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Church Finances

I had been considering this subject for a while and had not quite made up my mind to approach it until this morning. This morning's Farcus cartoon was the nudge I needed. In it  two men are on a park bench each looking at a piece of paper. One reads "Lay off' and the other "Wanted". The caption at the bottom reads, "God loves you. He's just short of cash ". That brings me to the subject: Church Finances. Is God short of cash. I have a quote in my office which reads, "GOD'S WORK, DONE GOD'S WAY, NEVER LACKS GOD'S SUPPORT". That has been my motto for Church finances all these years and "Where God guides, He provides". Is it right for a Church to go to the bank to borrow for God's work? I began to consider this subject during Opal evacuation while going through Alabama. We passed by a construction project with a big sign out front: "Financing by -----bank". On another sign at the sight: "To God be the Glory". It was a new Church building. Friends, something doesn't sound right about that.

I have often told my Church that I would not feel right about going to the bank for God's work. Basically here is what we are saying: "Mr. Banker, God has blessed His work so much that we have to add on....but He hasn't sent enough money to do the job."

I have made a commitment to never borrow money to do God's work. We have had 3 major building programs since I have been here (ten years) and have always paid cash. We have never had a candy sale, cake sale, car wash, pledge drive, fund raiser or any other form of raising money. Not only that, I rarely speak on the subject of money! "God loveth a Cheerful giver" and many Christians aren't cheerful because they are not living a wholly dedicated, consecrated life. Living is a drudgery and giving is a burden. Most of this is the preacher's fault.

One of Satan's favorite devices is to get a Church in deep debt and then create a disturbance that affects the income and outgo. This brings pressure on the preacher to water down his preaching to attract new members with new money.

When Paul told the Philippians, "But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:l9) He was talking to a group of people in a local Church!

Last week in part one I proposed the question: "Is it right for a Church to borrow from a lending institution to build?" What Biblical examples show us how to build for God's glory7

Now, I must make something clear at this point. There is a world of difference between personal finance and Church finance. Proverbs 22:7 tells us "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." While it is true that it is best to be debt-free, it is also true that a person is allowed by God to be a borrower. I will give two examples Paul tells Philemon in v18-19, "if he (Onesimus) hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account. I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it:" Another case is Matthew 25 where Jesus delivered the goods to His own servants. One got five talents, another two talents and the other one talent. The first two doubled their money. The third with one buried it and the Lord rebuked him and said, "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury." v27. Usury means 'interest on money". So Jesus is saying, you should have lent mine with interest and then I would have an increase? v27 proves the talents were money. I must point out that Matthew 25:14-30 is a teaching about the stewardship of life in every area, not just money! One may object, citing Romans 13:8 "Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." The preceding verse tells us it is speaking of taxes, custom, fear, honor and v8, love. It has nothing to do with borrowing money.

Again, the subject I am dealing with is Church finance, not personal finance. God does not need the world's financing to carry on His Gospel work and the work of the Church is not financed by the world! It is financed by God himself. He uses His people to carry on His work. I will get to this later but for now let me try to kindly say something that should help clarify the mess many Churches are in. When a Church goes to the Bank to borrow to carry on the work of the ministry, actually, the financial burden is placed on the faithful givers for years to come to pay for the comforts of today for those who sit on the padded pews, enjoy the air-conditioning, good sound system and nice facilities. Friend, that non-committed, non-giving free-loader doesn't care if you go into debt for years to pay for his comforts. He will leave over something petty anyway and leave you paying the bill for years to come! It is hypocritical for a person to sit in a local Church for years and enjoy the comforts, yet never or rarely contribute! Our philosophy should be, 'Build people and they will build Churches", but the prevalent philosophy today is 'bui1d Churches and it will attract people."

As you may remember, in article two I stated that when a Church goes to a lending institution to borrow to build, they are actually placing a financial burden on the faithful for years to come and are going to the world for the financing of God's work.

Now, we do not expect lost people to pay for the local Church ministry, however, every saved member of a local Church should support the work that blesses him and his family.

Other problems exist with institutionally financed building programs. Many times a change in the income of a Church will influence the message going out if there is pressure to raise funds for paying huge bank notes. Not all Church financing results in problems. I have Preacher friends who have gone to lending institutions for financing and they never were challenged to water down the message to attract new givers. They were able to pay the note and burn the note. We are not talking about what has worked in these articles. We are talking about what is Biblical in the area of Church finance.

Many Preachers spend more time, energy and thought on Church finance than on Ministry. Many lie awake tossing and turning night after night and many finally succumb to the pressure and resign from the ministry broken and disheartened. My friends, these things ought not to be so. Pastors have been broken over Church finances. Friendships have been broken over Church finances. Faith has been broken over Church finances. Worst of all, many Churches have been destroyed from the inside in the area of Church finances. Next week I will give some examples from the Bible showing how God Himself financed His building programs.

I have been attempting to show what is Scriptural in the area of Church finance in these articles. What we do in ministry we must do with the attitude that God Himself is with us in it all. For example, would God walk into a bank with us and sit in a client's chair requesting funds for His building? No. Again, anything you can do with God, you can feel free to do yourself. If you could offer God a cigarette or a drink, you may also smoke or drink yourself. We should never do anything which we could not do with God present and participating, no matter what.

In Exodus 12 after the Death angel came through and killed the firstborn of all not having Blood applied to the door-posts of their house, a miraculous thing happened as the Jews were leaving Egypt. V33-36 "And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians."

In the first place, this is not the normal borrowing and lending. Think about it. Egypt had the little nation Israel in bondage 400 years and according to God's word had abused them. The cry of the Hebrews had come up into God's ears. They were stripped of everything during that time. Now God is about to deliver them. The plagues have been poured out on Egypt ending with death of the firstborn. Now Israel is leaving Egypt... but not empty. There is a Tabernacle to be built for the Glory of God. God Himself knew what He would lead Moses to build and probably, unknown to Moses, God is making preparation in advance for His building! Later on God gives Moses the instructions on building this great tabernacle. If you will turn to Exodus Chapter 35 and 36 you will see where the materials come from to do this great building program. Notice 36:5-7 "And they spake unto Moses, saving, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much." God provided for His building!

In article #4 We saw how God provided for the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness by preparing for its construction before the Jews even left the land of bondage. Now God could have waited until they were in the wilderness and He could have turned the dirt into gold and silver for His building program. However, His plan involved giving on the part of Israel! That has always been God's plan. I would like to direct your attention to another example. Please read I Chron. 17 and see that King David wanted to build an house for God (the Ark of God) to dwell in. Notice verse 5 "For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another." Read also 1 Chron.22.

David shed much blood and God, through the Prophet Nathan, tells him he cannot build it for that reason. However, his son Solomon can. Then in 1 Chron.28 King David begins preparing for the building program. In verse 2, King David ,"made ready for the building." He encourages Israel and his son Solomon. Verse 20 says, "And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD."

Chapter 29:1 "...the work is great; for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God."

Now read all of Chapter 29 and see with your own eyes that God used His people to build His building. Verse 2 King David "prepared with all my might for the house of my God.." Verse 3 "Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house."

Verse 6 says ,"Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly." Verse 7 "And gave..." Verse 8 we find then others giving various things to the treasure of the house of the LORD. Notice also v9 "Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy." Read on through this chapter and see how David gives God the glory telling Him that the things given for the house of the LORD come from the LORD. Notice v16, "O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own." And just in case anyone thought that David's finances suffered for giving in abundance for this magnificent house, v28 says, "And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor:... "

Friends, if you are saved, you cannot outgive God. God provided for His building!

In article #5 We saw how God provided for the building of the Temple by preparing for its construction before David died. We saw also that God used those of various means who offered with a willing heart. (Read again 1 Chron.29) His plan involved giving on the part of Israel! That has always been God's plan.

Later I will to give 33 Scriptures in the Bible where the tithe is taught. But first turn to Malachi 3:8-11 "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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."

Those of us who are saved and are tithers and givers above the tithe have seen God "Prove" Himself herewith. Luke 6:38 says "Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." 2 Cor.9:6 says, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."

Now please listen. I rarely preach on the subject of money or giving. Not because I don't have Biblical authority. I do. However, I have realized that there is a connection between the spiritual condition of a person and their willingness to live a dedicated life for our Lord Jesus Christ. That Spiritual condition determines how they live, how they give, how they think and how they respond to the Word of God. That is why the Bible says, "God loveth a cheerful giver." 2 Cor.9:7 We do not expect a lost person or a carnal Christian to be a cheerful giver. In fact, the Bible plainly states, "The natural man (unsaved) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I Cor.2:14 Therefore friend, if you are lost, you may not understand Christian giving. In fact, you might even be offended by the subject when you attend Church. Those of us who are now saved probably felt the way you feel before we were saved. Now many of us have become "cheerful givers" and have seen God honor His Word by giving back to us as we are faithful. Let me go another step. If you are lost and you come to our Church, we don't want you to give. We do that. Just come and listen to preaching that is centered on Jesus Christ. God's people will willingly, cheerfully give so that you or anyone else can hear the Good News of SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!

I said last week that I would give 33 Scriptures in the Bible where the tithe is taught.

First turn to Malachi 3:8-11 "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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"

Please look up and read the verses listed below:

SCRIPTURES ON TITHING

  1. Genesis 14:20, Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek .
  2. Genesis 28:22, Jacob pledged the tithe to God.
  3. Leviticus 27:30-32, "the tithe Is the Lord's".
  4. Numbers 18:24, 26, 28, The children of Israel paid tithes.
  5. Deut. 12: 6, 11, 17, God's children tithed on the way to the promised land.
  6. Deut. 14: 22, 23, 28, The dietary laws of God prevailed on His people to tithe.
  7. Deut. 26: 12, God's command is obeyed when one tithes.
  8. II Chr. 31: 5, 6, 12, The children of Israel gladly and joyfully brought in the tithe and laid it on God's altar.
  9. Nehemiah 10: 37, 38, The tithe was brought into God's house.
  10. Nehemiah 12: 44, The tithe was gathered in.
  11. Nehemiah 13: 5, 12, Tithe was brought into a prepared chamber in the house of the Lord.
  12. Amos 4: 4, The tithe must be given in the right spirit.
  13. Malachi 3: 8, 10, To withhold the tithe is to rob God.
  14. Matthew 23: 23, Jesus confirmed the tithe.
  15. Luke 11: 42 Luke 18: 12, Even the Pharisees tithed.
  16. Hebrews 7: 5, 6, 8, 9, Abraham paid tithes and he was called the friend of God.

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