Financial policy

The area of finance within the Kingdom of God is very important. There has been much abuse of money in the name of the Gospel resulting in the discrediting of the work of ministry as manifested through local churches and so-called ‘para-church ministries’.

Therefore, much attention will be paid to this subject so that all who come into contact with this ministry will be left in no doubt of our financial philosophy and practise.

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The tithe.

The practise of tithing did not originate in the Mosaic Law nor was it peculiar to natural Israel (Genesis 14:18-20). Centuries before the Law of Moses Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek the king and high priest of Salem. In so doing, Abraham confessed that God was His Lord, the possessor of heaven and earth, and the Giver of victory.

Tithing is the cornerstone of Biblical prosperity. It is not pushing the point to far to say that God’s financial blessings are for the tither exclusively.

The Book of Hebrews, a New Testament book, clearly reveals tithing to be a New Testament concept. Old Testament tithing was a mere shadow of what was to come in the age of the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, the high priest received the tithe. He was a mere shadow of our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. When the New Covenant believer brings his or her tithe, they are presenting it to the High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, as Melchizedek received Abraham’s tithe so Jesus Himself receives the tithe of the New Testament believer (Hebrews 7:1-10).

Where should the New Testament believer tithe?

The Old Testament saint was clearly instructed to bring the tithe into the storehouse of the temple in Jerusalem (Malachi 3:10; I Kings 7:51; II Chronicles 31:11&12 & Nehemiah 10:38&39, 12:44, 13:12&13). The temple was the place where the nation could meet God through the mediation of the priesthood. The tithe was in this way given to God. In the New Testament the tithe still belongs to God but there is no longer a temple in Jerusalem. 

Therefore, no person or ministry has the right to the tithe of any believer. The tithe belongs to Jesus alone! He is the One to whom all believers tithe; therefore, He alone can instruct each individual where to pace their individual tithe. 

Malachi 3:10 indicates, by way of principle, that God desires that each believer place their tithe in that ministry which feeds them spiritually. 

Isaiah 60:3-7 –In this instance, the term ‘Gentiles’ refers to the nations of the world outside of the Kingdom of God. In other words, God has promised a dramatic transfer of wealth from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God. 

The Church is to possess our land of promise, just as Israel of old were to occupy their land of Canaan. God gave it by promise. The Church must go in and possess what God has promised. The foundation for God’s blessing is possible through covenant alone. 

The promise in Malachi 3:8-10 alludes to that covenant. This promise contains the unique challenge to put God to the test. 

Psalm 24:1 clearly states that the earth and all that it contains is God’s by right of creation. Therefore, He reserves the right to do with it as He pleases. The covenants of the Bible clearly show that He wishes to bless His people, but we are to do our part. 

Accepted Church teaching has proclaimed that the believer’s decision to tithe is the guarantee that God will open the windows of heaven. This teaching is only telling half of the truth. 

Malachi 3:8-10 speaks of covenant. God has offered a monetary covenant to His people. By observation alone one can deduce the non-consummation of the covenant from the financial condition of the saints. 

Jesus offers a (potential) answer to this dilemma in Mark 7:13. Is it possible that our accepted tradition has made the Word of none effect? 

In Matthew 23:13-19 Jesus offers a telling reason for the failure of our tradition. In short, the traditional understanding of tithing has made the gift more important than the altar. 

The condition of the altar is more important than the giving of the tithe. In other words, the condition of the place (church, ministry, etc.) where the tithe is given is more important than the giving. 

Therefore, when a tithe is holy and acceptable to God when placed upon a pure altar. The net result: a consummated covenant. THE PURITY OF THE ALTAR SANCTIFIES THE GIFT. The condition of the altar determines the return on the giving. 

Giving a tithe or an offering totally identifies us with the altar. By sowing seed into an altar (church, ministry, etc.), we are identified with that altar, for good and blessing or hurt and destruction (Matthew 10:41). If one gives to an impure altar, that impurity returns to the giver. 

Malachi 3:8-10 is not a ‘distribution’ passage but ‘purpose’ passage. The purpose of the tithe is “that there may be meat in My house”. 

Numbers 18:19-24 clearly shows God’s intention for the tithe. The Scripture is clear; the tithe is not to go to the local synagogue/church, as has been traditionally taught. God gave the whole tithe to the Levites and admonished the people not to assume a Levitical position for financial reasons. 

What is the purpose of giving the tithe to the Levites? The answer: “That there might be meat in My house”. (II Chronicles 31:4&5). 

The Scriptures are clear and consistent. In Numbers 18, II Chronicles 31, and Malachi 3, the stated purpose of the tithe is the support of the Levites (N.B. plural not singular). The Levites received the tithe so they might devote themselves to the Word of God and bring the meat of the Word to God’s people, resulting in growth and maturity. 

Who are the Levites? There were three priesthoods in the Old Testament:

  • Melchizedek – A type of Christ (Hebrews 7:4-11).
  • Aaron – A type and shadow of Jesus’ ministry, albeit temporal.
  • Levites – (Numbers 8:13-19).

 The Levites were called to mature the believers through the teaching of the Word of God (II Chronicles 31:4). They were to make the people aware of God’s requirements so that no plague would fall upon them (Numbers 8:19). The Levites were to prepare the people to fulfill the covenant purposes through understanding the Word. Therefore, the New Testament Levites are the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11ff

However, when any one of these five claims the entire tithe he, or she, is committing the same sin as Achan (Joshua 7). The sin of Achan occurs:

  • When any one individual claims the whole tithe.
  • When one of the ministry gifts thinks he or she can do it all without any consideration of the other four.
  • When one gifting attempts to bring any grouping of believers to maturity alone.

 When the above takes place impurity reigns. When any one of the five ministry gifts claims the tithe based on Malachi 3:8-10 and disregards the Biblical purpose for the tithe, a corrupt and defiled altar occurs. 

The defiled altar becomes corrupt in a variety of ways (James 3:13-16): 

  • People become equated with money.
  • Success in ministry is judged by numbers.
  • Church growth becomes paramount.
  • Competition for the saints among leadership grows.
  • Envy and jealousy rise among leadership over the size of their ministries.
  • The wealthy are often recruited to positions of leadership for the wrong reasons.
  • Sermon content can be directly influenced for fear of avoiding offence.
  • Ministries use advertising industry techniques to draw members.
  • The erection of barriers between ministries in an attempt to stop ‘sheep stealing’.

The net result of the above is division, disunity, disharmony and strife in the corporate Body of Christ.

Each of the above is a manifestation of the ‘hireling mentality’. The hireling is generally afraid to have other ministries of equal status around which he or she or not able to control. The hireling wants everyone to know he is the undisputed number one leader.

The true shepherd looks to the needs of the flock (Mark 6:30-42). The leader of the flock will realize that he or she only has one in five of the necessary ingredients (Ephesians 4:11) to bring the flock to individual and corporate maturity.

WARNING! The history of Old Testament natural Israel reveals that the nation swung between two unacceptable extremes. Either the tithe would be overpaid and became the basis for false religious confidence or a heavenly ‘bribe’ to compensate for a faithless life (Amos 4:4), or it would be neglected altogether. The latter was the more common occurrence. These are traps; so beware for in such snares there is no blessing at all.

Offerings over and above the tithe.

Jesus taught in Luke 6:38 that when we give from our ninety percent a supernatural power is activated that will bring a return. The tithe is the Lord’s, therefore one cannot give what does not belong to them. Therefore tithing is merely giving to God what is already His. The blessing comes from the planting of seed offerings, out of that ninety- percent that the Lord has allowed us to keep as stewards, from which we must expect a bountiful harvest. 

The basic principle here is that giving is a privilege and a requirement. No matter how much of a requirement it may be to give, it must be undertaken with a willing heart (Exodus 35:5; Ezra 8:28; II Corinthians 9:6&7 cf. Romans 12:8). 

The word “willing” as used in Exodus 35:5 means ‘willing, prompt, generous’ (Isaiah 32:5&8). The willing heart is necessary for securing of blessing. Willingness was the inner state of those who contributed to the construction of the temple with spontaneous giving (I Chronicles 29:9, 14&17; Ezra 1:6, 2:68, 3:5). 

As is the case with the tithe one must never lose sight of the fact that everything belongs to God in the first place. We are nothing more than holders of a sacred trust. 

The offering.

Malachi 3:8-10 does not only speak of the tithe but also of offerings. Therefore, the covenant includes both act of financial obedience. 

What is the purpose of the offering? Exodus 25:1,2,8&9 is the record of the first offering ever taken in the Bible. The offering then financed the building of the Tabernacle. 

There is one general rule that consistently and clearly emerges:

OFFERINGS SUPPORT BUILDINGS – TITHES SUPPORT PEOPLE.

The offering in Exodus 25 was not just a one-time event (II Kings 12:4&5 cf. II Chronicles 24:4-14). 

It is clear that God is consistent. In His plan, the Temple, or meeting place, was built and maintained by offerings, while the tithes supported the Levites. 

The misuse of finance opens the ministry guilty of such to be accused of being a den of thieves instead of a house of prayer (Matthew 21:12&13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45&46). 

How are the children of God to acquire the finances necessary for the giving of offerings? I Chronicles 22:1-19 offers some vital insights. 

King David had been a man of war and due to the blood on his hands God would not permit him to build the Temple. The contribution he did make was the spoils of war (I Chronicles 26:26&27) that were to go towards the building of the Temple. 

Solomon, David’s son, is a type of the Church. He was born as a man of rest (vs. 9) because all of Israel’s enemies were vanquished. The Church is a people of rest (Hebrews 4:1-11) because all of our enemies are vanquished (Colossians 2:15). 

The battle was won on our behalf by Jesus Christ, our King David, and now through us He is building His Church (Matthew 16:18). 

With what are we to build? The spoils of the war already won (Isaiah 60:3-7). We now are able through the anointing that abides within us to prosper in our place of work through Divine favour (Psalm 5:12). 

Our prosperity = the spoils of war. A part of which then forms the offerings for the building and maintenance of the meeting place. Satan’s money builds God’s buildings

While prosperity will come, one must avoid a selfish mentality as such initiates a dangerous spiritual progression (Isaiah 56:10&11). 

In Luke 6:38 Jesus teaches that when we give from our ninety percent it activates a supernatural power that will bring a return. The ten- percent tithe is the Lord’s and, obviously, one cannot give from that which does not belong to them. The return that comes from giving then enables one to give again and thereby perpetuate the cycle of giving and receiving. By minimizing the amount of the return that we use upon ourselves results in the ability to give more and thus receive more. Giving will therefore become a lifestyle. 

The basic principle in this regard is that giving is a privilege and a requirement. No matter how much a privilege it may be to give, it must be undertaken with a willing heart (Exodus 35:5 & Ezra 8:28). 

The word “willing” as employed in Exodus 35:5 (Hebrew – Nadhiv) means, “willing, prompt, generous” as used in Isaiah 32:5&8. The Hebrew word ‘Nadhiv’ is derived from ‘Nadhav’ which means, “to do freely.” This speaks of an uncompelled free movement of the will for Divine service or sacrifice. This word speaks specifically of volunteer soldiers. The prophetess and judge of Israel, Deborah, commended the people and the leaders of the nation for giving so liberally and voluntarily (Judges 5:2&9 ref. Psalm 110:3). 

The willing heart is necessary for the securing of blessing. Willingness was the inner state of those who contributed to the construction of the temple in spontaneous giving (I Chronicles 29:9,14&17; Ezra 1:6; 2:68; 3:5). 

As was the case with the tithe, one must never lose sight of the fact that everything belongs to God in the first place. We are nothing more than the holders of a sacred trust. 

The attitude of the freewill in giving is further amplified by Paul in II Corinthians 9:6&7

  1. Each individual must purpose in his or her own heart.
  2. The decision to give must be taken freely so as not to be done grudgingly.
  3. The giver must not be giving because he or she feels they must.
  4. Cheerfulness of heart must mark all giving.

The idea of compulsion is not in any way included in the principle of Godly giving. 

The Bible clearly teaches that one’s giving must be in accordance with ability (Leviticus 14:30&31; 27:8; Deuteronomy 16:17; Ezra 2:69; Acts 11:29 & II Corinthians 8:12). 

II Corinthians 9:10 offers more light in the issue of ability in that it includes a vital principle to be remembered when freely deciding on the amount of any offering. God not only supplies seed to sow, but also bread to eat (Isaiah 55:10). 

One is not always able to match one’s desire to one’s ability. In such a case as this what you desired to give will be credited to you and not just that which you were able to give (II Corinthians 8:12). 

However, the question of ability must not hide the fact that God expects His children to give generously (Exodus 36:5; I Chronicles 29:3 II Chronicles 35:7; Mark 12:43&44; 14:3; II Corinthians 8:3). After all, an offering that does not cost anything is without value (II Samuel 24:24). 

In the physical realm of creation God clearly states there will be seedtime and harvest (Genesis 8:22 & Galatians 6:7). 

The amount and the quality of the seed given has a direct impact on the size of the harvest (Luke 6:38). 

Our giving must always be governed by a spirit of generosity (Proverbs 22:9 & II Corinthians 9:6). The latter scripture carries with it the meaning of bounty that means, “a generous gift”. 

This Ministry and its attitude towards finance.

By now the reader is doubtless aware that this ministry teaches that it is the Christian’s privilege and responsibility to bring tithes and give offerings with a willing and joyful heart. In turn, Bible Alive Teaching Ministry tithes on its income every month and gives free will offerings directed by the Holy Spirit. 

Every month the financial advisory board presents the leadership of this ministry with a financial statement and then awaits instructions concerning the payment of the tithe. This ministry tithes to various ministries as directed by the Holy Spirit. 

The Advisory Board (as per constitution) manages the financial and practical affairs of Bible Alive Teaching Ministry. This board is responsible for the management of all income no matter its source and is answerable to the vision holder. This board operates as an assistant to the spiritual leadership with the latter seeking assistance and practical direction from the former under the overall guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

The ministry accountants receive a full report every calendar month. The accountants are independent of Bible Alive Teaching Ministry (See ‘Independent Service Providers’). This accounting firm prepares this ministry’s tax statements and returns and manages the same with the South African Revenue Service. 

The financial support of those in vocational ministry.

While it can be said that all believers are in the ‘full-time’ ministry, there still remains that portion of the Body of Christ who are full-time in ministry. In other words, those individuals who have no form of secular employment, for the sake of this discussion such will be termed vocational ministers. 

More often than not, in the context of the local church, the individuals who operate in the offices that make up the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11ff) do so as vocational ministers. 

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia reveals the heart of God on the matter of the financial support of those in ministry. “The one who is taught the Word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” (Galatians 6:6 – New American Standard Updated Edition). 

In I Corinthians 9:1-18 Paul goes to some lengths to inform that local church of their responsibility to support those who sent from God to minister to them. From this portion of Scripture one can derive the following:

  • Every godly minister has the right to sustenance.
  • Every minister should be provided for along with his or her spouse.
  • All those called to the ministry have the right to refrain from secular employment.
  • No minister is to minister at his or her own expense.
  • All ministers should be able to do their work with the assurance of adequate support.
  • Ministers that sow spiritual things should reap material things from those who have received such ministry. (Echoes of Galatians 6:6).
  • Those who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel.

In I Timothy 5:17&18 Paul reminds Timothy of the following: “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching’. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The labourer is worthy of his wages.’’ Paul quoted from the Old Testament to make his point (Deuteronomy 25:4 & Leviticus 19:13). 

In the light of the above, this ministry will ensure that its vocational ministries are remunerated in accordance with the demands of Scripture. Not to do so would be to fail to honour God’s servants and that, in turn, dishonours God.