|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 9:25 am: || |
I don't get here much anymore, but do try to skim all the new posts on the weekends. Lots of new people from a few years ago.
I know there are archives on "tithing" in past years, but I just wanted to get a little new feedback on your views on "tithing".
I have believed that it is NOT a prescribed amount "due" God now in the glorious NEW Covenant!!... and, so, have been somewhat discouraged lately with the emphasis given "tithe paying" in the church (non-SDA) I've attended the past two years.
Recent church newsletters have had articles on tithing, one from the pastor saying, "you must tithe, or at least be moving towards that practice".
And recently I noted that a large, more-or-less, "former Adventist" congregations' e-mail "updates" have promoted tithing with the familiar Malachi text:
""* We are never asked to give some of our money to God. All that we have is God's-even our next breath! Ownership is His-management is ours. That equals partnership.
* We honor His ownership by offering back the first-fruits of our increase in the form of a tithe (10%) and additional offerings as God blesses and convicts.
* If we are faithful in this partnership, God promises abundant blessings in our lives (Malachi 3:9-10) and abundant resources to proclaim the Gospel and expand ministry through our local church (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).""
The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs seem to negate the Liberty and Freedom of life under Christ! (and the first sentance of e-mail!)
I desire to excel in the "grace of giving" in response to Jesus' "indescribable gift"...yet I feel this mention of "tithe" brings in, once again, a subtle legalism.
What do others here believe?
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:22 am: || |
I am with you. I think that the article contains a lot of doublespeak. Maybe part of the problem is in the initial statement:
We are never asked to give some of our money to God. All that we have is God's-even our next breath! Ownership is His-management is ours. That equals partnership.
I agree with the statement that "all that we have is God's-even our next breath." The part that I disagree with is that this makes me a partner. In order to have a partnership, both parties must contribute something of value to the arrangement. We have nothing to contribute. That makes us "stewards," not partners."
The manager at your local grocery store is responsible to the owner for the money in her care, but she certainly would not consider heself a partner--and I assure you that owner does not consider her as such either. Instead, she is a steward, and is responsible for the judicious and appropriate use of those funds. Like the parable of the "Good Steward" that Jesus told, the Manager is accountable to the owner for what she does with the funds.
I see myself as a steward of all that God has given me (which goes far beyond financial resources). It is my job to leverage these resources for the good of God's Kingdom--to be "salt and light". The store manager uses some of the resources to pay for the costs of doing business (physical plant, building upkeep, transportation costs, utilities, etc.), and even personal salary, but his primary objective is to sell the products that we see on the shelves. In the same way, God allows us to use his resources as we see fit, but the question we must always ask ourselves is, "how does this activity add to the building of the Kingdom of God?"
The tithing system was an old covenant requirement that was designed to support the levitical priesthood. That system was set up by God for a specific purpose--to foreshadow the coming of Jesus as our High Priest. Since there is no longer a Levitical Priesthood (Jesus came through the tribe of Judah), there is no longer a priesthood to support. Support for the church comes through the freewill offerings of the members.
The problem with people who advocate for a continued tithing requirement," is that they adopt a "yours vs. mine" philosophy. In other words, 10% belongs to God, and 90% belongs to me. I can "choose" to give part of my 90% as an offering, but it is mine to do with as I see fit. The same attitude applies to the observance of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is God's time, the other six days belong to me. We then actually live our lives according to these principles. As long as we have "given" God, his, there is no accountability for what we do with "ours."
When I came to really understand the stewardship principle, it changed my whole outlook on life. Now, I don't give as an obligation or a requirement. I give as a means of investing in the work of the Gospel, but my giving doesn't stop there. Neither is my giving restricted to the four walls of the local church (the storehouse that Malachi referred to, as we have been told--although I have never seen any scripture to back that up).
Of course what this also means is that I need to be a wise steward, and I need to evaluate where I invest God's resources. That is one of the reasons that I could not stay in the SDA Church. I could not continue to invest God's time in something that was so "inwardly" focused. I could not continue to invest God's money in an institution that was more concerned with houses, land, and politics than it was with people and lives. I could not continue to invest my gifts in an institution that sought to do place people in bondage when Christ came to provide freedom.
This view strikes against the grain of many religious leaders (of all denominations). They would prefer to have people "obligated" to "pay" tithe so that the "church" (they) have a steady/sure source of income. It also removes any accountability on their part. I can't count the number of times I was told that what leader's do with the funds is between them and God, our job is simply to give. Once again, there is no biblical support for this concept.
I believe that Christ is the head of the Church. Whether I contribute or not, His Word will not return unto him void. It is a priviledge for me to be a co-laborer in His Kingdom, but it is going to move forward with or without me. When I see leaders attempting to use shame and guilt as a means of getting people to support building projects or church expenses, say within my heart, "Oh ye of little faith."
Anyway, I think I am rambling at this point, but you have hit on a sore point with me. I am interested in hearing other's thoughts on the topic.
In His Grace
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:37 am: || |
To me, tithing goes back to before there was a nation of Israel, before there was law. It comes from Abraham paying tithe to Melchizedek. I don't see it as being "old testament". I see it as being a part of a lifestyle lived in the kingdom of God. It's not a huge issue with me.
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:46 am: || |
I have heard people use the fact that Abrham gave Melchizedek a tithe of all he had recovered as an argument that the tithing system was in place even before there was a nation of Israel, and therefore continues even unto today--just like the Sabbath. However, just as there was no command to "keep" the Sabbath until just before Sinai, there does not appear to be any command to return a tithe (to the tribe of Levi) until after Sinai as well. Could it be that Abrahams "tithe" to Melchizedek was simply a freewill offering, or can someone give me proof that it was the same tithe that the Children of Israel were commanded to give.
I am with you Lydell. It is not a big issue for me.
In His Grace
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 5:28 pm: || |
The initial illustration in the Bible about any tithing concerns the account of Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis 14. Following the slaughter of the kings, Abraham returned to central Palestine with his nephew named Lot, the other captives, and with a large amount of spoil that was taken from the northern kings (verses 16,17). Abraham then met Melchizedek and gave him a tenth of the spoil. "He gave tithes of all" (verse 20). The remainder of the captured goods was given to the the king of Sodom (verses 21-24).
Consider this action of Abraham. There is no agreement whatever with the law of tithing later revealed in the Book of Leviticus. Indeed, Moses required that the tithe be paid only on the increase of land and animals (Lev. 27:30,31). But with Abraham, he did not work to produce any of the spoil he had recovered. Spoil does not represent an increase from farms and ranches. There was no biblical teaching which showed that Abraham was required to give a tenth of the spoil to Melchizedek.
Actually, much later in the time of Moses, the Israelites were informed what should be done with any spoil they might capture from their enemies such as that which Abraham captured in his day. Such spoil was not to be tithed as shown in the law of Moses. When the Israelites obtained spoil from the Midianites, Moses insisted that the priests receive 1/500th of the goods from those who had gone to war--not 1/10th as the tithe would require (Numbers 31:9,27-29). The Levites got more booty. They received 1/50th of the congregation's half of the spoil (verse 30). Again, the law concerning "spoils" in war had nothing to do with the later ordained tithe.
But let us again consider the action of Abraham. If Moses was recording in Genesis a universal law of tithing when he wrote about Abraham giving a tenth of his spoils to Melchizedek, why does he depart from that very law some 400 years later with a completely different set of figures? In truth, Abraham was not following any law of tithing on spoil or on anything else. Abraham's tenth was only in the nature of a voluntary (free will) offering of thanksgiving to God for the deliverance of his people from captivity. Interestingly, tithing was commonplace in the Ancient Near East; heathen nations paid tithes to their various gods. Under the Mosaic or old covenant, God simply utilized and enforced the familiar practice of tithing for the Hebrew people as well. The same is true of holy days (i.e.,the seven festal observances in Lev. 23) the Israelites were already familiar with their heathen neighbors observing holy days.
If more evidence of the voluntary nature of tithing is needed before the time of Moses, the account of Jacob's tithing provides it(read Genesis 28:20-22). It should be noted that for the first two thousand and five hundred years of human history (as recorded in the biblical narrative) the only two instances of tithing were involving FREE WILL offerings of Abraham and Jacob. And even in the first period of the Exodus, Moses only required FREE WILL contributions from the Israelites. But true enough, a year passed in the Wilderness, then Moses saw the need for a law of tithing. There is no record that the Israelites paid any tithe on the treasures they took out of Egypt; they simply gave free will donations to help build the Tabernacle.
I emailed my findings to Larry Burkett of Financial Christian Concepts in Georgia several months ago, they never replied (smile). Larry even stated on his radio program in recent weeks, "If you do not tithe, you are not a Christian." Indeed, if tithing is valid for Christians, certainly the entire Levitical system should be reinstated and observed. Sadly, many modern religionists love the tithing concept because it transfers voluntary giving to compulsory giving. Many pastors and churches today do NOT trust their members with Spirit-led stewardship--the new covenant model. In the Old Covenant, GOD dictated the amount of giving. In the New Covenant, WE (as led by the Holy Spirit) determine the amount of giving as the Lord has blessed us. Contrary to some preacher's opinions, there are no tithe deadbeats. Indeed, the Gospel breeds generosity wherever it takes root. Some people like to make tithing a "principle" today. Why don't we just make "principles" out of all the old covenant rituals?
Dennis J. Fischer
|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 8:08 pm: || |
Thank you for saying what I've been saying for more than a few years now.
But try to get an 'organized' Church to listen. HA! Now that's the hard part as you've already discovered.
Denise, your sister in Christ Jesus.
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 9:42 am: || |
Thanks for the responses!
I also see a connection between "time" and the setting of holy days, and "money" with the setting of a specific percentage. ALL is God's. We honor him with our wise use of ALL our resources...
Lydell, I try to not let it becaome a huge issue with me; and yet, when it is promoted as a basic requirement for "true" Christianity, it angers me to to see the way people are manipulated with this guilt over not giving this 10%.
I know Dennis, you have done a lot of studying on this topic. Thank-you. I remember your past excellent archived posts--along with Bill Twisses' on the Covenants. I agree with both of you very much!
I guess I have been recently confronted again with this teaching and am just amazed that such a vast majority of churches have to teach this liberty-defeating message in order to keep the money coming in!
As mentioned, the Holy Spirits' influence on a believers' resources does not seem to be trusted enough! Perhaps organized religion gets desperate for funds to keep their programs up and running...
I have corresponded with the pastor here (a large, 7,000 attending with 5 services, church) and I realize their belief in "tithing" is not going to change. (It is a "Foursquare" denomination and wonderful in many other areas).
He wrote me that "the average church goer gives 1-2%". I wonder how this is recorded and evaluated?
I hear the Mormons have a higher compliant rate of 7.5%... And we all know the SDA doctrine that we are "robbing" God if we don't set aside that first 10% to the conference!
So...is there ANY group that does not believe in this "Tithe" sacredness? Or, as Denise wrote, is it just too hard to have "organized" churches listen?
What groups do you all participate or have membership in?
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 10:24 am: || |
The Church i attend, which separated from the Church of the Brethern a few years ago and became non-denominatinal, does not teach tithing. In fact, I have never heard them beg for money--at least not on Sunday Morning. I did attend a quasi business (family) meeting once where they talked about what percentage of the members are actually giving.
What is really refreshing is that on Sunday mornings, they collect the offering. Every week, they say, "if you're a visitor, please don't give. Just be our guest today." They also say that if you are not experiencing the joy of the Lord, to hold on to your money until you are. It also is a large congregation, with approximately 4,000 people attending 4 services each week.
When I was double dipping (attending the SDA Church on Sabbath and this church on Sunday), I was still an elder at the SDA Church. When it was my turn to announce the tithe and offering, I was so tempted to make a similar announcement, but knew that if I did, I'd be run out on a rail.
Not too long after I began attending there, the Pastor preached the most wonderful sermon on giving which came from 2 Corinthians 8. I'd like to share a couple of points. My comments are in blue:
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. notice that their giving did not come from obligation, but instead sprang from a joyful heart 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. does not sound like a preset amount to me Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. 6So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. now when is the last time you saw this verse highlighted from the pulpit?
13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
In another thread, I talked about scripture having a primary teaching and a secondary teaching. In Adventism, there is also an inferred teaching. Here is a passage that clearly has giving as its primary teaching, and it is very clear about the principle of giving. To my knowledge, there is not a single scripture in the New Testament (after the death of Jesus), that teaches tithing either as a primary or a secondary teaching. Adventists have latched onto Paul's statement that those who preach the Gospel should live off the Gospel as a mandate for tithing, but that is an inference at best.
It doesn't even phase me anymore when I hear people talking about the requirement to tithe. I stand firm in the freedom from which I have been called. Make no mistake about it, I do give, but that is a personal matter between me and God.
In His Grace
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 11:06 am: || |
That is a refreshing way to encourage giving... in response to the Joy of the Lord!
Placing a percentage requirement on it destroys the joy and freedom of the Gospel. 10% may be a huge sacrifice for some... and hardly a dent in the pocketbooks of others.
The pastor here says that Paul was already assuming the Corinthians were paying their "tithe"... he was asking for additional offerings beyond this!
I just don't see that in the light of the New Covenant! I like what Twissse wrote in one of the archived posts here:
"In the covenant of grace, we have an infinitely better motive for giving than under the law. Our basis is the joy of the gospel. God doesn/t state an amount that he requires: we are to give in proportion to the gospel in our lives. Additionally, there is no one proper recipient of our gifts. It can be the Christian education of our children, a worthy Christian ministry, a local congregation or pastor faithful to the gospel, Christians in true need, or a ministry of one's own. Even a party to reach the unsaved. Christ said to make friends for eternity by using unrighteous mammon."
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 2:04 pm: || |
"The pastor here says that Paul was already assuming the Corinthians were paying their "tithe"... he was asking for additional offerings beyond this!"
Of course, the key word here is: "assuming." This pastor is "assuming" that Paul was "assuming" that the tithe was already paid.
Here is news for all those who promote the tithe: "NOT ONE OF YOU TITHES!!" It does not matter how meticulously or how faithfully the "ten percent" is calculated and given. Nor does it matter how BIG the word TITHE is printed on the envelope.
The tithing law requires a disinherited priesthood actually born of the lineage of Levi.
Furthermore, the tithing law is unforgivingly detailed and is much more about products than money. Plus, the giving pattern is specific along with how the tithe is used.
Not one "tithing" Christian church comes close to the correct procedures.
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 5:09 pm: || |
The Worldwide Church of God has not taught tithing since 1995. Their study papers on this topic are excellent (www.wcg.org). They recently started to have worship services on Sunday here in Lincoln. In Omaha, they still meet on Saturdays. Also, the Evangelical Free Church does not officially teach tithing either. However, we have some tithers as members. Our senior pastor does not promote old covenant tithing. The word "tithe" does not even appear on our giving envelopes. Our pastor does believe we should support the church in a systematic way--even if the percentages vary from member to member. I heartily agree with him.
Dennis J. Fischer
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 5:17 pm: || |
GIVING WITH A CHEERFUL HEART
In Deut. 26: 12 it says that the tithe was to be given every third year on any increase the people of Israel had.
12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
The sons of Israel were to give the tithe to the Levite to the stranger to the orphan and the widow. Many new covenant pastors ask for a tithe "of an old covenant law" of your gross income without consideration for the write offs to make an increase like food, clothing,etc. Some leaders even ask for a double tithe and not once every third year but they expect it every pay check. I wander to how much goes to the stranger, orphan, and widow. Most of the tithe nowdays goes to buy buildings, electronic supplies, etc. so that the gospel can be preached. What ever happened to the simply having the boldness to communicate with others the good news of the gospel?
Jesus told a Pharisee that he should tithe, because he was living under the old covenant law at the time. I do not see anywhere that tithing was taught or required by the early church nor did Jesus tell His disciples too.
Giving out of love and with a cheerful heart as unto Jesus is what God desires. What ever we do to the least in the Kingdom of God we have done it unto Jesus. Giving can be done with a cheerful heart when we know that we gave directly to Jesus when we give to another brother or sister in the Lord. If Jesus was to appear out of the sky big enough for the whole world to see, we would gladly give Him all that we have and then some. So it should be a cheerful thing to give out of a cheerful heart and not making sure we have given a tenth of our income.
I remember when I tithed, I felt so filled with pride that I was better then the people that did not. When in the ministry we would keep track of those that tithed and those that did not and if a person did not they were not considered for a place in the ministry.
I believe we have freedom in our giving, for if we belong to the Lord He is Lord of all our possessions also. He may have one save for a reason and another give to glorify Him. If tithing is still required than we should also have one out of every twelve members in the church in full time ministry as the tribe of Levi was.
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 5:55 pm: || |
Speaking of pride, how about those ministers (and members) who "boasted" of a double tithe--as if that is possible.
Although not the official position of the church (I don't think), I once heard a SDA minister tell his congregation that the returning of a faithful tithe had salvific implications.
It was an established fact that the giving habits of individual members was monitored, although that information was only available to the Pastor and the treasurer. Of course, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that whenever the treasure (or Pastor) opposed someone's election into a particular office during nominating commitee meetings that it was for "stewardship" reasons.
In His Grace
In His Grace
|Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 7:50 pm: || |
Oh, Doug . . .
I could tell you stories!!!
I am INTIMATELY aware of this practice. As I agreed to perform "accountant" duties for my wife, who IS the treasurer, I hear this going on ALL THE TIME!!!
I suppose I am just trying to keep the peace in my house, but it breaks my heart every time I hear this sort of reasoning.
|Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 11:09 pm: || |
Mal. 3:7: Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
I think we all know what happened to the Ordinances at the cross.
It's funny that some go to the Old Test. and use them for some things, but not others.
We don't stone people for adultry, we don't burn offerings, no Priest, no Levits.
The big one, no killing of animals for the sins of men.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 9:55 pm: || |
You are right a double tithe would be immpossible because that would be 20%. 10% was the tithe.
Another thing to consider is that the original tithe went to Melchizadeck ? from Abraham. Now that we are in Christ and are a royal-priesthood after the order of Melchizadeck, should the tithe come to us. But who then would be giving the tithe? It just would not make any sense in the new covenant.
|Posted on Monday, March 10, 2003 - 10:03 pm: || |
Tithing is very appealing to legalists today. It is often another way for them to judge each other. We must keep in mind that there never was a MONETARY tithe (wages and other non-farm income were exempt)during the Old Covenant era. A large segment of the Hebrew people did not ever pay any tithe, due to their profession or trade. When was the last time a tithe-loving preacher told you that? (smile)
Dennis J. Fischer
|Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 4:36 pm: || |
I don't want to get started on a big argument about tithing again, and I do agree that tithing was definitely including your harvests, the complete list is found in the verses I am giving below, but I want you to see what Jesus says in the New Testament verses as well, and ask what you think of those two verses.
Num 18:24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer [as] an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
Num 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, [even] a tenth [part] of the tithe.
Neh 10:37 And [that] we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
This is all definitely Old Testament scripture but what is your opinion as to what Jesus was talking about here concerning the "treasury" that was "in the temple"? (New Testament) I know that this is before the crucifixion, but I don't believe that it is hanging the law back around someone's neck (an earlier post on tithing) when we suggest that a person should give to the church. Like Jesus said, he loves a cheerful giver and why should we mind paying a tenth of our income anyway? How can we ever repay God for all his provisions?
Mark 12:41 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.
Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
Both of these verses are in the New Testament and Jesus goes on to discuss how the poor woman gave ALL that she had. Just thought I would throw that in for discussion.
|Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 6:01 pm: || |
I don't think anyone is suggesting that "giving" is legalistic. I think we are saying that the concept of tithing is a yoke that some churches use to compel their members to give an obligatory amount. Under the New Covenant, no such command exists. Now, we are to give out of the abudance of our joy. The actual amount that a person gives may be less, equal, or even more than the tenth that was required by tithing laws, but it is a personal decision between them and God.
In His Grace
|Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 7:58 pm: || |
In a way I see tithing sort-of like the Sabbath. There's nothing wrong with keeping a day unto the Lord; there's nothing wrong with returning a tithe unto the Lord. The crucial question is, are you keeping a day or returning a tithe as a way to "cover your bases"?
Giving in the new covenant is part of giving all to Jesus, just like Sabbath is now continuous in Jesus. I find that I really want to be generous for the sake of the gospel and the support of the body of Christ. Giving is now a work of the Spirit as opposed to obedience to the law.
Praising God for being our all and giving us all!
|Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 8:58 pm: || |
Amen Colleen! Now when I give, I feel like I am giving for a purpose. Before, I was giving because I thought that is what was expected of me--by God and the Church.
In His Grace
|Posted on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 - 10:06 pm: || |
There are many inappropriate reasons for giving. Briefly, these include: Old Covenant legalism; fear of a curse; standard based giving; and expectation of money in return. As far as expecting money in return, Luke 6:32-36 states that Christians should expect nothing in return for giving.
Christians should not give to see if God will reward them liberally, or allow the hope of a material reward to motivate them to give. In addition, Christians should not give as a means to find favor with God (see Luke 17:7-10). Instead Christians should imitate Christ by,"being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose" (Phil. 2:2).
Acceptable reaons for giving, within the freedom provided through Jesus, include giving proportionately, voluntarily, spontaneously, generously, and humbly. Each Christian should give according to his/her means, as he decides in his heart to give, and in proportion to his own faith. This model of giving is useful for every Christian and does not burden those who do not have a lot to offer. All Christians should manage their finances so that they can give as their hearts lead them, which begins with eliminating as much debt as possible. If people are burdened with excessive debt, they will find it difficult to contribute financially to one another and to the ministries of the local church.
In addition, Christians are to first take care of their immediate family (see I Timothy 5:8). Responsible giving provides support for those in need. In additon, congregations blessed with money should provide assistance to poorer congregations similar to the Jerusalem offering in the second book of Corinthians (2 Cor. 9).
Finally, Christians ought to take seriously the work of those who teach and preach, as well as the work of the other church ministries. The lack of support puts pastors and teachers in the position of 'begging' for money, when their material and monetary support should be overflowing. The calling of one to teach the Word is worthy of support that would alleviate the struggle of daily living. Christians should get their ministers out of 'survivior' mode, with concerns about paying bills, so that they can effectively handle the ministries of the church.
Since Christians are to carry their own burdens as well, they should not give to the point that they overextend themselves, but should give according to their means. The Bible instructs Christians to give as each decides in his heart to give. Furthermore, Christians should not let anyone judge them, or compare what they are doing with anyone else. Armed with an accurate principle of giving, Christians can move forward in relation to God's will--furthering the kingdom of God on Earth. The fact that the laws of tithing are no longer applicable for the Christian Church (ekklesia), all support is reckoned to be FREE WILL.
All our attention as Christians should no longer be to the Levites and their priesthood supported by the tithe of the Israelites. Our priesthood has been CHANGED to the Melchizedek which has no earthly representatives. In short, Christ Jesus is our high priest (and the only one), and we do not need any other priests.
Dennis J. Fischer
|Posted on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 - 12:51 pm: || |
Great post, Dennis! Thanks!
Post Number: 211
|Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 12:27 pm: || |
This morning, while I was gleaning through some of my files on tithing, I found the following copy of an email that I had sent to CROWN FINANCIAL MINISTRIES on July 5, 2002. They never gave me the dignity of a response to this day. Here is the exact text of the email that I sent to them:
Dear Crown Ministry friends,
Why don't we just make "principles" out of all the Old Covenant rituals? Interestingly, many churchmen, although claiming to be New Covenant believers, do not trust the benevolence of their parishioners. Instead, they demand that an Old Covenant "tithe" be paid, as though they were Levites, to create a guilt-complex in their flock for non-compliance (Old Covenant: GOD determined the amount; New Covenant: WE determine the amount). On the other hand, the Gospel breeds generosity wherever it takes root. The Apostle Paul was concerned that some arly Christians were possibly giving beyond their means. We, as Christians, have the freedom of giving (not under any legalistic compulsion). Furthermore, there NEVER was a monetary tithe under the Old Covenant tithing codes.
Significantly, Jesus never demanded a Leviticial tithe from His followers to finance His ministry while on earth. Jesus' ministry was privately funded by those who believed in His message. Importantly, Jesus not not from the tribe of Levi; the early Christian leaders were smart enough to know that they were not Levites. Without the Levitical system in place, it is impossible to tithe--just ask any Rabbi.
Sadly, your ministry does a great disservice to Christians by putting them under the Law of Moses instead of our freedom of giving in Christ. My extensive research has determined that Mormons and Adventists are the most stringent tithers. They have innumerable testimonies (even in book form) of how God blessed them throughout their tithing history. Obviously, this fact does not remotely prove their orthodoxy to the Christian faith. If tithing is valid, then certainly you ought to preach Sabbatarianism, food lists, etc. as well. Tithing is an insufficient model for the Christian today; it is both too limiting and too excessive to fit into our modern world. The great reformer, Zwingle, was strongly opposed to the compulsory nature of tithing. He further denounced it as limiting the giving of many devout believers.
Dennis J. Fischer
Post Number: 149
|Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 2:14 pm: || |
The other day I happened to catch part of a sermon by Tony Evans on the pits of legalism or something similar. One of the things he presented was that tithe is still valid in the New Testament because of Melchizedek. He stated that since Abraham paid tithe to him and Jesus is high priest after the order of Melchizedek, then that is still applicable to us.
Any thoughts on that very narrow aspect of tithing?
Post Number: 258
|Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 2:39 pm: || |
I think, as all OT laws, it has a broader application in the NT.
Mainly, "IN ALL you do, do it to the glory of God."
All of our money becomes God's and we use it to His glory. That magnifies the 10%, but for the new christian I still think it is a good principle, but not a law.
Of all the tithe-preaching preachers I've heard, I've never heard one say it affects your salvation and that was implied in the SDA church.
That is the difference.
I also think it has to do with what your belief or faith tells you to do. If you believe that you should tithe and have faith that God will honor it, than I believe He does. If you do it without faith because you feel you must, then it's not of faith and anything not of faith is sin.
Post Number: 212
|Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 4:27 pm: || |
Tithing was a common practice in the Ancient Near East. In the case of Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20), it consisted solely of spoils of war taken from the slaughter of the kings. Indeed, Moses later required that the tithe be paid only on the INCREASE of the land and animals (Lev. 27:30,31). But with Abraham, he did not work to produce any of the spoil he had recovered. Spoil does not represent an increase from farms and ranches. There is no biblical teaching which showed that Abraham was required to give a tenth of the spoil to Melchizedek.
Actually, much later in the time Moses, the Israelites were informed what should be done with any spoil they might capture from their enemies such as what Abraham captured in his day. Such spoil was NOT to be tithed as shown in the law of Moses. When the Israelites obtained spoil from the Midianites, Moses insisted that the priests receive 1/500th of the goods from those who had gone to war--not 1/10th as a tithe would require (Numbers 31:9, 27-29). The Levites got more booty. They received 1/50th of the congregation's half of the spoil (v. 30). Again, the law concerning "spoils" in war had nothing to do with the later ordained tithe.
But let us again consider the action of Abraham. If Moses was recording in Genesis a universal law of tithing when he wrote about Abraham giving a tenth of his spoils to Melchizedek, why does he depart from that very law some 400 years later with a completely different set of figures? In truth, Abraham was not following any law of tithing on spoil or on anything else. Abraham's tenth was only in the nature of a voluntary (free will) offering of thanksgiving to God for the deliverance of his people from captivity. Furthermore, Abraham didn't keep any spoils for himself (verses 22-24). He actually gave them all away (100 %).
Dennis J. Fischer
Post Number: 67
|Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 7:19 pm: || |
It sounds like you've read that Ellen White quote which says that the story with Abraham "proves" that there is a "universal law of tithing which is as sacred as the Sabbath," or something like that. ;-) But, as you pointed out, that "law" which was "as sacred as the Sabbath" was changed by Moses! So it can't be "a universal law of tithing" after all. And I suppose the Sabbath can be changed as well, then? ;-)
Post Number: 151
|Posted on Sunday, November 07, 2004 - 6:06 am: || |
Thanks. Dennis, do you have all your research available in document form? I would love to be able to just read through the work you've done without picking it out on various threads.