In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:14-16)
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In my opinion, the two situations are not necessarily directly comparable (although man remains capable of introducing sin into any situation). The religious authorities in Jesus' day had hypocritically corrupted the sacrificial system that had been commanded by God in the Law for their own material gain (but under the guises of convenience and piety) through the sale of sacrificial animals and the requirement to offer specific types of currency that had to be obtained from money-changers -- rather than coins (for example) with secular images on them -- with transactions being conducted under terms that profited the authorities, and with the spiritual and religious significance of the sacrifices and offerings as intended by God being superseded or completely overshadowed by the commercial aspects of the situation. (As Jesus said in Matthew 21:13: "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of thieves.") Christians today should be motivated by love and gratitude to God for their salvation to freely and completely support the work of congregations, either by the members of the congregation itself or by the denomination with which the congregation is affiliated (2 Corinthians 9:7). However, I see nothing intrinsically unscriptural or wrong with members also voluntarily donating of their own time and talents to raise money on a value-for-value basis for special needs such as youth group projects or Gospel outreach by selling items such as baked goods, car washes, or craft items. The critical issues to me would be: 1) whether those who participate in the sale or the purchase of such items are being compelled or taken advantage of in any way; 2) whether the proceeds are providing material gain to those associated with the projects, rather than being entirely used to cover the necessary expenses of such efforts; 3) whether the giving or solicitation of money is performed in hope or with a promise of either material blessings, or spiritual powers or blessings (as was the case with Simon Magus offering money to Peter if Peter would grant him the power to confer the Holy Spirit on people (Acts 8:9-24), or at the time of the Reformation with the sale of indulgences for the promised purpose of freeing souls from purgatory); and 4) whether these activities (however well-intended) are taking priority in terms of time, effort, and importance as compared to the spiritual and worship functions of the church.
Matthew 21:13. "He said to them, 'According to scripture, my house will be called a house of prayer; but you are turning it into a bandits den." The followers of Christ are called to be in this world - but not of it. The Church is to be unlike any other organization. Exodus 20:1,"You shall have no other Gods." I think today that some churches look on other more affluent churches and worry about supplying more appealing activities or visual aids to keep up appearances, so to speak. The Church has something that you find nowhere else. It has the word of God to offer. The business of the Church is Worship and the teaching of the Bible. There are other outlets for anything else you desire. 2Timothy 3:16,17, "All scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be upright. This is how someone dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work." Can we truly ever be complete in our study of the Bible? I know that I learn something new each time I read God's word. Teaching the scripture, meditating on it is an immense responsibility. Given to the Church! 1 Corinthians 2:12, "Now the Spirit we have received is not the spirit of the world but God's own Spirit, so that we may understand the lavish gifts God has given us." Understanding this the Church should focus on preaching the Bible. Matthew 38:19,20, "Go therefore, make disciples of all nations...and teach them..." This is the mission of the church. I know that we are not in biblical times of old. But is not all time God's time? People still have a yearning for God's words. If the teaching is good, the word will spread and the people who hunger will come. God will send them! In the book of Revelation, the letter to LAODICEA, chapter 3 the church has lost its need and love for God! They are warned to repent. Look! I stand at the door and knock! Listen! I know that in my own church, it seems that you are constantly asked for money and more. I also know that a lot never goes where it is designated for. I understand we need money to stay open..But, I also remember when the Word was much more lifted up, and the money came without so much campaigning! God is faithful. May church be about The Word! The rest will follow.
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