Having established that the genuis of God is in His creation of the concept and functioning of “the church”, we now look at some specific issues related here.
How does a local church relate to the church of God?
Church is like marriage, there is a set form or requirements to being in one, and what is not one, doesn’t meet the requirements. When we speak of marriage in a general way, say, “all members of a marriage should communicate”, we are speaking of marriage as a single universal concept. Not everybody out there is in a marriage. Two men living together in a homosexual relationship is not a marriage. A man and woman, having duly sealed their marriage by civil law is the only thing that can be said to be a real marriage.
What is a biblical definition of a “church”.
A church is a group of saved people who join together in a locality (all of them living in that locality) to meet on the Lord’s day for the purposes which God has established for them as a “church.” These obligations and purposes are:
- Meet together to read and explain the Word of God.
- Corporate prayer.
- Singing spiritual songs and hymns.
- Praise to God for His faithfulness in our lives.
- Thanksgiving for what God has done in our lives.
- Collecting an offering.
These are the activities we see in the Bible that a church does. Additionally churches go out into the world to witness their Christian faith, usually on some other day of the week.
A church also has some identifying marks:
- They have spiritual leaders, of which the one who governs, administrates, and spiritually feeds the congregation through preaching and teaching is the pastor.
- They have officially recognized servants, the deacons.
- They have a define meeting time (every Sunday) and place.
- Their members profess to be saved.
One of the elements of this establish concept of the church is to collect tithes and offerings to be used in the work of the Lord. The principle NT giving object (to the church for the purpose of…) is for paying the salaries of their own ministers. The rule here is that all valid salaries are for people working locally in that church, and the except is for missionaries. Missionaries are only understood as a man evangelizing and establishing or planting a local church somewhere away from his home church where there are no other good churches. Nothing else is a valid missionary ministry.
Even with Paul, we see he is set as the prime example of a missionary, but even he didn’t receive regular donations from his home church (Phil 4:15 “no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only“) nor from the Jerusalem church. He got most of his income from the works he personally planted.
Where should the tithe money go?
The basic principle we see here is that God wants the majority of the collected funds to go into workers that minister in the local church where the funds were collected. We do not see an emphasis in the New Testament on buildings, but on people servants. That should be reflected in a biblical church’s financial budget and giving. Remember, God will soon be back for us, and when we invest our resouces in buildings, these same buildings will be used by the Antichrist for the Satanic one world government. Invest in people. Invest in evangelists and ministers that grow spiritually those who accept the Lord. These investments of God’s money will go up in the rapture with us. The rest will become assets of Satan’s rebellion against God.
This is not to say it is wrong for a church to have a building, but being “frugal” would seem to be more biblical than a Cathedral built as a momument to a pastor.
God’s genuis in the design of the church
I see the difference between a local church and a Christian school as this. A Christian school is always owned by an individual. This individual becomes a multi-millionaire without any doubt. In a local church situation, the pastor never owns the building and property, but it is a possession of the people in that church.
If a pastor sins, or turns to bad doctrine (like speaking in tongues), he leaves the church usually, and the dozens and dozens of years of tithes of God’s people stays with some men of God who search to continue in the same doctrine and conduct of those before them who invested that money in God’s work. When it is a Christian school, the owner stays the owner, and nobody can take his money and possessions from him. Where the owner of a Christian college “goes” spiritually and doctrinally, this is where all your donations go with him. It is totally ridiculous for Christian colleges to want God’s people to donation their tithes to these schools. The same can be said about all kinds of Christian ministries that are one dog run shows.
In the end analysis, you invest in the man of God and his ministry. But there is a big difference between what is a “just salary” that a pastor receives, and what the annual gross income of a Christian college owner is. Let’s see, $20,000 per student per year, and they have 4000 students, so their annual gross is 80,000,000. That is a lot of money for one person to take in in just a single year. Yes, they have a lot of expenses, but that money came from Christian families that are going broke to put their kids in a Christian school.
Can what a Christian College does, be done without all that expense? Yes through the system of a local church.
When you invest your tithes and offerings in a Christian school, the owners, the board of directors, and the principle people running the school all seem to want to be anonymous. Tryng finding out everybody in this, and it is not as easy as you would think. Try finding out the salaries of all these people, and that is next to impossible.
Go to any local church, and as the members if they know what their pastor makes, and most will tell you off the top of their head.
Rom 12:17 Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
We don’t need to attack any specific Christian college. The entire system of Christian schools is flawed and unbiblical. When Paul received a large gift to be distributed (not for his own personal needs, but for the suffering Christian brethren), he was worried…
2Cor 8:20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
Why do Christian schools hide their finances? Because they cannot justify taking in millions and paying high salaries to the top of the pyramid when their customer cows are poor people (and Christian brethren at that).
Jas 2:14 What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
Jas 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be [ye] warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit?
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
God’s principle is to help the poor, not fleece the poor. This is the profile of the false prophet all the way through the Bible. If you cannot discern his doctrine as bad, discern his hand in your billfold!
Peter addresses these types of ministers who have their eyes turned to profits rather than service.
2Peter 2:3 “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you”.
It is through their persuasive arguments that they pilfer your money.
2Pet 2:14 “an heart they have exercised with covetous practices”.
Isa 56:11 “yea they are greedy dogs whic can never have enough… they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.”
Jer 6:13 “for from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness.”
Rom 16:18 “for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
1Tim 3:3 “not covetousness”
Tit 1:7 “not given to filthy lucre”
When we compare a local church and a Christian college, we see extremes of differences. While a local church dreams of a million dollars in a new building, most Christian colleges have one building project after another, each costs millions of dollars. Now even mission boards can have a million dollar headquarters building as if missions cannot be done if they don’t invest in this.
The downfall of Christianity in American hinges on diverting resources into “fixed asssets” buildings and properties instead of laborers on the field actually witnessing and getting people saved, and getting them into a local church to function as a Christian. This shift has been subtle over the past 20 years, but it has seen the downfall of Christian missions in our day, and it will get worse.
Far from God’s people understanding, discerning, and condemning this false concept, they continue to pour their tithes, and convince churches to likewise pour their tithes into buildings and properties.
Likewise in this good ole buddy system we have called Christianity, a few missionaries are making tremendous amounts of money, purchasing houses in the USA and on the field, and living the life of luxury while other missionaries are having to return to the states or not go to the field because there are no funds for their support. All this gets a nice frosting coating which justifies it all. We just don’t have a discerning Christian as a typical church member, and most pastors seem totally oblivious that anything is wrong either.