Tithe & Offerings

 

That There May Be Meat In Mine House

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.” Malachi 3:10.

Today the question of accountable stewardship is becoming an issue in the minds of many of our people. The awareness that we all have an individual accountability before the heavenly universe, to administer the trust committed to us of God has, in recent years, raised questions in their minds as to how to best fulfill that responsibility. It is not the purpose of this small book to solicit funds, or to attempt to point out what one’s personal responsibility is, but to give our members who inquire, the information that will help them fulfill their position as God’s stewards.

Individual Responsibility

The Lord has made us individually His stewards. We each hold a solemn responsibility to invest this means ourselves. A portion of it is right to place in the treasury to advance the general interests of the work; but the steward of means will not be guiltless before God, unless, so far as he is able to do this, he shall use that means as circumstances shall reveal the necessity. We should be ready to help the suffering, and to set in operation plans to advance the truth in various ways. It is not in the province of the Conference or any other organization to relieve us of this stewardship. If you lack wisdom, go to God; ask Him for yourself, and then work with an eye single to His glory.

“By exercising your judgment, by giving where you see there is need in any line of the work, you are putting out your money to the exchangers. If you see in any locality that the truth is gaining a foothold, and there is no place of worship, then do something to meet the necessity. By your own action encourage others to act, in building a humble house for the worship of God. Have an interest in the work in all parts of the field.

“While it is not your own property that you are handling, yet you are made responsible for its wise investment, for its use or abuse. God does not lay upon you the burden of asking the Conference or any council of men whether you shall use your means as you see fit to advance the work of God in destitute towns and cities, and impoverished localities. If the right plan had been followed, so much means would not have been used in some localities, and so little in other places where the banner of truth has not been raised. We are not to merge our individuality of judgment into any institution in our world. We are to look to God for wisdom, as did Daniel. . . .

“Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship; but that before the heavenly universe we are to administer the truth committed to us by God? Our own hearts are to be sanctified, our hands are to have something to impart as occasion demands, of the income that God entrusts to us.” Ellen G. White Pamphlets, No. 80, 41-42.


The Tithe Problem—Who Is Responsible?

The subject of tithe has come to be an emotional mine field, and so let’s proceed with caution. Voices that are usually calm are likely to become strident when the subject is introduced, and not infrequently, strongly-stirred feelings find expression in bitter accusations. Yet the problem is real, and it is here. It shows no sign of diminishing, but rather is steadily increasing. Ignoring it is not likely to be an adequate answer, nor yet is indulging in emotional outbursts which tend to aggravate tensions rather than to relieve them. Is it possible to calmly consider this problem? Let us try.

My own exposure to the problem has been educational. While I was teaching classes of ministers in the Asian Adventist Theological Seminary I sometimes met the question, “Is it ever proper to send tithe anywhere other than through the regular church channels?” I answered the question with a firm and uncompromising, “No. Diverting the tithe to other than the regular church channels could never, under any circumstances, be the right thing to do.”

I must confess that I did not give this answer because of evidence that I had seen, but because of evidence that I was sure I would find in the Spirit of Prophecy if I looked for it. However, the question did not seem to be an urgent one at the time, and I was very busy with classes, evangelistic meetings, and other projects, so I did not engage in any research on this particular topic.

But upon returning to the States in 1985 I was surprised to find that the question was seriously troubling many church members. With full confidence I set out to find the Spirit of Prophecy evidence that tithe should always go through the regular church channels and never anywhere else. This brought my second and much greater surprise. I did not find what I was looking for. It just was not in the inspired writings.

Was I failing to properly understand what I had read? Apparently not. I did find a statement regarding the question that had been prepared by Willie White (Ellen White’s son and secretary), Elder A.G. Daniels. And Elder W. W. Prescott, which indicated that neither had they found such evidence in Ellen White’s writings. The historical context of their statement was as follows.

On May 9, 1907, a Charles E. Stewart of Battle Creek sent to Ellen White’s office at Sanitarium, California, a 49-page compilation of questions and charges that were intended to cast doubt on the Spirit of Prophecy as manifested in her ministry. In October of the same year the material was bound into a small book and published, apparently in Battle Creek. At some later date it was republished by another of Ellen White’s critics, E. S. Ballenger, of Riverside, California. Document WDF 321, in the White Estate Office in Loma Linda, is a record of the plans that were made by Willie White, Daniels, and Prescott to deal with the charges in the book, one of which was that Ellen White’s counsels and practices in regard to the tithe were not consistent, in that she did not always follow her own recommendations. Paragraph six on page two of the document is a clear statement of how these brethren understood the totality of Ellen white’s teachings in regard to the paying of tithe.

As to the proper use of the tithe: The outline of a statement on this subject which was agreed upon was briefly this: To give extracts from Sister White’s writings as to the tithe and its use; to show that her testimony and her own usual practice was in favor of paying the tithe into the regularly designated treasury, to be used under the counsel of the committees appointed for such purposes; to show further from her writings that when those who have charge of the expenditure of the tithe so far fail in the discharge of their duty that the regularly organized channels for the distribution of tithe become hindrances to its proper use, then in order to carry out the divine plan that the tithe should be expended in the wisest manner for the furtherance of the work, individuals have the right to pay their tithes direct to the needy fields; but that this involves a considerable degree of personal responsibility, which must be assumed by those who decide to follow this plan. It was thought that this matter could be handled in a way to show that the departure from the regular plans was authorized only when the regular plans failed to be carried out by those in positions of responsibility.

This appeared to be strong evidence that I had not misunderstood the materials I had examined. The conclusions of these brethren were not different from mine, after my study.

As indicated in the quotation, their purpose was to enlarge the outline into a tract or paper on the subject. We would no doubt find it helpful if we could read the paper itself, but I have not yet been able to locate a copy.

Certain basic points in regard to tithe paying stand out very clearly in Ellen White’s writings. She had no doubt that returning tithe to the Lord is a Christian duty, and that a failure to perform this duty is tantamount to stealing from God (See Malachi 3). She is equally clear and firm in her conviction that the tithe has only one proper use, the support of the ministry of the Word of God. Although she includes those who minister with pen as well as with voice, she specifically excludes other forms of Christian endeavor, such as “school purposes” and “canvassers and colporteurs” (See Testimonies, vol. 9, 248-249); a poor fund or church expense (See Counsels on Stewardship, 103); etc.

According to the testimony of God’s inspired messenger, tithe should always be faithfully returned to the Lord, and all of the tithe should be used for the support of the ministry. But which ministry or what ministry? This is the question that is troubling us now. What if a ministry strays from the path of sacred duty? What if a ministry becomes so theologically confused as to depart from the truths of God’s Word and begins preaching a false gospel? What if church leaders begin to use tithe funds for purposes other than the ministry of the Word, such as those listed above, or even to pay the fees of non-Adventist lawyers? What, then, is our Christian duty?

We may seek to escape from these troubling questions by shrugging them off and saying, “There is no need for us to concern ourselves about things like that. They could not happen in our church.” But in view of Ellen White’s predictions of a great Adventist apostasy, is this a realistic attitude? Willie White, Daniells, and Prescott took no such position. They did not deny the possibility of a malfeasance, as indicated by these words:

. . . when those who have charge of the expenditure of the tithe shall so far fail in the discharge of their duty that the regular organized channels for the distribution of the tithe become hindrances to its proper use. . . .

When the regular plans failed to be carried out by those in positions of responsibility. Document WDF, 321.

Let us remind ourselves that these brethren were not expressing their own opinions. They were setting forth what they understood to be the totality of the teachings of Ellen White. They had before them the example of Ellen White. In the year 1905, two years before their meeting, Ellen White had written a letter to the president of the Colorado conference in which she had revealed that “for years” she had been using her tithe to assist needy ministers who were being neglected by the organization. When this statement was first called to my attention, I dismissed it very easily (I thought) by saying, “She was a prophet, and I am not a prophet. God often gives instructions to His prophets that do not apply to other people.”

But the matter is not quite that simple. The letter also revealed that when other persons offered her their tithe to use as she thought best, she accepted it and used it as indicated above, in support of needy ministers. Perhaps we could still say that she was exercising the prerogatives of a prophet, since the money passed through her hands.

But that would not be true of the third type of tithe payers who are mentioned in her letter:

“If there have been cases where our sisters have appropriated their tithe to the support of the ministers working for the colored people in the South, let every man, if he is wise, hold his peace.” Manuscript Release, vol. 2, 99.

There is no suggestion that this money passed through her hands, or that she was consulted about it. The money was apparently sent directly to needy ministers whose condition had become known to the tithe-payers. Ellen White obviously did not disapprove of the actions of these persons, much less accuse them of “stealing” the tithe.

We must recognize that Willie White, Daniells, and Prescott, who were charged with the responsibility of setting forth a comprehensive statement regarding Ellen White’s counsel and practice regarding tithe paying, were faithful to the evidence that was before them. They frankly reported their findings to the people, with neither understatement nor overstatement. They felt that there was no self-contradiction between Ellen White’s writings and her practice. In neither her writings nor her practice was there anything to support the view that all tithe, regardless of circumstances, must be paid through regular church channels.

It is probably that they did not anticipate any great trouble from the church organization as the result of the publishing their frank statement. The conditions that they described as making it permissible, according to Ellen White’s writings, for a church member to exercise individual judgment in deciding where to send tithe, (the failure of persons in places of responsibility to use the tithe for its proper purpose) hardly existed in their time, if they existed at all. These leaders could not have been expected to foresee the conditions that have now developed in the church as a result of the great Adventist apostasy that has been the subject of this series of studies.

But church members in our time could hardly be expected not to see these conditions. Many have recoiled in horror from the revelation that hundreds of thousands of dollars of sacred tithe funds have been used to employ Catholic and other non-Adventist lawyers to sue and prosecute persons for calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, and in at least one case assessing huge fines and putting the person in jail!

Some members may not be aware of such specific incidents as this, but it would be difficult for any member in the North American Division to be unaware of the great theological apostasy which is the very heart of the tithe problem. He or she is likely to encounter it in church on any Sabbath morning. As one responsible church member expressed it:

I get tired of going to church every Sabbath and getting my weekly dose of strychnine from the pulpit.

It is an undeniable fact that there are pastors in Seventh-day Adventist churches, teachers in Seventh-day Adventist colleges, and individuals at all levels of church administration who are persistently presenting as truth the devil’s great lie—that Christians cannot stop sinning even by the power of God. Ellen White has identified this not less than 35 times as a lie that originated in the heart of Satan, and that was proven to be false by our Lord Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly the strongest of her statements is this:

“Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love. If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver. Men who are under the control of Satan repeat these accusations against God, in asserting that men can not keep the law of God. Jesus humbled himself, clothing his divinity with humanity, in order that he might stand as the head and representative of the human family, and by both precept and example condemn sin in the flesh, and give the lie to Satan’s charges.” The Sign of The Times, January 16, 1896.

May we suggest a second thoughtful reading of the above inspired statement? Its implications are staggering. Can it be possible that there are ministers, teachers, and administrators all through our ranks who are under the control of Satan? If the writings of Ellen White are inspired, we have no choice but to believe it.

Here is the heart of the tithe problem. Here is the answer to our question, Who is responsible? Would it not be the ministers who present poison from the pulpits, the teachers who present poison in the classrooms, and the administrators who support and defend them, ignoring desperate appeals from church members?

To blame the tithe problem on independent ministries is as illogical and unjust as to blame the historic Adventists for divisions that are being created in the church by the preaching of the false doctrines of Calvinism among us. May we here earnestly appeal for clear thinking and fair judgment on this matter.

Consider the problem of a church member who understands our message, is devoted to the truth as it is in Jesus, and has always been a faithful tithe payer. During the years he has built up a small library of Ellen White’s writings and has studied them with care. Then he is confronted with a series of shocks.

On Sabbath he hears his pastor proclaim that our Lord came to earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam, which makes Him very different from ourselves. He finds this puzzling, and so spends some time on Sabbath afternoon looking through his copy of The Desire of Ages. He finds the opposite affirmed to be true on page 25, 49, 112, 117, 174-175, and 311-312. Soon after, he hears his pastor preach that it is impossible for Christians, by any means, to stop sinning and that it is impossible for anyone to obey the law of God. In his The Desire of Ages the Church member finds this described as Satan’s lie on page 24, 29, 117, and 761, and he finds in the volume a total of 78 statements that it is possible, through the power of Christ for Christians to obey God’s law. He may then turn to The Great Controversy, and read on page 489 that:

[Satan] “he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome.”

As this heart-wrenching experience continues, the church member is eventually forced to recognize that Ellen White’s predictions about the great Adventist apostasy are being fulfilled before his eyes. Then comes the agonizing question, “Does God require me to pay my tithe to support the great apostasy?”

Like many others before him, he decides that this just doesn’t make sense. He then turns to an independent ministry that is holding the Seventh-day Adventist historic faith, preaching the message that he accepted when he joined the church. He now begins to send his tithe to that ministry.

Now the question for every fair-minded person to consider is, Who is responsible? Has the church member’s problem been created by the independent ministry, or by the preaching of the false doctrines of Calvinism in his own church?

And will this problem be solved by crushing independent ministries and letting the false preaching continue? The answer seems to be self-evident. To destroy the independent ministries will not solve the church member’s problem, nor will it be solved by cracking whips of church authority over his head, excluding him from church office, or by any other means of coercion.

Tragically, this obvious truth seems to be lost on some church administrators who continue to condemn and rail at independent ministries as if they were the cause of all the difficulty and that the solution is simply to put them out of existence. It appears that some of these ministries are now being threatened with church discipline as a first step in that direction.

I have been invited to several meetings which were ostensibly called for the purpose of resolving tensions between independent ministries and the church organization. At none of these meetings did I discern the slightest recognition that the preaching of false doctrines in our church was the real problem or even any part of the problem. At none of them did I hear the slightest hint that any attempt would be made to correct this evil. Rather, the message that seemed to be delivered to the independent ministries is simple, “You, and only you, are the problem, and if you do not stop what you are doing, in particular if you do not stop accepting tithe, you are going to suffer the consequences.”

Some are already suffering the consequences. Members of independent ministries have in some places been denied the right to transfer their membership either into or out of the churches where they live. It should be remembered that transfers are a right of church membership and may be denied, according to the church manual, only by properly conducted church disciplinary actions. See pages 162-163 of the Church Manual.

For that matter, the Church Manual also recognizes the right of independent ministries to exist (see page 158), and also provides that no church member’s standing should be called in question because of his failure to give financial support to the church. See page 165.

But strong emotion is the enemy of reason, and as we noted at the beginning of this study, emotions tend to run high when the tithe problem is mentioned—so high that in some cases neither appeals to the Church Manual, to the Spirit of Prophecy, or even to the Bible itself seem to bring and result.

Emotional tensions seem also to contribute to the mishandling of evidence that is found in various public statements about tithe, and the accusations that accompany them. Possibly the outstanding example of mishandled evidence is when a variety of Ellen White statements, written to show that tithe should be used only for the ministry of the Word and not for other Christian endeavors, are misconstrued to mean that tithe should be paid only to one ministry of the Word and not to the other ministries of the Word. An oft-quoted example of this is on page 247 of Testimonies, vol. 9:

“Let none feel at liberty to retain their tithe, to use according to their own judgment. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord’s work.

What Ellen White meant by the clause “what they may regard as the Lord’s work,” is made clear on the following pages by these lines:

“One reasons that the tithe may be applied to school purposes. Still others reason that canvassers and colporteurs should be supported from the tithe. But a great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object for which it is to be used—the support of the ministers.”

In view of the general frailty of human nature, and the specific predictions by Ellen White that there would be many apostates in the Seventh-day Adventist ministry in the last days, (see Testimonies to Ministers, 409-410; Testimonies, vol. 5, 80-81, 707) it would have been hazardous indeed for the messenger of the Lord to have singled out any particular group of ministers as the only ones who should ever be supported by tithe, and even more hazardous to maintain that they must be supported by tithe regardless of what they might be teaching or doing.

“It would be poor policy to support from the treasury of God those who really mar and injure His work, and who are constantly lowering the standard of Christianity.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 553.

“There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine.” Ibid., vol. 1, 261-262.

“As there are woes for those who preach the truth while they are unsanctified in heart and life, so there are woes for those who receive and maintain the unsanctified in the position which they cannot fill.” Ibid., vol. 2, 552.

Let us take note, also, of Ellen White’s use of the expression, “the treasury of God.” In her letter to the conference president to which we have already referred, she first tells of her practice and then adds, “the money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury.” Obviously she did not have the limited view of “the Lord’s treasury” that some have today.

Some independent ministries have pointed out Ellen White’s statement that it is not necessary for all “funds” or “means” to flow through the same channels, and since no exception is stated in regard to tithe, they have concluded, not unreasonably, that these general terms include both tithes and offerings. But some writers have seized upon this and made it the basis for accusations of dishonesty. Surely this accusation could be termed uncontrolled emotionalism. We would certainly want to have much stronger evidence than this before we accuse any persons of being dishonest.

You and I cannot solve the problems of the church nor the problems of the independent ministries, but we can and must resolve our own personal and individual problem in regard to the type of ministry that we support with out tithe. This is a problem best solved by each one of us on our knees before the Lord, with the inspired writings before us. Probably none of us should presume to instruct others as to their duty.

Some may think of the widow and her two mites upon whom the Lord pronounced a blessing in spite of the corruption among church leaders at that time. Others may reflect that we have no evidence that the widow was aware of the corruption, and that in any case there was no representative church government such as we have now. Some will be influenced by Ellen White’s statement that:

“God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself. . . . Every man has been made a steward of sacred trusts; each is to discharge his trust according to the direction of the Giver; and by each an account of his stewardship must be rendered to God. . . . We are responsible to invest this means ourselves.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 176-177.

“Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? We have an individual accountability before the heavenly universe, to administer the trust committed us of God.” Testimonies to Ministers, 361-362.

And we must not overlook the warnings previously quoted that there are woes upon those who consent to receive and maintain ministers who unsanctified attitudes injure the work of God.

It has not been the purpose of this study to give directions to any person as to their individual responsibility. It has been our purpose to show:

1. There is no Biblical or Spirit of Prophecy evidence to support the view that all tithe must, regardless of circumstances, be paid through organizational channels. Such a position might in some cases require that outright apostasy be supported by tithe, which is far beyond the boundaries of reason.

2. We have been given through God’s appointed messenger an abundance of clear warnings that there would be a time when apostate ministers would be preaching in many Seventh-day Adventist pulpits, and that the apostasy would sweep through the ranks of our ministers and our members.

3. If we are to take Ellen White’s words at their face value, that time has at least partially arrived, in that many ministers are now occupying Seventh-day Adventist pulpits who are preaching as truth the devil’s great lie—that Christians cannot stop sinning even through the power of Christ. By unmistakably clear Spirit of Prophecy definition such ministries are “under the control of Satan.”

Therefore, as Christian stewards under God, we have a solemn responsibility to fulfill in regard to our tithes and our offerings.

May the Lord help each one of us to prayerfully, carefully, and conscientiously return the sacred tithe, as the Lord has directed, for the support of the ministry. May we never be confused and uncertain as to what kind of ministry the Lord deems worthy to receive the tithe.

And may we never be confused or uncertain as to who is responsible for the present tithe problem. The responsibility must be placed squarely at the doors of those who are preaching among us the false doctrines of Calvinism and the administrators who are supporting and maintaining them in their positions.

The messenger of the Lord counseled parents, guardians of youth, and those who minister in the service of God:

“When existing evils are not met and checked, because men have too little courage to reprove wrong, or because they have too little interest or are too indolent to tax their own powers in putting forth earnest efforts to purify the family or the church of God, they are accountable for the evil which may result in consequence of neglect to do their duty. We are just as accountable for evils that we might have checked in others, by reproof, by warning, by exercise of parental or pastoral authority, as if we were guilty of the acts ourselves.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 516.

May God give us faith, courage, and power in these troubled times to know and do the will of the Lord.—by Dr. Ralph Larson

Clarification

We have received several letters expressing concern regarding the quotation on page 7 of this booklet: “I get tired of going to church every Sabbath and getting my weekly dose of strychnine from the pulpit.”

For generations strychnine was widely used as a tonic because of its stimulating effect in low doses. Many a compassionate, well-meaning physician prescribed it for a multitude of physical ills. The patient and physician honestly believed that the best available care was being provided. The Holy Spirit led Ellen G. White to repeatedly condemn the use of strychnine along with other popular medicines of that day as poisonous and harmful. Today science has proved that strychnine is indeed a deadly poison, but this came too late to save the thousands—even millions—who were actually harmed by it rather than benefited by it as they and the administrators of it believed. (See “Ellen White’s Criticism of Nineteenth Century Medicine,” Albert E. Hirst, Adventist Review, June 30, 1983.)

Seventh-day Adventist who today are teaching and preaching that Christians cannot stop sinning even by the power of God, although with all compassion and sincerity and even though it is readily accepted by some as the truth, we believe that in the end this teaching will prove to be just as deadly and harmful and with more eternal consequences than the “weekly dose of strychnine.” We regret that the article gave the impression to some that this statement was generally applicable to all Adventist pulpits. We know that there are many pulpits giving the true, historic Adventist message, and we ask forgiveness if we implied otherwise.—EDITORS

The Christian’s Obligation

“The great work for the salvation of souls must be carried forward. In the tithe, with gifts and offerings, He has made provision for this work. Thus He intends that the ministry of the gospel shall be sustained. He claims the tithe as His own, and it should ever be regarded as a sacred reserve, to be placed in His treasury for the benefit of His cause. He asks also for our free-will gifts and offerings of gratitude. All are to be devoted to the sending of the gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 300.

“The tithing system was ordained by God, and it had been observed from the earliest times. Abraham, the father of the faithful, paid tithes of all that he possessed. The Jewish rulers recognized the obligation of tithing, and this was right; but they did not leave the people to carry out their own convictions of duty. Arbitrary rules were laid down for every case. The requirements had become so complicated that it was impossible for them to be fulfilled. None knew when their obligations were met. As God gave it, the system was just and reasonable; but the priests and rabbis had made it a wearisome burden.” The Desire of Ages, 617.

“In commissioning His disciples to go ‘into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ Christ assigned to men the work of spreading the gospel. But while some go forth to preach, He calls upon others to answer to His claims upon them for tithes and offerings with which to support the ministry and to spread the printed truth all over the land. This is God’s means of exalting man. It is just the work which he needs, for it will stir the deepest sympathies of his heart and call into exercise the highest capabilities of the mind.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 472.

“God blesses the work of men’s hands. They are to act their part as faithful stewards by returning to the Lord his portion. They are to devote their means to his service, that his vineyard may not remain a barren waste. They are to study what course the Lord would pursue were he in their place. They are to take all difficult matters to the Lord in prayer. They are not to use all the means at their command in supplying with an over abundance of facilities the portion of the vineyard in which they are placed. They are to unselfishly impart that which they have to the Lord’s workers in hard places. . . .

“Unwise generalship is an offense to God, because it involves many others in difficulties. The Lord proves and tests every man, to see whether he will deal wisely with the Master’s goods. . . .

“He has given them his means for wise consideration of all doing his service and wise distribution. His workmen pray to him for facilities with which to work, while those to whom he has given his mean, the very means to answer these prayers, neglect his work, allowing his workers to lose their time and wear out their strength in working against disadvantages which need not be. . . .

“A steward identifies himself with his master. His master’s interests become his. He has accepted the responsibilities of a steward and he must act in the master’s stead doing as the master would do if he were presiding over his own goods.” The Kress Collection, 151-152, 154 (July 10, 1900).

“The sin of the world today is the sin that brought destruction upon Israel. Ingratitude to God, the neglect of opportunities and blessings, the selfish appropriation of God’s gifts, . . . are bringing ruin upon the world today.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 302.

“The woe which will fall upon the minister if he preach not the gospel, will just as surely fall upon the businessman, if he, with his different talents, will not be a co-worker with Christ in accomplishing the same results.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 469.

“The wants of the cause are laid before us; the empty treasuries appeal to us most pathetically for help. One dollar now is of more value to the work than ten dollars will be at some future period.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 732.

“It is hard for some who profess to believe the present truth to do even so little as to hand the messengers God’s own money that He has lent them to be stewards over. . . . An angel said, ‘Are all messengers?’ Another answered, ‘No, no; God’s messengers have a message.’ ” Early Writings, 50.

“God is calling upon His people to give Him of the means that He has entrusted to them, in order that institutions may be established in the destitute fields that are ripe for the harvest. He calls upon those who have money in the banks to put it into circulation. By giving of our substance to sustain God’s work, we show in a practical manner that we love Him supremely and our neighbor as ourselves.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 56.

“God is not pleased with the present showing. Our means is not to be bound up for years where it is not available for missionary work. This God forbids. . . . I have been commissioned to instruct our people to be economical, and always ready to give of their means to the Lord’s work. If you have a thousand dollars to spare, God wants it; it belongs to Him. If you have twenty dollars to spare, God wants it. His vineyard is waiting to be worked.” General Conference Bulletin, April 7, 1903.

“There are only two places in the world where we can deposit our treasures—in God’s storehouse or in Satan’s, and all that is not devoted to Christ’s service is counted on Satan’s side and goes to strengthen his cause.

“The Lord designs that the means entrusted to us shall be used in building up His kingdom. His goods are committed to His stewards that they may be carefully traded upon and bring back a revenue to Him in the saving of souls unto eternal life.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 448.

“In the last extremity, before this work shall close, thousands will be cheerfully laid upon the altar. Men and women will feel it a blessed privilege to share in the work of preparing souls to stand in the great day of God, and they will give hundreds as readily as dollars are given now.” Counsels on Stewardship, 40.

“All that we acquire is to be used to His glory. All the property that the Lord has entrusted to us is to be held on the altar of God, to be returned to Him again. We are working out our own destiny. May God help us all to be wise for eternity.” Testimony to Ministers, 147.

How Tithe Should Be Used

“God’s chosen messengers, who are engaged in aggressive labor, should never be compelled to go a warfare at their own charges, unaided by the sympathetic and hearty support of their brethren. It is the part of church members to deal liberally with those who lay aside their secular employment that they may give themselves to the ministry. When God’s ministers are encouraged, His cause is greatly advanced. But when, through the selfishness of men, their rightful support is withheld, their hands are weakened, and often their usefulness is seriously crippled.

“The displeasure of God is kindled against those who claim to be His followers, yet allow consecrated workers to suffer for the necessities of life while engaged in active ministry. These selfish ones will be called to render an account, not only for the misuse of their Lord’s money, but for the depression and heartache which their course has brought upon His faithful servants. Those who are called to the work of the ministry, and at the call of duty give up all to engage in God’s service, should receive for their self-sacrificing efforts wages sufficient to support themselves and their families. . . . Is not the work of disseminating truth, and leading souls to Christ, of more importance than any ordinary business? And are not those who faithfully engage in this work justly entitled to ample remuneration? . . . That there may be funds in the treasury for the support of the ministry, and to meet the calls for assistance in missionary enterprises, it is necessary that the people of God give cheerfully and liberally. A solemn responsibility rests upon ministers to keep before the churches the needs of the cause of God and to educate them to be liberal. When this is neglected, and the churches fail to give for the necessities of others, not only does the work of the Lord suffer, but the blessing that should come to believers is withheld.” The Acts of the Apostles, 340-341.

“Some, who do not see the advantage of educating the youth to be physicians both of the mind and of the body, say that the tithe should not be used to support medical missionaries, who devote their time to treating the sick. In response to such statements as these, I am instructed to say that the mind must not become so narrowed down that it cannot take in the truth of the situation.” Medical Ministry, 245.

“The churches must arouse. The members must awake out of sleep and begin to inquire, How is the money which we put into the treasury being used? The Lord desires that a close search be made. Are all satisfied with the history of the work for the past fifteen years? Where is the evidence of the co-working with God? Where has been heard throughout the churches the prayer for the help of the Holy Spirit? Dissatisfied and disheartened, we turn away from the scene.

“Our churches and institutions must return to where they were before the backsliding commenced, when they began trusting in man and making flesh their arm. Have we not seen enough of human wisdom? Shall we not now seek God in earnestness and simplicity, and serve him with heart and mind and strength?” The Kress Collection, 120 (June 26, 1900)

“No line is to be drawn between the genuine medical missionary work and the gospel ministry. These two must blend. They are not to stand apart as separate lines of work. They are to be joined in an inseparable union.” Medical Ministry, 250.

“The tithe . . . is to be especially devoted to the support of those who are bearing God’s message to the world.” Welfare Ministry, 277.

“The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women.” Evangelism, 492.

“There are ministers’ wives, . . . giving Bible readings and praying with families, helping along by personal efforts just as successfully as their husbands. These women give their whole time, and are told that they receive nothing for their labors because their husbands receive their wages. I tell them to go forward and all such decisions shall be reversed. The Word says, ‘The laborer is worthy of his hire.’ When any such decision as this is made, I will in the name of the Lord, protest. I will feel it in my duty to create a fund from my tithe money, to pay these women who are accomplishing just as essential work as the ministers are doing, and this tithe I will reserve for work in the same line as that of the ministers, hunting for souls, fishing for souls.” Spalding-Magan’s Unpublished Manuscript Testimonies of Ellen G. White, 117. (April 21, 1898.

“Light has been plainly given that those who minister in our schools, teaching the word of God, explaining the Scriptures, educating the students in the things of God, should be supported by the tithe money.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 215.

“Let it never be forgotten that true Christianity comes through the engraving of Bible principles upon the heart and character. This must be an individual work, visibly expressed. Then true missionary work will be done. The Lord’s means will be carefully invested.” The Kress Collection, 122, (June 18, 1900).

Improper Use of Tithe

“There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 261-262.

“If God pronounces a woe upon those who are called to preach the truth and refuse to obey, a heavier woe rests upon those who take upon them this sacred work without clean hands and pure hearts. As there are woes for those who preach the truth while they are unsanctified in heart and life, so there are woes for those who receive and maintain the unsanctified in the position which they cannot fill.” Ibid., vol. 2, 552.

“It would be poor policy to support from the treasury of God those who really mar and injure His work, and who are constantly lowering the standard of Christianity.” Ibid., vol. 3, 553.

“A very plain, definite message has been given to me for our people. I am bidden to tell them that they are making a mistake in applying the tithe to various objects which, though good in themselves, are not the object to which the Lord has said that the tithe should be applied. Those who make this use of the tithe are departing from the Lord’s arrangement. God will judge for these things.

“One reasons that the tithe may be applied to school purposes. Still others reason that canvassers and colporteurs should be supported from the tithe. But a great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object for which it is to be used—the support of the ministers.” Ibid., vol. 9, 248-249.

Only “Appointed” Channels?

“Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning.” Testimonies to Ministers, 300.

“The arrangement that all moneys must go through Battle Creek and under the control of the few men in that place is a wrong way of managing. There are altogether too many weighty responsibilities given to a few men, and some do not make God their counselor.” Ibid., 321.

“(W.C. White) ‘Mother bears a very strong testimony against the medical missionary workers, the college men, or those engaged in the publishing work, entering the field without consultation and sanction from the General Conference Committee, and especially if working with any spirit of rivalry, and endeavoring to build up their work by making unfavorable comparisons, showing that other branches of the work are inferior to theirs; that they may raise money for the institutions which they represent. Her views are that we should do now as has been done in the past—let the men representing the different enterprises meet with the members of the General Conference Committee, and prayerfully consider plans and ways and means for building up all branches of the work, then agree upon such plans for presenting the work as will show the people that it is a perfect unity, and that there is no rivalry, and raise money in such a way as that the building up on one enterprise will not tear down another.

“Mother makes one important exception to the above plan. She says that whenever the Lord has plainly spoken regarding an important work that is being neglected, as in the case of the work among the Southern people, and then the General Conference continues to neglect it, that the workers connected with this missionary enterprise are free to go to the churches anywhere and everywhere, and raise means for the prosecution of the work that has been plainly pointed out should be done. So, she says regarding the school work, if the General Conference Committee should refuse to co-operate in an effort to relieve the indebtedness of our schools, it would be right for the school men to go into the field, and appeal to churches and individuals. But we have no reason to believe that there will be any necessity for independent action. We believe that the members of the General Conference Committee stand just where Mother has stood for some time, waiting for the school boards to place their work on a sound basis, feeling that this is necessary before we can hope for the blessing of God, without which our efforts will be of no avail.” Spalding-Magan’s Unpublished Manuscript Testimonies of Ellen G. White, 156.

“Some have entertained the idea that because the school at Madison is not owned by a conference organization, those who are in charge of the school should not be permitted to call upon our people for the means that is greatly needed to carry on their work. This idea needs to be corrected. In the distribution of the money that comes into the Lord’s treasury, you are entitled to a portion just as verily as are those connected with other needy enterprises that are carried forward in harmony with the Lord’s instruction.

“The Lord Jesus will one day call to account those who would so tie your hands that it is almost impossible for you to move in harmony with the Lord’s biddings. ‘The silver and the gold is mine, saith the Lord, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.’ ” Ibid., 411.

“The Lord will raise up men who will give the people the message for this time.” Testimonies to Ministers, 107.

“He will call men from the plow and from other occupations to give the last note of warning to perishing souls.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 170.

“Most startling messages will be borne by men of God’s appointment.” Ibid., 137.

“Pharisaism in the Christian world today is not extinct. The Lord desires to break up the course of precision which has become so firmly established, which has hindered instead of advancing his work. He desires his people to remember that there is a large space over which the light of present truth is to be shed. Divine wisdom must have abundant room in which to work. It is to advance without asking permission or support from those who have taken to themselves a kingly power. In the past one set of men have tried to keep in their own hands the control of all the means coming from the churches, and have used this means in a most disproportionate manner, erecting expensive buildings where such large buildings were unnecessary and uncalled for, and leaving needy places without help or encouragement.

“For years the same routine, the same ‘regular way’ of working has been followed, and God’s work has been greatly hindered. The narrow plans that have been followed by those who did not have clear, sanctified judgment has resulted in a showing that is not approved by God.

“God calls for a revival and a reformation. The ‘regular lines’ have not done the work which God desires to see accomplished. Let revival reformation make constant changes. . . . Let every yoke be broken. Let men awaken to the realization that they have an individual responsibility.

“The present showing is sufficient to prove to all who have the true missionary spirit that the ‘regular lines’ may prove a failure and a snare. God helping his people, the circle of kings who dared to take such great responsibilities shall never again exercise their unsanctified power in the so-called ‘regular lines’. Too much power has been invested in unrevived, unreformed human agencies. Let not selfishness and covetousness be allowed to outline the work which must be done to fulfill the grand, noble commission which Christ has given to every disciple. . . .

“The Lord has encouraged those who have started out on their own responsibility to work for him, their hearts filled with love for souls ready to perish. . . . Young men, go forth into the places to which you are directed by the Spirit of the Lord. Work with your hands, that you may be self-supporting, and as you have opportunity, proclaim the message of warning. . . . God grant that the voices which have been so quickly raised to say that all the money invested in the work must go through the appointed channel at Battle Creek, shall not be heard. The people to whom God has given his means are amenable to him alone. It is their privilege to give direct aid and assistance to missions. . . .

“I do not consider it the duty of the Southern branch of our work, in the publication and handling of books, to be under the dictation of our established publishing houses. And if means can be devised to reduce the expense of publishing and circulating books, let this be done.” Letter to Brother Daniells, June 28, 1901, published in Spalding-Magan’s Unpublished Manuscript Testimonies of Ellen G. White, 174-177.

“In reference to our conference, it is repeated o’er and o’er and o’er again, that it is the voice of God, and therefore everything must be referred to the Conference and have the conference voice in regard to permission or restriction or what shall be and what shall not be done in the various fields. . . .

“We have heard enough, abundance, about that ‘everything must go around in the regular way.’ When we see the regular lines are altered and purified and refined, and the God of the heavens mold is upon the regular lines, then it is our business to establish the regular lines. But when we see message after message that God has given has been accepted, but no change, just the same as it was before, then it is evident that new blood must be brought into the regular lines. . . .

“It requires minds that are worked by the Holy Spirit of God; and unless that evidence is given, unless there is a power that shows that they are accepted by God to impart to the responsibilities that have to be handled, then there should be a renovation without any delay. To have this conference pass on and close up as the conferences have done, with the same manipulating, with the very same tone, and the same order—God forbid! . . . God forbid, brethren. . . . He wants every living soul that has a knowledge of the truth to come to their senses. He wants every living power to arouse; and we are just about the same thing as dead men. And it is time that we should arise and shine because our light has come, and the glory of the Lord has arisen upon us, and until this shall come we might just as well close up the conference today as any other day. . . .

“Now the Lord wants his Spirit to come in. He wants the Holy Ghost king. He wants everything of the sharpness, that it shall not be exercised toward outsiders, it shall not be exercised toward one that is trying to serve God and trying to exercise all his power to serve him, that is bringing his tithes here to sustain the ministry. He has a treasury, and that treasury is to be sustained by the tithe, and that tithe is to be a sacred tithe, and it is to be God’s tithe, and that tithe is to be so liberal that it will sustain the work largely; each one to act in their capacity in such a way that the confidence of the whole people will be established in them, and that they will not be afraid, but see everything just as light as day until they are in connection with the work of God and the people. . . .

“There is to be no man that has the right to put his hand out and say, No, you can not go there; we won't support you if you go there. Why, what have you to do with supporting? Did they create the means? The means come from the people, and those who are destitute fields. The voice of God has told me to instruct them to go the people and to tell them their necessities, and to draw all the people to work just where they can find a place to work, to build up the work in every place they can.” Remarks at a meeting held in Battle Creek College Library, General Conference, April 1901. Ibid., 162-168.

“God has given me a message for the men who are carrying large responsibilities in Washington and other centers of the work. This is a time when the work of God should be conducted with the greatest wisdom, unselfishness, and the strictest integrity by every conference; a time when there should be the closest observance of the law of God on the part of every worker; a walking and working under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“God needs men and women who will work in the simplicity of Christ to bring the knowledge of truth before those who need its converting power. But when a precise line is laid down which the workers must follow in their efforts to proclaim the message, a limit is set to the usefulness of a great number of workers. I am charged to speak, saying, God seeth not as man seeth. Those who occupy responsible positions need to place a lower estimate upon the value of human wisdom and to esteem more highly the sanctification of the Spirit revealed in the lowliness and gentleness of Christ. They need to have the Holy Spirit come into their hearts and minds, to control their wills and to sanctify their tongues. When soul and mind and body are converted to God, our physical strength and our desires will become working agencies for God. When the converting power of God transforms the life, we shall be educated by God himself to speak his words and work his works. . . .

“I have said only a little in comparison with what might be said on this subject. But I call on our ministers, our teachers, and our physicians to awake out of sleep, and see the opportunities for work that are within their reach, but which for years have been allowed to pass unimproved. . . .

“It is a sin for any to criticize and find fault with those who in their manner of working do not exactly meet their mind. Let none blame or censure the men who have labored at Madison. In the place of complaining at your brother’s work, take up your own neglected work. Instead of picking flaws in your brother’s character, search your own heart, confess your sins, and act honestly with God. Let there be condemnation of self for the work that lies undone all about you. Instead of placing impediments in the way of those who are trying to accomplish something . . . let our eyes be opened to see that time is passing, and that there is much for you to do.

“The Lord works through various agencies. If there are those who desire to step into new fields and take up new lines of labor, encourage them to do so. . . . let no man’s hand be raised to hinder his brother. Those who have had experience in the work of God should be encouraged to follow the guidance and counsel of the Lord.

“Do not worry lest some means shall go direct to those who are trying to do missionary work in a quiet and effective way. All the means is not to be handled by one agency or organization. There is much business to be done conscientiously for the cause of God. Help is to be sought from every possible source. There are men who can do the work of securing means for the cause, and when these are acting conscientiously and in harmony with the counsels of their fellow-laborers in the field which they represent, the hand of restraint is not to be laid upon them. They are surely laborers together with Him who gave his life for the salvation of souls. . . .

“To those in our conferences who have felt that they had authority to forbid the gathering of means in certain territory I now say: This matter has been presented to me again and again. I now bear my testimony in the name of the Lord to those whom it concerns. Wherever you are, withhold your forbiddings. The work of God is not to be thus trammeled. God is being faithfully served by these men whom you have been watching and criticizing. They fear and honor the Lord; they are laborers together with Him. God forbids you to put any yokes on the necks of his servants. It is the privilege of these workers to accept gifts or loans that they may invest them to help in doing an important work that greatly needs to be done. This wonderful burden of responsibility which some suppose God has placed upon them with their official position, has never been laid upon them. If men were standing free on the high platform of truth, they would never accept the responsibility to frame rules and regulations that hinder and cramp God’s chosen laborers in their work for the training of missionaries. When they learn the lesson that ‘All ye are brethren’, and realize that their fellow-workers may know just as well as they how to use in the wisest way the talents and capabilities entrusted to them, they will remove the yokes that are now binding their brethren, and will give them credit for having love for souls and a desire to labor unselfishly to promote the interests of the cause. . . .

“You have no time to lose. Satan will soon rise up to create hindrances; let the work go forward while it may. This is no time for weakness to be woven into our experience. Do not spend your money for unnecessary things, do not waste it on story magazines and cheap literature, but take your surplus means and say, I will use this in employing men and women to give the last message of warning to the world.

“When the Holy Spirit is allowed to mold our hearts and lives, there will be much more confidence expressed in the workers who are struggling with difficulties in hard places. Let everyone take his own individual case before the Lord, and study his own faults instead of the fancied shortcomings of his brother. We each need to realize our own weakness and be constantly on guard. Satan is watching to take us unawares, and many are ignorant of their own defects of character. . . .

“The Lord is calling for men and women to guard their own houses and families, and instead of watching their fellow-workers, regarding with jealousy their outgoing and incoming, to turn their attention to self. The Lord has a report to make of every soul who would restrict the liberty of another. There is a Watcher who is taking the measure of character, and who will judge accordingly. The jealousy revealed by some who claim to be in the truth, plainly reveals that unless their hearts are changed they will never be overcomers. Unless they respond to the subduing, sanctifying influences of the grace of God, they will never wear the crown of life.

“Those who desire to wear Christ's yoke will heed the invitation ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ To all who would mark out a certain course for their brother to pursue, the Lord says, Stand out of the way. Satan and his emissaries are doing enough of this kind of work. We are altogether too near the close of earth's history to seek to block the wheels of the chariot of truth. God’s workers are to come into line, to pray together, to counsel together. And whenever it is impossible for them to gather for counsel, God will instruct through His Spirit those who sincerely desire to serve him.” Ibid., 419-424 (January 6, 1908).

Ellen White’s Example

“Mountain View, Calif., Jan. 22, 1905.

 

“Elder Watson: (President of Colorado Conference)

“My brother, I wish to say to you, Be careful how you move. You are not moving wisely. The least you have to speak about the tithe that has been appropriated to the most needy and the most discouraging field in the world, the more sensible you will be.

“It has been presented to me for years that my tithe was to be appropriated by myself to aid the white and colored ministers who were neglected and did not receive sufficient properly to support their families. When my attention was called to aged ministers, white or black, it was my special duty to investigate into their necessities and supply their needs. This was to be my special work, and I have done this in a number of cases. No man should give notoriety to the fact that in special cases the tithe is used in that way.

“In regard to the colored work in the South, that field has been and is still being robbed of the means that should come to the workers of that field. If there has been cases where our sisters have appropriated their tithe to the support of the ministers working for the colored people in the South, let every man, if he is wise, hold his peace.

“I have myself appropriated my tithe to the most needy cases brought to my notice. I have been instructed to do this; and as the money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury, it is not a matter that should be commented upon; for it will necessitate my making known these matters, which I do not desire to do, because it is not best.

“Some cases have been kept before me for years, and I have supplied their needs from the tithe, as God has instructed me to do. And if any person shall say to me, Sister White, will you appropriate my tithe where you know it is most needed, I shall say, Yes, I will; and I have done so. I commend those sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed to help to do a work that is being left undone; and if this matter is given publicity, it will create knowledge which would better be left as it is. I do not care to give publicity to this work which the Lord has appointed me to do, and others to do.

“I send this matter to you so that you shall not make a mistake. Circumstances alter cases. I would not advise that any should make a practice of gathering up tithe money. But for years there have now and then been persons who have lost confidence in the appropriation of the tithe who have placed their tithe in my hands, and said that if I did not take it they would themselves appropriate it to the families of the most needy minister they could find. I have taken the money, given a receipt for it, and told them how it was appropriated.

“I write this to you so that you shall keep cool and not become stirred up and give publicity to this matter, lest many more shall follow their example.

“(Signed) Ellen G. White.” Spalding-Magan’s Unpublished Manuscript Testimonies of Ellen G. White, 215-216.

Points to Consider:

1. Irregular lines are connected to the Lord’s Treasury.

2. God directed these ladies to send tithe through irregular lines. (God would never direct anyone to divert their tithe and thereby to sin.).

3. Sister White used her example of giving her tithe through “irregular lines” as a defense for these ladies—showing us that she was an example.

4. Tithe was not given through the local church—but straight to the Southern field. Thereby showing that “in His Treasury” (Counsels on Stewardship, 106) isn’t synonymous with—in the local church, in the local conference.

5. The council was sent to Elder Watson to hold his peace, instead of rebuking those ladies for sending their tithe through the “irregular lines.”

6. All of God’s council is harmonious. This letter gives vital information to help us understand Testimonies, vol. 9, 245-252 and Counsels on Stewardship, 106.

 

— Pastor Ron Spear


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