Jun P. Espina         11 min read
Updated on September 17th, 2022
What is Real Giving to Support the Local Church Financially?
What is the scriptural instruction concerning financial support for the Lord’s work? The Christian God requires born-again believers to help support the church since the “sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” (Prov. 15:8)
Most unbelievers don’t understand that our Lord does not need their cash.
Some say negative things about Christian giving when they are not even worthy of taking part in the Lord’s offering box.
- 1. What is Real Giving to Support the Local Church Financially?
- 2. An Element of Compulsion is Not Biblical Support for the Local Church
- 3. Some Preachers Collect Donations from Unbelievers
- 4. What About Those Scriptural Records of the Egyptians (Unbelievers) Helping the Israelites?
- 5. The Pastor’s Motive for Financial Gains Made Through the Church’s Campaigns is an Appalling Practice
- 6. The Basic Scriptural Principles Regarding Financial Support to the Local Church
- 7. The Unbelievers’ Gifts to the Church may be Honored by God
- 8. God Values Real, Not Insincere Giving and Support
- 9. Our Offering to the Lord’s Church is Not Tithe Giving
- 10. We Honor God When We Give Our Offerings
- 11. If You Don’t Have Income, Don’t Give Money to the Church
- 12. You Give Because You Have Resources to Contribute to the Lord’s Work
- 13. The Prophet Elijah’s Bread From a Poor Widow in Zarephath, Sidon
- 14. When Not to Support the Local Church Financially?
- 15. Never Support a Piperian Church
- 16. Never Donate to a Church that Does Not Keep Open Records
I hear people complain about the practice of collecting offerings in the church. Why do they do this while still being strangers to Christ and His church? Faith in Christ is the foundation of His followers’ Christian duties. If you don’t believe in the gospel, don’t waste your money just to impress the congregants that you are also a Christian.
An Element of Compulsion is Not Biblical Support for the Local Church
It is another story when your so-called Christian assembly—the Catholic Church, for example—requires you to pay money for your birth, marriage, and death. When your so-called church, such as the cults, requires you to pay 10% of your income rigorously to your pastor or temple—whatever the name, it does not matter—you are into a Judaistic brand of religion, as with the SDA. Tithe-giving is not a New Testament method of collecting money for the Lord’s work. (See 2 Corinthians 9:7.)
We don’t have the biblical authority to load non-Christians with Christian functions. We are not like them, and they are not like us in faith.
Some Preachers Collect Donations from Unbelievers
Some preachers preached (at the bus stops or public squares) with the motive of collecting from unbelievers. This practice cannot be God-glorifying, as it is not biblical. Others collect donations from the wealthy or politicians, who are not born-again Christians. This, too, is not appropriate in the eyes of God.
Some say that Christ taught about receiving the gift of the unbeliever in Luke 10:8. “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you.” This Scripture, once examined contextually, is not related to the biblical design for gathering money regularly for the Lord’s work.
The Scriptures say real giving requires that we “first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” A true offering involves a born-again experience after receiving Christ’s Spirit by faith.
Forget about giving to the church after robbing a bank. It does not work.
What About Those Scriptural Records of the Egyptians (Unbelievers) Helping the Israelites?
Some say that in Exodus 12, the Israelites received gifts from the Egyptians. Note Exodus 12:35-36:
This passage of Scripture does not have any application for the support of the Lord’s church. It was about God’s judgment on the Egyptians who “plundered” the Jews.
The Pastor’s Motive for Financial Gains Made Through the Church’s Campaigns is an Appalling Practice
We hear poor Christian congregations have pastors who travel in high-end SUVs and private jets. Why did it happen? Well, some impostors “think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1 Tim. 6:5) Avoid this counterfeit Christian group or leader.
The apostle John wrote about whom to support among church workers:
The Basic Scriptural Principles Regarding Financial Support to the Local Church
From the apostle Paul’s writings, we can find the basic principle regarding financial support for the Lord’s work:
The “support of the saints” follows the giving of oneself to the Lord: “They first gave themselves to the Lord.” (cf. 2 Cor. 8:4b-5) Some unbelievers love to give to the church, hoping to receive blessings from God. For this reason, most crooks give their “offerings,” too.
The prevailing biblical guideline regarding giving, however, is that Christ’s followers support the church. The haters of our Lord don’t have the moral weight to offer anything to the biblical God through His church.
Paul wrote a definitive guide to giving. He said, “Each one [referring to the born-again Christians] must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7) It means church contributions are based on cheerful giving and not the compulsory 10%—or tithing.
The Unbelievers’ Gifts to the Church may be Honored by God
God may hear the cry of the unbelievers, too. In Psalm 34, David wrote: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.” (Vv. 6-7)
The “poor man” who feared God mentioned by David might not be a born-again Christian, as with Cornelius, who behaved more than the ordinary Christian before his conversion. (See Acts 10.) David said, “God’s angel encamps around him.”
The phrase “This poor [afflicted] man cried” in Psalm 34, however, was David himself, since he wrote it from his experience with “Achish the king of Gath.” (See 1 Samuel 21:12-14.)
The point is that the unbeliever’s gift to the church may be honored by God if the latter’s support comes out of his humble heart and the desire to please God. Psalm 10:17 says, “O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear.” (Ps. 10:17)
The experience of Cornelius in the Book of Acts is one example. Luke wrote: “[A] devout man [Cornelius] and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.” (Acts 10:2) God heard, blessed, and saved him. (See Act 10.)
God Values Real, Not Insincere Giving and Support
Let us invent a fable about an unbeliever who gave $200 after listening to a “prosperity” sermon. On his way back home, he regretted and cursed the name of Christ. Will God honor his gift to the church? The answer is “No,” because “whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)
The case of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, as recorded in Acts 5, shows God’s abhorrence of dishonest givers for the offering box in the church. In Acts 5:4, the apostle said to the couple that before and after the sale of their property, it was theirs. A biblical offering is always based on the idea of cheerful giving from the principle of free will, voluntariness, and self-determination. God killed them because they made a vow to give—just like the unscriptural FAITH PROMISE preached by many careless preachers—which they consciously broke. Note Acts 5:4:
The basic rule of real giving is that it is without blemish. (See Malachi 1:8, Romans 12:1.)
The common practice, however, is that we place all funds gathered after service in one offering box, irrespective of the faith of those people giving them.
We are doctrinally biblical but flawed in practice. It is the character arc of every Christian in this world. But our imperfections have led us to rely on Christ, our Savior, from the whip hand of our fallible selves.
Our Offering to the Lord’s Church is Not Tithe Giving
We hear every Sunday morning about tithe-giving. Most Christian leaders want to achieve their financial goals for the church through a little subtle bending of the Word of God. One example is the biblically twisted “faith promise giving.”
We should speak up, as ordinary members of the congregation, to warn dishonest preachers that we are watching their semi-biblical antics.
The following came from my article about Faith Promise Giving:
“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:1-2)
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
I’d like to think about tithing (or 10 percent) as a sound basis for how much one should return to the Lord out of one’s income. Giving to the Lord’s work is proof of love and veneration for our God. Proverbs 3:9-10 states: “Honor the Lord from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty.” I am always a believer in giving out a large sum of money if one has to help the Lord’s work–even over ten percent of the income provided one trusts where the money will go. Of course, before giving away money to the church, one needs to understand first the purpose and security of the offering. Even the apostle Paul himself made sure that the church collection was well managed and wouldn’t go into the wrong hands: “taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift.” (2 Cor. 8:20)
But no matter how much verse-twisting one does, strict and legal tithing belongs to the Old Testament.
The New Testament teaches about love or cheerful giving (not grudgingly!), thereby making Faith Promise giving a vow or pledge.
We Honor God When We Give Our Offerings
Giving our offerings, according to the Bible, is synonymous with honoring God for His ownership of our lives. And this principle won’t thrive with the unrepentant heart of the unbelievers. You won’t honor something you don’t believe in.
“Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce.” (Prov. 3:9) God is even interested in making known your love of giving to the Lord’s Church.
“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you” that your cheerful giving overflowed because of God’s grace (cf. 2 Cor. 8:1). The apostle made known (promoted) the Macedonians’ liberality in giving.
If You Don’t Have Income, Don’t Give Money to the Church
Poverty cannot justify non-giving. God uses you, not forcibly, though, to contribute to the support of the church. And His grace knows no financial distress: “[T]hat in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.” (2 Cor. 8:2)
Jesus taught that real giving somehow affects all of you, your finances included: “[B]ut she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:44). Hence, “their deep poverty overflowed,” not their wealth.
Take note, however, that you don’t need to contribute to the Lord’s work if you don’t have an income. If you are penniless or unhappy giving, don’t give. Be a cheerful giver or don’t give. “You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.”
You Give Because You Have Resources to Contribute to the Lord’s Work
You give because you believe it’s the right thing to do. You want to “Honor the Lord from your wealth And from the first of all your produce.” (Prov 3:9).
Thus, we need to give that which is truly a part of us—like sacrificing Abraham’s dear son Isaac to God—not just something to spare! “This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus.”
But if you don’t have income, you must not borrow money from your neighbor, just you could drop something into the offering box like the others. “To thine own self be true,” Shakespeare said.
The Prophet Elijah’s Bread From a Poor Widow in Zarephath, Sidon
The Prophet Elijah asked for bread from a poor widow in Zarephath, Sidon. The latter gave him bread out of the “handful of flour in the bowl” because of the deadly famine which hit the place as a result of Elijah’s prayer that “neither dew nor rain these years.” (See 1 Kings 17:1b.) The widow gave to the Prophet what she considered as her last chance of survival: “I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
Sacrifice is an element of scriptural giving, the same element that’s present when one worships God. According to the apostle Paul, the Macedonian churches gave “according to their ability, and beyond their ability.” As they first gave themselves to the Lord, so God gave them wisdom: that giving is indeed a great opportunity! They were “begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints.” (See 2 Corinthians 8:4.)
When Not to Support the Local Church Financially?
I experienced giving a little support to churches that are not part of my denomination. All born-again Christians are accepted in heaven as children of God, irrespective of denominational affiliation.
My attitude, however, changed when I discovered that the little cash I gave for our denomination’s so-called conferences for our church workers was used to promote Hyper-Calvinism or teaching that emphasizes predestination instead of salvation by faith in the gospel of Christ.
I met a friend who wrote a booklet titled, Born Again to Believe. This guy was a hard-hat hyper-Calvinist. He taught a person was born again before exercising faith in Christ. It is one teaching that must not be subsidised.
Never Support a Piperian Church
It is not surprising that God’s Spirit exposed the heresy of John Piper, the modern Hyper-Calvinist, similar to the one just mentioned, who teaches that a person can be “born again prior to faith.” I found this Piperian heresy on one website reviewing Piper’s teachings:
What sort of grace is Piper talking about? He answers that a few sentences later. “The centrality of God in saving grace is seen in God’s sovereign act of begetting his own children. We did not choose to be begotten any more than we chose to be raised from the dead or called or created. We were born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).”  1
In this review of Piperianism, the author discovered that Piper supported his “born again prior to faith” teaching by emphasizing John 1:13 and avoiding the preceding verse 12. He wrote:
The Bible says we should not support, much less give a greeting, to false teachers: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”
Financial support for what is heretical makes up for participation in evil.
Never Donate to a Church that Does Not Keep Open Records
In 2 Corinthians 8:20, the apostle Paul said that they must properly handle the financial help given to them by the church. All cults don’t have an open accounting system for their financial records. We should not support a church that has concealed finances. Note the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 8:20 from different Bible versions:
- “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.” (NIV)
- “We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift.” (NLT)
- “We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us.” (ESV)
- “avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us—” (NKJV)
- “taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift.” (NASB1995)
The bottom line is the transparent administration of the offerings of the church.
 StriderMTD. “Born again prior to faith? John Piper says ‘Yes.’ Scripture says, ‘No.'” atheologyintension.com. https://atheologyintension.com/2019/06/15/born-again-prior-to-faith-john-piper-says-yes-scripture-says-no/ (accessed September 14, 2022)
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