The principle truth of Scripture is that the sinner is saved through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace. Scripture tells us that the blessings of the accomplished salvation become the sinner’s own through faith in Christ Jesus. The sinner is saved by grace through faith! Faith is a gift of God the Holy Ghost who gives knowledge of Jesus’ atonement, and works faith to believe it through the Means of Grace- the Gospel in Word and Sacrament.
Scripture could not be clearer. Works of men do not save the sinner, in whole or in part! Ephesians 2:8 speaks of salvation as a gift. Romans 3:28 says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the Law.” This was said to have been Martin Luther’s favorite passage. When works are worked into the article of justification and the sinner’s salvation violation is done to the Gospel. In Romans 11 we read that there is a remnant “according to the election of grace.” It then goes on, ” And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace …” The Lord did not provide the lumber and tell the sinner to build a ladder to heaven. The Father provided an elevator and that elevator is Christ Jesus.
Yet faith is never alone. Faith produces fruits. Faith produces good works whereby the Christian gives witness to the fact that he is saved. So we sum up by saying, “The Christian does not do good works to be saved; he does good works because he is saved!” A believer in Christ can no more be barren in his faith life than a fruit tree can still be called a fruit tree if it never bears.
One such fruit of faith is evident in Christian giving. The Gospel is free, but in this world the church depends upon the fruits of God’s people to do its work whether on the home front or on the synodical front. The church is not excused from paying its bills. Scripture further says concerning those who serve, “The laborer is worthy of his reward” (1 Timothy 5).
The status of the church treasury whether it is in the red or in the black should not be the standard by which one gives. Rather the grace of God should move the Christian to give according to the measure of grace, and according to the measure with which one has been blessed.
Giving is a fruit of faith and love: “For the love of Christ constrains us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Giving is the privilege and responsibility of all: “Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give …” (1 Corinthians 9:7)
Giving is Christian giving when it is done:
1) Cheerfully — “Every man, as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver” (1 Corinthians 9:7).
2) Willingly — “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has and not according to what he has not” (2 Corinthians 8:12).
3) Regularly — “Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
4) Untiringly — “And let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Ephesians 6:9)
Christian giving is giving what one can: Remember the poor widow who gave 2 mites: “Everyman shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God, which He has given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:17).
Christian giving receives blessing: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10).
Christian giving is not giving to the church, or for this or that. Christian giving is giving to the Lord for the work to which He has assigned us- the proclamation of the Gospel.
Begging is considered unseemly. Why must the church be a beggar?
Promotions, schemes, professional advertising campaigns, bazaars, high pressure efforts to fill the church coffers are equally unseemly. God loves a cheerful giver.
One obvious and practical principle to Christian giving lies in the participation of every member of a Christian congregation participating according to one’s personal blessing and ability. Another lies in remembering the Lord’s work so that one gives off the top rather than giving the Lord the left overs. They who give the Lord what is left seldom have enough for anything. They who give the Lord the first fruits find that they never lack!