First let me say that whenever anyone has become a part of the SOGI family, under the spiritual covering, it has been under the direction of God, for he has joined us together and we have always stressed covenant relationships. This is one thing that makes SOGI different than other Coverings, the development of relationships which cause use to stand together through the good, bad and ugly, for life. We hold to the principle of Covenant, Order and Establishment as we operate in covenant, bringing things into order, God will establish and bless.
As far as financial responsibilities, we have instructed those under SOGI to send a 10% tithe to the SOGI. We have always explained that this tithe is as unto the Lord, for as we preach to the body of Christ the principle of tithing, we ourselves operate under the same principle.
It has always been explained that the one does not pay the tithe for what SOGI will do or for spiritual covering, but rather out of obedience to the principle of tithing. As many other biblical principles that we bring to order in our life, it gives birth to blessings not bondage.
The doctrine of tithing is sound, but the question is how it is applied in the New Testament concerning leadership, such as: Mother Organizations and Spiritual Covering.
We know the principle of tithing refers to the Church and many will say that those who functioned in an office where provided through offerings and not the tithe which gives reason to believe, that those providing spiritual covering should be supported by offerings.
So this defines our question to be: Is it biblical to pay a tithe to those providing a spiritual covering in ministry or is this a man made tradition?
It is SOGI's position that a tithe given to those providing Spiritual Covering is biblical in origins, therefore we practice this biblical principle as brought forth in the following biblical support.
We begin with this biblical origin:
It is important when attempting to derive spiritual principles from the Bible on a particular subject to go back to the time it was first mentioned. When "the tithe" was first mentioned?
Tithing began before the law was introduced. The Law simply regulated the tithe. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, 400 years before the time of Moses and the Law, and according to Romans 4:12 we are to walk in the footsteps of the faith of Abraham. If tithing was good for him, it should be good for us, too.
We should give tithes like Abraham gave tithe—not by the Law, but by faith. In addition, consider this, if the people of God paid ten percent before the Law, and ten percent under the Law, shouldn't we, who live by grace, be doing anything less when we have a better covenant (Heb 7:22).
Further, as preachers use the scriptures in Malachi 3 to teach the principle of tithing in the Church, most often begin with verse eight:
Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? yet ye rob me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Mal 3:9 Ye are cursed with the curse; for ye rob me, even this whole nation.
Mal 3:10 Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah 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.
Mal 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before the time in the field, saith Jehovah of hosts.
Mal 3:12 And all nations shall call you happy; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith Jehovah of hosts.
By not including the chapter or verses before verse eight, the whole context of the scriptures is quickly lost.
So, let us begin with Malachi chapter two and we see the unfaithfulness of Israel is revealed and in the beginning of chapter three, it speaks of a messenger that will come to prepare the way of the Lord, purifying the sons of Levi and bringing righteousness and judgment.
Then we get to one of the verses that is most often left out, which is verse seven:
Mal 3:7 From the days of your fathers ye have turned aside from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith Jehovah of hosts. But ye say, Wherein shall we return?
Here the scripture tells us that "From the days of your fathers ye have turned aside from mine ordinances and have not kept them". By not keeping God's ordinances they have turned away from God himself. God calls them back to his ordinance, back to himself and if they do this, he would return to His people.
Then the question comes "...Wherein shall we return" or what ordinance have we walked away from?
It is Malachi 3:8-12, which make it very clear that the "ordinance" they must return too is the "ordinance of the tithe".
This ordinance of the tithe can be found in the book of Numbers, the eighteenth chapter, particularly in verses twenty-one through twenty-eight:
Num 18:21 And unto the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the tent of meeting.
Num 18:22 And henceforth the children of Israel shall not come nigh the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin, and die.
Num 18:23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations; and among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
Num 18:24 For the tithe of the children of Israel, which they offer as a heave-offering unto Jehovah, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
Num 18:25 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 18:26 Moreover thou shalt speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up a heave-offering of it for Jehovah, a tithe of the tithe.
Num 18:27 And your heave-offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the grain of the threshing-floor, and as the fullness of the winepress.
Num 18:28 Thus ye also shall offer a heave-offering unto Jehovah of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and thereof ye shall give Jehovah's heave-offering to Aaron the priest.
It is clearly seen here the "ordinance of the tithe", was where the tithe from the children of Israel went to the Levites. As part of this ordinance it is also very clear in verses 26-28, that as the Levites receive a tithe from the people, they are commanded to give a tithe of the tithe to Aaron the Chief Priest, who was over all the Levites who did service in the tabernacle.
(Also Note: This ordinance was to be continued throughout the generations, verse 23)
Understanding these scriptures, there are questions that arise:
How can we preach to the Church body the ordinance of tithing but as ministers of the gospel, not fulfill our part of the ordinances?
How can preachers preach tithing in the Church today, telling people, according to the Word of God, if they do not "tithe" they bring a curse upon themselves, yet they themselves are NOT fulfilling the whole ordinance of the tithe and think that their church or ministry is exempt from that same curse?
It is no wonder that we have so many Churches that the actually tithe payers are less than 20% of the congregation, for how can a Pastor or Ministry lead God's people somewhere that they are not going themselves.
There is a great temptation for Churches and Ministries to not submit themselves under a "Spiritual Covering" or to hold to a teaching that the principle of the tithe is only for the Church and does not apply to "Spiritual Covering", because that is money that could be used somewhere else in the ministry. It could go toward a new van, bus, equipment, salaries, or many other things that we can justify in our mind, especially if we are operating on very little finances and barely surviving, month to month.
As they preach "tithing" to the people of God, they teach them that even if they do not have the finances to pay tithe and pay their bills both, they should, by faith, pay their tithe first and believe God to supply any lack or need and God will open the windows of heaven, rebuking the devour.
Yet when it comes to giving a tithe of the tithe to the Spiritual Covering or Mother Organization, the Church will not operate in the same faith they preach.
We live in a time where the people of God do not really know what it is to live by faith and one evidence of this is the lack of faithful tithe payers. Many church folk can find many other things to spend their money on, big screen TV's, boats, selfish wants, desires, rather than paying tithe to the Church. It is all done in the spirit of providing a better life for their family and self.
Leadership flows downward, people are this way because leadership is this way. Many pastors, ministers and leadership do not operate by the faith they preach, for they too can find many things to spend money on, vans, busses, equipment, better salaries, church programs, etc., rather than tithing to their "Spiritual Covering". Like the Church member, it too is done in a "spirit of excellence", providing for a better Church or accomplishing the "Vision" God has given.
It takes faith to operate in the whole ordinance of the tithe, there are no short cuts, but sadly most Churches and Ministries are expecting the people under them to operate in faith and become faithful tithe payers, but they themselves are not operating in faith to keep the ordinance of the tithe.
Again, how can we lead people somewhere we are not going ourselves?
Well meaning Pastor's and Ministries have become so consumed with seeing fruit and accomplishing the "Vision" that God has given them, that instead of operating in faith, allowing God to establish the work, they justify their compromise of the principles, statues and ordinances that God has set forth in His word.
They quickly give into the deception of believing that they are free of the responsibility of giving a tithe of the tithe because there are so many other things that money could be used for, so the whole context of the scriptures in Malachi, especially verse seven is left out. When this happens they could be guilty of building their own kingdom rather than the kingdom of God, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it... ".
Some people think this is a new issue. It is as old as the second century when more and more Gentiles were being converted. The early Jewish believers had no problem with tithing since they had done it under the Law and gave it to the priests. They simply gave their tithe to the elders of the church and did by love. However, as the church became less Jewish this issue came up to the church fathers. They answered the question of tithing with Matthew 23:23:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."
Notice Jesus said, "You should have practiced the latter (justice, mercy and faithfulness), without neglecting the former (tithing)." Jesus word ends the discussion. Since Jesus said not to neglect the former—being tithing—then no believer should neglect tithing.
At this point some would still agree that the principle of tithing is biblical but would hold that this is for the Church and not the "Spiritual Covering".
We must then ask ourselves again: What was the "former" (tithing principle) and where did it come from? The "tithing principle" is taken from the Old Testament and defines that the tithe is a tenth and is separate from offerings and alms. Further, the tithing principle is defined through the Law of Moses that the priesthood would receive a tithe and the chief priest would also receive a tithe. Again the ordinance of the tithe, from the book of Numbers.
The function of the Chief Priest (Aaron and his sons) was to provide leadership, instruction, direction, correction, development and order to the priesthood and their responsibilities to God, the temple and the people of God.
In like fashion the Apostles provided leadership, instruction, direction, correction, development and order to the New Testament Church which was not a building made with hands but a people, followers of Christ.
Today, biblical "Spiritual Covering" is to provide leadership, instruction, direction, correction, development and order to the Church of our day.
The problem today is that many ministries or churches have perverted biblical principles for selfish motives, to build their own "kingdoms", rather than the Kingdom of God. As a result two things have happened:
1. Many have been abused and want nothing to do with being under Spiritual Covering
2. Those under Spiritual Covering pick and choose their involvement. Neither one of these situations are biblical.
For those who have been abused, they often become an island unto themselves and their ministry efforts become inward and, disconnected to a kingdom mindset. In the long term they find themselves with no accountability or responsibility to the body of Christ as a whole. God did not intend for His people to be disconnected or doing their own thing.
The New Testament Church was One Church, many locations, operating under the leadership of the Apostles.
The second result of those who have been under a covering that has been out of order is that; although they believe and submit themselves to covering, they begin to "pick and choose" their degree of submission or involvement. This is manifested when they look to covering to only be involved in their ministry affairs when they are asked or given permission to be involved.
In the New Testament Church we find that the Apostolic Leadership was very involved in the issues of the Church. When involved in covenant relationships, one does not have the choice to "pick and choose" how involved we are together, for we are family, through the good, bad, and ugly, having all things in common.
Many times debates, problems and issues were brought to the Apostolic council for decision or ruling, but in addition, many of Paul's letters were addressing issues of the Church were a pastor was already operating in leadership. We also find Paul traveling in person to the Churches in an effort to encourage, correct or give direction.
Proper biblical covering would include the body of Christ to submit to one another in their respectful offices or functions. It is not the place of the Overseer to Pastor the Church for the Pastor, nor is it the place of the Pastor to Oversee for the Overseer. Being under authority, the Pastor cannot "pick and choose" what they allow the Overseer to be involved in, but on this same note, the Overseer is not to micro manage, be overbearing or lording over those in his charge.
They should submit to one another as unto the Lord, understanding that the Church does not belong to the Pastor and the Ministry of Covering does not belong to the Overseer, for it all belongs to God, it is His Church, His Government and we are serving a holy office.
Back to Mathew 23, Some argue that Jesus words are not applicable to us today, because Jesus was under the Law and spoke to those under the Law.
Their theory goes something like this:
Jesus was giving an instruction to the Jews so His words are not binding to us.
The problem with this interpretation is that these teachers are bringing Christ down to the level of a Jewish prophet or Teacher of the Law. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, so this means every word that comes out of His mouth is eternal. He cannot say anything without it being "spiritual law" and everlasting.
Jesus emphasizes this point by saying, "Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Matt 24:35). These supposed Bible teachers are making the words of Jesus pass away, obsolete and out of date. Besides, these same teachers pick and choose which teachings of Christ in the gospels they believe is applicable to us. I notice that even these teachers agree that most of Christ's teachings are for us; however, because they are predisposed against tithing, they have had to come up with an excuse for not obeying the clear word of Christ in Mathew 23:23.
As a believer, you have to show who your Lord is! Is it the teachers who tell you tithing is not New Testament and who tell you that Jesus word on the subject is out of date; or is it Jesus who clearly told us not to neglect tithing?
No modern teacher has the right to tell you to disobey Jesus instruction on tithing. Period!
Even if the only passages in the New Testament was Jesus word, then that would be sufficient, however, I want to present other New Testament passages on the subject. Let's look at Paul's teaching on giving.
Paul also uses the pattern of tithing under the law in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 and says:
Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Paul argues that just as the priests got their food from the tithes of the people, so the preachers should live the same way. This passage clearly shows the mentality of the apostle and his understanding of carrying over the concept of tithing into the church.
The passage often used to contradict this is 2 Corinthians 9:7:
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
The argument goes something like this: "Each believer has a right to decide for himself what to give and should not be told what percentage he should contribute."
The problem with this argument is that the above passage is not dealing with giving to support the church, but rather giving to the poor. Under the Law, giving to the poor was a freewill offering.
The Law commanded freewill offerings as well as tithes:
But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. (Deut. 12:5-6)
It is quite inconsistent for people to appeal to freewill offerings yet claim that tithing has been abolished. Both tithing and freewill offerings were incorporated in the Law as the above passage shows, but they preceded the Law, thus they both should be practiced.
The burden of proof is placed on those who teach that tithing has been abolished or that the "principle of tithing" only applies to the Church but not to Spiritual Covering. If so, where in the New Testament does it clearly say that the "principle of tithing" has been abolished or that tithing does not apply to those providing Spiritual Covering?
One last thing, notice the resemblance of the language Paul uses in the first passage in Galatians and compare it with the Old Testament passage about tithing:
Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. (Gal 6:6)
And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. (Deut 26:11-12)
Galatians 6 is dealing with giving to the teacher of the gospel and he uses the same language about the Levites receiving the tithe of the people and he calls it "all good things." This is pretty good internal evidence that the early church tithed to the ministers of the gospel.
The Question: Is it biblical to pay a tithe to those providing a Spiritual Covering in Ministry or is this a man made tradition?
As we are seeds of Abraham, it is biblical to pay tithe to those providing a Spiritual Covering in Ministry for the "principle of tithing" is biblical, regulated by the Word of God and not "man made".
The "principle of tithing" is a principle that SOGI believes to be biblical and is incorporated as one of many principles that we practice in SOGI.
1. Understand the origins of the tithe: We give tithes like Abraham gave them—not by the Law but by faith. If the people of God paid ten percent before the Law, and ten percent under the Law, shouldn't we, who live by grace, be doing any less when we have a better covenant.
2. In understanding the principle of tithing and taking the whole context of the scriptures in the book of Malachi we must understand the "ordinance of the tithe". When we understand this ordinance in scripture, it becomes very clear that a tithe of the tithe is biblical and was intended to be throughout the generations.
3. Jesus said: "...not to neglect the former (tithing principle) The "tithing principle" is taken from the Old Testament and defines that the tithe is a tenth and is separate from offerings and alms. Further, the tithing principle is defined through the law of Moses that the priesthood would receive a tithe and the chief priest would also receive a tithe.
4. Both tithing and freewill offerings were incorporated in the Law as the above passage shows, but they preceded the Law, thus they both should be practiced. The burden of proof is placed on those who teach that tithing has been abolished or that the "principle of tithing" only applies to the Church but not to Spiritual Covering. If so, where in the New Testament does it clearly say that the "principle of tithing" has been abolished or that tithing does not apply to those providing Spiritual Covering.
5. The principles covenant, authority and submission. People do not pay for covering, but submit themselves to the principles and practices set forth by leadership. Just as a member of the church who believes in the "principle of tithing" does not "pay to be a part of the church", those who are in covenant and under the spiritual covering, do not "pay to be covered". As we bring ourselves in "order", submission to authority, God establishes and blesses.
We do not claim to have all truth about the scriptures and teachings concerning the tithe and spiritual covering, but we believe we have rightly divided the word of God concerning this issue.
Our heart is pure, we are not here to abuse this principle as so many others have, but rather follow this biblical principle of tithing, knowing that as we bring our life in order according to the Word, God will establish our way.
Those who are a part of SOGI are called of God to "submit and serve", many of us have made this commitment to each other and before God. We understand and hold to a conviction that we do not do what we do for money, our own reputation or any other selfish reason, we live to keep the ministry pure.
Although there are many things in life that we examine or "re-evaluate", some things like "covenant" do not change and should remain steadfast through any storm of life or disagreement.
So when God brings people together and we are in covenant relationship, this is a covenant that needs no "re-evaluation", much like marriage, what God has put together, let no man put asunder.