How Is God's Work Supported?

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How Is God's Work Supported?

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It’s undeniable the main motivation of many religious charlatans out there seems to be personal profit. This tends to put people off supporting worthy religious causes. Yet the work of the Church of God does have monetary needs. And the need for that definitely did not end with the conclusion of the apostolic era.

Jesus Christ instructed His apostles and in principle all of His followers who would come afterwards, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15 Mark 16:15And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
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, New International Version). And He further commissioned them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
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, emphasis added throughout).

So the Church of God today still has an ongoing mission to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world and help those who respond become Christ’s disciples. This is a big job, and God has instituted the method of financing it, with many participating. That method is tithing, the setting aside of a tenth of our income to Him.

Ongoing need for preaching the gospel

Jesus did not begin His Church in the first century only to see it perish in the second or thereafter. Christ knew that in the main His apostles would be martyred, but He also knew that their teaching would continue down through the centuries. In prayer the night before His death, Jesus said, “I do not pray for these alone [His disciples at that time], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20 John 17:20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
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).

Just before being martyred, the apostle Peter promised in his last letter, “Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (2 Peter 1:15 2 Peter 1:15Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
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). The apostolic teachings and writings have been preserved for us down through the ages in the pages of the New Testament.

God the Father sent His Son into the world with a message of hope and eternal salvation. Christ gave the commission to share that message directly to His specially chosen 12 apostles. They preached the gospel of the Kingdom, established Church congregations and ordained elders and deacons who would continue to spread the good news and serve God’s people. There would always be an ongoing need for teachers and pastors to proclaim the good news of God’s coming Kingdom and spiritually guide and care for those who come into the fellowship of the Church.

Although few in numbers, the Church that Jesus built is very much alive today, actively preaching and publishing the true gospel (to learn more, read our free Bible study aid The Church Jesus Built ). God continues to add members to the present Church as He calls them to salvation (see John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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, John 6:65 John 6:65And he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father.
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; Acts 2:39 Acts 2:39For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
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, Acts 2:47 Acts 2:47Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
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), whether through preaching on television, on the Internet, in printed publications or in person.

Shining God’s light and reaping His harvest

Satan the devil has filled this world with darkness of every conceivable kind. He is “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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). The apostle Paul labeled our time “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
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). The devil has influenced today’s mass media to promote evil or sin—the contravening of God’s laws— throughout the world.

As a whole our present generation has virtually lost touch with God and, as a tragic consequence, gone badly awry. In ancient times our Creator personally lamented the apostasy of the nation of Judah, exclaiming, “My people have forgotten Me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32 Jeremiah 2:32Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
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). How true today!

Yet Christ told His disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14 Matthew 5:14You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
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, Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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). God’s Church today must be visible. It also must take God’s precious gospel message to the nations. The apostle Paul wrote, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16 1 Corinthians 9:16For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid on me; yes, woe is to me, if I preach not the gospel!
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). The same holds true today.

After the apostles had been chosen and personally taught by Christ, He began to focus their attention on God’s spiritual harvest of people to be saved: “Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life” (John 4:35-36 John 4:35-36 35 Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to life eternal: that both he that sows and he that reaps may rejoice together.
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).

However, the apostles were not to do this alone. Educated and qualified elders would be urgently required to help reap this spiritual harvest in the midst of a hostile world. Jesus plainly instructed: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest [God the Father] to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38 Matthew 9:37-38 37 Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; 38 Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
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).

“The work to which I have called them”

In the ancient Syrian city of Antioch (Turkish Antakya today) there were a number of prophets and teachers (Acts 13:1 Acts 13:1Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
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). God instructed them through His Spirit:

“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul [later Paul] for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2-3 Acts 13:2-3 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
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).

With God’s full blessing, Paul and Barnabas then began to spread the gospel to various cities on their travels (Acts 13:6 Acts 13:6And when they had gone through the isle to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:
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, Acts 13:14 Acts 13:14But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.
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, Acts 13:51 Acts 13:51But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium.
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; Acts 14:6-7 Acts 14:6-7 6 They were ware of it, and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the region that lies round about: 7 And there they preached the gospel.
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, etc.). In fact the first-century apostles and evangelists (preachers of the gospel) took the good news to the known civilized world.

This evangelistic mission was sometimes called “the work” (Acts 13:2 Acts 13:2As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
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; Acts 15:38 Acts 15:38But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
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). Today we still refer to it this way or as God’s work.

The work God entrusted to Christ’s disciples in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago must go on—and it still must be financed today. What is God’s method for this?

The law of tithing

Is the financial law God revealed long before in the Old Testament no longer applicable today, as many contend? Did Jesus cancel tithing—the giving of a tenth of one’s income over to God?

Must those involved in preaching the gospel, teaching those whom God calls and pastoring congregations of God’s people, rely solely on individually determined freewill offerings, as important and helpful as they are? The widow’s mite, a powerful example of giving such an offering (Luke 21:1-4 Luke 21:1-4 1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say to you, that this poor widow has cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in to the offerings of God: but she of her penury has cast in all the living that she had.
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), should humble us all, and God and His elders remain very grateful for it and for all freewill offerings.

Yet our Creator Himself revealed tithing as part of His pre-Mosaic teaching to the ancient patriarchs (Genesis 14:18-20 Genesis 14:18-20 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
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; Genesis 28:20-22 Genesis 28:20-22 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that you shall give me I will surely give the tenth to you.
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).

This financial practice continued when the divine laws were codified for ancient Israel (Leviticus 27:30 Leviticus 27:30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy to the LORD.
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; Numbers 18:24 Numbers 18:24But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said to them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
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, Numbers 18:26 Numbers 18:26Thus speak to the Levites, and say to them, When you take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.
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). And clearly tithing remained in full force and effect at the end of the Old Testament period (2 Chronicles 31:11-12 2 Chronicles 31:11-12 11 Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them, 12 And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.
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; Nehemiah 10:38 Nehemiah 10:38And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
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; Malachi 3:8-10 Malachi 3:8-10 8 Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
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).

God had instructed Moses to write these statutes and laws down in the opening books of the Bible. King David summed it up: “He made known His ways to Moses” (Psalms 103:7 Psalms 103:7He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel.
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). And the last chapter in the last book of the Old Testament as arranged in most Bibles tells us, “Remember the law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb [Mt. Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4 Malachi 4:4Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
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).

Tithing in the New Testament

Sadly, most people who identify themselves as Christians assume that Jesus Christ abandoned or nullified many Old Testament teachings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus Himself clearly stated: “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill [or fill to the full]. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle [the smallest marks in Hebrew writing] will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of these least commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19 Matthew 5:17-19 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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).

Jesus also stated, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17 Luke 16:17And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one pronunciation mark of the law to fail.
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).

Although Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for neglecting the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, faith and love—He still directly supported tithing (Matthew 23:23 Matthew 23:23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
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; Luke 11:42 Luke 11:42But woe to you, Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
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). Christ also told the Pharisees to “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 Matthew 22:21They say to him, Caesar’s. Then said he to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.
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). The tithe belongs to our Creator. It is not ours.

But of course you cannot travel to heaven through space and give your tithes directly to God. He has always had His representatives on this earth to receive them. First it was Melchizedek, to whom Abraham paid tithes. (This priest-king was actually the preexistent Christ, as explained in our Bible study aid Who Is God? ) Then it was the Levitical priesthood. And now in this age tithing is again to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1-17 Hebrews 7:1-17 1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like to the Son of God; stays a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And truly they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receives tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertains to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there rises another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifies, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
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)—that is, to the High Priest Jesus Christ through His earthly representatives in the Church of God.

The apostle Paul clearly taught the application of the tithing system today. In 1 Corinthians 9:13 1 Corinthians 9:13Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
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, he refers directly to the tithing system: “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?” (NIV). The next verse continues, “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (NIV). Paul shows that the same tithing system continues for God’s work today and that it was commanded by Jesus Christ.

The carrying out of God’s work today

In carrying out the commission Jesus gave to proclaim the gospel and care for His people, the United Church of God publishes and freely distributes this magazine The Good News , the Bible Study Course , more than 30 booklets , and many reprint articles . The television program Beyond Today proclaims the gospel on many stations in America, Australia and Canada. We also maintain websites on the Internet , provide elders who teach and care for various Church congregations throughout the world and maintain summer camps for our youth. Some of our elders answer biblical questions from our readers.

All of these activities cost a lot of money. Church members, coworkers and donors meet these expenses as God enables them. We cannot carry out this work without their help, and we deeply appreciate their tithes and donations. They are fellow-workers helping to proclaim Christ’s gospel.

Of course, we could do a lot more if we had a substantial increase in funds. We regularly ask God to lay it on the hearts of our readers to contribute depending on their personal circumstances. Ultimately this is a work of faith, as we believe collectively with Paul that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8 2 Corinthians 9:8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
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).

God does bless people who give generously (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 6 But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
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), and He does not neglect the tithe payer (Malachi 3:8-10 Malachi 3:8-10 8 Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, said the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
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). Blessings may not immediately appear, but in due time they will come if we continue to obey God. Over the years many have shared their grateful testimony with us in this regard.

A word of qualification: We do not expect people to give what they don’t have. Some may have to survive on small pensions. Tithing is for people who earn money. Freewill offerings may come from anyone, but necessary personal and family obligations must not be neglected.

Above all, the heartfelt prayers of those who cannot contribute financially—and of those who can—are deeply appreciated. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16 James 5:16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
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, New Living Translation).

At the end of the day, Jesus said that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 Acts 20:35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
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). That great principle of God helps keep the Church alive and functioning today!

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