Today many who claim to be apostles and prophets and pastors believe they are NOT to be judged by the body...or to be held accountable to the scriptures requirements! Those who profess to be accountable are often only so to a select and self chosen group of their peers.
The truth which is sadly overlooked is that ALL believers are accountable to the scriptures....the written word of God. Those who do not accept this are deceived and behaving like cult leaders rather than servants of God.
Many have made claims that God will strike down those who dare to judge or to 'touch God's anointed' (not realising that God's anointed are ALL His children). Our Father speaks to His children....He does NOT kill them!
In the book of Revelations Jesus commends the believers in the church of Ephesus for judging those who claim to be sent with a message from God....testing them to see if they are what they claim to be.
2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; NKJV
For those who think we should not criticise or judge 'leaders', Jesus clearly wants to test those who claim to be 'apostles' ....and not to bear with them if they are evil men who are liars.
This is very similar to one of Paul's many warnings to other churches
2 Cor 11:20-21
20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.
Brethren DO NOT put up with these behaviors. Paul is telling us to refuse to support deceivers!....just as Jesus did.
This includes men who say..."God says that you must tithe (or give 10% of your income) to your local church".....when God says nothing of the sort. (The 'local church' of course being the organisation which they control and where they determine what will be done with the money....being as they claim ....God's anointed leader)
The problem is that the scriptures do not teach this....it is hard to conclude that this comes from anything other than a covetous heart purporting to speak on God's behalf.
Would a church or a pastor or a minister of religion, preach something that is NOT the truth...so that they can get your money?...
GOD says they DO!
For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land," says the LORD.
13 "Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely. NKJV
The rebuke by Jesus to the church at Thyatira was because they tolerated or put up with false teachers! (Rev 2:20)
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. NKJV
Brethren, 'rulers' of God's household must realise that they have an awesome responsibility...it is HIS house...not theirs!
Senior pastors are not supposed the be the 'head of the local church'.....in Christ's kingdom ruling means being the chief servant!
They are to FEED ....and not take from HIS children....and according to this parable their eternal destiny hangs on how they handle this responsibility!.
Brethren, ask yourself what test the church at Ephesus (who Jesus commended in Revelations) would have used to identify 'false apostles'. Would it not be what the Spirit has ensured is recorded for us from Paul's final warning to the Ephesians? This should be very seriously considered as it was almost like his 'deathbed instruction' or final word to the elders of the church.
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, NKJV
28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" NKJV
What are the main points identifying those who the church is to be aware of? On what grounds should we judge ALL those who come after Paul?
Those who do not serve in humility by washing peoples feet (as Jesus commanded).... but think that leadership entitles them to lord it over God's children instead
Those who claim it is their church...failing to see that it is Jesus' church
Those who prey on the flock....coveting their silver and gold ......instead of feeding it
Those who do not work and earn their own money.....but would rather 'burden the church' so that they can be paid money for preaching or teaching
Those who draw away disciples....dividing the flock which Jesus prayed would be one (ie demanding 'membership' commitments)
Those who teach things the apostles didn't....for perverse reasons (ie control and covetousness)
Those who give themselves titles.....rather than accepting that we are all ONLY brethren
Those who take from the weak and new believers.... rather than giving to them
For those who disagree.... Paul later confirms the signs of a FALSE APOSTLE
2 Cor 11:9-12
9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. NKJV
12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. NKJV
Paul gives a key identifier of those we should suspect......those who will not follow his example of being SELF SUPPORTING....and those who are burdensome to the flock...these he says show the signs of being FALSE APOSTLES!
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. NKJV
The example and pattern Paul set for church leadership to follow was that of self funded ministry (Acts 20:33-35, 2 Thes 3:6-10)...this is a pattern that those who are called 'enemies of the cross' do not follow.
Specifically when they imply in their preaching that the atonement is not complete as people who do not tithe are not saved (John and Matthew Hagee and cronies...YOU are called to repentance!)....or that we have to earn our blessings or healing by tithing...which IS a 'matter of the Law'...rather than by faith in Christ's work for us.
The earthly things they set their minds on are MONEY....specifically 'that which belongs to another'. Their goal is to build worldly temples and empires and money making organizations ....instead of GOING out into the world to preach the gospel and helping the poor.
Peter confirms that this is also a feature of false prophets and false teachers
2 Peter 2:1-3
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; NKJV
The key feature again is that in covetousness they will exploit the body. The convoluted way 'storehouse money tithing' is taught as a requirement today demonstrates that it is 'deceptive words' which conceal a covetous heart with the intent to exploit the flock!
Jesus set the very high standard...he never asked for money. He only received that which was freely offered. He instructed the apostles and church leaders how they should walk as regards money.
10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?
13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" NKJV
Jesus gives christian believers a test for the legitimacy of church leaders....it is financial integrity....and NOT pursuing money!
Is there any wonder that so much of the church today is nearly powerless?
The Didache (meaning ‘doctrine’) which was a widely used 'catechism' of the early church .....is also very clear
"And concerning the apostles and prophets....Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as well; but if he stay three days, he is a false prophet. And when an apostle goes forth let him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night's lodging; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet. If he who comes is a traveller, help him as much as you can, but he shall not remain with you more than two days, or, if need be, three. And if he wishes to settle among you and has a craft, let him work for his bread...A true teacher is himself worthy, like the workman, of his food.”
We are also called to judge and hold to account elders...and pastors...by the criteria God gives in the scripture for them to adhere to.
1 Tim 3:2-7
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. NKJV
Brothers and sisters do you believe the world sees the 'pastors' of many churches as having a 'good testimony' in regard to not being greedy for money or covetous today? Do you dismiss what 'those outside' say about churches always wanting your money, without considering the substance of their concerns?
The snare of the devil is to COVET 'other peoples' money!
In case we did not get it the first time...these requirements are repeated...a few times more .
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, NKJV
1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. NKJV
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, NKJV
These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. NKJV
1 Thess 4:6
No one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such. NKJV
The above scriptures descibe a major failure in the majority of preachers and pastors and 'church' leaders today
SO what do we as believers do when we encounter this situation? ...We do what we are COMMANDED TO DO!
1 Cor 5:9-13
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person" NKJV
We as the body are to withdraw from and PUT AWAY those who covet our money or who attempt to extort money (by saying 'you will be cursed if you do not pay your tithes'...or you will not be blessed or healed if you do not give money to them or their 'churches')
1 Cor 6:8-10
8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither ..... thieves, nor covetous, .....nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. NKJV
Paul is warning the church that people who do this will be found in our midst.....they are NOT 'of us'.....they are 'tares among the wheat'....even if they are in 'leadership' positions!
2 Thess 3:6-9
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. NKJV
Brethren....the tradition or pattern is SELF funding ministry wherever possible......not taking money but GIVING it. The above scripture is not merely a suggestion...it is a COMMAND. If preachers do not follow Paul's example and demand money we as the church are required to WITHDRAW from them....clearly by implication, financially!
2 Cor 12:14
Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. NKJV
35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" NKJV
Brethren, MUST is a command!
28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. NKJV
1 Tim 6:3-5
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain... From such withdraw yourself. NKJV
2 Cor 2:17
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ NKJV
2 Cor 4:2
2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. NKJV
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. NKJV
The believers were taught that they were NOT required to keep the Law (Acts 15) ...ie tithing. We are ALL commanded to avoid those who teach this and similar heresies
For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. (yes usually those who will not work and earn their own keep)
Brethren ...look at the proponents of the gospel of GREED....Can you tell me this is not warning us, as the sheep about them? They go back to the Old Testament and dredge up any and every deception they can to con the church into giving money to them.
The reason these heresies have continued is that good men have kept silent....and tolerated deception in the midst of the church.
2 Cor 11:20-21
20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, (are they teaching you the Law of tithing, offerings and sacrificial giving?)
if one devours you, if one takes from you, (are they taking 'tithes' from you?....pretending to be 'Gods' authorised recipient?)
if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. NKJV (are they telling you they are God's anointed leaders...instead of just brethren?)
Brethren DO NOT put up with these behaviors. Paul is telling us to refuse to support deceivers!
1 Thess 5:21
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. NKJV
2 Tim 4:2-4
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. NKJV
1 Cor 14:29-30
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. NKJV
1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. NKJV
1 Cor 6:2-6
2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge ? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? NKJV
Financial matters 'pertain to this life'....and even the LEAST christian is to judge this issue.
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. NKJV
We must STOP those who cheat God's people ... and all their teachings about 'giving in order to receive' ...this is a tradition of MEN and not the truth of the gospel where God gives to those who simply trust Him and NOT because they have earned it by their works
Brethren when church leaders preach false doctrines about money we are REQUIRED to call them to account....and this means at the least...that we WITHDRAW our financial support. ....and separate ourselves from them!
and SPEAK OUT
11 whose mouths must be stopped NKJV
Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth (yes this clearly refers to those who teach 'tithing', offerings and sacrifices as a requirement) NKJV
Jude 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. NKJV
The faith which was once delivered did NOT include storehouse money tithing, or sacrifices and offerings....or salaried career 'ministers'
Brethren we are required to SPEAK out against these deceptions!
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men keep silent"
5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. NKJV
Those who pay tithes to deceivers become PARTAKERS with them!
Exposing is NOT an option...it is a command!
Supporting them IS being a partaker in their sin!
(A challenge to those who disagree.
The above scriptures are not merely my opinion......they are God's word on the matter.
What matters is not your opinions or rationalizations.....If you disagree, then use God's word, in its correct context, to refute the above view.
I have been in churches for 35 years and have never heard a local body warned about these very important issues,....have you ever preached or heard this taught?
I have sat in churches and endured listening to the most embarassingly covetous deceptions being preached in God's name ....when will the lies stop if God's children do not stand up and speak out?
God put over 35 warning scriptures in His word because He wants his children protected and not fleeced)
Now tell me again why I should fellowship in churches where these same heresies continue to be preached every week from pulpits and where men 'lord it over' their brethren and give themselves titles rather than SERVING as JESUS COMMANDED
.....and please tell me how supposed 'men of God' can continue in sin when the truth is pointed out to them!
"When an honestly mistaken man is shown his error, he either ceases to be mistaken or he ceases to be honest"