authored the words and had long since died and was buried before the New Testament was written (See Acts 2:29-31). I think that many otherwise honest people think that because Instrumental Music was used in the Old Testament that it is proper to use it today. If that is your persuasion, I hope that this will prompt you to reconsider and lay aside the Old Testament teaching and embrace completely the New Testament (Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 8:8-13 and 9:15-17, etc.). Will you now say, you are too narrow-minded for me?
CONTRIBUTING TO THE LORD’S CAUSE
Separate and apart from other avenues of approaching God in worship is contributing or giving to the church so it can function and do the things the Lord has commanded to be done. Since disciples are commanded to gather to eat the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:20-34), a gathering that is to be done on the first day of every week (Acts 20:7), and since it is a sin to neglect this gathering (Heb. 10:25), it logically and naturally follows that this is a good time to take up a collection of funds. Therefore, we read, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (I Cor. 16:1-2). There are several points stated and inferred that we can glean from this passage.
1. It was a collection. This is the only place the word is found in Scripture. It means a gleaning or gathering. Therefore, this was something done as a congregation with each person cast in their part; not something practiced at home or in private.
2. It was an order. This is to appoint or prescribe, ordain, or order. Due consideration must be given to the instruction as Paul did not suggest, wish, or beg of them, he ordered this to be done. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (I Cor. 14:37).
3. The same instruction had been given to other congregations. This was not a local order for the church at Corinth only. “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus…who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” (I Cor. 4:17).
4. A time designated was the Lord’s Day. Everyone is more inclined to give little by little than a large portion all at once. The Lord’s Day is the time when the heart is more open to the inclination to charity it being the day of our Lord’s resurrection (Mt. 28:1).
5. Each person is called upon to give. None are exempt from “laying by” or setting aside something for the Cause of the blessed Savior. “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But…that there may be equality.” (II Cor. 8:13-14).
6. It is to be placed in store. McKnight and others tell us this means “to cast into the treasury.” Such is necessarily inferred since at the arrival of the Apostle “no gatherings were to be taken up.”
7. The giving is in proportion to one’s ability. To him that much has been given of him much is required, to him that little is given little is required. A searching of each person’s heart is to be done. Speaking on the same subject the writer said to these Christians, “as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” (II Cor. 8:7).
Some are contentious about one or all of these things. Rather than a collection being taken when disciples are gathered, they wish it to be done in private (at home). Rather than accepting it as a Divine order or commandment, it is thought that this is something that a person may or may not do according to his personal whims. Instead of being restricted to the Lord’s Day, most churches are desirous of taking up a collection (or several collections) on any day of the week. Some people believe that the responsibility of giving does not rest upon each member of the church, but each one can make the decision for himself. There are those who reject the idea of a treasury existing within a congregation, and wish for each person or family to have their own treasury. The idea that we are to give in proportion to what we earn, to some is ludicrous. In each instance there are those who contend in one way or another that Paul’s words and the action of those who believe and practice his commandment is to restricted, strenuous, or limited. Or, in light of our subject they say, you are too narrow-minded for me.”
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT THE COLLECTION
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (II Cor. 9:7). As the aforementioned passage, there are several things that Paul names. These have to do with our heart—how we really feel when we give. Self examination is necessary in all phases of the Christian’s life, giving is not exempt.
1. Giving is to be purposeful. The word purposeth is not found in any other New Testament passage. Thayer’s definition is; “to bring forward, bring forth from one’s store; to bring forth for one’s self, to choose for one’s self before another, i.e. to prefer, to purpose.” Paul is speaking here of “our will.” Accordingly each should give serious thought to the amount he is about to give—no one else can do it for him. As one reflects we should keep the previous verse in mind, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Don’t relegate the rewards of giving to this world (Mt. 6:19-21).
2. One is not to begrudge what he gives. Grudgingly is to have sorrow, pain or grief. Once decided (it becomes his will), what he is giving there should not be pain attached to it. Should one give until it hurts? Perhaps the spirit of the Macedonians should become ours. Of these people we are told, they gave “to their power,” then they gave “beyond their power.” (II Cor. 8:1-5). In other words, they gave until it hurt then they gave more than that, they gave until it didn’t hurt. There is much preaching about putting the Kingdom of God first. Scan your heart—when it comes to giving is the church first, or must the Cause of Christ be content with the crumbs that fall from our table?
3. Necessity is not to determine our giving. Paul is not speaking of various unusual circumstances that on occasion might arrive and one determines that it is necessary to “tighten his belt” in order to give extra. He is speaking of one who gives because he thinks he has to give.
He gives because of fear or favor. For instance, when it comes time for the collection such a person will give some meager amount knowing that others may be watching him. What is done may give him the sought for impression on others, but as far as the Lord is concerned it fails to accomplish any good for the soul’s welfare and at the same time brings condemnation. “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” (I Jn. 3:20).
4. God has especial affinity for one who gives cheerfully. One must train his heart to be able to give cheerfully. Far too many have learned to be selfish and stingy looking only to themselves and their personal prosperity. How much are we to be able to give cheerfully? Since the things in the Old Testament are “written for our instruction and admonition,” (Rom. 15:4), it seems we should be able to give as much as they did but with a better attitude. After all Christ gave up Heaven to clothe Himself with a fleshly body, then gave that body for you and me. How much is enough? How much is too little? Surely, in prosperous America we can train ourselves to give better than the Jews. Some choke if ten percent is mentioned. Personally, I would be afraid to give less than that and ashamed unless I give more. You may be thinking, you are too narrow-minded for me. I encourage you to read Matthew 19:16-30. Follow this reading with II Corinthians chapters eight and nine, conclude with I Corinthians 16:1-2, then tell me you are too narrow-minded. Perhaps the gate to Heaven is too narrow for you.
Barney Owens 1312