The right way in every aspect of belief and practice if it is based on the Word of God, has a straight or narrow gate of entrance. This is found in Matthew 7:13,14. There is a wide gate that has a broad road but it leads to spiritual ruin even disaster or to perdition. The majority of people follow that road whether for salvation or after salvation. It is a narrow road that leads to life and “how few there are that find it!” These words are followed in verse 15 by the admonition to “Beware of false prophets” or “false religious teachers”, Phillips. The same principle apply in the various areas of giving in the Church.
Our Father in Heaven has shown us the way to giving. He gave His only beloved Son for His enemies who were sinners. He gives His children gifts they do not deserve.
In turn, His children are to be givers. Jesus showed an example of this in Luke 6:27-45. In that particular portion of Scripture He was showing the principle of giving with regard to a believer’s thoughts, motives and actions towards others. This concerned enemies, those who curse, smite and rob, those who ask for goods. It was about doing good to enemies, lending and not hoping to receive, loving enemies, being merciful and in relation to condemning not but rather forgiving. In the context of all this, believers are to “give and it shall be given unto you”. Then will “they pour into your lap”. This means “men” will pour and not God.
Believers are to follow their Father by receiving His Divine love, as is commanded in verse 37 that reads “Be compassionate “ Rieu, (Be full of pity, Bas. or sympathetic, tender, responsive, Amplified).
This is in accord with 1 Corinthians 13:3, where the Apostle says “And though I may distribute all I possess in charity (for charity)”, Moffatt; or “Even if I give away all that I have to feed the hungry”, Beck; “but have not love, it goes for nothing”, Knox; ” I am not in the least benefited”, Ber. In 1 Corinthians 14, he says “Hotly pursue this love”.
What a consolation it is to know that “the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts”, ABUV; or “since God’s love floods our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”, Moffatt. This is not a human kind of love. This is not that niceness, ethics, socialising, friendliness or having “a good relationship” as modern psychology promotes. It is Divine love that far surpasses any kind of love that the human being can aspire to. This love is best expressed in a Spirit-ual sense in the fellowship of believers, from saints who are seeking the lost or healing the sick and in family situations. God expects the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, Ephesians 5:28,29. All believers are exhorted – “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love”, Tay, Ephesians 3:17.
God gives and gives and gives again. Our hearts by His Spirit are to mirror such giving.
The main emphasis re “Giving” on the Pentecostal and Charismatic scene is in relation to money. What do the Scriptures actually teach in relation to giving and in particular to tithing?
Perhaps it would be better to consider first of all the negative aspect of the teachings regarding these matters. There is always the negative and the positive in life. Much of the present-day teaching regarding giving is based on Oral Robert’s “revelations” regarding the prosperity mentioned in 3 John 2 and “Seed-Faith” for which he used Luke 6:38. The latter is explained on Page 1 and 3 John 2, below.
In relation to 3 John 2, he has wrongly used the Word of God. The actual meaning is a salutation that reads, “Dear friend, I pray that all may be well with you and that you have good health” – “I know that all is well with your soul”, TCNT. There is no basis for using this verse to believe for the “prosperity” in finance that is currently taught. Today, we could commence a letter with similar words by writing, “I trust all is well with you and that you are all well”.
2 Corinthians 8-10 is also wrongly used. We will present the truths of this portion as written and explained by Paul further on. The current wrong use of this portion is based strongly on chapter 8, verse 9 – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich”. The grace mentioned does not concern earthly riches or money and neither does the thought “that you through his poverty might be rich”. There is no thought of finance or possessions or of giving all and becoming poor so as to gain material wealth.
The “grace” intended is already pointed out in verse 7, is the “grace” of giving. This grace was that “surely you should show yourselves equally lavish in this general service”, viz. of giving out of their own finances and even need, to help the poor saints in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ did not become poor by leaving financial riches behind in heaven. His poverty was one that concerned the expression of His Deity and of His taking upon Himself the form of a man as a servant who went to crucifixion – for us.
Through that poverty of Christ’s, we who believe have become rich as in 1 Corinthians 4:8, “You have heaven’s rich bliss already!”, Ephesians 1:18, “the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints”, Ephesians 3:8, “is this grace given that I should preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ” (“the fathomless wealth of Christ”, Moffat, “the incalculable riches of Christ”, Weymouth) And “the endless treasures available to them in Christ”. These riches have nothing to do with this earth, or its material things. Paul was not commissioned to preach the treasures (or prosperity) of this earth.
Jesus said, “Stop storing up your riches on earth”, Williams (“Don’t pile up treasures on earth” Phillips) … “But keep on storing up your riches in heaven” (“But keep your treasure in heaven”). This is His express command. To change it into riches of this earth is the spirit of Anti-Christ. In Hebrews 11:24-26, Moses refused the treasures and kingship of Egypt choosing not to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a sin”, because “he looked steadily at the ultimate, not the immediate, reward”, Phi. In doing this, he was “judging a part in the shame of Christ” (Bas) “to be greater wealth than all the treasures in Egypt” (Williams).
Jesus also said, in Matthew 13:22 “As for what is sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word and it yields nothing”. How disobedient are all the present-day preachers who are teaching the churches and saints of God that if they tithe they will become wealthy. Wealth is a “lure”. It is confirmed in 1 Timothy 6:9, “Those you want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”.
In view of these and other scriptures, the “false prophets’, viz. the Television Evangelists, the Prosperity Teachers and those in many churches are “secretly bringing in destructive opinions. …Many will follow their licentious ways …And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle and their destruction is not asleep”, 2 Peter 2:1-3. These words are spoken by the Holy Spirit in Scripture against all the above false prophets and teachers.
The word of God says in 2 Peter 2:14,15, “They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! They have left the straight road and have gone astray, following the road of Balaam who loved the wages of doing wrong”. This is God’s word against all those preachers – and those who listen to them. It would be better for all those new converts who follow on with these greedy, idolatrous, money-getting ways, if they had never known the way of righteousness, verses, 20,21.
Of course, the Bible does not forbid wealth, or living well. I do not believe God desires we are poor. However, when one sees the millions of Christians living poorly in Asia and Africa, one has to wonder! We in Western countries all live well, compared to the utter poverty of billions in other lands. If God gives us wealth, the Bible says, “Set not your heart upon it”. It should be used to “lay up treasure in heaven”, by being led of the Spirit to give to poor preachers, poor missionaries, Christian poor and with a wise disposal of one’s possessions. All to be in Jesus’ Name.
One preacher wrote in a recent Australian A.O.G. Magazine, “One in six verses in the New Testament” concerns material prosperity. What Bible did he read? Or perhaps he never reads the New Testament?
These doctrines of demons in the teachings of the above preachers are leading millions astray. The church many times is despised by the unbelievers for being something other than holy.
They even blame “trouble in marriages”, “drugs in children”, “not being a millionaire”, “not having a top career” etc. on lack of tithing. That is not Bible for New Testament believers. These men (and women) are deceivers. It is enough to tear at one’s heart, to see all the churches and believers (that in Australia) follow these false preachers. Why do they teach such giving? Mainly so that they can build a big empire, a huge church, have up-to-date motor cars, own expensive homes and live as the rich of this world’s goods do. Perhaps this is all disguised in the form of “getting the gospel out”, e.g. through television or “we give to the many poor in third world countries”, or “we go for a few days and minister to the poor” in those countries. TV Evangelists, such as Creflo Dollar and Marilyn Hickey openly teach that “If you give to my ministry, you will get my anointing!” That is false teaching.
Unfortunately, we have to ask, “Where are all the converts coming into these churches in Australia, despite the emphasis on money?” We see “big names” who have campaigns in third world countries and considering the sparse results obtained, the $100,000 to $500,000 these American preachers spend in having their campaigns, it is sheer waste of the money of many of the long-suffering givers back home. We have personally witnessed these things.
The books and ideas of these false preachers are distributed in third world countries. What we have seen of the results of this is greed, corruption, begging and going overseas to Western countries to obtain the wherewithal to begin to live luxuriously for that Pastor and his extended family. All in the name of “Missions”! This leads, as we have seen, to greed, dishonesty, corruption, self-centredness, lack of love and begging. Far better to be poor in this world’s goods but rich in heavenly things.
The treasures of earth are part of the world’s system that is ruled by Satan. God has said, in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, For all that is in the world (the whole world system/all that the world can offer) … is not of the Father but of the world, And the world passes away, … but he that does the will of God abides for ever”.
The present day teaching on “Giving and Receiving” has a wrong foundation, is unscriptural and contrary to the Gospel. Prosperity as such is not part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:13,14. Another major portion of Scripture that is used as a basis to expect prosperity is Galatians 3:13, 14. The current explanation is this. The curse of the law is that written in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. Also, it is being taught that the blessing of Abraham that he should inherit the earth, Romans 4:13, is for believers who are now the children of Abraham. Thus believers should now be inheritors in this present world and its riches and should inherit the blessings promised to Israel in Deuteronomy.
Believers under the New Testament are nowhere under a natural kingdom or system of government, as given by God to the Israelites. God’s purposes with Israel were to give them blessings as a nation so that they would be kept intact to preserve the Scriptures that pronounced the purposes of God for the Gospel Age and to bring forth the Saviour of the world, Romans 3:1.
Despite the earthly wealth of Abraham, Hebrews 11:10 shows “He looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God”, or, “He was awaiting the city having foundations”, or, “waiting for God to bring him to that strong heavenly city”. He was not looking for material wealth on this earth but his faith and hopes were centred on the heavenly kingdom.
John 18:36 reveals what Jesus thought about the wealth of this world. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world”. In His High-Priestly prayer of John 17, He prays, v.16, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”, “do not belong to the world”. The world is the place of great wealth, despotic power and riches, the multi-nationals and the multi-billionaires who make money in the capitalistic system, out of the slavery, work and often poverty of the billions.
The Bible says, “IF riches increase, do not set your heart upon them”. This is in the New Testament, under the gospel. It shows clearly that believers as a whole, can never hope for wealth and financial prosperity. Sometimes, it does happen and sometimes the wealthy, on occasions, become believers. As Jesus said, “It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle”.
I myself have never known poverty either in childhood or adulthood. God does look after His children, even as Jesus said He clothes the lily in the field. We were in the ministry in Australia for many years and our whole family did not want anything, due quite often to the generosity of the saints we pastored.
We went out to Indonesia in faith, with no promise of any support from any church or body of people. We knew without a doubt that “My God shall supply your every need” and He did. We did not use faith or make confessions. The Word of God was in our hearts and it produced results. We spent many years there on this basis. We never asked for finance from anyone. We did not even ask God as He always provided for us. All this has meant “prosperity” in life. Another reason for good living in Australia is that we are citizens of a country that has great wealth and we benefit accordingly. Many countries have great poverty and the millions of believers live in abject poverty. Their riches are laid up in heaven and they enjoy the present treasures of heaven in a spiritual way.
The true meaning with regard to Galatians 3:13,14 has no connection with curses and blessings given to the nation of Israel and it has no connection with a blessing of Abraham and his (spiritual) descendants in relation to inheriting this present world’s prosperity. This present world’s prosperity is doomed to destruction, Revelation 18:4-23. Our inheritance is one that is “incorruptible, (a perfect inheritance beyond the reach of change and decay)” and is “reserved in heaven” for us, 1 Peter 1:4,5.
We were not as Israel, under the Law to receive the particular curses of Deuteronomy 27 and 28. Now, as the redeemed of the Lord under grace, we are not as Israel was, under the Law to receive the blessings and prosperity of obedience as found in Deuteronomy 28.
The position of all unbelievers, including Jews, is as recorded in Romans 7:10, “I died”, verse 8, “But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”, verse 13, “It was sin, working death in me through what is good (the law), in order that sin might be shown to be sin and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure”. The curse is the result of not obeying the Law because of inability to keep it, due to inherent sin. That sin worked “death in me”. That is the curse of the Law.
According to Deuteronomy 29:20, “All the verses written in this book will descend on them and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven”. According to verses 22 and 25, the Lord would send “devastation on the land” and “The (other nations) will conclude, ‘It is because they abandoned the Covenant of the Lord’.” These two paragraphs clearly show what the “curse of the Law” is all about. In actuality and in history, we learn that the curses came upon the nation of Israel. When preachers today relate those verses in Deuteronomy and in Galatians to the church, they are in error.
Jesus also prophesied about it in Matthew 24 and in Luke 20:9-19, 21:5-36. Unfortunately, the history of the war against Jerusalem and Israel, 66-73 A.D. is not taught in our churches. I have never heard anyone preach about it. Yet if one checks the books by Josephus or the Internet and the historical records of others, one finds that terrible atrocities befell the Jews and Israel in those days. As Jesus said, Luke 21:24, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”. She was trampled on by Romans until every stone was removed and the city and its temple were razed to the ground. Its inhabitants either killed each other, died of starvation, resorted to listening to false Messiahs, hid their gold and/or were tortured and killed by the Roman armies until Israel as a nation ceased. All temple worship ceased. There never has been a sacrifice of any animal since that time. Its priesthood ceased. Nothing was left.
Matthew 24:28 “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather”. Jesus predicted the slaughter by the Roman armies, with their pennants, of the people. Verse 15, “When you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel, let the reader understand”. The holy place was not that of the temple. The holy place was the whole area of the city of Jerusalem. The abomination was the Roman Army that in any case not only destroyed the city but entered the temple and set up a sacrifice to Caesar there. The army itself was the abomination. Jesus said in verse 21 “For there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again”. Historians tell us that this actually occurred. The cruelty, the deaths, the killings, the fighting were such that, as I myself have read on my internet, His words came true.
An examination of Galatians 3 shows that as in verse 8, the subject matter concerns God’s justification of the heathen by faith “when it announced the gospel beforehand to Abraham in these terms: ‘All nations shall be blessed in you’”. Verse 9 shows that “those who are of faith have a part in the blessing of Abraham who was full of faith”. Then verse 10 goes on to explain that the curse is on “all those who take their stand on observance of the law”.
There is no man who is counted righteous in respect to God’s judgment under the conditions of the Law. “The just shall live by faith”- or as Knox says, “It is faith, we are told, that brings life to the just man”. Verse 12 reveals that the law “is not of faith” and is “all but of doing”. In chapter 2, verse 16, Paul clarifies the fact by showing that “by doing what the law commands no man can come into right standing with God” and thus he is under its curse because he is unable to obey the law as such.
The whole of Galatians 3 concerns the difference between the Spirit and the works of the law verse 2, 3. We are now under the Spirit and not under the works of the law. If we are under the Spirit, the blessings or curses of the Law are not for us. As we are not under the works of the law we are not under its curses or its blessings.
The whole curse was removed in Christ. Verse 13 says “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse for us”. He became curse for us. He made our doom His own. He took on him the calling of a man in order to take our responsibility as sinful men. In other words we say, “He was made sin for us”, or “He died for us”. The reason for that is not that we might receive prosperity of material things but rather as it states in verse 14, “In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”. Through all this we receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, become a new creation and live in hope of eternal happiness in heaven.
Galatians 3 does not hold out any promise of material prosperity to believers even on the basis of being “redeemed from the curse of the Law”. It concerns the sentence of death and the wrath of God on the whole human race. It meant that God was absent from man created to be His dwelling. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”.
In Christ alone, can a man be “redeemed from the curse of the law” or “the curse pronounced in the Law”. The redemption of believers from the curse of the law has significance with the above chapters in Deuteronomy only in relation to the fact that as sinners all are outside any covenant with God and are under His wrath and the curse. Romans 7:11 shows that the problem was sin within, as Tay translates it, “Sin fooled me by taking the good laws of God and using them to make me guilty of death”.
Galatians 3:10-14 declares that “Whoever does not keep the Law is under the curse”. The curse came upon Israel as a result of their breaking the Law and in its full extent they were being placed outside the Covenant of God. They became strangers to God and not partakers of His life and blessing. In the case of a hanging, they were placed outside of the land, Deuteronomy 21:23. The whole race of men that have the law written in their hearts, are law-breakers and sinners. See Romans 2 and 3.
God’s concern as Lawgiver was an atonement that carried out the penalty of death originally pronounced against sin and a death that would bring in a justifying righteousness. Galatians was not addressed to Christian Jews. It was sent to Gentile believers. They were not under any dispensation or covenant of Jewish Israel. The curse of the Law does not mean temporal and civil punishments inflicted on Israel of old for the transgression of the judicial or ceremonial law. Such did happen in the Old Testament, as per Deuteronomy 28:15.
The term “curse” means the “penal sanction of the moral law”. This is in regard to mankind in general. “Sanction” is “to make binding” or “penalty for disobedience” Christ “redeemed” us from that curse through His obedience unto death on the cross. This means He “bought us out from one condition and transferred us into another”. The ransom was the transfer of punishment and an exchange of places between us and Christ. We had to be redeemed from the penal sanction of the law. It has no connection with material blessings. To include that is to make a “false” gospel.
The “blessing of Abraham” promised in Galatians 3:14 is not prosperity as is taught. Because Deuteronomy lists blessings including prosperity for Israel if she kept the Law, current teaching says Christ redeemed us from the curse, i.e. sickness and poverty as well. Galatians 3 teaches something quite different. In any case, we believers are not under Law, to receive any curse or any blessing by Law but under grace.
The blessing is “the promise of the Spirit through faith” and this is as opposed to Law. It is a spirit-ual thing and has no connection with this world’s ways and any subsequent prosperity. This blessing through Christ is that believers are under a New Covenant. They are not cast out, as was Israel with its curses. Rather, they are all brought back from being away from God and His covenant. They have been restored and reconciled as one, both Jew and Gentile. This is the blessing promised to Abraham, that his seed, Christ and all believers in Him, would be one big family blessed under the Covenant.
The whole of Galatians 3 points out God’s covenant with Abraham. It was that he would have a world-wide family the entrance into it being by faith. Israel received the promises but the Law could only provide a curse for them. This was shown in their exile and lack of prophets and hearing from God for 400 years prior to Paul. Galatians 3 asks. How can the promises to Abraham and the blessings, giving to Israel, go to the whole world as covenanted with Abraham? It would appear that the Law bringing only curse, could make those promises void. The family of Abraham can only expect failure.
There us hope. The covenant has climaxed in the death of the Christ. Through His death, the promises and blessings of Abraham can come upon the Gentiles (and believing Jews) that we may receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. It is the Jews and never Gentiles who were under the Law and believing Gentiles today are not under the Law either in relation to its curses or its blessings.
The blessings of prosperity in Deuteronomy have their final fulfilment in the new heaven and the new earth, that heavenly city Abraham looked for. This is the inheritance of earth and the prosperity promised to believers. Jesus said “The meek shall inherit the earth”. The meek are those who humble themselves to realise their own helplessness and who rest on Christ. They will inherit the New Jerusalem that John saw coming down from heaven to earth.
The blessing of Abraham as it is outlined in Romans 4:13-25 does not concern any inheritance of this present world or any if its prosperity. It is to do with the imputation of righteousness and as in verses 24,25 “also with reference to us. Our faith, too, will be regarded by God in the same light if we have faith in him” who “was delivered up because of our offences and was raised to life for our acquittal”.
Abraham in Hebrews 11:10 “was waiting for God to bring him to that strong heavenly city”, “which is God’s design and God’s fashioning”. That city is the Jerusalem John saw in his vision as it descended from heaven on to a renewed earth. Abraham was “heir of the world” that being an interpretation of the promises referring to “all families of the earth” in Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18. The promises made to Abraham have a spiritual and permanent meaning as is stated in the New Testament. His inheritance was in actuality not confined by earthly borders. His seed was “the Christ” who came to bring salvation to people of all nations.
How tragic it is to hear the Word of God wrongly taught. So much false teaching in present-day churches and T.V. religious programmes!
THE POSITIVE SIDE OF GIVING
There is a positive side regarding the message on “Giving”. God indeed does love a cheerful or hilarious giver. Those chapters in 2 Corinthians, 8-10 concern specific giving to poor brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul was not thinking of pastors or church buildings in this portion of Scripture. However, his teachings in other places emphasised giving to all godly pastors and missionaries. Nowhere does the Bible say we should give to the prosperous, popular, “big” preachers. Godly and righteous living preachers only, have a right to receive before poor brothers and sisters and certainly before gifts towards church buildings.
The Bible teaches “A labourer is worthy of his hire” or “has a right to his maintenance”, Luke 10:7 and that means all labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. It refers to the fact that God’s people are to remunerate with money, food and/or housing, the work of all preachers and missionaries. In Luke 9 Jesus called His twelve disciples and sent them out. In chapter 10, He sent out seventy missionaries and it was for them He spoke the words regarding labourers.
Elders who preach and teach are to be given double honour and in particular, to be given finance. An elder in the New Testament church was one who was a bishop, shepherd or pastor, as all the Greek words are interchangeable and have the same connotation. Today, we are still following in a measure, the structural hierarchy of the medieval Roman Church that later after the Reformation gave way in many instances to a Minister and a body of Elders. This is noticeable in the Presbyterian, Congregational and Pentecostal churches.
We should obey the Word of God. 1 Timothy 5;17,18 speaks concerning elders in those early churches and also in ours. It concerns those who labour in preaching and teaching. It then reads, “‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain’ and, ‘The labourer deserves his wages’”. All preachers and teachers who minister faithfully in that area, whatever their area of ministry or land of their calling, should be accorded what the Scripture enjoins.
This principle is borne out by 2 Timothy 2:4,6, “No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him” and “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops”. Quite often servants of the Lord particularly those who go to mission fields from Australia, are forced to engage in civilian pursuits to find support and finance to further the Kingdom in foreign lands when they go.
In the U.S.A., God’s children are prone to give generously to any who go out to foreign lands. In fact, an American pastor we met in India, was aghast that we were there on very little support and particularly that we did not have the liberty to get invited to churches in Australia to “drum up” support! The tragedy is that as a result, precious souls are not given the gospel, many do not receive the outpouring of the Spirit who otherwise would, churches are left in error, deadness and even apostasy, many sick are not given the ministry to be healed and the command of Jesus is disobeyed. On the other hand, perhaps the servant of the Lord is not believing hard enough!
Re Widows. In 1 Timothy 5 Paul speaks in verse 16 about supporting and looking after widows. In Australia, widows are well looked after, with an amazing array of societies, meals on wheels, home assistance, medical assistance, homes, hospitals and pensions. This country follows the Christian ethic.
Support of All Preachers. Then in verse 17 he teaches regarding the support of pastors (elders) and those who “labour in preaching and teaching”, whether in a church or on a mission field. They are to be “considered worthy of a double reward” (“considered as deserving twice the salary they get”, Williams). Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4, saying, “The words of Scripture are ‘It is not right to keep the ox from taking the grain when he is crushing it And the workman deserves his pay’”. Other translations read, “The worker is worth his wages”, “the labourer has a right to expect his maintenance”.
It should be noted that it is all about those who preach and teach – only according to the Word of God. This is not for those who preach and even live contrary to what the Word of God teaches. There must be conformity “to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me”, says Paul, 1 Timothy 1:11. Preachers are to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has not need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth”, 2 Timothy 2:15. Such false preachers are not rightly explaining the word of truth. Instead, preachers should be all that is set out in Titus 1:6-9.
These are the words of Scripture in relation to giving. Preachers are first of all to be given maintenance – and then widows and the poor are to receive help. In Australia, the Government looks after widows, single mothers, the poor and the aged. As one Asian in wonder said to me, “I believe Australia is a blessed country because it looks after those who are without”.
The principle of supporting all ministers above anything else in the church is found in 1 Corinthians 9:12,14. This in particular would apply to citizens of one’s own country first and foremost, whether pastors, evangelists or missionaries. It reads, “Are you not aware that those who conduct the temple service get their living from the temple and those who attend regularly to the altar get their share of the sacrifices?” Then he stipulates, “On the same principle the Lord has ordained (commanded) that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel”. Therefore believers are commanded to see that such preachers are supported in a fair and moderate way. This means worthy preachers and missionaries within the whole country.
This principle is reinforced in Galatians 6:6-9. It should be noted that “The man under Christian instruction should be willing to contribute toward the livelihood of his teacher”. This teacher is not necessarily his pastor. It could be a roving teacher or missionary or even a writer, as Weymouth says, “Let those who receive instruction in the word share with their instructors all temporal blessings”.
It would appear that this sharing is sowing to the Spirit. If the one taught does not share his temporal blessings with his teacher, it would appear from verses 7 and 8 that he could be sowing to his flesh, as verse 9 goes on to say, “Never let us grow tired of doing what is right, for if we do not faint we shall reap our harvest at the opportune season”. The well doing has to do with contributing toward the livelihood of the teacher.
These are the commands of the Lord in relation to “Giving” and in particular to teachers, preachers and missionaries.
MEANING OF 2 CORINTHIANS 2:8,9
Then there is the giving to poor believers, as set out in 2 Corinthians 8,9. It speaks of the liberality of believers who were in deep poverty. They were very generous despite their poverty. They gave beyond their means in the privilege of helping to supply the needs of the saints. Chapter 9 enlarges on this theme. It also gives the promise that “God is able to give you an overflowing measure of all good gifts, that all your wants of every kind may be supplied at all times and you may give of your abundance to every good work”.
The reason God will give such good measure is that firstly they would have all their needs supplied and secondly that they would have sufficient to give to others. It does not mention prosperity as taught in the “Prosperity Gospel” which is a false gospel.
Chapter 9, verse 9, is “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness (benevolence) endures forever”. As we have few poor in our society, we should be involved with scattering the Word of God to the poor in heathen countries. We can do this with finance that can always be used to greater extent by missionaries who go. Verse 10 refers to Isaiah 55:9,10 where there is a parallel between farming and the Word of God going out and to Hosea 10:12, “Sow justice for yourselves and reap God’s love”. The bountiful God who gives “seed to the sower and bread for food” will abundantly increase your resources so that you may scatter abroad generous gifts, as a sower scatters seed. Then blessings come to the one who receives and he who gives.
God loves us to give to the poor, whether materially or spiritually. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven”. The most wonderful service on the face of this earth is to go to a heathen land full of hundreds of millions of poor, as in India and give to them spiritually. One can do little to allay their material poverty but one can bless them very richly in a spiritual way. Those who support the ones like us who do go and bless the poor spiritually, are loved by God and will be rewarded.
The Word says, “The more you are enriched by God, the more scope will there be for generous giving”. Paul is speaking of the giving of material substance. The amazing thing is that in 2 Corinthians 9:13 it says, “by the experience of this ministration they (who receive) glorify God for the subjection of your confession unto the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all. There is no mention of prosperity as is currently taught by the world famous.
God loves those who give joyously and even “hilariously”. It is called “ministering to the saints”. Giving to poor saints is a ministry. Giving to preachers is paying a debt to them.
JESUS TAUGHT IN THE GOSPELS REGARDING GIVING
In Matthew 5:42, He said, “Give to him who keeps on begging you”. I do not believe that this means giving to every beggar one meets in say Indonesia or India. Many beggars are well to do. The situation would be where someone in dire need keeps on begging for assistance. “Do not refuse him”, said Jesus. The need may be spiritual or material.
Jesus said to the rich young ruler, in Matthew 19:21;Mark 10:21, “Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have riches in heaven”. There is no thought of doing this in order to obtain prosperity. C.T. Studd and his wife did this and then went on to found the World Evangelisation Crusade that became a strong missionary force. We ourselves sold our home to pay for our tickets to Indonesia. Our riches that were spiritual and heavenly were great even in this world. God enabled us to minister to perhaps over a half a million people and see multitudes touched by God in salvation, healing, raising from the dead, blessing, revival and in a multitude of outpourings of the Spirit. The awe one feels on seeing people so blessed!
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”, Matthew 6:33 and in Matthew 19:29, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundred-fold and will inherit eternal life”.
We had sold our home to purchase our tickets for Indonesia, in 1970. We went there with a few suitcases and our children. No one promised support and there was no organization to receive us. His might and power looked after us and sent us all over the country. Often I would say to Bible School students in Indonesia, “Jesus said we would receive a hundredfold and I believe that one day I will hold the Deeds of my own home in my hands. This is not because I particularly want a home but because it is the Word of God and I know it is true”. In 1988 those Deeds were in my own hands. It had been a miracle to come to this.
God cares for His children and His Word is true and to be believed. God has provided Air-fares on over fifty occasions and during our missionary endeavours, His generous children, whether Chinese, poor Indonesians or some Australian and New Zealanders, including my mother, were used by Him on our behalf. We had supernatural transport, as He promised through Gifts of the Spirit. We just knew it would happen, without any effort on our part.
1 TIMOTHY 6;5-11
Those who teach the “Prosperity Doctrine” are false peddlers of the Word. It actually says something contrary to what they preach, about teachers, in verse 3, who, verse 5, “think religion is a way to make money”, Beck, or “who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit – a money-making business … From such withdraw,” Amplified. Do not listen to their teaching and do not associate with such teachers in such teaching! However, this is not advice to anyone to quit going to such a church, particularly in Australia, for where else is there to go? The whole country has taken on these things. It is best to find a church we can be comfortable enough in which to enjoy the Lord Himself and spiritually throw out the garbage.
This chapter says that “There is great gain in godliness with contentment For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out”. The bereavement of a loved one brings this thought out in its naked truth.
Then verse 9 states, “But they who are determined to be rich are falling into danger and are taken as in a net”. Williams says, “But men who keep planning to get rich”. Verse 10 declares that “the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, have been led astray from the faith”. Hebrews 13:5 exhorts, “Let your way of life be free from the love of money and be content with such things as you have, for God himself has said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’.” This God, as promised by Jesus, in Matthew 6, will take care of and clothe believers. Then “O men, how little you trust him!” The Holy Spirit says in Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”.
Through Christ Jesus we have been made His children who are born into the Kingdom of God and of heaven. It is a small matter for Him to grant us homes, clothing, food, jobs, careers and to fulfil our every need.
Jesus Himself did not walk this earth as a rich man as some teach. They say that the Wise Men’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh guaranteed Him wealth. This giving is in Matthew 2:11. The Greek word used for “offered” is the same word that Matthew uses in Matthew 5:23,24 and 8:4, where gifts are given to God. It can be presumed that His parents gave the gold, incense and myrrh to the Temple. During His ministry there were women who ministered unto Him with food, clothing and homes in which to stay.
Ministry of Helps. There is such a ministry as described in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and it is included with apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, governments, diversities of tongues, K.J. NRSV translates it “forms of assistance, forms of leadership” etc. In Romans 12:7,8, Paul is speaking about various ministries, one of which is “the giver”. This is a wonderful ministry.
The best example of it we have seen strangely was in Indonesia. There was a lovely Chinese brother who continuously, day in day out, year in and year out, opened his home to all pastors who came through. He also supported many poor. He received us into his home freely when we first went to Solo. It was not a luxurious home, merely ordinary and large and of an Indonesian style. Often in that country, those who build a home will add a room so that they can receive “God’s servant”. We sometimes stayed in such a room. India does not do this, perhaps because 70% of all Christians come from the “Outcast” and lowest Caste.
Various translations of the above verse read, “He that gives let him do it with liberality”, “Let the man who gives in charity do so with a generous heart”, “He who gives, let him do it with singleness of mind”, (“with sincerity”) and “If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it”.
OLD TESTAMENT TITHING
JOB is considered to be the oldest book in the Bible. There is no mention that he tithed. He was a godly man. He realised he had not righteousness of his own. He said, Job 29:14, “I put on righteousness as my clothing”, in conformity with the gospel verse 1 Corinthians 1:30 “Christ is made unto us righteousness”. He had an understanding of the resurrection of the body. He said, Job 19:25-27, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another, How my heart yearns within me!”. Praise the Lord. He said, Job 23:12, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread”. God obviously did not tell him he should tithe, as he did not do so.
The first mention of tithing in the Bible is found in Genesis 14:17-20. Here Abram gave to Melchizedek, who was an earthly king, of Salem and also priest of the Most High God. Abram must have had dealings with him before as he lived in that area. Abram gave the tithe in recognition that it was God Most High who had given him the victory. In those days it also was the custom for kings who won battles, to give a tenth to their gods. Abram won the battle against five kings who had defeated four other kings, verses 9, 15.
Verse 20 reads that “He gave him a tenth of all”. The “all” was that which he had taken back from the five kings. Those goods had been taken from the four kings, including King of Sodom and such possessions as were Lot’s. None of these goods belonged to Abram, except by right of conquest.
Abram gave back to the King of Sodom all of his possessions except that he kept a share for the three men who went with him to the battle, verses 21 to 24.
Melchizedek was not Christ come down from heaven to earth. Hebrews 7:3 says Melchizedek was – “resembling the Son of God”/”likened unto the Son of God”/”his life is like that of the Son of God”/”and is a true symbol of the Son of God”. Abram gave a tithe to a human being on earth. This human being did not have a predecessor or a successor. He was the only one of his kind, as he was “without genealogy”. History has never recorded his parents or children, if he had any. We are not under the Levitical system of tithing. There is no indication that Abram continually gave tithes to Melchizedek.
Therefore, there is no precedent for us to give tithes as was done under the Mosaic Law or as Abram did on that occasion. There is no mention in the Epistles that the church of that day gave tithes. If we are to tithe, where is the priest either under Aaron’s order and where is Melchizedek? The former ceased when Jesus did on the Christ. There is no follower of Melchizedek for us to tithe to. Our Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:15, is Jesus Christ who is in heaven. He is not in a material world and so incapable of receiving our material tithes.
Tithing was not part of God’s covenant with Abraham, Genesis 12,15,18. The Abrahamic Covenant did not include tithing. It is not logical that Abram, who wandered around the area of Canaan, would make long and repeated trips to the city of Salem to give to Melchizedek one tenth of all the livestock born to his herds. There is no record that he gave one tenth of all of his gold and silver to any priest. Please examine very carefully, Genesis 13:1-4. It also should be noted that it was Lot who lived in the Jordan Valley, closer to Salem and that Abram was in the larger area of the land of Canaan to the west and south, Genesis 13:2-4, 7-12, 18.
An examination of Genesis 12 to 25 shows that Tithing was never mentioned as being part of the Abrahamic Covenant. God never commanded Abraham to tithe. He gave tithes to the human king, Melchizedek, as it was customary of all generals of armies in those days to give a tithe of their booty won in battle. Abraham tithed from the booty he won in battle also. There is no mention that he gave tithes on other occasions. Tithing is not mentioned by God in His covenant with Abraham.
Jacob in Genesis 28:20-22 vowed to tithe all of the increase that God would give him. He believed that God would care for him and give him prosperity. This tithe went to support the house of God, that was a pillar. Later on in history, the major purpose of the tithe was to care for the running of God’s house, viz. The priests and Levites.
THE NATION OF ISRAEL AND TITHING
The Nation of Israel was given commands to tithe, as found in Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-32; Deuteronomy 12:1-18; 14:22-29; 18:1-4; 26:12-15. It was set up as a Theocracy. God gave it natural laws for the good of its people, order, authority and law and order.
The Lord owned the land and it was holy to Him. It was held in trust by the nation of Israel under the Old Testament. The land was Holy for the Lord. Israel defiled it by their sin, Deuteronomy 21:23; Jeremiah 2:7,32:34; Numbers 35:34. We cannot say that the Lord owns our land of Australia, India, U.S.A., where-ever, or that such land is holy to Him. The Lord is Sovereign Creator. For Israel, it was the Lord as Redeemer and Ruler of that nation, who produced, owned and distributed the wealth of the land, Leviticus 27 and c/f. Deuteronomy 8:17,18. “The cattle on a thousand hills are His” and indeed He is Sovereign Lord of the whole of creation. He “gives seed for the sower”, He “causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust” and He supplies the seasons with their harvests and the rain to make things grow. He has given to the whole of mankind the ability to farm, manufacture, create and produce.
Levites were to receive the tithe in return for their services in the tent of meeting, Numbers 18:21 on. They in turn were to take the best of their tithe to the house of the Lord, specifically to the priests beginning with Aaron. The Levites could then eat the nine-tenths remaining. Israel was to be a holy people.
The tithe, Deuteronomy 12:5-19 was to be taken to the place where the Lord would cause His name to dwell. It was to be taken nowhere else. It was to be eaten, with rejoicing by the household of the one bringing the tithe. It was to be shared with the Levites. This tithing is not appropriate for the Church today. Where does His name dwell? In us. We do not tithe food. There are no Levites.
The yearly tithe as in Deuteronomy 14:22-29, was to be eaten in God’s chosen place, if the chosen sanctuary was far away and the worshipper could convert the tithe of goods into money for the journey and then buy and consume whatever he desired at the proper place. The Levites were not to be forgotten. The use of the tithe every third year was handled differently. In the third year the tithe was to be laid up in the towns of Israel and eaten by the Levite, sojourner, widow and orphan. Any tithing the Church may follow never includes all these things. If God still intends tithes, how can we do away with all the provisions except the sole act itself of tithing?
Prophets. Amos 4:4 and Malachi 3:8-10 refer to tithing. Amos condemns the lack of concern for justice and righteousness and yet the people presented tithes. Tithing was supposed to represent a real love for God and the brethren. After the Exile, Malachi tried to motivate the people to bring the tithe for the right reasons.
The only manner in which God would be pleased with their tithes was if they did it with joy, love and sincerity to God. It was never to be that they might receive an abundance in return. Love to God thinks naught of returns. A ritualistic giving of tithes without care and concern for others in need and righteousness of life, was a mockery before God. If people give to God today, even using the tithe as a measure, it has to be with the right motives and attitudes that God desired from the nation of Israel.
Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 31:4-12 tried to restore Israel’s dedication to the law of the Lord. In particular he required that the tithes due to the priest and Levites be brought in. Nehemiah also, after the Exile, tried to restore the covenant obligations as written in the law, 10:36. Now we “are not under Law but under grace”.
Nehemiah 10:34-38 distinguishes between the firstfruits and the tithes. It also states whether Levites or priests were to receive them. They included man and beast. If tithing is for today, why are not these verses obeyed?
In Nehemiah 12:44-46, “the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes” were “required by the law for the priests and for the Levites” and in Nehemiah 13:4, it was also to “the Levites, singers and gatekeepers and the contributions for the priests”. In Nehemiah 12:43,44 “They offered great sacrifices that day. On that day men were appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes, to gather into them the portions required by the law for the priest and for the Levities for Israel rejoiced over the priest and the Levites who ministered”.
If believers today follow tithing, it should be with sacrifices of animals and besides tithes they should bring in stores, contributions and first tithes. These should be put in the “chambers” for all of the ministers of the Lord throughout the whole land, as they did. It would amount to nearly one third of all their property and assets. Believers today should never give tithes for church buildings or programmes but only for the Pastors, Evangelists and Missionaries, all those who do not have another income but need finances to live and go minister. They should bring in the “whole” tithe which is not merely one tenth. It included all those mentioned in the previous paragraph. It was a tithe of the capital and not the net income. Today, if we follow Malachi, it should also be in the context of the law and the offering of sacrifices. The tithe in the days of Malachi were to be given in accordance with Numbers 18. Verse 21 shows they were given to the sons of Levi for their services in the Tabernacle. The priests, according to verses 28 and 29 received from the Levites, their share of the Levites’ tithes and offerings. The Children of Israel were to eat the tithe of their grain etc. and to eat them before the Lord, Deuteronomy 12:17,18.
In Deuteronomy 14:28,29, every third year the tithe of all produce in that year was for the Levite, the alien, the orphan and the widow. It is obvious that the teaching of tithing in our churches in entirely unscriptural. For any Pastor to suggest people are to bring tithes to him as their Priest, has no precedence in the Old Testament or in the New. It is a teaching of error. In any case, each one of us, Pastor and people, without distinction, is a priest in the household of God, 1 Peter 2:9.
We are not under law but under grace. Tithing is not a part of grace as it is a part of the law. Giving not by command but freely, generously and hilariously is under grace.
Nehemiah 13:10 reads “I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them; so that the Levites and the singers, who had conducted the service, had gone back to their fields”. How many Gospel preachers or missionaries have had to do this in New Testament times, because their “portions” of finance and support had not been given to them while they were away from preaching or mission field for whatever reason. Denominations and organizations tend only to look after “their” projects!
The current teaching regarding tithing is wrong and rather widespread, unfortunately. New Testament believers are to be generous givers and not tithers. There is also a ministry of “Helps” in Romans 12:7, “if it is ministering, serving or helping, let him do that”.
If the Old Testament were to be generous and joyful in their tithing how much more should New Testament believers be generous in their giving wisely to the work of the Lord. They should find out if their gifts go to the right servants of the Lord. Firstly, they should support adequately their own Pastors. Then they should make sure that their gifts to other ministries are not wasted or used by greedy ones. Gifts should be given to those who minister to them, whether local or foreign. All foreign ministries are not rich. Some are out on faith without sufficient support or without any support. Those who benefit by such ministry should gladly share of their goods and finance with them when they bless them in ministry. Questioning those who do not stay in five-star hotels will discover that their budget is often limited or that they are there on faith and under great sacrifice of their own.
There is a teaching about “robbing God”. Creflo Dollar has even said that it is a greater sin than say, adultery or murder, indeed, “the greatest sin”. As such, it is not even mentioned in the Ten Commandments, whereas those other sins are. That again is false teaching. Regarding the Israelites robbing God, we are not citizens of national Israel. How can we rob God by not tithing? Rather, we are under the New Testament teaching in Galatians 6 that is about sowing and reaping, either to the flesh or the Spirit. We should be following Galatians and not Malachi. In Galatians, Paul condemned the believers who wanted to follow Law and not the Spirit. He shows clearly that not giving to teachers and pastors is “sowing to the flesh” but that giving to them is “sowing to the Spirit”. People should be taught to sow to the Spirit and not to give on the spur of the moment in a hyped-up situation, to big Pastors, leaders and TV Evangelists.
Jesus Himself showed that tithing was not a part in His Kingdom. In Matthew 5:20 He said, “I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven”. The Pharisees were such followers of their religious standards that they tithed scrupulously, Matthew 23:23. It did not bring righteousness or blessing and conversely, could not bring a curse, Matthew 23:24. They were spiritually blind and dead – despite their much tithing. Our righteousness must exceed theirs. In other words, tithing is to have no place in our state or practice of righteousness. Otherwise, if tithing is a part our righteousness in state or practice can never exceed theirs.
Their righteousness in their own eyes was established. Witness the two men who went up to pray, Luke 18:10. The Publican beat himself on the chest and prayed, “Be merciful to me a sinner” whereas the Pharisee prayed, “I thank you that I am not as other men”. Jesus did not even have to answer His own question. The answer was obvious. The Pharisee was not justified in the eyes of God. He was such a good tither as well as a keeper of all the other items of law-following, Mark 10:2, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”.
The Pharisees were followers of stringent laws and took little notice of the fulfilment of the promises of God, John 5:39,40. Rules, including tithing, were more important than the reign of God. Their pious behaviour ended in selfish pride and doing something to please others. Is not this the case in many of the Churches that follow prosperity and tithing? Human effort can never avail. We are not to follow a legal code. When Christ lives within and His love and Spirit guide us, we will not follow religious rules. Rather we will give of ourselves, first of all to Christ and then generously for the extension of the true Kingdom of God and for the giving out of the gospel.
It has hindered the going out of God’s servants to distant lands or if they have gone quite often it has been with something less than potential usefulness. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. This commission to the church has remained the same ever since. Let each one be led of the Spirit in his or her giving.
First Fruits. We find scriptures about the first fruits that were to be offered in KJV Exodus 22:29, “Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits and of thy liquors; the firstborn of they sons shalt thou give unto me”. They were then instructed to do the same with their animal. If we are to follow the giving of first fruits today we must also include our sons and our animals.
Exodus 23:16,17, 19, “And the feast of harvest (Pentecost), the firstfruits of they labours (produce, crop).” “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God”. “The first of the firstfruits of they land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God”. If we keep one of these commandments we must keep all. Then God says “Behold, I send Mine Angel before thee” – the Angel of the Lord, or the Son of God made for that purpose. We all know that this can never happen today.
Exodus 34:22,26, “And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks (seven), of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end”. The next verse says “Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before me.” “The first of the firstfruits of they land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God”.
Galatians 2:14, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” This verse speaks for itself. Peter was a hypocrite and Paul reprimanded him. Dare we, members of a Pentecostal church, allow any preacher to force us Gentiles to act like Old Testament Jews, we who are saved by the grace of God, and who, according to verse 19 have “died to the law so that I might live for God”, as Paul says.
Leviticus 2:12,14, “As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour”. Note how the firstfruits are considered along with a burnt offering on the altar. If one offers firstfruits one also is in the programme where burnt offerings for sin are offered on the altar of the temple. How can this be under the New Covenant? These Pentecostal and Charismatic preachers are deceiving the people of God. “Come out and be ye separate, says the Lord and touch not the unclean thing”. That means we are not to participate in their evil ways when they teach the giving of firstfruits.
Verse 14, “And if thou offer a meat offering of thy firstfruits unto the Lord, thou shalt offer for the meat offering of the firstfruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of fell ears, And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a meat offering. It is an offering made by fire unto the Lord”. Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and put Him to open shame”. These verses are written for all those Jews at that time, who had become believers in Christ but who wanted to go back to Temple worship with its priests, its offerings and its tithes. We, of course, have no Temple to return to but the Pastors call themselves “priests” to receive “tithes”. This is a dangerous thing to participate in. It is partially putting oneself back under the Law. “We are not under Law but under grace”, Romans 6:14.
Leviticus 23:17,18, “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish – they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord – even an offering made by fire. 19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering”. Firstfruits as a giving to the Lord in our day has no place whatsoever. We can see the connection to the sacrificial system, of which we can never have a part.
Note how this giving of firstfruits is part of the Law – 2 Chronicles 31:5, “And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly”. All this teaching on “Firstfruits” and “Tithing” puts God’s people back under the Law, in part. Verse 4 Makes this very plain, when it says, “Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord”. I repeat, we are not under Law but under grace.
A grave error that is preached is that we are “to bring the tithe into the storehouse, which is your local church and which is where you are fed”. It should be understood that this verse related to the Restored Temple. Its precincts were surrounded by rooms used as storehouses. This was for the grain that the people tithed for the Levites who in turn tithed to the Priests. It was to last until the next harvest.
First of all, it was food that was kept in store for the Levites and Priests to eat. It was not food given to the people. As Nehemiah 10:39,40 show that “the Levites were to bring the tithe of the tithes for the priests into the chambers of the temple; for thither are both the children of Israel and the Levites, to bring all heave-offerings of corn, new wine and oil; for there are the holy vessels for the service of the altar”, Num.4:15, “and the priests that minister and the doorkeepers and the singers, for whose maintenance these gifts provide”. The actual tithes were as in verse 38, received by the Levites in all the country towns. These were not the priests. So how can churches today teach that the people must give the tithe to the priest or Pastor? Secondly, how can these verses be twisted enough to make it mean, as is taught, “You (the believers) get your spiritual food in this church (my church the Pastor would say) so you must bring tithes here”? The storehouses were for the tithe that the Levites gave out of the tithes. This was for the whole land, or for the whole Old Testament Church. If tithing is for today, the tithes should be administered equally to every Pastor in Australia.
Then in Malachi 3:10,11 God promises to bless the nation of Israel. We should note that the main them of Malachi is the Sanctuary of the Lord, with its priestly services and offerings. We, of course, do not have such a Sanctuary, priests or offerings. They had polluted the Lord’s Sanctuary and wondered as to “Where is the God of justice?” God condemns all their acts in these areas, against Him. The problem of the people concerned their attitude towards God. Then He said, if you bring the full tithe in, you may test Me. “See if I will not open the windows of heave for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing”.
To understand Malachi 3:8-11 we must understand the meaning of the three chapters. If the preachers did understand today, they would never say to the people, “You are robbing God by not tithing” as we even hear from Television Evangelists, or “If you tithe you will get blessed”, meaning for the majority of people, “I must tithe and then I will receive greater material wealth”. What error!
It should be remembered that when Jesus did on the Cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two – by the hand of God. This signified that the way into the Holy of Holies in heaven was open. It also signified then complete end of the Old Testament institution of Temple worship and all that it entailed. This included animal sacrifices, the priesthood, the Levites, the temple itself and tithing.
VERSE BY VERSE EXPLANATION OF MALACHI 3
Verse 1. “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. Says the Lord Sabaoth” “The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming”. I preached on this verse in an open air campaign in Faisalabad, Pakistan, 2005. Of course, the meaning is about the gospel. John the Baptist is the messenger who came as the gospels declare. the Lord came to His temple – the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh and tabernacled amongst us”. Also, in other verses, Jesus says that the temple He is speaking about, it not the temple in Jerusalem, but the temple of His body. He was incarnated. Christ also under the New Covenant became the Temple, of which we are part.
What covenant is God speaking about? Certainly not about the Old Covenant of the Law and of Moses. He is speaking about the New Covenant He promised in Jeremiah 31:31, c/f. Hebrews 8:8-12, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, the Lord , when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt – a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts”. This is confirmed and repeated in the New Testament as being the covenant under which we are.
Immediately we see that God is concerned in the beginning of Malachi 3 not about the Law or the Old Covenant but about the New Covenant. He speaks judgment upon the Nation of Israel under the Old Covenant but gives promise of blessing to come under the New Covenant. In fact, in Malachi 4:1,2 He pronounces severe judgment but then immediately speaks comfort “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall”.
But (And) unto you, who fear My Name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise – It is said of God Psa_84:11, “The Lord God is a sun and a shield, and Isa_60:19-20, The Lord shall be to thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory; thy sun shall no more go down, for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light;” and Zacharias, speaking of the office of John the Baptist in the words of Malachi, “thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way, speaks of Luk_1:76, Luk_1:78-79. the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness.” “He who is often called Lord and God, and Angel and Captain of the Lord’s host, and Christ and priest and Word and Wisdom of God and Image, is now called the Sun of Righteousness. He, the Father promises, will arise, not to all, but to those only who fear His Name, giving them the light of the Sun of Righteousness, as the reward of their fear toward Him. This is God the Word Who saith, ‘I am the Light of the world,’ Who was ‘the Light of every one who cometh into the world.”’ Primarily, Malachi speaks of our Lord’s second Coming, when Heb 9:28. “For as, in so many places (As Psa.1:6;2:12;3:7,8;5:10-12;6:8-10; 126:5 and so on): the Old Testament exhibits the opposite lots of the righteous and the wicked, so here the prophet speaks of the Day of Judgment, in reference to the two opposite classes, of which he had before spoken, the proud and evil doers, and the fearers of God. The title, “the Sun of Righteousness,” belongs to both comings , “in the first, lie diffused rays of righteousness, whereby He justified and daily justifies any sinners whatever, who will look to Him, i. e., believe in Him and obey Him, as the sun imparts light; joy and life to all who turn toward it.” In the second, the righteousness which He gave, lie will own and exhibit, cleared from all the misjudgement of the world, before men and Angels. Yet more, healing is, throughout Holy Scripture, used of the removal of sickness or curing of wounds, in the individual or state or Church, and, as to the individual, bodily or spiritual.
So David thanks God, first for the forgiveness.
“Ps. 103:3-5, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;” then for healing of his soul, “Who healeth all thy diseases;” then for salvation, “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;” then for the crown laid up for him, “Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies;” then, with the abiding sustenance and satisfying joy, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things.” Healing then primarily belongs to thin life, in which we are still encompassed with infirmities, and even His elect and His saints have still, whereof to be healed. The full then and complete healing of the soul, the integrity of all its powers will be in the life to come. There, will be “understanding without error, memory without forgetfulness, thought without distraction, love without simulation, sensation without offence, satisfying without satiety, universal health without sickness.” “For through Adam’s sin the soul was wounded in understanding, through obscurity and ignorance; in will, through the leaning to perishing goods; as concupiscent, through infirmity and manifold concupiscence. In heaven Christ will heal all these, giving to the understanding light and knowledge; to the will, constancy in good; to the desire, that it should desire nothing but what is right and good. Then too the healing of the seal will be the light of glory, the vision and fruition of God, and the glorious endowments consequent thereon, over streaming all the powers of the soul and then from it to the body.” “God has made the soul of a nature so mighty, that from its most full beatitude, which at the end of time is promised to the saints, there shall overflow to the inferior nature, the body, not bliss, which belongs to the soul as intelligent and capable of fruition, but the fullness of health that is, the vigorousness of incorruption.”
“And ye shall go forth – , as from a prison-house, from the miseries of this lifeless life, and grow up, or perhaps more probably, bound as the animal, which has been confined, exults in its regained freedom, itself full of life and exuberance of delight. So the Psalmist Psa.149:5, “The saints shall exult in glory.” And our Lord uses the like word , as to the way, with which they should greet persecution to the utmost, for His Name’s sake. Swiftness of motion is one of the endowments of the spiritual body, after the resurrection; as the angels, to whom the righteous shall be like, Luke 20:36, Eze.1:14 ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.”
All the above is from Barnes. Also, the following.
Verse 2,3,4. He shall purify o the sons of Levi – These had been first the leaders in degeneracy, the corrupters of the people by their example and connivance. Actually Acts 6:7, “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Barnabas also was a Levite. Acts 4:36. But more largely, as Zion and Jerusalem are the titles for the Christian Church, and Israel who believed was the true Israel, so “the sons of” Levi are the true Levites, the Apostles and their successors in the Christian priesthood.
It was through three centuries of persecutions that the Church was purified by fire.
That they may offer – , literally “and they shall be unto thy Lord offers of a meal-offering in righteousness,” i. e., they shall be such, and that, habitually, abidingly. Again, here and in the next words, “and the meal-offering of Judah shall be pleasant unto the Lord,” it is remarkable, that the “meal-offering,” to which communion corresponds, is alone mentioned. Of bloody offerings Malachi is silent, for they were to cease.
In righteousness – , as Zacharias (Zechariah) prophesied, “that we might serve Him in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.”, Luke 1:73. verse 5. And I will come near to you to judgment – They had clamoured for the coming of “the God of judgment;” God assures them that He will come to judgment, which they had desired, but far other than they look for. The few would be purified; the great mass of them (so that He calls them “you”), the main body of those who had so clamoured, would find that He came as a Judge, not for them but against them.
And I will be a swift witness – o “In judging I will bear witness, and witnessing, I, the same, will bring forth judgment, saith the Lord; therefore, the judgment shall be terrible, since the judge is an infallible witness, whom the conscience of no one will be able to contradict.”
God would be a “swift witness,” as He had said before, “He shall come suddenly.” Our Lord calls Himself (Rev. 3:14; Rev.1:5, “I, and not other witnesses, having seen with My own eyes.” Theod. Jerome) “the Faithful and True witness,” when He stands in the midst of the Church, as their Judge. God’s judgments are always unexpected by those, on whom they fall. The sins are those especially condemned by the law; the use of magical arts as drawing men away from God, the rest as sins of special malignity. Magical arts were rife at the time of the Coming of our Lord; and adultery, as shown in the history of the woman taken in adultery, when her accusers were convicted in their own consciences. (John. 8:9, “adulterous generation.” Mat. 12:39. Lightfoot on John. 8:3 quotes Sotah f. 47. 1. “From the time that homicides were multiplied, the beheading of the heifer ceased: from the time that adulterers were multiplied, the bitter waters ceased:” and Maimonides on Sotah, c. 3. “When the adulterers multiplied under the second Temple, the Sanhedrin abolished the ordeal of the adulteresses by the bitter water; relying on its being written, ‘I will not visit your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery.’” Lightfoot subjoins, “The Gemarists teach that Johanan ben Zacchai was the author of that advice, who was still alive, in the Sanhedrin, and perhaps among those who brought the adulteress before Christ. For some things make it probable, that the “scribes and Pharisees,” mentioned here, were elders of the synagogue.” Justin reproaches them with having fresh wives, wherever they went throughout the world. Dial. fin. p. 243. Oxford translation.)
Oppress the hireling – , literally “oppress the hire,” i. e., deal oppressively in it. “Behold,” says James Jam_5:4, “the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is by you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” The mere delay in the payment of the wages of the labourer brought sin unto him, against whom he cried to God Deu_24:14-15. It is no light sin, since it is united with the heaviest, and is spoken of as reaching the ears of God. The widow and the fatherless stand in a relation of special nearness to God.
And fear not Me – He closes with the central defect, which was the mainspring of all their sins, the absence of the fear of God. The commission of any of these sins, rife as they unhappily are, proves that those who did them had no fear of God. “Nothing hinders that this should be referred to the first coming of Christ. For Christ, in preaching to the Jews, exercised upon them a judgment of just rebuke, especially of the priests, Scribes and Pharisees, as the Gospels show.”
I will come near to you to judgment,…. And so will manifestly appear to be the God of judgment they asked after, Mal. 2:17 this is not to be understood of Christ’s coming to judgment at the last day, but of his coming to judge and punish the wicked Jews at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction; for the same is here meant, who is spoken of in the third person before, and who will not be afar off; there will be no need to inquire after him, when he will come he will be near enough, and too near for them: and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers; not only a judge, but a witness; so that there will be no delay of judgment, or protracting or evading it, for want of witnesses of facts alleged; for the Judge himself, who is Christ, will be witness of them, he being the omniscient God, before whom all things are manifest. The Targum is, “my Word shall be among you for a swift witness.”
Mention is made of “sorcerers”, because there were many that used the magic art, enchantments, and sorceries, in the age of Christ and his apostles, and before the destruction of Jerusalem, even many of their doctors and members of the Sanhedrim; and against the adulterers; with whom that age also abounded; hence our Lord calls it an adulterous generation, Mat. 12:39, and against false swearers; who were guilty of perjury, and of vain oaths; who swore by the creatures, and not by the Lord, and to things not true; see Mat. 5:33, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless; defrauding of servants of their wages, devouring widows’ houses, and distressing the fatherless, were sins the Jews were addicted to in those times, as appears from Jam. 1:27 who wrote to the twelve tribes; and from what our Lord charges them with, Mat. 23:14, and that turn aside the stranger from his right; and so Kimchi supplies it, “that turn aside the judgment of the stranger;” that do not do him justice in civil things; yea, persecuted those that became proselytes to the Christian religion: and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts; which was the root and cause of all their sins; irreverence of Christ, disbelief of him, and contempt of his Gospel.
Verse 6. The proper name of God – Yhwh, “Changes not” He is what He is as shown to Moses, Exodus 3:14.
Verse 7. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts; this message was carried to them by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, and by Christ himself, who both preached the doctrine of repentance to this people, Mat. 3:2. and such who returned, and believed in Christ, and submitted to his ordinances, it was well with them.
But ye said, Wherein shall we return? what have we to turn from, or repent of? What evils have we done, or can be charged on us? what need have we of repentance or conversion, or of such an exhortation to it? do not we keep the law, and all the rituals of it? this is the true language of the Pharisees in Christ’s time, who, touching the righteousness of the law, were blameless in their own esteem, and were the ninety and nine just persons that needed not repentance, Luk. 15:7.
Verse 8 Shall a man rob or cheat – , defraud God? God answers question by question, but thereby drives it home to the sinner’s soul, and appeals to his conscience. The conscience is steeled, and answers again, “In what?” God specifies two things only, obvious, patent, which, as being material things, they could not deny. “In tithes and offerings.” The offerings included several classes of dues to God:
(a) the first fruits;
<spanstyle=”font-family: arial; font-size: 14px;color:#000;”> (b) the annual half-shekel Exodus 30:13-15;
(c) the offerings made for the tabernacle Exodus 25:2-3; 35:5; 35:21; 35:24; 36:3; 36:6 and the second temple Ezra 8:25 at its first erection; it is used of ordinary offerings;
(d) of the tithes of their own tithes, which the Levites paid to the priests Num. 18:26, Numbers 18:28-29;
(e) of the portions of the sacrifice which accrued to the priests Levicitus 7:14.
Verse 9,10 You are cursed with a curse, for your are robbing me – the whole nation of you. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,…. Or “treasury”
(f); for there were places in the temple where the tithe was put, and from thence distributed to the priests and Levites, for the support of their families, as they wanted. There were the tithe or tenth part of all eatable things paid to the Levites, and out of this another tithe was paid by the Levites to the priests; and there was another tithe, which some years the owners ate themselves at Jerusalem, and in others gave them to the poor; and these were called the first tithe, the tithe out of the tithe, the second tithe, and the poor’s tithe; though they are commonly reduced to three, and are called first, and second, and third, as they are by Maimonides; who says
(g), “after they have separated the first tithe every year, they separate the second tithe, as it is said “thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed”, &c. Deuteronomy 14:22 and in the third year, and in the sixth, they separate the poor’s tithe, instead of the second tithe.”
Notice it is to the nation of Israel “the whole nation” and not to the church of Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel is not the Church of Jesus Christ. The church came into being on the Day of Pentecost. Matthew 16:18; Acts 8:3.
The Nation of Israel and not the church was cursed. The nation of Israel and not the church was ordered to bring the full tithe into the temple and not into any church building. Our church buildings are not temples. The people in them are the temple of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 6:17.
Then the remaining verses are still about what the nation of Israel was doing. There is nothing there that applies to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ today. We should disregard any preaching that applies these verses to us today.
TITHING IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC AND STATE CHURCHES
Concise Oxford Dictionary ( Computer) states the following:
Tithe – n. 1. one-tenth of the annual produce of land or labour, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy.
2. a tenth part.
v. 1. Transitive subject to tithes.
2. intransitive pay tithes.
Tithe Barn noun a barn built to hold tithes paid in kind.
1. the practice of taking or paying a tithe.
2. history (in England) a. ten householders living near together and collectively responsible for each other’s behaviour. b. the area occupied by them.
Tithing was important in Judaism and the Apocrypha frequently mention tithes, offerings and first fruits. The Apocrypha is in the Roman Catholic and some Protestant Bibles. It is not hard to see why tithing paid such a large part in Medieval Roman Catholic and Protestant European countries, such as England and France. In fact one of the reasons for the French Revolution was found in the system of tithing.
IS TITHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?
A perusal of the “Encyclopedia of Early Christianity” gives no mention of tithing in the early centuries of the Church. There appears to be no mention of tithing in “Creeds, Councils and Controversies” that documents the history of the Church from 337 A.D. to 461.
Jesus mentioned tithes in the Gospels. However, He was a Prophet and Teacher at that time to the house of Israel. He inferred that there were more important things including attitudes other than their tithing. Nowhere did He command believers in the New Testament to tithe.
Pentecostal and other churches say that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek before the Law was given. Therefore, it is said, tithing did not come under the Law. However, it was implemented to the Jewish nation under the Law, for the Priests and Levites. We now are “a nation and a peculiar people, a priesthood”. This is a “heavenly” nation and not the Jewish nation. Jesus Christ is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. How can we give to Him, who is in heaven, any material tithe? Melchizedek was not a priest that Jesus followed. Rather, he was there to show us about the Melchizedek High Priest who would be our High Priest in heaven.
The main scripture used is found in Hebrews 7:4-14. There is no other scripture on tithing from Acts to Revelation.
An examination of this portion reveals that the subject matter is not “Tithing” but the “Priesthood of Christ”. His priesthood is that of Melchizedek and not of Aaron. For proof, the writer says that Levi paid tithes in Abraham to the greater priesthood, that of Melchizedek. This shows that the Melchizedek priesthood was far greater than the Levitical priesthood.. The order of priesthood that Jesus came under was far greater than that of Aaron.
The payment of tithes by Abraham was his only connection to the Levitical priesthood. He did not follow a Tabernacle, the priesthood of Aaron, the Law or its ceremonies. He paid tithes and as far as we can see, on one occasion only. Therefore, when the writer of Hebrews said that the Levitical priesthood was not as high as that of Melchizedek, the only thing he could use to prove his point was tithing. This was the only thing in Abraham’s case that was common to both of those two orders of priesthood.
It should be noted from Hebrews 5:6 that Jesus Christ was “a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek”. Tithing was never given to be incorporated into that order. The order of Melchizedek according to verses 2 and 3 was of one who is “king of righteousness”; “next he is also king of Salem. That is ‘king of peace’”. Then he is “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of day nor end of life but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest for ever”. This order has no mention of tithing.
This order of Melchizedek was typified in the life of God’s priest on earth at the time of Abraham. Melchizedek was not a theophany, i.e. he was not an appearance of the pre-incarnate Son of God. Hebrews 7:3 says he only resembled the Son of God. He was not the Son of God. However, he was a real person. The Son of God certainly did not live on earth for such a prolonged period in the Old Testament, as a man, that he would be known as the king of Salem and the priest of the Most High God to all those like Abraham who had some knowledge of God, e.g. Genesis 14:24. This rather common teaching in Australia and New Zealand is false.
Hebrews 7:15 reads, “when another priest arises (not Melchizedek, therefore not the pre-incarnate Son of God) one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent but through the power of an indestructible life”. This other priest is Jesus Christ. Had the Melchizedek of the Old Testament been the pre-incarnate Son of God, the scripture would not have said “other”.
Therefore the tithe that Abram paid to that natural king Melchizedek can have no example in it for us to tithe. This is confirmed by Hebrews 7:1,2 that shows Abraham “was returning from defeating the kings”. For us to be in a similar situation, we would have to have defeated the kings. Then Melchizedek blessed him – and such a natural king cannot bless us because he died long ago.
Abram was never under the Law. He was the father of those who have faith. We are not under the Law but under grace. Tithing was given under the Law. The fact that Levi was “in his loins” as the Scripture says, shows that faith is greater than Law. Those of faith have a greater High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. That is the reason “Levi”, the priestly tribe, was stated to be “in the loins” of Abram. The Aaronic priesthood submitted to the greater Melchizedek priesthood. Christ is of that higher priesthood.
That he is “without father and mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life”, means there is no record of his genealogy and not that he was the Son of God. The TCNT translation reads, “There is no record of his father, or mother, or lineage”. Chapter 8:1 says “we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne”. This is not the same high priest as was in the city of Salem.
The writer of Hebrews 7:16,17 says there is a change from the earthly Levitical priesthood to that of the eternal Melchizedek priesthood. Jesus Christ is “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”.
Verse 18 says that the earlier commandment was cancelled because it was weak. In verse 18, “the law made nothing perfect; there is on the other hand the introducing of a better hope” and verse 22, “Accordingly, Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant”. All of this shows clearly that tithing was under the law that has been cancelled and that we are under a better covenant in which no tithing is ever mentioned.
This portion of Scripture has nothing to do with any necessity to tithe today. Law observance as such for us is finished. We are not to follow any part of the ceremonial Law. Tithing was part of such Law and part of the system of the Aaronic priesthood. We are not under that priesthood. It is taught in some quarters that as the Old Testament Priest received tithes from the people so should the New Testament Pastor himself receive tithes. What is overlooked is that God had instituted a system of religious worship, approach to him and all that was involved. This included the sacrifices of animals, the building of a Tabernacle and later Temple, a whole order of religious approaches by the people before God, their worship, personal lives and national lives amongst other things. The New Testament Church is totally different. It is not national, to commence with, it has no Tabernacle or Temple, no animal sacrifices, no order of priests and Levites, no regulated system of religious worship and it is free from the Law.
Therefore, it is not in order for a Pastor today to place himself in the position of a priest to receive tithes from the people in the congregation. As far as priesthood is concerned, no Pastor is different from any member of the true church of Jesus Christ. We are all “a kingdom of priests unto our God”.
We have a High Priest in heaven, Jesus Christ, who “through the power of an indestructible life” is in heaven on our behalf. He is after the order of Melchizedek and in heaven. We cannot pay material tithes into heaven. Rather, we should have giving and generous hearts that by the Spirit of God in the Name of Jesus, give and give and give again in whatever form we are called upon to give.
According to verse 18 “the earlier commandment has been abrogated because it was weak and ineffectual (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope”. “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness”. The Law included tithing. That has also come to an end, in Christ.
Believers should know that they receive material blessings through faith and the care of our heavenly Father and not because they tithe. It is never by the works of tithing. Tithing was under the Old Testament and cannot not be under the New because the Law ended with Jesus Christ for those who believe. It is by grace. Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”, Matthew 7:11. Read Matthew 6:26-33. These verses show the way material blessings come to believers in Christ. First of all, watch the birds. They do not worry , sow seed nor pay tithes. Yet God provides for the flowers, the birds and the animals. We are not to strive for material goods, like the unbelievers. Our heavenly Father knows what things we have need of. We do not need to ask. Jesus said, “Strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well”. God provides for us without our having to tithe. Where is the mention of tithing here? It does not say HE provides for greed – only the legitimate material things we need according to our national privileges, our nation’s well-being, our work and situation.
It is clear that the Scriptural stance is that believers are to give cheerfully. This is in relation to supporting all kinds of preachers and in giving to poor saints, not necessarily to sinners. Giving to heathen was done in China and it produced many “Rice” Christians who were not born again.
Tithing apparently was not practised as such by the Early Church. Believers gave generously and supported Pastor-Teachers, Evangelists and Missionaries. Tithing is not a binding rule or law for believers today. However, believers are to be great givers. If the only way a believer can give systematically, it could be a good practice to give a tithe as a starting off point. In this, wisdom should be used and the leading of the Spirit.
First and foremost, giving is to be directed to the support of preachers and not to raise buildings or kingdoms. Believers are not required to place all their gifts into the local Church but out of love, they should first of all take care of their Pastor by ensuring him work and/or support if the church is large enough. We ourselves have worked part-time for forty years and ministered tirelessly so obviously other pastors are capable of doing so. Had we received support as God directs, “A labourer is worthy of his hire”, we could have done much more. However, we cannot work in foreign lands and need support to go there. Believers have a great responsibility to give to the support of God-sent and anointed missionaries to other lands.
The first Pentecostal missionary family to leave Australia in the twenties/thirties, was Brother and Sister Smith and Marie. Brother Smith told this writer that because the Pentecostal believers were urged to give to their local church and pastor and not missionaries, his wife died of starvation in Japan. After his death, Marie went back to Japan as a missionary and died there.
Believers should be cautious as to where their gifts are directed and not be psyched into giving to charismatic leaders, T.V. Evangelists, e.g. Copelands, Jesse du Plantis and co-pastors, Benny Hinn (whose income a few years ago was stated as being $US80,000,000 per annum or unwisely to foreign nationals. We have seen many nationals in at least two third world countries squander and indeed use the gifts from believers and churches in our countries in gravely dishonest and unwise ways.
An instance of the need for caution is shown at the present time, April, 1999, when Benny Hinn in two broadcasts I watched, stated his need for finance. In the first, he introduced a Canadian author of a book concerning the Year 2000 Computer problems. He offers it for a gift of $35. The writer, no doubt well-intentioned and sincere, is basically being a scaremonger in his other books on the End-Time. Incidentally, according to all the previous calculations, we are already in the time of the “Millennium” that started 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus, supposedly. His birth was either 4 B.C. or 7 B.C.
In the second broadcast, Benny Hinn brought on Creflo Dollar. That man spoke of the Christian’s inheritance as being one of wealth. Ephesians 1 shows clearly that our inheritance is a heavenly one. They promulgated false teaching. Creflo used Matthew 25:13 and the parable of the Talents. He related it to wealth entrusted to believers. That is an absolute distortion of the Truth. Jesus in chapters 24 and 25 was speaking about His coming at the end of the world. It was talking of the kingdom of heaven, 25:1. Never before has a preacher referred to the meaning of this Parable as being a concern regarding material wealth.
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The heavenly meaning is not to do with commerce. Its meaning is explained in Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthian 12:11 and Ephesians 4:11. Creflo also said he gets his “anointing” from his wife. It is God who gives anointings. His wife and then he himself have lately been interested in the “inheritance” promised to believers. According to them, this inheritance is financial. It would be laughable if it were not so seriously heretical. Our inheritance is spiritual and is laid up for us in heaven, 1 Peter 1:4, “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you”.
The followers of the Toronto Blessing actually misconstrue verse 5, that reads, “until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”. They heretically say that this “salvation” is the “Laughing Move”! The “Toronto Blessing” so-called, was a demonic incursion into the church of Jesus Christ, particularly the Pentecostal and Charismatic part. The exponents of “Spiritual Warfare” themselves were over-taken in the “day” that came as in Ephesians 6. They had not in years past put on the armour of God!
On the 16th April, Creflo Dollar preached on his own programme, saying that when praying in tongues, thus speaking mysteries, one should seek and believe for the Interpretation. This will give wisdom. Wisdom enables us to get rid of our debts. Benny Hinn allowed this preacher on his Show, even exalting him. One can only place all of them, Dollar, Hinn, Copeland (Dollar being his protégé), Hagin and their fellow-ministers as being promulgators of a false cult. There are “false teachers” in many areas, according to 2 Peter 2:1.
In the past, Pentecostals would have nothing to do with cults or their preachers. The Assemblies of God, for instance, would have nothing to do with the “Jesus Only” Movement, which is in error, even though it can not be considered a cult. Have the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, the latter never having been solidly Biblically based, sunk to the level of being brethren of all the other cults, such as Mormons (who also speak in tongues and baptise), Seventh Day Adventism and the Lord Witnesses? I believe they have.
What are Australian believers to do when all these errors have been taken on by almost every Pentecostal and Charismatic preacher in our country – which is not the case in other countries. They must continue attendance at church and have fellowship as far as they are able with believers in such churches. Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus has warned His church to judge and beware of the false cults, false teachers, false apostles and false prophets that are in its midst, Revelation 2 and 3.
Hinn also said that Kathryn Kuhlman said that when Jesus comes (and by all the Pentecostal and Charismatic predictions He should have been here by now) all the saints who are caught up alive, will be in perfect health when He comes. That is fanciful and erroneous thinking. There is not a person on earth who does not have some physical impairment. There is no scriptural backing for such a statement as Hinn produced.
The scripture used was that “He is coming for a perfect church, without spot or wrinkle”. Such a church has nothing to do with the physical health of its members. Neither has it anything to do with any sinless perfection. It is to do with the fact that in 1 Corinthians 1:30,31, “So you owe it all to God through union with Christ Jesus, who has become our wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption”.
The giving mentioned in the Bible from the early church, was first of all to their preachers and then to the poor. The Old Testament condemned the Jews for oppressing the poor and not helping them. It is incumbent on believers in today’s church to give to the poor. This does not mean a wholesale giving of finance to the millions of poor Christians in say Asian lands. That is not within the church’s province.
However, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven”. The majority of believers in India are from materially poor living conditions. We are to have our hearts set on helping them, particularly in a spiritual way. This is what we have been doing for twenty-seven years. Well over half a million have been spiritually blessed without measure as we ministered. Sometimes we ministered to extremely wealthy, educated and middle class believers who have never supported us well as all consider we have to be rich. The majority of people we have ministered to have been poor in goods. All must be “poor in spirit” to humble themselves to receive Christ.
Will you not receive this Word of God to help minister to the poor?
God gives and gives and gives again, even as it is said, “We cannot out give God”. The rewards in this life and the eternal heavenly rewards far outweigh any riches that may be accrued in this world. The church is responsible to give out the Gospel.
The great commission of Jesus stands today. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations …teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.
I have written this not at all, for support. I have written because my heart is grieved at the erroneous teachings, their effect on God’s people, the greed, corruption in many places and because of the false teachers in this area, who abound.