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It is with great joy the Lord has allowed me to conclude my 2018 blog writing service to Him and our readers with a word of instruction on tithing. Writing a post on legalism this fall, I was troubled that I was not able to say more about this important, voluntary spiritual privilege and discipline for willing Christians that has been mostly foisted on us historically as a legalistic carryover requirement of God’s Law and commandments to Israel.1 I know some were worried I was against tithing. However, the footnote I would have written explaining the sin of teaching Christians to tithe as a matter of Law, rather than faith, free will love and worship would have been this post and too long!
Now, by the grace of our God, here in summary form is the teaching the Lord gave me early in my journey as a Christian over forty years that I also taught my family and church members as a pastor. Let me begin by saying I was introduced to the concept of tithing as a Christian babe in a traditional black American Baptist church by leadership that insisted it was God’s required will straight up out of Malachi 3:8-12. As a result, out of guilt, shame, fear and inadequate faith I wrestled with how to become an obedient tither and where to begin--off of my net or gross income that either way by sight left me short of my budget needs--as most other folk when introduced to tithing.
After much prayer, I took my first shaky steps toward being one who tithed off of my net (just keeping it real), then my gross and eventually whatever financial increase came to me in addition to giving my God offerings for whatever causes I was led by Him to sow into. Along the way, He took me deeper into His Word about tithing as giving not out of the Law for a Christian, but faith and love (that authentic, always involves the will and worship) as a voluntary spiritual privilege and discipline. Building faith and love are why I am convinced God does not harshly swoop down on us as babes right away to correct tithing wrongly introduced as legalism--but woe to the unrepentant legalist!
Giving a tithe (a tenth or more) in the Bible is first introduced some 500 years before the Law as the act of Abraham, the man of faith, when he did so to “Melchizedek, king of Salem” who “was the priest of God Most High.” Melchizedek had come out to bless Abraham after his successful rescue of Lot and others from marauding kings (Genesis 14:13-20, NKJV). In that blessing, the mysterious priest declared, ‘“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand.'” After this blessing, Abraham gave Melchizedek “a tithe of all,” (Genesis 14:19-20, NKJV).2 What made Abraham do this?
Making offerings to God goes back to Adam, who obviously taught his sons to do so (Genesis 4:1-7). Clearly too, the practice of making religious offerings to priests as intermediaries with a tithe being the norm was common in Abraham’s day. Beyond this, no doubt, the key to Abraham’s tithe given to Melchizedek was his faith recognition in the blessing that his successful rescue campaign and all of its spoils were the direct result of the Most High’s providence who owns everything in Heaven and on earth! Abraham then--though he refused anything for himself, was giving back a portion to the priest for God what He had already blessed him with (Genesis 14:21-24).
The foregoing principle of giving was preserved by God as motive and requirement in the Covenant Law and commandments He gave Moses for Israel to support the priesthood, Levites, His house and benevolent causes among the people (Numbers 18:7-32; Deuteronomy 12:1-19, 14:22-29, 26:1-15). Later, king Solomon declared God’s principle and the associated blessings in instructions he as a father gave his son (Proverbs 3:9-10). After this, it is only for their disobedience in not giving as required in His Law and commandments that God rebukes Judah before and after their Babylonian captivity. In the New Testament and under the New Covenant there is no divine command to tithe!
The Lord Jesus commended the Jewish religious leadership of the time for their obedience to tithe, but failure in other, “weightier matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23, NKJV). In conformity with the divine transcendent principle, He also taught the blessedness of giving of one’s substance to God (Luke 6:38, 9:10-17, 12:13-21) to support His Kingdom workers, work and benevolent causes; receiving such support as did His apostles with but one exceptional exception (Luke 8:1-3, 10:1-7; Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 1 John 3:16-18). In the likeness of Melchizedek and the priests of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ is also our High Priest and formal Intermediary when we give to God.3 He receives our tithes and offerings on behalf of the Father and is also honored by us with them (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 4:14-5:10, 7:1-8:6).4
Thus, even though there is no New Testament command to tithe of our income in giving as Christians, the principle--reaching all the way back past the Law to Abraham our faith example in everything, commends it to us as normative and certainly, as I can testify, a spiritual privilege and discipline (like regular Bible study, prayer and church attendance) God blesses as a matter of walking by faith in Him (Romans 4:3; Hebrews 11:6; James 2:20-26)!5 So, then, let any professed Christian leader attempting to get God’s people to give through tithing by falsely and legalistically making it a requirement of the Law repent now if you will please God. Teach His Word faithfully!6 I wish all a blessed and prosperous New Year especially as you make giving to God a spiritual priority.7
1 Read the two-part post, Let’s Talk Legalism, under the category, Instruction, beginning September 23, 2018.
2 So much for the net versus gross question!
3 Melchizedek and our Lord Jesus also very significantly share in common being bearers of “bread and wine,” (Genesis 14:18; Luke 22:14-20; John 6:31-59).
4 As the apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 8-9, Christ’s churches and Parachurch ministries have a stewardship responsibility from Him to receive any kind of offer-
ings as His agents and to disburse them at His direction in support of His Kingdom workers, work and causes. Woe to the churches, ministries and their leaders that do
not do so (Matthew 23:14; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11)!
5 Learn more about the concept of spiritual discipline for the aspiring strong man and great woman of God in the image of Jesus Christ from my book, The Strong Man Of
God: Back To Basics. It is available at all major internet booksellers, by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
6 Teaching God’s word faithfully does include examining the spiritual, moral, ethical and transcendent truths embodied in the Old Testament Law and commandments to
understand His good intent in them and to make a proper application as the Lord led me to write in the post on legalism. So, for example, we can look at Malachi 3:8-12
and see how God wanted the Israelites to obey His Law and commandments on tithing to be blessed of Him while also fulfilling His support plans for the priests, Levities,
the Temple and community benevolence. God stresses His willingness to bless their obedience to the point of inviting them to put Him to the test! The application for
Christians is to see the consistency of God in His transcendent principle of blessed giving through the proportional discipline of tithing that reaches all the way back to
Abraham which also our Lord Jesus Christ affirms. Then, out of faith and love, to act out of it to benefit both us and God's Kingdom priorities!
7 Please remember Strong Man Ministries in your giving among the ordained Kingdom workers (me--Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 3 John 5-8), works and causes of
God in this generation. Give securely on our Web Site at https://thestrongmanofGod.org/Give. You can also mail your cash, check or money order made out to our or-
ganizational parent, Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. and send it to P.O. BOX 56704, Portland, OR 97238.
As Christmas draws near this year, I am awestruck yet again by how God brought to sudden fulfillment in time what had been planned from eternity (2 Timothy 1:8-10); His work of salvation foretold by His prophets of old (Luke 1:67-75)! For Christmas from the Bible is nothing less than the simple, but profound narrative of a loving God’s next in time action step among many before with a few still coming to save His fallen creature, man, from sin, Satan and death. Among those prior steps was the never before done in history calling out of a people through whom to bring forth His chosen Deliverer (Genesis 3:14-15, 22:9-18; Exodus 3:1-10; Deuteronomy 4:32-39, 18:15-19).
Though surrounded and obscured by various Gentile secular and manmade religious cultural traditions as I was led to write in a previous post,1 if there is to be an authentic, biblical celebration of Christmas it must begin with God and the divine plan to save among fallen mankind! The divine plan designating the Son of God as mankind’s Savior was formulated before there was ever a creation because God foreknew man’s fall (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Peter 1:20-21). Many--including some Christians I have taught--struggle with this truth. They wonder, “If God knew man was going to fall, why bother to create him?” The simple answer is bound up in God’s nature and wisdom as well as man’s purpose.
“God is love,” the apostle John emphatically declares (1 John 4:8, NKJV). The visionary desire of God to create man is rooted in the very depths of divine love. Thus, the existence of man is not the result of a divine whim, afterthought or experiment. In love, God would create eternal sons to love that would love Him back in the image and likeness of the eternal Son (John 14:31; 1 John 4:19)!2 In wisdom, God knew (and now, even we know) in order for His creature to love, he must not only be equipped with the ability, but the free will to choose to do so. For this reason too, created to loyally serve God and His eternal sons, angels also have free will (Psalm 103:20-21; Hebrews 1:13-14).
The sovereign God, who knows all things, saw in advance the first man would freely choose to disobey His command and bring forth upon himself the just judgment His holy nature demanded. Since this was no experiment where God discarding the first man, would continue trying like some mad scientist until He finally created one that obeyed, in perfect love and wisdom God constructed a righteous plan to save His fallen creature. No plan was made to save disloyal angels that chose to rebel against God; they would be condemned to Hell forever without recourse (Ezekiel 28:11-19; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10). But from eternity God in love would show man His grace!
Here is where Christmas gets really deeply moving for me and I trust you also if in fact, you are among those saved by God’s grace through repentance and faith in the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ! While some stumble over the fact God would bother at all with constructing a plan to save fallen man, I am completely blown away by the fact His plan involved choosing to become one of us, His creature, leading to the indescribable pain, suffering and death He endured in successfully carrying it out (Isaiah 7:10-14, 53:1-9; Luke 1:26-40, 2:1-38; John 1:1-18, 3:16, 19:17-37; Hebrews 2:5-18). I am overwhelmed attempting to search out the kind of love that would do this for me!
Away from the secular commercial clamor, most significant for me as a Christian is the joyful worship of the God of my salvation; my Savior as planned, foretold and fulfilled--the powerful in simplicity real objective of Christmas! Indeed, so powerful is Christmas as the joyful worship of God in celebration of His action step to save fallen men by sending us His Son, the world has sought to diminish it with its own satanically inspired fabricated, sentimental storylines and cultural traditions which many churches of Christianity the religion of men endorse and support. To their shame and condemnation over the centuries, a great number of these have themselves offered up many complicated and heretical doctrines that corrupt the simple biblical narrative of God’s work to save.
Contending also with what he later describes as “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” as those that were phony messengers “of light” like Satan (2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NKJV), the apostle Paul strongly appeals for the Corinthians and all Christians to be faithful to our Lord Jesus; retaining “the simplicity that is in Christ,” (2 Corinthians 11:1-4, NKJV). For as Paul was concerned in the first, so, it continues to happen right into this twenty-first century that professed Christians are abandoning the simplicity of God’s work to save us from our sins through the first coming of Christ Jesus. Instead, to their destruction they are going after false christs, other gospels and doctrines following deceitful spirits as foretold (Mark 13:5-6; Galatians 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 4:1-5).
In faith and God’s command to stand fast, however, let every aspiring strong man of God in Christ’s image proclaim and witness the truth prepared from eternity and fulfilled to his family, church and the world at Christmas (Isaiah 53:10-12; John 20:1-18; Titus 1:1-3).3 Let us also accurately teach that if all of God’s foretold action steps in His work to save us from our sins were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, then, it must be soberly understood that every one of the remaining prophesied action steps of salvation’s consummation at His Second Coming are to be shortly fulfilled (Acts 1:4-11, 3:18-26; Hebrews 9:23-28; Revelation 1:1-8, 21:7-8)!4 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
I will take next Sunday off as part of my Christmas celebration and Lord willing, return with a final 2018 post on December 30th. Merry Christmas!
1 See the December 2014 two-part post, Culturally Conditioning the Faith, under the category, The Faith. The Church is not a creation of culture, but Christ’s called out
assembly from it (Matthew 16:13-18). Therefore, the Church is not beholding to the culture its members have assembled out of, but to Christ as His “light” exposing the
darkness and His “pillar and ground of the truth” in it (Ephesians 5:8-14; 1 Timothy 3:15, NKJV)! Because this is true, I stand by every word and Scripture cited in the
post referenced in this footnote.
2 Read the June 19, 2016 post, Eternal Sons Of God, under the category, Instruction.
3 Learn more about the aspiring strong man and great woman of God in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. It is available at all major internet booksellers,
by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
4 Read Now Is The Day Of Salvation, posted December 4, 2016, under the category, Call To Repent. Also, while it is righteous not to attempt to declare a specific date or
hour of Christ’s return as He warned (Mark 13:32-37), a disservice is being done to the Body of Christ by those at this hour that say “it could be another thousand
years.” Not! The Lord also commanded us to watch for the prophetic signs He gave indicating His coming was near (Luke 21:25-36). Such signs have been breaking
out profusely since the time Israel became a nation again on May 14, 1948 which itself is the greatest of them so far and confirms as foretold that the punitive dispersion
of the Jews to the nations was only to be temporary (Hosea 3; Luke 21:20-24; Romans 11:1-15, 25-36)!
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