Storehouse Tithing. . . A New Heresy by Selfish Preachers
By Evangelist John R. Rice
[The late John R. Rice was the founder of "The Sword of the Lord," Americas Foremost Revival Publication. He founded the "Sword" in 1934 in Dallas, TX and served as its Editor until his death in 1980. The present address is:
The Sword of the Lord PO Box 1099 Murfreesboro, TN 37133
1.-Not a Single Scripture Says the Church Treasury Is the Storehouse to which All The Tithe Should Be Brought. Not a Single Reliable Commentary Teaches It. All Scholars Agree.
2.-It was Never Accepted as Doctrine in Any Statement of Faith, Baptist or Otherwise.
3.-This New Doctrine, Like the Claimed Authority of Popes and of Priests to Forgive Sins and Control All Christian Activities, Grows Out of Selfish Ambition of Men.
Storehouse tithing a "heresy"? Yes. That sounds bad but most heresies are started by good men who have some bias, some preference that causes them to pervert a good doctrine or start a heresy to fill what they believe is a need.
But if a teaching is not in the Bible and is contrary to Bible truth, it is a heresy. And storehouse tithing is not Bible doctrine, so it is a heresy, as we will easily prove.
Why Good Men Go Astray in This and Other Doctrines
All heresy has a moral guilt attached. Some people are "willingly ignorant" of Bible truth, says II Peter 3:5. Pharisees, for selfish reasons made a tradition and Jesus said, "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:7). By their doctrine of "Corban," Jesus said, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mark 7:9).
Because of this tendency to seize on incidentals and ignore essentials, the Lord Jesus spoke in parables. People have a tendency to give their own private and biased interpretation, so Jesus spoke in parables so that no one would get the truth except those who honestly and seriously sought the truth. God holds truth as precious and He will not force it on the unwilling heart. He allows people to remain in darkness whose hearts do not seek the light.
Some choose sprinkling for baptism, not because it is taught in the Bible, for it is not; but because denominational pride makes them prefer it. They try to find Scriptures for sprinkling. Others try to find Scriptures to teach baptismal regeneration. Others twist Scriptures to justify supporting infidels and being yoked up with unbelievers in denominations or in mass evangelism. They are good men, but their bias or preference or ambition or greed blinds them to the truth. On every side we see men who thus, because of a bent or bias or seeming need, allow themselves to be mistaught.
So good men, because of bias and to get more money for their own work or their own control, adopt the modern heresy unknown in time past to any except as Catholics who say that the church and the priesthood should control all, the heresy of storehouse tithing. It is not a heresy that men should tithe and more. It is a heresy that God requires all tithes to go through the local church treasury, controlled by the pastor or board.
It Is a Doctrine Not Taught by or Even Implied in Any Scripture
It is strange and a little shocking that anyone should pretend that the Bible teaches storehouse tithing, that the tithes must be brought through the local church. What Scriptures do they use?
They sometimes quote Malachi 3:10, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord ". And so they say that as the Old Testament Temple under ceremonial law was the storehouse for the tithes and offerings brought to the priests and Levites, so the local church is Gods storehouse now.
Does any Scripture ever say so? No. Does the Bible ever liken the Old Testament Temple to a modern churchhouse? Not once, not at all. Is there any discussion in all the New Testament, among the many, many Scriptures on giving and support of Gods workare there any Scriptures that say the tithe should go through the local church treasury? In not a single case is it ever mentioned!
The Temple at Jerusalem was a ceremonial law. The sacrifices and offerings brought there were ceremonial law. They were the support of the priests of the Levites, never for the support of Gods prophets.
I have just gone through a number of Bible commentaries, about ten or fifteen of them. I have seven of them stacked before me now on my desk. Not one commentary of all the reputable commentaries indicates that the storehouse of the Temple at Jerusalem is replaced now by the local church treasury. The Bible doesnt say it, no recognized scholar has ever thought so, no commentary teaches it. That is a new and modern doctrine.
But there are New Testament teachings about giving, a great many Scriptures.
1. -Alms to the poor are to be given-secretly. Jesus said, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (Matt. 6:3). And Jesus specifically warned that giving should not be done for the praise of men. That certainly does not require giving through a church treasury.
2. -In II Corinthians 9:6,7 are these plain instructions: "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."
Who is to decide how much a man gives? Every man must decide for himself. And how is he to give? "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give," the Scripture says. The whole matter of deciding where to give and how much to give and how much is left with the individual Christian.
We remember that "The tithe is the Lords (Lev. 27:30). The tithe does not belong to the church, to the pastor, to the deacons, to the denominational secretary; it belongs to the Lord. The Christian himself belongs to the Lord and does not need a priest or a pope or a denominational bishop or a grasping pastor to tell him where he must give. Pastors may teach people what is right and good, but no pastor has a right to command people to give all their tithes through a treasury under his control nor to teach or infer that all tithes belong to the church and are to go through the church treasury. That is a heresy not even mentioned or inferred in the Scriptures anywhere.
3. -In I Corinthians 16:1,2 Paul gave particular instructions about giving for the poor saints at Jerusalem. He was inspired to say: "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." What does this Scripture teach? That every person should "lay by him in store" on the first day of the week whatever he sets apart for God to be turned in later. It is not scholarly nor honest to say that when a man is to "lay by him in store" that is the same as bringing it into the church storehouse. No commentary in the world gives that interpretation.
G. Campbell Morgan says about this verse, "It is to be personal and alone, for laying by in store does not mean placing in a collection basket in a meeting, but privately apportioning and guarding."
Matthew Henry says on this verse, "Every one was to lay by in store (v. 2), have a treasury, or fund, with himself, for this purpose."
Dr. A. T. Robertson, in Word Pictures in the New Testament, says, "Lay by him in store (par heautoi titheto thesaurizon). By himself, in his home. Treasuring it (cf. Matt. 6:19f. for thesaurizo). Have the habit of doing it, titheto (present imperative)."
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown says on this verse, "Lay by him-though there not be a weekly public collection, each is privately to set apart a definite proportion of his weekly income for the Lords cause and charity."
Barnes Notes on the New Testament says, "Lay by him in store Let him lay up at home, treasuring up as he has been prospered. The Greek phrase, by himself, means, probably, the same as at home. Let him set it apart; let him designate a certain portion; let him do this by himself, when he is at home, when he can calmly look at the evidence of his prosperity."
Much more evidence is available but it is redundant and unnecessary. There is simply no teaching in the Bible anywhere that Christians should bring all their tithes to the local church treasury to be distributed under the direction of the pastor or deacons or finance committee. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give."
Some people try to bolster this false doctrine of storehouse tithing by implications. They say sometimes that "the local church is the only agency God has appointed to get out the Gospel." Of course, the Bible says nothing like that at all.
Jesus gave the Great Commission five times: in Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-21; Acts 1:8. The local church is not mentioned a single time. Always it is given to the apostles, to the disciples or to those present. And the express teaching of the Great Commission is that everybody who is saved and baptized is then to be taught to carry out the same Great Commission: " Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Every saved person gets the Great Commission.
Churches do not call preachers to preach; God calls them. A church cannot tell a preacher what to preach; God must tell him. The church could not tell Paul whether he should go into Asia, Bithynia or over into Macedonia, in Acts 16; but God told him. A church could not tell Philip to go down to the road leading to Gaza and meet the Ethiopian eunuch; but God told him.
Recently we received two book manuscripts for publication. They were good manuscripts. However, both these authors said the same thing, quoting some cliche they had heard others speak. They said, "The local church is the only instrument God has for getting out the Gospel." I wrote to both these brethren asking them why, then, should they send the manuscript to the Sword of the Lord for publication, since the only one who could do Gods will was the local church? But both immediately responded they had not thought of that; they didnt mean that. One of the fine manuscripts we published, when this statement was eliminated, of course.
It is wrong for men who have accepted a heresy for personal reasons, or personal gain or prestige or control of the membership, or raising more money, to try to infer that is taught in the Scriptures. It is not. No reputable scholar in the world thinks so. No commentary teaches it. No statement of faith in all history has ever affirmed it. It is a heresy, a new heresy made by men to get more money and control the giving of the people. Thus it is a heresy and wrong.
God Puts the Responsibility for Soul Winning on Every Christian
Any sensible Christian, in considering it, must see that God wants every Christian to get out the Gospel and it is not done simply by an official act of a local church.
For example, Hudson Taylor started the China Inland Mission, resulting in thousands saved. Was that a sin? D. L. Moody started Moody Bible Institute. Other noble men have started other Christian institutions to serve God. Was that wrong? Godly men start rescue missions, like the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. They result in the saving of thousands. Is it wrong for a man to start such a mission? Wrong for a man to direct it? Wrong for people to give their money to that purpose? Honest people will not say it is wrong, surely.
Through THE SWORD OF THE LORD we have received over 18,000 letters from people who wrote to say they had found Christ through our printed literature in the English language. Many other thousands, more than 40,000 at least, have written to say they were saved through foreign language editions of our literature and they have been followed up by missionaries. The literature has been published in thirty-eight languages around the world. With earnest, loving sacrifice we gave and asked others to give to get out the Gospel, and they did. Would anybody who reads prefer that we had never gotten out the Gospel but had left it only for official church action to do it?
Let Me Prove That the Storehouse Tithing Doctrine Is Selfish and Unworthy
I could name now four great, good men whom I love, who have earnestly appealed to me and to many, many others to give to support the colleges, the broadcasts and other great Christian works which they lead. I have given and with some sacrifice thousands of dollars to these four causes. I did it gladly. I love these men and believe in them.
Yet, the four men I have in mind are each pastor of a local church and each one teaches in his local church this doctrine of storehouse tithing, that all tithes ought to go through the local church! Obviously, then, with them it is a matter of Bible conviction. From the local church they can get more money by insisting that no one give any money outside but only through their local church treasury. But then from the great multitude of us on the outside, they can get more money by appealing to us to give directly and so they do. That means that the so-called storehouse tithing with them is simply an expedient way of getting money. It is not based on any sincere conviction. It is not based on Bible doctrine. Therefore it is not altogether honest and seems certainly selfish. They are good men, they love the Lord, they want to do right; but they are willing to twist matters a little in order to get more money for the really good causes they represent.
I am saying that storehouse tithing is selfish. It is not Bible doctrine, so when men teach it they do so for another purpose.
Let me illustrate. We are getting out the Gospel here through the Sword of the Lord Foundation the best we can to multiplied thousands. Remember, this editor takes no salary from the Sword, he takes no royalty on his books published by the Sword, he takes no payment for sermons he provides. Even the book tables which we have on various conferences and meetings are carefully used and any income from them is used to get out the Gospel and does not come to this editor personally. So the illustration I am about to give is an honest one and worth listening to.
If I should set out to insist that since the Lord so blesses the work of the Sword and saves so many souls through it (as He Does), and since the work of the Sword results in such an amazing number of great soul-winning churches spreading all over America (as honest, informed men will tell you is true)then, if I should insist that all the tithe of Christians ought to come through the Sword of the Lord, first, that would not be scriptural. In the second place, it would be selfish. I do not make any such requirement, of course. I want everybody to pray about it and ask God where to give Gods money. I know that every Christian ought to support his own local church in some amount and depending on how truly that church represents the work of God and gets out the Gospel and gets people saved. But I say that the tithe belongs to the Lord, and a man ought to find where God wants him to put it and put it there or divide it severally as God leads him. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give."
It would be selfish and wrong for me to insist that the only way to give your tithe to please God is to give it through the work of the Sword of the Lord. I never say that. If I did it would be a heresy. It would be exactly the same kind of heresy as it is for a pastor to say that all the tithes must come through his local church treasury where he gets his salary and where he can largely control it.
But What Does It Matter?
Why do I insist that storehouse tithing is wrong? It matters first of all simply because we have taken a stand through the years, a holy stand of honest convictions for which I suffered the loss of more than anybody in the world knows but me and God, a stand that I will follow the Bible anywhere it leads. For this principle I have left the denomination of Southern Baptists and people I love, schools where I got my training. For this I broke with J. Frank Norris and left him to his scheming and untrustworthy ways, endured all the attacks that followed. For this cause I exposed the book, True Evangelism, by Chafer and published by Moody Press and brought upon me the ire and slander of many fundamental Christians everywhere. Because I insisted on being true to the Word of God to the letter, I have more recently had friends turn against me. Never mind, I say I have a certain standard I must follow if I be true to Christ. If it is in the Bible, I want to follow it; if it is not in the Bible, I resent anybody teaching it as Bible truth. Storehouse tithing is not in the Bible and it is wrong.
But note, sin is never a little thing. Compromise is never a little thing. My brother Dr. Bill Rice said once when we discussed the matter of compromise, "If you leave one little gate open, every cow in the pasture gets out." And he meant that if you sell out or compromise on one small matter, you start a trend of compromise that will end disastrously. The monstrosity of the Roman Catholic Church today is a result that started in little compromises, pastors becoming priests and taking more authority and claiming power to forgive sins, the pope beginning to claim to represent God on earth as successor of Peter and vicegerent of Christ. When anybody takes from a man the right to go to Jesus Christ and get instructions and follow Him, he is on the way to greater heresies. Popery of a Baptist preacher is wrong just like popery of Rome is wrong.
I know that many fundamental, independent, Baptist Churches are pastored by men who delight to teach storehouse tithing. They do not know it, but they are helping to build a denominational pride and authority that will control the minds and hearts of people and stop the blessing of God in the future if it is widely taught and believed. If a pastor has a right to tell the people where their money must go, then a local denominational secretary will have the right to say so, too. If a church will have a right to tell you where you can give your money, it will have a right to tell you what you must believe also. If a church can tell you that you have no right to inquire directly from God about where to give your money, then the church can tell you that you have no right to come to Christ for salvation except as you come through the local church and let the church decide it. That way is Catholicism and that is wrong. Any bold and insistent step into heresy means further heresy ahead.
Giving? Oh, yes. Giving tithes and offerings? Oh, yes, and far beyond that as I have delighted to do now for many, many years. If God leads, give it all through the local church, but only as He leads. But remember, the tithe is the Lords. He has a right to say where it should go. No one has a right to take this crown right of Jesus Christ and put it on a preacher or board of deacons or a finance committee.
Dr. George W. Truett said this so wonderfully strong, standing on the steps of the Capitol at Washington, in 1920. Dr. B. H. Carroll said it strongly. Oh, men, forsake this new heresy not taught in the Bible, not accepted in any Statement of Faith, not taught by any reputable scholar or commentary.