Storehouse Giving

21 05 2014

A very common doctrine taught in churches across this country is the doctrine of storehouse giving. This doctrine teaches that we must give all of our offerings through the local church. This doctrine is relatively new going back no more then the early to middle twentieth century. Many of the great preachers of history whom these churches hold in such high esteem would never have been had they practiced this doctrine. D.L. Moody, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, George Mueller, Corrie Ten Boom, Billy Sunday and others received offerings from individuals as well as churches.

I can’t seem to trace the beginnings of this doctrine but many today will break fellowship with those who disagree. As far as motivation goes I think that as more and more Christian organizations grew up looking for support churches and pastors felt a need to find a way to ensure offerings would still come in to support the church. Unfortunately, I think some hopefully well meaning men used the Bible as a means to gain something they felt they were losing.

Let me say up front that I am not saying people should stop giving to their local church. I think you should give to your local church and I believe your sinning if you don’t give to your church. The question is can we give our offering or a portion of our offering to a missionary, a poor person, a ministry of some sort without it going through the church? I believe the answer is yes we can. As an Independent Baptist I find it interesting that our churches teach this doctrine to the point of breaking fellowship and yet one of the founders of our movement John R. Rice opposed such a teaching.

I have heard some preachers say that he opposed it to get contributions for his newspaper The Sword of the Lord. Let me say I don’t believe Dr. Rice would deny something he thought the Bible taught just for gain. Let me also suggest that perhaps preachers developed such a doctrine to get support away from his newspaper. Well anyway I guess we should ask what saith the Scripture? There is one proof text used to teach such a doctrine and it is not even in the New Testament.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)

What is the storehouse spoken of here in this passage? It’s the temple in Jerusalem. The storehouse is no longer standing nor is it the proper place for the worship of God in this New Testament age. So we cannot literally obey this passage but what if the storehouse has moved? The question you have to ask yourself is this: has the New Testament Church replaced the Old Testament temple? The answer from the Scriptures is no it has not.

The church is simply the meeting or gathering of the body of Christ. In the early church they met in homes but today we meet in buildings. These are not special holy places. They are just buildings where the people of God meet. The holiness of the place is limited to the presence of the people of God. The church is not the new temple. So according to the Bible what is the temple today?

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

To turn the storehouse which is the temple into the local church by saying the church is the new temple is to reject what the Bible says concerning the believer being the temple of God. When believers were commanded to set aside their offering it was not in some local church general fund.

“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.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)

In the early church they met in homes not buildings and had little overhead. I’m sure most of the offerings that were given were to help traveling preachers, poor saints, or other churches. He says the collection was “for the saints.” The giving here was probably for the poor saints in Jerusalem as Paul we know took gifts from other churches such as Macedonia to help them. The early believers gave to the local church by laying their gifts at the apostles feet but many just helped Paul on his way, or laid up in a place by themselves a gift to give to Paul on his journey to Jerusalem.

He told them upon the first day of the week. This was probably the day they received their wages and we know it was the day they came together for worship. He didn’t say for everyone to lay up in store at the church treasury. He said to “lay by him in store.” This means to set aside a sum by himself or in his own place the amount he was going to give.

I don’t think this excludes church general accounts. The churches had no way of having bank accounts in this day like we do now. I think church accounts are right and proper but this verse also doesn’t require such an offering to go into a specific place. The “by him” or “in his own place” meaning would leave that freedom up to the person giving. I have at times used this doctrine as an excuse not to give. When people have come to me I have just said, “well I give to my local church.”

I withheld an offering to the Lord from someone who needed it because it was not through the church. Today I enjoy great freedom in giving. I give to the support of my local church as all believers ought to do but if a missionary needs something, a poor saint needs something, or a cause comes up I can give “as unto the Lord” directly to that person or cause. As a priest in the house of God I have that ability. Storehouse giving binds the people of God and strikes at the heart of the priesthood of believers.

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