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Financing the Gospel December 21, 2011

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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Supporters of tithing often make the claim that God intended for the church (i.e., the Gospel) to be financed through the mechanism of the tithe. In establishing this doctrine they cite Old Testament scriptures to support their claim. However, did God really intended for the church to be financed through the tithe? This is the question I hope to answer in this short study.

 The apostle Paul has laid down some clear guidelines on “financing the gospel” that the church should follow. For instance, Paul made the following declaration in 1 Cor 9:

 13Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

 

The central question here however is whether tithing was the means by which the Lord ordained those who preached the gospel to live of it? After all, aren’t pastors living of the gospel when they collect their stipend and other forms of remuneration and aren’t they doing so from the tithes and offerings? It should be noted here that some churches teach that the tithe is strictly for the pastor’s enjoyment. So what examples do we glean from scriptures of people who lived of the gospel?

 I believe as the church and the body of Christ, our starting point should always be to look at Christ’s example as after all He is the Chief Shepherd (or Chief Pastor) of His church (1 Pet 5:4). In the early stages of the Gospel going forth, Jesus called the twelve disciples and sent them out to deliver the good news to the lost sheep. Interestingly, Jesus told them not to take money or even a change of clothes or shoes with them yet he assured them that “the workman is worthy of his meat” (Matt 10:10). This was the first example shown to us in scripture of people who preached the gospel being fed by it and this was the same principle that Paul alluded to in 1 Cor 9:14 quoted earlier and also in 1 Tim 5:18. After the disciples returned from their travels however, Jesus asked them if they lacked anything whilst they journeyed to preach the message of the Kingdom and they replied they lacked nothing (Lk 22:35). All their needs were met by some of the people they came into contact with. What we do not see however is a commandment from Jesus to the disciples to go out and as they preached to collect tithes. What a contrast to today’s churches that declares that the work of the Lord cannot be done without “exacting” tithes?

 Christ went about establishing the church and wherever He went preaching, great multitudes gathered to Him yet we do not see a single example of Christ collecting tithes and offerings from the multitudes. What we see however is that there were some dedicated women who ministered to Him out of their own means (Lk 8:1-3). The early church also demonstrates in Acts 4:32-34 how that the church ministered to one another, including the apostles, so that everyone’s needs were being met. Verse 32 is particularly important in answering the question of whether or not the early church tithe. The verse says:

 32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

 Here we see in this verse that the believers in Christ did not take ownership of the things they possessed but shared it commonly with their brethren. Within such a construct it is clear that tithing could not have been practicable because this would imply that they gave a tenth part and kept the rest for themselves but this is not what was observed.

 The final example we may draw on comes from Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians concerning ministering to the saints in 2 Cor 9:1-7 (which actually is a continuation from 2 Cor 8). Here Paul was collecting gifts in order to distribute to the poor saints in Jerusalem but what we noticed is that he did not over-burdened the church but ask them to give according what each man had purposed in his own heart.

 The system we have in churches today is indicative of the Levitical system, whereby the pastors now assume the office of the Levite priests in the temple and are sustained by tithes. This construct is however foreign to the Gospel of Christ as the early church did not demonstrate these traits. The collection of monetary gifts and the like were strictly for meeting the needs of everyone in the church who had a need, not just the pastors’. One did not simply pay their tithes and offerings from their limited resources and go home despairing as to where the next meal was going to come from or how they were going to pay their rent. Certainly the poor in the church weren’t being told that if tithe faithfully, God would open up the windows of heaven.  Contrarily, everyone’s needs, including those of the apostles, were met from the proceeds of what was gathered. This was the means by which those who preached the Gospel were to live of it and not through a crudely reconstituted Levitical system.

 Will the church stop propagating the lie that God intended the gospel to be financed through the tithe?

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Comments»

1. Gary Arnold - December 21, 2011

Unfortunately, too many church goers believe everything the pastor says. They wind up believe the word of the pastor rather than the Word of God.

If I may make a minor correction: Under the Levitical priesthood, the tithe was given to the non-priest Levites who in turn gave a tenth of the tithe to the priests. The non-priest Levites were servants to the priests; i.e. ushers, singers, musicians, janitors, etc.

Once God chose Aaron and his sons to be the priests, they are no longer referred to as Levites in the scriptures.

2. cathy - July 16, 2012

According to Malachi 3 from verse 1,I would think that bringing offering and tithes has to do with a personal level of understanding from Christians.If one would do what the Bible says and forget about what others says;one would notice that giving in the house of the Lord should not be a forced but an understanding on why I should give.It is a personal exercise with God.I mean if one understand;it would be easier for one to understand that rent need to be paid as we are using the buildings;electricity and so.But if one does not do all that with the mind that one’s money goes to the pastor;then one will be on personal level with God on the day and explain why ignored His Word.The Word of God advice us to give and not question;things of God cannot be questioner;rather just say you are doing it for the Lord,for all blessings comes from Him,whether your money was used correctly or not;He will answer on individuals level

3. Henry - July 19, 2012

Cathy,
I agree in part to what you have said but only to the extent that giving to the church or Christian giving is should be a personal thing. However this should not be confused with scriptures such as the passages of Malachi as these scriptures do not instruct Christian giving but were rather instructions to Israel within the context of the Old Covenant. If you want to know the instructions for Christians in terms of giving we should look to the New Testament, particularly to those instructions of Jesus Christ. Here Jesus does not instruct the church to express their giving in terms of tithes etc. but rather Jesus teaches to give with a greater degree of freedom. For example, He said “give to everyone who ask of you” or to the rich rule he said “sell all that you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasures in heaven”. Paul writing to Timothy also admonishes the elders to charge those that are rich (monetarily) to be rich in every good works and be ready to serve.

I do not see anything in scripture which says we should give and not question. We are called to be good stewards of what we have been blessed with and it does not include giving blindly to every pulpit pimp who demands money from us – but rather we should exercise discernment or good judgement when parting with our goods and money.


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