I invite you to join me on this series about the Biblical history of tithing and New Covenant giving. Your questions and comments are welcome.
All I ask is that you are respectful and keep your questions and comments limited to the subject at hand. Most importantly, be like the Jews at Berea: “They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (Acts 17:11)
The purpose of this series is to inform, inspire, and equip the saints to do the work of ministry.
In my experience, there is a severe lack of knowledge within the professing Christian community when it comes to the subjects of tithing, giving, financial stewardship, and financial support for ministers of Christ. This lack of knowledge puts many Believers at a disadvantage and makes them susceptible to unbiblical fundraising methods that are based on false teachings.
I believe that believers, for the most part, are generous people. However, it is important that our generosity is coupled with discernment and based on sound teaching.
God is a God of generosity, and He’s also a God of truth. Jesus said that He is the truth (John 14:6). He said that if we abide in His word, we are His disciples indeed, and we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:31-32). In John 4:24, the Lord said that those who worship the Father must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Truth is paramount.
When our giving is motivated by the truth of Scripture — it glorifies God, builds up the body of Christ, displays Jesus to the world, and reaps a bountiful harvest. And so, it is my aim to present the truth of Scripture and encourage God’s people to gain knowledge and understanding of His word and apply what they learn.
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Over the past few decades, the churchworld has been rocked by one financial scandal after another.
An internet search of the phrase “church financial abuse” brings up news headlines of embezzlement, fraud, exploitation, deceptive fund-raising tactics, money laundering, ponzi schemes, tax evasion, and lavish spending on frivolous and unnecessary projects and programs.
This is not to imply that most religious leaders are crooks — most Christians do not steal from their church. Nevertheless, financial corruption in the churchworld is a serious problem and warrants great concern.
According to the Status of Global Mission report from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, professing Christians worldwide will commit more than $37 billion in church-related financial fraud during 2013. Meanwhile only $33 billion will be spent on mission work globally in 2013. This means that more money will be embezzled than spent on mission work.
An estimated $100 million is embezzled everyday, and church embezzlement increases at an annual rate of almost 6%. Researchers believe that church financial fraud will reach the $60 billion mark by 2025. This figure doesn’t include the 80% of all cases of church financial fraud that go unreported.
Churches Are Targets For Thieves
A church is suppose to be a loving spiritual family that learns together, worships God together, and reaches out into the community together. It is one of the most trusting environments where people believe the best of one another and their leaders.
For this reason, many Christians believe that financial fraud could never happen in their church. They do not believe that someone they trust and fellowship with would steal church funds for their own personal use, financially exploit them, or mismanage contributions. However, this very attitude that “it could never happen in my church” is what makes churches an easy target for thieves.
This is not to say that we should be cynical and suspicious of one another, or automatically assume that anyone who handles money in the church is a thief or financially irresponsible. We should be able to trust those who profess Christ, especially friends that we have known for years and worshiped with — but we ought to be mindful that even those who profess Christ can and do struggle with the lusts of the flesh and fall into temptation.
We also ought to be mindful of the many warnings in Scripture of those who would creep into the house of God unawares and make merchandise of the saints. We cannot afford to be naive, gullible, aloof, and oblivious to the reality of wolves in sheep’s clothing who sneak over the wall of the sheepfold to fleece unsuspecting Believers.
Indeed, one common factor in most church embezzlement crimes is that the thief was someone the congregation trusted. This should not surprise us, because in Scripture, those who stole from God’s people were often well-trusted individuals.
Financial Corruption & Word Of Faith/Prosperity Theology
After much observation and research, I can only conclude that Word of Faith (WOF) theology (also called the “prosperity gospel”) promotes a false god, and not the True and Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It promotes another “faith” and not the faith that God entrusted once for all time to his holy people (Jude 1:3).
The false god of WOF theology “created the world by speaking words of faith.” This is utterly false and slanderous of the nature of the True God. The LORD of hosts does not need to “speak words of faith” because faith deals with believing in the unseen, and there is nothing unseen to God — He sees all and knows all. He simply wills what He desires, and it happens. He doesn’t need to believe in anyone or anything or exercise faith — He is the object of our faith.
The core concept of WOF theology is a false belief in the “faith-force” (or the force of faith). This concept branches off of the false belief that “god created the world by speaking words of faith.” It states that “since god created the world by speaking words of faith, then we too can create our own reality by speaking words of faith.”
This “faith-force” is not the same thing as the word “faith” in Scripture. Like all pseudo-christian cults, WOF theology uses terms from the Bible but defines them very differently — thus, it “sounds Scriptural” but has a totally different meaning opposite of Scripture.
When WOF leaders use the term “faith” they are not referring to the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1. They are referring to an impersonal force or power that one can manipulate in order to create your own reality and become prosperous in every area of life (namely in the areas of health and wealth).
Genuine faith however, (the faith of Abraham and the patriarchs) is not an impersonal force or power that we can manipulate to create our own reality and manifest our own desires. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of THINGS NOT SEEN.” The phrase “things hoped for” isn’t referring to temporal material things such as perfect health and wealth, but eternal spiritual blessings such as redemption and living with God forever in the new earth and the new heavens.
There is a Scripture which says why do you hope for what you can see? Genuine faith is about hoping for things you cannot see. But the “faith-force” of WOF theology is about obtaining things that you CAN SEE (money, a big house, a nice car, perfect health, a successful business, etc). Do you see the difference?
Hebrews 11 lists saints who were noted for their faith. It says that they all died in faith and they did not receive God’s promises IN THIS PRESENT WORLD, but they saw them coming far in the future and were glad. Genuine faith is about trusting God for eternal spiritual blessings that cannot be seen nor received in this present fallen world, but received in the future world to come. This is very different from the WOF concept of “faith” which is about practicing various rituals (such as creative visualization, positive thinking, positive confession, and “seed-giving”) to manipulate a “faith-force” and obtain temporal things in this present life.
Many WOF supporters credit Kenneth E. Hagin as the “father” of WOF theology. But much of WOF theology actually traces back to a man named E.W. Kenyon (1867-1948). “By 1950 Hagin had started reading Kenyon’s books and adopting some of Kenyon’s teachings as his own. In later years Hagin published articles and books heavily indebted to Kenyon, in several instances clearly plagiarizing from his books.” (watchman.org, click here for the reference)
E.W. Kenyon’s influence on the theology of Kenneth E. Hagin should be of great concern to WOF supporters. Kenyon studied at the Emerson College of Oratory in Boston, which promoted occult New Thought metaphysics.
In a nutshell, New Thought metaphysics teaches that our mind/thoughts control everything, and that God is not necessarily a personal being, but an impersonal “mind” or “consciousness” which is activated by our thoughts and manifests them in the natural realm.
If man can control and create his own reality with his thoughts and God is simply the vehicle that materializes our thoughts, then in essence what you have is a Satanic belief-system that exalts man as his own “god” and demotes God to the level of an impersonal genie in a bottle. This is nothing but witchcraft and sorcery.
For a time, this occult philosophy was rightfully rejected as damnable heresy in the churchworld, but eventually, it was sprinkled with ‘Christianese’ overtones and introduced to the American Church as a “new revelation” to “claim the promises of God (for health and wealth) by thinking and speaking words of faith” and of course by sending LOTS of money to WOF leaders, which allegedly pleases God SO much that He will eventually make you rich too. And there you have WOF theology.
It was quickly embraced in American churchianity, because many in the pews and pulpits of America were already inundated by a mild form of the prosperity ‘gospel’ — the materialistic narcissistic “American dream.” So, to hear a ”new revelation” that ”God approves of our greed and carnal pursuits for temporal pleasures” seemed too good to be true. And that it is. It is a lie and a doctrine of demons. It is a false “abracadabra gospel” and it should be rejected by every Christian who aims to live by faith (GENUINE FAITH) in the Son of God, and not by a “faith-force” to obtain temporary things.
Jesus said that every tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), and the fruit of WOF theology is a rotten crop of Biblically-illiterate religious leaders enriching themselves at the expense of millions of Biblically-illiterate pew-sitters — many of whom have been taught that “no one is allowed to question or critique the man of God” because “it’s wrong to judge God’s anointed, just pray and keep quiet!!”
What we have are supposed “untouchable” false teachers ruling over religious ponzi schemes and multilevel marketing pyramids. While the worker bees at the bottom of the WOF pyramid scheme are told to just “have faith in God” for their breakthrough and continue to “sow a seed (money)” into the religious corporations of CEO’s, the CEO’s collect hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in the here and now. The worker bees rarely notice that most of the money is trickling UP to the top of the hierarchy while they remain broke, in debt, and living from check to check.
It should come as no surprise to us, that such a diabolical movement is characterized by a lack of financial transparency and accountability. Why would those who financially prosper themselves “in the name of Jesus” via Scripture-twisting welcome any meaningful financial disclosure? They would expose themselves even further. Yet they unwittingly incriminate themselves by refusing to be financially transparent.
Take For Example Andy Thompson, The “Hip & Trendy” Founder & Top Leader of World Overcomers Christian Church (WOCC) in Durham, North Carolina.
Andy Thompson is a diehard proponent of WOF theology. Like many other WOF leaders, he received “formal religious indoctrination training” at RHEMA Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On Sunday November 10, 2013, Thompson gave a message called “Seed Power” (click here to listen). This message was part of a series about money.
Thompson began in 1 Chronicles 29, the chapter where Solomon was crowned king, and king David and the children of Israel voluntarily contributed freewill gifts as materials for the construction of Solomon’s Temple.
“Using every resource at my command, I [king David] have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God. Now there is enough gold, silver, bronze, iron, and wood, as well as great quantities of onyx, other precious stones, costly jewels, and all kinds of fine stone and marble. . . Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the Lord today? Then the family leaders, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the generals and captains of the army, and the king’s administrative officers allgave willingly. . . The people rejoiced over the offerings, forthey had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and King David was filled with joy.” (1 Chronicles 29:2, 5b-6, 9)
Without any expositional teaching on 1 Chronicles 29, Thompson leaped to 1 Corinthians 3:1-7 and linked it to the subject of money and his message title “Seed Power.”
What Is The Seed?
Another prominent WOF concept is “seed-faith giving” — the seed being money of course.
The idea behind seed-faith giving is that sending lots of money to WOF leaders and organizations “activates your faith” and “unlocks blessings in the spirit realm.” WOF supporters are taught that if they want to please God and receive miraculous blessings, then they must “sow money seeds of faith” into the “ministries” of WOF leaders.
Once again, WOF theology uses a term from the Bible, but redefines it very differently. This grave error is rooted in greed, covetousness, and the love of money.
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-7, the word “seed” means the word of God (the Good News). Paul said that he planted the seed (the Gospel), Apollos watered it, but God made it grow and give new life to the saints at Corinth.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, Paul mentioned seed again: “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.”
The word “seed” in this passage is not referring to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars being poured into salaries, luxury vehicles, huge houses, manicured lawns, bodyguards, personal jets, expensive hotel suites, and elaborate high-tech church-buildings.
If you read 2 Corinthians chapters 8-9 to get the entire context, it becomes clear that various assemblies took up an offering for poor persecuted saints in Jerusalem, hence the mention of bread (food).
The saints in Corinth and Macedonia freely and joyously contributed basic necessities, so that the saints in Jerusalem would be relieved and could continue to sow the word of God (the Good News).
Notice that there is no mention of tithing in Paul’s request for the poor saints in Jerusalem. He did not guilt-trip the Believers at Corinth, coerce them, condescend them, make any emotional pleas, or twist their arm with Malachi 3 (“you’re robbing God and cursed with a curse!”). He simply said:
“Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean thatthere should be some equality.Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it.In this way, things will be equal. As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.” (2 Corinthians 8:12-15)
The new commandment that Jesus gave us is to love one another as He loves us. He said that the world will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another — this means having an equality among us and sharing with one another to meet urgent needs. Not raising obscene amounts of money to financially support the fancy lifestyle of one or a few leaders AND their entire immediate family, and constructing state-of-the-art church-buildings with a cafe, a restaurant, cutting edge audio-visual equipment, etc.
In Luke 8:4-15, Christ taught a parable of the sower, and He defined the seed as the word of God: “This is the meaning of the parable:The seed is God’s word. . . the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”
In 1 Peter 1:23, the word “seed” is also defined as the word of God: “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, throughthe living and enduring word of God.”
Andy Thompson’s false parallels reveal that he does not understand what seed is according to the teaching of Christ.
For example, Thompson likened God’s seed to a man’s seed (semen, sperm). Yet the apostles clearly stated that God’s seed is NOT like the seed of a man. For example, in 1 Peter 1:23, Peter said that we have been born again NOT from human seed which is perishable and corruptible, but from the imperishable and incorruptible living word of God.
Did you catch the distinction that Peter made between God’s seed and man’s seed? He said that man’s seed is perishable (subject to decay) and corruptible (subject to corruption). But God’s seed is imperishable (everlasting) and incorruptible (pure and incapable of being corrupted).
In John 3, Jesus spoke with a high-ranking religious Pharisee named Nicodemus. And Nicodemus, being a Jew, needed to understand that he could not enter the Kingdom of God merely because he descended from the physical seed of Abraham. Physical seed reproduces physical life. But God’s seed reproduces spiritual life. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh isfleshly,and that which is born of the Spiritis spiritual.” (John 3:6)
John the apostle also made a distinction between God’s seed and man’s seed in John 1:12-13: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born,not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
As you can see, God’s seed and man’s seed are very different. Whereas man’s seed is carnal, God’s seed is spiritual.
Jesus nor the apostles likened God’s seed to man’s seed. They made a distinction between the two to show that God’s seed is totally different from man’s seed. Personally, I find it very concerning and disturbing when religious leaders attempt to parallel God’s seed to sperm or semen. Another WOF leader, Eddie Long, made a similar false parallel in a sermon from the 1990’s.
Does God’s Seed Operate Like The American Economic System?
Thompson made another false parallel by likening God’s seed to the American economic system.
And I quote, “seed power is in a sense, capitalism. Our American economic system is based on seed power. It’s based on the idea that I give you something small, and you give it back to me bigger. I give you a hundred dollars, and you give me back a thousand. I invest, and when you give it back to me, it’s more. . . . So when the Lord says ‘Yeah, what I want you to do is, is I want you to give me a seed. I want you to sow into the kingdom, and I’ll tell you what, you give me a seed and I’ll give it back to you bigger than how you gave it, that really shouldn’t be that difficult for us to understand because we operate in seed power all the time. . . So when the Lord says, what I want you to do is, is I want you to give to the work of the kingdom of god. I’ll tell you what, give and it shall be given unto you again pressed down, shaken together, and running over. . . Tell you what, if you pay your tithes and you give your offerings, what you’re doing is you’re giving to my house and I’ll give it back more to you. You give me something small, I’ll give you back something big. You give me a hundred dollars and I’ll give it back to you multiplied.”
This statement confirms that Thompson does indeed define the seed as money, in step with the WOF concept of “seed giving.” I already demonstrated from Scripture that the seed is the living word of God, not money which is a man-made perishable non-living object which has no value besides what men ascribe to it, cannot reproduce itself, and must be manipulated by man in order to make a profit.
Thompson’s statement demonstrates one of the problems with WOF theology — it portrays God as if He and His Kingdom operate according to the same carnal elementary principles as the stock market, the economic system, or a casino. Colossians 2:8 warns Believers to avoid false teachers who would take them in bondage to such teaching:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
The American economic system does not operate based on the same power as God’s seed (the word of God), but based on corrupt monetary policy, fraudulent banking practices, greed, covetousness, fear, predatory lending, borrowing, debt, inflationism, selfish ambition, a lust for power, domination and control, self-preservation, and the global agenda of a few banking families that wish to stay in power by placing all nations in financial bondage to them, consolidating these nations, and internally managing and orchestrating the rise and fall of various markets.
Whereas God’s love propels the power of His seed or word, the false worship of the idol “mammon” is what propels the American economic system. God’s seed cannot be likened to the American economic system — the two are diametrically-opposed to one another. Jesus plainly stated that His Kingdom is not of this world and does not operate by the fleshly elementary principles of the world.
Indeed, when people invest in the stock market, they expect a greater return. The purpose of investing money in a corporation is to make more money. But should Believers think this way when it comes to the Kingdom of God? Here is what Jesus said “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. . . ” (Luke 6:35)
In this passage, Jesus is speaking about loving our enemies. And He said to do good unto them and give to them expecting nothing in return. How much more should we freely give to fellow Christians for the work of Christ without expecting anything in return? Should our giving be motivated by unconditional love for others and a desire to glorify God, or should it be motivated by a selfish desire to receive more money back? Did Jesus die on the Cross for our sins because He loved us and sought to glorify the Father? Or because He was seeking to prosper Himself?
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 2:4-5)
Another problem that I noticed in Thompson’s previous statement, and pay attention here. . . . In 1 Corinthians 3:1-7, the leaders were the givers, and the people were the receivers. The seed was sown by the leaders into people they evangelized and the people were the receivers of that seed. Andy turned the tables by putting himself and his corporation in the position ofthe receiver and putting his congregation in the position of the giver. Yet once again, the text is not about Believers “sowing money seeds” into leaders, but about leaders sowing God’s word into the people they evangelize.
Paul the apostle said that the parent should store up for the child and not the other way around. In other words, those who are elders (mature shepherds of Christ) are suppose to be SERVANTS who GIVE of themselves and pour into others — not religious panhandlers who take, take, TAKE from God’s flock.
Jesus said that it is more blessed to GIVE than to receive. Yet Andy taught an entire series where he and his corporation are the receiver and WOCC congregants are the givers. A real elder will not twist Scripture to persuade you to “sow money seeds” into his religious corporation, but rather, plants and waters the good seed (the word of God) into your heart.
Now Let’s Put Luke 6:38 Back In Context
In Luke 6:38 Jesus said: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
Andy twisted this passage to imply that if you “sow a money seed” into his corporation, God will give you even more money in return. And I quote, “I’ll tell you what, give and it shall be given unto you again pressed down, shaken together, and running over. . . Tell you what, if you pay your tithes and you give your offerings, what you’re doing is you’re giving to my house and I’ll give it back more to you. You give me something small, I’ll give you back something big. You give me a hundred dollars and I’ll give it back to you multiplied.”
This is a common WOF misinterpretation. But if you read the entire chapter of Luke 6, you will see that Jesus was not referring to money when He said that “it shall be given unto you again pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” He was saying that if we love our enemies, return blessings for cursing, give generously, show mercy, condemn not, and forgive others — God will bless us in the same way that we bless others. In short, the grace and mercy we extend to others will be extended to us by God. If we use a generous standard, then God will use a generous standard with us. Those who forgive others will be forgiven by God. Those who show mercy will be shown mercy by God.
God can most certainly bless us financially, but our reward is not a financial return in exchange for loving our enemies or providing for the work of Christ. Our reward is spiritual treasures hidden in Christ Jesus high above the American economic system, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.
WOCC members, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sitsin the place of honor at God’s right hand.Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
Why Did Andy Scoff At Those Who Requested Financial Transparency?
In the same message “Seed Power,” Thompson said “. . . there are questions that are asked all the time, and one of the commonly asked questions, I just was in a meeting with my advisory board, and uh, just this past weekend. The advisory board is made up of some members of the church that have been asked to be on this board that gives us some advice.
And we were talking about it, one of the things they were saying to me is pastor Andy you’re preaching on tithing and giving and that’s great. But if you could just talk about where the tithe goes and talk about where the offering goes and if you could really explain that people would really give. As much as tithing and giving offerings is important, but also giving the explanation will also help people to give and people will be giving because they will know really where the tithe goes. And maybe you should just break it down and explain to them where the tithe goes.
And I said, I hear ya’ll, I agree with you no doubt about it. And today I’m going to answer that question where does the tithe go. I’m going to break it down for you really quickly and just let you know where your tithes and your offerings actually goes.
But before I do that, let me just say this and I didn’t really say this in the advisory meeting, but I’m saying today, that I get that, but to some extent, it’s a double standard when it comes to the Kingdom. . . especially if you’re an investor. So if you’re an investor and you think okay, well I’m gonna invest a 100 dollars or whatever into Apple, how much of computer software technology do you have to understand for you to invest your money?
As much as you want to invest, the greater thing you’re thinking about is what’s my return? . . . You’re a shareholder, you may want to say okay what exactly are they doing with the money, but if you’re really honest, you don’t really don’t care what they do with the money, as long as you get a return on your money. . . .You don’t really need to know that [about the product], as long as you get a return. . . as long as the return is great, hey you’re pretty alright about it, as long as the return as great. Sometimes when it comes to the Kingdom though, we got to understand every little nuance and every little thing gotta be broken down.”
So, a member of WOCC’s advisory board suggested to Andy that maybe if they disclosed to congregants how funds are allocated, then perhaps congregants would be more inclined to give. This is a good suggestion — especially at a time when public criticism and skepticism of the Church (especially leaders) is at an all-time high due to financial scandals, sexual scandals, and corrupt theology (especially WOF theology). It would be wise for any organization that professes Christ and collects money in name of God to have meaningful financial transparency and accountability.
And by meaningful financial transparency, I do not mean standing on stage and rushing through a list of ‘charitable works’ like Andy did in this message. But providing congregants with a financial statement showing how much money was collected and how it was spent, and having public open meetings where congregants can review and discuss how their contributions are distributed.
Congregants should know how much of each dollar goes towards salaries, utilities, property upkeep/maintenance, evangelism, financial assistance/benevolence, etc. They are adults contributing their hard earned money and should be treated as such — not belittled and pat on the head like babies who don’t need to know their parents finances. The Scriptures speak about being a good steward of our resources, and understanding that we are accountable to God for how we manage or mismanage what He blesses us with.
Andy taught an entire series devoted to mooching money from WOCC members, yet he had the audacity to tell them in a mocking snarky manner that they don’t need to know how their money is spent “as long as they get a return”?
This glib attitude about ‘money and ministry’ is contrary to the transparency and mutual accountability of the apostles. In 2 Corinthians 8, we see that the saints appointed Titus to accompany apostolic workers as they transported a gift to the poor saints in Jerusalem.
“He [Titus] was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem—a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.We are traveling togetherto guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.“ (2 Corinthians 8:19-21)
The apostles were not required to be financially transparent and accountable by the Roman government. They voluntarily chose to handle contributions in a transparent manner to guard against criticism and show people that they had integrity. They did not want to bring reproach upon the name of Christ or the reputation of the Church by bringing speculation, suspicions, and accusations on themselves. This way, everyone would see that they are honorable, and their integrity would bring glory to God.
One of the qualifications for an elder is that he must be above reproach — and a leader cannot be above reproach if he is secretive about church finances and tells congregants that they don’t need to see how their money is spent “as long as they get a return.” As I carefully listened to “Seed Power,” it was clear to me that Andy is very sensitive and offended about congregants knowing exactly how their money is allocated. He pretty much threw a lightweight attitude on stage and tried to cover it up with humor. He brought reproach upon himself.
I personally know that there are WOCC congregants who don’t care about “getting a return” and sincerely want to know how funds are allocated on a financial statement. Andy really underestimated the intellect of his congregation — people are observing how he speaks to them and making mental notes. Not everyone sitting in the audience “just cares about the money.” Andy insulted WOCC members who desire meaningful financial disclosure.
Thompson claimed that people who invest in Apple don’t care about how Apple products work, they only care about their return. That is so not true, it’s ridiculous. Apple investors are generally informed and enthusiastic about Apple products. Just as those who invested in Google were pretty informed and enthusiastic about Google.
Here’s a little food for thought. . . both Apple and Google publish public quarterly financial statements and disclose the salaries of their CEO’s. It seems that religious corporations like WOCC are the only institutions that refuse to regularly and openly disclose their financial information to contributors. Should the world be more transparent than a so-called “Christian church”?
Not only that, but even if you weren’t an Apple shareholder, you’d still be able to view their financial statement and request more information about how their products and services work. And they wouldn’t respond with snarky statements like “you aren’t an investor, so you don’t need to know how our products work! Why do you need every little thing broken down!? You don’t need to know how the iphone works, all you need to know is that you’ll make a return!”
Scripture shows that we are responsible to spend our money wisely. God cares about why we give (our motives), who we give to, and the stated purpose of the need. He is not pleased when we give with impure motives, give in ignorance (lacking essential information), give to the rich (they don’t NEED money, poor people do), give out of pressure or guilt (God loves a CHEERFUL giver), “sound our trumpet” when we give to receive praise from men (give in secret and our Father will reward us openly), and give to false shepherds or any agenda that contradicts the will of God.
The notion that “God only cares that we give. We aren’t responsible for what leaders do with our money” is wholly unbiblical and negligent. Both the Old and New Testaments show that God hates it when His people squander their resources on false leaders who make merchandise of them. He considers it idolatry.
In the Kingdom of God, financial accountability is a 2-way street — the giver is just as accountable as the receiver.
Andy accused those who request financial transparency of having a “double standard when it comes to the Kingdom.” But in reality, he is the one with a double standard. He’s perfectly fine with staff keeping track of your ‘tithes’ and offerings, but he will not provide WOCC members with a financial statement. A double standard indeed. This is highly hypocritical, suspect, and questionable.
“God Doesn’t Need Your Money, But His House Does”?
Andy said that someone told him that God doesn’t need their money. And his response was that God doesn’t need your money, but His house does (referring to the church-building).
Are we under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant?
During the Old Covenant, Solomon built God a house, but God didn’t live there. God does not live in temples made with human hands.
Solomon’s Temple, which later became Herod’s Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., because it was a den of thieves and Jesus pronounced it desolate. It only served a temporary purpose during the Old Covenant, because that Covenant revolved around 3 main components: the animal sacrifices, the priesthood, and the temple.
But after Christ came and fulfilled the Old Covenant law, He rendered it obsolete and established the New Covenant based on better promises. In Acts, God officiated disciples of Jesus as His temple by filling them with the Holy Spirit. Don’t you know that you are the temple of God and God’s Spirit lives in you?
You are the spiritual house and ekklesia (church) that Jesus is building. “And upon this rock (referring to Himself)I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
The body of Christ (not the church-building down the street) is the house of God and the temple of God. The temples of man are earthly and permanently fixed in one place. Their lifeless idols sit in one spot in a shrine. But we serve the Living God who moves. . . and so He desires a temple that moves with Him. The Lord foreshadowed this during the Old Covenant, when He had the children of Israel construct a tent-like tabernacle that could move with His Spirit (the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night).
The body of Christ, unlike man’s “high places” dedicated to idols, moves with the Living God. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. Where is our “place of worship”? Neither on this mountain, nor on that mountain, nor in Jerusalem. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth.
The house or temple that God wants us to contribute to is His people! Don’t misinterpret me. I am not saying that it is wrong to take care of the utilities of a church-building or modest upkeep. What is wrong is pouring hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars into a temple made with man’s hands, rather than the true temple of God which is the Bride of Christ.
In Acts 2 and 4, the saints took up freewill offerings to meet urgent needs among them, not to fund 6-figure salaries and expensive building projects. Even during the Old Covenant, the materials for the construction of the tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple were collected from freewill offerings — never tithes. In Scripture, tithes were always food (animals and crops), never money. This is why you never see tithes used in Scripture to fund salaries and building projects. The tithe came from farmers and shepherds only, to feed Levites, widows, orphans, and the stranger. The modern practice of using “money tithes” to fund salaries and building projects is totally unbiblical.
Andy’s constant mention of the ‘tithe,’ referring to church leaders as “priests,” and calling the church-building “God’s house” demonstrates that he has an Old Covenant mentality. In the New Covenant, there is no more “tithe,” but grace-giving. The entire body of Christ is a royal priesthood, not just leaders (1 Peter 2:5, 9) and we are God’s house, not the church-building.
It is no wonder that Andy does not understand these basic truths of the Gospel, because he does not understand the Gospel itself. As much as WOF supporters like to believe they’re on the “cutting edge of new revelation” they are very much stuck in the shadows of the Old Covenant. They are intoxicated from drinking old tainted wine out of old wineskins. Until they turn to Jesus Christ and realize the beauty of the Good News (justification by faith, not health and wealth through the “faith-force”) they will continue to say that the old wine tastes better!
By His Own Measure, Andy Thompson Is Carnal & Immature
Earlier in the message, Andy quoted from 1 Corinthians 3, which says that when you boast in religious leaders and elevate one religious leader over another like some sort of church clique, you’re behaving carnal just like people of the world and still an infant on milk. Then later on in the message, he encouraged this very same competitive idolatrous behavior by boasting in the ‘charitable deeds’ of WOCC.
“I dare you. I double dog dare you. I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU! To find somebody doing more in communities than World Overcomers. Because nobody feeds the amount of people that we feed out of World Overcomers. I mean nobody. Not a church. Not a church feeds what we feed.”
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need,don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
Someone might be saying “Evelyn, you said that Andy should be financially transparent, but now you’re taking issue with him for publicly disclosing the charity work of WOCC.”
Folks, there is a huge difference between providing financial statements to congregants at public meetings, and yelling on TV in a prideful boastful manner “I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU TO FIND SOMEBODY doing more in communities than World Overcomers! Not a church feeds what we feed!” Where is God’s credit for providing the food, volunteers, and labor? Where is the glory to Jesus Christ in any of that? Where is the acknowledgement that without God, it couldn’t have been done?
The very same chapter that Andy read from says “The one who plants and the one who waterswork together with the same purpose.And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.” (1 Corinthians 3:8)
If WOCC is a part of the body of Christ, and thus, working for the same Lord in unison with other Churches, then why is Andy comparing what WOCC does to what any other church in the area does? Paul said that it is not wise to compare ourselves with one another, and that such cliquish competitive prideful behavior is carnal and infantile.
This all goes back to the WOF theology, which isn’t about building up the body of Christ in the unity of the Spirit, but about building the highest tower of babel into the heavens, and making a great name for one’s self. WOF leaders and corporations are very very competitive. This is why WOF congregants are constantly browbeat and worked like slaves to keep “sowing that money seed” to raise more money for a fancier bigger building, which will in turn warehouse more people, which translates into bigger offerings, and the vicious cycle continues.
Andy kept belittling his congregants and deeming them “carnal, worldly, and stuck on milk.” But maybe that’s because he treats them like carnal babes and feeds them watered down spoiled milk. When you talk down to congregants and treat them like juveniles, don’t be surprised when they don’t grow up. When you keep sowing elementary principles about money and ‘faith’ — don’t be surprised when your ‘seed’ brings forth a crop of stunted church-r-us-kids bottle-feeding in the high chair of WOF theology. Sometimes congregants are a reflection of their leader.
“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again.Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds andplacing our faith in God.“ (Hebrews 6:1)
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to discern the difference between right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:12-14)
The second mention of tithing in Scripture is in Genesis 28. The background behind this chapter begins in Genesis 27. Please study both chapters for yourself, because I’m only going to provide a summary.
A SUMMARY OF GENESIS 28
This chapter begins with Jacob fleeing for safety from his brother Esau. But before Jacob left, his father Isaac forbid him from marrying a Canaanite woman and sent him to his mother Rebekah’s hometown of Haran to find a wife among his uncle Laban’s daughters. Then Isaac pronounced the blessing of Abraham upon Jacob: “May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings he promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham.” (Genesis 28:3-4)
Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran, and at sundown he set up camp and fell asleep. While he slept, God visited him in a dream and said “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
Jacob woke up from his dream in awe of God and afraid. So early the next morning he took the stone that he rested his head against, set it up as a memorial pillar and anointed it with oil, and he named that place Bethel which means “house of God.” Then Jacob made this vow: “IF God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and IF he will provide me with food and clothing, and IF I return safely to my father’s home, THEN the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” (Genesis 28:20-22)
DOES GENESIS 28 PROVE THAT WE MUST TITHE TODAY?
Some supporters of modern-day “tithing” claim that Jacob’s vow proves that “a tithing commandment existed before the Old Covenant, therefore tithing is an eternal universal principle, and we are still obligated by God to tithe 10% of our income to our local assembly or religious leaders.” However, they ignore the following:
1.Tithing was NOT a part of God’s covenant with Jacob (see Genesis 28:13-15). Anyone who claims that tithing was a part of God’s covenant with Jacob is lying on God, Jacob, and adding to Scripture.
2. God’s promise to bless Jacob was based on faith — not tithing. God had already promised to bless Jacob before he ever vowed to give God a tenth. Anyone who claims that God’s promise to Jacob was based on tithing or that God blessed Jacob “because of his tithing” is in error.
3. God didn’t command Jacob to tithe. Jacob took it upon himself to vow a tenth of everything God gave him. Anyone who claims that God commanded Jacob to tithe is lying.
4. Jacob did not vow out of faith. He vowed out of unbelief/doubt, fear, and manipulation. Anyone who claims that Jacob vowed out of faith in God is confused and deceived.
5. Nowhere in Genesis 28 does it instruct us to tithe. Nor did the prophets, apostles, or Jesus quote Genesis 28 to teach anyone to tithe 10% of their income. Anyone who quotes Genesis 28 to teach you to tithe 10% of your income is in error and mishandling the Scriptures.
6.The Scriptures do not say if Jacob ever kept his vow, nor does the Bible say if he ever gave a tenth to anyone else. Anyone who claims that Jacob was a regular tither or a faithful tither is speculating, building a tithing doctrine on speculation, and adding to Scripture.
SHOULD WE FOLLOW JACOB’S EXAMPLE IN GENESIS 28?
Some supporters of modern-day “tithing” say that we should follow Jacob’s example in Genesis 28 by tithing 10% of our income, but a close examination of the text shows that we should most definitely NOT follow Jacob’s example in Genesis 28.
Jacob was a man of God, but during the beginning of his life he often doubted God and behaved in a manipulative manner. For example, he took advantage of his brother Esau during a weak moment and stole’s Esau’s birthright (see Genesis 27). He aso deceived and manipulated his father by pretending to be Esau in order to steal his brother’s blessing.
In Genesis 28, Jacob once again doubted God and behaved in a manipulative manner, by trying to strike a bargain with God. Jacob said “IF God will” do this for me, and “IF He will” do that for me, and “IF He will” such and such. . .“THEN the Lord will certainly be my God.” (Genesis 28:20-22)
Jacob’s vow shows that he did not trust God in this instance. Earlier in the chapter, his father Isaac had already pronounced the blessing of Abraham over his life. Then God appeared to Jacob in a dream and personally pronounced the blessing of Abraham to him. Jacob had every reason to trust God, because not only did he hear the blessing of Abraham pronounced to him by his father and the Lord, but he also saw physical evidence that God keeps His promises because he personally witnessed how God blessed his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac.
There was no reason for Jacob to attempt to bargain with the Lord, because God had already promised to take care of him, and Jacob should have known that the Lord would take care of him just as He took care of Abraham and Isaac. The Lord would not promise to take care of Jacob, then not do it. He is not a man that He should lie. He is True and Faithful. Jacob showed that he really didn’t know the Lord nor trust Him to take care of him when he said “IF God will indeed be with me and protect me and provide for me”. . . . . . IF? There is no such thing as “IF” or “maybe” when God promises us something. All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are YES and AMEN (2 Corinthians 1:20).
God did not tell Jacob that He would only provide for him if he tithed. He told Jacob that He would provide for him – period. If God will provide for birds who neither plant, harvest, nor store food in barns — then how much more will He provide for His people? “If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:30) If the Lord is truly our Shepherd, then we shall not want, lack or need (Psalm 23:1). He will provide for us by virtue of who He is — the Good Shepherd, the one who leads and guides us into green pastures, the one who leads us to still waters, the one who gives us life more abundantly. He cannot be manipulated like a “heavenly genie in the sky” to provide for us through wheeling and dealing, bargain-making, swearing an oath, or vowing to give Him 10% of our income.
Many people who support modern-day “tithing” are like Jacob. They do not fully trust God to provide for them because He is faithful, loving, and gracious. They believe that they must appease God into providing for them by giving a tenth of their income. They are scared that if they don’t practice modern-day “tithing” that God will not provide for them. The truth of the matter is that God provides for us because of His faithfulness, love, and grace. No one can boast that God provides for them because they give 10% of their income. Yet many people who practice modern-day “tithing” pat themselves on the back when God provides for them, and say that God took care of them because of what they did and not because of who He is. That gives the glory to self instead of God.
When God appeared to Jacob in his dream, He said “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.” (Genesis 28:13). God announced Himself to Jacob as the God of his forefathers, and He was also Jacob’s God. Yet Jacob said that if God did x, y, and z for him — then and only then would he worship the Lord as his God. The Lord had already proclaimed Himself as the True and Living God, the God of Jacob’s forefathers — He had already demonstrated His character and power, so He did not need to prove Himself worthy of being God and worthy of being worshiped. Jacob was irreverent when he said that the Lord would be his God “only IF God did x, y, and z.” The Lord was already His God and worthy to be worshiped.
Lastly, Jacob made a thoughtless rash vow, and Christ forbid us from making vows in Matthew 5:33-37: “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
Surely we should not imitate Jacob if he did something that Christ forbid. Human beings have a tendency to get caught up in the moment and use poor judgment by making hasty vows that we can’t keep. Yet we don’t know what tomorrow holds, so we can’t be certain if we can keep a vow. It’s unnecessary for us to make vows, because our word should be sufficient. Whether we say “yes” or “no” that should be exactly what we mean. Swearing oaths and making vows opens us up to the enemy because he can use our vow to trap us, make us look dishonest, unworthy of being trusted, and compromise our witness.
Beware of churches, ministries, and religious leaders who tell you to swear an oath, sign covenants, or vow a tenth or some other portion of your income. They are instructing you to do something which Jesus forbid. In the New Covenant, we do not swear oaths, sign extra-Biblical covenants, and make vows to show our commitment to God or “partner” with a ministry.
Some Believers make the mistake of assuming that if a patriarch of the Faith did something, then God must approve of it and we should do it too. But that is a dangerous assumption to make, because the patriarchs sometimes said and did things that were ungodly, and this is definitely the case with Jacob’s vow in Genesis 28. He did not set a godly example that we should imitate in Genesis 28. He set an example of what NOT to do.
Furthermore, the patriarchs practiced various things that are no longer in effect. For example, they offered up animal sacrifices and kept the law of physical circumcision — both of which we do not practice because animal sacrifices and the law of physical circumcision are no longer in effect in the New Covenant. The animal sacrifices foreshadowed Jesus Christ, who “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26), and the law of physical circumcision foreshadowed spiritual circumcision which is “the cutting away of your sinful nature” (Colossians 2:11). So, just because the patriarchs practiced something does not mean it is an “eternal universal principle” or commandment binding upon New Covenant Believers. We have a totally different Covenant with God than the patriarchs, based on better promises.
God does not want us to imitate the ungodly things that the patriarchs did, nor does He want us to keep obsolete out-dated practices that the patriarchs kept. He does however, want us to imitate the FAITH of the patriarchs by trusting Him, but on a much greater level by being a living sacrifice like Jesus Christ — who is our ultimate example.