Do you really want Jesus to come soon? Jesus will not return to earth again until the everlasting gospel is preached to the entire world, to every nation, kindred, language and people. (Matthew 24:15; Revelation 14:6,7.) Jesus would not have given the gospel commission if He did not have a plan to accomplish it. This plan is outlined in the Bible, but, because of the feebleness of our comprehension of God’s purposes, He has condescended to outline His plan for a finished work in much more detail in the writings of Ellen G. White.
God Has Devised Methods Of Support For All His Plans
For every plan that God has devised for the finishing of His work, He has devised methods and left instructions about how that plan is to work and how it is to be supported. For example, literature evangelists were to earn their living from the profits of the books that were sold. Physicians and nurses were to be paid from the fees paid to the sanitarium by the patients. Missionary farmers and tradesmen were to receive payment from their crops or the services rendered.
But there was one class of missionary worker that was not to receive their living from the profits of secular labor. That class of workers were those participating in the work of the gospel ministry. This includes more than just those called “ministers.” According to Ellen White the work of the gospel ministry includes the following kinds of workers: “Institutions that are God’s instruments to carry forward His work on the earth must be sustained. Churches must be erected, schools established, and publishing houses furnished with facilities for doing a great work in the publication of the truth to be sent to all parts of the world. These institutions are ordained of God and should be sustained by tithes and liberal offerings.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 464.
“I have had special instruction from the Lord that the tithe is for a special purpose, consecrated to God to sustain those who minister in the sacred work, as the Lord’s chosen to do His work not only in sermonizing, but in ministering. They should understand all that this comprehends.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 187.
It is true that at times the apostle Paul supported himself by a trade to illustrate “in a practical way what might be done by consecrated laymen” (Acts of the Apostles, 355), but this is not actually God’s plan for the support of the ministry for on the next page Ellen White writes: “It is God’s design that such workers shall be freed from unnecessary anxiety, that they may have full opportunity to obey the injunction of Paul to Timothy, ‘Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them.’ 1 Timothy 4:15. While they should be careful to exercise sufficiently to keep mind and body vigorous, yet it is not God’s plan that they should be compelled to spend a large part of their time at secular employment.” Acts of the Apostles, 356.
We Are Responsible For the Use Of Our Tithe
The gospel confers individual responsibility upon each of us. In no case can this personal responsibility be avoided or transferred. If God tells us to spend the tithe for the work of the gospel only, He will not condone our using it for something else. God will not condone our using tithe for the preaching of apostasy or any use other than specified: “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.
“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.” The Kress Collection, 120.
Diversion of Tithe
One of Satan’s major goals is to divert the money that should be coming into the Lord’s treasury and thereby dry up the financial resources to finish God’s work.
“A flattering prospect may be presented to invest in patent rights or some other supposed brilliant enterprise around which Satan throws a bewitching enchantment. The prospect of getting more money, fast and easily, allures them. They reason that, although they had resolved to put this money into the treasury of God, they will use it in this instance, and will greatly increase it, and will then give a larger sum to the cause. They can see no possibility of a failure. Away goes the means out of their hands, and they soon learn, to their regret, that they have made a mistake. The brilliant prospects have faded. Their expectations are not realized. They were deceived. Satan outgeneraled them. He was more shrewd than they, and he managed to get their means into his ranks and thus deprive the cause of God of that which should have been used to sustain it in extending the truth and saving souls for whom Christ died.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 665.
We have a responsibility to be sure that our tithe and gifts to God’s cause are supporting the preaching of the truth and that the devil does not outgeneral us and secure, into the wrong storehouse, those assets that God has placed into our hands.
What is the Storehouse?
In order to ascertain a responsible and appropriate Christian decision about the use of tithe we need to understand what the storehouse is.
Only two storehouses exist in the world: “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.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 447.
All of our tithes and offerings are to be brought to God’s storehouse: “As did Abraham, they are to pay tithe of all they possess and all they receive. A faithful tithe is the Lord’s portion. To withhold it, is to rob God. Everyone should freely, willingly, and gladly bring tithes and offerings into the storehouse of the Lord. In so doing, he will receive a blessing. There is no safety in withholding from God His own portion.” The Kress Collection, 60.
The word “storehouse” is equivalent to the word “treasury:” (“If all tithes were brought into the storehouse, God’s treasury would not be empty.” Pacific Union Recorder, 10.)
We receive rich gifts from God’s storehouse. Eternal life is a gift which we receive from God’s storehouse and every temporal blessing which we receive is from His storehouse. In gratitude to the great giver and to develop the principle of unselfishness in our hearts, we are then to return, as the Lord has blessed us, to His storehouse: “The Lord Jesus is a never-failing storehouse from which human beings may draw strength and courage.” Faith I Live By, 341. “He to whom God has entrusted gifts, should return to the Lord’s storehouse that which he has received, by freely giving to others the benefit of his blessings.” In Heavenly Places, 221.
We lay up treasures in heaven when we give to God’s storehouse: “Very many might be laying up for themselves treasures in heaven, by keeping the Lord’s storehouse supplied with the portion He claims as His own, and with gifts and offerings.” Messages to Young People, 307.
Where is the Storehouse?
If we are going to send tithes and gifts to God’s storehouse, we need to know where it is. Some think that it is near the Tiber river in Italy. Others think that it is in Maryland and still others think that it is their local church. God’s storehouse is much bigger than any of these places. The reason for confusion is that many, if not most, do not know who and what the church is. Notice the following divine counsel:
“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, [the storehouse], 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.” Spaulding Magan, 215.
When Ellen White gave tithe directly to those engaged in gospel work, she said that this money had not been withheld from the Lord’s treasury (storehouse) and then she said that the Lord had not only appointed her to do this but also others. Obviously then the storehouse must include more than one organization or group. In fact the Lord has forbidden that all monies go through one organization: “The different conferences have been led to look to the leading men at Battle Creek, feeling that no important move can be made without their approval. This tendency has been growing stronger, until it is a serious hindrance to the advancement of the work. This arrangement should never have been. The Lord would have His people under His jurisdiction. . . . 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.” Testimonies to Ministers, 321.
“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.” Spaulding Magan, 421.
Also, in order to understand how to keep our tithe from being diverted, we need to understand what should be done with surplus tithe. Surplus tithe is not to be diverted into other areas of God’s work, other than what He has specified. It is to be sent to pay gospel workers in areas of the world where there is little or no tithe income: “There are missions to be sustained in fields where there are no churches and no tithes, and also where the believers are new and the tithe limited. If you have means that is not needed after settling with your ministers in a liberal manner, send the Lord’s money to these destitute places.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 184.
Special Counsel Concerning Bible Workers
Much discussion has arisen as to whether a person should be eligible to receive tithe if not employed by the conference. This question existed in Ellen White’s day though not to the extent as today since the apostasy had not progressed to the enormous extent it has today. Ellen White did comment on this issue, however: “There are minister’s wives, Sisters Starr, Haskell, Wilson and Robinson, who have been devoted, earnest, whole-souled workers, 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. I know that the faithful women should be paid wages proportionate to the pay received by ministers. They carry the burden of souls, and should not be treated unjustly. These sisters are giving their time to educating those newly come to the faith, and hire their own work done, and pay those who work for them. All these things must be adjusted and set in order, and justice be done to all. Proof-readers in the office receive their wages, two dollars and a half and three dollars a week. this I have had to pay, and others have to pay. But ministers’ wives, who carry a tremendous responsibility, devoting their entire time, have nothing for their labor. This will give you an idea of how matters are in this conference. There are seventy-five souls organized into a church, who are paying their tithe into the conference, and as a saving plan it has been deemed essential to let these poor souls labor for nothing! But this does not trouble me, for I will not allow it to go thus.” Spaulding Magan, 117.
Obviously this same counsel would apply to full-time Bible workers today. Very few young people have trained themselves for Bible work. They have been told that there are no job openings (no tithe money) available for this! The entire time that I taught at Southwestern Adventist college, which was over seven years, I only met one person who was training to become a Bible worker! The result is that in this crisis hour when we should have thousands of young people trained and ready to go throughout Europe, Russia and China and other continents, we look about, and alas, there is a dearth of trained Bible workers all over the world. This fact alone, if you had no other information of God’s counsels for medical or publishing or ministerial work, is proof of a gigantic apostasy in Adventism today.
A truly Christian education is at the very foundation of God’s plans to finish His work. Every Christian is to have a part in finishing God’s work. God designed for us to educate not only ministers and Bible workers but physicians, literature evangelists, nurses and teachers and many other skilled persons to finish the gospel commission.
Special Need for Bible Workers
It is God’s will that we prepare thousands to do Bible work. (Testimonies, vol. 9, 126.) “In every school that God has established there will be, as never before, demand for Bible instruction.” Evangelism, 474. What is this Bible instruction to accomplish? The next sentence says, “Our students are to be educated to become Bible workers.” “In every city there should be a corps of organized, well-disciplined workers; not merely one or two, but scores should be set to work.” Christian Stewardship, 72.
This work will require money. “It almost seems as if scarcely anyone dares ask a worker to go into the cities, because of the means that would be required to carry on a strong, solid work. It is true that much means will be required in order to do our duty toward the unwarned in these places; and God desires us to lift our voices and our influence in favor of using means wisely in this special line of effort.” Evangelism, 42.
If We Fail, God’s Plan Will Succeed Through Others
If none of us feel a responsibility to fill the gap and become trained in Bible work and then help to train others, the Lord will pass us by and finish His work with others. He may use “children” as in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem or the rocks may cry out, but if that happens we will lose the blessing God wanted us to have and in the process we might lose our souls, also. If we do not feel a responsibility for all of our tithe to support the giving of the Three Angels’ Messages, God can at any time find other intelligences and other money or sources of support to finish His work, but we will be the losers. If we support apostasy with our tithe and offerings we are not hastening the Lord’s coming by getting the last message to all the world—rather we are delaying His coming and in dire danger of being accounted as an evil servant at the end. (Matthew 24:44-51).
The time will soon come when God will finish His work in a way completely different than we expect. If we oppose what God is doing because it differs from our expectations of how the work should be conducted, we will be found fighting God and will lose our souls just as surely as the unbelieving Jews. Notice the following prophecies:
“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. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.” Testimonies to Ministers, 300.
Note to Home churches: Since the goal of all historic Adventists should be to see the final message given to the world, it is vitally important that home churches be organized so that they can use their finances to further the great commission by hiring Bible Workers or involving themselves in other types of evangelism.
If you would like more information about how to arrange financial matters in your church, call Steps to Life and we will be happy to send you a free information sheet to help you get started.