The bondage of the tithe

The following is a letter I sent to a friend who is teaching tithing to the church. The information presented is applicable to all believers, so I have removed all personal references and present this to anyone who is interested;

Dear friend,

First of all, I hesitate to send this to you. It would be easier to just walk away. I dislike conflict, yet seem to be drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

I have some thoughts regarding your statement that “Christians need to tithe”. First please understand that I am not against Christians giving to the Church, and to other worthy causes. I am against, however, setting up a rule that God did not apply to the Church. I am well aware that I am in the minority in this, but I can also say with confidence that the majority is ALWAYS wrong!

Have you ever considered what a born-again believer is? What is he or she in Christ? As I see it, and I believe as the bible teaches it, we are in a different age, or dispensation, than the pre-Christian believers of Israel. Don’t get me wrong, salvation has always been by grace through faith, not only for Abraham but even as far back as Adam. All the saints of all ages were saved the same way, but there is a difference in the status of Church-age saints. This is why Jesus said of John the Baptist;

11Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11

John was ONLY born of a woman. He was not born-again of the Spirit, though he was a believer, and is in Heaven today. This is why Jesus emphasized “born of women”, John was from an age where believers were not permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

The least Church-age believer is actually greater than Johanan the Baptizer. He spoke of that “least” believer in Matthew 5

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

In this passage a person who breaks the least commandment, and teaches others to do so, is still IN the kingdom of Heaven. His righteousness comes from somewhere other than the law, v-20. This law-breaker has a greater righteousness than the teachers of the law, the Pharisees!

John was not, and never will be permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. While he was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, he will forever miss the fellowship of the Holy Spirit all Church-age believers enjoy.

We are children of God, united with God the Messiah in a way that was unknown in ancient Israel. This is referred to as a mystery by Paul.

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:30,32

God’s dealing with the human race this way will end with the rapture of the Church. The Church-age will end the day of the rapture, and He will revert to the Old Testament paradigm. The Tribulation saints will have a similar status to John the Baptizer.

This status of the Church is exemplified in Jesus’ encounter with Peter over the Temple tax;

24And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?26Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. Matthew 17:24-27

Jesus did not pay the Temple tax because He, or Peter, owed it, but because Peter had already said He would pay it. He was actually saying that as a child of the King, neither He nor His church owes taxes, as a subject.

Tithing for Christians cannot be taught unless this status of Christians is ignored, or misunderstood. Either way it is a problem.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: Romans8:16

24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:24-27

When teachers say the Church needs to tithe they are saying that Christ needs to tithe, since we have put on Christ.

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:17

27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:27-29

Clearly the writers of the New Testament had this in mind as they wrote about giving, because none of them ever said that Christians ought to tithe. If I am a joint-heir with Messiah, then do I owe a tax on that inheritance?

16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. II Corinthians 6:16

When preachers say that Christians need to tithe, they are saying that the Temple needs to tithe to something that is not the Temple.

The Holy Spirit came to the Church, and did not indwell Israel. The time that He would come was spoken of by Jesus in John 14;

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Another problem with this whole idea is that the law is very specific. We can’t just make it a general principle and then say “Obey the law”. The law says that certain persons were to tithe, and it was not a general rule for everyone in Israel.

Who was commanded to tithe? The tithe was for those who made their living from the land, in Israel, both of believers and unbelievers. Farmers, herdsmen, and beekeepers.;

30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.

32And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. 33He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed. Lev. 27:30, 33

17Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: Deut 12:17

22Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23And thou shalt eat before the LORDthy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORDthy God always. Deuteronomy 14:22

5And 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. 6And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps. 2 Chron. 31:5, 6

37And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our groundunto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. Nehemiah 10:37

44And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited. Nehemiah 12:44

5And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. Nehemiah 13:5

12Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. Nehemiah 13:12

The tithe was to be in goods, and not money. There was a 20% penalty for those who brought money instead of the fruit of the land (20% on the tithe, not on the whole);

And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. Leviticus 27:31

This was because the priests and Levites would have to take that money and use it to purchase the things the law required, food and animals. Those who are going to be faithful to the Old Testament tithe will have to receive grain, vegetables and animals.

Certain professions are conspicuous by their absence in the law of the tithe; fishermen, tradesmen such as carpenters, tinsmiths, tax collectors, and miners were not obliged to pay the tithe, though they still would bring free-will offerings, and sacrifices. If they grew herbs in a window box, they would have to tithe on that.

The Pharisees knew that the tithe was for the increase of the land, and so would tithe from their little gardens in their back yard, or window boxes. They were correct in this, but then they ignored the more weightier matters, like justice, mercy and faith. Matthew 23:23

Jesus, as a carpenter, was not required to tithe. John, Peter, and Andrew, as fishermen would not have paid a tithe of their catch. Can you imagine the stench by the time they got to Jerusalem from the sea of Galilee? I searched and there is nothing in the law about fishermen having to tithe. They were exempt! Matthew was also exempt, since he was a tax collector (Luke 5:27).

Do you think it is an accident that the Lord chose men like these to lead His Church? I think not. I think He specifically chose men like this because He knew they would not emphasize the tithe, and of course He made sure of that. Their focus was on the relationship we have with our Saviour. Even Paul, a Pharisee, who would be expected to emphasize tithing, never once said that Christians ought to pay it.

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Think about it, if tithing was mandatory then it is a necessity. Paul is saying that tithing is not a valid rule. What else did Paul say?

2 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 when I come. I Corinthians 16:2

Most pastors use this to promote tithing, but the tithe is not mentioned. In fact no percentage is mentioned at all. The church, either as a building or as a assembly is not mentioned either. They were told to set aside gifts “by him in store” in other words, they were to keep in in their own home until Paul came, not to give it to the assembly!

They were to exercise their own discernment and stewardship! This is something most pastors won’t tell you! Most will say “let us take care of your money”, something that is entirely unscriptural!

Most tithe teachers quote from Malachi 3. This passage is often used to manipulate people into tithing. I have heard many pastors quote from this to say those who don’t tithe are “robbing God”. I wonder how many ever study the passage in depth?

First of all, Malachi 3 is addressed to the priests. Secondly they were actually tithing. They were technically giving their 10%, so they were surprised to hear that they were robbing God. Here is what God says about their tithe:

6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORDof hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORDis contemptible. 8And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORDof hosts. Malachi 1:6-8

If you go back to the law of the tithe, (above in Lev. 27:33), you will see that the people of Israel were to tithe the tenth animal that passed under the rod, and were not to enquire whether it was good or bad. Obviously sick animals would lag behind the healthy so there would always be some of poorer quality taken in the tithe.

So what is the problem here? That tithe went to the Priests and Levites. They were to take the best 10% and give it to the Lord, but instead they were giving the worst 10%! They were tithing, and robbing God while tithing!

So how does this apply to the Church? It doesn’t, unless you are serving Him half-heartedly, or tithing, instead of making your entire substance available to Him, if He calls for it! That’s right, those who only give 10% have much in common with the priests of Malachi 3!

Ananias and Sapphira didn’t rob God. They did not have to give the entire amount they received for their land, to the Church. According to Acts 5 they did not have to give any of it! In other words, they did not even have to give 10%! Their sin was not in robbing God, or in keeping some of the money, but in thinking they could get away with lying to Him! They were showing contempt for God by lying to the Church!

3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own?and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. Acts 5:3-4

To say, as a blanket statement, that we are required to tithe, implies that this rule overrules the leading of the Holy Spirit! Are there churches, and pastors, who should NOT be supported by God’s people? Do you think that the members of Joel Osteen’s church should be tithing? I think they should leave, but certainly God is not in the preaching there, therefore he receives too much money!

The people at Saddleback church should not be tithing. If God’s people stopped giving to that church, wouldn’t that send a message to the leadership, that something is wrong?

These are two of the worst examples, but there are countless pastors who are living a life of compromise, and unfaithfulness, and luxury at the same time. I have met some of them! Teaching tithing keeps God’s people at a low level of spiritual maturity… babes in Christ!

Satan doesn’t mind tithing. The Catholic church teaches tithing, and as a result most protestants teach it also. It is a holdover from Catholicism. In fact the New Age, and Wicca also teach tithing!

If a ministry is truly of the Holy Spirit, does it then follow that members should tithe? I don’t think so. Sometimes God has special ministries He wants his children to be involved with, and He might want one person to give more, so someone else can concentrate on God’s mission for them. We are not all given the same ministry, nor are we all convicted the same in every direction. We are not all given the same gifts, but all gifts come from the same God!

If Christians were listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit wouldn’t they be giving sacrificially? And Joyfully? By teaching tithing, many pastors leave their flock with the idea that “I’ve done my part, and the rest is mine!” If I am a child of God, I will want to have a part in my Father’s business!

Tithe teaching also teaches the wrong reasons for giving. Christians teach that “if you don’t tithe you will be cursed”! Therefore some tithe so they won’t be cursed. This is actually a denial of Scripture;

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:Galatians 3:13

Others teach that if you tithe, God is bound to reward you. Again; the wrong motive! I have known some who tithed for a while, and ended up walking away from church and Christianity altogether. I know they were taught this idea, and it is totally wrong. They were taught that they would be financially successful if they tithed, so they tithed, even when they couldn’t pay their rent, or feed their children! God doesn’t owe anyone anything! He certainly doesn’t owe money to tithers! (No doubt they were not saved to begin with, but I am focusing on false teaching here)

It is only a small step to go from this to being like Steven Furtick, Oral Roberts, and the New Apostolic reformation, with their “seed faith” heresy. And, it is a heresy.

I have been in fundamentalist churches where the pastor said “Trust Christ, and your life will be great”. Implying that everything is great for Christians. This was not Jeremiah’s experience, nor was it the experience of some fifty million martyrs for Jesus. This is false advertising for Jesus! Yeshua Himself told us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28-33), and those martyrs certainly found it worthwhile in the end, but it wasn’t fun while it was going on! They were looking for a better city, and not for a better life here and now!

Why would that pastor say something like this? The same reason that he teaches tithing. He is using the worlds methods, and has lost faith in the Lord’s methods. In the end it is counter productive. The world looks at us as being all about money! That very same pastor, one Leroy Pennell, of Heritage Baptist, Barrie, told me twice that “The church must be run as a business”. Obviously, to him it IS only a business!

I am writing this with a heavy heart. I am despairing that there is a faithful man in Canada. What is the difference if one man is right about the Sabbath, but wrong about tithing, while another is right about tithing, but wrong about the Sabbath? The Plymouth Brethren churches do not teach tithing, but they meet on Sunday. As I see it, there ultimately is no difference, one is just as unfaithful as the other.

In the mean time, I recommend you read “Tithing; Low Realm, Obsolete, and Defunct” by Matthew Narramore. While I can’t agree with everything he says, especially about the law, he is on the right track with regard to the subject of tithing. The more important subject is that the believer needs to understand our relationship with God. In this I am in complete agreement with him.

As for the law, it reveals God’s character to us. Therefore we should study it, while understanding that in Christ we have moved to a higher level. No one ever became spiritually mature without studying the whole Word of God.

The book is available on-line without charge.

Before I sign off, what is the real biblical percentage for the church? It is not 10%. It is actually 100%! Jesus said: So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33

He does not always ask us to give up 100%, but He does ask each of us to be willing to forsake everything we have and follow Him!

All means all, not 10%, but the amazing thing is that Jesus gives you the privilege of administering the funds He gives you. You are responsible for all the money the Lord entrusts you with, not merely 10%, therefore you have the right to decide what is done with it. Don’t abdicate your responsibility!

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About dknezacek

An average, ordinary guy. Author, husband, father, pilot, aircraft builder, test pilot, machinist, artist, just ordinary stuff that lots of people do. Don't forget bible student. Dan's passion is bible study, especially including the End Times prophecies.
This entry was posted in Christian Doctrine, Prophecy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The bondage of the tithe

  1. Charlie says:

    Brother Dan, you fairly hit this one out of the ball park! Right squarely on the head, as the saying goes! Very well put and very well documented. Bravo!!!

    Charlie

  2. Well done and thank you, dear Brother, a truth that needs to be said. (I believe true O.T. tithing under the law was on the per annum increase of wealth and when the whole matter is considered works out at about 19.5%) Blessings in the Lord Jesus from the UK

  3. shekinah419 says:

    I recommend “God’s Economy: The Tithe and New Testament Giving”, by Jeff Farris. A very well-researched and well-written book on this topic. See it here on GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13143272-god-s-economy

  4. Sheryl says:

    Dan, my husband wont tithe, but we do give offerings to different ministries – thank-you for this teaching, because I wont be upset with him anymore over this issue. 🙂

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