God's Plan of Church Finance
Memory Verse: Luke 6:38
Prayer: That God will give us generous hearts that we may become cheerful givers of our tithes
Verses: Gen. 14:20; 28:22; Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:24-29; 2Chron. 31:5,6,12; Mal. 3:8-10; Matt. 23:23; 1Cor. 9:13,14; 16:2; Heb. 7:1-21.
God works by plans. He has a plan for everything. He had a plan when He made the Universe. He had a plan when He made man and He had a plan for the human family on the earth. He had a plan of salvation and a plan for the work of His church. He had a plan also for the financing of the great program of work that He gave His church to do.
God’s plan was never for men to have to use worldly schemes to raise money for the spread of His message. God did not plan for His churches to have sales, and dinners, and raffles and bazaars to raise money for their work. He did not command them to put on high pressure campaigns, nor did He mean for them to become beggars, going out into the world begging for means to carry on. Such schemes and plans are a shame and disgrace to the church and certainly can never be pleasing to the Lord.
God gives only one plan of church finance in the Bible and that is by the tithes and offerings of His people. The tithe is the tenth, meaning that God’s people are to bring a tenth of their incomes to the Lord and His work. Offerings are the amounts that are given above the tenth. This is the plan that God had both in the 0.T. and in the N.T., and is the one scriptural plan of church finance. God has no need for anything from man, in fact, it is impossible to give to God except indirectly, by ministering to the needs of His children. Giving is not for God’s benefit, but for our own (Acts 17:24,25). God knows that the only way to make His people like Himself is to develop in them His own unselfishness. He waits for His shortsighted children to learn to give. Therefore one of the primary processes to transforming man into His likeness is by stewardship. So you see, we do not give to pay bills or meet special needs. We give tithes and special offerings because God has blessed us and it is the thing that He has commanded us to do that we might continue to receive the blessings of God.
The first act of worship in the scriptures was by bringing an offering (Gen. 4:4; Heb. 11:4). The O.T. offerings were divided into two classes: Sweet Savor and Non-Sweet Savor offerings. The Sweet Savor offerings were for communion for fellowship with God, for worship (Gen. 8:21; Lev. 1,2,5). The fire of the Lord consumed the sweet savor offerings. He was well pleased, accepted it and consumed it. The people rejoiced and there was communion and fellowship between God and His people. It was real worship. This is what real giving is (Matt. 5:17; Mark 1:9-1l). Abel’s offering was voluntary and was beyond question a sweet savor offering - one for God’s acceptance - one for God’s pleasure. It was a bloody sacrifice, true, and an atoning sacrifice. It was a type of Christ, who offered a bloody sacrifice. All prayers, praise, songs, thanksgiving, preaching, witnessing, giving to God is acceptable only by, in and through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Heb. 13:15-16).
Tithing was before the law of Moses (Gen. 12:7,8; 14:20). In Gen. 14:20 we have the record of Abraham giving the tithe unto Melchizedek, the priest of God. Abram didn’t “pay” him as the Jews later had to do, but “gave” to him (400 years before the Mosaic law) just as we, the seed of Abraham, the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7,29) should do today. The law did not change nor effect the covenant of Grace under which Abram lived. This is the same grace under which we live, are saved and serve God (Gal. 3:17). The tithe was incorporated in the law (Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:24-28). Tithing was practiced under the law (2Chron. 31:5-6; Neh. 10:37-38). Non-tithers are called God-robbers (Mal. 3:8,9). When you do not give the tithe - under the law you rob God - under grace you rob yourself.
The first act of worship in the N.T. - Matt. 2:11, the means by which these wise men adored and worshipped Christ was by means of gifts. Romans 12:1,2 tells us we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, not as dead animals, for God’s “acceptance”, a sweet savor offering. Notice the very language of the O.T. used by the Apostle Paul regarding the offering from the Philippians (Phil. 4:10-19).
In Mal. 3:1-4, there is a prophecy that the Lord will come and teach the people how to give righteously and acceptably. In Matt. 21:23 and 25:23, we have this prophecy fulfilled. Just giving the tithe is not enough. We must live right also. In comparing Num. 18:24 with 1Cor. 9:13,14, we see that the church work and ministry is to by supported in the same manner that O.T. worship was supported. That was by tithes and offerings. 1Cor. 16:2 clearly teaches proportionate giving. Everyone who has an income is expected to tithe. Everyone means even the lost. We have all received blessings from God beyond what we deserve. Those who don’t give the tithe will have it taken from them to their loss and sorrow.
Once upon a time there was a man who had nothing and God gave him ten apples. He gave him the first three apples to eat. He gave him the second three apples to trade for a shelter from the sun and rain. He gave him the third three apples to trade for clothing to wear. He gave him the last apple so that he might have something to give back to God to show his gratitude for the other nine. Man looked at the tenth apple - and it seemed bigger and juicier that the rest. Man knew that God had given him the tenth apple so that he might return it to him out of gratitude for the other nine. But the tenth apple looked so good. He reasoned that God had all the other apples in the world - so the man ate the tenth apple - and gave back to God - the core. What will you do with the tenth apple that God has given to you?
Why do we believe and teach tithing? Because we believe that God has not left us to guess about the matter or to rely on our own judgment and wisdom. We have the example of Abraham, Jacob, prophets, priests and Christ Himself. After God’s great grace and mercy being extended to us, tithing is such a little thing that we can do for Him. We dare not keep for ourselves that which does not belong to us. When we tithe and give offerings we are laying up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19,20; Phil. 4:10-14). God has sought to emphasize to His child throughout the scripture that the primary reason he is to give to God is because of the blessings He wants His child to have (Deut. 12:2-7; 14:29; Prov. 3:9,10; Mal. 3:10-12; Lu. 6:38; Acts 20:35; 2Cor. 9:6).
The judgment of God is on those who do not give according to the scriptures. This needs emphasis today - “…there is that withholdeth…. but it tendeth to poverty” (Prov. 11:24; cf. Mal. 3:9). It is interesting to note that practically every great tragedy in scripture is connected with the money question or its equivalent (Gen. 5:6; 13:10-15; Josh. 7:1,4,11,21; 1Sam. 15:3,9,11,22-25; Lev. 25:1-7). For 400 years the Jews failed to keep the Sabbath, and went into 70 years of Babylonian captivity (Matt. 26:14-15; Acts 5:1-11; 1Tim. 6:10). There is not a church in all the land that would not have sufficient funds to carry on every Scriptural work, besides having sufficient to contribute to preach the gospel around the world, if the truth about giving could be taught, preached and believed by God’s people.