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The Doctrine of Christ

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    LESSON SEVENTY-NINE The Support of the Gospel

    1. God is the creator of all things and therefore the rightful owner of all things. Ephesians 3:9; Revelation 4:11; Acts 14:15; Jeremiah 10:16; Genesis 14:19, 22; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Haggai 2:8; Psalm 50:10, 11.TDOC 244.1

    2. All that man has, even what he has seemed to acquire by his own efforts, is the gift of God. Deuteronomy 8:11-18; Acts 17:24, 25; John 3:27; 1 Corinthians 4:7.TDOC 244.2

    3. We are not the absolute owners of the gifts bestowed upon us, but they are entrusted to us as stewards, to be used for our Master’s benefit. Matthew 25:14, 24-27; 1 Chronicles 29:16.TDOC 244.3

    4. As a constant reminder that he is the real owner of all, God reserved to himself one tenth of all the increase of man’s possessions, making him the steward of the remaining nine tenths only. Leviticus 27:30-32.TDOC 244.4

    5. The tenth thus reserved was given by the Lord to those who devoted their time to ministering in holy things. Numbers 18:21.TDOC 244.5

    6. While upon earth; and later by the inspiration of his Spirit, our Lord approved of this way of supporting ministers of the gospel. Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 9:11-14.TDOC 244.6

    7. In addition to the tithe and all the offerings of obligation, such as thank offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings, God expected his people to make freewill offerings. Deuteronomy 12:5, 6; Numbers 29:39.TDOC 244.7

    8. All offerings are to be given willingly, and their value is computed by the Lord according to the ability of each one to give rather than according to the market value. 2 Corinthians 9:6, 7; 8:12; Deuteronomy 16:16, 17; Mark 12:41-44.TDOC 244.8

    9. Tithe paying was recognized and practiced in very early times. Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:1, 2; Genesis 28:20-22.TDOC 244.9

    10. The principle of stewardship applies not only to material possessions, but also to the gifts of God’s grace. 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10.TDOC 244.10

    11. God’s stewards are expected to be faithful to their trust. 1 Corinthians 4:2; Luke 12:42.TDOC 245.1

    12. We can honor God by paying tithes on the right basis, or we can rob him by withholding tithes and offerings. Proverbs 3:9, 10; Malachi 3:8.TDOC 245.2

    The best system

    “There is no system of giving that has ever been proposed that produces greater results than that which teaches that God is the owner of all things, that we are stewards of all that comes into our hands, and that one tenth is the minimum that we should lay aside for the advancement of God’s kingdom in the world.”TDOC 245.3

    Personal consecration before purse consecration

    “The first essential to right giving of our substance is the giving of ourselves. The Lord looks upon the heart. The heart must be right before the act can be acceptable. We ourselves are of more value to God than any material offering we can bring to him. He wants us. The devotement of all that we are to God must precede the devotement of all that we have. Persons before possessions. ‘And this they did, not as we expected, but first gave their own selves to the Lord.’ ‘Personal consecration must come before purse,’ consecration, self-consecration before wealth consecration. It is not the gold that sanctifies the temple, but the temple that sanctifies the gold.’ This is one point at which the great body of believers need to be put right. We have too ‘readily supposed that we have discharged our whole duty and met our obligations when we have made liberal offerings to the Lord. But to give our possessions and not to give our own selves is a very faulty sort of consecration. The giving of money, however much, can never be accepted by God as a substitute for the giving of ourselves. Nor, on the other hand, is our consecration complete if, with the giving of ourselves to Christ, there is no surrender of our property and possessions to him. He who gives himself and does not give his property is dangerously near becoming a follower of Ananias.”TDOC 245.4

    Love the spring

    “Love to God and men must be the ‘gracious spring from which all our gifts shall flow. Giving, that flows from love, is godlike. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.’ We must give because we love. Loveless giving is lifeless giving.”TDOC 245.5

    Christ’s teaching

    “The basis of Christ’s teaching about money is the fundamental conception of stewardship. Luke 12:42; 16:1-8. Not only money, but every gift of God, is received in trust for his use. Man is not an owner, but a trustee managing another’s goods and estates, God being the one original and inalienable owner of all. The two things required of stewards are that they be ‘faithful and wise,’ that they study to employ God’s gifts with fidelity and sagacity fidelity so that God’s instruments be not perverted to self-indulgence; sagacity, so that they be converted into as large gains as possible.TDOC 245.6

    “This is a perfectly plain and simple basal principle, yet it is not the accepted foundation of our money making and using. The vast majority even of disciples, practically leave God out of their thoughts when they engage in finance.”TDOC 246.1

    “Our Lord’s teachings as to money gifts, if obeyed, would forever banish all limitations on church work and all concern about supplies. These teachings are radical and revolutionary. So far are they from practical acceptance that, although perfectly explicit, they seem more like a dead language that has passed out of use, than like a living tongue that millions know and speak. Yet, when these principles and precepts of our Lord on giving are collated and compared, they are found to contain the materials of a complete ethical system on the subject of money, its true nature, value, relation, and use. Should these sublime and unique teachings be translated in living the effect not only upon benevolent work, but upon our whole spiritual character, would be incalculable.”TDOC 246.2

    As a trust

    “All life takes on a new significance as soon as we realize that whatever we have is ours as a trust.”TDOC 246.3

    The divine law of giving

    “The interests of the kingdom of God should be supreme in all our stewardship. Whenever we receive our income, we should recognize God’s ownership of all we receive and our stewardship by at once laying aside a portion for God. We are not to spend, and spend, until only a little is left, and then offer the great Creator and Giver of all things the mere leavings of our income. God should be first in our giving, not last. This is a divine law in connection with our giving that opens the door to the greatest joy and blessing.”TDOC 246.4

    Larger giving

    “We need a new vision of the magnitude and urgency of the work of world-wide evangelization. We need to see that the time has come for Christian men and wom6u to give on a very much larger scale than ever they have, in order that the great and pressing needs of the work may be met, and the glad news of redemption carried to the waiting millions of earth.”TDOC 246.5

    The result of tithing

    “Tithing fosters devotion to the cause of Christ. Some have contended that tithing makes giving formal and mechanical, and that it is a hindrance rather than a help to spirituality. Tithing may, of course, become a mere habit. So may prayer. So may any spiritual exercise. The facts are, however, that the continual practice of tithing holds the Christian in line with the movements of the kingdom of God,. keeps him in constant touch with those movements as he distributes the tenth, and thereby his interest in, and devotion to, the great work God is doing in the world is fostered.”TDOC 246.6

    Stewardship and tithing

    “It should be clearly understood at the outset that stewardship is more than tithing and comes before it. A great mistake has been made by some in placing such emphasis on tithing that the duties of stewardship have been overlooked. Tithing is not all of stewardship, it is only a part, and therefore should not be made to eclipse the responsibilities of the steward in the administration of his entire income for the glory of God.”TDOC 247.1

    Giving and Christianity

    “It is just as incumbent on us to labor to earn for giving on six days as to rest on the seventh day. You cannot eliminate the spirit of giving without eliminating Christianity itself. It is a crime for the head of the family to do all the giving. It is a part of each personal worship and life.TDOC 247.2

    “Every two dollars wasted by a Christian means that somewhere in this world some one goes un-reached. Self-sacrifice is the first law of grace. Before every purchase we need to ask, ‘Is this the thing for a person to buy who is living for the evangelization of the world?”TDOC 247.3

    Liberality to be cultivated

    “Liberality is not so natural to us that we gain this virtue by accident. It must be cultivated. We must deliberately resolve that we will honor God with our substance; and then we must let nothing tempt us to rob him of the tithes and offerings that are his due. We must be intelligent, systematic, and continuous in our acts of charity to men and our expressions of gratitude to God for his bounties to us. This is too sacred a duty to be left to chance, or to be controlled by impulse or feeling. We should regularly reserve something for God’s cause, that he may not be robbed of the portion which he claims. When we rob God, we rob ourselves also. We give up the heavenly treasure for the sake of having more of this earth. This is a loss that we cannot afford to sustain.”-Testimonies for the Church 5:271, 272.TDOC 247.4

    An act of grateful acknowledgment

    “The Lord requires that we return to him in tithes and offerings, a portion of the goods he has lent us. He accepts these offerings as an act of humble obedience on our part, and a grateful acknowledgment of our indebtedness to him for all the blessings we enjoy.”-Id., 267.TDOC 247.5

    God’s ownership

    “As between me and my fellow men, what I hold belongs to me, and I have a right to defend my title to it; but as between me and God, it belongs to him; and because of his ownership of all things, he has the right to determine to whom he will entrust his wealth, how long they shall retain it, the terms on which they shall hold it, the uses they shall make of it, and when and what kind of a settlement they shall make to him. If the landlord and the money-lender, whose titles to their property are relative only, have this right, how much more God, whose title is absolute. The tenant does not dictate to the landlord what crops he shall raise or what rent he shall pay; neither does the borrower decide what interest he shall pay to the lender. A man has no more right to determine the terms and conditions of his stewardship than he has to determine the terms and conditions of his admission into the kingdom of heaven. This prerogative belongs to God, and in his holy word he has clearly set them forth.”TDOC 248.1

    “God allows man to use his possessions, but he never surrenders his ownership. We are not owners, for we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out. What we use and enjoy was all here before we came. We do not create anything. We may gather more or less of material wealth around our own personality, but all we gather belongs to the great Creator of all things. As between each other men may be owners. We may have rights and titles to certain estates to which no one else has any rights or titles’. But those rights and titles are simply an earthly, human arrangement between man and man. Between us and God, he is the owner.”TDOC 248.2

    A solemn obligation

    “Every church member should feel under obligation to consecrate his tithe to God. None are to follow the sight of their eyes, or the inclination of their selfish hearts, and thus rob God. They should not use their means to gratify vanity, or for any other selfish indulgence; for in so doing they entangle themselves in Satan’s snares. God is the giver of tact, of ability to accumulate wealth, and therefore all is to be laid upon his altar. The requirement is, ‘Honor the Lord with thy substance.’ The tendency to covetousness must be constantly restrained, else it will cat into the hearts of, men and women and they will run greedily after gain.”-Testimonies for the Church 5:481.TDOC 248.3

    Abraham’s tithing

    “The giving of one tenth of all by Abraham to Melchizedek is the first recorded instance of tithing in the Old Testament. It is the model for us. Abraham’s tithing is free from all the objections that are made against tithing on the ground that it is a Jewish institution. Abraham’s tithing emphasizes the fact that it was a moral obligation. It was not as some new thing that Abraham did when he gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek, but as a duty universally recognized by the nations in Abraham’s time, and long before. ‘Traces of it m something old, and well understood, appear in the earliest historic times among nations having little or no intercourse with the Jews or with each other. To suppose that so many people all hit upon the tenth is out of the question, and the only reasonable conclusion is that they all got it like the altar, and the sacrifices for sin, from a common source; that it was a part of God’s moral law originally revealed to man, and as such was obeyed by Abraham and afterward incorporated by Moses in the Levitical code.”TDOC 248.4

    “Abraham’s tithing was free from ceremonialism. With the Jews tithing was a matter of ceremony and ritual. The tendency of all ritual is to mere formalism. Abraham’s act was of a more spiritual nature. It was undoubtedly an expression of his gratitude to God for his goodness to him in the victory he had just gained. Our giving is to be spiritual and not a matter of mere form and ceremony. Tithing is to be a spiritual act.”TDOC 249.1

    “Abraham’s tithing is distinctly said to be associated with a perpetual priesthood, and therefore it also is to be perpetual. The fact that it is such a high order of tithing, and is so clearly linked with Christ, is a good reason why it should have a place in the practice of Christian stewardship.TDOC 249.2

    “It is said sometimes that we axe living in the dispensation of grace, and therefore we are not under obligation to any such law as tithing. But this tithing was by a man who lived his life on the basis of grace and faith. In the fourth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, Abraham is held up before us as the great and striking instance of all previous history of how men are saved, not by works of righteousness which they have done, but by grace through faith. If there was nothing incompatible with Abraham’s life of faith in the giving of tithes, there can be nothing incompatible with the fact that we are living in the dispensation of grace when we give tithes to Christ. Since tithing was practiced in the first instance recorded in the Bible under the principles of grace and faith, surely the proportion is not to be less when the dispensation of grace and faith and love has fully come in. ‘Were it not that we are so bent on keeping our money at any cost we would never offer such a senseless excuse to the Lord for falling short of our duty, as when we say, “We are not living under the law, but under grace.”’”TDOC 249.3

    Christ our example

    “In the time of the great Indian famine there were relief agents to whom were entrusted great sums of money with which to feed the hungry, but who kept that money for themselves, while hundreds of starving creatures died under their very eyes. God has given us wealth that we may relieve the spiritual famine of the world. Shall we keep for ourselves, or spend upon our own pleasures, what belongs to the perishing? What should we think of the professed Christian who, when the bread was passed to him at the Lord’s Supper, should keep it all for himself, and refuse to pass it on! When the Lord multiplies the loaves to feed the live thousand, shall the apostles keep the loaves to themselves, and pile them till they form such a barricade that the five thousand are hid from sight? And shall John be excused from distributing simply because Peter will not do his part? Ah, my brethren, this is a matter between each one of us and Christ! Each of us is charged with maintaining and extending a spiritual church, by our giving, as well as by our witnessing and teaching. And not our brethren, but only Christ, is our example, our lawgiver, and our judge.”TDOC 249.4

    The offering of love

    “The Lord never requires his people to offer more than they are,” able, but according to their ability he is pleased to accept and bless their thank offerings. Let willing obedience and pure love bind upon the altar every offering that is made to God; for with such sacrifices he is well pleased, while those that are offered grudgingly are an offense to him. When churches or individuals have no heart in their offerings, but would limit the cost of carrying forward the work of God, and gauge it by their own narrow views, they show decidedly that they have no living connection with God. They are at variance with his plan and manner of working, and he will not bless them.”-Testimonies for the Church 5:269, 270.TDOC 250.1

    Christ commends tithing

    “In other words, Christ said to the Pharisees, ‘You carry your respect for the ancient law of the tenth so far that you even tithe mint and rue and every little herb. But I do not censure you for that; you cannot be too strict or too careful in paying such debts to God. These ought you to have done. What I do reproach you for is that you content yourselves with this and omit the equally important matters of justice and real love to God. You ought not to leave these undone.’ Christ commended tithing, and we should be slow to disregard what he commended. ‘What Christ commends is my command,’ says Dr. O. P. Gifford.”TDOC 250.2

    An unreasonable course

    “It is as unreasonable as it is wrong, for God’s stewards to be forever increasing their personal and household expenses with every increase of their income while God’s work of redemption in the world drags and suffers for lack of funds.”TDOC 250.3

    The hinge of stewardship

    “Our stewardship is primarily a stewardship of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:17 the apostle Paul says, ‘A stewardship of the gospel is committed unto me.’ In Ephesians 3:2 he says, ‘If so be that you have heard of the stewardship of that grace of God which was given me to you ward. Every believer is a steward of the manifold grace of God. Not simply those who are called to be pastors, or evangelists, or missionaries, but all believers. This stewardship of the gospel is All-inclusive. It takes in all we are, all we do, all we have, and all we acquire. It has many parts. There is the stewardship of personality, the stewardship of all the faculties and powers with which God has been pleased to endow us. We are to be good, stewards of personality in order that we may be good stewards of the gospel. That is, we are to use the powers God has entrusted to us for the furthering of his cause and kingdom. There is the stewardship of time. Time is God entrusted. We have no right to do as we please with it. We are to use it as a part of our one great stewardship of the manifold grace of God for the good of men. There is the stewardship of opportunity, and of privileges, and of every blessing that may come into our lives. With all these there is the stewardship of property or wealth. These are all parts of the stewardship of the gospel which has been so definitely committed to the church and to every believer in the church.TDOC 250.4

    “Our faithfulness in this stewardship hinges at the money point. The man who is true to God as his steward in the acquisition and use of wealth, who goes into business or wage-earning as God’s steward, there definitely to adjust his daily activities to the great business of the kingdom of his Lord and Master Jesus Christ, will be faithful in his stewardship all along the line. He will be a faithful steward of personality, time, opportunity, and all else, for a man cannot be true to the resolve to be faithful in his stewardship of wealth in the interest of the gospel without being true in all these other respects. It is exceedingly important, therefore, that what is involved in the stewardship of wealth should be clearly understood.”TDOC 251.1

    The true estimate of giving

    “She who cast her two mites into the sacred treasury, by so doing became rich in good works and in the praise of God. Had she kept them she had been still only the same poor widow. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And the two mites ‘make a farthing.’ He who, as the superintending providence of nature, watches the fall of a sparrow, so that ‘one of them is not forgotten before God,’ also, as the overseer of the treasury, invisibly sits and watches the gifts that are dropped into the chest, and even the widow’s mite is not forgotten.TDOC 251.2

    “He tells us here how he estimates money gifts-not by what we give, but by what we keep-not by the amount of our contributions, but by their cost in self-denial. This widow’s whole offering counted financially for but a farthing (a quadrant, equal to four mills, or two fifths of a cent, as three fourths of an English farthing). What could be much more insignificant? But the two mites constituted her whole means of subsistence. The others reserved what they needed or wanted for themselves, and then gave out of their superabundance. The contrast is emphatic; she ‘out of her deficiency,’ they out of their supersufficiency.”TDOC 251.3

    “Not all giving-so called-has rich reward. In many cases the keeping hides the giving, in the sight of God. Self-indulgent hoarding and spending spread a banquet; the crumbs fall from the table, to be gathered up and labeled ‘charity.’ But when the one possession that is dearest, the last trusted resource, is surrendered to God, then comes the vision of the treasure laid up in heaven.”TDOC 252.1

    How to give

    “Give as you would if an angel
    Awaited your gift at the door;
    Give as you would if tomorrow
    Found you where giving would be no more;
    Give as you would to the Master
    If you met his searching look;
    Give as you would of your substance
    If his hand your offering took.”
    TDOC 252.2

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