Doug Duffett is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Philippians 4:9-17)
Having been with you all these years, having come to Alaska right from Bible college, you learn a lot of things as you go along. It’s sort of like marriage. There is more training to get a driver’s license than there is to get a marriage license. All you need to know to get a marriage license, are you old enough? They don’t even require a blood test anymore. It is too discriminatory. They may find out that somebody has aids. There is no training required for marriage. I was talking to a friend about how it’s hard to learn because you make a lot of mistakes as you go along.
There is a difference between a bunch and a body. I have learned this over the years, that there is a difference between a bunch and a body. You can get a bunch of people together in a church, but it may not function like a body. When a body functions the way it is supposed to function, everything functions in harmony.
My wife and I bowl every night. This is the best thing since light bread. Somebody gave us a Wii. A year ago, I didn’t even know what a Wii was or how to spell it. You get this crazy little thing in your hand. Cindy and I bowl. Sometimes the kids are around and Emily will bowl with us. Sometimes if they are not too humiliated that dad is going to beat everybody, other people will join in. It is a lot of fun. You have to learn. If your body is not all working together, it’s hundred pin bowling, not ten pin. There’s a hundred pins down there. You throw that ball and watching all those pins fall down. My wife had a perfect game. Every time she threw the ball, she knocked them all down. She has not let any of us forget since that happened, but I do beat her often.
You can get a bunch of people in a building. We came up in the 60’s and 70’s with gimmicks to get people in church. Many of those churches don’t even exist today. What you win them with is what you win them to. That’s what they want more of. If you win them with the Word of God, they’ll want more of the Word of God, but if you win them with games and entertainment and turn the platform into an entertainment center, that is what they are going to want more of. So that means that every Easter and every Christmas it has to be a more dynamic program, more stuff to do to advertise for the city the singing Christmas tree, or something huge has to happen in order to keep everybody there.
You can get a bunch of people, but you don’t have a body. The local church is the body of Christ. If you are not part of the local church, you are not part of the body of Christ. That sounds controversial and contrary to what you’ve probably read in a book. You’d better not get your theology from a book; you’d better get it from God’s Book. Three times in the Bible it says the church is the body. The Spirit of God said in I Corinthians 12:27 to the church of Corinth, “Now ye are the body of Christ,...” He didn’t say you are part of the body. He said, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” You ought to be identified with the local church of which Christ is the head. Then that body needs to function in harmony.
One of the needs that a missionary has is churches who are in harmony, of oneness of mind, for the very purpose of our existence, which is the Great Commission. There is a difference between a bunch and a body.
I think we had 561 here Sunday. God is not impressed with that. If God was impressed with numbers, He’d be very impressed with the Roman Catholic Church. It is not numbers that impresses God. It’s really Christ likeness that impresses God. You can dress right and be a witch inside. You can have short masculine hair and be prideful and arrogant. We have sins that we’ve labeled. First of all, not all sins are equal. Even the Bible says there is a sin unto death. Sins have different consequences. We get these pet sins. As long as everybody is obeying in those areas, everything is okay. That’s a lie. Outwardly you can look just fine. You can sing in the choir, but when the door closes to your house you really reveal what you are in your heart.
Let me give you some things from this text that the dear Spirit of God has taught me and I want to pass them on to you.
There is a difference between learning something and receiving it. Look at Philippians 4:9. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” There is a difference between learning something and receiving it. You can learn something and not receive it.
I enjoy reading A. W. Tozer. He challenges my mind. He was one of the founders of the Christian Missionary Alliance, which is not doctrinally straight. But he was preaching against Christians who just get saved and then stop wanting God. They just get saved. They don’t want God anymore. If you don’t want God anymore, I question whether you really got saved at all. Here is what he said. “There is no where in the Bible that talks about accepting Christ as Saviour.” Of course, there is. How about John 1:12? “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” Receiving and accepting means the same thing.
Here is the idea. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received,...” or learned and accepted. The difference between learning something, you can know something up here, but have you really accepted it? You can learn that this Bible is the Word of God; this Bible is Scripture, but have you really accepted the fact that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God? If it is Scripture, it is inspired. If it is not inspired, it is not Scripture. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable...” (II Timothy 3:16) The point is that you can learn, but it is a whole different ball park to accept it, to receive it for yourself.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received,...” You can know things about missions and about giving, but until you receive it. When you receive it, it becomes yours. You’ve accepted it. This is Bible truth. It may go against all of society and it does. Truth is always contrary to our flesh. God wants us to learn truth and then receive it, then accept it. There is a difference.
For instance, have you learned that a woman ought to obey her husband? A woman is supposed to obey her husband in every thing. Do you think that God really meant that? Ephesians 5:24 says, “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” You mean that’s when your husband makes a decision that you don’t like, when he wants to sit in the middle seat and you want to sit in the aisle seat, when he wants to sit in the second row and you want to sit in the back, when he wants to come early Wednesday night and sing and you don’t like to sing. You know what the Bible says. You’ve learned what the Bible says, that you ought to obey your husband in every thing, but now you’d better move to the next position which is accepting that and receiving that.
There is a lady in our church who had eleven children, many of them born at home. He came home on his lunch hour, delivered the child, and went back to work. If I’ve ever seen a submissive, cheerful woman it was her. I remember a day when Cynthia and I were at the old building, standing out on the sidewalk and this same lady said, “It’s so hard to obey that man.” I looked at my wife and she looked at me. It’s hard for every woman. Because number one, you found out shortly after you got married, that you married an idiot. Your mother told you, didn’t she? In the Bible when God is cursing because of the sin, He said to the woman, “Your desire shall be to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” People who have studied the language say that means your desire shall be to rule over your husband, but he shall rule over thee. Every woman knows you’ve got to grit your teeth sometimes to obey him.
A woman called one time and she said, “Preacher, I need help. It’s going to rain. Look at the clouds over here. Our couch is out on the porch. We are trying to sell it. We’ve already got a guy that wants to buy it. I need to get it moved. It’s going to rain on the couch.”
I said, “How long has it been out there?”
“It’s been out there a week. I told my husband we’ve got to move that thing.”
I said, “What did your husband say?”
He said, “Just leave it there. It will be okay.”
I said, “Ma’am, what do you think you should do?”
“Send somebody over here. I want to get it in.”
I said, “What did your husband tell you to do?”
“Leave it there.”
I said, “Let’s just leave it there.”
“But it will get rained on.”
“That is not your problem. If you keep rescuing your husband from stupid decisions, he’s never going to learn. Just relax and do what your husband told you to do.”
She said, “But, but...”
I said, “No, no, just leave it there.” It ended up that it didn’t rain at all. Just a cloud came over and dumped some place else. All that anxiety, all that frustration.
You say, “It’s a lot harder to be the one in obedience.” I don’t think that is true. I think the husband has the harder job, to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. The woman is to obey like the church. We are supposed to act like Christ and love you and lay down our lives for you. That’s our responsibility. You tell me which is harder. What I’m saying is you can know those truths, but until you have received them, they aren’t yours. Now that is your way of life.
Do you happen to know that the Bible says, “The tithe is the Lord’s.” When things are going fine and the bills are paid, that’s okay, but then when hard times come, “Whoa, I can’t tithe! This bill is going to come in.” Do you know that everybody could tithe if you did it God’s way? God says, “The first fruits belong to Him.” As soon as you got your paycheck, the top ten percent, not of the net, but the gross, the first ten percent, when you get your dividend, the first ten percent goes to God. You know that is true, but you have to own it. You have to receive it. Because when tough times come and the tough times will come, then you are going to default.
A fella came by to see me and said, “You know, preacher, I have finally learned in my life to give. I’ve learned that the tithe is the Lord’s, but I’ve also learned to give. Up until this point in my life, I was always worried. I was budgeting so much money for the fuel. How am I going to get enough fuel and heat my house for the winter time? When I began to tithe and then learned to give above the tithe, I stopped worrying about that.” Do you know what he says? “All my bills are paid. I don’t even know how it happens. It just does.” He knew that ahead of time. Years ago, he knew it in his mind. He learned that truth, but then there came a time when he owned it. He received it. There is a difference between learning and receiving.
By the way, there is a difference between hearing and seeing. Your kids can hear you say one thing, but they see what you and I do. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:...” You’ve heard them, but now you see them. Wasn’t it Job who said, “I’ve heard with the hearing of my ear, but now I’ve seen Him.” Now I’ve seen what He does. That’s pretty basic. That’s the first thing. There is a difference between learning and receiving and hearing and seeing.
I learned that there is a difference between just caring and flourishing. Look at Philippians 4:10. “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again;...” I learned that there is a difference between caring and flourishing. Do you know what that word flourishing means? The root word for flourishing is flowers. If there was just one flower there, you might say, “That’s a nice flower.” Debbie was talking to me about her garden. It just exploded everywhere into blooms. When flowers are just exploding everywhere that’s when you say, “Wow, it’s flourishing.” He said, “You always cared about me, but now your care is flourishing.”
I’m glad that one day I learned there is a difference between caring and flourishing. There is a difference between sending a missionary a monthly check and then finding out about a need and not just doing the bare necessity. We voted to take care of Brother Gray’s electric bill. Their electric bill was $400 this month. Ours is $3,000 by the way, here. Golden Valley charges us an extra $500 every month because we use the majority of our electricity one day a week. They penalize us. They love it when we turn all these lights on at one time. It’s just like Hollywood up here and they stick it to Bible Baptist Church, $500, because how dare they use all their electricity at one time. By the way, we don’t send the exact amount. We send more than that. Because the Bible says if you do just what you are supposed to do, you are an unprofitable servant. I don’t want to be a church that just cares for our missionaries. I want our care for our missionaries to flourish. There is a difference between caring and flourishing.
I want that care to flourish to our missionaries. I believe we’ve got a responsibility to do that because that’s how God loves you and me. God is an extravagant God. On the cross of Calvary, He shed enough blood for the whole world to be saved, even though He knew the whole world wouldn’t get saved. In fact, He knew that many would go on down the road to destruction, but He shed enough blood for everybody’s sins.
The sun shines on a mountain. The mountain is not getting any bigger or better because the sun shines on it. God just shines His Son everywhere. He’s an extravagant God. I believe that God wants us to be. Extravagant means wasteful. That’s why the hyper-calvinists have a hard time with Jesus Christ shedding His blood for the whole world, knowing that everybody wasn’t going to get saved. You say, “What a waste?” No, I say, “Oh, what love!”
Many of you knew Jim White. In talking to Brother Jim over the course of his cancer he said to me, “I could never repay Bible Baptist Church for what you did for me.” After many years of itinerant ministry back years ago, he and Judy decided to get a house so that if something happened to him, his wife and his kids would have a place. He needed $10,000 as a down payment. He was calling a bunch of churches to raise a thousand dollars a piece. He said, “Preacher, do you know how hard this is to call people and ask them to help you to buy a house?” I went to our men and I said, “This is what Brother White is calling me about. What do you think?” Do you know all of those men said the same thing? “Why don’t we just give him the $10,000 and let him buy a house?” When I called him on the phone and told him years ago, “Our church wants to give you that $10,000.” He was speechless. I mean it is one thing to care. It’s another thing to flourish. By the way, you can’t outgive God. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38) God has proven it over and over and over again.
We bought this building. Do you know what some people said? Some bankers said, “They’ll never make it work. That little congregation that was totally debt free before and now we had an $8,000 a month mortgage payment. No wonder I got a rash. Plus it was an old garage, greasy auditorium, big garage doors over here and you men began to work and worked hard and out of pocket put over a half million dollars in remodeling this building. Today it’s all paid off. The property across the street is all paid off. The house that we bought when the Maces left, the people that owned it were going to sell the house and we wanted that ministry to continue, so we went to the men and we bought that and that’s all paid off.
You can’t outgive God. When you are involved in His business, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. There is a difference between caring and flourishing. It has the idea of thriving and prospering and increasing. Look up the word flourishing. Do you know what it means? Ostentatious. Sometimes I feel like what God’s allowed you and me to do for missionaries is ostentatious. The word actually means showy. God knows our motive. God knows our heart. We are not in competition with anybody. We just want to do what God leads us to do. Sometimes it is almost overwhelming. That’s exactly what God wants us to do. There is a difference in caring. Every church ought to care, but there is a difference between caring and flourishing.
Evangelist Leon came up to do a vacation Bible school back in the old building. The theme was the 12 disciples. We learned a song listing all the disciples. He wanted to give out some prizes for the kids. This is back years ago. We weren’t having a thousand back then. We were having a couple hundred kids come to Vacation Bible School. We got those prizes that he needed and had some ice cream treats for the kids. After the thing was all over he said, “Do you know how nice it is to be in a church that is willing to spend some money on the children, for them to be able to take things home with them and have a good time?” We live like God is a pauper. He’s not. God loves a cheerful giver. When He fed those 5,000, they had 12 baskets full of fragments left over. I’m telling you God is an extravagant God. I think that God likes it when His people are extravagant. I don’t mean foolish. I’m just talking about extravagant giving.
There is a difference between contentment and complacency. Philippians 4:11 says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” There is a difference between contentment and complacency. Contentment is realizing that God has already provided everything I need for my present happiness. Complacency is when you are satisfied with yourself. I never want to be satisfied with where I am in my walk with God. I want to go further. I want to go deeper. I want to grow more. I want to learn more. I want to do more. I want to become more like Christ, and you can encourage the atmosphere of wanting to grow, yet you can learn to be content.
There is a difference between giving and sacrifice. That’s verse 12. “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” I learned the difference between giving and sacrificing. If you think it’s a joy to give, the extreme joy is in sacrificing. When you are choosing to give up something to give it to God’s work – sacrifice. Most of us know very little about sacrifice, but you’ll never learn to give by faith until you learn to sacrifice.
Years ago, Dr. Hyles was raising money for a college. They needed millions of dollars for this college. They were buying a campus and the money was falling short. The goals were just falling short. Dr. Hyles found out about a another Bible believing Baptist college that was about to go under and needed millions of dollars. He went to his men. He said, “Men, we can’t raise the money. We got all this money for a college. We can’t raise the money. Here is a college already in existence and it’s going under. Let’s ask the people if they are willing to give that money to rescue their college.” The church said, “Yes.” Because there is a difference between a bunch and a body. The body said, “Yes.”
You can’t outgive God. God in Heaven is watching that. If you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully. If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. Do you know what God did? God brought a millionaire into that ministry. Dr. Hyles said, “I’ve never asked that millionaire for a dime. I’ve asked him for several million dollars, but I never asked him for a dime.” He funnelled millions of dollars. He is Mr. Russell Anderson – Hyles-Anderson College.
Dr. Charles Keen, when they got involved with missions and Bible printing, they needed a building, but they were giving to missions and giving to missions. He got a call from a little, old lady, who used to be his Sunday school teacher in Akron, Ohio, where he got saved in seventh grade. She said, “I’m in this nursing home down here and nobody ever comes to see me. Will you come see me?”
He said, “Of course, I’ll come and see you.” It was a five hour drive, so he drove there and he went in this little room. She said, “You know I remember you. I remember how you paid attention when you were in Sunday school. I remember hearing about you being called to preach and I was praying for you when you went to Bible college. I know my life is coming down to an end now. I’d just as soon give my money some place where it will be a help, almost a half million dollars.”
You see after six days of creation, God stopped creating things. No more creation. That means everything is here to do whatever God wanted to do. Adam and Eve could never believe there would be billions of people that came from them. Everything is in the seed thereof. In the seed is everything you need for down the road. All that God needs for God’s work has already been created. It’s already here. His principle is, “You give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” I’m just telling you I learned there is a difference between giving and sacrificing. When we learned to sacrifice, that’s when the joy came.
Look at verses 14-16. “Notwithstanding ye have well done,...” Do you know who told Paul to write that down? We are Bible believers. We believe that God spake and He moved Paul to write those very words down. You know that, but have you received that? This is God talking. “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” One day we heard that Jim Pranger over in Russia needed a vehicle. Our men said, “He is a good missionary. Let’s buy him a vehicle.” $10,000. Jim Pranger said, “Wow! I thought it would take me forever for churches to trickle in $200 here, $500 here.. How could I ever say, ‘Thank you,’ for what you’ve done?” One thing was care. The other was flourishing. One thing is giving. The other is sacrificing.
Do you remember when you and I helped that orphanage over there in Malawi – $85,000? Before we started, the pastor said, “The church will match whatever you give.” Never dreaming it would be $85,000. I remember sweating that night as the auction went up, 40,000, 50,000, 60,000, $85,000. That meant that out of the excess of offerings another $85,000 had to come in. You never heard about that. We never came to you, not one time and said, “Now folks, your pastor made this commitment. You’d better bail me out.” Never one time did you ever hear that. God provided every single dime. We got that picture of all those orphans over there holding a big sign, “Thank you, Bible Baptist Church, Fairbanks.” Thank you, God.
There is a difference between money and motive. Look what Paul said in verse 17. “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” There is somebody in Heaven who keeps the books. The issue is not a gift. The issue is not the offerings; the issue is fruit in Heaven, fruit that abounds to your account. Someday we are all going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Not a judgment for sin, thank God that was taken care of at Calvary. Jesus paid it all, but the works done in our body are going to be judged, whether those works were good or bad, whether they are worthy of reward, or worthy of being burned up. Paul said, “I wasn’t looking to you for a gift. My real motive was not money. My real motive for you was fruit, that would abound to your account in Heaven.” There is just a difference.
There is a difference between pleasing men and pleasing God. If my bride needs something, she wants something, I just hear that she wants something, I love her so I do what I can to get that for her. I want to please her. God said, “Doug, I want you to love her as Christ loved the church. When I see you doing that, that pleases Me.” The goal is not just to please her. The goal is to please Him.
Look what the Spirit of God told the Apostle Paul to write in verse 18. Paul said, “But I have all, and abound:...” You don’t just give because there is a need. You and I might say, “They don’t need that.” If the Spirit of God put it on your heart, you might be supplying something today that they may need down the road. We don’t walk by sight. We walk by faith. Paul said, “You did well. You gave over and over again, but let me tell you something,” in verse 18. “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you,...” But let me tell you what happened in Heaven. It was “...an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” God said, “I saw it and I smelled it and it sure smelled good, when you let that missionary Paul be full and abound.”
The issue is not numbers. Do you know that in all these years of giving, we’ve never had a giving goal? Every preacher that comes here says, “What is your faith promise goal?” We don’t have one. “We don’t have one.” That is not the issue. I think it is a danger if we are going to set this goal. What does God want us to do? We met our goal, but maybe you didn’t meet God’s goal. We get satisfied. “Oh, look, we made our goal.” Everybody applaud. Applaud what? Success is not what you accomplish. It’s what you and I accomplish compared to what God wanted us to accomplish. We are not going to set a goal. I didn’t have a spiritual reason to begin with.
When we first started this, there is a guy in the church, we just started it. We didn’t have any people. He wrote a check. He said, “Can I pay my whole year’s faith promise now?” Sure, if you want to. $75,000. The treasurer said, “Was there supposed to be that many zeros on that check?” I remember saying to the treasurer, “How are we going to beat that next year?” How do you say you are going to increase every year? One person – $75,000. My motive was we can’t set a goal. How can we set a goal? Just let God do it. Do you know how much pressure that took off of us? No pressure on anybody.
I don’t want to have a goal and reach that goal and somebody says, “Okay, I’ll give enough to reach the goal.” Aren’t you a hero? I didn’t want that. Do you see how God has just led us down this path? It has to be of God because it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t make any sense that you can scatter and yet it increases. That’s what God says. Scatter and yet it increases, but there is that withholdeth more than is meet. I’m going to hoard up. I’m going to save this for a hard time. God says, “It tends to poverty.” God says, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not your thoughts. As high as the heavens are above the earth, that’s how much higher My ways are than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” There is a difference and we’d better get a handle on it.