Controlling the Money
The organized church for centuries has done all it can to control the money. These traditions go back hundreds of years in some cases well over 1,000 years. The way it was done, was by searching scripture and literally coming up with schemes--often intricate--. These schemes have been, whether we realize it or not, been placed within the framework of tradition.
The first example of this--
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. (1Corinthains 16:1)
The catholic church, which controlled the Bible strictly for over 1,000 years created within itself a specific definition of a "saint". They controlled who an "official" saint would be. They had and still have a process through which they determine who the saints will be. For example, one of the qualifications is that a person must be dead (which leads to the immediate question:why would the church in the Bible have been collecting for dead people?).
Why did the church do this?
I believe one of the reasons was this simple scripture in 1Corinthains. Since the church had created it's own definition of "saints"--it then controlled the collecting of money. For catholics this scripture seems to be saying that the church ought to collect money to build statues to the saints. By misdefining a Biblical concept the church then controlled the money.
What about protestant churches?
Most of them have the correct Biblical definition of the "saints"--which simply means someone who is made holy by Christ--in other words saved people--all Christians are saints (not because they "deserve a title", but because they have confessed they are sinners and are saved by Gods' grace through Christ Jesus--amen!)
In the Bible, the churches collected money and goods and distributed it to the poor which were among them.....
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2: 44-45)
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many
as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the
prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:34-35)
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth
the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; (2Corinthians 9: 12-13)
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. (Galatians 2:10)
Most protestant churches just read around this concept. Many believe in something called "dispensationalism"--a very long-winded concept that basically says that the people in the Bible did things one way, in those days, back then, but we live in another day and age and do things differently. The question is: which things in the Bible should we ignore? The ultimate answer is that the leaders will decide. The problem is that most protestant leaders are already handed a church function which excludes this idea for the most part. They have a bunch of other prerogatives and goals, given to them by "founding fathers" which closely resemble the catholic concept of church function and so disregard the function of distributing to the saints.
Let's go deeper into this idea. I would propose to you that at some time, perhaps 1500 years ago, someone (or perhaps some group of people) sat down with the Bible, and looked for the money.
The new testament was very unappealing to them. In the new testament, the Christians met in homes, prayed together as equals, let God lead them directly in all things--and sought to spread the Gospel by being "sent" out to the world (the Bible would call this "apostleship").
Everyone was a minister (that is one of the reasons for collecting for the poor in the church--so that more people could be free to serve God!). The new testament Church had very little to do with money. They had a brilliant, God-inspired system to function together without money being a concern! And they very successfully spread the Gospel under very strict persecution by the Romans and others.
They got this example from Jesus.
Jesus taught that money should not be a concern (Matthew 6: 25-33). He went around and served people. He prayed for the sick and fed the poor and the Church in the Bible was simply doing it's best to follow His example. God often gave miraculous supply for these things when they trusted Him by faith (and I am sure many of you know that this is true, God supplies when we believe!)
All of this was not very appealing if you were looking for rulership, government, control and money!
So, they looked into the old testament. In the old covenant, God's 1st will for Israel was that they be "a nation of priests"...
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)
This original idea was reiterated in the new covenant, and followed by the Bible Church
"YE also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" (1Peter 2:5, 2:9)
But in the old testament Israel broke the covenant in this area. They demanded a king, like other nations. They wanted human authority and leadership like other nations. So God compromised and gave them the Levitical priesthood (and later, judges and kings--all of these governments eventually failed) The Levites had authority over the "congregation" of Israel (the other 11 tribes) and functioned in and operated the sanctuary--the house of God--the temple in Jerusalem.
They received tithes/offerings--and animals and crops which were the sin payment God required (before Jesus went to the cross--all these operations are annulled in the new covenant--if anyone cares to study it!)
Aaaah!! At last here was the money!!
Here was a system in the Bible where one person paid another.
So what did they do?
They restructured the church.
The created a church function based largely on the old testament. The goals for their church was not "work together as equals in the Gospel"--no--the "big goals" became "build the house of God" create an ornate place of worship in which one person ruled over everyone. There were enough old testament snips that could be used to enforce this idea and in fact a handful of these concepts were written into new testament Bible translations 1,000 years later ("them that have the rule over you", "them that are over you in the Lord", the "office" of ministry, "submit" "obey" these words and phrases do not line up with the Greek at all but were the long standing tradition of the translators).
The ideas and structure they chose was familiar, since the pagan temples contained altars upon which offerings had to be given to "priests". They added in the pulipitum, the place of authority where Roman emperors and senators spoke from (and everybody better shut up!).
Underlying all these ideas was the control of money.
The leaders get it all.
Oh well, we'll just ignore the parts of scripture that say to burn the offerings--and after a time we can tell people if they can't bring in crops and livestock, money is okay to offer "to God".
He doesn't seem to mind.
Don't know when was the last time anyone asked Him.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1Timothy 6:10)
The "Practical Pig" Concept
It's amazing to me how I hear preachers speak to the "regular folks" that they need to give them money, and "believe by faith" that God will then prosper them and restores and multiply what they have given.
It's as if one set of laws and rules apply to the leaders and another to the rest of us!
It's very true that the Bible tells us to trust God in all things, and that certainly includes money. Well then why doesn't that rule apply to leadership in the church? They believe they have the right to ask for money using the Word of God as law. Now I am not saying that the leaders of today are evil or wicked (most of them simply do not realize that they are standing on he backs of wicked leaders who lived hundreds of years ago when they preach tithes and offerings at people)--in fact they are usually really nice folks and actually the most simple and trusting people. They just do not understand what they are trusting in.
Many of them have what I would call the "practical pig" attitude. What I mean to say is that they will look at you and say things like "Of course the church needs money--just like you do and just like any business" "Of course we need to utilize money in order to get the work of God accomplished"
The first question is: Where is the faith in this? Why should money be put first? Why should it be in place at all?
There is very very simple, advice in the new testament Bible about money.
1. Use what you have. Trust that God's supply is sufficient. Don't labor too hard to get more.
2. Trust that God will multiply what you have for His use.
3. Don't put money first.
4. Work simply with your hands. Serve God first of all.
Now, if we met in the simple way the church in the Bible did (and the way Jesus operated) we could follow this advice easily. How did they meet?
1. Small groups of equals. (Usually meet in homes--but anywhere is fine!)
2. Everyone could minister. Let God lead.
3. The purpose of the meeting is to further the Gospel.
Where does money fit in?
If God happens to ask someone or some group to go some place to do the Gospel, well then they have the right to be supported by the others with goods or money. But this ministry is not a permanent, full-time, paid professional "office"! Ministry has a beginning a middle and an end. (Because next time it might be someone else's turn!)
Think about it. In this system we are spending very little on ourselves. We then could put all or most of our resources toward the Gospel. The (often misused!) statement in the Bible that says it is correct for someone to "live of the Gospel" now makes sense. If someone is sent out to do the Gospel they can (temporarily!) be supported by others in the church.
But we do not have this system in the church.
Tradition has handed us a system that much more resembles the old covenant temple. Leaders are thoroughly convince that it is their "God-given" job to build and maintain this system. And it's an expensive system! We need to build and maintain and operate a large building, which is only utilized once a week (an incredible waste!). Tradition says we need full-time, paid professional people (we call them "ministers"--wow--highly paid servants?!) who often act and live like celebrities. Thank about it--this is all for us--it ain't doing the Gospel!
But this is all what people have invented and now expect and demand. A successful leader is only someone who pleases the masses.
And one of the results is the "practical pig" that says "Hey of course we need money to do the church"
What an expensive system!
No wonder they need to ask for money all the time!