14) What about the examples of ‘giving it all away’ as in Acts?
Some today believe and preach that we as believers should all give all we have away, (though usually to church organizations rather than to the poor?) and they often reference the following scriptures.
21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Please note that Jesus here was speaking to a Jew who thought that by ‘doing things’ or by obeying the Law he would inherit eternal life and be perfect. Paul’s interpretation of what Jesus required was ‘lay aside all trust in your own self righteousness and works and trust ONLY the Living God (i.e. Jesus death and resurrection) for your salvation’. (1 Tim 6:17)
Paul preached this in many places such as Romans (10:3), Galatians (3-5), Ephesians (2:8-10) and Philippians (3:3-11).
For confirmation believers can also look at ministers in almost every church worldwide today to see how they interpret this as a requirement practically in their own lives. Doctrinally almost ALL Christian denominations believe that salvation is by FAITH alone and NOT our works, even including such works as asceticism. (1 Cor 13:1-3, Eph 2:4-10)
26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. NKJV
3 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. NKJV
We know that Jesus here is NOT telling believers that they need to hate mother and father and wife, because we are told to LOVE them as Jesus loved us. In the same way, neither is Jesus telling people that they are required to give away all that they have if they want to be disciples. Jesus is saying that we need to come to the place where our relationship with HIM is our greatest priority and where HE alone is the one we rely on for our righteousness.
So what about the scriptural example of the early church in Acts?
44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. NKJV
Acts 4:32-35 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. NKJV
Please note that communal living was not practiced by or taught to the Gentiles in the early church. It is also highly unlikely that your pastor or church leadership are practicing having ‘all thing in common’ as regards their own possessions or with the ‘tithes and offerings’ money they collect.
The scriptures give a reason why this was done by the Jewish believers and not others. Jesus had prophesied that their nation and specifically the generation which had rejected Him would face the wrath of God and great destruction. Their houses and land were soon to be of NIL value as their nation was to be plundered and taken into captivity and almost obliterated.
Yes, they saw the needs of the newly saved believers, but they also knew that all that they had was soon to be taken away from them anyway.
Please note that no significant churches today practice ‘having all things in common’ and it is certainly not the teaching of the apostles to the Gentile believers. (Gal 2:10)
So what about ‘the widows mite’?
To see the context of this event we need to start the message where Jesus did.
Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 46 "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."
The religious leaders of Jesus day exploited the poor and widows contrary to God’s many commands in the Old Testament to Israel to minister to, and look after the widows and the needy.
21:1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had." NKJV
Religion had deceived the widow into giving her last dollar, and even then the religious leaders did not appreciate her sacrifice! The same rich religious leaders of Jesus time made a show of their own great giving. Have you ever heard preachers saying that they did not want people to give small change to collections? And that congregants should ‘give till it hurts’? This is not the teaching of the Bible.
So what about Elijah and the ‘widow at Zarepath’?
1 Kings 17:8-9
Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." NKJV
There was a famine in the land and Elijah was a destitute prophet living hand to mouth as God provided for him.
God, in what appears to be a strange instruction, sends him to a destitute widow for FOOD.
1 Kings 17:12-14
12 So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.'" NKJV
Please note the following.
1. God commanded the widow first
2. Elijah was a poor and starving itinerant prophet (not a paid or local minister)
3. Elijah was commanded to go to this specific woman only
4. Elijah asked for FOOD and not money
5. Elijah first delivered confirmation of the promise God had made to the widow
6. Elijah’s word and God’s promise were delivered IN FULL
This cannot be used as an illustration today of how the poor should give to ministers today UNLESS God has first commanded you personally. This word must then be undeniably and powerfully confirmed by an unknown and itinerant prophet who himself is POOR and in NEED.
This widow was the ONLY one of the widows in Israel was asked to give. (Unlike TV ‘ministers’ who plunder the widows of the world)
The widow gave ONLY FOOD and not money.
The widow got FOOD for her NEEDS in return and not money for anyone's greeds.
Yet sadly today millions of desperately poor widows are being exploited by wicked deceptions and money is being given by the POOR to wealthy ministries who never guarantee the widows needs! Religion sadly today is still ‘devouring widow’s houses’ and for a pretense making long (and ineffective) prayers instead of simply FREELY delivering God’s WORD.
15) Should our walk with God cost money?
"Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price. NKJV
Freely you have received, freely give. NKJV
32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? NKJV
1 Cor 2:12
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. NKJV
1 Cor 9:18
That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, NKJV
Rev 21:7 I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. NKJV
Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. NKJV
Brethren, our walk with GOD and access to grace is to be FREE of financial cost! Jesus PAID the price in FULL!
If you believe you have to pay to receive salvation or God’s blessings, you have been DECEIVED