In one of the most brazen pleas for money of the early year, Presidential Spiritual Advisor and Prosperity Gospel promoter Paula White implored her followers and fans to give her ministry a “first fruits offering” of as much as one month’s salary – even though there is absolutely no Biblical basis for such an offering whatsoever. This type of shameless greed in the church, all based on heretical doctrines, are just one sign of the growing apostasy in the church today as it moves from sound, Biblical teaching, in favor of man and woman-made false doctrines and New Age witchcraft.
The False Teaching of “First Fruits” – the Prosperity Gospel Strikes Again
According to reports:
Popular televangelist Paula White is urging her followers to donate a “first fruits” offering of up to their entire salary for the month of January to enjoy “blessings” for the rest of the year or suffer the “consequences” of failing to follow God’s command.
“Each January, I put God first and honor Him with the first of our substance by sowing a first fruits offering of one month’s pay. That is a big sacrifice, but it is a seed for the harvest I am believing for in the coming year. And God always provides!” White explains on her website.
She explained the difference between the tithe, usually 10 percent of earnings, and the first fruit donation.
“The difference between tithe and first fruit, first fruit is all of it,” she told congregants at the New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “All of what? Well, if you want to bring God all of one day’s salary, one week’s salary or one month’s salary, that’s between you and God. … I try to bring a month’s salary, but at the very least every year I give God a week’s salary.” (source).
This entire teaching is based on the false and unbiblical Prosperity Gospel heresy. This idea teaches that by giving money to a pastor’s ministry, a person can “unlock” and “release” amazing blessings from God in the form of money, material items, career success, health and better appearance. In other words, it makes the blessings of The Lord contingent on how much money a person is willing to give to that particular pastor.
Beginning and End has given extensive coverage to this heretical teaching as it emboldens false pastors to manipulate their congregations into giving them their hard-earned money to support the luxurious, extravagant lifestyles these millionaire pastors lead.
Oftentimes, the way this doctrine is established is by taking Old Testament verses from the Mosaic law out of context. White does this in her video marketing campaign and her website:
“There is a specific principle that I am deeply convicted about and MUST share with you after years of studying the Word of God. This principle is found from early on, throughout the Bible, and it supernaturally unlocks amazing opportunity, blessing, favor and divine order for your life. It is the basis or underlying support for your success in 2018. It is GOD’S PRINCIPLE OF FIRST FRUITS. All Firsts belong to God. When you honor this principle it provides the foundation and structure for God’s blessings and promises in your life, it unlocks deep dimensions of spiritual truths that literally transform your life! When you apply this everything comes in divine alignment for His plan and promises for you. When you don’t honor it, whether through ignorance or direct disobedience there are consequences. “(source).
From the onset, White sets up “The First Fruits Principle” as the key to unlocking “amazing opportunity, blessing, favor and divine order in your life.” Giving money to her is the key to having any type of material success or happiness for the year 2018. She also warns that if one does not give their first fruits offerings (even through ignorance) “…there are consequences.” (source).
According to White, those “consequences” are found in Joshua 7:
“The principle of FIRSTFRUITS is all about honoring God by putting Him first IN EVERYTHING. The reason is God lays claim to all firsts. So, when you keep for yourself something that belongs to God you are desecrating what is to be consecrated to God. It reminds me of Joshua chapter 7, “But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel.”
Devoted things and First things have the exact same meaning; they are the irrevocable giving over to the Lord. They are the things that belong to God and God alone. Again, honoring God with the principle of FIRST FRUITS will open up something powerful I have seen consistently in my own life and the lives of those around me since I received revelation and was mandated by God to teach it. It releases GENERATIONAL BLESSING, OPPORTUNITY, FAVOR, & SUPERNATURAL BLESSINGS.” (source).
This is a very dangerous teaching. It is essentially telling the viewer/congregant: “if you do not give your first paycheck or series of paychecks to God you are desecrating your earnings and offending The Lord.” This is essentially scaring people into giving. In Joshua 7, the Israelites were entering the Promised Land by force, as God commanded the mighty military leader Joshua to do. Having just conquered Jericho (thanks to The Lord’s supernatural miracle of bringing the impregnable walls of that city down), the Israelites found themselves defeated by the people of Ai, the second city they attempted to conquer. Before the battle of Jericho, God gave Joshua a very specific battle plan and forbade the Israelites from taking any of the material goods of the people of Jericho because the city and its goods were to be “accursed” or devoted to God (Joshua 6:17). However, they failed at this:
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.
And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.” – Joshua 7:1-11.
Understanding Descriptive vs. Prescriptive Passages
What Paula White (and many other Prosperity Gospel false preachers) tend to do is look at a passage like the one above and extract a universal principle from it, such as: “Since Achan was clearly in disobedience as he took an item from Jericho, we as Christians today should be sure that never touch any “first” payment or item we receive because it belongs to God.” However, this is not the proper way to interpret and teach the Bible. The account of the battles of Jericho and Ai are descriptive passages: historical accounts in which we as believers are to learn from the general principles in how they relate to the Lord Jesus Christ and living one’s life as a believer.
In the case of the battle of AI there are very powerful lessons to be learned. Before the battle of Jericho, Joshua consulted with God on every detail of the plan for battle. Before Ai, Joshua consulted only with his spies and military advisors who assured him they did not even need their full forces because it was a small city. The Christian life is one of continued reliance on God through faith in Jesus Christ.
When the battle was lost, rather than “re-strategizing” or marshaling the full might of the Israelite army, Joshua “rent his clothes” and fell on his face for hours in repentance (and the elders of Israel joined him in this repentance). This is a foundational teaching. It is when one recognizes their sin before God, that they can be saved: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
The question in life is not if you will sin, but when. All people are sinners (Romans 3:23). But what can bring salvation, God’s blessing and Spirit is having a heart that feels sorrow over your sin. This is what The Lord wants from all people – repentance. Understanding your guilt before God and trusting in the sacrifice He sent – Jesus Christ, The Son of God – for your forgiveness. And as soon as Joshua repented, God responded and told him of his error and the sin of Achan.
This passage is NOT a prescription for giving. It is not a universal command that every time a person receives their first paycheck they should give it to their pastor. The command to leave every item in Jericho for God was a specific instruction for that event, not a command for all believers for all time. These are descriptive passages. A prescriptive passage is one that is intended for all people for all time, for example:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:6.
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:13.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” – Ephesians 5:25.
These are passages that are intended to direct all believers at any time. They have clear universal application and were not directed towards one specific person in Scripture. And when we look to the Bible’s prescriptive teaching on giving we find:
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7.
Christians give based on how they feel in their heart to give. Offerings in church should not be done reluctantly or because of “necessity.” There is no required giving amount in church. But that has not stopped the apostate preachers all over the world from fleecing their fans and viewers using Scriptures ripped from context.