Faith Promise Giving is a system and teaching in regard to giving money to the Lord’s work. It was devised by a man named Oswald J. Smith (A Faith Promise Offering, by Oswald J. Smith). The Faith Promise Giving system is “Promising by faith, a year in advance, to give an amount of money, which you do not presently have, to God for His work, if He will provide it for you.”
Contrary to that teaching, the Bible teaches us that true Faith Giving is “Giving an amount of money to the Lord from what you presently have, whether part, or all of it, and then, by faith, trusting God to meet your needs.”
This is how the widow gave, and Jesus highly commended her for it. Mark 12:41-44 says, “41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
Now if you promise God that you will give an amount of money to Him, if He will first give it to you, then you are just asking God for an “abundance” to drop into your lap, so that you can turn around and give it back to Him. That is no sacrifice on your part. That takes no faith on your part. If God does it, then fine. If God does not do it, then you are out nothing.
But for the widow who gave two mites, that was all the money that she had. That was “all her living;” that is, that is all the money that she had to meet her needs to live. Jesus said that the widow gave more than those many rich people who put a lot of money into the treasury. The widow made no promises to give more. She did not put any pieces of paper into the treasury, promising that she would give a certain amount in the next year, if God would first give it to her.
Oswald J. Smith devised this idea of “Faith Promise Giving” based upon the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. The amazing thing is that Oswald took the very problem at Corinth with their giving, that Paul was trying to correct, and Oswald makes that out as if it is the crowning way to give to the Lord. Look at it closely.
Paul starts by giving the Corinthians the example of some other churches, “1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”
There is no mention here about promising Paul a gift; to the contrary, they gave to him of what they had. These people were very poor, and yet they were giving to Paul “beyond their power,” more than their ability to then meet their own needs, just like the widow with the two mites.
Paul then tells the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:7, “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” Paul was telling them, “Corinthian Christians, you abound in so many areas, but not in this grace of being abundant givers of finances for God’s work.”
Now Paul deals with the problem that was hindering their giving. 2 Corinthians 8:10-11 says, “10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.”
The Corinthians had begun a year ago to talk about giving, but they had obviously not yet reached their goal of what they had wanted to give. Paul is dealing with this problem, and notice what he tells them. “11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.”
Paul was telling them, “Listen, you were very forward and open to talk about what you were going to give, a year ago, but you evidently never reached that amount, so you have not given. What you need to do now is perform (give) from that which God has given to you.” “11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.”
Paul emphasizes it once again in the next verse, 2 Corinthians 8:12, “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” You are not judged according to the money that you would “like to have,” but what you “actually have.”
When it comes to giving, God always requires us to “give first,” then He will bless us with more to give, as He sees fit. Consider the following Scriptures.
2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Before you can “reap,” you have to first “sow.” If you sow “sparingly,” then you will reap “sparingly.” If you sow “bountifully,” then you will reap “bountifully.” If you give money “sparingly” to God, then you will reap “sparingly.” If you give money “bountifully” to God, then you will reap “bountifully” from God. God does not promise to drop you a million dollars from the sky, so that you can give it to missionaries. But God does promise that if you give bountifully of what you have, that He will give bountifully back to you, so that you can give more.
2 Corinthians 9:7-10 says, “7 Every
man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not
grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And
God is able to make all grace abound
toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may
abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath
dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth
for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister
bread for your food, and multiply
your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)”
God does not teach us to promise, one year in advance, to give a certain amount of money to Him. God teaches us to give first, of what He has given to us, and then He will bless us as He sees fit. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” What God blesses you with financially, is dependent upon what you first give to His work.
People cannot justify the use of the Faith Offering Giving system from an honest exposition of Scripture. This matter of promising to give an amount of money that you do not have, one year in advance, is actually based upon the very problem that Paul was trying to correct at Corinth: they had wanted to give a certain amount of money to God’s work, but after one year, had still given nothing, because they had not met that goal. Paul was telling them to quit waiting to give, and to just give from what they had, because that is all that God requires of us. The more that we give of what we have, the more that He will give to us in return, so that we can help even more.
Pastors are tempted to use the Faith Promise Giving system, not because it is Scriptural, but because it brings in a lot of money. Listen to Oswald J. Smith, “I would never go back to the cash offering. With a cash offering I could only get a very little, but with a Faith Promise Offering I can get much. In our Annual Missionary Convention we never get more than $7,000 in cash, but we get a quarter of a million or more in Faith Promises.” How many times does He mention God in his statement? Zero times. How many times does he mention “I” or “we?” Five times.
The largest churches in America, and around the world, use rock music to draw in thousands of people to their services; so should we do the same, because it brings in more people? Of course not. The same holds true for money.
For a full study about this subject, please see the Liberty Bible Course “Money, Part 2” at “http://www.libertygospeltracts.com/biblecrs/money2/money1.htm“.