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The Measure of the Method

The Measure of the Method

Words of Faith 12-14-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 11

   [7] Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? [8] I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. [9] And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. [10] As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. [11] Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! [12] And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.

 

       One of the accusations against Paul was that he did not receive remuneration from the churches he served in the way that Jesus had instructed the disciples to be provided for. It was a strange accusation but one that had caused the Corinthians to think twice.

     The false apostles had appealed to the Corinthians for support. When Jesus sent out disciples on missionary tours, He directed them to derive shelter and sustenance from those to whom they ministered. This apparently became the usual practice for Christian missionaries, and it was followed by the false apostles in Corinth.

       Paul and those associated with him differed by supporting themselves as best they could without ministerial remuneration. Paul worked most of his ministry as a tent maker while he preached the Gospel. Occasionally Paul accepted unsolicited support from churches to whom he had ministered. But he did so uneasily, here even calling it "robbery" to receive support from one place in order to serve another. He did not want to be a burden to them.

       Paul had various reasons for adhering to this general practice. His main reason may have been his desire to emulate Christ who had no worldly possessions. An immediate reason in Corinth for maintaining this practice was that it barred the false apostles from any claim of equality to Paul in apostolic ministry. However, it was not too well received even by the beneficiaries, the Corinthians. Some thought that Paul's hesitation to accept remuneration from them showed that he did not love them. Paul, nonetheless, stood his ground.

       Today, one can find some ministers who received support from the churches they serve and some that do not. Some receive more than enough to live on by the publishing of books and materials and are able to essentially donate their service to the church. Others work in "tent making" ministries where they derive support from a bi-vocational calling. The majority find some provision from the church in the way that Jesus suggested when He sent the disciples out.

         The truth to be found here is that the manner of support for a minister is not an indication of his or her authenticity. One cannot claim that because a person does or does not derive income from the church that this testifies to the truth of their calling. All the way back to the first century there were those who received support from the churches and those who did not. The only measure of authenticity is the genuine nature of the Gospel which they preached.

         Paul was calling the Corinthians to carefully examine what they were hearing from these new apostles and see whether it stacked up to the pure Gospel he had preached to them from the beginning. We may be tempted to listen to a variety of different voices in the arena of Christian teaching today, but our measure should not be the manner of remuneration. We should not close ourselves to those who are supported by the church or to those who are not. We need to listen carefully and measure the message against the Word of God and sound doctrinal truth.

 

         Father God, I pray today for the Body of Christ. Help us to hear, amid the many voices, Your clear truth. Keep me in Your Word so that I may easily discern the truth and recognize the lies. In Jesus' Name.