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April 2006 Table of Contents

 
    May 14, 2006 - May 20, 2006
 
 

First-day Offerings, Part 1

 

Key Text

     Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”  Proverbs 3:9, 10.

 

Study Help:  Testimonies, vol. 3, 411–413.

 

Introduction

     “The offerings of little children may be acceptable and pleasing to God.  In accordance with the spirit that prompts the gifts will be the value of the offering.  The poor, by following the rule of the apostle [Paul] and laying by a small sum every week, help to swell the treasury, and their gifts are wholly acceptable to God; for they make just as great, and even greater, sacrifices than their more wealthy brethren.  The plan of systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich by guarding them from indulging in extravagances. 

     “Every week the demands of God upon each family are brought to mind by each of its members fully carrying out the plan; and as they have denied themselves some superfluity in order to have means to put into the treasury, lessons of value in self-denial for the glory of God have been impressed upon the heart.  Once a week each is brought face to face with the doings of the past week—the income that he might have had if he had been economical and the means that he does not have because of indulgence.  His conscience is reined up, as it were, before God, and either commends or accuses him.  He learns that if he retains peace of mind and the favor of God he must eat and drink and dress to His glory.”  Testimonies, vol. 3, 412.

 

1    What was Christ’s position with the Father before He came to this earth?  John 17:5, 24.

note:  “The Father was represented in Christ, and the attention in education must be of that character that they will look to Him and believe in Him as the likeness of God.  He had a most wonderful mission to this world, and His work was not in a line to give a full relation of His personal claims to deity, but His humiliation was a concealment of His claims.  This is why the Jewish nation did not acknowledge Christ as the Prince of life; because He did not come with display and outward appearance, for He hid under the garb of humanity His glorious character.”  Fundamentals of Christian Education, 382.

 

2    What relation did Jesus sustain to the Father?  John 1:18.

note:  “As a personal being, God has revealed Himself in His Son.  Jesus, the outshining of the Father’s glory, ‘and the express image of His person’ (Hebrews 1:3), was on earth found in fashion as a man.  As a personal Saviour He came to the world.  As a personal Saviour He ascended on high.  As a personal Saviour He intercedes in the heavenly courts.  Before the throne of God in our behalf ministers ‘One like unto the Son of man.’  Revelation 1:13. 

     “Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator.  No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ. 

     “ ‘I and My Father are one,’ Christ declared.  ‘No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.’  John 10:30; Matthew 11:27.  Testimonies, vol. 8, 265.

 

3    From what time did Christ become a sacrifice?  Revelation 13:8.

note:  “None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven.  Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son.  Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race. 

     “Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express.  Long continued was that mysterious communing—‘the counsel of peace’ (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men.  The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race.  But ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’  John 3:16.  Patriarchs and Prophets, 63.

 

4    In what manner in the former dispensation did the people show their appreciation of this gift of Heaven?  Nehemiah 10:35–37.

note:  “Under the Jewish system the people were taught to cherish a spirit of liberality both in sustaining the cause of God and in supplying the wants of the needy.  For special occasions there were freewill offerings.  At the harvest and the vintage, the first fruits of the field—corn, wine, and oil—were consecrated as an offering to the Lord.  The gleanings and the corners of the field were reserved for the poor.  The first fruits of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, were set apart for God.  So also were the first-born of all animals, and a redemption price was paid for the first-born son.  The first fruits were to be presented before the Lord at the sanctuary and were then devoted to the use of the priests. 

     “By this system of benevolence the Lord sought to teach Israel that in everything He must be first.  Thus they were reminded that God was the proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds; that it was He who sent them the sunshine and the rain that developed and ripened the harvest.  Everything that they possessed was His; they were but the stewards of His goods.”  The Acts of the Apostles, 337. 

     “Christ arose from the dead as the first fruits of those that slept.  He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord.  For more than a thousand years this symbolic ceremony had been performed.  From the harvest fields the first heads of ripened grain were gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem to the Passover, the sheaf of first fruits was waved as a thank offering before the Lord.  Not until this was presented could the sickle be put to the grain, and it be gathered into sheaves.  The sheaf dedicated to God represented the harvest.  So Christ the first fruits represented the great spiritual harvest to be gathered for the kingdom of God.  His resurrection is the type and pledge of the resurrection of all the righteous dead.”  The Desire of Ages, 785, 786. 

 

5    Is God robbed by the withholding of offerings?  Malachi

note:  “Christians forget that they are servants of the Master; that they themselves, their time, and all that they have belong to Him.  Many are tempted, and the majority are overcome, by the delusive inducements which Satan presents to invest their money where it will yield them the greatest profit in dollars and cents.  There are but few who consider the binding claims that God has upon them to make it their first business to meet the necessities of His cause and let their own desires be served last.  There are but few who invest in God’s cause in proportion to their means.  Many have fastened their money in property which they must sell before they can invest it in the cause of God and thus put it to a practical use.  They make this an excuse for doing but little in their Redeemer’s cause.  They have as effectually buried their money in the earth as had the man in the parable.  They rob God of the tenth, which He claims as His own, and in robbing Him they rob themselves of the heavenly treasure.”  Testimonies, vol. 3, 398.

 

6    What is it to be guilty of robbery?  Exodus 20:15; James 2:10.

note:  “It is not the greatness of the act of disobedience that constitutes sin, but the fact of variance from God’s expressed will in the least particular; for this shows that there is yet communion between the soul and sin.  The heart is divided in its service.  There is a virtual denial of God, a rebellion against the laws of His government.”  Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 51.

     “Not by one word, not by many words, but by every word that God has spoken, shall man live.  You cannot disregard one word, a single injunction that He has given, however trifling it may seem to you, and be safe. . . .   Whosoever will willfully break one command cannot in spirit and in truth keep any of them.  He may claim that, with the exception of what he may regard as slight deviations, he keeps them all; yet if he willingly offends in one point he is guilty of all.”  Testimonies, vol. 5, 434.

 

7    What special promise is made to those who give an offering of all their firstfruits?  Proverbs 3:9, 10.

note:  “A continual imparting of God’s gifts wherever the cause of God or the needs of humanity demand our aid, does not tend to poverty.  ‘There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.’  Proverbs 11:24.  The sower multiplies his seed by casting it away.  So it is with those who are faithful in distributing God’s gifts.  By imparting they increase their blessings.  ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you,’ God has promised; ‘good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.’  Luke 6:38.  The Acts of the Apostles, 345.

 

8    How is the continuation of offerings taught in the New Testament?  Corinthians 16:2.

note:  “The apostle suggests the first day of the week as a proper time to review the course of Providence and the prosperity experienced, and in the fear of God, with true gratitude of heart for the blessings He has bestowed, to decide how much, according to His own devised plan, shall be rendered back to Him. 

     “God designs that the exercise of benevolence shall be purely voluntary, not having recourse even to eloquent appeals to excite sympathy.  ‘God loveth a cheerful giver.’  [11 Corinthians 9:7.]  He is not pleased to have His treasury replenished with forced supplies.  The loyal hearts of His people, rejoicing in the saving truth for this time, will, through love and gratitude to Him for this precious light, be earnest and anxious to aid with their means in sending the truth to others.  The very best manner in which to give expression to our love for our Redeemer is to make offerings to bring souls to the knowledge of the truth.  The plan of redemption was entirely voluntary on the part of our Redeemer, and it is the purpose of Christ that all our benevolence should be freewill offerings.”  Testimonies, vol. 3, 413.

     “The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing. . . .  The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us. 

     “And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God?  On the Sabbath we have thought upon His goodness.  We have beheld His work in creation as an evidence of His power in redemption.  Our hearts are filled with thankfulness for His great love.  And now, before the toil of a week begins, we return to Him His own, and with it an offering to testify our gratitude.  Thus our practice will be a weekly sermon, declaring that God is the possessor of all our property, and that He has made us stewards to use it to His glory.  Every acknowledgment of our obligation to God will strengthen the sense of obligation.  Gratitude deepens as we give it expression, and the joy it brings is life to soul and body.”  Review and Herald, February 4, 1902.

 

9    What other churches had Paul previously instructed to lay aside offerings on the first day of the week?  Corinthians 16:1.

note:  “This matter of giving is not left to impulse.  God has given us definite instruction in regard to it.  He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation.  And He desires us to give regularly and systematically.  Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, [1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 quoted.]  Let each regularly examine his income, which is all a blessing from God, and set apart the tithe as a separate fund, to be sacredly the Lord’s.  This fund should not in any case be devoted to any other use; it is to be devoted solely to support the ministry of the gospel.  After the tithe is set apart, let gifts and offering be apportioned, ‘as God hath prospered’ you.”  Review and Herald, May 9, 1893.

   
   

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