Preaching Articles

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable … that the man of God may be complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Those who demand a Scripture verse for everything they do place an intolerable burden on the Christian life never intended by the Heavenly Father.

Some among us have all the answers about the Christian life and have solved all the mysteries of doctrine and theology.

Is there a verse of Scripture on that?

Stay tuned.

These “super-apostles” write me, taking issue with many of the positions we hold in these articles. They have it all worked out and find it incredulous that we do not see matters their way. The only explanation, they conclude, is that I must be a) unsaved or b) willfully blind.

I wrote something about tithing for this website. One of several online preachers’ magazines picked it up and sent it out to their 75,000 subscribers. The tithe-haters came alive.

In the article, I took the position that we’re simply talking about generous giving, whether it comes out exactly to a tithe or not. I emphasized that this is not about legalism. No church to my knowledge ever checked up to see what I was giving, if it were a tenth or anywhere close to it. No Nazi henchmen invaded our church offices to ride herd on the giving of the staff or the membership.

I thought that was a reasonable statement. We give generously because Scripture commands it, the work of the Lord requires it and doing so blesses the giver. What’s not to like about that?

From the enraged comments of some readers, you would have thought I was a legalist of the worst sort calling for the strictest kind of tithe and urging that the Gestapo check up to make sure Christians were giving.

More than one person attacked the article without reading it. Had they done so, they would have seen that I wasn’t actually preaching that the tithe is New Testament (only that one can make a case that it is), was not setting the tithe up as the standard and was not slamming anyone who disagreed.

I was for generous and sacrificial giving, as every believer ought to be.

It would appear that the word “tithe” triggers the reflex mechanisms of some Christians in the way Pavlov’s dogs drooled at the sound of the bell.

What about "storehouse giving"? Should my tithes be given only to my church?

Our Lord Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Did Jesus say our contributions must or should always be given to the local church? Nope, not in so many words. One can make a case—as many have—for the “storehouse” of Malachi 3:10 being the church, but we need to be careful in pushing these things too far. What about the only church in an area being apostate, and the giver sees a family of believers in great need? I might say, “Give it to the needy family.” I have no verse saying to do this. Or what if one’s church has all the money it needs and more, yet the little church back at home is struggling to stay afloat? As someone asked this week, could our tithes be sent there? Where’s the Scripture verse okaying this?

At the moment our Lord honored the widow (Mark 12:41-44) for giving sacrificially into the temple treasury, the place was being run by a bunch of crooks. In Mark 11:17 Jesus called them “a den of thieves.”

To give or not to give when you disagree with how things are being run down at the church, that is the question. And it’s not a simply “yes or no” affair.

We “see through a glass darkly” (I Corinthians 13:12) on numerous things, and thus must seek God’s will on our knees with our Bibles open before us.

The Bible does not speak to parachurch organizations like Campus Crusade, Intervarsity and various evangelistic associations, all of which require finances from God’s people. Global Maritime Ministries or Baptist Friendship House simply are not found in Scripture anywhere.

Is there a verse that tells us what to do? Does Scripture give us the freedom to decide where to put the Lord’s tithe?

(We pause here while a hundred readers suggest a hundred different verses. Help us, Lord.)

I have a Scripture. This one works for me ...

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit;  for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).

The letter kills; the Spirit gives life.

(When I quoted that in some article, one horrified reader wanted to know where I found such a heretical statement. After we pointed out it was right there in God’s Word, he was strangely silent.)

When someone wrote asking if I could give them a verse of Scripture telling when they should move their membership to another church, I said, “There ain’t one. Ask the Lord.”

God’s people must be wary of proof-texting our actions, of justifying what we decide to do by a verse of Scripture and of the need to find one before acting.

It would have been literally impossible for the Lord to give us a Bible big enough to include verses that cover every conceivable situation. And so, He did a huge thing … He decided to indwell believers.

The Holy Spirit, author of our Bible (see 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21), lives inside believers to guide us in decision-making. How blessed we are. How wonderful He is.

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3).

The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). He will “guide you into all truth,” He said in John 16:13.

My limited experience is that the Spirit loves to use the written Word to speak to us and direct our actions. But that does not mean He is limited to this. “He does whatever He pleases,” says Psalm 115:3, no doubt meaning He uses whatever methods are to His liking at the moment. Even a jackass, as is often pointed out.

Read the Word. Obey it.

At this point, many readers are eager to add that “we find principles in God’s word and apply them to the thousands of situations where He has not spoken.” True enough. But the primary principle, one that covers every situation, and has been tested ten thousand times in every generation, is this:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The legalists among us despise this because it removes Scripture from being a rule-book and puts the onus on believers to stay close to the Lord in heart and in life. And that is a much more difficult proposition. But it’s how the Christian life works.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist and the retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Currently he loves to serve as a speaker/pulpit fill for revivals, prayer conferences, deacon trainings, leadership banquets and other church events. Visit him and enjoy his insights on nearly 50 years of ministry at

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James Shelander

commented on Mar 6, 2015

Dr. Joe I think you articulated the issue marvelously. Having lived through the experience of membership in controlling legalistic dysfunctional churches/pastors not once or twice but three times, I find your thoughts very refreshing, uplifting and best of all scriptural. No not in the proof text sort of way, but in the way that it lines up with the whole counsel of God's Word. But you know you did quote one passage of scripture in your comments, which has caused me some not so little consternation over the years. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable ? that the man of God may be complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And yet so many churches and pastors today want to totally ignore the Old Testament. That passage does not read "The New Testament is given" but rather all Scripture is given...I really think my time in the three dysfunctional churches was the Lord's way of preparing me for my ministry and indelibly imprinting upon my heart and spirit his disdain and dislike for those type of ministries. I have read many of your articles over the past few years and lots of them have touched my heart and soul. Thank you and please keep the words coming.

Dale C

commented on Mar 6, 2015

I echo JS' comment exactly. The Lord has taken me through those experiences to prepare me for what He has me doing now. I am actively preaching and teaching in a Baptist church in another state and things are going very well, praise His name! Thank you Dr. McKeever!,

Tim Johnson

commented on Mar 6, 2015

Joe, I always appreciate what you have to say, but this time...I need to print this article and share it with my church! Thank you for saying what many would preach if not afraid of being thrown out! (But preach it anyway!) God bless you!

Ken Weliever

commented on Mar 6, 2015

As the risk of sound like a "legalist" maybe the best way to solve the "tithing issue" is just use these N.T. Scriptures! 1 Cor 16:1-2 "Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper...."2 Cor 9:7 "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" Just a thought

Brenda, Franklin

commented on Mar 6, 2015

I agree with you Ken, and Dr. Mckeever. I often think that people feel that they no longer need common sense after they get save. I thought about 1Tim. 5:3 talking about widows, and I thought what if a woman isn't a widow indeed, does that mean you wouldn't help her? Or you'd have to pray or have a scripture. I have found that we are walking around and yet bound by man's legalism. One good thing if it's not in the word just go to GOD because He is the word.

Jerry Burns

commented on Mar 6, 2015

While letting the "How Much" giving debate to others, let me address the "Where" issue. I do so with an apocryphal story. This "tongue in cheek" story originates from a jail cell in the little city where I reside. You see, I went to Applebee's Restaurant yesterday for lunch. After eating, I looked around and decided that it didn't appear that this restaurant needed my money nearly as much as the little "Mom and Pop" Restaurant next door. So, I walked out and paid my bill next door because I had read an article that it was OK to do that. My story ends with the words that the Sergeant at the Police Station said to me as the Iron Door noisily closed behind me. He said, "Next time buddy, pay the bill where you eat!" I replied, "Legalist!!!"

Dennis Cocks

commented on Mar 10, 2015

Very good illustration!

Gordon Barnes

commented on Mar 6, 2015

Hi {mmm, not sure if you are a rev, Pastor} Joe McKeever. I have just read your article and I am taking the very unusable step of replying. No, not in any way negative but I ENJOYED and nearly understood all of what you are saying. That part[s] I didn't, goes on the shelf until later. I plan to keep your "sermon" for reference. You mentioned that there is no verse about the whether a person should leave this or that church and you replied QUOTE "When someone wrote asking if I could give them a verse of Scripture telling when they should move their membership to another church, I said, ?There ain?t one. Ask the Lord.? I think there might be one, have a look at 2 Corinthians 6:17- 18 and see if that could be one? Anyway thanks for your notes enjoyed immensely Gordon deep Pacific region.

Tony Russo

commented on Mar 6, 2015

Joe, when it comes to money, attitudes can change. My family has paid a "tithe" ever since we came to a knowledge of the gospel. Here's the way I see it. The Hebrews of the Old Testament paid the tithe while the Temple stood and the priest's offered animal sacrifices pointing to "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." The Lamb came and died for our sin to be forgiven in order to stand in His presence and see His Person. If the Hebrews willingly and gladly offered a tithe to God for His magnificent Gift as a Promise, how much more should we honor God with a gift to help pay for the continued proclamation of the gospel?

Evang.roger Culwell

commented on Mar 6, 2015

I am a preacher and I do believe in giving my tithe's, and more, but they one thing that every one seem's to do, is not listen to the holy spirit, or act like he don't speak, when he doe's, what if the church won't give to some one who is going hungry, or help who they should, and you know some won't, the answer to all these problem's is simple ask GOD, I have to asume that people are not hearing from GOD because he is the one guiding us, or should be, I will help who ever the Holy Spirit tell's me to help, that's plain and simple, we have so many fickle people today it's awful, we should be in one mind and one accord, by the Holy Spirit, instead it's like many spirit's and it is cause we are all messed up as a body, I believe if some one is starving and you have to ask what to do, you need to pray bad, it don't even make since, to have to think on that one, if the people and the church did what they should GIVE then they would take care of all the people in need and until they do what they should, or after, I will ask the Holy Spirit what he want's me to do, same way with sermon's, If I preach twice a day 7 day's a week I will still go to God and say lord you know what they need I don't, show me and tell me what you want me to give them. as we should do in every thing, he need's to lead, not us, but I do believe in giving ten percent and over but the holy spirit will decide where I give it, not me, as he should some are storingit up and not helping any one, I have been on the board, and they would try to give money to some one well off, so they could get the praise, and I said wait a minute there are churche's paying us due's and are about to go under, and you vote give the money to some one who don't need it, when these churche's pay us due's, I know I won't they got mad but they finally gave it, they hated me. lol

Mark Tolodziecki

commented on Mar 7, 2015

tithing predates the law - i.e. Abraham tithing to Melchizedek. Tithing was meant to be the absolute bare MINIMUM one could give. What about the fellowship offerings and the sin offerings, special vow offerings, thanksgiving and praise offerings? The New Testament commands us to be generous. I have seen many US churchgoers as generous and even more as materialistic. Believers in this country are rich compared to other countries and many serve the God of mammon. Giving is a matter of sacrifice, joy, and trust.

Wm. John Boyer

commented on Mar 8, 2015

Put Jesus 1st. then give with a heart of Godly love and compassion. When He was nailed to the Cross, He gave all, no? Give and it will be given unto you. It is not what we hoard that counts, but what we give in Jesus' Name.

Robert Wheat

commented on Apr 15, 2015

It's always interesting to read how so many misconstrue the heart of man because they too have a heart of flesh. Humanity will always misread God's Word as much as servants attempting to point individuals back to God. I guess the killing of prophets continues for the legalist bound by a letter, but not the Spirit. Thankful for those who can hear what the Spirit says, obey, and find blessing in the journey. Dr. McKeever has much more wisdom to give to those willing to listen. Romans 12:10 states, we must be devoted to one another in brotherly love, even outdoing one another in honor. How precious it would be if most could actually practice this in discussion here.

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