Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Tithe Today

The current debates relating to the tithe are focused on whether or not the tithe is part of the New Covenant or is it applicable today? Those who desire that the tithe be eliminated today always use the fact that it was limited to Old Law.

What many miss is the fact that no where was the tithe ever done away by Jesus himself nor is it fully understood as to how GRACE applies, thus fits within the total scriptural teaching of the tithe and stewardship. For those who have wondered when I would get around to scriptural application, we are here. This is actually my favorite part of the study. We will explore the New Testament model and see what is often omitted from the discussions of today.

We begin with the New Testament church as seen in the New Testament. We see Paul. A man sent out to share the Gospel. In fact repeatedly we read that Paul was supported, financially and prayerfully, by the churches. How was he supported by these churches if tithing/giving to the church was not taught and lived? In the letters that Paul wrote, he commended the churches for their giving (2 Cor 9:2 and 1 Cor 16: 1-4). The conclusion is thus simple, they collectively gave and the church then gave. In fact the church in Jerusalem was one of the benefactors of many churches giving.

How did the people give to the individual churches?

It is clear in the New Testament that GRACE raised "the bar" when it came to giving as a whole. It stands to reason that a person who was a recipient of the GRACE of God would out of love, devotion, and thanksgiving give far more than the tithe required under the law. It is here that the tithe is seen in the New Testament as a standard that acts as the starting point in our giving.

Giving to our churches is easily seen and cannot be ignored in the New Testament. The needs of people, poor and hungry, the spreading of the Gospel, the care of the servants, all are there. As mentioned in previous posts, the huge disagreements that are often mentioned relating to giving to local churches today are weak at best. Yes there are churches that are poorly handling the money that God's people give. Yes there are issues that each church must deal with. Those issues DO NOT lay the basis for one neglecting the giving to one's church. To do so is violate the whole of scripture.

The giving today of God's people should be far above the requirements of the tithe. The Bible is also very clear that churches who were in poverty gave out of their poverty and the blessings of God were seen. The joy and thanksgiving in our hearts should permeate our giving. And this giving should be done based on our first fruits.

And we will continue...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Defining the Tithe

As discussion grows in modern times concerning the tithe, the definition of what actually was and is the tithe moves to the front of the arguments. There are those who would specify that the Old Testament tithe was restricted to items grown and raised. Some will say that it was "asset only" driven and that regardless of the mentions in the New Testament, it ended with the cross.

It is this position that reveals what a few call the New Covenant application. In this approach the tithe is out because the Law is out in the New Testament. After the cross, according to this thought, GRACE is the deal and thus giving the tithe is replaced with giving what ones decides due to our being under grace. Also out in this thought is giving to the church. The reasoning here is that the tithe, according to this thought, was specific for the law and the temple and the government and ... and does not thus apply to the New Testament Church.

As I have raised some questions previously, I feel it is important for us to understand the abuses that DO take place from many who teach the tithe is applicable today. It is these abuses that often cloud the issues and actually rally the cries for adopting a GRACE Giving approach (which I will define Biblically in another post).

The tithe is abused when:
  • Churches beat the people over the head
  • Churches spend money frivolously
  • Churches ignore the Biblical model for teaching and encouraging
  • Churches teach that one will prosper from giving the tithe
  • Churches make it a requirement of membership
  • Churches fail to do ministry and missions
  • The full teaching of Stewardship is ignored
  • Grace Giving is seldom emphasised and taught

These are just a few. Yet how does one answer the questions and challenge the issues? Defining the tithe must start with the Bible and it must stay with the Bible. Prosperity preachers and those who want to diminish the tithe will always bring the above into their defense of NOT tithing while ignoring that though abuses do occur, the Biblical model is NEVER subject to change due to culture or abuse.

And we will continue on with our study Monday...!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Common Arguments Against the Tithe

As our discussion moves forward we must pause and look at some of the current reasons being given for NOT tithing. Most of the justification for this stand against the tithe is rooted in human secular materialism and spiritualization of will full manipulation of scripture. Maybe that is a strong statement but when the reasons are viewed I can think of nothing better to describe.

I will not spend too much time on these but I will share some of the "best of the worst":

1. The tithe was "cold Law" and thus no one outside of Israel and definitely no one from the point of the cross forward should be tithing. We are under grace. We are free from the law!

2. The tithes discussed in the Old Testament are not applicable today.

3. The churches mentioned in the New Testament were never commanded to tithe or teach tithing.

4. With all the growth of Mega and Super Churches and the high salaries of their Pastoral Staff, the people who give a tithe to the those churches are wasting the money.

5. A person should place their money where they think it would serve best.

6. The Free Will offering is the offering of today.

7. Pastors and churches who teach tithing (storehouse) are abusing their people.

8. And the list goes on and on...

The problem with these are that some interesting forms of hermeneutics are used as "theological" justification. One may hear terms like "New Covenant" and "Dispensational" that lead many to believe that the one advocating the change in understanding related to tithing is actually valid.

And the "poor" are actually being used while NO definition of poor is ever given. The approach is that Pastors and church leaders DO NOT care about people.This subject is obviously one that goes far beyond Bible Interpretation and Theology. The fuss and confusion actually prove that man can create a mess of what God has been clear about only because man does not always like what God says.

And the fun will continue...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Questions on Tithing

No doubt that a subject like Stewardship would bring about questions and even some heated debate. One of the things that I hope this series does is to bring about a discussion when often in the past discussion was tough. The reality of the tie that Stewardship has with basic Bible doctrine has always intrigued me. Vigorous debates always flow from this discussion with Doctrinal issues spreading quickly into multiple areas.

Here are some questions that I think will highlight the challenge with this subject:

1. Was the tithe only for Israel?

2. Though much is said in the New Testament about giving and even some mentions of tithing, is it true that after the cross the tithe was to cease?

3. Does "grace giving" mean that NO standard of tithing exists?

4. How is it that there is so much confusion over the subject of tithing?

5. Why do things like adultery get certain treatment in the OT that tithing does not get?

6. Is there a Biblical Standard for those of us alive today in regards to tithing and giving?

The danger with a subject like tithing is that often people approach it from a position that they hold or would like to hold and thus they set out to prove their case. Some may even suggest that I could be approaching the subject from a "I believe it" position and thus that I am setting out to do the same. Before anyone jumps to conclusions I simply ask that you follow along and watch and read and pray! You just might be surprised in the whole of the series.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tithing and Stewardship - Praying It Returns

I will begin a series here that highlights the Biblical call to tithe and what a return to Biblical Stewardship will and can do for America. I realize that many today are questioning this doctrine and might challenge the truths made. That is fine. Good discussion and debate actually leads to learning and prayerfully conviction.

If America is ever to be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ we must realize that Lordship will move to the forefront of our daily lives. Stewardship is one of the key truths that gets our attention when we grasp Lordship.

We begin with the words of Jesus:

Matthew 23:23"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." NKJV

Clearly Jesus taught and one might say reinforced the tithe in this statement. The words here are spoken in a clear lesson being taught to the multitudes. The Pharisees are being called out for their lives which were not lived in surrender to Jesus as Lord. Interesting here is that as the "wrong approach" to life is being called out, the right disciplines are being taught.

So why do you think that with Jesus clearly teaching the tithe people today desire to belittle or do away with it?

Do you teach Biblical Tithing? Does your church believe and practice Tithing and Stewardship?

Just think of the changes that could occur when we return to this Biblical Doctrine.