These are notes on the sermon, The Truth About Tithing Under Grace, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 26 May 2019, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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If you’re believing God for something, tell it to Him. God never just gives enough, He always gives you more than enough.
There’s something about coming together to worship in the Father’s house. Whenever you come to church and gather to His name, there is a corporate anointing that is released. There are some things that you cannot do until you come together.
You’re not meant to go solo. Life is more than just about living for yourself. Life can get frustrating and empty when life revolves around just you and your needs.
To have a successful ministry/life, you have to build it on these three foundations:
1. Jesus Christ has to be first in your life
The most important of the three is Jesus Christ. He has to be first in your life—in every area of your life.
The Bible doesn’t teach you the ways to love your spouse practically but it teaches you to love your wife/husband as Christ loves the church. (see Eph. 5:25)
When you love your spouse as Christ loves the church, your eyes will be on the Lord, and not on your spouse. That helps you to love your wife, that helps you to submit to your husband even when it’s tough.
The same applies to your work and career.
Why do you go to work? You go to work because you are serving the Lord.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
— Colossians 3:23–24 NKJV
Treat your employer as if you are submitting to the Lord.
The Lord is involved even in these daily affairs of life. Even if you are working for a secular company, the Lord wants you to treat your employers as if you are submitting to the Lord. That does not include submitting to your employers in terms of immoral practices.
2. The local church
The church that Pastor Prince is referring to is not the same as the larger body of Christ. Here, he is referring to the local church.
Even in the Bible, Jesus takes time to not just address the larger body of Christ but to the seven different churches (see Rev. 1:1–4). He recognized local churches individually as illustrated by the menorah, a lampstand with seven different branches.
Pastor Prince wants to focus on the second point today, the local church.
In the local church there’s safety.
In the story of the prodigal son, there’s bread enough and to spare (see Luke 15:17). There’s plenty in the Father’s house.
When you come together in the Father’s house, there’s safety, anointing, a dispensation of grace, and fresh favor upon you that you never had before. You won’t leave the same way you came.
Jesus is with you always but where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of them. Hebrews 10:25 reads, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
There’s safety and protection in the local church.
There’s authority and submission in the body of Christ, in the local church.
“The centurion answered and said, “Lord… only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes.”
— Matthew 8:8–9 NKJV
The Roman centurion who was himself a man of authority, knew that Jesus was able to speak a word and his servant, who was sick, would be healed.
Similarly, this same authority is found in the local church and those who are subject to this authority, will also have authority. There’ll be authority in your words and there’ll be authority in the things that you do. Authority is realized in the impact of our words. Words that are backed by authority don’t fall to the ground, they are weighty without you having to even scream and shout or you trying to create a platform and a name for yourself.
In the body of Christ, there’s a five-fold ministry. We’re not all called to do the same thing.
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”
— 1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV
“Younger people” doesn’t necessarily only refer to those who are young in age, it also refers to those who are spiritually young. In the church, there are elders, pastors, and leaders who are there to help, to guide, and to shepherd you.
God doesn’t want you to humble yourself to keep you suppressed; He wants to exalt you in due time.
We see this in the life of Jesus, even when He was a young child.
Although He was smarter and more knowledgeable than His parents even at the age of twelve, Jesus submitted to His parents. The Bible records that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (see Luke 2:51–52).
Despite being smarter than them, Jesus submitted to His parents. There are some people who have the idea that I’ll only submit to you if you are smarter and wealthier than I am. But there is a reward in submission and when you clothe yourself in humility.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
— Romans 13:1 NKJV
Every government is ordained by God, but that doesn’t mean that what’s going on is of God.
Likewise, there’s authority and submission in the body of Christ. God has appointed leaders and pastors in the church who are there to lead the people.
When your marriage is in trouble, there is wisdom in seeking counsel with the leaders appointed over you.
Even Caiaphas, who was a corrupted man, was able to speak the prophecies of God because of his position as the high priest of Israel that particular year (see John 11:49–50).
In spite of his questionable character, God could still use Caiaphas’s mouth to fulfill the prophecy of Jesus Christ, simply because he was the high priest of Israel then.
When you honor and submit to the authority that God has put over a man, God will release favor upon you.
In the story of Esther, she chose to submit to Hegai even though he was only the chamberlain of the king. She told him she didn’t want anything but what he recommended and because of that, Esther found great favor with the king and all who saw her (see Est. 2:15).
When Ruth in the Bible submitted to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and went to work in the fields as a gleaner, she found great favor with the most eligible bachelor, Boaz.
When you submit, favor is released.
Watch out for teachings that tell you you don’t have to go to a local church anymore or those who come against tithing.
The local church is here for you. They are not here with just their own limited capacity, but they are here anointed by God to help and guide you.
Even when there’s discipline and correction in the local church, it is done out of love.
Pastor warns that there are some grace teachers out there who say you don’t have to tithe.
The truth is, God doesn’t need your tithe, He’s not a miserly God trying to take your money away from you.
The devil doesn’t want the church to prosper because a prosperous church is able to do many things to forward the gospel.
God wants you to be prosperous, not materialistic. Being rich does not necessarily equate to being bad.
“Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage...”
— Deuteronomy 8:12–14 KJV
When you have silver and gold and all that is multiplied, don’t forget the Lord, who was the One who gave you the wealth.
“And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”
— Deuteronomy 8:17–18 KJV
Remember Who is the One who gives you the power to get wealth. God’s Word says that He will give you the power to get wealth not to exalt yourself but for His glory, and to establish His covenant of grace.
“And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”
— Hebrews 5:9–11 NKJV
“According to the order of Melchizedek” — Melchizedek was a man who lived in the times of the Old Testament
Jesus’ priesthood was called according to the priesthood of Melchizedek.
The first words uttered by Melchizedek were only blessings, not curses.
“Of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain” — Pastor prayed that God would open his eyes to see these things
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed by Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe (masser) of all.”
— Genesis 14:18-20 NKJV
This is the only account we have of Melchizedek in the Old Testament.
“God Most High” — the very first time, “God Most High” or El Elyon in the Hebrew, was mentioned, Melchizedek came out bringing the bread and wine, a symbol of the Lord’s death on the cross, proclaiming the Lord’s death.
When does partaking of the Holy Communion become a legalistic act?
When you consider the Holy Communion as an act that you have to religiously follow rather than a gift you receive, a time that you commune with the Lord.
Don’t partake of it as a ritual. Every day we need reminders of the finished work, and that our sins are righteously forgiven by the blood of Jesus. See the Lord bringing His healing and righteousness to you, and see yourself receiving what He is giving to you.
Likewise, tithing is a revelation. If you don’t have the revelation to do it, don’t do it.
The Hebrew word for “tithe” is masser, which contains the word, asser or “rich” in English.
“Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich (aser)’”
— Genesis 14:21-23 NKJV
“Lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’” — Acknowledge that the Lord is the One who is the source of your wealth, the One who supplies us the life and the health to even work and to obtain this wealth
No partner asks for only 10% but our heavenly Partner only asks for 10%.
He could have said, “Give because you love Me” but Jesus Himself said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
— 2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV
God wants you to know that He became poor at the cross so that you might be rich.
The entire context of chapter 8 is about giving and in 2 Corinthians 9:6 it says, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”
“Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.”
— Proverbs 3:9–10 NKJV
The firstfruits refer to the tithe. When you tithe the firstfruits, you will experience the plenty and the overflow in your life.
But is a book like Proverbs that is from the Old Testament, still applicable to us today?
The wisdom in Proverbs is applicable to us even today. There are 31 chapters, one chapter for each day of the month. Proverbs 3:12 is also quoted in the New Testament, in Hebrews 12:5–6.
In the old covenant, under the Levitical law, there are three tithes that are for the three festivals, Feast of Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of the Passover:
1. The First Tithe (maaser rishon)
The First Tithe is the first 10 percent of our firstfruits (or our income) that we give to the Lord. It is the tithe that Abram gave in Genesis 14 and it is also the tithe that we still give today. The First Tithe is given to the Lord, to the house of God, and the Levites, the full-time ministers, eat of it.
There may not be a physical temple that exists today like it did in the Bible, but today the house of God is the local church, where there is accountability, authority, and submission, where there are people caring and watching over you.
Honoring the full-time ministers in our local church
“Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”
— 1 Timothy 5:17-18 NLT
Paul looked at an Old Covenant law and received a New Testament revelation.
The New Testament reveals the teaching but the details are found in the Old Testament. The Old Testament unveils the person of Jesus Christ but it also gives you the details. For example, in the New Testament (Eph. 5:25), it says, “Husbands love your wives” but in the Old Testament (Song of Solomon), there are many examples of how the Beloved romances his wife with his words and actions.
“For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.”
— 1 Corinthians 9:9–10 NKJV
When Paul is referencing the ox, he isn’t referring to an actual ox but he likens it to those who labor to preach and teach the Word of God. The preacher who preaches is like the ox treading the grain for the people to feed on. As the elders and pastors are working to thresh the word of God out for the people, take care of them practically.
Pastor Prince urges preachers and pastors to not abuse the tithes from the church but be good examples to the people they shepherd. The tithes are to be used for the glory of God and to build the kingdom of God.
“Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.”
— 1 Corinthians 9:6–12 NLT
Pastor Prince encourages us to honor those who are working in full time ministry, especially preachers who labor in the Word. But his own personal decision is to not draw a salary so that he can have the moral authority and freedom to speak on this issue.
2. The Second Tithe (maaser sheni)
The Second Tithe is the tithe that is set aside for the three festivals, the Feast of Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of the Passover.
Josephus, a renowned Jewish scholar, explains it as such, “Let there be taken out of your fruits a tenth, besides that which you have allotted to give to the priests and Levites. This you may indeed sell in the country, but it is to be used in those feasts and sacrifices that are to be celebrated in the holy city.” (Refer to slide 14)
Today, this is akin to the money we set aside for celebrations with our loved ones.
“Then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.”
— Deuteronomy 14:25–26 NKJV
3. The Third Tithe (maaser ani)
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the word of your hand which you do.”
— Deuteronomy 14:28–29 NKJV
The Third Tithe is a tithe that is distributed to those who are in need; to widows, and to children who are orphans.
The Bible has a lot to teach us about our daily lives today. We don’t stop reading it after we know that we have been saved. There is a lot of wisdom and knowledge contained in God’s Word. The Word of God unveils Christ to us and it is also full of divine wisdom and instruction on how to lead our lives. When you’re seeking an answer or God’s voice, read His Word!
“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. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”
— Luke 16:10-12 NKJV
If you’re faithful with the use of money, God will trust you with the true riches, people.
God considers money a tool; it is the least as compared to the much—people.
That is why in the appointment of leaders in our church, we assess their faithfulness through their faithfulness in tithing.
When you choose a potential life partner, find a man/woman who is faithful with the money he/she has.
What does God say about the tithe?
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.”
— Malachi 3:10-12 NKJV
This is the only place in the Bible where God says, “Try Me.” Here, God reveals the fruit of what you tithe.
“The best of all firstfruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priest’s; also you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house.”
— Ezekiel 44:30 NKJV
“Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11) To God, the default mode of money is unrighteous.
“For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.”
— Romans 11:16 NKJV
The default mode of money is unrighteous but when you tithe the first 10 percent to the Lord, the rest of it becomes holy and what is holy, the devil cannot touch. What is holy thrives and multiplies.
You are clean and you are righteous but the money you have isn’t. But when you give the firstfruits of your income, everything else is made holy and blessed.
Jesus gives us the right reason for tithing:
“But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. But woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
— Luke 11:41-42 KJV
“and pass over judgment and the love of God” — Here, Jesus is referring to tithing with the right motives, with the love of God unlike the Pharisees who tithe legalistically.
“not to leave the other undone” — Yet, not forgetting to tithe.
“Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.”
— Hebrews 7:4 NKJV
Whoever you tithe to, you’re declaring that person is great.
When Melchizedek brought the bread and wine, it is to proclaim Jesus’s death but when we respond with the tithe, we proclaim that Jesus is alive.
“Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.”
— Hebrews 7:8 NKJV
People will see evidence of God’s blessings on your life to the point that they will say, “Jesus is alive!”
Pastor Prince shares a quote from John D. Rockefeller (one of the richest men that ever lived besides King Solomon) who started tithing from a young age. Pastor Prince encourages young people to start tithing early, even if it’s a small amount.
"Father, I thank you for every person under the sound of my voice. Father, I thank You for the mysteries of Melchizedek that You have unveiled to us today.
I thank You Father that You want Your people to prosper. You want Your people not to be bound by debt, by the worldly economy that fluctuates but You want them to have their vision and their treasures in Heaven. Father, I know that everyone under the sound of my voice Lord, You love them dearly. Not even a hair falls from their head without You knowing Lord.
Father, I thank You that You will prosper them from this day forth. I pray Father that You will give them the power to get wealth for the establishing of Your kingdom in the earth. In the name of Jesus, protect them all throughout this week, from all harm and danger and from all evil. In Jesus name and all the people said, Amen!”
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2019
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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