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Posts tagged ‘Tithing’

THE DOCTRINE OF TITHING (LESSON 2)


THE MYSTERY OF MALACHI REVEALED (By L. Ray Smith)

It is the book of Malachi that today’s clergy uses as their main authority for promulgating the doctrine of Christian tithing.” Christian tithing means that everyone must give 10% of their gross income (which is in the form of MONEY, 99%+ of the time), or they will be “cursed with a curse.” It will be well worth your time to read the real meaning of Malachi’s prophecy.

Mostly one will hear only three verses of Malachi quoted by those attempting to wrest a doctrine of Christian tithing from this prophecy.

Here are the “cursing” verses:

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9).

Here is the “blessing” verse:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat [bread] in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that thee shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

Their interpretation of these proof texts are as follows: Rob God of His ten percent of your salary and be CURSED, or pay God ten percent of your salary and be BLESSED.

Before we go any further, just who is cursing whom in this Malachi prophecy? Does God, indeed, say, “You are CURSED with a curse” (Mal. 3:9)? This definitely sounds as if it is GOD Who is doing the cursing, doesn’t it? But say, did you notice that the word “are” in your Bible is in italics? That means that the word was supplied by the translators and was not in the original manuscripts. Remove it, and the verse says: “You cursed…” rather than “You are cursed…”

Is it God, or Israel, who is doing the cursing in this verse?

The Sopherim (Jewish Scribes) understood this verse to say that it was Israel “cursing God” rather than “God cursing Israel.” I have a few translations that make this correction:

“With the curse YOU are cursing [me], and me YOU are robbing—the nation in its entirety.”

And:

“With a curse you curse Me, and Me you are defrauding—the nation, all of it” (Mal. 3:9, Concordant Version of The Old Testament).

We must always keep in mind that when the Bible says “tithes” it means products from the land—as grains and cattle. But when the Priests of Christendom say “tithes,” it always means money. Because the clergy prefers to be paid in money, it therefore, became necessary to change the Biblical use of the word “tithes” to now include money. And if “money” can now be shown to be a tithable commodity, guess what? Abracadabra, hocus-pocus, open sesame—every believer, of every occupation in the whole world (not just the farmers as in the Law of Moses), now is required to pay ten percent of his income to the Church. They increased their base of productivity a hundred fold.

What then is the 21st Century application of this Malachi Prophecy? Are we now to tithe money? Let’s read Malachi 3:10 very carefully:

  1. WHAT were they robbing God of? “tithes AND offerings.” Tithes of what? Products from the land—grains and cattle.
  2. WHERE were they to bring the tithes? To the “storehouse” [Hebrew: ‘garner’-- a granary for grain].
  1. WHY did God want these tithes of the land brought to the “storehouse” (the granary)? “That there may be meat [bread] in Mine house [God’s house, Not the granary].”

If there is no spiritual application of these statements and we rather take them literally, there appears to be a contradiction here. Why should the people bring the tithes to the “storehouse” (a granary for storing grain) when what God wanted was “bread in His house,” (the tabernacle/Temple, and not the “storehouse”)? The only food in God’s house—the tabernacle, was a dozen loaves of bread. And that bread was for the Priests only, not for the tribe of Levi. Since there were only twelve loaves of bread in the Tabernacle/Temple of God, are we to believe that the whole nation of Israel did not bring enough grain to the storehouse to make even twelve loaves of bread?

God does not contradict Himself, there needs to be something other than a need for enough grain from the whole nation of Israel to make twelve loaves of bread! Just what does God mean, “that there may be meat [bread] in Mine house?” Is God really reprimanding Christians of the 21st Century through Malachi’s prophecy to bring our checkbooks to church, “that there may be money in Mine house?” Yet this is the teaching of the Church regarding Malachi’s message. What is the Truth?

Does God ask Israel to bring all the tithes and offerings into the storehouse, or treasury, or granary, so that there will be “tithes and offerings in Mine house?” No. God says so, “that there may be meat in Mine house?” We know that they did not bring the tithes and offerings into the holy place of the tabernacle. Only bread was kept in the holy place. The “bread” in the holy place was a type of something future, just as everything that happened to Israel and all of their offerings and ceremonies were a type of something future (I Cor. 10:11). He must indeed be spiritual blind who cannot see that the “bread” in the holy place foreshadows “The True Bread of Life—Jesus Christ.”

If God wanted more money in His house, why did Jesus do what He did in the House of God?

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the MONEY changers… and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:12-13).

THE CHRISTIAN INTERPRETATION OF BRINGING IN THE TITHE

The Christian interpretation of Malachi 3:10 is this: “Bring ye all the tithe MONEY and extra offerings of money to the church bank, that there may be money in the Church.” Granted, they might not enunciate it that crudely, but that is what they teach. Ask virtually any pastor of any church, “How do I, starting today, actually obey this prophecy of Malachi to stop “robbing God of His tithes and offerings?” and he will tell you to write out a check in the name of his church, for 10% of your salary (plus an offering), and that check will then be deposited into the church bank account.

Then ask these same pastors what kind of blessings you will receive for obeying this procedure, and they will probably tell you stories where people received huge amounts of material goods and even huge amounts of more money. This is their interpretation of God “opening the windows of heaven and pouring out a blessing.” And there are ministers by the tens of thousands at this very moment preparing more stories and more yarns on how blessed one will become in every imaginable physical, earthly, and material things for giving them (they would say, giving God) your money.

Is this really how God wants us of the 21st Century to apply Malachi’s prophecy to our lives? I speak as a fool.

This prophecy has absolutely nothing to do with tithing money to the Church.

Does God suggest somewhere in this prophecy that there isn’t enough “money in His house?” Is Jesus Christ coming back to this earth to judge these “priests” because the “people” failed to bring enough money to the storehouse so that there would be money in God’s house? Is it a lack of money that concerns God in this prophecy? No, it is both the people and the priests who have corrupted themselves according to this prophecy. But like always, God holds the priests to a much higher standard and therefore they receive the greater condemnation. There are two groups of judgments in this prophecy:

[1] “Behold I will send My Messenger… But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall PURIFY the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:1-3).

[2] “And I will come near to you to judgment [not just the priests, but many of the people as well]; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:5).

It is amazing how the clergy make most people think that the only thing of value in the book of Malachi are these three verses on “robbing God” and “receiving a blessing.” There are four whole chapters in this book, and maybe it should behoove us to see what the rest of this book has to say. Here are just a few more things contained in Malachi:

“You offer polluted bread upon My altar… if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil…” (1:7-8).

“And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you… I will curse your blessings… Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your face…” (2:1-3).

“But you have departed out of the way… ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi… therefore I have also made you contemptible and base before all the people…” (2:8-9).

“Behold, I will send my Messenger… But who may abide the day of His coming… He is like a refiner’s fire [like the lake of fire] …And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi… that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (3:13—See Isa. 6:29).

“Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them… And they shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I made up my jewels; and I will spare them… Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves Him not [‘Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?’ I Cor. 6:2)](3:16-18).

“And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (4:6)

(TO BE CONTINUED IN LESSON 3)

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THE DOCTRINE OF TITHING (LESSON ONE)

THE DOCTRINE OF TITHING (LESSON ONE)

 In the next several lessons, we will present you with a bold position on “THE DOCTRINE OF TITHING.” As you read and study these lessons, we want you toThink Deeply Before Concluding this Matter.” Therefore we will provide you with this quote from Dr. Kinley as you begin your study. Dr. Kinley stresses the importance of thinking on a matter before reaching a conclusion “… Nevertheless, we must, for our own Eternal welfare, regardless of our present so-called Church affiliation, keep an open mind to proven facts, which Satan, the Adversary, who was created to oppose the TRUTH, is always present to influence us in the wrong direction. Did it ever occur to you that we remain ignorant of attested TRUTH and scientifically proven facts, most particularly because we fail to make a PERSONAL, detailed INVESTIGATION of important matters? This failure to investigate positively retards the progress of our understanding and knowledge in every vocation and phase of life, both physical and spiritual. Sometimes, stopping and thinking for a moment over the essential things of life eliminates many regretted years of poverty, sickness, humiliation, embarrassment sometimes, death and destruction. Therefore, we should learn to pause and TRY TO THINK INTELLIGENTLY before we finally conclude affirmatively or negatively. We should do this before an ultimatum or final decision is rendered on any secular subject. The majority of us are, to some extent, guilty of this negligence.” (Elohim, the Archetype Original Pattern of the Universe, Introduction, paragraph five, page 1)

We encourage Bible educators to be bold, to open up their seminary level research and to promote studies on this subject in the Masters, Doctorate and Ph. D. levels. This doctrine is simply too important to ignore.

In many churches today, the doctrine of tithing has reached the level of a modern scandal. While on the one hand, most seminary-level textbooks on systematic theology and hermeneutics by highly educated theologians omit tithing, on the other hand, this practice is quickly becoming a requirement for church membership in the very denominations, which insist on solid Bible-based doctrines. There is also increasing evidence that laypersons who question the legitimacy of New Covenant tithing are usually criticized, and ignored as being troublemakers or weak Christians. Sincere Christian leaders should always be open and available to discuss God’s Word. Failure to do suggests doubt and insecurity. More “holy boldness” is needed.

A trip into a handful of Bible dictionaries should cure anyone of the simplistic idea that there is such a thing as 10 per cent off the top to a priesthood. Harper’s Bible Dictionary under “tithe” on page 1078 tells us,

“Reconstructing a clear picture of the nature and function of tithing in biblical times is extremely difficult due to the conflicting accounts and the problems in identifying the dates and provenance of the texts. Apparently, tithing was understood and practiced differently at different times and localities throughout the Biblical period.”

The above statement may come as a surprise to many people. This is very sad because it shows how little most of us know about the Bible. Many of those who teach tithing want it that way.

Tithing is Illegal

by Gary Amirault

When I say “illegal,” I certainly do not mean from the government’s point of view. The American federal government has been extremely generous in allowing religious organizations almost free hands in their money raising endeavors, even to the point of giving them many kinds of tax advantages. By illegal, I mean that God never authorized Christian leaders to take a tithe from God’s people. One will not find the modern church tithe authorized in the Old Covenant, nor in the New Covenant. Certainly, church historians are in agreement, when they say that tithing was not practiced by the early believers.

The tithe is a subject that is very dear to most church leaders. Those denominations that can get their members to actually bring in a full 10% of gross income can create very powerful forces far beyond their strength in numbers. The leading “tithing” sects according to an article in Christian Ministry, are interestingly what Evangelicals would term “cults.”  Mormons, and the World Wide Church of God are the leading givers. The fourth is the Assemblies of God. Recently, the World Wide Church of God abandoned the tithe as un-Scriptural. Donations dropped 30 per cent in the first year.

According to Newsweek, most church members give far less than 10%, most giving under 2 per cent. Not surprising is the fact that the poor give a far greater portion of their income than the rich. USA Today (Oct. 25, 1990) tells us that families earning less than $10,000 give 5.5 per cent of their income to charity (not necessarily to church). Families earning between $50,000 and $60,000 give only 1.7% of their earnings.

We hope to show in this book that while many church fund-raising organizations and Christian financial counseling ministries tell us that not paying “the tithe” is robbing God, the actual Biblical facts are that those who teach tithing as a Christian doctrine are, in fact, the ones who are “robbing God.” As we go through this article, keep in mind the above statistic that the poor far out-give the rich percentage-wise.

I am going to make a statement that will probably shock many Christians who have been in church for a long period of time and feel they know the Bible pretty well. I hope this statement encourages the reader to “see for themselves” that this statement is 100 per cent Biblically true. My hope is that when we see how far off Scriptural ground we have come in such basic Christian teachings as giving, we will renew our desire to study to “show ourselves approved.” Here is the statement: The tithe as taught by most Christian denominations as being 10 per cent of gross or net income is not contained on the pages of the Bible!

Many Christian publications say that those who do not tithe are robbing God and will suffer curses for not doing so. I am going to use one of them as an example of what Scriptures and reasoning are usually used to support the idea that the church is full of God robbers, that is, people who do not tithe 10 per cent of their income.

A booklet entitled Tithes, Offering, and Alms states: “Today many churches do not teach tithing because they do not want to drive people away. In reality they are robbing God’s people of their blessing. When tithing is not taught, they are allowing their people to ignorantly rob God. By this they allow the devourer to have free access to their people. Then the church and the people wonder why they are not being blessed. When God’s people return again unto God, He will return unto them as He has promised.”

By this minister’s own reasoning then, the Churches of the world are full of “God-robbers.” The vast majority of Christians do not even come close to giving ten per cent of their income. Most churches are overflowing with “God-robbers.”

While this booklet Tithes, Offerings, and Alms deals with more than just the tithe, we will only focus on the tithe since that is the subject of this article.

I am not mentioning the author of this work hoping in days ahead he will see the foolishness of what he wrote.

In one small paragraph, this minister condemned to the devourer entire congregations who do not tithe. As long as people do not tithe, he says, they have turned their backs to God and He cannot bless them. They are God robbers! The booklet I just quoted is very typical of publications like this. They all refer to the same handful of Scriptures to justify their position.

I will use this one as an example of which Scriptures are used to support their view and then show how these Scriptures have not only been grossly taken out of context, but even these Scriptures out of context do not support the teaching of tithing being 10% of income.

We will then study the history of tithing in the Old Testament, the early church view on the subject, and what we believe is the correct Biblical view on giving.

What Saith the Scriptures?

Those who teach that Christians are obligated, to tithe can be categorized into two main groups: 1. those who say we are still under the Mosaic Law or portions of it; 2. those who say the tithe is part of the Abrahamic Covenant, which is pre-Mosaic. The latter group says the Abrahamic Covenant, being a covenant of faith, is valid for the church. They say Abraham was a tither. Therefore, we should tithe.

Let us deal first with the pre-Mosaic arguments. Those ministries, who have taught the Mosaic Law, are done away with and therefore cannot be put upon Christians use this teaching. They are correct regarding the Mosaic Law having passed away.

(We cannot get into this subject fully because it would take up too much space, but a handful of Scriptures might be helpful to those who disagree on this point. See 2 Cor. 3:11,13; Hebrews 8:13; Gal. 4:21-26; really all of Galatians and Hebrews.)

Briefly, the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant) was a two-sided agreement between Israel and Yahweh in which Yahweh would bless them if they kept their part of the agreement and He would curse them if they did not. It was an all or nothing package. A person was not allowed to turn this agreement into a smorgasbord, picking and choosing what suited one’s religious diet. They could not choose what to keep and what to throw out. James 2:10 tells us “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Almost all denominations of Christianity have taken portions of the Mosaic Covenant, “Christened them,” and added them to the New Covenant. Without being aware of it, this has made most Christians guilty of the whole Mosaic Law, which says it all must be kept. At the same time, they have “fallen from grace” because of mixing it with a covenant which no longer serves a purpose for those under the New Covenant. This is not to say that we cannot learn many wonderful truths from the Mosaic Law. We are just no longer in covenantal relationship with God through that covenant. We are in covenantal relationship with God through a New Covenant ratified by Jesus Christ, not Moses.

The fact that most denominations of Christendom have not understood this vital point has caused us to fall from “grace through faith,” the very power of the New Covenant itself. What is tragic is that most Christians are not even aware of this “falling away” which has been going on for hundreds of years. Most denominations have mixed the Mosaic Covenant instituted by Moses with the New Covenant, which is the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:2) One covenant brought death (and always will); the other brought Life. If you believe, any of the Old Covenant is still binding to a believer in Christ, read what Paul has to say in 1 Corinthians chapter three verses four through eighteen about the cornerstone of the Mosaic Covenant, that is, the Ten Commandments. This should cure anyone of binding himself or herself to the “ministry of death.” The consequences of this mixture have been catastrophic. A careful non-biased survey of church history should reveal what this mixture has produced. While this paper is not about Mosaic Law versus Grace, I felt the subject had to be touched somewhat. (To be continued in Lesson 2)

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