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    October 5, 1888

    “Those First-Day Offerings” The Signs of the Times 14, 38, pp. 598, 599.

    THE New England Evangelist takes us gently to task, for saying that 1 Corinthians 16:2 refers to a gathering of means for spreading abroad the gospel. It says this collection was for the saints at Jerusalem, because for some reason the disciples there were poor. This is all true, and is just what we showed in the article which the Evangelist chooses to criticize. The saints at Jerusalem were poor for the gospel’s sake; for at the beginning of the gospel those who “were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” When that persecution arose, and scattered them abroad everywhere, some of the means had to go with each one as he had need, and then when that dearth came throughout all the land in the days of Claudius Cesar, the fund was soon exhausted and the disciples were left in need.SITI October 5, 1888, page 598.1

    Then it was, and that is why it was, that Paul established this order of laying by in store on the first day of the week. Because, said he, the Gentiles were their debtors, “For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.” Romans 15:27. And the same apostle says that in this service they were proving their professed subjection to the gospel, and were distributing not only to those in Judea, but to all men. “While by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” 2 Corinthians 9:13. In these first-day offerings, therefore, they were distributing to all men. We wish the Evangelist would tell how they could distribute unto all men in any other way than by the spreading abroad of the gospel.SITI October 5, 1888, page 598.2

    Says the Evangelist further:—SITI October 5, 1888, page 598.3

    “It is not apparent that the disciples in those days ever raised a fund of money to send anybody out to preach the gospel; but we read much about them going out to preach because God sent them, and we find that God supported them through the labor of their own hands, and raising up friends who ministered unto them.”SITI October 5, 1888, page 598.4

    It is not apparent that God supported, through the labor of their own hands, any of the apostles except Paul and Barnabas, and Paul asserted that they had “power to forbear working,” because no man “goeth a warfare any time at his own charges,” and because “the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” The power not to work with their own hands Paul asserts he and Barnabas had, “nevertheless we have not used this power.” It is not ordained of God that those who preach the gospel shall support themselves either by their own means or by working with their own hands. They may do so if they choose, but the Lord has ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. We invite the Evangelist to read 1 Corinthians 9:1-18. More than this, God did not send men out to preach, without the indorsement of the brethren. When Paul and Barnabas were distinctly singled out by the Holy Ghost to the work of the gospel, the brethren “laid their hands on them,” and “sent them away;” for it is written: “The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:2, 3.SITI October 5, 1888, page 598.5

    The other statement is, that “it is not apparent that the disciples in those days ever raised a fund of money to send anybody out to preach the gospel.” This statement is as far from the truth as the other two; for this very thing is decidedly apparent. Paul wrote to the Philippians these words: “I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.” “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Philippians 4:10, 15, 16. And at the very time when Paul was preaching the gospel at Corinth and working with his own hands, he was supplied also with funds sent from Macedonia, for he says to the Corinthians: “I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man; for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied.” 2 Corinthians 11:8, 9.SITI October 5, 1888, page 598.6

    It is certainly apparent, therefore, that in those days they did raise a fund of some kind, in some way, for the support of those who were sent out to preach the gospel. We do not say that the system of first-day offerings was the only way of raising money for the work of the gospel, but it certainly was one of the ways.SITI October 5, 1888, page 599.1

    J.

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