No, this is not where we lay out All our beliefs and the justifying Scripture references. If you are looking for that, it is not hard to find. The P.O.C. website and The Hope Series are jam packed with it. This is Our Stand as we operate in Caesar’s world. First, you may have noticed there are no ads popping up or surrounding the page. We do not solicit or permit advertising on our websites. We will not even risk that our websites, our ministry, will be used to promote anything inconsistent with His Truth. We do display the different forms of Outreach that Pursuit of Character undertakes, i.e. books, music, etc., and encourage you to make use of them. These are however, as we have explained, for the purpose of Witness not Wealth. Those who do allow advertising on their site will reason that it is necessary to fund getting the message out. Our Stand on this is, If we do not have the Faith that God can and will get His message out if it is His Will and in spite of man’s will, then whose message are we getting out, really? Our Stand on this is… If it is His… He will fund it! (And yes, He may use you to do it).
“Give unto Caesar…” While the event depicted in Luke 20:20-26 was an effort to set Christ up, it serves as a lesson in dealing both with “the world” and with the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The wolves wanted to take Christ out for making people question their authority. But, as they couldn’t take Him out themselves, they had to create a situation that would either destroy Christ’s credibility with His followers or give the government reason to arrest Him. So, they asked Christ whether God’s people should pay “tribute” (taxes) to both God and the secular government. The people were not happy having to pay taxes to the Romans, so if He simply said, “Yes,” the people would be unhappy with His answer. If He simply said, “No,” the Roman officers would have grounds to arrest Him. So, what did Christ say…?
“Show Me the coin used for the tax.” They did. He asked them whose image and name were on it, and they answered, “Caesar’s.” He then replied, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…” His point was this: You accept this money as pay for a day’s work, you use it to pay for things you need, you give it to your brother, or you save it away for later use. You have agreed, in practice, to participate in the world using the means of the world. So, when that world, the Roman world, the world led by Caesar, charges you for it, what justification would there be to refuse Caesar what is his? Then He adds… and “…give unto God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:19-21)
Christ declares a Rule vitally important to every Christian and all but lost in the Modern Church. Caesar, the government, has authority in civil affairs, and, as much as we participate in those affairs, we are obligated to the authority of Caesar. But Caesar’s authority is not unlimited. It has no authority over God, our relationship with God, or our service to God. To surrender this in any way is to defy God’s authority and put Caesar (other god) before Him. (Exodus 20:3)
Got a coin or a dollar in your pocket? Whose image is on it? Whose currency does it say it is? What I pull out of my pocket right now has a picture of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. It says it is a “Federal Reserve Note” of “The United States of America” controlled by “The Department of Treasury.” Oh… and it also says, “In God We Trust,” but we all know that’s no longer true. What does yours say?
Tax exemption for churches has been around in America since its founding, although not officially until the Revenue Act of 1913, and in principal is a good thing. But…
Let me tell you a story. You know, Tozer always said he didn’t tell stories, he gave illustrations. I confess, I tell stories. Some fact, some fiction, but all used for illustration. Some years ago, I knew a couple who started a non-denominational church in the U.S. and a Mission in Haiti. They ran them both all year but split their residence between the two. In interacting with their ministry, they offered a piece of advice, “Never go tax-exempt. You will spend too much of your time and money counting your rolls of toilet paper to satisfy the government.” The person they gave this advice to eventually gave into the whispers that you need to go tax-exempt to increase donations. The whispers were not wrong, the money did come flowing in. But I can’t forget the advice from the Missionary couple. The money came in… but, at what price?
I said tax exemption, or “not-for-profit,” has been around since America’s founding, but along about 1954 Caesar came calling. Senator Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, worried that he was about to be the target of public discussion by a non-profit, snuck a little something, appropriately called “the Johnson Amendment,” into law. The Republicans, also worried about the upcoming election, said nothing. What did LBJ’s amendment do? It said to non-profits, including churches, “We allowed you to keep Caesar’s money and you accepted. If you wish to continue keeping the money, you are not allowed to shepherd your sheep about politicians.” Even the secular Supreme Court in 1970, headed by Justice Burger, understood that bringing churches under the scrutiny of the government through the IRS would be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Obviously then, to offer conditional release from this tax obligation does the same. Think this is a stretch? Listen to Pastor/Congressman Jody Rice:
“I was a pastor for 30 years prior to coming to Congress. I personally am aware of the threats and intimidation that comes with every election cycle…This has become a bully pulpit for the IRS, to keep non-profit leaders and churches of all sorts — be it churches or educational institutions and various other non-profits, forcing them to censor themselves right out of involvement in the political process.”
What this means for us at P.O.C.: for “the love of (Caesar’s) money,” the churches have put Caesar over Christ. (1 Timothy 6:10) They have ignored Christ’s instruction that the Church was not to give to Caesar what was God’s. In other words, under no circumstance is the Church to allow Caesar to dictate, mandate, or suggest what is said or done in God’s name (Remember Christians were later killed by the millions for refusing to do so, as was Christ). As explained above, Christ also instructed that, if we are going to use Caesar’s money, then we are to pay the taxes that go with it. It is not a legitimate defense to say Caesar offered a trade. Satan did the same with Christ in the desert and what did He say? (Matthew 4:1-11)
Next, “charitable giving.” In our story above, we talked about becoming a “not-for-profit” to increase donations. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1) It is our position that this instruction from Christ is clear. If you give your “10%” so that the pastor, the deacon, or your fellow parishioners will recognize you are a “good Christian,” then you have received your reward… “before men.” Likewise, if you donate your 10, 15, 18.5, or any percent in order to get a tax deduction, then you have received your reward… “before men.”
“This is what the LORD of Hosts says:…The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, declares the LORD of Hosts,” (Haggai 2:6,8) and “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.” (1 Corinthians 10:26)
One more for the foundation before we build the Sum-up: “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
OK, Our Stand:
All we are, All we have or will ever have comes from and belongs to God. We are instructed that whatever we do with it must not be for the recognition of man, but for the Glory of God. In addition, we are to Give unto Caesar what is his, but never give to Caesar what is God’s.
Our Stand is simple: “All is God’s.” So, if we say we give 10% to God, what we are actually doing is holding 90% of what is God’s for ourselves. While this has been our position since the beginning, while studying for Forgotten Hope, I came across this from Vance Havner, and we can’t say it better ourselves:
“I’ve got nothing, I’ve got everything. What’s the devil going to do with anybody like that? The devil says, ‘I’ll give you this and I’ll give you that,’ the Christian says, ‘You can’t I’ve got everything.’ Then that makes the devil mad and he says, ‘I’ll take this away and I’ll take that away,’ and the Christian says, ‘You can’t I don’t have anything!’”
All we have is God’s; therefore, we have nothing. However, God supplies all our needs, so we have everything. Finally, as “joint heirs,” all that has actual, lasting importance is promised to His children in the end.
Because these are true, we do not sell to Caesar/Uncle Sam what is rightfully God’s. We are not a “not-for-profit” as defined by Caesar. In fact, Christ instructed us in His sermon on the Mount to use what He entrusts to us to produce the maximum return (profit). However, that profit does not have Caesar’s or Washington’s image on it. That profit is calculated in sheep, those who bear His image. So, from a financial perspective, we are a “for loss” ministry. Meaning, we honor God with maintaining our house, putting food on the table, and being a proper representation of God’s presence in our household. We do not limit, or quite honestly calculate, what we “allow” God to keep. We have committed the home God has provided us to His service. We have committed to whatever God assigns us to do, regardless of the cost and in spite of the “profit,” or lack thereof. Currently, that commitment is publishing The Hope Series of books, Bethany Rae’s Worship music, the P.O.C. website, and other Outreach activities we are still listening for clarification on. In 2020, this has resulted in quite the Financial Net Loss, and our goal is to do just as well in 2021. (Update: Having just completed our tax paperwork, we successfully met our goal for 2021. As a percentage, we had a greater Financial Net Loss than in 2020. Oh… and our “sheep profit” is up!)
As for the Profit to Christ’s sheep and the Glory brought to His Name… We leave that to God’s Providence.
Therefore, if you “Give to Get,” give somewhere else.
We appreciate any Believer who wishes to join us in our mission and whatever that support might look like.
But, if you are looking for a tax deduction, look somewhere else.
We will go where God in His Providence sends us and we will say what the Holy Spirit instructs us to say. We will not give to Caesar what is God’s. We will gladly (well OK, not gladly) pay Caesar for the use of his currency while being clear that God is above all and His “Place” is not for sale or trade.
© Scott A Caughel 12/11/2020