PART 4 HAVE TO? WANT TO?
PART 4 HAVE TO? WANT TO?
What should be the basis for financial giving?
THE CHURCH AGE
Now we come to the current dispensation—the Church Age.
What will Scripture tell us about tithing in the age in which we now live?
Will we be convinced that the entire way of a believer’s walk with God during the Church Age will be different from that of the Jewish believer’s walk with God during the Age of the Jews?
Or will we be convinced that during the Church Age the New Testament saint is obligated to observe some of the mandates of the Mosaic Law?
FROM THE DAY OF PENTECOST TO THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
Jesus promised the disciples after He left this earth, that He would send to each of them the Holy Spirit, who is another member of the Trinity that would come and dwell within them. On the day of Pentecost, this promise was fulfilled. From that time on, the disciples’ (the apostles) mission would be to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who is deity, came to the earth to die on a cross as a substitute for mankind, thus paying the penalty demanded by another member of the trinity, God the Father for all of the sins that were committed by the entire world, past, present, and future. This payment opened the door for sinful man to have an opportunity to enter into heaven immediately at physical death, provided they repented to God the Father and professed belief in his Jesus Christ. (Acts 26:20).
When any person repents to God the Father and believes in His Son, they will receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:30; Ephesians 2:8), who will provide him/her with spiritual gifts, divine power, and the opportunity to experience a new way of life that is based upon a new way of thinking, which is delineated in the scriptural sections of the New Testament (e.g., in some passages of the four Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation). Some of these new believers might also receive an “office gift,” a gift that is a calling to a leadership position in the church (e.g., apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers), the collective purpose of which is for the perfecting (mending, repair, or correcting all that is deficient) of the saints; for the work of the ministry (the work of Christian service); and for the edifying (to cause to grow strong) of the body of Christ so that every member might become mature or fully grown.
Let’s see if the Scriptures from the Church age help to clarify the answer to this question. Is tithing relevant for Church Age believers?
We’ll begin by going to the book of Acts.
Were the Jewish Christians commanded to sell their lands and houses during a time of persecution?
- DISTRIBUTION WAS MADE
Acts 4:32-35 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul…neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own…and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Are these passages of Scripture saying that we should sell all that we have and give it to the church? The Jewish Christians sold their possessions in order to help their fellow Jewish believers, who were being persecuted by fellow unsaved Jews and the Roman government. If you were a Jew and got saved, then the unbelieving Jews would cut you off financially; in other words, you would lose your job. Likewise, if you owned a business, you would no longer be supported. In addition, the Romans had a proclamation that if you were a Christian, you would lose all that you owned. If anyone turned a Christian into the authorities, they would receive 10 percent of their assets. These Scriptures exemplify the fact that the church supplied for the needs of one another willingly by giving financially during a time of intense persecution.
Stay in the book of Acts and proceed to the next chapter where we will take a look at a Christian man whose name has been synonymous with lying.
Ananias and Sapphira were killed because they kept some money back from the sale of a piece of land. Why was this the case?
- KEPT BACK PART OF THE PRICE
Suggested Reading: Acts 5:1-11
Acts 5:2-5 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 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? Whiles 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. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Ananias and Sapphira were a married couple who promised to sell a piece of land and give all of the proceeds to the apostles for the financial assistance of their fellow believers that were being persecuted. However, when Ananias brought the money, he only gave part of what he had promised. The apostle Peter was aware of this deception and said to him that when he sold the land it was in his power to give what he chose to give. But once he proclaimed he would give all, and didn’t, then he lied before all. Immediately following this dialogue, Ananias dropped dead. When his wife arrived sometime later, she was also confronted, and likewise, she also dropped dead.
Our giving should be done with integrity and honesty. If we make a vow before others, we should keep it.
Please move ahead to Acts chapter 15, where the early church had to make a significant decision pertaining to what constitutes salvation and what constitutes sanctification.
Were the Gentile Christians commanded to keep the Mosaic Law?
- NOT COMMANDED TO KEEP THE LAW
Suggested Reading: Acts 15:1-30
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Acts 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment….
There were certain men of the Pharisees who, contending with Paul and Barnabas, taught that the Gentile believers must be circumcised in order to be saved. So, Paul and Barnabas decided to go to Jerusalem in order to discuss this matter with the apostles and elders that resided there. After much discussion, it was determined that an epistle be written and given in the care of four men, Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, who would go to the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia and read it to assemblies informing them that the Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, and neither were they under a mandate to keep the Law of Moses. However, it was agreed that they should abstain from the pollutions of idols, fornication, from things strangled, and from blood.
There are several ideas being expressed here, the first being that the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised in order to guarantee their salvation. Second, they were not obligated to keep the Law of Moses. And third, they were asked not to drink blood or eat animals, which had blood in them because these practices were not in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Here is a question to consider.
Why, if the Gentile believers were not commanded to keep the Law of Moses, were they asked to observe the Jewish dietary laws?
The dietary laws of the Jews were to be observed by the Gentile believers because the early church would meet together for group meals, called agape feasts at which time food and drink were to be shared amongst one another. Instead of offending their fellow Jewish believers, who still adhered to the Mosaic dietary laws, the Gentile brothers were asked to bring the food of animals that had no blood in them. Likewise, if they brought something to drink they were to make sure that it contained no blood. It appears that the Jews were not told that they couldn’t continue to practice their customs, which were based on the Mosaic Law. However, it was made adamantly clear to them that circumcision was not a prerequisite to salvation. And neither was keeping the Mosaic Law the basis for personal sanctification.
We’ll continue this study in the next book of the Bible, the book of Romans.
What was the apostle Paul’s solution to satisfying the righteous demands of the Mosaic Law?
- WITH MY MIND I SERVE THE LAW
Suggested Reading: Romans 7:1-8:4
Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin
Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Before his conversion to Christ, Paul was a Pharisee. This was the strictest sect in Judaism. He adhered to the duties of keeping the Mosaic Law and the interpretive traditions of the scribes without fault (blameless). When he became born anew in Christ, he was having a very difficult time in his walk with God. The moral aspects of the Law (e.g., thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not steal, etc.) expressed to him what he should and shouldn’t do. He tried to comply and obey the Law in his mind, but found that there was another law, which was warring against his mind. This was the law of sin and death, the old nature that has affections and lusts, which delights in breaking the Law.
Paul then proceeded to ask this question, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24) This was the condition of a mind in deep distress, conscious of its own weakness, and looking for aid.14 And then by revelation, he received the answer to this dilemma. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had set him free from the law of sin and death.
He goes on to say that they that are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. How does a Christian mind the things of the Spirit? By putting on a renewed mind (a mind that is illuminated by the Spirit of God, so that it understands and wills aright15), and also by being empowered by Him. When this becomes our modus operandi, then this will cause us to obey what the moral aspects of the Law commands, rather than trying to obey it according to our sin nature. This will deliver us from the controlling influences of sin leading to death. For the Mosaic Law, which could pronounce judgment and inflict a penalty upon sin, could not depose sin from its dominion. It’s only by means of the power of the Holy Spirit along with a mind that is illuminated by Him that we are able to serve the Law. What I mean when I said serve the Law is that because of the Spirit and our renewed minds, we are able to dethrone the dominion of sin and are able to fully satisfy the moral commands of the Law.
If it’s by the Spirit and our renewed minds that we are fully able to satisfy the moral aspects of the Law, then could we assume that it’s also by relying on the same Spirit and our renewed minds in regard to giving financially?
The book of 1 Corinthians is where we will go next in order to find out if the early churches were demanded by the apostle Paul for financial support.
Did the apostle Paul demand that the churches support him financially?
- THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST WITHOUT CHARGE
Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:1-14; 1 Corinthians 1:11-17; 15:1-11
1 Corinthians 9:11-14, 18 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
This letter was written, by the apostle Paul, as a response to a letter of inquiry from the elders of the Corinthian church, concerning many issues. The ones here involved the contentions concerning his apostolic authority and the matter of his financial support. The writing of 1 Corinthians also addressed issues that were mentioned by members of the household of Chloe. Paul responded in regard to financial support by saying that he had a right to be supported financially by the Corinthians. However, this was not something that he mandated that they had to do.
Stay in 1 Corinthians and we’ll take a look at a particular word that has often been misunderstood as being representative of a tithe.
Is the word “firstfruits” synonymous with tithing?
- CHRIST IS BECOME THE FIRSTFRUITS
1 Corinthians 15:17, 20 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that sleep.
These verses are a part of the dissertation concerning the false ideas that were being perpetuated in the Corinthian Church concerning the resurrection of Christ. Christ is mentioned as being the firstfruits of them that sleep. The word firstfruits in Greek is actually a singular noun and therefore it should be stated as firstfruit, meaning first.
Because Christ was raised from the dead, then our faith is not useless or in vain. He is the firstfruit, the first one to be raised from the dead. Others who were raised from the dead to life in times past were not resurrected but resuscitated. This meant that they would die again physically. But when Jesus was raised from the dead, he would not die again. The resurrection of Christ was God’s assurance that the rest of the spiritual dead would follow Him to heaven.
These verses were included in this study on tithing because many would say that this word firstfruit has to do with the tithe. What do you think? Do you think that it does?
Please stay in the same book and turn to the next chapter where we will find out what form of financial support was undertaken to support the Christians at the Jerusalem church.
Was the collection for the financial assistance of the Christians at the Jerusalem Church in the form of a tithe?
- AS GOD HATH PROSPERED HIM
1 Corinthians 16:1-3 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 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. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
The Christians in the Jerusalem assembly needed financial assistance because of persecution. On the first day of the week, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, the day following the 7th day Sabbath, when church meetings were held in Corinth and Galatia, money was set aside for the assistance of these Christians. This money was to be placed in a Poor’s box or alms purse. The apostle followed the rules of the Jewish synagogue concerning the collection for the poor. It was a regular custom among the unbelieving Jews of the synagogue to make their collections for the poor on the Sabbath day so that they might not be without the necessities of life.
In summary, each member of the church at Corinth was encouraged to lay aside finances on the first day of each week as God had prospered each member (in keeping with one’s income) until the apostle Paul personally arrived and collected the contributions that were to be used to help their fellow believers of the Jerusalem church.
Onward to the next book in the Bible, that of 2 Corinthians which will reveal as to whether giving financially should be a mandate.
Should financial giving be in the form of a mandate?
- GIVE; NOT GRUDGINGLY, OR OF NECESSITY
Suggested Reading: 2 Corinthians Chapters 8 & 9
2 Corinthians 8:7 Every man according as he has purposed in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
The Christians in Jerusalem are in need of financial assistance. The Macedonian believers, despite being poverty-stricken, gave liberally. The basis for their voluntary gift was their spiritual growth. Spiritual growth produced in them a grace mental attitude of giving. The basis for this growth was their abounding in faith (faith rest-Hebrews 4:9-11); utterance (doctrinal orientation; the ability to instruct others); knowledge (understanding how to problem solve); diligence (to amend all that is wrong among you, and do what is right), and love (a love that gives with no strings attached; a love, which is from the subject, and is not dependent on anything about the object). For as there was a readiness by them to give, because of the condition of their soul that was based on motivation from doctrine, so now was there a performing of it. This is in effect telling us that giving financially should not be based on a grudging mental attitude, from stinginess based on covetousness, but on the motivation of the heart, where Bible doctrine is metabolized, and not with regret, nor by coercion, for God loves a gracious giver.
The next book we will go to i.e., the book of Corinthians will reveal to us that financial giving is actually a fruit of the Spirit.
Did you know that giving is a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
- GIVING WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED
Galatians 5:18, 22-23 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Paul is reminding the Galatian believers that if they are led by the Spirit, then they will no longer be operating under the Mosaic Law. However, if they choose to operate under the Law, then the fruits of the flesh will be manifest. Likewise, if they are walking in the Spirit, then His fruit operating in their life will be manifest. One of these fruits of the Holy Spirit is called goodness. What is goodness? Goodness is giving with no strings attached (reaching out to others to do good even when it’s not deserved).
Giving to someone that communicates the Word is talked about in the last chapter of Galatians.
In what manner should finances be given to those who communicate doctrine?
- GIVE TO THOSE THAT COMMUNICATE DOCTRINE
Galatians 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
The apostle Paul is saying that those, who are being taught in the Word of God by those who impart such, should communicate (support) them financially. The word communicate is a verb that is in what is called the Imperative Mood. In Koine Greek, the Mood refers to the way in which the action of the verb is conceived with reference to reality whether it can be actual or possible. The Imperative Mood is a mood of command.
In this instance, the believers at the church in Galatia were commanded to contribute money so that those who convey the Word to them can make a sustainable living. However, there is no indication as to what amount or form this giving should be.
The next epistle will reveal to us that there was a church that supported the apostle Paul financially. Do you know which church this was?
When the apostle Paul received a financial gift from the Philippians Church was he concerned with the manner of how the money was raised or with something else?
- NOT THAT I DESIRE A GIFT
Philippians 4:16-17 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Paul was sending back Epaphroditus to the church at Philippi. He was the believer that had brought a financial gift from this assembly to Paul in order to provide for his needs. The Philippians gave to Paul time and time again, even when he was preaching and teaching in Macedonia. However, he was not seeking diligently for their money and was hoping that if they gave with a proper mental attitude, then this would be an advantage for their own spiritual account.
The next book we will go to highlights a particular word that many misconstrue as meaning a tithe. Please go to the book of Colossians.
Does the word firstborn signify a tithe?
- THE FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE
Suggested Reading: Colossians 1:12-16
Colossians 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
John 14:8-9 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
There are two things that are being mentioned in this verse concerning Christ. The first says that he is the image of the invisible God (God the father). What does it mean that Christ is the image of God? This means that in his essence (divine attributes) He has revealed God the Father to us. He is the visible representation of the invisible God. When we see Christ, we can see what God the Father is like.
The next thing that is said of Christ is that He is the firstborn of every creature. What does the word firstborn mean? This word refers to importance, of first rank. It relates to two things; that He is eternally preexistent and therefore was uncreated, and secondly that He is sovereign over all creation in that He created all things.
Does this have anything to do with tithing?
Many churches teach that the words firstborn or firstfruit as being synonymous with the tithe and should be considered as another aspect of financial giving. They would say that as God gave his best, his firstborn, his Son so should we, his church give our best by providing the first of our income at the time of the year when the Jews in the Old Testament gave of their firstfruits of the vineyards or firstlings of the flock.
Is there anything mentioned as to giving where it was a priority to take care of one’s family before contributing to the church? The book of 1 Timothy will tell us about this.
Was financial assistance to the church considered a priority before providing for the needs of a widow of one’s own house or a widowed relative?
- IF ANY PROVIDE NOT
Suggested Reading: 1 Timothy 5:3-9
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
If a widow had no children or grandchildren, needed financial support from the church, and met certain guidelines she would be allowed to be placed on a church list for assistance. Christians were admonished to provide not only for their own widowed mother but also for the widows, who were relatives that had no children or grandchildren alive to support them. If a believer chose not to provide financial support for them, then they would be regarded as those who had denied (disowned) their faith.
The book of Hebrews will tell us whether the old covenant is still in effect.
Does the changing of the old covenant to a new one mean that the old one was no longer in effect?
- THE FIRST COVENANT OLD
Suggested Reading: Hebrews Chapters 7-9; Genesis 14:20-24
Hebrews 7:1-2, 11-13 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
After four Mesopotamian kings had taken Lot, Abram’s nephew captive along with all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abram and his armed servants decided to go after and attack them, thus recovering Lot and all of the booty. When they returned, the king of Sodom came out to meet him, along with Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God. A tenth of the spoils was given to Melchisedec by Abram. He then proceeded to give to the king of Sodom the rest of the spoils because he didn’t want him telling anyone that he had become rich through acquiring his spoils.
Melchisedec, a priest, whose priesthood continued forever, received tithes of Abraham. His priesthood was to continue on in the antitype of the person of Christ. The sons of Levi (one of the sons of Jacob, a grandson of Abram) also received tithes because they eventually received the office of the priesthood during the institution of the Mosaic Law when their ancestors entered Canaan, the land of promise. On the one hand, tithes were given to Melchisedec, who lived having no father and mother never died and on the other hand tithes were given to the sons of Levi, who would perish.
The Levitical priesthood with all of its conditions could not remove the obstacle, sin, which kept man from God and could not make a way to access Him. However, a change of the priesthood from the Levitical priesthood to the priesthood of Christ necessitated a change of the Law. This meant that one entire legal system, the old covenant, would be changed to another, called the new covenant, which is a covenant of another character. This new covenant involves a law written in the heart; eternal blessings; eternal salvation; eternal redemption, and being able to have an intimate relationship with God.
Stay in the book of Hebrews and we’ll find out what kind of laws should we be occupied within our minds.
When God said that He would put His laws into the minds of the Jewish Christians, did He mean that they were still obligated to reflect upon and keep all of the tenets of the Mosaic Law?
- MY LAWS INTO THEIR MIND
Suggested Reading: Hebrews 8:1-13
Hebrews 8:7-13 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Jesus is the mediator (the one who deals impartially with two parties who have made a contract) of a new covenant, which is a new law, the perfect law, the law of liberty that is established upon better promises (promises to enjoy greater benefits). For if nothing was lacking in the first covenant, the covenant made under the Mosaic Law, then no place should be sought for another covenant, the covenant of grace. But the first failed to provide an atonement that would pay the penalty for sin, once and for all. It also didn’t provide for enabling the Jews to be able to live up to the terms or conditions of it.
Therefore, the Lord decided to make a new covenant (one that is fresh and different) with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. He will put His laws (for those who have repented and believed in God’s Son these are laws pertaining to the new man, the inner man for spiritual growth) into their minds (cause them to think about my ways) and write them (to fix indelibly) on their heart, which is the center and seat of the spiritual life.
As we remain in the book of Hebrews, we’ll find out how much of the Old Covenant, the covenant under the Mosaic Law a believer should obey.
How much of the Mosaic Law is a Christian obligated to observe?
- THE LAW HAVING A SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS
Suggested Reading: Hebrews 10:1-12
Hebrews 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
The animal sacrifices which were offered under the law were a faint outline or a type of the sacrifice that was to take place in the following age. Once every year on the Day of Atonement the high priest would make a sacrifice for the sins of the Jewish people for the preceding year. Sins of various kinds, which were committed against the ceremonial law, were pardoned. However, this offering for sin could not accomplish permanence in many areas. It could not satisfy the justice of God concerning the payment and forgiveness for sin. It could not provide cleansing from the guilt of sin for the sinner. It could not provide the sinner with the possibility of a new nature thus being set apart to God; it could not provide holiness, and it could not provide a renewed mind in order to address the guilt of sin.
So, God the Father further unveiled His plan for mankind. He set aside the legal system of sacrifices of the Old Covenant and established the once and for all sacrifice of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ His Son for sin. Jesus paid the debt owed to God the Father in to satisfy His justice and provided eternal forgiveness (to wipe away all records) for all sins past, present, and future. There is no longer any need for the Old Testament animal sacrifices offered once a year in order to atone for the sins of the previous year.
But what about any of the other tenets of the Mosaic Law? Is a believer mandated to tithe? Are they obligated to give of the firstlings of animals or firstfruits of wine, oil, etc. as analogous to giving the initial best in respect to financial giving? Should they continually observe the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, as the day which should be set aside to worship God? Is a Gentile Christian under compulsion to be circumcised (the cutting off of the rounding of the penis)? Should the four-yearly feasts of the Jews (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, and Tabernacles) be attended? Are there any restrictions with respect to the dietary laws of the Jews that a Christian should abide by?
Is there anything under the Old Covenant that could benefit a Christian? Absolutely! There are a few things that can be a blessing to us. There are certain scriptural studies that use verses from the Old Testament that will enhance our learning about a biblical topic. For instance, if we were doing a study on God’s attributes, verses from the Old Testament could definitely illustrate these in a more illustrative way because of the many stories that are recorded there. Another consideration for using verses from the Old Testament would be in the realm of doing a study on prophecy (future events that have come to pass and future events that have not come to pass). And still further when we are trying to get a fuller understanding as to why a Savior/Messiah was needed, the Old Testament can provide a wealth of knowledge on this. One more thing which we shouldn’t forget is the examples of those Old Testament saints who confided in God amidst trials and persecutions and God’s faithfulness in response, which gives us hope that He will do the same for us.
Please remain in the book of Hebrews. Another word is mentioned here that some believe is either synonymous with the tithe or is like it in the sense that it mandates financial giving by the assembly of believers of the New Testament church.
Does the church of the firstborn mean the church of the tithe?
- THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN
Hebrews 12:18, 22-23 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
The Hebrew Christians are of the church of the firstborn. The word firstborn means the followers of Christ, those who first received the gospel of Christ. As a result, they have their names written on a list in heaven, being enrolled as citizens of heaven even while living on earth.
Here is another example where the word firstborn is used. As we have discussed earlier many say that this word signifies a tithe and as such, they would describe the early church, the church of the tithe. Others would say that this word is representative of giving the best financial gift, considering as such should be given first.
Well, we have just looked at many Scripture sections during the Age of the Church. They all contribute to answering the questions. Have to? Want to? In other words, is giving financially mandated in the form of tithes and firstfruits, or is giving financially an individual choice based on a renewed mind operating in the power, leading, and guiding of the Holy Spirit?
Did anything on this study of tithing stand out to you?
Let’s read the brief summary that follows and find out what the dispensationalist and non-dispensationalist have to say to the Christians in the Church Age as to whether they are obligated to tithe or not.
- Those Jews, who became Christians, were persecuted by their fellow unbelieving Jews and the Roman authorities. In many cases, they lost their means of employment. Some of their fellow believers that owned lands or houses sold them in order to provide financial assistance for them. Was this request for assistance mandated? Acts 4:32-35
- Ananias and Sapphira were two believers who promised to sell a piece of land and give all of the proceeds to the apostles for the financial assistance of their fellow believers, who were being persecuted. However, when Ananias brought the money, he only gave part of what he had promised. Our giving should be with integrity and honesty. If we make a vow before others, we should keep it. Acts 5:1-11
- The Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised in order to guarantee their salvation and neither were they obligated to keep the Law of Moses for sanctification. The Christian Jews were made aware that if they wanted to continue to keep the Mosaic Law, fine. However, the keeping of the Law should not be considered as the basis for their salvation or personal sanctification. Acts 15:1-30
- The Law, which could pronounce judgment and inflict penalty upon sin, could not depose sin from its dominion.16 It is only by means of the power of the Holy Spirit with a renewed mind that we are able to fully satisfy the commands of the Law: thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, etc. Romans 7:1-8:4
- Paul said he had a right to be supported financially by the Corinthians. However, he did not demand they support him. 1 Corinthians 9:1-14
- Christ is the firstfruit, the first one, to be raised from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:17, 20
- Until the apostle, Paul personally arrived to collect the financial offering, each member of the church laid aside money on the first day of each week. This was a contribution that each believer made without compulsion in keeping with their income for the financial assistance of the Christians at Jerusalem. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
- The Christians at Jerusalem were in need of financial assistance. The Macedonian believers, despite being poverty-stricken, gave liberally. They gave because of the condition of their soul, motivation based on doctrine, and not with regret, coercion, or of a grudging mental attitude. 2 Corinthians Chapters 8 & 9
- One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is goodness. This refers to giving financially with no strings attached. Many people believe that goodness can only be expressed through action, i.e., doing good for others. However, before goodness can be expressed it should have as its motivation the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 13:1, 3). Galatians 5:18, 22-23
- Those who are being taught in the Word should support financially those who teach the Word to them. This support was given in the form of a command. However, the amount or form of giving is not mentioned. Galatians 6:6
- The Philippian Church gave to Paul time and time again, even when he was preaching and teaching in Macedonia. However, he was not seeking diligently for their money but was hoping that if they gave with the proper mental attitude, this would be an advantage for their own spiritual welfare. Philippians 4:16-17
- Jesus is the firstborn of every creature, a precise reproduction in every respect of the invisible God, God the Father. The word firstborn points to His eternal pre-existence before creation along with His priority and sovereignty over all creation. Colossians 1:12-16
- Christians are admonished to provide for not only their widowed mother but also for widows who are relatives that have no children or grandchildren alive to support them. If they didn’t, they would be considered as those who denied the faith. 1 Timothy 5:3-9
- One entire legal system, the old covenant, was changed to another, called the new covenant, which is a covenant of another character. This new covenant involves a law written in the heart; eternal blessings; eternal salvation; eternal redemption, and being able to have an intimate relationship with God. Genesis14:20-24; Hebrews Chapters 7-9
- The Lord decided to make a new covenant (one that is fresh and different) with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. He will put His laws (laws pertaining to the new man, the inner man) into their minds (causing them to think about his ways) and write them (fix them indelibly) on their heart, which is the center and seat of the spiritual life. Hebrews 8:1-13
- God the Father set aside the legal system of sacrifices of the Old Covenant and established the once and for all sacrifice of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ his Son for sin. Hebrews 10:1-12
- The Hebrew Christians are of the church of the firstborn. The word firstborn” means the followers of Christ, those who first received the gospel of Christ. Hebrews 12:18, 22-23
And so, what do you think? Here is the ultimate question that you are left to answer for yourself.
Is a New Testament believer obligated to tithe?
And what about the firstfruits (the best; the first) of their income, are they also obligated to give in this manner?
The dispensationalist will use Scriptures in regard to Church Age believers from the four Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation. They would use the following ideas to express the sentiment that a New Testament believer is not obligated to tithe.
- Tithing is not specifically mentioned as the protocol for giving financially. Giving should be based on having a proper mental attitude that operates according to the Word of God in the power of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians Chapters 8 & 9
- The righteousness of the Law, its moral precepts, such as thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not kill, etc. are fulfilled by the believer when they operate in a renewed mind under the filling of the Spirit. Romans 7:1-8:4
- Those who teach the Word under the anointing of the Spirit and likewise those who receive it are commanded to support them financially. However, the amount or form of giving is not mentioned. Galatians 6:6
- The believer’s walk with God is not predicated on observing the judgments, testimonies, statutes, and commandments of the Mosaic Law, but by becoming conformed to the image in Christ. Therefore, outward obedience without regard to the condition of the heart is replaced by an inward refinement by the Word of God that reveals to us who we are in Christ while operating in the influences of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 8:1-13
- The Gentile and Jewish believers were no longer under any obligation to obey any aspects of the Mosaic Law. The Jewish believers were allowed to continue to do so as long as they understood that the Law could not provide salvation or sanctification. Acts 15:1-30
The dispensationalist might conclude by saying that the New Testament saint is not obligated to tithe or give of their firstfruits, but should freely give of their income because of the condition of their soul that is motivated or based on doctrine in the filling of the Spirit. While they would agree with the non-dispensationalist that tithing was instituted prior to the implementation of the Mosaic Law so were animal sacrifices (Genesis 4:2-4), circumcision (Genesis 17:9-12), and the observance of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 16:22-30).
The non-dispensationalist will use Scriptures from anywhere in the Bible to support their doctrinal perspective. They would use the following ideas to express the sentiment that a New Testament believer is obligated to tithe.
They would say that tithing began when Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils to Melchisedec. They would also contend that this practice was observed during the Age of Israel under the Mosaic Law and during the time when Jesus lived on the earth who didn’t express any sentiment against it.
They would contend that as the Jews of the Old Testament would be poured out financial blessings from heaven if they tithed so will the New Testament believer be poured out financial blessings if they tithed. Malachi 2:1-17; 3:6-11
Ultimately, they would conclude that tithing should continue to be practiced by the New Testament believer.
As for firstfruits, they would also say that the offering of giving that which was first, the firstlings of the flock began with Abel and was an integral part later on in the sacrificial system of the Levitical Priesthood that continued on to be practiced during the incarnation of Christ. Therefore, this should be emulated by the believer in giving financially of their best, the first of their income when it is asked for by those in leadership.
So, there you have it. Two opposing views on tithing.
What do you think, is the believer obligated to tithe or even give the firstfruits of their income?
I would like to leave you with some final thoughts.
TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE?
My hope is that you did your due diligence in reading this book. If you did, then you have become a learner and not just a hearer. Hopefully, when your pastor teaches on any subject, you will not just accept it, but study it for yourself.
What happens if your view of this topic has changed? I believe that honesty is always the best policy. If it’s possible see if you can discuss this topic with someone in leadership. Some churches consider this as a minor doctrine, while others consider it as a major doctrine. You might be told by those in leadership to reconsider your view because your continued adherence to it would result in you not being allowed to be placed in any area of responsibility. On the other hand, you might be thinking, I won’t bring it up to anyone. In my experience, one’s own views on various biblical topics will surface at some point.
I always contemplate these questions when attending any church, as I hope you would also. Is the gospel being preached? Does God show up, impacting me with his presence? Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit manifest? Am I learning about who God has made me be as a result of salvation? Am I learning how to address the weaknesses of my flesh? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then Hallelujah!
However, here is where you have to be real careful. If along with these spiritual realities, you are being taught to keep certain aspects of the Mosaic Law for sanctification what should you do? This is a common dilemma, with grace and Law being mixed. I have been in many churches that advocate such.
Besides tithing, we might be told that God can only be worshipped on the Sabbath. Are we asked to wear certain types of clothing or adhere to particular dietary laws? What should our response be to these conditions?
Our response should be to learn about who we are in Christ. Our response should be to learn how to address the weaknesses of our flesh. Our response should be too appropriate and meditate upon Scripture in the areas just mentioned. Our response should be to study the Word of God like the Bereans and see if what is being taught from the pulpit is supported by Scripture. Our response should be prayer to God for insight and help in whatever biblical topic we are asking for guidance.
I hope that you have enjoyed this book, and have embarked on a journey of rightly studying the truth concerning any biblical topic which has been presented to you by the leadership of the church you are attending. Furthermore, I hope that this study has brought you to a greater understanding of the “why” there are differences in church theology.
In closing, put on the new mind, the mind of Christ, learn how to deal with the weaknesses of your flesh, and be filled with the Holy Spirit so that His power, His fruit, and His guidance and discernment will be operational within you.
I’ll leave you with a final question.
Are we, Christians, Christ’s body obligated to tithe financially?
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