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Thread: The Tithe

  1. #1
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    The Tithe

    I have noticed over the years that there are disagreements in the definition of the biblical tithe. Traditionally, it is thought that a tithe is what we give to the church in the offering plate, and this tithe is suppose to be ten per cent of our income. This money is then used to support the church, including the budget for the upkeep, the staff, and ministry type activities. Often, we will hear a sermon on the biblical support for tithing exactly ten per cent of our income, in order to give back to God what is His. So what does the Bible say about tithing ten per cent of our income? The question can be divided into three points including the pre-Mosaic, the Mosaic, and the New Covenant times.

    The pre-Mosaic times includes the time prior to when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to establish his promise which he made with Abraham. Sometimes the following Bible verse is used to support the need for use to tithe ten per cent of our income in these modern times:

    "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything." (Genesis 14:18-20)

    It seems fairly reasonable that we are to give ten percent of everything like Abram did in Genesis 14, but when reading the scriptures in close detail a different picture comes into focus. Abram, who became Abraham later on, just fought a battle in order to retrieve " all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people." (Genesis 14: 16). Abram then gave a tenth of these spoils of war to Melchizedek. He then used a part to feed his army and he allowed three men to keep their share. Abram didn’t give ten per cent, instead he gave it all away! Therefore, It is doubtful that God meant this verse to teach us that we should give ten per cent of our income to the church. Instead, we should give ten per cent of our spoils from war to the King who brought you bread and wine.

    "And the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself." 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, 'I have made Abram rich.' 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share." (Genesis 14: 21-24)

    The Mosaic times include when Moses brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments (the moral law), as well as laws and ordinances to govern the nation of Israel. Most pastors use Malachi 3:7-9 to support their point of view:

    "From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?' 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?'In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you." (Malachi 3:7-9)

    Jim Bramlett from choicesforliving.com wrote:

    "However, if one gives as under the law, there are other things one must do, which are never told. We cannot pick and choose which parts of the law we like or want to obey. No pastor has the authority to delete some parts of the law and include other parts. It is either all or nothing. No human can change God’s law. And remember: "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law’" (Galatians 3:10, NIV).

    1. Give ALL the tithes required by the law. Some count 3-4 different tithes under the law of Moses. One tithe will not satisfy the law. (Remember, no human can change God’s law.)

    2. Give your tithes to a Levitical priest. The problem here is that there is no more Levitical priesthood. Modern pastors are not Levitical priests. (Remember, no human can change God’s law.

    3. Give tithes in the form of agricultural produce and livestock. This will not work for urban dwellers -- unless you have a very big garden! (Remember, no human can change God’s law.) As to Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees that they tithe mint, dill and cummin (Matthew 23:23), remember that the New Covenant did not begin until the cross.

    4. Bring your tithes to the storehouse, or temple. You will have to go to Jerusalem, but when you get there you will not find the temple. The problem here is that there has been no temple since A.D. 70. Modern church buildings are not the temple. Individual believers are God’s temple. (Remember, no human can change God’s law.)"

    The New Covenant times refers to the point after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. Church historians make it very clear, that the 10 per cent tithe was not practiced in the early church. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that "The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members." Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church says, "It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenths of possessions, for sacred purposes did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors." The Americana declares: "It (tithing) was not practiced in the early Christian Church." Even the Catholic Church, notorious for raising money through tithing, says in the New Catholic Encyclopedia: "The early Church had no tithing system ... it was not that no need of supporting the Church existed or was recognized, but rather that other means appeared to suffice."

    So how do we pay our hardworking pastors, maintain the numerous expenses that comes from having a ministry, and give to the poor? We should do what the Bible tells us to to in New Covenant times.

    " The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9: 6-8)

    Original post can be found at http://cmnahrwold.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/the-tithe/

  2. #2
    2 Corinthians 9: 7 was the passage I quoted as well, "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion..." which essentially sums up giving under the New Covenant. While 10% can be a personal standard of giving, it is not a Holy writ commanded of the New Testament church to either give 10% or be branded a disreputable Christian. Thankfully, we found in Messiah Missions that most who have pledged support don't give 1%, but those who do give generously give 150 to 300% which make up for those who don't. God has a way of working it out. Missionaries Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, and George Mueller spent decades in service to the Lord, never once asked for a penny, not even hinted. They genuinely believed if it was the Lord’s work, it was up to him to provide, the same faith Messiah Missions tries to operate under.

    I mentioned how after the Reformation, the Anabaptist became obsessed upon the matter of 10% tithing, a matter that still is prevalent in certain circles today. Church leadership walking in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit will never need to guilt its people to give if they are indeed serving in the Spirit. Expressing a need for financial assistance is one thing, but to use Scripture out of context to leverage or "guilt" its people to give is similar to the legalistic spell cast upon the church of Galatia. Under erroneous teaching, a person can instantly transverse from “Freedom in Christ” to bondage under the law. And like a snare that Paul had to loose, that error must be eradicated to set those bound unto liberty in Christ.

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