(Editors Note – This editorial is written in response to questions and comments we have received in recent weeks. We feel this information is vital and timely and are providing a summary of our answers in this week’s Editorial Section of the Update).
With the apostasy which has come upon the Church, many of God’s People have turned to false teachings, as Paul clearly stated would happen in 2 Tim. 4:3-4. Many have changed their whole approach in dealing with God’s Truths, which they had learned, including those relative to their own financial obligations to God and His Church. They have become “very sensitive” when it comes to the subject of “giving” to God’s Church.
Yet, there are numerous examples in scripture where God shows He requires tithes and offerings from His People. We see such an example in Exodus 25, where God required offerings from the children of Israel for the building of the Tabernacle of God. Note God’s instructions to Moses, as he was the one responsible to convey to God’s People what God required relative to this offering.
God’s requirement was “… that they bring an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering” (Exodus 25:2). Two things should be noted here:
First – the offering does not belong to the person contributing the offering. It is not his! The offering belongs to God! That is true, even before the offering is given.
Second – God accepts the offering under a specific condition. That is, it is only an acceptable offering to God if it is from one who gives it willingly, as the scripture points out – “From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” The Apostle Paul also boldly proclaims this same principle in 2 Corinthians 9:7, where he states, “…for God loves a cheerful giver.”
There is concern that this may be one area where many in the Church of God, today, have let down in their relationship with God. It is true, that God owns all wealth. He can see that the finances needed by the Church are provided, whatever the need may be. However, the method of financing His end-time Work – God has chosen. It is, for each of us, our responsibility – individually and collectively – to be faithful in our financial obligations – so that the commission of preaching and publishing the gospel of the soon-coming Kingdom to the world as a witness, and the feeding of God’s sheep will be accomplished.
This requirement of God is a “test” command for all of God’s People, including those in positions of leadership – the ministry of God. Notice this clear admonition found in Malachi, chapter 3. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And prove me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
Moses, by the way, did not hesitate to institute the exhortation of God, which He asked of the people, as you can read in Exodus 35:5, 29.
There are a number of such financial requirements, which God placed on His People and administered through those He had put in positions of service to those whom He is calling. The tithe, however, has always belonged to Him (Leviticus 27:30). It is Holy to Him! He did give the tithe, for a period of time, to the sons of Levi “…as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform(ed), the work of the tabernacle of meeting” (Numbers 18:21).
Yet we see in Hebrews 7:9, that the law of tithing existed long before God made an agreement with the sons of Levi, which agreement gave them the right to collect tithes for a certain time. As we read verses 15-28 of Hebrews 7, we see that this right to receive tithes later reverted back to Jesus Christ, whose right it was from the beginning. Today, Christ collects tithes through His Body, the Church, to be used to carry out the end-time Work of God.
Christ showed that this system of financing the Work of God is definitely applicable, today (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42, Luke 18:12). And of course, God shows in Malachi 3:8-9 that one thing He is angry about at the time of the end is that His People are failing Him in this requirement!
So much confusion exists today, especially since the apostasy has set in, indicating that many of God’s People do not know what to do. There must be a clear voice that is showing that correct way, else we will all be held accountable for the error that exists in the Church now, and that will exist at the time of Christ’s return.
We are told in Isaiah 58:1 to… “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.” We must not be fearful in doing this! We point out these truths as a reminder to those God has called and given understanding, and yet now appear to be holding back because they are uncertain where God’s Work is being done. They must not continue to hold back, but must come to the realization that they have an obligation to determine where that Work is being done, based upon the clear evidence they see and the clear word they hear. Once having proven this, they have a responsibility to carry out God’s command and to support His Work where they see it being faithfully carried out – just as the people of Israel willingly and with a joyful heart contributed to the construction of the Tabernacle.
Remember, the tithe belongs to God! It is His! To hold on to His tithe, God says, is stealing from Him! God requires that His tithe be paid, so that His Work will be done (Mal 3:10).
We would add, here, that we in CEG stand ready to engage and answer questions concerning the Work of God. It is our full intention to back up all our actions with biblical evidence and proofs! As Mr. Armstrong correctly stated so many times, it is our purpose to follow what is written in the Holy Scriptures. When we are wrong we will willingly change, but we will absolutely present the Truth of God to the best of our abilities, based upon the knowledge and understanding granted to us by the Eternal God through His Holy Spirit, regardless of any criticism or sensitivities people may have toward the issues presented.