Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
Tithing
July 2011

            Any of you who have been receiving teachings from us for any time knows that “Tithing” is not a subject that has been the subject to one of monthly teachings.  However, for the next two months I feel that is time.  There have been several instances come our way in the past several months that has prompted this teaching.  One was a conversation we had with a pastor of a large church of about 400 members, whose church is about a mile from the church we attend. He has been their pastor for many years.  He told us that he had never preaches on tithing and probably never would.  When we inquired about the reason for this he related this story.  Several years ago he brought in an evangelist to hold a one week revival at his church.  The church was packed for the first three meetings.  The third meeting the evangelist spoke on the blessings of tithing.  From that night on there were only a handful of people attending the services.  The reason never spoken was clearly and loudly heard however, “we do not want to hear about this”!  The evangelist left and was never asked to return and the parishioners now once again attending its services in full. 

            Also recently our ministry has been receiving continual phone calls, e-mails and letters from ministries and individuals around the globe asking for financial aid.  These individuals (some legit but most not) call or write begging for help for the most touching reasons.  Some of them are;

  1. For orphans and orphanages
  2. Biblical Schooling
  3. Dying family members
  4. Church repairs
  5. Crusade finances
  6. Food and clothing
  7. Missionary trips etc.

The list goes on and on.  Is there anything wrong with these requests or needs?  Absolutely NO!  However, when advised that paying tithes faithfully and regularly will bring financial freedom and a tremendous blessing, the advice is ignored and other ministries more willing to help are sought.  It makes one wonder!

            Brethren this Biblical principle is of vital importance especially in the days ahead; not just for the US but for the world itself.  If you think that times are hard now, just wait.  Times will get much more severe!  If you think that things are getting better because gas prices are coming down, you are being deceived by an administration who is doing all they can in this pre-election year to curb the growing displeasure aimed at them because of the economy.  These hard times is bringing on them a major threat of not being re-elected.  Manipulating the economy to gain re-election is an old and effective ploy.  Most Americans will not remember $5.00 plus a gallon next year when it comes time to vote, all they will see is things are getting better.  That will be the main emphasis of the re-election rhetoric which puts the blame on the other party and proclaims this administration as the ones who came to the rescue.  This administration is counting on you to believe that and vote for them.  If as a result they do get re-elected, our economy will take another nose dive.  When that happens, who are we going to depend upon?  Is it going to be the government officials that are getting rich off of our breaking backs, or is going to be on a God who loves us and has shown us the way to live in prosperity and blessing?  You make the choice! 

            Now to the teaching at hand!  In Biblical Old Testament times there were two prominent in­stances of Tithing recorded in the Bible.

1.      Abram presenting a tenth of all the spoils to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2, 6)

2.      Jacob, after his vision at Luz, de­voting a tenth of all his property to God in case he should return home in safety (Genesis 28:22).

          According to the Mosaic Law the tenth of all produce, flocks, and cattle was declared to be sacred to the Lord by way of rent to him who was, strictly speaking, the owner of the land, and in return for the pro­duce of the ground.  Though if a man was so willing he was at liberty to redeem the tithes of the fruits of his field and his trees by paying the value of them with a fifth part added (Leviticus 27:30). The law did not specify the vari­ous fruits of the field and of the trees that were to be tithed. The “Mishna,” (which is a collection or digest of Jewish traditions and explanations of Scripture), includes everything eatable, everything that was stored up or that grew out of the earth. The Pharisees, as early as the time of Jesus, made the law to include the minutest kitchen herbs, such as mint and Cummin (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). With regard to animal tithes, the law prescribes that every tenth beast that passes under the staff, e.g. under which the shepherd makes them pass when he counts his flock, was to be sacred to the Lord, good and bad alike. It forbids any attempt to sub­stitute one beast for another on pain of both animals – the tenth as well as the one ex­changed for it – being required to be re­deemed (Leviticus 27:32). This tenth, called “Terumoth,” is ordered to be assigned to the Levites as the reward of their service, and it is ordered further that they are themselves to dedicate to the Lord a tenth of these receipts, which is to be devoted to the maintenance of the high priest (Numbers 18:21-28).

            This legislation is modified or extended in the Book of Deuteronomy, some thirty-eight to forty years later. Commands are given to the people:  1. to bring their tithes, together with their votive (vow) and other offerings and first fruits to the chosen center of worship.  It was then to be eaten in festive celebration in company with their children, their servants, and the Levites (Deuteronomy 12:5-18).  2. All the produce of the soil was to be tithed every year, and these tithes with the firstlings of the flock and herd were to be eaten.  3. But in case of traveling extreme distances, permis­sion was given to convert the produce into money, which is to be taken to the appointed place, and there laid out in the purchase of food for a festal celebration, in which the Levite is, by special command, to be included (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).  4. Then follows the direction that at the end of three years all the tithe of that year is to be gathered and laid up “within the gates,” and that a festival is to be held, in which the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, together with the Levite, are to par­take (verses 28, 29).  5. Lastly, it is ordered that after taking the tithe in each third year, “which is the year of tithing,” a declaration is then to be made by every Israelite that he has done his best to fulfill the divine command (Deuteronomy 26:12-14).

            It is plain that under the kings the tithe system fell into gen­eral neglect into which the observance of the law declined and so did the nation.  Hezekiah, among his other reforms, took effective and deliberate means to revive tithing once again (2nd Chronicles 31:5, 12, 19). Similar meas­ures were taken after the captivity by Nehe­miah (Nehemiah 12:44), and in both these cases special officers were appointed to take charge of the stores and storehouses for the purpose. Yet, notwithstanding with partial evasion or omis­sion, the system itself was continued (Hebrews 7:5-8; Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:12).

            The firstborn, the firstlings, and a tenth of the flocks and herds and produce of the soil were offered to the Lord as being sacred to him. Tithes and offerings, along with the firstborn, were intended, therefore, to be the representatives of the entire produce of the land and of the whole of property generally. This payment constituted a practical confession and acknowledgment that the whole land, and all possessions in general, belonged to God, and that it was He alone who conferred them upon those who enjoyed them.

 

THE BIBLICAL ORDER OF RESPECTING MONEY[1]

            In these days when the Church engages in unworthy, questionable and dishonoring methods in order to secure the necessary finance to carry on different aspects of her work, methods not only foreign to her Holy calling, but alien to the mind of the Lord, as they were revealed in the practices of the first century.  Therefore it is well to have before us the meth­ods of the Early Church and thus learn how its ministry was supported so that we may be able to detect the weakness of the present day system of maintenance, and change them!

            Dr. A. T. Pierson says that present methods of raising money for mis­sions are anti-scriptural, anti-historical and anti-spiritual; and that not until the era of unselfish and self-denying giving is inaugu­rated once more, can there be much pro­gress in reaching men with the Gospel.

            1.         The First Essential

            With the Apostle Paul, the question of giving was of vital importance, so much so that after writing to the Corinthian believ­ers about such a lofty, cardinal truth of the Christian faith as the Resurrection, he does not deem it to be out of place to close his great message in 1st Corinthians 15 by linking on to it the question of money and in closing this wonderful epistle speaks about the “collection” (1st Corinthians 16:1).             

            And why should he not class them to­gether? Is not our giving a part of the Gospel? Can we divorce our possessions from our persons when we offer ourselves to God? 

            Paul’s deals fully and clearly with the matter of the consecration of our substance in 2nd Corinthians 8,9; two chapters which all of us should read, care­fully and prayerfully, if we desire to ex­perience the true joy in ministering unto the Lord with our possessions, whether they be meager or many. In turning to these chapters we discover the first essential, or basis of all faithful stewardship definitely emphasized by the apostle in the words – “They first gave their own selves unto the Lord” – then follows the streams from this fountain – “and unto us (that is, in their contributions) by the will of God” (2nd Cor­inthians 8:5).

            This wonderful expression is nowhere else found in Scripture, but Romans 12:1 comes close. Where Paul beseeches the Roman believers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, for at the least, such was their reasonable service.  And this is ever the right attitude, for the giving of our money will have no value except we first give ourselves. Many a man is lured into a false security by thinking that his giving can atone for the “sin of his soul”, and merit acceptance with heaven. But God requires our souls before our sub-stance; ourselves before our silver; our lives before our charity; and when He fully and truly possesses us and then He pos­sesses all that we have. In fact, our giving after we have given ourselves to the Lord is just the re­newal and carrying out of the first great act of self-surrender: each new gift of money may be a renewal of the blessedness of total consecration.

            Moreover, it is only the grace of God within the heart that enables us to under­stand this “grace” as Paul calls “giving” in 2nd Corinthians 8, 9. In the course of these two chapters the word ‘grace’ occurs eight times; Once of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sakes became poor” (8:9); Once of “the grace which God is able to make abound to us” (8:7); the other six times of the special grace of giving. In other words, the grace we get from God, finds expression in the grace we give to others.

            Thus, the word means not only the gra­cious disposition of God toward us, but also that gracious disposition which God bestows and works in us. Grace is the force, the power, the energy of the Christian life, as it is wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, and which finds expression in the entire consecration of what we have, as well as what we are. And the lesson we have yet to learn is that the use of our money for others is one of the ways by which grace can be expressed and strengthened. The grace of God is His compassion on the un­worthy, it is wondrously free; it is given without regard to merit. Therefore as He finds His life and His delight in giving thus, so our grace in respect to giving should follow the divine pattern. In learning, this opening thought, let us make sure of this first essential, namely, the surrender of ourselves to the Lord. It is because He is more concerned about our persons than our purses that this is advocated, for He knows that converted hearts lead to converted pockets, and that as one has put it, “a con­verted hand in its own pocket is the Biblical way of ‘raising’ money for the Lord’s work.”

            2.         The Manner of Giving

            It is clearly evident that the modern forms of securing money were not necessary among the Early Christians, and yet the Church suffered no reduction in expenses, but on the other hand spread like wild fire, thus causing us to confess that had the Church continued such forms of sus­taining and extending her ministry, the na­tions would have been evangelized long ago.

            Another noticeable feature about those first days is that the majority of the believ­ers were poor people, slaves in many cases, and yet what remarkable giving character­ized their lives, and how wonderfully the Apostle Paul could bear the Gospel abroad through their sacrificial contributions. These early givers had no rich sources to tap, no reserves to fall back upon, and yet there is the entire absence of the solicitation of means from other sources. “Little is much if God is in it” – such is the secret of 2nd Corinthians 8, 9.

            In seeking to analyze the manner in which the Early Church gave of her sub­stance to the Lord and his work and work­ers, the following outstanding features can be named. Her money was given – voluntarily.  Now turning to 2nd Corinthians 8, we catch several glimpses of the willing­ness of these Macedonian believers to further the cause of Christ by their gifts – “They were willing of themselves” (verse 3). “There was a readiness to will” (verse 11); “If there is first a willing mind” (verse 12).

            The offerings or collections were not exacted from the people and given by them grudgingly, nor were they prescribed in any shape or form, but were called forth as the free-will offerings of grateful hearts, And in this they resembled the Israelites in the building of the Tabernacle, who with “willing hearts” we are told, brought the necessary materials for its erection (Exo­dus 35:5).

            Another outstanding feature of early Christian giving can also be found 2nd Corinthians 8:13, 14, Paul de­scribes the equality of the saints in respect to their giving “1 mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened. But . . . in equality.”

            The support of the work that the Church undertook in those days was not left to a few individuals favored by God with greater possessions than others, but every believer realized his or her responsibility and gave their quota. The same thought is emphasized in 1st Corinthians 16:2, where the churches of Galatia as well as this Corinthian Church were taught the prin­ciple of personal giving – “Let every one of you lay by him in store,  etc. And how much has the present Church to learn here, especially when one realizes that the vast majority of professing Christians for­get their individual responsibility to the Lord. In the wilderness the Israelites long ago were left to gather the manna, the feeble and the strong alike bringing in their store: and thus like them we deal as individuals with what God has given us.

            God sees the heart, and judges each gift by the ability to give.  This becomes truly evident from these striking words in 2nd Corinthians 8:12“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not.” It is here that the question arises of how much one should set aside for the Lord’s work. In the Old Testament a tithe was imposed, like Ja­cob’s tenth of Genesis 28:22, or other as­pects like 14:20; Leviticus 7:30, but in the New Testament no tithe is imposed, the giving is to be proportioned to the income, and given as we have seen, voluntarily, and as a test of sincerity and love. Still, it is helpful to impose some sort of a tithe upon ourselves, keeping in mind the injunc­tion of Paul in 1st Corinthians 16:2 that our tithing must increase as God prospers us. But tithing may have its dangers! There are those who give their tenth and then use the rest just how they please, without any reference to God regarding the use of it. We must never forget that it is all His. “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts” (Haggai 2:8) – therefore every penny must be treated as His, and used as He directs, in other words “systematically.”

            The importance of a sys­tematic course of saving was not overlooked by Paul, for he speaks about the Macedo­nians making up beforehand their bounty, that the same might be ready for him when he visits them (2nd Corinthians 9:5). To this we can add the passage from 1st Corin­thians 16, that reveals the system enforced and adopted –“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings (collections) when I come” (verse 2).

            It is the lack of system in our giving that often robs us of true joy in service for the Lord, and also makes many of the schemes necessary for raising money, schemes which would be absolutely un­necessary if every believer gave systemat­ically to the Lord’s work, both at home and abroad.

            Next month we will continue with this present imperative teaching on Tithing.  I hope that you have enjoyed it so far and will apply its principles to your life.  Harder times are coming let us prepare ourselves before it is too late.

Lastly; It is my pleasure to announce that a great honor has been bestowed me by Forerunners Theological Institute and the American Association of Christian Therapist Teaching Center of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.


[1] All the Doctrines of the Bible – Dr. Herbert Lockyer – Page 247-254

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