One thing I’ve noticed about large churches or ministries is that, whenever they ask for money or try to inspire the people to give money, they almost always have to find a verse to do so – and most of the time, it’s a verse that has little to anything to do with giving, tithing, or similar. For example, Wes Hall of the International House of Prayer, while speaking at OneThing VA Beach, took the story of Cornelius the Centurion from Acts 10, quoted how Cornelius “gave alms generously” in verse 2, and tried to inspire the people to likewise give their generously (despite the fact this wasn’t what the passages were commanding).
Another example I heard the other night, while watching Wave Church’s online broadcast of their six o’clock Sunday services. Joe Riddle, the young adults pastor of Wave Church, while the offering plate was being passed around, turned to a passage from the Revelation of John to substantiate the need to give to your church. He specifically quoted Revelation 5:12, which reads (I’m quoting here from the ESV):
saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
What Joe Riddle did was take the use of the word “wealth” and say, “See? God deserves even our finances!” Thus, people there were to take Revelation 5:12 as inspiration to give money to Wave Church. As many former members of Wave Church have told me, getting your money is something Steve Kelly and his leaders are rather adamant about.
The question for us, in any case, is whether or not Revelation 5:12 is truly teaching that we are supposed to give money to our church.
Let’s first recognize some context of what is being spoken of here: the people speaking are the “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” (NASB) of angels on the scene (see v. 11) who are joining in with the previous praises said by the living creatures and elders in vv. 8-10. While many commentators view the living creatures and elders as a summary of creation and the church, the angels obviously represent the heavenly bodies. We see this as a gradual culmination of praise that reaches its climax in verse 13, where all created beings – heavenly and earthly – join together in praise of God.
This tells us that angels are singing this in the verse, not people. Are we therefore to expect that angels are singing that God deserves their finances? Do angels tithe? Does this mean angels have paying jobs with incomes from which they tithe? If not, what then do they tithe? From what financial account do angels give?
Some will probably contend here that the angels are singing about what man should do, to which we should move on to the second point: there are seven specific traits here mentioned of God being worthy to receive. They are:
As usual, the leadership of Wave Church are not afraid to abuse the context of scripture to obtain money from their congregation and followers. They are the false teachers whom the apostle Peter warned would, out of greed, exploit their people with false words (cf. 2 Pe 2:3). Those attending Wave Church I would exhort to leave, and never look back. Flee from the wolves, and seek a Bible-honoring church in which you can grow and be edified.