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The Persecuted Church


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Are you Giving to God with a Cheerful Heart

or Tithing by law to Benefit Yourself?

Have you been promised a great return if you give money to God through a church or a TV ministry? Maybe you heard some testimonies of people getting rich and you were drawn to give whatever you can because someone said that if you sow your seed into their anointed ground it bring a hundred fold return. The stories and testimonies are endless and so are the devastated lives from the unfulfilled promises to them.

There are two different groups of people on different sides; those who see these men as scam artists and are questioning the validity of their practices by the Bible and the other group believes whatever they say, thinking it is biblical and they do not question a thing.

Many preachers, churches and ministries have become very wealthy - especially television evangelists from practicing what they call seed faith. Many today live as king's in what would be called palaces and justify their opulence by using tithing as the law of God to have these blessings. However in closer examination there is no comparison between the enjoyers of the prosperity teaching in the modern day church today and the life Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, or how the Apostle Paul lived. Don't get me wrong, we should give, it is important to give (not just money). I assure you I'm not saying you should not support the church that you go to or ministries that do God's work. What I am asking you to do is two things. Question what your motive is in giving or more importantly, what is their motive in why they are telling you to give? And second: to look into the Scripture to see if what they are saying is Biblical by its context. Both of these will be covered in this article.

God does bless truth and people who want to give with the correct motives. Isn't this what it is all about motives--the givers motive and the receiver's motive.

Tithing for Israel is not the same as the tithe that we hear of today-- in fact tithing was rarely money. There were three tithes in the Old Covenant. More often tithes were the crops, the produce of the soil was to be tithed, grains, the fruit of the trees, every year new wine and oil, the firstborn of their herds and flocks (Leviticus 27:30-33). If the place the nation of Israel were to tithe and was too far away to carry their goods (such as Jerusalem), it could be exchanged for money. They were to use their money to buy anything the owner chose: cattle, sheep, wine (Deuteronomy 14:22-26). Every third year the tithe was to be reserved as a festival tithe where they brought out all the tithe, and their produce where the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the poor who were in their town, could come and eat and be content (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-15). You can expect not to see those who teach tithing as an obligation to practice the third year tithe.

The degree that prosperity teachers manipulate God's people is more than most schemers in the world would dare to do, and they do it without shame. It's all done in the name of our God. The apostles made it clear “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth”(2 Corinthians 4:2-3).

No other Scripture has had greater mileage than Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Malachi 3 has been greatly misused for God's blessing to come to his people. A closer look of this verse in the context shows that it has nothing to do with wealth or material blessings. We first find this same term used by God back in Genesis 7:11 the windows of heaven were open and rain contributed to the flood, as the fountains of the deep were broken open. In Genesis 8:2 it says the windows of heaven were stopped and the rain from heaven was restrained. Isaiah 24:18 it also mentions the windows from on high; this phrase is consistently used for water. In Genesis it was a judgment. In Malachi 3 it was to be a blessing on their crops. The nation lived by their agriculture (Husbandry) and depended upon the rain. God's blessing had to do with his provision of water; no rain and they would starve. If they did not give God their tithes which was part of the blessing in the Mosaic covenant God would bring a curse on them, the ground would not yield food because he would not allow it to rain.

By the nation Israel tithing under the Law of Moses, they were to trust God acknowledging that everything belongs to Him. It is impossible to tithe as given to Moses, for it was mostly agricultural. Today we hear that we are to obey the tithe law. The tithes were not gifts, they were taxes, tithes were given in addition to other numerous offerings which ended up to be over 22% (not just 10%). Under the law if you were only giving 10 percent on your tithes you would still be robbing God. One tithe was used to support the Levites (Numbers 18:21-32), who were not allowed to own property like the other tribes of Israel. However, this tithe from the people brought to the Levitical priests was not just money. The goods the Levites received would provide their living for their work in the tabernacle. They also were to tithe on part of the goods that they received, and were to dedicate to the Lord a tenth to the office of the high priest (Numbers 18:21-28). It was the Levites who were to “bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse” (Nehemiah 10:38). The Malachi passage that so many use to prove we are to tithe is not rebuking the people, he is rebuking the Levites for keeping the tithe that went to them. When modern day prosperity teachers use this verse on the people to be faithful, but they are really pointing at themselves-except they are biblically ignorant to recognize what it's actually saying. 1 Timothy 1:5-7 “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” The New Testament teaches grace giving, tithing was not a freewill cheerful giving, it was a commandment in Moses' law to a nation under God, Israel. Nowhere in the New Testament does it require any obligation or a legal portion of ones income.

Prosperity teachers who promote tithing like to point out that Jesus commanded tithing. In the New Testament tithe and tithing are found eight times (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; 18:12; Hebrews 7:5-6,8-9). All of these passages refer to the Old Testament usage under the law. Tithing was still practiced under the law when Jesus was on earth, however, the only time Jesus mentioned the tithe was a rebuke to the religious leaders “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. In Matthew 23:23 he explains they “have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” These you ought to have done” Here Jesus makes it clear that living the life of faith toward God included love toward man and was more necessary than what you give to God; and this was under the law, not grace. Think about what is Jesus addressing? Justice, the Pharisees were unfair in the in dealings with the people, they ripped them off in their sacrifices brought to the temple. Mercy, they had none, everyone had to be as religious (spiritual) as they were. They constantly looked down upon people, remember the story Jesus told of “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men-- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess. “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).
So we see giving is not enough to make one justified before God, yet many have been convinced to rely on their obedience in this area to have God's blessings.

The Pharisees said they have faith but they were more interested in the money, in fact Jesus said: “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.” ( so did Judas John 12:5-6). Then Jesus scolded them saying “what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God,” and He then summed it up by giving another parable--the rich man and Lazarus. The poor man entered where the faithful were, finding rest in Abraham's bosom but the rich man entered torment. The rich man was punished, not because he was rich but because he lived for self, he had no compassion for poor Lazarus whom he walked by and ignored each day as he sat by his gate.

The weightier matters of the law, what are they? The Christians are to focus on giving to those in need. “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mk. 12:31; Gal. 5:14). “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). The principle is to help others, especially the less fortunate brethren (following in principle Deut.14,26)

You'll notice that those promoters of tithing will always use the Old covenant law to justify their teaching this method of blessing. What the prosperity teachers do is bring people out from grace and under law. Under the New Testament covenant there is no specific amount required to give, you determine the amount you can freely give. “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

So on the question of tithing in the New Testament. Nowhere does Paul or any other apostle mention a required amount. On the other hand, Israel was under the law, being a theocratic nation they were obligated to tithe. Jesus had kept the law before He was crucified, for this reason Jesus had Peter pay the temple tax (Matthew 17:24). After Jesus was crucified the New Covenant began and the Old was finished (Heb.8:7,13). New Testament Christians were NEVER under the Old covenant law? One cannot conclude tithing is required under the New Covenant the same as the Lord's Supper and Baptism. Not once does any epistle contain any admonitions or a rebuke for failing to tithe. The necessity of giving is mentioned but only with the right attitude, to help and support others. You do not have to tithe to have God's blessing, in fact, those who are well off are asked to give away their things away when necessary. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Today we find the poor desiring to be rich and the rich often look upon themselves as blessed and using their abundance as proof of their spiritual condition. They have trained themselves in covetousness ignoring Mark 4:19: “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” One can have an abundance of material blessings and still be bankrupt in their spirituality. We have Jesus saying this about the church of Laodicea. We have too many examples of spiritual giants who have followed this path of abundance to their own demise, Solomon for one. Jesus spoke about money probably more than any other subject, but often with warnings and rebukes, not as a blessing promised for all who follow Him. From today's prosperity preaching one would never know Jesus said to “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15-2). We are cautioned through the whole body of Scripture to be careful of coveting and pursuing riches. Solomon who had more money than most of us will ever see wrote in Proverbs 28:20-23: “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him. He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.” Solomon gave both sides of this issue, being poor and being rich. A faithful man is one who serves the Lord no matter what he has, much or little. In other words, we are to be content no matter what we have. We can mistakenly focus our pursuit on only the blessings without realizing that we have abandoned a spiritual life and moved ourselves into a position of severe chastening. Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? We already have promised what we need according to the love and provision found in Christ Jesus.

It is doubtful we can pinpoint where or when tithing as a legalistic requirement came into the Church, but we can certainly trace its current popularity to the modern prosperity teachers with their promotion of seed faith giving. Many teachers use Mark 10:30 as a promise that anything we give to the Lord will be multiplied one hundred times back to us. Jesus was not speaking about giving, but leaving these things and relatives to follow him. In fact, neither money nor giving is mentioned in association with the hundredfold found in Mark. There is no excuse for teaching this and leading the congregation into collective coveting by their giving. Read the passage carefully! Regardless of what they say it says, did you ever consider that it is because they only want to be on the receiving end? Solomon wrote, “The leech has two daughters--give and Give!” (Proverbs 30:15).

Some teach tithing is the only way the local church is to be supported and tithing to the local church determines a person's spirituality, some have gone as far as to suppose that tithing is a requirement of salvation, if one does not give 10% they are not a true Christian. Some teach from Malachi 3 that you are cursed! What manipulation. If you want to understand the book of Malachi, read Malachi 4:4, “Remember the Law of Moses…” its not just tithing. If you choose by obligation to submit yourself to even part of the Law of Moses, you are obligated to keep it all. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them” (Galatians 3:10). It is actually the opposite, if you tithe by obligation then you are bound by all the law. Galatians 5:4 explains “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

If you run into financial difficulties and are unable to feed your family or pay the mortgage, you are not obligated to continue giving 10% to the church. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Tim 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” This is ones first ministry; rest assured the church will get along without your money.

If you have set aside money for your family needs, but do not use it for them and instead pay it to a church or a ministry as tithes, or as an offering of seed to get out of debt your are not being a good steward. If you owe money on your house don't fall for the scammers that say the $1,000 you have saved for the mortgage will not pay for the house so send it in as a seed to get more money. They are feeding on your carnal nature and making you covet--be responsible to God. Scripture does not teach to give more than you can afford, nor give so God can give you more. There was no mention of the poor becoming rich in the gospel, Jesus did not promise a hundred-fold blessing. “For there are many unruly, vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucere's sake” (Titus 1:10-11). Their motivation is money, what is your motivation? It has been said “He that serves God for money will serve the Devil for better wages”(Roger L'eStrange). What did Jesus tell us, you can't serve God and Mammon at the same time.

If your family is hungry and you need help to pay the rent you shouldn't be obligated to tithe the church should instead be helping you-willingly. That is what they are there for. We have this example in the early church (Acts 4:37). It is to be the “love of Christ that constrains us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). For it is the heart of God to help those in need, in money if necessary. We as the church should be looking for opportunities to give to those less fortunate around us not to those who already have it all. I hear of too many stories of rich ministries being supported for years and then someone who is hurting asks for some help and they get none. Where is your motivation? Is it of legalism, by law, or from the heart. It is to be the Lord Jesus reaching out and meeting the needs of others through us -- love is the principle that governs the Christians life, it is active not passive. “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not (His) love, it profits me nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). Yes you can actually give it all away as required and still not do it as a response from your heart.

Then there is the rich young ruler who gives us all an example. Mark 10:21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” The man could not do this. Jesus did not tell the man to tithe to him. After the rich man left Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23) Those who had less were often able to respond more easily because it did not get in the way, they had less to give up to follow Him.

Jesus did not teach to give to his ministry but to help the less fortunate “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail” (Luke 12:33-34). Zacchaeus understood this and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:8-9). Want to be blessed, don't give to get more, give from your heart to others that are needy because it is the right thing to do.

We should not be supporting false teachers and those who abuse the money and the gospel for gain. We should be looking to support those who are sincere and are in need of help in doing the Lords work. Those who are involved in full-time ministry are to be supported by the people they serve (1 Cor 9:7-14, 1 Tim 5:17-18), and those who do ministry and mission work need to be supported by those who are home with the goods. A careful review of New Testament giving reveals to us that our contributions should not only be to support our local church and ministries, but also meet the basic needs of our fellow Christians (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:1-13; 1 Tim. 6:17-19). There was organized giving within local assemblies to care for believing widows and orphans who had no other family to rely on (Acts 6:1-4; 1 Tim. 5:1-16).

There is NO example of the early Church (book of Acts) “tithing.” In Acts 4:32-37, there were many wealthy Christians who sold portions of their assets and put the money at the Apostles' feet. Was it for the apostles? No, but for the Christian community, those in need. The apostles distributed it. The only time we find a judgment having to do with money is in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira were condemned for lying, because they held back part of the proceeds from the sale of the land that they had promised along with everyone else. This had absolutely nothing to do with “tithing,” as much as it had to do with keeping their word, let your yes be yes, and no, no.

Proverbs 22:16 “He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.” The prosperity teachers increases their wealth by giving unbiblical promises of becoming prosperous to the poor and those giving their money to them are doing what this Scripture says not to. The poor, the homeless, the fatherless, and the widow have always been the focus of God (Exodus 23:11; Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 24:17-22; Psalm 12:5, 72:4,11-12). Today they are neglected you can expect not to see those who teach tithing as an obligation to practice the third year tithe. Every third year the tithe was to be reserved as a festival tithe where they brought out all the tithe, and their produce where the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the poor who were in their town, could come and eat and be content (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-15). How much consideration we have for the poor and needy, is an indication of our spiritual condition (1 John 3:17, James 2:1-9). Seen any poor or needy invited to any big parties at the ministries expense lately?

Our giving is to be voluntary, willing, and cheerful as an offering. As believers we are to be generous by sharing our material possessions with the needy and support Christian ministries (authentic ones). Every Christian should give to the place they are fed by and support the work that is taking place in their own community by the local church they attend. Giving to our church, missionaries, wherever we think the need is greater or where the Holy Spirit may put on our heart. Other offerings would be for ministries they would like to bless in their work. In principle, 10 percent may be a good goal; some may be able to give much more, some less. One should not be made guilty for whatever amount they give; the only requirement in the New Testament is to give cheerfully and willingly (Romans 12:6,8; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Tithing to get out of debt is not the answer for relieving anyone of any money problems; it's not a Biblical practice but a myth started by the prosperity teachers of seed faith. We need to teach responsibility in handling our money. It’s time to give to those who really need the support for God's work.

The New Testament when it speaks about giving goes against “tithing as a doctrine. 2 Cor. 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposed in his heart, so let him give: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.” Notice there is no amount mentioned, it what you have settled in your own heart. The Greek word for cheerful is hilaros, it is the English word “hilarious,” meaning give in a joyful, cheery, and exuberant manner. We should be happy and joyful to give to expand God's Kingdom. We are specifically told not to give grudgingly. The Greek word for grudgingly is lupe. It carries the meaning of sorrow, grief, being annoyed. If you are compelled to give, or give out of necessity and you have sorrow and annoyance in your heart don't give. If someone has convinced you or forced you to give by making you feel guilty or promised you a greater return, then you are no longer a cheerful giver.

The Apostle Paul also says in 1 Cor. 16:2, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. Again, it is not “tithing,” only giving as one has purposed in his heart and as one has prospered, you choose the amount. God does not pressure us, or manipulate us by guilt or hold a bonus out to us to motivate us to give. Have you ever noticed Jesus did not take any offerings!
Love is to be our motivation, not compulsion or legalism (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Mark 12:28-34; 1 Cor . 13:1-7). The more a person loves God the more he will want to give to see his work exp and, and this not always mean money.

Again I'm not saying ministries do not need support, they do, but to twist the word of God to mean something it does not to get this support by promising hundred/ thousand fold blessings is seditious. Money itself is not the issue, but how you relate to money; God is looking at our heart, what's our motivation. We are not to look to the “here and now” for our reward, but toward heaven where our treasure is being stored up.  If you give to get more, to increase that is giving for reaping on earth. Where are you looking, where is your heart today? Jesus said: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our Motivation is what is important; we should not give up something for the purpose to get something better, and neither should we give something to get something.

We should all support those we can in ministry, we should support the churches work, we should also look where God can use us to support those in need.

Under the conditional covenant of the Old Testament tithing was a necessity. It is not a command in the New Testament, it is a principle -- we give out of love, from the heart because we are under a new unconditional covenant not the Old Testament law.

(Excerpts from the book The Empty Pulpit)



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