It's really staggering how much data our brain stores
over a lifetime, isn't it! So many sermons and other info we heard just once
and think we've forgotten forever. But our latent memories can be jogged back
to the surface of our consciousness many years later, when we least expect it. I was surfing the net to find out if there
was any info posted on a Full Gospel camp ground church I used to visit with other young people back in the early 70's. At
the time I first heard this message I had just recently received my Baptism with the Holy Spirit. I was about 20 at the time I first heard this story at one of the first Camp Ground conventions I ever attended. It
was a real treat to travel to Texas and enjoy teaching and
fellowship with saints who had travelled from distant states. For the sake of brevity I'll cite only that section of the story
which has to do with the points I address in this article. The story relates a vision someone had of a rich Waco businessman who died and went to appear before his Judge. At the time just hearing it filled me with dread and great relief that I wasn't the one in that man's shoes. But now that I'm much older and better acquainted with the Word of God, I realize
that not everything in the vision passes muster with correctly applied Scripture. It is very, very important not to be overpowered
by anybody's oratory, or by religious sentiments springing from bad manmade traditions.
We must be persuaded only by the Word of God as it was originally taught by the early apostles. The following is a
small section of the article I read, and how it was preached about 35 years ago:
* * * * *
Some months back the Lord gave the writer a vivid
vision of a former, Waco, Texas,
wealthy business man who had died.
He had been a nominal Christian for forty years.
He stood trembling before the Judge and His Judgment Seat to have his life work judged for eternal rewards. The Lord asked,
"What did you bring me out of your long Christian life in Waco, Texas?" The man stood paralyzed with shame, for he could think of nothing acceptable to
God as a present. Then pointing to nine large objects the voice said: "Those are the things you stole from God during your
Christian life." The first object with his name on it was all the Lord’s money in tithes and offerings
he has used for himself.
* * * * *
The Word of God, correctly translated, properly
interpreted IN CONTEXT, and correctly applied as believers living under GRACE (we're not under Law, INCLUDING THE TITHE LAW)
must be the final authority for our faith and practice, not somebody's vision. God hates guilt-based giving! NOT ONE scripture
teaches or even supports monetary tithing, either in the Old or the New Testament. NOT ONCE does the apostle Paul ever teach
or enforce monetary tithing. Paul could have lived like Bill Gates if he'd taken even five per cent of his flock's salaries
and wages. Jesus Himself did not support his own ministry through tithes, only
freewill offerings. Tithes were paid only on the produce of the Land
of Israel and they were paid by owners of farms and ranches, not wage
earners (see Deut.14:22-29). If you were a sandalmaker or a fisherman in ancient Israel you didn't owe any tithes on such commodities.
In the above vision, the guy who welshed on paying
monetary tithes is castigated by "the Lord" for failure to pay tithes on money. Our God does not contradict Himself! If
He expected New Testament saints to pay tithes on money, He would have made that clear from the very beginning of the Church
Age. Having a selfish heart and closing your eyes to the need around you
is a sin, but show me the Scripture which commands anybody, rich or poor, to pay tithes on money! The businessman was guilty of wasting "tithe money" on himself.
But notice Deut. 14: 26: The TITHE PAYER is encouraged to use money from the sale of agricultural tithes to BUY FOR
HIMSELF any food or drink his soul (not somebody else's) desires, even wine or strong drink. The purpose of the tithe was
to provide for the poor and to hold a feast of thanksgiving before the Lord. It
was a joyous time of celebration in which all shared, not just the religious leaders.
Now if you're going to transfer an Old Testament
Law to the New Covenant of Grace, at least be consistent about it. Let the poor
help eat the tithe. The tithe was NEVER used to build fancy buildings or finance
a life of luxury for pulpit pilots. Most shocking of all, according to Scripture, it's okay to buy yourself a beer to celebrate
at the Lord's feast of tithed foods. NOT ONCE in all my long life have I ever
heard any minister preach on Deuteronomy 14:26. I wonder why? You cannot transfer
a law without also transferring all the terms and conditions of that law! Any law that's been tampered with and genetically
modified by men doesn't carry much weight with God. He hates religious confusion,
for He is a God of perfect holiness and order.
Every seventh year there would be no tithe paid
in Israel at all because the land was to lie fallow and no harvest could be collected from it (Lev.25:4). This was a sabbath
of rest for the land. How many Christians get a rest every seven years from having to tithe on their overstretched paychecks? If ministers must transfer their favorite Old Testament ordinance into our dispensation of Grace, they should at least transfer all the components of that Law! God doesn't
like it when preachers claim we're set free from the Law, then put the Law back on us and then re-invent the Law to suit their
own selfish ends. Some ministers caution against eating the tithe, but that's
what God said it was for in the first place. God doesn't take kindly to preachers adding make-believe scriptures to His Word
to scare His saints with (Rev. 22:18).
In Acts Chapter 15 there was a dispute about whether
Gentile converts were obligated to keep the Law of Moses or any part of it. In
verses 28-29 four (4) restrictions are placed on the liberty of Gentile Christians.
They were to refrain from:
1. meats offered to idols
2. the consumption of blood
3. eating strangled animals
4. committing fornication.
Where does the Tithing Law appear on that long list
of commands? Nowhere! If ever there was an opportunity to impose monetary tithing
on the saints, that would have been the best time to do it, don't you think?
I cut my spiritual eye teeth on the teachings of
that Campground Church. We sang all the time about being set free from the Law of sin and death. One of my favorite choruses was Galatians 5:1: Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us
free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The ordinances of the Old Covenant have been nailed to the Cross
of Christ (Col.2:14). Whoever puts himself back under them has fallen from grace (Gal.5:4). Preachers profess to love grace. So long as it doesn't affect their income, that is. They are quick to take back down
from the Cross the one law they can twist to make money out of: the Tithing Law.
In Leviticus 27: 30-33 we read what constituted
the Biblical tithe: the seed of the land, the fruit of the tree, herds and flocks. Nowhere does it mention the fruit of the
Federal Mint! And the biggest eye-opener of all is verse 34, the very end of
the book of Leviticus: These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses FOR THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL in Mount Sinai.
Our covenant comes from Mount
Calvary, not Mount Sinai. Most of Christ's church consists of Gentiles like myself, not physical Israelites. Oh, it may prove profitable
in the short term for preachers to lay their favorite law back on the people of God, but living under legalism is a denial
of the grace of God. It leads to spiritual shipwreck. As many as are under the
works of the Law are under a curse (Gal.3:10). The man in the vision was cited as an example to strike fear into the hearts
of God's people to get them to tithe on money, even if it meant they or their children had to do without. Service rendered out of fear of punishment speaks of Mount Sinai, with its terrible lightning storms that
made Moses exceedingly fear and quake (Heb.12:18-21).
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth
not in ALL things which are written in the book of the Law to do them.
Verse 11: But that no man is justified by the Law
in the sight of God it is evident: for the just shall live by faith.
Whatsoever is not of faith is of sin, (including
service to God which springs not from faith but from faulty teaching) (Rom.14:23). Such
service to men who appoint themselves as God's special IRS agents will not be
motivated by love and will be grudging, just like slaves under the whip would resent their cruel overseers.
Verse 12: And the Law is not of faith: but the man
that doeth them shall live in them.
The Law of God is a package deal, not a restaurant
menu you can pick and choose from. If you covenant with God to live under even
one part of the Old Law, you must live under it ALL! That includes circumcision for men, giving up ham and shrimp, wearing
phylacteries, the whole kit and caboodle. And if you offend in just ONE point, you've broken it all and brought yourself under
a curse. How can any minister of the Gospel claim to love his brethren and then turn around and lay the Law back on them to
keep the money rolling in? That isn't the love of Christ!
Preachers defend the tithing doctrine by citing
the one occasion Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedek, king of Salem,
in Genesis 14:18-20. Abraham and his men had just fought a battle to rescue Lot
and other citizens of Sodom who had been taken captive by
the Kings of the Plain. Abraham recovered all the goods stolen from Sodom. To show his gratitude
to God for the victory, Abraham presented a tenth of the spoils to Melchisedek. Abraham was a generous, unselfish guy. He was a giver and a man of hospitality. But nowhere does Scripture teach that Abraham
ever tithes again or tithes on any of his personal possessions. In order to enforce Abraham's tithing example on the Body
of Christ, you'd have to do just like he did. Go fight some bad guys and take
back some stolen goods. Then donate them to who-knows-where, for who on earth
can claim to be the equivalent of Melchisedek? Jesus Himself is our great High Priest after the order of Melchisedek (Heb.7:21). We are one body in Christ Jesus and we are made one Spirit with Him through faith
(I Cor.6:17). Does one member of your physical body extort taxes from another member of your body? Ridiculous!
Tithing under the New Covenant is a grave dispensational
error. Tithing on money is totally alien to Scripture. Many are clamoring for
first dibs on the believer's paycheck, and many families have found tithing a financial burden. Some preachers insinuate that
we give to the Lord ONLY when we give to some professional minister or to faraway missions, and supporting our own family
doesn't constitute giving to the Lord. But Jesus thinks otherwise. Let the children first be filled (Mark 7:28). Not just barely fed and clothed in cheap rags, but with their
own needs totally satisfied. In Mark 7:9-13 Jesus castigates some self-righteous Pharisees for teaching their disciples to
consecrate as a religious gift money which should have gone to support aged parents. Instead of keeping the commandment "Honor
your father and your mother", those blind leaders of the blind made void the Word of God through their own vain traditions.
Whenever a New Covenant believer pays tithes to
another believer, even a doctor of divinity in a jet-propelled pulpit, he or she denies their own priesthood in Christ Jesus.
The whole Body of Christ is called a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation (I Pet.2:9). Is Christ divided into two classes, the peasants
and the aristocracy? Did Christ intend for "spiritual Levites" to be supported
by literal tithe money earned by the lower-ranking laity? We are all one in Christ
Jesus. God's Word means what it says and says what it means!
How many millions of poor Christians have gone to
their graves wondering why they never did receive the bumper harvest preachers promised them for tithing on money? Religious
profiteers who have led God's people back under bondage will have to answer to Him for all the financial hardship and resentment
caused by the divisive doctrine of monetary tithing. Maybe God won't be nearly so concerned about the new hymnbooks some poor
Christian couldn't contribute toward as He will be about all the poor kids who had to do without decent clothes or new shoes because some slick theologian shamed their parents
into emptying their pockets, supposedly for the furtherance of the Gospel!
God blesses a cheerful giver, but why wouldn't He
give a hundred-fold back to a poor tither who does his best to keep a modernized version of a law given only to Israel? Because God is under no obligation whatever to reward
the keeping of a man-made law, that's why!
It's the ignorant, follow-the-leader believer who
suffers in this world. Whereas Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light, the yoke of servitude any other master puts on you is grievously heavy.. And being victimized by bad doctrine doesn't guarantee
you won't have to answer to God someday for the bad things you yourself have done and failed to repent of. But I tend to suspect that while God may rebuke the little
guy in the pews for being stingy and selfish, He will deal much more severely with devious manipulators of the Word who twisted
scripture for selfish gain and hid under a bushel basket vital truth which would have set the saints free to walk in total