The idea of independent self-supporting work is very old. Some people think that it has existed only within the last few years. There were independent self-supporting workers in Bible times. We do not mean independent in the sense of a person going off and doing his own thing. God’s people are never independent in that sense.
We need to understand the word “independent.” In Matthew 24:3, 4 the disciples came to Jesus and said: “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” And what did Jesus answer? “Take heed that no man deceive you.” The first thing that Jesus said when they asked for the sign of his coming and the end of the world was “Be careful that someone does not deceive you.”
By What Authority?
The Bible teaches that in the multitude of counselors there is safety. In Bible times God’s people counseled with one another. They counsel with other people whom the Lord is leading, and they work together. That is the way things are done in heaven. The angels are organized. And all of God’s work is organized. If we are not organized, the Lord cannot work with us, the angels cannot work with us, and we cannot have the success that the Lord wants to give us.
When I say independent I mean independent from the control of the denomination. Has God authorized independent self-supporting work? Matthew 21:23 says: “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” Have you ever heard that question asked? “Who gave you authority to do this? Has your meeting been authorized? Is your preacher duly credentialed? Have you been given permission to give Bible studies?”
Are you authorized to do what you are going to do? Is there a conference representative on your board? Have you been given permission? Have you been recognized? Often the conclusion is that since you have not been authorized, you are against the church.
Eventually it comes to a threat. “If you cannot follow directions, you are going to be disfellowshiped, or your ordination is going to have to be taken away, and you will not be part of the church.”
Let us read again Matthew 21:23. They asked: “By what authority?” Did Jesus have authority from the Sanhedrin? No, He did not. Did He have a certificate from any of the schools? No. Did John the Baptist? No, he did not have one either. Neither John the Baptist nor Jesus had permission from the “right sources” to do what they were doing. They were not authorized. Their meetings were not authorized. Their ministries were not authorized. See The Desire of Ages, 132, 133.
Friends, I want you to see how current this subject is. In a paper published March 30, 1991, which states ten questions that people ought to ask to find out whether they should listen to someone or not. The third question is: “Are you authorized by the General Conference Committee?” If someone had asked you that question in Jesus’ day, would you have gone to listen to Jesus? Would you have gone to listen to John the Baptist? Let us go back a little farther. If someone had asked you that question in Isaiah’s day, would you have gone to listen to him? Would you have gone to listen to Elijah? Would you have gone to listen to Elisha? If that question would have caused you to reject the Messiah; if it would have caused you to reject John the Baptist—the greatest of the prophets, I wonder if that is a good question to ask today.
This is the question that we need to ask today: “Has God authorized independent self-supporting work?” Jesus was challenged as to His authority. “Who gave you the authority to do this? Who gave you the authority to teach? Who gave you the authority to come here to the temple and talk in public?”
Please notice how Jesus answered that question: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” Matthew 21:24–27.
Notice what Jesus did here. They asked Jesus: “Who gave you the authority to do what you are doing? Where did you get permission?” And Jesus led them back in the providence of God to the time of John the Baptist. He said: “Where was the authority for the baptism of John? Was it from heaven? or was it human authority?” Suppose they had answered the truth. They knew the answer to the question, but they thought that telling the truth would get them in trouble. One of the great shocks that I had as a young minister was being in a meeting with other young ministers when a man in a very high position in the church said to us, “Do not do this, because if you do, you will make us tell a lie.” Well, that is the way the priests and elders who came to Jesus felt. “If we tell the truth, Jesus will get us in trouble in public, and we will be embarrassed.” If they had told the truth, saying that the baptism of John was from heaven, what would Jesus have said? Did John the Baptist recognize who Jesus was? He told everybody who Jesus was. “I [John the Baptist] . . . bare record that this is the Son of God.” John 1:34. If they had recognized that John the Baptist’s authority came from Heaven, their question as to where Jesus’ authority came from would had been answered. But since they did not want that answer, they told a lie.
The answer to the question, “Has God authorized independent self-supporting work?” is the same today as it was in Jesus’ day. The way to find the answer to the question is to go back in the providence of God, and see what He has authorized or done in the past.
Protestant or Catholic?
Do you understand the difference between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic? For a Protestant the highest authority is God’s Word, and underneath it is every other authority, including the authority of the church. Ellen White said that Jesus was a Protestant, she was a Protestant, Adventists are Protestants, and if you and I are Seventh-day Adventists, we should be Protestants also. For a Roman Catholic the supreme authority is the authority of the church, and even the Bible is underneath the church’s authority. That is the difference between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic. You have to understand that if you want to understand this subject.
In 1888 we reached a crisis point in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Read from the book Testimonies to Ministers what happened then. One of the primary problems that the Seventh-day Adventist Church had in 1888 was that of finite men putting themselves in God’s place. They took a Roman Catholic position. “Finite men should beware of the control of their fellow men, taking the place assigned to the Holy Spirit. Let not men feel that it is their prerogative to give to the world what they suppose to be truth, and refuse that anything should be given contrary to their ideas. This is not their work. Many things will appear distinctly as truth which will not be acceptable to those who think their own interpretations of the Scripture always right. Most decided changes will have to be made in regard to ideas which some have accepted as without a flaw. These men give evidence of fallibility in very many ways; they work upon principles which the Word of God condemns. That which makes me feel to the very depths of my being, and makes me know that their works are not the works of God, is that they suppose they have authority to rule their fellow men. The Lord has given them no more right to rule others than He has given others to rule them. Those who assume the control of their fellow men take into their finite hands a work that devolves upon God alone.
“That men should keep alive the spirit which ran riot at Minneapolis is an offense to God. All heaven is indignant at the spirit that for years has been revealed in our publishing institution at Battle Creek.” Testimonies to Ministers, 76.
Do you want to manifest the spirit that causes all heaven to be indignant at what you are doing? It happened in our work in the 1880s, and it reached the crisis point at Minneapolis in 1888—the idea of finite men trying to control and rule God’s work.
“There are men whose character and life testify to the fact that they are false prophets and deceivers. These we are not to hear or tolerate . . . Men can become just as were the Pharisees—wide-awake to condemn the greatest Teacher that the world ever knew . . . There are those who are today doing the very same things . . .
“These men who presume to judge others should take a little broader view and say, Suppose the statements of others do not agree with our ideas; shall we for this pronounce them heresy? Shall we, uninspired men, take the responsibility of placing our stakes, and saying, This shall not appear in print? . . .
“Has not our past experience in these things been sufficient?” Notice the next sentence: “Will we ever learn?” Does it sound as if the prophet is frustrated? She says: “Will we ever learn the lessons which God designs we shall learn? Will we ever realize that the consciences of men are not given into our command? If you have appointed committees to do the work which has been going on for years in Battle Creek, dismiss them; and remember that God, the infinite God, has not placed men in any such positions as they occupied at Minneapolis, and have occupied since then.
“I feel deeply over this matter of men being conscience for their fellowmen.” Ibid., 294, 295. This took place at the General Conference level. What about in the local church, or the conference?
“A strange thing has come into our churches. Men who are placed in positions of responsibility that they may be wise helpers to their fellow workers have come to suppose that they were set as kings and rulers in the churches, to say to one brother, Do this; to another, Do that; and to another, Be sure to labor in such and such a way. There have been places where the workers have been told that if they did not follow the instruction of these men of responsibility, their pay from the conference would be withheld.” Ibid., 477.
“I write thus fully, because I have been shown that ministers and people are tempted more and more to trust in finite man for wisdom, and to make flesh their arm. To conference presidents, and men in responsible places, I bear this message: Break the bands and fetters that have been placed upon God’s people. To you the word is spoken, ‘Break every yoke.’ Unless you cease the work of making man amenable to man, unless you become humble in heart, and yourselves learn the way of the Lord as little children, the Lord will divorce you from His work.” Ibid., 480, 481.
Oh, friends, I do not want God to divorce me from His work, do you? If I lose everything else in this world, I do not want to lose the Lord.
This problem did not cease at Minneapolis. We reached a crisis point at that time, but it did not cease at Minneapolis in 1888. “The prejudices and opinions that prevailed at Minneapolis are not dead by any means; the seeds sown there in some hearts are ready to spring into life and bear a like harvest. The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding of those with whom you connect, in regard to the message and the messengers.” Ibid., 467.
I hope that you have seen from these statements that the SDA Church in 1888 was in the midst of a gigantic apostasy from truth. And what did this apostasy involve? It involved men in positions of responsibility dictating and controlling what other people should do. The problem came when some men had convictions about how something should be done, but they could not carry them out. They were men trying to do God’s work, and were not able to do what in their consciences they thought they should do, because they were receiving orders and instructions from men of responsibility who said: “We are in authority and you are going to do it this way.”
Self-Supporting Work Begins
Because of this gigantic apostasy there were sincere-hearted men in the Seventh-day Adventist Church who found it impossible to carry out God’s instructions within the denomination. This dilemma eventually led to what we call today self-supporting work.
Apparently, the educational work was the first to be reformed on a self-supporting basis. Two young men named Sutherland and Magan were trying to follow the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy in regard to education, and found it impossible to do so. The development of self-supporting work at Madison, Tennessee, came into being because our church leaders would not listen to the counsel from the Spirit of Prophecy about God’s method of education.
“A great many of the difficulties that have come into our work in California and elsewhere have come in through a misunderstanding on the part of men in official positions concerning their individual responsibility in the matter of controlling and ruling their fellow laborers. Men entrusted with responsibilities have supposed that their official position embraced very much more than was ever thought of by those who placed them in office, and serious difficulties arose as the result.
“Simple organization and church order are set forth in the New Testament Scripture.” Paulson Collection, 298.
If your church organization is not following the New Testament plan, it is not divinely inspired.
In the book of Galatians, is the apostle Paul writing to a world-headquarters organization, or is he writing to the believers in the church in Galatia? He is writing to the brethren in the local churches. See Galatians 1:2. What is he telling them? “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person).” Galatians 2:4–6. The New Testament teaching is that if someone comes to your church, wherever he comes from, if he says something not in line with the truth, you should oppose it.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8. Paul says that even if an angel from heaven comes to tell you something that is contrary to truth, oppose it in a Christlike manner. That is the New Testament position.
“Simple organization and church order are set forth in the New Testament Scriptures, and the Lord has ordained these for the unity and perfection of the church.” Paulson Collection, 298.
The Work of a Leader
I want you to see what the Lord says is the rightful position for a leader. “The man who holds office in the church should stand as  a leader, as  an adviser and  a counselor and  helper.” Ibid.
But here is what the leader should not do. “But he is not appointed to order and command the Lord’s laborers. The Lord is over His heritage. He will lead His people if they will be led of the Lord in the place of assuming a power God has not given them.” Ibid.
“Position does not give a man kingly authority. The meekness of Christ is a wonderful lesson given to the fallen world. Learning this meekness from the great Teacher, the worker will become Christlike.” Ibid., 298, 299.
As I study this subject my great desire is that the work that I do for Jesus will become Christlike. Do you want your work for Jesus to become Christlike? If that is going to happen, we must humble ourselves. I am very concerned, because as I study I realize that unless you and I learn a lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross, we will not be saved. See The Desire of Ages, 83, 84.
Because of these problems with kingly authority, the rule-or-ruin principle, the desire to control others, Ellen White began to encourage self-supporting work. She helped to set up a self-supporting school near Madison, Tennessee. She counseled them to incorporate, and she told them to remain separate from the General Conference. The basic issues were always the same.
Sutherland and Magan, the founders of Madison, were opposed by the General Conference, and especially by the president of the General Conference. He said, in effect, “You should not work independent of the Conference, and you must not ask Seventh-day Adventists for any money to do a project which the General Conference has no vote or control over.” That was the issue.
On May 14, 1907, Ellen White wrote to Magan from Loma Linda, California, she said: “I bare positive testimony that you and your fellow workers in Madison are doing the work that God has appointed to you . . . The attitude of opposition or indifference on the part of some of your brethren has created conditions that have made your work more difficult than it should have been. You have not received from some many words of encouragement, but the Lord is pleased that you have not been easily discouraged.
“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.” Spalding-Magan Collection, 411.
“The Lord does not set limits about his workers in some lines as men are wont to set. In their work, Brethren Magan and Sutherland have been hindered unnecessarily. Means have been withheld from them because in the organization and management of the Madison school, it was not placed under the control of the conference. But the reasons why this school was not owned and controlled by the conference have not been duly considered . . .
“The Lord does not require that the educational work at Madison shall be changed all about before it can receive the hearty support of our people. The work that has been done there is approved of God.” Special Testimonies, Series B. No. 11, 31, 32.
Did God approve of independent, self-supporting work in 1907? He did be- cause of the difficulties that we were experiencing as a church. People could not follow the dictates of their conscience and follow the counsels of the Lord, because their brethren would not let them do so within the organization. That was the precise problem. It cannot be denied by anyone who candidly looks at the evidence.
“The work that has been done there is approved of God, and He forbids that this line of work shall be broken up.” Ibid. These words are strong. Did you read the second part of that sentence?
When Madison was organized, Ellen White did not permit its leaders to place themselves under the control of the conference. She said: “God forbids that this line of work shall be broken up.” Today I see people who say: “Well, unless you have somebody from the conference on your board, you should not be recognized.” That counsel is directly contrary to the divine plan.
“The Lord will continue to bless and sustain the workers so long as they follow His counsel.” Ibid. The emphasis is not on whom you are associated with; the emphasis is, Are you following the divine counsel? Are you following the truth? That was the position of the apostle Paul.
Ellen White was very emphatic about how the title should be held and where the controls of this property at Madison should be.
P. T. Magan’s diary, August 8,1904: He says that he “worked with W. C. White during the forenoon getting articles and plans ready regarding the incorporation of the school at Nashville. In the afternoon he met with Daniells, the General Conference president, Prescott, field secretary of the General Conference, Griggs, Washburn, Byrd, and W. C. White to consider our plan of organization. Daniells did not like it.”
We ought to think about that a little while. Here is a plan that the Spirit of Prophecy had authorized and said to follow, but the General Conference president does not like it.
“Prescott thought that we traveled too much; so did Daniells. Bland thought other teachers would envy our independence and would like to do likewise.”
August 9, 1904, one day later: “Talk with Mrs. E. G. and W. C. White regarding our plan for organization. She said we were not to go under the dominion of the Southern Union Conference.”
April 14, 1906: “Spent forenoon with Daniells . . . Told him why our school was independent and would have to eat shewbread.”
May 7, 1907, Paradise Valley: “Talked with Sister White regarding attitude of General Conference toward us. Mrs. Sara McEnterfer and Lillian present. Told Sister White that the administration held we had no right to go and get money unless we were owned by the conference. She replied: ‘You are doing double what they are. Take all the donations you can get. The money belongs to the Lord and not to these men. The position they take is not of God. The Southern Union Conference is not to own or control you. You cannot turn things over to them.’” Why? Because when things were turned over to them, they forced people to go against their conscience and not follow the counsels.’”
May 14,1907: “I talked to her [E. G. White] about the General Conference position that concerns non-conference owned [institutions] should have no money. She answered: ‘Daniells and those with him are taking a position on this matter that is not of God.’ She said she had something written on this and would try to find it.” We have just refered to it in the Spalding-Magan Collection, 411.
May 23, 1907, St. Helena. “Spent the forenoon with W. C. White. He gave me Sister White’s letters to Daniells regarding us. He told me he did not agree with the administration at Washington in insisting that all monies pass through their hands. Said that he would not agree to our going under conference domination.”
Ellen White wrote on January 19, 1907: “Today I have been carrying a heavy burden on my heart . . . You have a work to do to encourage the school work in Madison, Tennessee . . . all in their power to hold up the hands of these workers by encouraging and supporting the work at the Madison school. Means should be appropriated to the needs of the work in Madison—that the labor of the teachers may not be so hard in the future.” Spalding-Magan Collection, 395, 396.
I want to ask some questions. This self-supporting school that was begun in Madison, Tennessee, around the turn of the century, was it a Seventh-day Adventist school? Yes, it was. Here is a school not owned or controlled or operated by the conference, but it is a Seventh-day Adventist school. It was not some school owned by some other church. These people were Seventh-day Adventists. The sanitarium that was started at Madison, was this a Seventh-day Adventist sanitarium? Was it owned and operated by the conference? No, it was self-supporting. It was independent from the conference, but it was Seventh-day Adventist. Did they later start a printing operation? Did Madison start many self-supporting schools and sanitariums and print shops all over that area of the United States? Yes. And were those printing shops that were self-supporting and not owned and controlled by the conference, were they Seventh-day Adventist? Yes.
Starting a New Church?
Is it then possible for a local church that is not controlled or operated by the conference to be a self-supporting congregation and still be Seventh-day Adventist? It most certainly is. I am not telling people to separate from a conference church. But people have been forced to do that because of repeated influences which are detrimental to the spiritual welfare of their family. Were Sutherland and Magan starting a new church when they started a self-supporting school? No. They just wanted to follow God’s counsel. If you must go to a homechurch because of the apostasy, if you are not recognized by the conference, are you still Seventh-day Adventists? Yes, they are. Has God authorized that? Yes, He has. Any area of God’s work, even if it is self-supporting, can still be Seventh-day Adventist, even if it is not connected or controlled by the conference.
Whenever this topic is being discussed, the subject of tithe inevitably comes up. Remember what I quoted earlier from a Seventh-day Adventist paper dated March 30, 1991. “All genuine independent ministries will encourage their supporters to return their tithe and offerings to the appropriate channels.” Let us examine the validity of this statement.
You cannot have a candid discussion about self-supporting work without discussing finances; it is impossible. God is not raining manna from heaven to support us today. However, He has given us guidelines and told us what we should do, and how His work is to be supported. Do you think that God has designed for any work to be done and not planned how He would support it? Can you comprehend such a thing? For each kind of work that God wants to be done, He has figured out how it is to be supported.
Did God have a plan how His ministers would be supported? Yes, He did. Did He have a plan how literature evangelists would be supported? Yes, He did. Did He have a plan how sanitariums would be supported? Yes, He did. Did He have a plan how Bible workers should be supported? Yes, He did. Now do you think it would be at all safe for you or me to try to figure out our own way to support God’s work instead of following God’s directions? Do you think that would be safe?
Inspiration has given us this solemn warning regarding our responsibility in the support of God’s work: “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.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 552.
“I call upon God’s people to open their eyes. When you sanction or carry out the decisions of men who, as you know, are not in harmony with truth and righteousness, you weaken your own faith and lose your relish for communion with God.” Testimonies to Ministers, 91.
When efforts were made to urge writers to return to the conference or publishing house all of the profits derived from their writing, Sister White counseled, “The Lord has made us individually His stewards. We each hold a solemn responsibility to invest this means ourselves . . .
“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 counsel 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.” Pamphlets in the Concordance, vol. 2, 467.
Counsels on Finances at Madison
When Madison was started, the comments in the diaries showed that one of the main points of contention between the General Conference and those who were trying to start Madison was over money.
Inspiration has given us no right to feel that all the means should be handled through one organization.
“All the means are not to be handled by one agency or organization . . . 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 . . . This wonderful burden of responsibility which some suppose God has placed upon them with their official position, has never been laid upon them.” Spalding-Magan Collection, 421, 422.
“You ask me what you shall do in view of the fact that so little help is given to that department of the work in which you are working.
“I would say, ‘Trust it with the Lord. There is a way opened for you in regard to securing help for the Southern field. Appeal to the people. This is the only course you can pursue, under the circumstances.
“Send no statement of the situation through our religious papers; because it will not be honored. Send direct to the people. God’s ways are not to be counterworked by man’s ways. There are those who have means, and who will give large and small sums. Have this money come direct to your destitute portion of the vineyard. The Lord has not specified any regular channel through which means should pass.’” Ibid., 498.
If we cannot understand language as plain as that, I do not know what we will do.
Because of the great apostasy, God authorized independent, self-supporting work as one of the means through which He would finish His work. Do not let anybody tell you that self-supporting work is not Seventh-day Adventist, that something that is not controlled, directed or authorized by the conference is not Seventh-day Adventist. It is. A self-supporting school can be Seventh-day Adventist, a self-supporting sanitarium can be Seventh-day Adventist, a self-supporting printing press can be Seventh-day Adventist, and a self-supporting local congregation can be Seventh-day Adventist. The important thing is to test the work by what Paul says in Galatians 2. Is it according to the truth? If it is according to the truth of inspiration, you can depend on it.
Whatever happens, one of these days very soon the truth is going to triumph. When the truth triumphs, I want to be with it, do you? Let us dedicate ourselves in prayer to be faithful to the truth no matter what happens.
“There are ministers’ 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 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.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 117, 118
“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 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 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.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 215, 216
“There are those who have means, and who will give large and small sums. Have this money come direct to your destitute portion of the vineyard. The Lord has not specified any regular channel through which means should pass.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 498
In Ellen White’s writings, “means” include tithe.
“Every soul who is honored in being a steward of God is to carefully guard the tithe money. This is sacred means.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 185
“Of the means which is entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion—a tithe.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 149
“Should means flow into the treasury exactly according to God’s plan—a tenth of all the increase, there would be abundance to carry forward His work.” Evangelism, 252
“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 here 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. They have taken upon themselves the grave responsibility of retarding the work where the work should have been advanced. It has been left to a few supposed kindly minds to say what fields should be worked and what fields should be left unworked. A few men have kept the truth in circumscribed channels, because to open new fields would call for money. Only in those places in which they were interested have they been willing to invest means. And at the same time, in a few places, five times as much money as was necessary has been invested in buildings. The same amount of money used in establishing plants in places where the truth has never been introduced would have brought many souls to a saving knowledge of Christ.
“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 and reformation make constant changes. Something has been done in this line, but let not the work stop here. No! 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 ” Spalding and Magan Collection, 174, 175
“Shall the “regular lines,” which say that every mind shall be controlled by two or three minds at Battle Creek, continue to bear sway? The Macedonian cry is coming from every quarter. Shall men go to the “regular lines” to see whether they will be permitted to labor, or shall they go out and work as best they can, depending on their own abilities and on the help of the Lord, beginning in a humble way and creating an interest in the truth in places in which nothing has been done to give the warning message? . . .
“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.
“The Lord has blessed the work that J.E. White has tried to do in the South. 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. It is because of the misappropriation of means that the Southern field has no better showing than it has today . . .
“I have to say, my brother, that I have no desire to see the work in the South moving forward in the old, regular lines. When I see how strongly the idea prevails that the methods of handling our books in the past shall be retained, because what has been must be, I have no heart to advise that former customs shall continue.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 176, 177
“In their work, Brethren Magan and Sutherland have been hindered unnecessarily. Means have been withheld from them because in the organization and management of the Madison school, it was not placed under the control of the conference. But the reasons why this school was not owned and controlled by the conference have not been duly considered . . .
“The Lord does not require that the educational work at Madison shall be changed all about before it can receive the hearty support of our people. The work that has been done there is approved of God, and He forbids that this line of work shall be broken up. The Lord will continue to bless and sustain the workers so long as they follow His counsel. . . .
“The leaders in the work of the Madison school are laborers together with God. More must be done in their behalf by their brethren. The Lord’s money is to sustain them in their labors. They have a right to share the means given to the cause. They should be given a proportionate share of the means that comes in for the furtherance of the cause.” Madison School, 31, 32
“The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women.” Evangelism, 492
“Paul set an example against the sentiment . . . that the gospel could be proclaimed successfully only by those who were wholly freed from the necessity of physical toil. He illustrated in a practical way what might be done by consecrated laymen in many places where the people were unacquainted with the truths of the gospel . . .
“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 Tim. 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, 355, 356
“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
“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.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 552
“The children of Israel beheld the awful semblance of God’s presence in the mount but before Moses had been forty days away from them, they substituted a golden calf for Jehovah. Things similar to this have been done among us as a people. Let us now return to God in penitence and contrition. Let us trust in Him, not in man.” Kress Collection, 120
“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
“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
“Brethren Sutherland and Magan should be encouraged to solicit means for the support of their work. It is the privilege of these brethren to receive gifts from any of our people whom the Lord impresses to help. They should have means—God’s means—with which to work. . . Our people are to be encouraged to give of their means to this work which is preparing students in a sensible and creditable way to go forth into neglected fields to proclaim the soon coming of Christ.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 422
“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 here. 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 to 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.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 168
“Representations have been made to me of a work that does not bear the divine credentials. The prohibitions that have been bound about the labors of those who would go forth to warn the people in the cities of the soon coming judgments, should every one be removed. None are to be hindered from bearing the message of present truth to the world. Let the workers receive their directions from God. When the Holy Spirit impresses a believer to do a certain work for God, leave the matter to Him and the Lord. I am instructed to say to you, Break every yoke that would prevent the message from going forth with power to the cities. This work of proclaiming the truth in the cities will take means, but it will also bring in means. A much greater work would have been done if men had not been so zealous to watch and hinder some who were seeking to obtain means from the people to carry forward the work of the Lord.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 435
“If we are to bear a part in this work to its close, we must recognize the fact that there are good things to come to the people of God in a way that we had not discerned; and that there will be resistance from the very ones we expected to engage in such a work. A man that is sincere in the wrong is not justified in the wrong.” 1888 Materials, 1024