by Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
What are YOU most concerned about?
If you are an average American it is not the threat of hydrogen bomb WAR that can blast all human life from off this planet. It is not the race to conquer SPACE, nor even the war in VIETNAM!
The average American is MOST concerned about making ends meet. This astonishing fact was brought out by a national survey.
THINK OF IT! In a wave of prosperity, in the most prosperous nation that ever existed, about 25% of parents are "farming out" their children so that both parents can work!
WHY, in such prosperity as no other people ever enjoyed, are most Americans experiencing such desperate financial worry? WHY such worry and striving over MAKING ENDS MEET?
Financial worries seem to plague us all! It just doesn't make sense!
When you stop to think about it, never in the history of this world were any nations so rich as the English-speaking and the western European nations today! Our peoples possess more developed resources and national wealth than any people ever had before.
Yet nearly every one of us is engaged in a constant struggle to make ends meet. Financial worries seem constantly to bear us down—rob us of real happiness and job!
Why should this be?
There is a reason! You can be free from financial worry!
What Most People Don't Know
There is something you probably don't know about your income. If there is anything people are jealous of, it is the money they earn. They usually work hard for it. Any they want full freedom in deciding for themselves what they do with it.
People say: "What I earn is mine—I can do what I please with it!"
But is the money you earn really your own? Don't be too sure. Notice these facts about your income you probably haven't known!
What you earn is not yours!
The man who says, "What I do with the money I earn with my own labor is nobody's business—I produced it—it belongs to me," is mistaken.
What you earn by work performed or investments made is not yours—not any of it—that is, not until…!
And here is what most people don't know about their income!
There are two prior claims on your income. One, of course, is taxes.
Human governments, by virtue of man-made laws, are able forcibly to extract from your incomes not one tenth, but an average of over one quarter, a vast amount of which is mis-spent. Jesus said we are to pay taxes—render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's—be subject to the powers that be. Governments, therefore, have exercised a prior right to one quarter of your income—and in the case of salary or wages, governments take it out before you get your pay.
But the first claim is God's claim. You probably never realized this fact before—but it is a fact. God Almighty, the living Creator-Ruler of the universe, claims it all—every dollar—every pound—every franc—every mark. Your Maker who gives you the very air you breathe tells you it all belongs to Him, not to you!
But didn't you earn it? Didn't you produce it?
Not exactly! Everything produced—money, and all that money can buy—comes out of the earth. You didn't produce that! God created that. You merely applied certain energy in physical action and in thinking to what God had created and owned. And God created even that energy you expended—He created your thinking processes. He not only created, originally, but He sustains what He created, including all force and energy.
So, after all, it was God's labor of creating and sustaining that really produced all. God's claim to its ownership of all you have thought you produced is valid. It is prior to yours.
God Almighty says, in His written Word: "The earth is the Eternal's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods" (Psalm 24:1-2). These inspired words are repeated in I Corinthians 10:26.
"Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is Mine," claims God (Job 41:11).
"If I were hungry," says God (Psalm 50:12), "I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof." "For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (verse 10).
Yes, even the money—even the gold and silver: "The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Eternal of hosts" (Haggai 2:8).
Dare any man deny this claim of God? These same words of God are the words by which every man shall be judged at the last. If any man deny God's claim, the decision will be rendered against him, in the judgment! God's claim stands! Admit, then, your income belongs to God! It's His to do with as He wills.
How God's Law Regulates It
However, God is a God of love. He knows your need. God is concerned about you. He is not selfish. He has your interest and welfare in mind. Therefore God has made a law respecting that portion of His wealth which your thinking, and your labor has extracted and worked upon.
Get this fixed thoroughly in your mind. Your wages, your salary, your profit, your income belongs to God, not to you. Probably you never realized this before. This may seem like a new idea to you. But it is not an idea—it is a fact.
God is the owner of what you work on and have a part in producing. You could produce nothing apart from God's matter which He created—apart from the use of laws of force and energy which God set in motion and sustains.
Therefore God has a right to take, or dispose of, what you regard as your income as He wills. He owns it. It is not yours, it is His!
So God, the rightful owner of your income, has made a law respecting its disposal and its use. By virtue of being Creator and Sustainer of the earth and all in it, God is supreme Ruler and Lawgiver.
God's law respecting what you earn is in fact a deal He has made with you. He allows you to work on His earth, to use a part of the earth or what is in it or on it, and of its forces and energies, and to extract from it food, materials, supplies, metals, wood, oils, coal, or whatever to work on or with that which others have extracted from the earth, in manufacturing, distributing, selling, buying, investing—whatever may be your occupation or job or profession—and so, whether you have realized it or not, you have been working in partnership with God.
The farmer or gardener may plant seed, plow, and expend his labor in raising food. But who supplied the soil? Who created the living process that makes the seed sprout and grow? Who sends the rain, or provides water for irrigation? Who set the sun in the sky and causes it to shine and warm the earth? Who causes the plant to drink out of the soil the minerals, vitamins, and good elements, and to grow into the vegetable, the grain, or the fruit? Did you perform this part of the business of raising the food you eat?
When we sit down and really think, we shall see that God supplies about nine parts of everything man makes or produces, and man's thinking, planning, and working supplies only about one part. But God does not take nine tenths of the proceeds, or the income. He doesn't take even eight tenths, or seven, or even three or two tenths. God is generous. God has reserved for His use only one little tiny tenth of what is produced out of His earth through His forces and energies!
God takes only one tenth. And after you have been honest in paying God's tenth to God's chosen representative, then—and not until then—God has decreed that the other nine tenths becomes legally yours!
That's God's law! Not a penny of what you earn, or a penny's worth of the value of what you produce, is yours—it all belongs to God to do with as He directs. But God has legally directed that after you have honestly paid Him the one little, small tenth He requires for His use, then the other nine tenths He gives to you. Then, and not until then, you can rightfully claim ownership over that nine tenths. Then and thereafter it is yours to do with as you decide.
When we get our thinking straight—when we get understanding—when we stop to realize how much of what we have was provided by God—then we realize how loving, how generous, how solicitous for our welfare God is.
How to HAVE MORE
But that's only part of the story.
What does God want with that first tenth? How does He use it? He requires that small fraction of what is produced out of His earth for the purpose of disseminating to the people His message of the way of life that will free them from fears and worries, give them peace of mind and happiness, give them joy and success and life eternal!
Yes, even this tenth which God withholds for His use is expended for human good! For proclaiming His gospel of peace, and happiness and joy and salvation! For letting people know God will heal them when they are sick—that God will deliver them from every trouble—supply their every need! Give them Eternal Life!
This unhappy world is starving for that knowledge! This world is under a curse because it has robbed God of all His money and His wealth, and thereby withheld from itself the knowledge of why it is in chaos—why it is at war—why there is no peace—why it finds life empty and fruitless, full of suffering and unhappiness, frustration and death!
All of God's laws are for man's good!
Obedience to God's laws brings blessings! When we violate His laws, we bring curses upon ourselves!
The man who pays God's tenth is a prosperous man. I do not mean wealthy—but one whose actual needs are always supplied.
God promises His children shall always have something to give (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). It is only when they withhold and misappropriate the first tenth that He fails to prosper them. For through John He tells us, "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health" (III John 2).
"Honor the Eternal with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Try it! "Prove me now herewith," challenges the Eternal to us, in a prophecy for our day (Malachi 3:10), "if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Are you behind financially? In debt? Your unfaithfulness in paying God His tenth may be the reason!
I know a man who started a small grocery business in a small city in the state of Oregon. This was during the great depression. He had practically no capital, had the poorest location in town, and refused to sell tobacco. Others said he could never succeed. Thus handicapped, starting in the beginning of the worst depression the world ever knew, not many would have dared pay a whole tenth.
This man decided he would be a faithful steward, take God into partnership, and trust the Lord with his business. He prospered from the start and was the only grocer in his town who weathered the storm of depression successfully.
When God receives his portion of all your income, God becomes your partner, sharing in your profits. He causes His partners to prosper. And if you are in debt, take God into partnership first, and watch Him prosper you until finally you are out of debt.
Remember the debt you owe God comes first.
Let me tell you another experience. I was intimately acquainted with a large-scale vegetable farmer in Oregon. One day when I saw him, the Santiam river had overflowed its banks in the most destructive flood in years. Most of his year's crop, already planted and growing, was flooded.
I was horror-struck. But he seemed not at all perturbed.
"I'm thinking of two promises God has made me," he said, simply. "One, that all things work together for good to those who love the Eternal. The other, God has promised to protect and prosper the man who pays Him His tenth. I love the Eternal, I serve Him and keep His commandments, and I am honest and faithful in paying Him His tenth. Now I can't see, right now, how this apparent calamity can work for my good—but I know it will, because God said so, and so I'm thanking Him and praising Him, instead of grumbling."
Well, the waters went down, and to everybody's astonishment this man's crops were not harmed at all—except one patch of late vegetables which it was not too late in the season to replant. That meant merely a little extra work.
But the astonishing thing was this: His land and his neighbor's land were identical, joining on to each other, without even a fence. His neighbor neglected to pay God His tenth. Both farms were equally flooded. But the faithful tithe payer's crop was unharmed, and the neighbor's was destroyed—too late to re-plant. So many other farmers had their crops destroyed that spring that there was a rise in price on the market, and my friend received a much larger than average income that year! God was his business partner!
God Is Your PARTNER
I have read a book about a well-known man who said he decided to make God his business partner, by giving God a tenth of what he earned.
This man made one big mistake. We don't make God our business partner—on the contrary, it is God who has from the beginning made every human His partner in whatever we do to earn or produce! And we are not giving God anything when we pay our tenth.
It is not yours to give. It belongs to God.
Remember, everything belongs to God—not just one tenth, but all. God does not give you any part of what is produced until you have honestly paid Him His tenth—His part of the partnership. If you fail to pay this first tenth of every dime or every dollar you earn, then none of what you received and handled belonged to you—you actually robbed God of it all.
I want you to understand that. If you neglect to pay that first tenth to God, as He directs, then you are guilty of stealing every dime and every dollar you have thought you earned. None of it was yours! You did not steal just that one tenth you neglected to pay. You stole the whole ten tenths! It is dishonesty. It is stealing.
You see, none of what is produced from God's earth ever becomes yours until you have honestly paid God's required tenth.
God is your partner. He owns the earth, and its forces and energies. He permits you, working as His partner, to labor on his earth, and utilize his forces and energies and powers, under the partnership agreement that He gets the first tenth, and then you are given the other nine tenths. When a man neglects that tenth, he steals from his partner! Then God will not continue adding His part which blesses your efforts and causes them to produce more.
Is it any wonder that nothing in the Christian life—or even the non-Christian life—so plagues the average family today as this financial problem of making both ends meet?
This is really a problem in Christian living! Perhaps very few ever thought of it in that way. But part of the Christian life of growth in faith and in grace is the overcoming of this very financial situation!
In fact, these financial difficulties of our Western "Christian" world were foretold in a remarkable prophecy!
Prophecy for TODAY!
The true Church of God is founded on the Apostles and the Prophets. It is the Church Jesus built. It is God's Church, and God made Jesus the Head of it—and it is built upon the foundation of the prophets as well as the apostles! (Ephesians 2:20.)
One of those prophets is Malachi. Listen to his New Testament teaching! He quotes God, who is speaking to us today:
"I will come near to you to judgment…Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them…ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation" (Malachi 3:5-9).
But why? What has brought on this national curse of financial worries in nearly every home? We are the wealthiest nation on earth. We are the wealthiest nation of all history. Yet nearly every family is cursed with money troubles in the desperate sturggle to make ends meet. God says we have robbed Him!
"But ye say," continues the Eternal's Message to us, "Wherein have we robbed thee?" And God replies, "In tithes and offerings"!
Understand this. Whatever is produced is produced out of God's earth. Do you realize God adds His part to this partnership? It is God who sends the rain, the sunshine. God has a thousand ways of making what you do pay off bigger. When you work diligently in this partnership to produce all you can, and are honest with your Senior Partner, God, in paying Him His portion of the proceeds, then God works with you, blesses your effort, causes the partnership to produce and earn more. He promises, repeatedly in the Bible, to prosper the tither.
The tither has far more, retaining his honest nine tenths, than the man who cheats God and robs himself of God's blessing in this partnership production. It's a blessing, or a curse, depending on you!
Was Tithing Done Away?
Now all this, we know, doesn't make much sense to the average American or Briton today. Many do not even know what tithing is. Others ask, "Wasn't tithing just for Jews of a long dead past?" Or, "Wasn't tithing done away? Wasn't it just part of the ceremonial system introduced by the Old Covenant Law of Moses?"
Others, today, are taught and believe tithing was merely a form of national taxation in the civil government of the onetime nation of Israel. Still others teach that the tithe supplied the material needs of the poor, and was never put into the ministry.
What confusion today! What ignorance of the revealed laws and commands of God!
Since our peoples are under a curse, soon to suffer unprecedented total national disaster because of a lack of understanding as well as for disobedience to the laws of God, it's certainly about time we opened our Bibles and began to study honestly, diligently, prayerfully, exactly what the Almighty has declared on this much-perverted subject!
For—and mark this well!—even though God sends a cataclysmic destruction upon the nation as a whole, yet the individual who seeks understanding, and who heeds God's warnings, shall be given full protection, and escape all these things to come to pass.
But first, before looking to the New Testament teaching to see whether or not Christians must "tithe," let us make clear just what that word "tithe" means.
What the "TITHE" Is
What does God mean by the word "tithe"?
It is an old English word, commonly used in England three and four hundred years ago. Today it is seldom used, except in this scriptural connection. This old expression "tithe" has been preserved in the Authorized, or King James translation, of the Bible—translated in 1611.
The word "tithe" means tenth. A tithe of anything is the tenth part of it.
It is well known that the nation Israel, during Old Testament times, was required to tithe, that is, pay in one tenth of income. But the matter of to whom each Israelite paid this tenth, which tenth was paid, why and for what purpose, seems to confuse a great many today. Even the New Testament teaching for Christians about tithing is understood only by a few.
Christ's Office, NOW!
It is well recognized that the people of Israel, during Old Testament times, were required to pay tithes. That is, one tenth of income—whether livestock, grain, or money. But the New Testament teaching on tithing is not generally understood.
Yet the subject is mentioned many places in the New Testament. But, since it is a priesthood subject—the financing of Christ's ministry—it's well to look first at the priesthood book—Hebrews.
You hear a great deal of a crucified Christ—much preaching about a dead Christ. But you hear almost nothing about the Message He brought from God, and even less about the function of the resurrected living Christ of today!
The Book of Hebrews reveals the Christ of the Twentieth Century—the work and office of our Christ today—Christ the High Priest of God! And it contains God's instruction for financing the ministry of Christ! The 7th chapter is the tithing chapter.
Speaking of the Christian hope of eternal life (which hope is Jesus Christ), we are told, beginning verse 19, chapter 6, this hope (Christ) has entered "within the veil"—that is, the very throne of God in heaven—"whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
The NEW Testament Priesthood
Jesus Christ is High Priest now. Let's understand it. Jesus of Nazareth came as a Messenger, sent from God, bearing a Message to man. His Message is His Gospel—the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
After finishing His mission as Messenger, Jesus took on Himself the mission of Savior, paying in our stead the penalty of our sins by His death on the cross. But it requires a living Savior to impart to us the gift of eternal life! So God raised Jesus, by a resurrection.
And thereupon Jesus ascended to heaven, to the very throne of God, where He sat down and continues today as our everlasting High Priest. That is His office, now. Soon He shall assume still another office, returning to earth in all the power and glory of God, as King of kings—continuing His priesthood office as Lord of lords.
It is in His office as High Priest that Jesus sits as living Head of the Church of God, the true Body of Christ in this age. He is High Priest for this and all succeeding ages.
And as High Priest He holds a definite rank—a rank that outranks every priestly office—"After the order of Melchisedec"—or, in the plainer English of the Moffatt translation, "with the rank of Melchisedec."
And who is Melchisedec? This is one of the intriguing mysteries of the Bible! Suffice it to say here, Melchisedec was the High Priest of God during patriarchal times. And Christ occupies the same office now, holding the same rank.
But the Mosaic dispensation was purely materialistic, fleshly dispensation. The Gospel was not preached in Israel, nor did their ministry carry it to other nations. Israelites formed a flesh-born congregation, not a Spirit-begotten church. The ministry consisted of rituals, carnal (fleshly) ordinances, substitute animal sacrifices and burnt offerings. This required of the priests much hard physical labor.
During those years a different priesthood of lower rank was in office—mere human rank, vastly inferior to the spiritual and divine rank of Melchisedec and of Christ. The priests were of the tribe of Levi. It was called the Levitical Priesthood.
A Tithe-Receiving Priesthood
Yet this lower-level priesthood had to be financed. God's financing plan from dim antiquity, through the Melchisedec Priesthood, was the tithing system. This system was continued through the years of the Levitical Priesthood.
Now coming to the seventh chapter of Hebrews, God's financing plan is explained. Notice the comparison between the two tithe-receiving priesthoods.
First read Hebrews 7:1-5: "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all…abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law."
Let's understand it. This vital passage of Scripture begins to compare the two priesthoods. Notice, back in patriarchal times, tithing was God's system for financing His ministry. Melchisedec was High Priest. The patriarch Abraham, it is written, knew and kept God's commandments, His statutes and laws. (Genesis 26:5). And he paid tithes to the High Priest!
Then the statement is made in this passage that, during the period from Moses until Christ, the priests of that time, the Levites, took tithes from the people by law. It was a law, started in the beginning, continued through the Mosaic dispensation.
Tithing, then, did not start with Moses!
It is God's system for financing His ministry, which began from the beginning—from the dim antiquity of patriarchal times. It was a law. It did not start with Moses, it was merely continued on through the Mosaic period!
Tithing a Law From Dim Antiquity
Many excuse themselves from tithing today on the false impression tithing pertained to the Mosaic period only. They think it was for Israel, alone. And that illusion has brought a curse on this whole nation!
The Old Covenant is gone—that's true. But its ending could not take away what it did not bring! Tithing was God's law hundreds of years before the Old Covenant started.
Tithing is revealed as God's system for financing His earthly ministry. Prior to the Levitical Priesthood and the Mosaic dispensation, the ministry was under Melchisedec. And we see that ministry, from the beginning, was financed by the tithing system.
Melchisedec, "having neither beginning of days, nor end of life…abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:3). Yes, He was High Priest from the beginning! Even from Adam! And the ancient patriarchs from Adam down through Abraham, Jacob, and on to Moses, financed this ministry of God on earth by the tithing system!
Merely Continued in Israel
Since tithing is God's permanent, continuous financing system, it had to continue through the Mosaic dispensation. During that period when the Levites were the ministers, their work and labors had to be financed. But when the priesthood was changed, God did not change His financing system. The Levites "had a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law."
And notice, the very subject of this seventh chapter of Hebrews is the tithing law!
Now continuting the seventh of Hebrews: the teaching concerns which of the two priesthoods—Melchisedec, or Levitical—is superior, to determine which priesthood should receive tithes, now!
Christians of Paul's day did not need to be instructed that tithing is an obligatory and permanent law of God. But they did need much teaching to make clear to them that the Old Covenant was dead—the Levitical Priesthood changed and replaced by that of Jesus Christ—the Melchisedec Priesthood restored! The only question was as to which priesthood tithes were to be paid.
To make this point plain, Paul proceeds to show the Melchisedec Priesthood is superior—has precedence now.
Notice the Scripture: "Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils…But he whose descent is not counted from them [the Levites], received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him [Abraham] that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less [Abraham] is blessed of the better [Melchisedec]…And as I may so say, Levi also, who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him" (verses 4-9).
The Melchisedec Priesthood is greater—superior! It has precedence! And it is again in force as God's Priesthood, under Christ! It, too, needs to be financed! Now notice the conclusion:
"For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also in the law" (verse 12).
A New Testament Law!
It doesnot say the law was abolished. The change in priesthoods makes necessary a change in the law. What law was thus changed? The very law this chapter is instructing the New Testament Christians about—the tithing law! "The sons of Levi have a commandment to take tithes… according to the law" (verse 5).
So tithing, far from being abolished, is New Testament law! But, the priesthood being changed to that of Jesus Christ—the Melchisedec Priesthood restored—that tithing law is also changed of necessity, so as to become God's system for financing the ministry of Jesus Christ!
Actually, the law is merely restored as it was from the beginning!
How plain! Tithing is God's law—His system for financing His great Work today; it's commanded, now!
WHY God Retains the Tithe
But why does God retain for Himself the ownership of that first tenth—that tithe—of your income?
Here again comes a truth man would never know, and could not find out, except by God's revelation to man! God has a plan! God is working out a great purpose! What is man, anyway? Why is he? Where is he going? He reveals it in His Word—His revelation—the Bible.
For the carrying out of His holy purpose in placing mankind upon this earth, God has always had a priesthood—a ministry, representing Him, serving Him, carrying out His mission. Away back in the dim antiquity of patriarchal times, God's High Priest—His Representative on earth—was Melchisedec.
During the national dispensation of Israel, under the Old Covenant, known as the Mosaic dispensation—those years from Moses until Christ—the tribe of Levi constituted the ministry of God, known as the Levitical priesthood. Then later, when Jesus Christ arose from the dead, He ascended to heaven as a living High Priest. Today He calls ministers as His true representatives in a darkened and Satan-deceived world, to carry on and to preach His plan. Today the Melchisedec Priesthood is restored, in Christ.
Now it costs money to carry on the Work of God. God's ministers who devote their entire time to God's holy and spiritual purpose are prevented from earning a living in the usual channels. Yet they work. If they are true ministers, they are men of ability who work hard, and long, observing no hours. Actually they earn a living—they have worked for their food, shelter and clothing and physical need—the same as the farmer, the laborer, the clerk or the merchant.
And so God, in His wisdom, has provided for financing His Work, and for His ministers' living. In God's program, these true ministers work for Him, and Him alone.
In God's great Plan, He pays His ministers. It is He who "hires" them—He who calls them to their work for Him.
So, in order to provide for the financing of His ministry, God has from the very beginning retained for Himself the first tenth of the income of every human being on earth. The ownership of that first tenth of income is God's.
But how can you pay God's tenth to Him? God is on His throne in heaven. And "no man," said Jesus, "has ascended to heaven." You can't go there. You can't see God, or hand your money to Him personally. How, then, can you pay Him His tithes?
To WHOM Tithes Are Paid
Think! Some large corporations, perhaps in a distant city, cannot be directly contacted by their many customers. And so they send around representatives, collectors, to collect for them what you owe the company. The collector comes in the name of the company. When you pay to the collector the money which really belongs to the company, you have paid the company.
God's system of collecting from you His tithe is just that simple. Since you cannot see God, or go to God's throne in heaven, God instructs you in His revealed Word to pay it to His representative, who, in receiving it, represents God, just as a collector to whom you pay a debt represents the company to whom you owe it.
And when you pay such a bill to a collector, you consider you paid the company—not that you made a personal donation of your own money to the man the company sent. You paid it as to the company. From there on it is the company's responsibility what happens to that money, not yours. And the company pays the collector his salary. He does not consider that you paid his salary—he receives his salary as from the company.
This illustrates plainly God's true principle of tithing. When you pay tithes today you are instructed by God's directions to pay them to God's called and chosen representative—the true minister of Jesus Christ. But you pay it, not as a personal contribution of your own money to a minister—but as to God. The minister represents God—receives not your money but God's money from you for God.
Here again so many in this modern world have lost sight of God's clear directions. When they give the tithe to a minister they seem to feel it is a special entrusting of their own money, and they make it their duty to try to supervise how the minister handles it—even, in some cases today, down to the supervision of what the minister and his family may eat, or wear, or have in their personal private family life!
When YOUR Responsibility Ceases
But God's revealed principle is quite different. That first tenth of your income is not yours—never was yours! It belongs to God. And the method God Himself instituted for your payment of His money to Him is to pay it to His called and true ministers.
When you have done that, your responsibility for that money ceases! You have no further concern, responsibility, or direction in the handling of it than you have in money you owe the electric power or the telephone companies which you pay to their collector. Once paid, you have done your part—you have acquitted yourself of your obligation.
Of course you are expected to be sure the collector is the company's approved representative—not a thieving imposter pretending to be the company collector. And you should be equally sure you are paying your tithe to a called and true minister of Jesus Christ. Satan's thriving imposters pose as ministers of Jesus Christ, put on sanctimonious airs, speak in pious and spiritual-sounding language! How are you to know? By their fruits, Jesus said, you shall know them! The fruits of God's Spirit, and of Christs's true ministry cannot be counterfeited!
So when you pay tithes to God's true and accredited spiritual representative, you pay it as to God. It is not a charitable gift from you to the minister. It is not your money—but rather it is God's way for you to pay to God that which belongs to God.
And from there on, the minister who receives it is accountable to God. And you may be sure that God's justice is perfect—that God Almighty will hold every minister far more strictly accountable than you would be capable of doing!
Once paid, so far as you are concerned, you have paid God's tithe to God.
What GOD Does With His Tithe
The question now is what does God do with it?
And the answer, which we will show by the Scriptures inspired of God, is that God uses it for His ministry—for carrying on His Work!
Now the nature of God's ministry on earth has changed with changing dispensations. Not much is revealed as to how God's ministry was carried on back in patriarchal times. We know Melchisedec was High Priest—that He held the rank equal to that of Jesus Christ, actually One of the God Family! The ministry, then, must have been of a spiritual nature. New Testament writings reveal that the Gospel, God's Spiritual Message, was preached beforehand to Abraham. All we know of those days of the dim, distant antiquity is that the tithes were paid to Melchisedec, a divine Being, for the service of God's ministry for that time.
But beginning with Moses a new and different dispensation was ushered in. God formed Israel as a civil nation, and also as a church (see Acts 7:38). But between Moses and Christ under the Old Covenant, God's ministry was purely national, for Israel alone—and purely material, not spiritual.
As a Church, or Congregation, Israel was given a constant round of physical ceremonies and rituals—animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, carnal ordinances (see Hebrews 9:10)—which, note it!—means of a material, not a spiritual nature. Israel under the Old Covenant was not given God's Holy Spirit. They had no promise whatsoever of salvation, astonishing as that may seem! They were not commanded to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to other nations. On the contrary, they were forbidden to have anything to do with other nations!
Consequently, the church ministry in Israel was one of ministering to all Israelites, and to Israelites only. There was no spreading of the Gospel. The ministry, rather, was largely a matter of physical labor—preparing animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, administering the different washings and physical ordinances and rituals. For this service, God Himself selected His ministers—the people had no choice as to who their ministers were. For this service, God took one whole tribe of the twelve tribes of Israel—the Tribe of Levi. Every man born a Levite was a priest or minister.
The Levites owned no land—had no secular source of income—devoted their entire time to the physical ministry of that dispensation. Yet, though a physical ministry, this service was sacred and holy to God. And during these years from Moses to Christ, God Himself paid His Levitical priests by turning over to them all of His Tithe.
Today, we are in the age of grace, the New Testament Gospel dispensation. Today, the Levitical Priesthood is gone, and Jesus Christ is High Priest. Today all true ministers of Jesus Christ are called by special spiritual call from God through His Holy Spirit—not by flesh birth—not by self-desire to become a minister—not by selection, appointment, or vote of the people.
Jesus Christ came as God's Messenger, bearing a Spiritual Message from God to man. That Message is His Gospel—the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God, a kingdom of immortals which human flesh and blood can never enter!
God Working Out a Purpose
And today, Christ's commission to all His true ministers is "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel . . ." "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations." And, for our day now: "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the END [of the age] come" (Matthew 24:14).
Today the ministry is a spiritual ministry—a ministry of prophecy—a ministry of salvation—a ministry of warning! Today it is not physical and national, but spiritual and individual—it is not for everyone in a single nation, but for a witness unto all nations.
Today, in these critical, chaotic days approaching the end of an age, the carrying on of God's true ministry is a worldwide mission, which must reach millions of people, and quickly, for the "night cometh when no man can work."
Today Christ's true ministry is a huge undertaking. It requires, not the mere financing of the personal needs of a few ministers, but the employing of tremendous available facilities for proclaiming the world-shaking warning—for preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom into all the world for a witness unto all nations!
And these super-powered facilities God has invented and made available for His purpose—great, powerful radio and television stations, and the modern printing press—cost a great deal of money, because they reach vast multitudes of people never before possible in any past age!
But did Christ intend His specially selected and called ministers to be directed and controlled by boards of lay church members not called of Christ to the ministry? Or did Christ Himself ordain a system providing for His Work, leaving His true called ministers, like prophets of old, free to serve God alone?
Has not God, in His wisdom, provided for this financing? And in such manner that His true called ministers may be free to serve Him alone, carrying His Message boldy?
The Work of God Today Is Financed God's Way
Today, God has provided for the financing of His powerful ministry by the same system He has used from the very beginning—His tithing system!
Thus Almighty God has purposed that those whom He has specially fitted and called for this tremendous mission in this chaotic and dying world may be free to proclaim His truth fearlessly, boldly, and with great power!
They cannot be subsidized, controlled, coerced by men or organizations of men. They are not hired by, nor obligated to, men or any organized group or denomination. They are called by God, guided, protected, and empowered by God, financed by God's own tithing system! Yes, by God's own money!
That is how The Plain Truth is published—without subscription price, free to all who will request it for themselves.
That is how the true Gospel Message is going out in great power around the world.
That is God's way, carrying out God's Plan in His great purpose being worked out here below! We—and all our Co-Workers together—are happy to be privileged by the Eternal God to each have our small part in so glorious a Work for Him!
Jesus Christ Personally Taught Tithing
Finally, let us observe the personal example of Jesus who is the head of His ministry today.
In speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, who often made a self-righteous display of strictly keeping some of the smaller points of God's law, Jesus said: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done [these weightier matters], and not to leave the other [carefully tithing!] undone" (Matthew 23:23).
Isn't that clear enough? Jesus said that carefully and strictly paying tithes on every little plant that might grow in your garden ought not be put ahead of spiritual qualities such as mercy and faith. But Christ said "not to leave the other undone"—not to fail to pay your full tithes as God has commanded!
In Luke 11:42, this same command is repeated in a similar manner—inspired to be placed here also by God's Holy Spirit!
Men would like to regard God's tithing law as of least importance. But speaking of even the smaller points of God's Law, Jesus continued: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19).
Tithing While in Debt
Yet so many say: "I don't think it would be right for me to tithe while I'm in debt." Yes, it is right, and the other way is wrong. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 16:25). God's Word tells us what is right, and God tells us to pay to His Work the firstfruits of all our income. Regarding our material and financial needs, even debts, God says: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
The tithe is the debt that you owe God. This debt is first in time and principle. Pay your debts to God, make Him your partner in your finances, and receive His blessing in temporal affairs. This will enable you to pay your debts, or to get a job, or to have your needs supplied more quickly than if you evade His debt.
Remember your all belongs to Him, not to you (Deuteronomy 10:14). You are in the position of a steward handling that which belongs to another. He is your silent partner, and the first tenth, in addition to offerings, is His share. The rest He gives freely to you. But if you appropriate for yourself His share, you are stealing, and robbing God (Malachi 3:8). Would you pay your debts with money another man had left in your trust? If a man working in a bank does that, we call it embezzlement!
Your Glorious Opportunity
Some will say, "I never tithed, and I know God never frowned on me, for I have the feeling in my heart that I am His child without having to tithe."
God has blessed you according as you have yielded to Him according to the light He has revealed to you, from His Word! While you have the light, walk in it, lest darkness come upon you! (John 12:35-36.) "Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord" (II Peter 3:18). See also Romans 11:22.
If every professing Christian would accept this plain instruction from God, honoring Him instead of themselves with their substance, the Work of the Eternal would go forth with such mighty power that the world would be shaken to its foundations!
Seek ye first the Kingdom, and your material needs shall be added. Try it! Take God at His Word! Prove Him! (Malachi 3:10). See how you begin to prosper! Be a faithful steward; make God your partner! Receive His blessing! God's Work is waiting upon you!