Proper Use Of Church Funds
Question: "May the money in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, which was collected 'for the saints,' be used for any other purpose?"
Answer: The answer is that it cannot be used for any other purpose. The collected funds of that text were "for the saints." For any of the messengers or churches to have used them for any other purpose would have been a misappropriation of funds.
The next question is this: "But, isn't that what brethren are doing today? Aren't they taking a collection based upon 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, and using it to support gospel preachers and provide meeting houses?" No, no one is doing that. Let me explain.
First, suppose 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, were not in the Bible. Take it out for a moment. Now, is there any authority for a church to support and send out preachers? Yes, Acts 11:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1-14; 2 Corinthians 11:8; Philippians 4:10, 15-17; 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Next, are funds needed for such work? Must a church have money in order to support and sustain a preacher and to do the work such as is described in the passages cited? Obviously, yes. Remember, now, we have taken 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, out of the equation. We cannot use it. Yet, is there scriptural authority for the church to have funds with which to do the work described? Yes.
Note a parallel, again, excluding the collection of 1 Corinthians 16. Is there authority for a meeting house of some kind in which to assemble? Yes, the fact that the church is to "come together in one place" and that brethren are not to forsake the assembling of themselves together shows that a place is essential (1 Cor. 14:23; Heb. 10:25). As the command to build the ark provided authority for hammers and saws, as the command to sing provides authority for song books, as the authority to take the Lord's supper provides authority for utensils to contain the physical elements, so the need to assemble requires a place (Acts 20:8). In order to have such a place to assemble and worship as the Lord has commanded, is money required to provide that place? Certainly. So, we see that the church must have funds with which to operate and to perform the duties prescribed by the Lord.
Thus, even without 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, we see authority for the church to have funds, to have a treasury from which to work. That is necessarily implied. Now, how shall the church obtain those funds? Without 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, we are left to our own devices. As such, we could have pie suppers, pancake breakfasts, sell trinkets and baked goods, and start a church run business. All of those things would be authorized if all we had was the need for money but without any description of how that money is to be raised.
However, in raising money "for the saints," Paul gives the only description of how a church may obtain funds to do a work which it is authorized to do and that is by each saint "laying by him in store" "upon the first day of the week" (1 Cor. 16:1,2). Now, get this, please: 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, is not the passage that authorizes support of gospel preachers, nor is it the authority for a church building, but it is the only place that tells us how and when to raise the money to do a work which God has given it to do. Like Acts 20:7, it is the only text which tells us "when," it does not tell us "what for." Think about that. We are told to take the Lord's supper. We are told to eat and drink. Mention is made of the "communion" or fellowship of the bread and cup of the Lord; mention is made of taking it "as oft" we do so and of the fact that we "do show the Lord's death till he come," but not one passage speaks of when or how often, except, of course, Acts 20:7. Acts 20:7 tells us nothing about the nature or significance of the Lord's supper. It gives it no "meaning." It simply tells us the time when it was eaten. By combining 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17; 11:23-28 and Acts 20:7, we have the apostolic pattern for the Lord's supper in all its essential details.
The same with the collection of 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2. It does not tell us all the ways a church may use its funds, nor does it tell us that they may be used for any other purpose, but it does tell us when and how a church is to raise the funds necessary to do a work which God has assigned.
I trust this is clear to you. For further study, I strongly encourage you to secure a copy of two books by Roy E. Cogdill. They are, The New Testament Church, and Walking By Faith. You may secure those inexpensive books by calling (800) 428-0121. by Larry Ray Hafley
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