The whole meaning of community of believers has been lost, especially in today's commercialized church system. Or another name institutionalized religion done in Jesus name. If we survey the New Testament all giving was to only meet the needs of fellow believers. Now, the money received in church offering today goes for mostly pastoral staff salaries, church buildings and its infrastructure, electronic equipment, security guards, fingerprinting, cell phones and many other things that are NOT needs as spelled out in the New Testament. A thing unheard of in the first two centuries of church history. We are to take up offerings to benefit the poor and needy and widows in the community of believers (see Acts 4:32-37). Plus, they never charged for the Word or try to profit off sermons or instruction (i.e. book, music or video sales) or to council fellow believers for money.
Anyone who has ever had a relationship with the living Christ must ask, "Since when has Jesus become dependent on worldly business methods and technology to promote the gospel of the kingdom of God to grow His Church?" Is this the rock He told Peter that He would build His church on--common worldly business model practices? Where once the Lord added to the Church daily as many as should be saved, now we see a church growing itself by appealing to the world's senses. Where once the Spirit of God drew people, now people are enticed with sensationalism and entertainment, an appeal to the eyes and ears.
Jesus prophesied that before the coming judgment it would once again be as it was in the days of Noah, when the earth was filled with the feasting, drinking and hedonism. It would be as it was in the corrupted society of Sodom where it was business as usual, "They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built."(see Luke 17:26-32). Can anyone look around western culture and its churches and not see this prophecy fulfilled?
Perhaps a more telling question might be, "Are we willing to live on bread in order to preach the glorious gospel of the kingdom of God in Jesus name?" Did Jesus pay the price and live in poverty so that the apostles and believers that followed didn't have to? Did they live lives of ease and opulence in order to leave a legacy of established kingdoms in this world? Did they build great institutions, naming great churches, universities and seminaries after themselves as is the practice today?
Let Paul's words suffice: “But sometimes I think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor's parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world--to people and angels alike. Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you are so wise! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are well thought of, but we are laughed at. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, without enough clothes to keep us warm. We have endured many beatings, and we have no homes of our own. We have worked wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. We respond gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world's garbage, like everybody’s trash--right up to the present moment.” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13, NLT)
These men served the kingdom of God and cared nothing for worldly gain. They didn’t push people to give in order to meet the churches annual budget of salaries and utilities. You wouldn’t see an overseer standing in line to buy the finest clothing from the Roman Empire while the people he shepherds stand in line for their next meal. I remember seeing a local pastor standing in line for the next iPhone while people in the congregation had to stand in line to get food stamps from the state.
The apostles supported themselves and often went without. They had no homes of their own, much less any house worth six figures or annual six figure salaries. They heeded Jesus' words and did not seek to find their lives. They had tasted the heavenly gift and found it good. Their only legacy was to live and die just as their Forerunner, the very Son of God, promoting the eternal kingdom of God. They did not consider their service to be a vocation or livelihood but were witnesses, appointed unto death. It was not a living but a dying; a life laid down and never an excuse to gather wealth to themselves.
Without doubt, the prevailing conditions on the earth today are identical to what existed before the judgment of the flood and the judgment of Sodom. Hedonism has infected the whole world, and the church has been tainted by it in its evangelism of the unbeliever. It goes forth converting men to its corrupt ways, especially in America, convincing all that this is true Christianity. The lust for wealth has not only been found a home in the gospel of prosperity but also in nearly every local church and denomination in America, and gain is preached as godliness is commonplace (see1 Timothy 6:1-11).
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; - Revelation 18:4 (NIV)