THIS booklet was written with the idea in mind of being of help to the church. I believe the kingdom of Christ on earth has suffered severely because individual men as well as denominations have failed to recognize the importance of the local church, and the fact that the church is the working unit of the kingdom of God on earth at this present time. While we surely believe that all the causes of Christ should be supported, we believe the best way for the Christian to support them is through his local Church.
We have tried to keep this brochure within the price limit* where it can be used by pastors and churches to give to their members.
Before distributing it we would suggest that the pastor preach a sermon, or series of sermons, on the grace of giving, and the method of God for supporting His work here in the world. With this end in view, we have placed a tither's pledge at the close of this booklet.
We trust that it will be of help to many of God's dear children, and will help them to realize their duty to Christ especially with regards to the matter of supporting the work of our Lord. That is our prayer and hope. With all of its imperfections we dedicate it to Christ asking the Holy Spirit to use it for the glory of our blessed Lord.
D.B. EASTEP, Covington, KY. INTRODUCTION
THE story is commonly told of the following incident: A bus traveling between two large cities late one evening was held up by some highwaymen. The hold-up men demanded that each person in the bus get out. As they were filing out of the bus one by one, one of the men searched the passengers while another covered them with a sawed-off shot gun. The last to get out of the bus was a poor Baptist preacher. As he started to step out of the door of the bus he said to the man with the gun: "Friend, you surely would not take the last penny from a poor Baptist preacher, would you?" No sooner had the preacher uttered these words than the highwayman held out his hand and replied: "Put her there partner, I am a Baptist too."
Such an incident sounds ridiculous, because we cannot think of a Christian being engaged in such disreputable business. But are we sure but that thousands of Christians are doing that very thing every Sunday? The one great difference is that they rob God instead of man.
The purpose of this study shall be to stir our consciences and search our hearts to see if before God we are not guilty of just as great a crime. May the Holy Spirit lead us as we scan the pages of the Word of God concerning this vital doctrine.
"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me." - Malachi 3:8.
"For the love of money is the root of all evil." - I Timothy 6:10.
Highway Robbery from the Scriptural Standpoint
In a day when robbery is a very common thing, though looked on with contempt and disgust by all true Christians, we forget that it is going on daily within the professing churches and should be more hated and detested there than in any other place. And whether we condemn it or condone it, God speaks of it in unmistakable terms.
Through His prophet Malachi He asked a very pertinent question. "Will a man rob God?" But He not only asks the question; He answers it. He continues, "Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with curse, for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation." - Malachi 3:8, 9. Here God pronounces a curse upon His people. But he immediately sets forth the remedy in the following words: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts." (vs. 10-12.)
That the above referred to passage of Scripture (Malachi 3:10) is a direct command of God cannot be denied. To deny that it is a command is to deny the Word of God and charge God with falsehood. "He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar." (I John 5:10). But in return God calls him a liar who claims to know God and keep not His commandments. "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (I John 2:4). So one knowing this command to be of God and not doing it, if he professes to be a Christian, is charged with being a liar. God Himself makes the charge, not I.
Now, since God commands this, it is only right that we should obey it. If His commandments were not right we should have reason to disobey them, but since His own Word declares them to be right, then we should obey them, and will obey them if we are true Christians. "The statutes of the Lord are right . . . the Commandment of the Lord is pure." (Psalm 19:8). So we say, and say with all emphasis:
I. TO TITHE OUR INCOME IS A SCRIPTURAL ACT.
1. It was practiced before the law was given. I am aware of the fact that many object to the tithe on the pretense that it is law. But before the law was given, we find records of people who tithed.
(1) Before the law was given Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. Let us look at the record, keeping in mind that this incident took place before the law was given. "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he (Abraham) gave him (Melchizedek the priest of God) tithes of all." (Genesis 14:20.)
(2) Before the law was given Jacob vowed to pay tithes to God. You remember Jacob was fleeing from his enraged brother Esau, whom he had wronged. He was away from home. The night came on. He went to sleep, and in his sleep he saw God in a vision. When the morning came he took his pillow of stone and made an altar of it. And there he vowed a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then, shall the Lord be my God; And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that Thou shalt give me 1 will surely give the tenth (the tithe) unto Thee." (Genesis 28:20-22). And so far as we have any record, he kept the vow. This grandson of Abraham did this before the law. As far back as we have records of human history, men practiced tithing. This is a cold, solid fact of history, which any student of history knows to be true.
2. It was practiced by Jews who were under the law. Many Scriptures could be given as proof of this statement, hut we cite just a few, trusting they will suffice to convince an honest and open heart: "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at ail redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof, and concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord." "And, behold, I have given the children of Levi (the priests, corresponding to our preachers) all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation." "But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance." "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts. If I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:21,24; Malachi 3:10). Every Jew under the law who was right with God was a tither, because he believed in the Bible. And some who were not right were tithers. (Matthew 23:23).
3. It was commanded and sanctioned after the law. Above we stated that some Jews who were not right with God were tithers. Their tithing did not atone for their sins, but to say the least, Christ did not condemn their tithing, but rather sanctioned it. In this chapter from which we shall quote, Christ pronounced woe after woe upon those religious hypocrites. But He commended them for one thing, namely, tithing. Listen to His words: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumnrn, and have emitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these (tithing) ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone." (Matthew 23:23). Here is tithing in the New Testament, and Christ said of it that it should be done. So who am I and who are you, to say that it should not be done? Let us turn to another passage of Scripture in the New Testament. The writer of the Hebrews is stating that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, a priest of Salem. He further states that other priests who minister at the altar receive tithes from the people. These priests eventually die. But Christ, Who shall never die, is to receive tithes too. "And here men die that receive tithes; but there He (Christ) receiveth them (tithes) of whom it is written that He liveth." (Hebrews 7:8).
Some may argue that Paul's statement in I Corinthians 16:2 opposes tithing, in that it does not specify any certain portion of our income. He says, "Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." But surely God would not ask us to give a definite percent of our income and then fail to designate what that percent should be. It must be, at least, the tenth.
II. TITHING, WHICH IS A SCRIPTURAL ACT, IS TO BE DONE IN A SCRIPTURAL WAY
("Storehouse"). ("The first day of the week").
First, it should be given in the right place. No student of the Scripture of any consequence denies this to be the local church. God's "storehouse" to the Christian is the local church. The local church is the working unit of the kingdom of God on earth. It "is the divinely appointed agent and is responsible for the right use of the tithe in the maintenance and extension of the kingdom."
Another, who is duly qualified to speak on this subject says: "There are many minor reasons why the tithe should be brought into the treasury of the church:
"First. The wise man declared with the multitude of counsellors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14). God's tithe would be much more wisely expended by the church at large, than by the average individual church member.
"Second. The men who are best qualified to accumulate wealth are, by virtue of their occupations, the least qualified to expend the Lord's tithe to the best interest of His cause. So we conclude that God has endowed and qualified some men to accumulate wealth, and that He has also called and endowed other men through the channels of His church, to use that wealth to the best interest of His work. The called and inspired ministry that devotes its life's work to the studying and supplying the great needs of the race are certainly better agents in the right use of God's tithe than the men who devote their life's work to their vocations.
"Third. If the money expended for the poor was paid directly from the treasury of the church, its recipients would feel under obligation to God, its owner, and to the church, His agent, and not to an individual man. Under the present system most of the glory is absorbed by the agent or giver, and never reaches God at all. If God's tithe were distributed through the treasury of the church instead of the individual man, the recipients would look to the source from whence came their help, and thus be drawn, under the influence of the gospel, and many of them would be saved and be made contributors of their tithe to the same treasury." - The Law and the Gospel of the Tithe, by W. C. Nash.
It is a fine thing to do to give to the poor, but giving to the poor by an individual is not tithing. We have no more right to give God's money to the poor than we have to give our neighbor's money to the poor. As the writer quoted above stated, if the church gives to the poor, the church and Christ, its head, will get the glory. But Christ's church cannot give to the poor if His people play the part of robbers and rob Him.
A Jew in Old Testament times did not deny that the synagogue and the temple were God's storehouse. Neither will an instructed Christian deny that the local church is His storehouse for this day of grace.
One other word should be said as to the "storehouse." Some one may ask: "What should I do when my church has a modernist or a false shepherd for its pastor?" Brother, if my church were practicing things which I believed were wrong, even to having a false shepherd for its pastor, I would leave that church and join one which I knew to be right, even if I had to join one a thousand miles away. Then I would support the one which I had joined. By all means a man ought to support his church. If his convictions will not permit him to support that church, then surely with such strong convictions, he ought not to stay in that church. If a man has such strong convictions that he cannot support his church, it seems to me if he is consistent, those same convictions ought to be strong enough to move him out of such a church and join one which he can support. But let us be sure that our convictions are not what God and men see as contrariness. Many super pious people some times mistake their contrariness for conviction. May the Lord deliver such!
Just a word as to when we should bring our tithes to God's storehouses. "Upon the first day of the week." (I Cor. 16:2). That is Sunday. The Bible knows nothing about a tithing bank. The tithe is not to be hoarded. The first Sunday after we have received any money, we should bring the tithe of it to the church. If it is hoarded, like the manna hoarded by the children of Israel in the wilderness, it may spoil and get to stinking.
Beware, child of God! It is possible to do a Scriptural thing, and not do it in a Scriptural manner. The proper way is to bring our tithes to the church on the first day of the week. This phase of tithing affords much study which we have not the time to make.
III. THERE IS A SCRIPTURAL REASON FOR DOING THIS SCRIPTURAL THING IN A SCRIPTURAL WAY.
1. It honors God. It always honors Him when we regulate our lives by the Bible. He says, "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase." Many good people, because of lack of faith, resort to carnal means to support the work of Christ. Their motives are no doubt pure, but their methods are not Scriptural. If only they could see that God's way is the best way!
Then too, so many people feel that they are cheated, when they go to a church supper. Somehow they feel that the church is under obligation to them when they have purchased a meal. A man out of Christ told me that the worst cheating he ever had came from a church. He bought a supper, and felt that he did not get value received for money spent.
From the lips of another I heard the following story: Two oysters met in a bowl of soup. Oyster number one said to oyster number two, "Good evening, brother oyster. How are you this evening? And where are we, any way?" "We are at a supper," replied oyster number two. "And what kind of a supper?" asked number one. "We are at a church supper," replied number two. "How does it happen that there are two of us?" asked the first. Truly the world so judges us when we resort to such unscriptural methods. And the reason these carnal means of supporting a church dishonor God is that they are not Scriptural. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse" is a method that cannot be improved upon in financing the work of God.
2. It proves God. "Prove Me now," says God. Our God likes to be proved. He loves to honor a faith that rises to meet His faithfulness. If there is anything in which God glories, it is in being proved. He is anxious to be put to the test.
3. It blesses the giver. Our heavenly Father is anxious to bless us. Oh, that we were just as anxious to be blessed. First, we would say that when we practice tithing - we receive a material blessing. Scripture gives us proof of this. "If I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10). I have seen this demonstrated many times. "So shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." (Proverbs 3:10). "Cast thy bread upon the waters and thou shalt find it after many days." (Ecclesiastes 11 :1) "Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." (Luke 6:38). "But this I say, he which soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." (II Corinthians 9:6). "Be not deceived God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7). Some think this last quoted passage has to do with the sinner. It is true that it is a principle which applies to all people but it is also true that it applies in a primary sense to Christians. And if one notices the context, it applies primarily to the matter of supporting the ministry. See Galatians 6:7.
4. This principle is the same as that of Malachi 3:10, 11. The Lord here promises that He will bless us even if He has to rebuke the devourer. "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground." I have seen God literally keep this promise. Several years ago there was a young man who was a member of a Baptist church in Indiana. He was a member at the time I conducted a revival for his pastor who was a good friend of mine. This young man promised his pastor that spring that he was going to tithe. He was probably the only layman in the church who was a tither, and possibly the only one in the community. But lie was faithful. The part of the state in which he lived was known for growing tomatoes. Some made their money by growing the tomatoes and selling them to the canning factory. Others found more profit in growing the plants, and selling them to the growers. This man was one of the latter. He sowed several acres of ground with a grain drill. And on either side of his field his neighbors had done likewise. When the plants reached a certain stage the tomato lice began to appear. But to the surprise of him and his neighbors, the young tither's tomatoes were left unharmed by the lice while the adjoining fields were completely devoured. Though the young man gave God the glory his unbelieving neighbors could not understand. It was the faithfulness of a covenant keeping God keeping His promise. "I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground."
Second, it brings us spiritual blessings. "The liberal soul shall be made fat." (Proverbs 11:25). After all, spiritual blessings are of more value than are the material blessings. How we should covet and seek the great blessings which God has in store for us!
We can have them if we obey God,
"But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay,
For the favor He shows, and the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey."
5. We should tithe because we owe God. The ownership of God is the basis of appeal for money, and it is an appeal which cannot be ignored by honest Christians. "And all the tithe ... is the Lord's; it is holy unto the Lord." (Leviticus 27:3). Twice when the tithe is mentioned it is connected with the word pay. See Matt. 23:23, Hebrews 7:9.
Never should an appeal for tithing be made on the basis that God needs it. God does not need any man's money. "For every beast of the field is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell thee: for the world is mine and the fullness thereof." (Psalm 50:10-12. "Not grudgingly, or of necessity." (II Corinthians 9:7). This means that we are not to give because we think God needs it. And yet, I dare say, this is usually the basis of appeal for giving and tithing. "If ye love Me keep My comŽmandments" said the Saviour. To think what God has done for us ought to move us, and will move us if we are surrendered Christians.
To some this may seem an impossibility, but God does not mock His children by commanding them to do the impossible.
IV. TO SAY WE CANNOT TITHE IS TO ADMIT ONE OR ALL OF FIVE THINGS
1. That we claim to know more than God, because God said that this is His plan. The Lord said that man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The teaching of the tithe is part of His Word. Christian, do you believe it? Then if you do, why do you not obey it? It is God's plan. How full of conceit a man must be to claim that he knows better how to finance God's program than God Himself knows. If you reject the tithing plan, then you inevitably claim to know more than God, because God tells us this is His plan. Christian, are you in this classprofessing to know more than God knows?
2. That God lied about the matter and you cannot believe Him. Hence, unbelief, for unbelief makes God a liar. We believed God's word to save us, why can we not believe His word to rule our lives? Unbelief is the only sin that damns the souls of men. This same unbelief will wither the testimony of a Christian. Flee from it as you would flee from the devil himself, because he is the author of unbelief.
You know if your banker assured you of an investment that would yield 25 percent you would grasp at it immediately. Yet here is an investment that will yield one hundred percent. Why do you not take it? Answer: Unbelief! "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (words of the Saviour in Matthew 6:19, 20).
3. If you fail to tithe you confess that you do not need, or do not want God's blessing and partnership. God has promised to bless the tither. He has promised to withhold the blessing from the one who refuses to tithe. (Malachi 3:10-12). Then if you refuse to do the thing which you know will bring blessing from God, you in reality are saying that you do not want the blessings of God. How heart-searching this is. May the Lord us it, dear Christians, to show you your state if you are refusing to do His will.
4. If you are refusing to tithe when God has spoken so plainly you are saying that you do not love Him, for if you love Him you will keep His commandments. Surely, if you are a child of God you do not mean to say that you do not love our Lord. But by your actions you are to be judged. An apostle of Christ's tells us that faith without works is dead. Let us be sure that we are not like a group of people to whom Christ spoke when He told them that they honored Him with their lips, but that their hearts were far from Him.
5. If you refuse to tithe after knowing your duty God says you are a robber. God who cannot lie says it. If these words of His strike conviction to your soul, may the Holy Spirit lead you to do your duty and surrender to Christ, making Him your Lord as well as Saviour. God told the people in the days of Malachi that they had robbed Him. And if we read the Bible He is telling this pleasure-mad, ease-seeking, Bible-denying generation the same thing.
One of the signs of the close of this age is "covetousness." (II Timothy 3:2). How God hates this sin! He classes it with the basest sins. (Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5). It is probably the outstanding sin of the church of today. And yet men try to justify themselves in their banditry and robbery, for banditry and robbery it is. God says that a covetous man cannot inherit the kingdom. (I Corinthians 6:1).
A Catholic priest who served a large Catholic church in New York city for more than twenty-five years stated that in all that time he had had every sin committed by men, with the exception of one, confessed unto him. That one sin which was never confessed to him was covetousness. How men hate to admit that they have that which does not belong to them.
The Word of God certainly warns against it. God speaks in thundering tones from Sinai, "Thou shalt not covet." Christ said, "Beware of covetousness." Achan and his family were stoned to death because of covetousness. The first death recorded in the church after Pentecost was because of covetousness and lying to cover it up. If God killed all the church members who lied about their giving, it would keep the preachers busy preaching their funerals. The Lord warns churches not to keep pastors and deacons who are stingy. The sin of the arch-traitor, Judas, was love for money, or covetousness.
How We need to oppose and expose this sin which reigns in high carnival in the churches of the land!
Dear Reader, which one of the above mentioned sins are you guilty of if you have not come all the way with God on the tithing issue? Or are you guilty of all of them?
Permit a word of personal testimony. Three months after I was converted I learned of tithing. I have practiced it ever since. How thankful I am that I learned this at the beginning of my Christian life. Though in many other respects I have been unfaithful, I want to bear record that God has been faithful to His promise. All praise to His name!
When I began to preach, naturally. I began to preach tithing. I have seen it transform lives and make new Christians out of old ones. On the other hand I have known men who knew to tithe, but refused to do so. I have seen them wither spiritually. I have seen them lose their possessions. I am convinced that every man is a tither, because if he does not pay his tithes to God he usually loses the amount of his tithes in financial reverses, sickness and other ways. How much better to pay to God and then have a reward in heaven.
"Carve your name high o'er shifting sand,
Where the steadfast rocks defy decay -
All you can hold in your cold dead hand
Is what you have given away.
"Build your pyramids skyward and stand,
Gazed at by millions, cultured, they say -
All you can hold in your cold dead hand
Is what you have given away.
"Count your wide conquests of sea and land.
Heap up the gold, and hoard as you may -
All you can hold in your cold dead hand
Is what you have given away.
"Culture and fame and gold - oh, so grand!
King's of the salon, a mart a day -
All you can hold in your cold dead hand
Is what you have given away."
Some few years ago I was visiting a preacher friend of mine in a small city in southern Ohio. During the services at the church, a nearby filling station was held up by three robbers, or highwaymen. They escaped with their plunder - but - But what? But later they were captured. They were brought before an honest judge who believed that the law should be upheld. As they stood to be sentenced after being found guilty, and not knowing what the sentence would be, they began to grin. But when the stern judge gave them the full penalty of the law they began to tremble and turn pale. My dear Christian friend, it may seem a light thing to you now to "rob" (Malachi 3:8) God, but some day you must stand before "the judgment seat of Christ." (II Corinthians 5:1). Here you shall be judged not as to the sin question, but as to your works. You cannot escape! In that day it will be a serious and solemn affair.
_________* 5 cents each, 50 cents per dozen, four dollars per hundred, (n.d.).
This essay is from a 22-page small booklet. The late D.B. Eastep was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Covington, KY. The church has a bookstore that sells some of his books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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