Summary: Is the prohibition of gambling in the Covenant of Christian Conduct just a legalistic rule or a natural outflow of loving God completely and love others as ourselves?
A year or so ago we took several months to review the sixteen Articles of Faith found in the Manual of the Church of The Nazarene. These subjects included what we believe about the Triune God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Scriptures, Sin, Atonement, Salvation, the Church, the Sacraments, the Lord’s Return, etc. These are foundational doctrines which are based entirely on the Holy Bible.
Always remember, the Manual is subordinate to the Bible and not the other way around. We hope that everything in the Manual is in harmony with the Scriptures; if not, we need to correct our doctrines found in the Manual.
But, now we are taking a look at the Covenant of Christian Conduct that all members agree to when joining the church and we are attempting to see if the elements of this covenant is mere legalism or is it a natural outflow of loving God and others?
First, let’s take a look at an example of legalism:
We all know the 4th commandment, right?
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work ….”
To strict, orthodox Jews this means ANY work … such as flushing your toilet, so, some of them have the motion sensor type of toilets installed in their homes because pushing the handle on the toilet would be considered work. It makes you wonder what they did before the invention of motion sensor flush toilets … or what they do if they discover that someone left the toilet lid down?
Is that legalism or is that what God really intended when He decreed the fourth commandment?
Today we’ll be taking look at another section of the Covenant of Christian Conduct.
34. We hold specifically that the following practices should be avoided:
34.2. Lotteries and other forms of gambling, whether legal or illegal. The church holds that the final result of these practices is detrimental to both the individual and society.
In order to see why gambling is harmful or detrimental to the individual and to society we need to first see why the Lord give us possessions and wealth in the first place.
When we say that God give us possessions and wealth we need to recognize that the entire earth belongs to the Lord.
Psalm 24:1 says,
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
So, if we have anything at all that has been acquired in a legitimate manner it has come from God because He owns everything, and, if you are a child of God you realize that even after you have something, it still belongs to God and you are only a steward in charge of caring for and using that possession wisely.
So, why does He give us possessions and wealth including money.
God gives us possessions and wealth for four reasons:
A. To supply personal and family needs.
“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
This providing for one’s family is talking about survival needs: housing, food, clothing, basic transportation, education, medical needs.
When this verse says that anyone who does not provide for their family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever it shows that God takes this seriously and so should we!
So, God gives us income:
A. To supply personal and family needs.
B. To contribute to God’s work on earth.
This is specifically talking about the tithe of your income to provide for the work of the Lord.
“Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income,
“saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.”
Let’s take another look at the first part of that middle verse:
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income …”
There was no question in their mind what “a sum of money in keeping with his income” meant - it was the tithe, and, the tithe in the OT was put into place to support the temple. Now, in the NT it is to support God’s work on earth through the church the body of Christ. This is God’s one and only plan for supporting the body of Christ in matters of evangelism, teaching and preaching.