Rendering to God His Own, Part III

“Never was there a more important time in the history of our work than the present. The message of the third chapter of Malachi comes to us, holding up before us the need of honesty in our relations to the Lord and His work. My brethren, the money that you use to buy and sell and get gain will be a curse to you if you withhold from the Lord that which is His.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 53.

“Wherever there is life, there is increase and growth; in God’s kingdom there is a constant interchange,—taking in, and giving out; receiving, and returning to the Lord His own. God works with every true believer, and the light and blessings received are given out again in the work which the believer does. Thus the capacity for receiving is increased. As one imparts of the heavenly gifts, he makes room for fresh currents of grace and truth to flow into the soul from the living fountain. Greater light, increased knowledge and blessings, are his. In this work, which devolves upon every church member, is the life and growth of the church. He whose life consists in ever receiving and never giving, soon loses the blessing. If the truth does not flow forth from him to others, he loses his capacity to receive.” “The man who will rob God is cultivating traits of character that will cut him off from admittance into the family of God above.” Ibid., vol. 6, 448, 391.

We as a people have always believed and taught that the message from God to the Laodicean church recorded in Revelation 3:14, finds its application in the denomination which is delivering to the world the warning message of Revelation 14:6 [see also verses 7–12]; in other words, the Seventh-day Adventists. We have looked on the Laodicean message as a sifting process that will remove from the ranks the wrong-doers, while preparing the true in heart for participation in the message of the loud cry.

For many years we have looked forward to the reformation that will be wrought by this message, but time and again we have been told by the Spirit of prophecy that the message was not yet doing its work. In 1873, the servant of the Lord stated plainly the preparation that must be made before the result presented in that message can be realized: “The people of God must see their wrongs and arouse to zealous repentance and a putting away of those sins which have brought them into such a deplorable condition of poverty, blindness, wretchedness, and fearful deception. I was shown that the pointed testimony must live in the church. This alone will answer to the message to the Laodiceans. Wrongs must be reproved, sin must be called sin, and iniquity must be met promptly and decidedly, and put away from us as a people.”

“I saw that many who profess to be keeping the commandments of God are appropriating to their own use the means which the Lord has entrusted to them and which should come into His treasury. They rob God in tithes and in offerings. They dissemble and withhold from Him to their own hurt. They bring leanness and poverty upon themselves and darkness upon the church because of their covetousness, their dissembling, and their robbing God in tithes and in offerings.

“I saw that many souls will sink in darkness because of their covetousness. The plain, straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient Israel because of their sins. God holds His people, as a body, responsible for the sins existing in individuals among them. If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for those sins.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 260, 269.

These statements lose nothing of their force because of the years that have passed since they were made. Their application and necessity are more evident now than they were forty-three years ago. That the revival of the straight testimony will do its work and prepare a people to give the warning to Babylon, is clearly shown in the description of a vision given to Sister White. In this vision a great reformatory movement passed before her. The people of God were aroused from their lethargy, and were hastening in every direction, engaged in various lines of missionary labor. They were so spiritually minded that the sick were healed at their solicitation, and miracles witnessed to the genuineness of their work, while the covetous, refusing to be converted, were sifted out. See Testimonies, vol. 9, 126.

From this it is evident that this reformatory movement will be the result of the application of the Laodicean message, and according to the Testimony just referred to, it will be accomplished by the revival of the pointed and straight testimonies. A careful study of the Testimonies will show that one of the main reasons, if not the principal one, for unfaithfulness in the payment of tithe, lies in the lack of systematic methods for its collection.

God holds the church officers responsible for the collection of tithe. . . . The elders and church officers are expected to visit and labor with the delinquents. Briefly presented, the instruction is as follows: “Ministers have neglected to enforce gospel beneficence. The subject of tithes and offerings has not been dwelt upon as it should have been.” Ibid., vol. 5, 382. . . .

In an article published in the Church Officers’ Gazette for January 1915, Elder G. B. Thompson quotes from the Supplement to the Review and Herald of December 1, 1896, the following from the servant of the Lord: “Let the church appoint pastors or elders who are devoted to the Lord Jesus, and let these men see that officers are chosen who will attend faithfully to the work of gathering in the tithe. If the pastors show that they are not fitted for their charge, if they fail to set before the church the importance of returning to God his own, if they do not see to it that the officers under them are faithful, and that the tithe is brought in, they are in peril. They are neglecting a matter which involves a blessing or a curse to the church. They should be relieved of their responsibility, and other men should be tested and tried.”

Elder Thompson then comments as follows: “I hope this instruction from the servant of the Lord will not fall on stony ground, but bear fruit. If all the officers in our churches will take up this burden, many thousands of dollars of tithe will be gathered for the work of God. This means greater blessing to those who are faithful, more laborers sent into the fields, and more souls saved. Shall not this long-neglected matter receive attention without further delay?” No one, however, can be compelled to obey God, neither can any be questioned as to the amount of income or increase to be tithed. The individual is to be left free to tithe his income, but God requires a tenth to be turned in to the treasury. If he makes a false statement, it will appear in the judgment against him; it is a personal matter between God and the individual.

“Men are not naturally inclined to be benevolent, but to be sordid and avaricious, and to live for self. And Satan is ever ready to present the advantages to be gained by using all their means for selfish, worldly purposes; he is glad when he can influence them to shirk duty, and rob God in tithes and offerings. But not one is excused in this matter.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 382.

“Systematic benevolence should not be made systematic compulsion. It is freewill offerings that are acceptable to God.” “As to the amount required, God has specified one tenth of the increase. This is left to the conscience and benevolence of men, whose judgment in this tithing system should have free play. And while it is left free to the conscience, a plan has been laid out definite enough for all. No compulsion is required.” Ibid., vol. 3, 396, 394.

“Voluntary offerings and the tithe constitute the revenue of the gospel. Of the means which are entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion—a tithe; but He leaves all free to say how much the tithe is, and whether or not they will give more than this. They are to give as they purpose in their hearts.” Ibid., vol. 5, 149.

“The first Christian church had not the privileges and opportunities we have. They were a poor people, but they felt the power of the truth. The object before them was sufficient to lead them to invest all. They felt that the salvation or the loss of a world depended upon their instrumentality. They cast in their all; and held themselves in readiness to go or come at the Lord’s bidding.

“We profess to be governed by the same principles, to be influenced by the same spirit. But instead of giving all for Christ many have taken the golden wedge and a goodly Babylonish garment and hid them in the camp. If the presence of one Achan was sufficient to weaken the whole camp of Israel, can we be surprised at the little success which attends our efforts when every church and almost every family has its Achan?” Ibid., 156, 157.

“As a people professing to be reformers, treasuring the most solemn, purifying truths of God’s word, we must elevate the standard far higher than it is at the present time. Sin and sinners in the church must be promptly dealt with, that others may not be contaminated. Truth and purity require that we make more thorough work to cleanse the camp from Achans. Let those in responsible positions not suffer sin in a brother. Show him that he must either put away his sins or be separated from the church.” Ibid., 147.

In a Testimony concerning the guilt of Achan, and its effect on the camp of Israel, the following statements are made: “I have been shown that God here illustrates how He regards sin among those who profess to be His commandment-keeping people. Those whom He has specially honored with witnessing the remarkable exhibitions of His power, as did ancient Israel, and who will even then venture to disregard His express directions, will be subjects of His wrath. He would teach His people that disobedience and sin are exceedingly offensive to Him and are not to be lightly regarded. He shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins. In His dealings with His people in the past the Lord shows the necessity of purifying the church from wrongs. One sinner may diffuse darkness that will exclude the light of God from the entire congregation.” Ibid., vol. 3, 265.

Reprinted from The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald,Vol. 93, No. 24, May 11, 1916, 8–10; No. 25, May 18, 1916, 7, 8; No. 26, May 25, 1916, 9, 10; No. 27, June 1, 1916, 9, 10.