Our Spiritually Wholesome Church
9 June 2001, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
TITLE: OUR SPIRITUALLY WHOLESOME CHURCH
THEME: STEWARDSHIP - TITHING- LOYALTY TO GOD
In my last sermon we discussed The Purpose of Our Church. We were made aware of the carelessness of "definite maybe" decisions. We were challenged by God through Pastor Paul in Ephesians 4 concerning our purpose for existence and how we can fulfill God's desires for us and our Church family.
Today we will discuss how we can have our Church spiritually blessed. How we can insure that we are in fact the Blessed church family of God. A church that expands and grows and achieves God's purposes for us. How we can be cursed and not blessed.
It was the saddest day in Heaven. All heaven was in silence. All singing ceased. All were waiting to see what God's next move would be. Adam and Eve had fallen in disobedience to God's contract and covenant to supply eternal life to them in exchange for their total loyalty and undivided love.
The Big Three, the Trinity of the Godhead, met alone in a Cabinet meeting which negotiated the implementation of the Plan of Salvation of humanity. A plan that was already outlined before the "foundation of the world". They emerged from the meeting to announce the details of the Salvage Package deal for humans and the covenant agreement God would make with Adam and his decendants.
The contract came with REQUESTS AND REQUIREMENTS. Man must believe. Man must have explicit faith in God the Father, God Christ and God the Holy Spirit. Man must bond to God in a fellowship of holy living. Humanity were required to make a full and unqualified committment and consecration to God. This was to be man's response to God's love. God would supply the power of Christ and of the Holy Spirit to ensure that man could obey and keep the basic rules of the agreement. It was a request for man to show appreciation for God who in His love gave Christ His Son to be our Saviour forever. A contract of friendship for LIFE.
The contract came with BENEFITS. Social and spiritual benefits were to bring salvation , security in His love, forgiveness and Life. The blessings were to ensure peace of mind, a clear conscience and a new life in Christ. It also included material blessings. Possessions of children, land, animals and the contents of the world for man's happiness and God's glory.
THE TEST Man's love and obedience to God was put to the test before the fall. God gave Adam and Eve the fruit of every tree in the garden for food including the Tree Of Life by which he continually maintained their physical eternal life. Every tree except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
God has given us a tree to test our loyalty, appreciation sincerity , and loving obedience to the contract covenant He made in Christ. If we are sincere and genuine about building and maintaining a spiritually wholesome and growing Church family we will not touch the forbidden tree.
OUR FORBIDDEN TREE
Malachai 3 Makes it clear that our forbidden tree is the Tithe Tree. It is Good and evil depending on our treatment of the tithe which is God's. Our management of the tithe tree and our stewardship of God's money is either a blessing when we respect His will or a curse when we steal His fruit. I present this message from God because He makes it clear in His word and the Spirit of Prophecy that this is my duty on His behalf. If I neglect my life is in peril. I with my family will be in peril and receive a curse. see Chapter 2:1
The book of Malachai is not a book of threats. It is a call of love from a loving God starving for an appreciative response from His people. It is a book which defines the blessings of loving obedience and the natural CONSEQUENCES should we choose to ignore the covenant contract. Persistently ignoring the rules of the covenant will eventually lead to final judgment chapter 3:1-5. This is imediately followed with a plea for repentance and offer of blessing as a natural consequence for choosing to obey God's requirements. What a loving patient God we have. Read the entire book to get it all in perspective.
The purpose of the tithe system established by God is to test our appreciation of His salvation and all His blessing He bestows on us. Obedience is a result of His power in us. It is the prerequisite to APPLIED SALVATION. It was so wth Adam & Eve and it is the same for us. It is the Gospel. That has not changed because God has not changed.
Malachai 3: 8-12 make it very clear that Tithe is God's portion of our income for the purposes of His Treasury. We must not steal it or use it for our own selfish purposes. That brings curses as a natural consequence of living outside of God's love and fellowship.
E.G. White emphasis to us the reality of the blessings and the curses resultant on our response or non response to God's command. In Testimonies Vol 3 pp 408 ff she speaks of the neglect of presenting the subject of tithes and offerings. She comments, " the result has been an impoverished treasury and a backslidden church." "God has been robbed...It is a fearful thing to be guilty..."
I present this subject because I am commissioned by God to remind us all of the blessings of complying with His request.
I have no fear of reaction. My work is to remind you. God does not ask or require me to urge you to conform, He designs that your response to His tithing regulation should be purely voluntary. He wants cheerful givers who in mind and with love count it a privilege to be co-workers with Him in the financing of His Gospel of Salvation rescue package. God has no pleasure in force. That is what Grace is all about. Grace to be forgiven or Grace to let us disobey and be resultantly cursed. That is the work of God's love. He requires every member, young and old, to comply with His tithe plan out of love and gratitude to Him. Every week we ought to practice self denial. The choice is ours. But REMEMBER it is couched in the atmoshere of His love, grace and Forgiveness. The only alternative to persistant refusal to love Him in return is final rejection in final judgment because of our rejection of His love and promised blessings. see Mal 3: 1-5 . Verses 16-18 are His hope for us. That is the future of final eternal blessing He longs to give all the saints.
Again Ellen says in Testimonies Vol 5 p382 , "Ministers have neglected to enforce gospel beneficence. The subject of tithes and offerings has not been dwelt upon as it should have been." That is why I present God's message for you today. If I do not Satan takes over and generates selfishness in us all. We and our Church are cursed. We are outside of God's blessing circle. We miss the blessings from the "windows of heaven".
A WORD FROM JESUS OUR SAVIOUR AND MENTOR
In MATTHEW 23:23 Jesus commended the scribes and Pharisees for there meticulous practice of tithing. He also advised them not to ommit to practice, as they had done, " the weightier matters of the law , judgment, mercy and faith." Then He appealed to them by saying , the weightier matters "you ought to have done,' and the tithing " you should not leave undone."
In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Pastor Paul endorses Christ's instruction. He gave practical financial instruction, to set aside weekly on Sundays, our tithes and offerings ready for the Lord on the Sabbath day. It is to be a systematic routine and willing habit.
What do we find in our in our church when it comes to the routine and practice of the covenant relationship with God? A professional survey taken in NNSW Conference shows that we come out with results about the same as our family in USA and world-wide.
The survey showed that in the :
Past 20 years there has been a 45% decline in the actual tithe income when compared to the personal income of SDA's as recorded in the National Governments census statistics. The large proportion of members are faithful in tithing and most agree that the tithing principle is a Biblical requirement. All ages 50 years and over contribute 59% of the total tithe revenue and earn only 34% of total personal income. Some give tithe to non-tithe funds within the church and some to funds outside the church. This is a blatant denial of the tithe command. It is not ours to distribute personally. In 1976 the ratio of tithe to income (per census) was 86% In 1996 it had declined to 50% and still declining. The treasury of the Sydney Conference claim that if the figures were applied to our Conference it would mean we were withholding $900,000 for 2001 alone. Most members surveyed believe the tithing command is a Biblical requirement. Most admit that they are irregular in the habit of regular tithe giving.
( At this time the Pastor testified to blessings he has personally received and in some cases with miraculous interventions from God.)
GOD'S PROMISE ARE STILL THE SAME.
PROVERBS 3:9-11 "HONOUR THE LORD WITH YOUR SUBSTANCE, AND WITH THE FIRST FRUITS OF ALL YOUR INCREASE: SO SHALL YOUR BARNS BE FILLED WITH PLENTY AND YOUR PRESS SHALL BURST WITH NEW WINE. MY SON DESPISE NOT THE CHASTENINGS OF THE LORD."
PROVERBS 11:24-5 WARNS US THAT, "THERE IS THAT (PERSON) WHO WITHHOLDS MORE THAN IS NECESSARY, BUT IT TENDS TOWARD POVERTY. THE LIBERAL SOUL SHALL BE MADE FAT."
GOD IS GREAT AND LOVING. MALACHAI SPEAKS THE TRUTH FOR GOD
In Malachai's day the trend in tithe income was down. A direct result of their poor love relationship to God. In our day the trend is the same. What does it tell us. I believe it tells us that we must arise and honour God's covenant contract of love and salvation and blessing for us. We must comply with the requirements of this gracious deal. We should be in love with Him.
I personally do not know who pays tithe and who does not. That is not my business. But it is my business and role to encourage and inform you all of God's concerns for our salvation. He is sad and concerned because of our apathy and non compliance with our contract with Him. His words recorded in Malachai are His loving appeal for our co-operation for our benefit here and now and in the future. For His glory and honour.
I want with God and us all to build a Spiritually wholesome Church Family. A church He can bless and not have to allow to curse itself.
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