Actually, it was only during my stint with the Jehovah's Witnesses that I NEVER heard any requests for money! They had a box OUTSIDE the sanctuary area where anyone could deposit money. The reason for this was that they would not care to sully the sanctuary with money, nor would any talk of it be done there! I never checked to see if they kept a record of what is given by any who wished for a statement. I have never given anything but cash, in any church to which I have ever gone, only resorting to a check if I lacked cash, for I would never let the plate go by me without my giving something! I have never cared for statements! I don't believe in keeping such "records!"
-- John Henry Jowett
Tithing is Not Taught
in the New Testament
By David J. Stewart
The word "tithing" is only mentioned in the New Testament concerning the hypocritical Pharisees and then again in Hebrews concerning the Old Testament command for Israel to support the priestly tribe of Levi. There is NO command for the New Testament Church to tithe.
When most people think of a "church," they picture a big building with lush carpeting, stained-glass windows, padded pews, and other extravagances; however, God intended for the New Testament Church to be something very different. Jesus never founded a State licensed organization. Philemon 1:2 speaks of having a church in one's home... "And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the CHURCH IN THY HOUSE." Again we read in Colossians 4:15... "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and THE CHURCH WHICH IS IN HIS HOUSE." You don't need a government license to Biblically start a church in your home. You don't need a big building with chandeliers, padding carpeting, a pulpit, a choir, pews and an alter. What a waste of God's money! Your home can be a church if it's a gathering place for Christians who desire to study the Word of God, win the community to Christ, contend for the Christian faith, stand against the evils of society, help the fatherless and widows, and fellowship with other likeminded believers. But remember, to be a church the Final Authority must be the Word of God.
Sadly, in America the word "church" has become synonymous with greed and money. This is NOT the way God intended for it to be. But you ask, "Didn't the early believers sell their possessions and give the money to the Apostles?" Yes, many did; but there's nothing in the Bible indicating that the Apostles pressured the people to give anything. In Acts 4:34-35 we read that many believers voluntarily sold their lands and houses to give the money TO THE NEEDY... "Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." A good Scripture to correctly interpret this passage is James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." The Bible teaches that the purity of the ministry is to HELP THE POOR IN THEIR AFFLICTION.
The believers in Acts gave what they freely wanted to give and could afford to give. This is quite different than the evil we see happening in America today, where televangelists and greedy pastors are continually begging for more money, twisting the Scriptures in order to exploit people, even asking parents to sell-out their children by donating their college funds to the church.
God won't bless you for giving money to a wealthy preacher; God said to give the money to THE NEEDY. If your church leaders are keeping back part of the money to take trips to the Holy Land, then they are misappropriating God's money as did Ananias and Sapphira. Argue as you may, you cannot show me any Scripture in the New Testament where a church took God's money and vacationed with it. There is MUCH abuse of church funds in America today. It is apostasy and thievery.
A Typical "Non-profit" Scenario in the U.S.
I personally knew an elderly minister in Chicago who's ministry received over $100,000 a year in charitable contributions. The minister himself was receiving Social Security payments because he was 63-years old. As far as his income taxes indicated, he was living in poverty; but in reality he was living the life of a fat-cat. The church funds were at his disposal to spend anyway he wanted, and he did. He bought himself a nice cottage in the remote suburbs of Illinois and charged all the costs to renovate it to the church, indicating that the lumber and materials were used on the church building. He used to collect grocery receipts that people tossed in the garbage at the supermarket or dropped on the ground, and then reimburse himself with church funds claiming that he had spent that money out-of-pocket. Pretty slick huh?
Since the minister was only receiving Social Security payments and a very small salary from the church, this qualified him for freebies everywhere he went. He was too cheap to buy medical insurance; but it worked out well for him because when he sustained several thousands-of-dollars in medical bills at St. Mary's hospital, they eliminated his bill as a tax write-off because they felt sorry for him. He wore his white minister's neck-collar everywhere he went, receiving free meals, free coffee, and special treatment everywhere he went. Sadly, people idolize ministers; but for all they know the guy might have bodies in his basement. We ought to idolize God alone. Thankfully, we know that God will never let us down in any way.
I could write a book on the cons and scams this guy pulled-off. He once paid a man $5 to lay in the garbage in back of the church. He used the photo in his next ministry bulletin to raise support, and it worked like a charm as the funds came flooding in from gullible contributors. He fabricated a fictitious name and claimed that the man had been reached through his ministry and was now serving the Lord. Tragically, many people don't question anything that a minister says. This is why hundreds-of-millions of Roman Catholics foolishly confess their sins to a human priest, who's saturated with sins himself, and can't forgive anybody for anything (1st Timothy 2:5).
A lot of souls are going to weep bitter tears of sorrow when they stand before God on Judgment Day, realizing that they donated tens-of-thousands of dollars to support some greedy minister who selfishly squandered the money. Others will weep that their children suffered needless financial hardships because they gave their children's college money to some minister instead. Biblically, charity starts at home... "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than AN INFIDEL" (1st Timothy 5:8).
It is God's Money; NOT the Churches
It is Biblically acceptable to donate money to a legitimate ministry that helps the needy; however, it is UNBIBLICAL for ministry executives to be paid outrageous salaries. According to Forbes the Salvation Army's top dog, Todd Bassett, took home $175,050 from the "CHARITABLE" organization's donations for the fiscal year ending in 2004. That's ridiculous! Just think what the other employees get paid! I wonder how many Santa Claus buckets need to be filled to pay Mr. Bassett extravagant salary? I wouldn't give a dime to the Salvation Army. People are so naive and gullible. The Apostle's didn't go out on a spending-spree with the money given to them, buying steak dinners, fancy clothes and vacationing in Hawaii. No, they distributed the money to the THE NEEDY AND AFFLICTED.
By the way, the Apostles DIDN'T receive a paycheck, they simply had their needs met. I think pastors shouldn't receive paychecks either. They ought to be given only what they need by the church and no more. Jesus never started a business. This would eliminate 95% of America's pastors overnight, because they'd be living a very simple life with no surplus, and would resign. I get upset when I hear about pastors and their staff taking expensive vacations to the Holy Land. That's not what God's money is for; it's supposed to go to the NEEDY. Sadly, religious people twist the Bible all sorts of ways to justify their misappropriation of God's money.
As you open your pockets for more charity, keep these facts in mind: Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross... salary for year ending 06/30/03 was $651,957 plus expenses. Brian Gallagher, President of the United Way receives a $375,000 base salary, plus numerous expense benefits. Benny Hinn is much worse. The average person who donates money to such "charities" makes less than $30,000 a year. So why do people continue to give money to such "non-profit" organizations? It's because it makes them feel like a better person; but you're still the same old dirty, rotten, hell-deserving sinner that Jesus needed to bail out at Calvary. Stop flattering yourself by giving money to the rich (who mislead you into thinking you're helping the poor). The 700 Club is really bad. Human psychology is actually a study course in human insanity, because mankind's history is a very sad tribute to our idiocy as human beings.
Where Should the Money Go?
1st Corinthians 16:2 states, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." This was money collected to support Paul's work in the Lord, as a Gospel preaching missionary. There is no record in the New Testament about money being collected to support the local church. All money collected was DISTRIBUTED as every man had need.
We read in Acts 5:1-4 about Ananias and Sapphira, but the Bible doesn't provide many details of the situation. All we know is that Ananias and Sapphira lied concerning a financial commitment they had made to the Apostles; but the Bible doesn't require anyone to make such financial commitments and I think pastors ought not pressure people to do so. Acts 5:4 even states that Ananias and Sapphira DIDN'T have to give anything... "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?..." Ananias and Sapphira DIDN'T have to give a penny to the Apostles; but they evidently made a financial commitment and then changed their mind afterwards.
We ought to give as we are able to give. This is Biblical. God knows what we can or cannot give. Certainly, someone who is having financial difficulties should NOT give money to the church. 1st Corinthians 16:2 plainly states... "as God hath prospered him." Thus, giving money is Biblically to be based upon our financial situation, and that money is to be given directly to God's man (or men) for the work of God (and not to a religious State licensed organization).
Things are VERY different in today's society. There was NO welfare program in New Testament times to care for the poor. In America, anyone who is poor can apply for welfare benefits. Thus, no church should help anyone who is receiving welfare benefits from the State. From what I've seen of churches today, most of them help themselves. There are ministers and religious workers like Ananias and Sapphira all across America, who keep back part of donated foods and goods from State funded Food Depositories for themselves and their own families.
Acts 20:35 states, "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." Biblically we are to give our money TO THE WEAK. Sadly, most people give their hard-earned money to THE STRONG, i.e., to some finely dressed, well-to-do, extravagant preacher who lives high-on-the-hog. Yes, I'm probably talking about your pastor. I wouldn't give a dime to any preacher who lives at the same financial level as the richest people in his church. Something is wrong with that. The pastor of a New Testament Biblically based church ought to live as the common man.
Say what you will, there is NOTHING in the Bible about donating money to pay for the extravagancies that MANY pastors and church ministers in America enjoy today, especially within larger churches. I think a good rule of thumb is to compare the lifestyle of your pastor and his staff and their families in comparison to the way you and your family are living. If they're living the life of Riley, then you're a sucker to give them a dime.
You can't name one Charismatic televangelist today who doesn't center his ministry around filthy lucre... money, money, money. Sadly, this lust of greed has carried over into most Baptist churches today as well. Nothing is more repulsive than hearing a preacher of the Gospel continually ask for more money. This is unwise and unethical. To give your money to these greedy charlatans is to cast your hard-earned dollars to a bunch of greedy pigs.
People have this insane idea that anything that give to a church is going to God. No it's not! Read the following Scripture carefully... "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again" (Proverb 19:17). The Bible talks about giving money TO THE POOR; not some wealthy minister. All we see nowadays on TV are these wealthy type, fancy-pants, greedy televangelists, milking innocent naive victims out of their money. Don't you expect a reward from God if you give money to those buzzards! You'll get back what you deserve... NOTHING! The 700 Club is one of the worst offenders, promising money and blessing in return for donations to THEIR MINISTRY. Remember, a fool and his money are soon parted! So don't be a fool! Give your money directly to the poor, or to a local organization where you can see firsthand exactly where your money is going. Ask for an itemized list of expenditures from the organization. It's your money and you have a right to know! Ask your pastor who paid for those recent trips they took to the Holy Land? Then ask him what category it falls under in the churches' financial report.
The believers in Acts DIDN'T have a church building; they met in someone's home, in an upper room (Acts 1:13). The entire idea of what a "church" is supposed to be has been mutated, warped and turned into an ugly monster. Biblically, a church is simply a group of believers gathered in Jesus' name. Just because a certain pastor decides that he wants build several buildings and grow his ministry is fine; but not when he resorts to high-pressure tactics, unscriptural teachings and asking parents to give their children's inheritance to the church. This is a violation of 1st Timothy 5:8 and Proverb 13:22.
Please understand, I am not saying that believers shouldn't support their local church if it's patterned after the New Testament Church in the Book of Acts; but the church in Acts made the local community ANGRY because they were offending people with the truth. If your church is well-liked within the community—and homosexuals, witches and abortionists in your town are ok with your church—then it's NOT a Biblical church. What are the churches in Salem, Massachusetts doing to expose the wickedness of witchcraft? What are the churches in Trinidad, Colorado (dubbed the "Sex Change Capital of the World"), doing to expose such wickedness? What about the churches in "sin city" Las Vegas? What is wrong with Christians today? Why aren't more churches taking a stand for righteousness in their local community for God?
The Bible DOES teach that we should give to the poor, and to our enemies if they thirst or hunger, and to the man of God who is faithfully preaching the Gospel, and to our children and their children; but we are no where commanded in God's Word to give our child's inheritance to a covetous pastor who is gung ho about growing "his" ministry.
Tithing was for Old Testament Israel. If tithing were for today's believer, then it would have been reiterated in the New Testament; but it was not. The remaining 11-Tribes were obligated to support the priestly tribe of Levi. In sharp contrast, there is NO such obligation today for believers to tithe 10% or give offerings to a church (which in America is basically a conglomerate of arbitrary ministries ranging from legitimate to criminal front organizations). It's a sin to teach people that God commands believers to support any particular church or ministry. The Bible clearly teaches that we ought to give to the poor, which is what the Apostles did with the money given to them by the believers in Acts 4:34-37. Sadly, most of the money donated to churches today goes for spending on themselves.
I heard one preacher misquote Romans 15:4 in an attempt to pressure his congregation to tithe... "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." He alleged that the required 10% tithe in the Old Testament was a divine standard by which today's Christians are also obligated to tithe 10%. Nonsense!!! Only by wrestling the Scriptures can you come to such a conclusion.
Furthermore, the Bible states in Acts 4:34-37 that many believers sold their possessions, some even homes and lands. It would seem logical that no one with a family to raise would sell their home, causing their children to live in the streets with no place to live. I could understand an elderly person, with no children, donating their home to the needy. I could understand a wealthy person selling excess homes or lands to give money to charity. However, only an idiot would interpret these Scriptures to mean that those early believers sold their homes to put their children into the streets. Any serious Bible student must not abandon common sense when interpreting the Scriptures. 1st Timothy 5:8 teaches that a man who doesn't care for his family is worse than an infidel. Obviously, the people who sold their homes and lands were in a position to do so without jeopardizing the safety and well-being of their families.
I am not discouraging Christians from giving. I am simply hoping to redirect your giving to legitimate ministries that actually preach the Gospel, win lost sinners to Christ, help the needy, contend for the Christian faith, stand against the evils of our time, and uplift the precious Lamb of God—Jesus Christ. Most so-called "churches" today are a big joke!
It's a shame that America's churches have turned into a den of thieves, where pastors are continually begging for more money, twisting the Scriptures to seduce people into giving until it hurts, writing unscriptural books on tithing to manipulate people, and then enjoying frequent trips to Hawaii, the Holy Land, et cetera (compliments of the church).
"He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor." —Proverb 22:9
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