Ask Your Preacher
Does God hear or answer an unsaved person’s prayer? I am saved but have been wanting some Scripture to answer my question.
Is He Listening?
Dear Is He Listening,
God recognizes the prayers of the faithful only. There is no doubt that God hears the prayers of christians (Jas 5:16). God hears the prayers of the righteous, but He is far from the wicked (Pr 15:29). God is constantly listening to hear the prayers of christians, but He sets His face against those who do evil. God says that even a christian who isn’t treating others well (specifically their spouse) will have their prayers hindered (1 Pet 3:7).
God does not answer the prayers of those who are ungodly. When Israel turned away from God, He stopped answering their prayers (Micah 3:4). When Judah became wicked and followed false teachings, He stopped hearing their prayers and accepting their worship (Isa 1:13-15). The same would hold true for those who fall away today. God will stop listening to and answering their prayers. It isn’t that He doesn’t hear them – He simply ignores their requests. Those outside of Christ are promised that if they seek God, they will find Him (Lk 11:9). All of mankind has the ability to ask for truth and find it, but only christians can ask God as a child asks a father (Mat 7:11). The ability to seek God’s help through prayer is a blessing given only to those who serve God (Jhn 9:31).
(This question is a follow-up to “His Money”)
Is money given to the Lord attached to a particular church location, or is it to be used by the members that gave it? For example, when a church dissolves its membership, if the money is simply "the Lord’s", can it be used by another body of Christ for the Lord's work?
Dear Membership Required,
The location of the building isn’t the important thing; it is the organization of people who are guided by the elders that makes up a congregation (Php 1:1). The elders are in charge of properly using the money that sits in the local treasury (Acts 11:29-30). The local congregation’s leadership is held accountable for the distribution and use of the church’s funds. This Bible pattern ties the money to the congregation (even if they move down the street), not the specific physical building they meet in.
In the sad circumstance that a congregation dissolves, the faithful thing to do is to make sure the funds are properly used before dissolving – and one proper use would be to give the funds to another faithful congregation that could use them – just like Acts 11:29-30 shows.
Hello. I was curious to know from the Bible's standpoint, is it mandatory for the believer to work in their church? (Like sing, usher, handle the money, help with lighting and audio, things like that?) I'm sure it's a good idea, but if a believer wanted to just sit, is it his or her right? Or is it a biblical duty to do something in the church?
Ready To Rest
Dear Ready To Rest,
What you are describing is the church assembly, not the church. The Bible describes the church as the people who make up a local congregation. For example, Acts 14:27 talks about gathering the church together because the church is the people, and they needed to gather to have a meeting. God designed the church to always be working, and every christian must be someone who works and bears fruit for God (Eph 4:16, Jhn 15:8). It is impossible to be a faithful member of Christ’s church and not be actively serving Him in some way.
However, what you are describing is working in the worship service. There are some parts of worship that every member must do (i.e. sing to the Lord – Eph 5:19 and take the Lord’s Supper – 1 Cor 11:33), but there are other tasks that aren’t group activities. For example, women are specifically prohibited from preaching or leading during services (1 Cor 14:34). Christians are expected to worship and not forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24), but that doesn’t mean someone needs to take a leadership role in the assembly in order to be faithful. We must all be active participants in worship, but participation isn’t the same as having a specific leadership role.
What is the difference between tithing and offering? Do we still give tithes and offerings? Who does it apply to? What or how much do we give, and why do we give?
Give Me The Facts
Dear Give Me The Facts,
The New Testament and Old Testament teachings on giving are similar… but not the same. The Old Testament was very specific that giving should be a minimum of ten percent (Deu 14:22). The word ‘tithe’ means ‘one-tenth’.
However, the New Testament teaching is more generic. Though ten percent is a good rule of thumb (after all, the Old Testament is given to us as an example – 1 Cor 10:11), christians are simply told to “give as they have prospered” (1 Cor 16:1-2). God tells us to be cheerful givers (2 Cor 9:7), but He never specifically says how much christians should give. That is an issue of wisdom and is left for each individual heart to work out for itself (Php 2:12). The specific rule of giving one-tenth of our income no longer applies; instead, we are told to examine our hearts and give thankfully.
If a church has money, as in a treasury, but the church is the people… if a congregation experienced 100% turnover in members, whose money is it? Suppose a small group of twelve members had a treasury of $30,000 and owned a building. If two families moved, but a new family moved into town about the same time, could they just inherit the church's treasury as their own? How can a treasury of money be stored for generations and generations where the same members weren't there who gave to it in the first place? It seems like we have created an idea that the local church is an organization in and of itself apart from the people that define it. We then give money to the organization, like giving to the Rotary club, and it doesn't matter who the people are; the "club" still possesses the money. Is this the biblical example?
Dear Membership Required,
The local church is greater than the individuals that comprise it. The local church is made up of the christians that meet in that particular location (like the saints that met in Corinth – 1 Cor 1:2 or the saints that met in Thessalonica – Php 1:1). When a christian leaves that local area and attends elsewhere, they cease to be a member of that local congregation. Over time, almost every congregation sees a complete (or near complete) turnover of its membership. Christians have, and always will, be moving away because of jobs, life changes, retirement, etc.
This isn’t a problem because the church’s treasury doesn’t belong to the members – when new members come in, they don’t inherit anything because it belongs to the Lord, not us. When churches take up a collection on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:1-2), it is money that is collected from the christians and dedicated to the Lord’s work.