Pure Religion and undefiled March 6, 2012Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith.
Tags: church finance, New Covenant, offerings, Old Covenant, Religion, stewardship, tithes
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (Jam 1:27) KJV
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (NLT)
Recently I have written a series of posts addressing “tithing” (amongst other things) and this started with the post “Unravelling the tithing dilemma”. Some reading this blog may think that my sole focus has simply been on “tithing” and may even think I sound like a broken record repeating myself but there is a central theme and purpose to each post and in this post I aim to tie up all that I previously stated. Hopefully the point of all these posts may therefore come to the fore through reading this post.
I opened this post with a quote from James 1:27 as this sits at the heart of the tithing equation today and which sits at the very heart of our Gospel. The two other translations I gave, more fully expresses what the KJV version intended to say. What sits at the heart of the tithing equation therefore is the question of what is acceptable religion before God?
Under the Old Covenant Israel was called to give a tithe of the produce of the Promised Land to the Levites, the poor, the fatherless, the widows who were all in NEED that they may eat and be satisfied (Deut 14:29). Today the church seeks to recapture the practice of collecting a tithe but what does the church do with it? In contrast to ancient Israel where the tithe went to meet immediate and pressing needs, today we use the tithe to maintain lofty and expensive church buildings and pay a salary to the priests or pastors (and perhaps the organist). Today we talk about giving to God, and equate our giving to maintaining these structures as giving to God (this is seen as furthering the Gospel). Yet in the early church giving to God was tantamount to meeting the needs of the poor, the fatherless and the widows. If the tithe is God’s then let us start giving it to God via the poor and stop talking about it. In Matt 25:35-46 we see Jesus saying that if we feed the hungry, visit the sick, clothe the naked etc we have done it to Him but if we did none of those things we did not do it to Him. There are those who will argue of course that when we give money to church that the church will in turn use some of this money to send missionaries abroad and to give to the poor and other charitable causes. In my experiences, some churches remit a portion of the takings to the umbrella body and this may help to support missionaries in the field. However, for others the main church takings (tithes and offerings) are normally treated as sacrosanct – by this I mean that most of it is used up on the administrative overheads (including salaries) and the rest kept in a bank account but very little or none of it goes to meet the needs of the poor. Instead, after the main tithes and offerings are collected we are then asked to “dig deep” into our pockets for extra funds or “love offerings” that will go to missions and fund charitable works. This was not so in the early church however. Do we for a minute think that God is pleased with great and grand buildings we have elevated in His name, and maintain with vast sums of money year by year, whilst millions of people throughout the world go hungry each day? Perhaps the church cannot solve the poverty problem across the world but we can certainly do more even in our immediate communities.
In the early church all of the church takings were redistributed to meeting the needs of the whole church, including the elders who ministered over the church. This is aptly demonstrated in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-35. What a contrast to today’s church where the poor and the needy who come in go home empty-handed with the promise that God will bless them if they tithe faithfully even if they have to borrow to pay that tithe (as in the example of some churches)? The early church did not consider their possessions as their own but had all things in common – and they laid what they had to give at the apostles’ feet who in turn redistributed so that no one lacked. Other examples of this practice are evidenced in 2 Cor 8:12-15 and 2 Cor 9:1-8 where Paul collected gifts from other churches to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. The early church was acting out the very commands/teachings that Jesus Christ imparted to us such as in Matt 19:21 where He instructed the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give it to the poor. We also see another example in Luke 16:9 where Christ says we should make to ourselves friends with the mammon (worldly wealth) of unrighteousness. In meeting the needs of the general poor we are also encouraged to give to the elders, especially those who minister in the word and doctrine (1 Tim 5:17).
Today we have reassigned the purpose of the tithe (not that we are under the Law), as the principle of it as demonstrated under the Law is not borne out in how we utilise it in the church today. In contrast to the early church also, faithful stewardship is now exemplified by our giving of tithes and offerings to God to maintain lavish buildings and large administrative budgets in the place of directly redistributing the funds to meet the needs of the poor. Is our religion as practiced in this way by the church today acceptable to God when pure religion and undefiled, which God accepts is defined in scripture as caring for the fatherless and the widows and keeping oneself spotless from the world?
I am not against tithing January 9, 2012Posted by Henry in Tithing.
Tags: commandments, giving to God, Mosaic Law, tithes, Tithing
I am putting this post out to clarify my position on tithing. The reason for doing so is that “pro-tithers” (if you can call them that) will often misinterpret and misrepresent what others who don’t share their view says in opposition of tithing. As such anyone who says that tithing is not biblically binding upon the New Testament church are often considered anti-tithers. I am however NOT an anti-tither. This might sound confusing to some who read my posts because they may ask, “if you are not against tithing then why do you write so many posts attacking tithing?” However I will demonstrate in this post why I am not attacking tithing and why I am not against tithing at all.
What is tithing?
For most people in the New Testament church tithing is separating 10% of your income/earnings (indeed 10% of all you receive whether regular or unexpected) and giving it to God via the local church. It is believed by many that this portion belongs to God as this is what God commands or demands. This view is largely based upon the Law of Moses. Support for this practice is also drawn from Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek in Gen 14, where he gave the Priest a tithe of all the spoils he recovered in battle to rescue Lot, and to a lesser extent Jacob’s vow to give a tithe to God of all God gave him.
Let me state categorically here that I am not against anyone giving 10% of their income to their church and neither do I wish for anyone to stop giving their 10% to their church. However 10% of ones income given to the church should NOT be confused with the tithe that God required of Israel. So what exactly was the tithe that God required? The following verses tell us clearly what these were:
30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD. 31And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. 32And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Now some will argue here that they tithe food and animals because money was not available and that people at that time were engaged in the practice of barter. This of course is not true because money was mentioned as far back as Gen 17:12 and occurs at least 9 other times in the book of Genesis. As a matter of fact verse 31 of Leviticus where it speaks of redeeming the tithes, this was a reference to buying back part of the tithes with money as the NLT translation more clearly shows:
If you want to buy back the LORD’s tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. Lev 27:31
What we note from these verses is that although it was possible to convert (or buy back) some of the tithes with money (plus 20% mind you), God did not command Israel to tithe money specifically but only produce of the Land.
If this is not sufficient evidence that money was readily available, we also find in Deut 14:24-25 where the tithing law was more clearly outlined also mentions money – here the Lord commanded that if the way was too far so that the tither wasn’t able to carry the tithe (to the place where the Lord chose to place His name), he should convert it to money and take it and buy whatever his heart desired. What Deut 14 also shows is that tithing was not only about giving (i.e. to the Levites and the poor etc) it was also about the tither eating their tithes before the Lord and only the third year tithe was given to the Levites etc.
Was the temple financed through the tithe?
In the previous section I attempted to define what the tithe under the Law constituted and it was clearly nothing to do with income or money. Here is a puzzling thought though. If only produce of the land were to be given as a tithe then were people not engaged with agriculture exempt from tithing? The simple answer to that question is yes! We have to remember here that whilst the Land was given to Israel as a nation the Levite tribe (from which the priests would come) did not get any portion of it. The tithe OF THE LAND was therefore given to the Levites to inherit [(Num 18:24, 26). The Levites in turn gave a tithe of all the tithes to the priests [(Num 18:28) Note they also received first fruit offerings and such as well which I will not go into as this topic is focused on tithing].
Having considered the foregoing therefore several questions might be raised. If only food was tithe to the Levites and Priests how was the tabernacle or the temple supported and how were the other needs of the Levites met such as for clothing, household things etc? Did they therefore sell some of the tithe to get money to fund their other living costs and the temple costs? Scripture does not tell us that any of the tithe was to be sold in this way. Rather, the purpose of the tithe was to provide food for the Levites (and the Priests) and there is no indication that any other expenses were to be derived from it as we see here:
12When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Deut 26
Mal 3:10 also demonstrates that the purpose of the tithe was so that there would be food in God’s house. Here is where “pro-tithers” argue that produce cannot pay for the needs of the church. The point needs to be stressed here though that unlike the church today the tithe was eaten and not used as a means of funding the temple. The point needs to be highlighted here also that the storehouse in Malachi’s day was NOT the temple itself so equating the church to the ancient storehouse is somewhat silly. The storehouse was where the food was kept and certain Levites acted as treasurer over the storehouse.
Where then did the money come from to meet the expenses of God’s house in ancient Israel if it did not come from the tithes (of produce of the Land)? And how were the expenses of the Priests and Levites met?
Firstly, we note from Num 35:1-4 that the Levites had possessions of goods, cattle and beasts and they were given cities to dwell in when they entered the Land and suburbs around their cities to hold their animals. Note also from Lev 25:32 that the Levites could sell their houses for money at anytime.
In contrast to the view that the tithes are used to fund the expenses of the church, money (not food) was collected separately by the priests and Levites from all Israel annually to maintain the temple (see 2 Chron 24:5, Neh 10:32). There was also other freewill giving of money to the house of God as seen in 2 King 12:4.
Aside from the tithe of produce the priests received money as a type of poll tax on the first-born of Israel(Num 3:45-51). They also collected money for the atonement of sins demonstrated in Exo 30:16, and which was used for the service of the tabernacle. In 2 Kings 12:16 the priests received the sin and trespass money which was not brought to the house of the Lord but belonged to the priests.
One of the clearest passages of scripture which demonstrates that the tithe was nothing other than food can be found in Neh 10. In this chapter we see in verse 34 where wood for example, was given as an offering but it was not included in the tithes. In verse 32 we also note they contributed money annually for the service of the temple and again this was separate from the tithes which we come to realise when we get to verses 37 and 38. Here we note that the tithes were collected from the agricultural cities (cities of the tillage) only thus confirming what I said earlier that only food producers were required to tithe and that the tithe was never money. To add to that, what we notice from the New Testament scriptures is that the practice of tithing produce existed up to Jesus’ time as the Pharisees tithe herbs of mint, dill and cumin (Matt 23:23). This was clearly the practice of tithing and money was given separately to the temple treasury as we see in Mark 12:41. It is noteworthy to mention here that those who argue that Jesus did not abolish tithing, citing Matt 23:23, by the same logic refuses to acknowledge that the tithe was not money or the equivalent of earnings but food produce from food producers only. If Jesus did not change the tithe law then the tithe remains a tenth part of produce only from food producers. This point however is lost on “pro-tithers”. We note from Luke 16:14 that the Pharisees loved money yet Jesus did not rebuke them for tithing herbs instead of money and this is because under the law only produce could be tithed. It should be noted here also that people who were engaged with other professions but who also tilled the land on the side were also required to tithe of the produce of the ground. They did not however tithe of their income from their profession.
Who changed God’s Law to require a tithe of income from all Christians? By this misinterpretation of the Law all Israel would have been required to tithe yet that is not what scripture teaches.
There are a great number of misconceptions concerning the tithe and as the debate rages on the misconceptions proliferate. In this article I have merely addressed a few of them. However, I think that if we start from the position that the biblical tithe that God commanded had nothing to do with income nor had it anything to do with money or finances then we would be well on our way to resolving all the various disputes. I believe I have demonstrated why tithing is not something done in the New Testament church. Giving 10% of ones income to the church is not equivalent to the Mosaic tithe and therefore the tithing Law should not be used to support this practice in the church. I am not against anyone freely giving 10% of their income to their church if they so wish but this is not an observance of the biblical tithe, nor could it ever be. I pray that people would learn the truth about tithing and be set free of bondage.
The trial of Pastor Jones January 5, 2012Posted by Henry in Tithing.
Tags: tithes, Tithing
I came across the following mock trial of a pastor who taught tithing in error to his church for years (although I must confess that I had seen it several years before). I find it very insightful as it addresses all the issues surrounding the legalistic approach to tithing in the church today. There is one thing that really stuck out for me however and it is the following quote from the judge’s response:
“If your church can not survive on freewill offerings maybe God is not part of your church at all.”
What a profound statement.
The article can be view here: http://www.tithing.christian-things.com/jones.html
Tithing Confessions January 4, 2012Posted by Henry in Tithing.
Tags: blessings, faith, God's promises, tithes, tithing confession, trusting God, windows of heaven
One of the bizarre things I have come across about tithing in recent times is dubbed “tithing confessions”. I grew up in churches that mentioned or advocated tithing but I had never heard of the practice of tithing confessions till recently. It would appear that after many years of tithing people are questioning why they are not receiving the promised “windows of heaven blessings” that their pastors promised them. They are no better off after years of tithing and still face the same struggles daily. So it appears that in order to “ease” the discontent and uneasiness someone came up with a “clever idea” that the reason they are not receiving the blessing is because they lack faith and therefore they need to regularly make a “tithing confession”. These confessions are designed to encourage the faithful to hang in there and continue to tithe faithfully believing that if they confess regularly that the blessings will eventually pour forth. A close examination of some of these “confessions” (can be found by googling) will reveal that they are little more than vain babblings by people who are destitute of the truth.
The question that one should ask therefore is that if God promises you something why should you need to confess daily or regularly in order to receive it? This to me demonstrates a lack of faith because by faith we take God at His word. We do not test or prove God but rest upon His promises. If we look at Abraham for example, God promised him a son. Do we see in scripture where Abraham confessed daily to receive his son? No! Abraham expressed doubt because of his age and his wife’s age so thought he would help God to fulfil the prophesy by heeding his wife’s encouragement to beget a son by her maid Hagar. Yet following this Abraham was granted the son God had promised him. The thing to note is that when God promises something He will fulfil it according to His sovereign will so all we need to do His wait on Him.
We need to examine however whether God promised the church the “windows of heaven blessings” for tithing. It is clear from scripture that Mal 3:10 was a covenant withIsraelandIsraelonly. Paul says that before faith was the Law, hence since faith had not yet come, God instructedIsraelto prove Him by bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse and see if He wouldn’t open the windows of Heaven and pour out the blessing. Those who tithe according to these promises therefore are trying to hijack a covenant and attempting to beholden God to it – a covenant which incidentally has been set aside by God and replaced with a new one. Under the new covenant we have faith therefore we do not seek to prove God. Many are therefore tithing and confessing in vain because they seek after promises that God did not give them. This is why they will never receive the “windows of heaven blessings” as a direct response to their observance of a covenant that God did not make with them.
The use of “tithing confessions” is a deceptive doctrine which serves to keep in bondage those who are vainly hoping for things that were never promised to them. God is not man that He should lie. God is not delivering on these promises because He did not promise them to the new covenant church. If He had you would not have been tithing in vain all these years and still left empty-handed. God does not fail on His promises. Wake up church!!
The unholy tithe: Defiling God’s name December 20, 2011Posted by Henry in Tithing.
Tags: church giving, freewill giving, New Covenant, Old Covenant, stewardship, tithes, Tithing
10Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Mal 3:10)
Most of us who know a little about the “tithe” are aware that the Biblical tithe is Holy unto God (Lev 27:30-33). However, the practice of tithing in the church today is an “unholy” practice which does not bring glory to God but rather defiles His name. I believe the practice of tithing in the New Covenant church creates confusion amongst believers and since God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33), it is arguably whether God does preside over churches that create confusion and are defiling His name.
Some people may think that to tithe or not to tithe is no big deal and put it down to mere “theological differences”. In this regard they don’t think that this is a topic worth discussing. However there are ministers who teach that if you don’t tithe you can’t go to Heaven. In my view therefore, this topic warrants a serious debate as most of Christendom is caught up in a practice that is unbiblical where the new church is concerned. I further believe that this is one of the central tenets of the church, which instead of empowering it, weakens the fabric of the church. It begs the question of whether God actually preside over such defilement. How can a church collect tithes under false pretences and then pray to the Lord to bless it and use it according to His will in furthering the work of His Kingdom? We may think we are doing God a service but we are actually doing Him a disservice by declaring things from the pulpit in His name that He did not command the church to observe. This is a SIN before GOD.
Let me state categorically here that if anyone wants to give 10% of their income to the church, there is nothing wrong in principle in doing so. However, if you are giving because you feel obligated to do so because of what was said under the Old Covenant (such as the verse of Malachi 3 stated above), then you are effectively saying that Christ did not do enough – that He only fulfilled part of the Law but not the whole Law. In this way you are denying Christ and make His cross of no effect.
Pastors and other ministers of the Gospel are defiling God’s name when they declare from the pulpit that He did not abolish the tithe and that the church today are required to observe tithing. When they quote from Leviticus 27 they are careful to leave out verse 34 which says:
34These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
The tithing commandments were given to Israel and Israel alone, which they were to observe in the Promised Land. Hebrews 7:5 confirms that only the Levites had a commandment to take a tithe of their brethren, not modern-day pastors. How can church leaders therefore quote Leviticus 27 in support of reasons why the church should tithe without being deceitful? Similarly, the scriptures in Malachi 3 tell us plainly who the passage was speaking to in verse 9 when it says “this whole nation” referring to the Nation of Israel. Verse 7 of the said passage was a rebuke to Israel that from the days of their fathers they had gone away from the ordinances (laws) of God. This was the reason they were cursed and not simply for not paying the tithe. The history of the curse is set out in Deut 11:
26Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known. 29And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
We see here that it was a blessing if Israel obeyed the commandments they were to observe in the Promised Land but a curse if they didn’t and the reference in Mal 3:9 relates to this very curse. How can a pastor, prophet or evangelist rebuke the church to tithe based on Mal 3 when it was NOT spoken to the church, without being deceitful? How can they threaten the church with the curse of the Law, which Christ has redeemed us from (Gal 3:13)? According to Paul in 1 Tim 1: 5-7 however, such people who desire to teach the Law have no understanding of what they teach or what they affirm:
5Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
Pastors who teach tithing from the Law do not know what they are talking about and moreover they have a distinct lack of understanding of the Gospel. For if they understood the Gospel they would not seek to teach from the Law.
Supporters of the tithe will of course say that Jesus endorsed tithing thereby implying that Christ intended for the church to observe tithing. They make their assumptions based on Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in Matt 23:23:
23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
If Jesus endorsed tithing then perhaps New Testament believers should start planting herbs and tithe it to the church but of course those deceitful supporters of the tithe will argue that the church cannot pay bills with herbs. It is however a mindless argument to that Jesus supported or endorsed tithing. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and whilst He was yet alive in the flesh He was bound to endorse the whole law including tithing. Jesus did not endorse tithing in the church but the practice of tithing under the Law that the Pharisees were observing but neglecting the weightier matters. To teach tithing based on this reference in Matt 23 is to deceive the church and defile the name of Jesus in the process.
Of course there are those who will further argue that tithing is a principle that existed before the Law but so what? If Abraham volunteered a tithe to Melchizedek (Gen 14:20) and Jacob promised to give a tithe to God of all God gave to him (Gen 28:22), how can these be used to command the church to tithe? The truth is that those who teach tithing declare that the first 10% of one’s income belongs to God yet the only commandments given to tithe were set out under the Law, which incidentally has already been abolished. Those who teach tithing cannot fully establish their doctrine without making reference to scriptures that related to the Law. This practice however is dishonest and defiles God’s name by declaring things to the church that God did not command the church to observe.
Leviticus 27:30-33 sets out what the holy tithe was and these included: “tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree” and “tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod”. The holy tithe was clearly not money nor could it be substituted for money, though it was already in existence, yet the church today has changed what God has instituted into the mammon of unrighteousness. The tithing doctrine is thus built upon false premises and as such the tithe in the church, except it be a voluntary gift, is unholy.
Church, do you not know that you are defiling the Lords name by changing His Laws and declaring pronouncements in His name that He did not command the church to do and to observe?
After the way of Gehazi December 8, 2011Posted by Henry in Word of Faith Movement.
Tags: blessings, breakthroughs, Creflo Dollar, Elisha, Gehazi, Joyce Myers, Kenneth Copeland, Matthew Ashimolowo, Mike Murdoch, miracles, money, offerings, Paula White, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, tithes
There are many people in Christendom today who clamour after ministers, teachers and prophets that claim the ability to work miracles. Such people shower money and gifts on these “miracle workers” in exchange for their miracles and breakthroughs, unaware that this practice is wrong. However there is a very important lesson in the story of God’s healing of Naaman through the hands of the prophet Elisha, which is lost on the church today. Notice I did not say that Elisha healed Naaman but rather that God healed Naaman through Elisha. This point should be very clear because only God can grant the miracles of healing but He may do so using His ministers as His instruments.
The story is told in 2 Kings 5, how that Naaman, the captain of the king ofSyria’s army though he was a great man of valour, he was a leper. Naaman got word from his wife’s maid that there was a man of God in Israel who could cleanse him of his leprosy. To cut a long story short, when Namaan went to Elisha’s house and the prophet sent a messenger out to him to tell him to go and wash 7 times in the Jordan River and he would be cleansed. After some protestation Naaman was convinced to do as the prophet had said and he complied and was made whole again. Naaman was so thankful for his healing that he wanted to bless the man of God, so he went back to Elisha’s house to bestow a blessing upon him. But note Elisha’s response in verse 16 of the passage:
15And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. 16But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. (2 Kings 5)
Elisha flat out refused to take anything from Naaman. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, however thought that he would pursue Naaman to collect money and gifts, falsely claiming that Elisha had sent him to receive the things which he claimed were meant for two other young men ofIsrael. Elisha however being the man of God, perceived what Gehazi had done and challenged him with the following words in verse 26:
Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? (2 Kings 5:26)
Gehazi thought he would use the Grace of God as a means to collecting “filthy lucre” but Elisha demonstrated aptly that this occasion was not appropriate for receiving monetary or other gifts. Today our so-called men and women of God are playing the role of Gehazi by collecting money, tithes, offerings and gifts in exchange for miracles and breakthroughs. There are individuals such as Mike Murdoch, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Prohetess Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Matthew Ashimolowo and others who all promise miracles and breakthroughs if you sow seeds (monetary gifts) into their ministries. They will claim that you are not buying a miracle but rather that you are exercising your faith – they attempt to spiritualise their claims by saying that you have to make sacrifices to get God to move on your behalf – they claim that the size of your seed will determine the size of your harvest and by giving your seed they will add their faith to yours. They try to veil their claims in scriptures by misapplying them in order to convince the church that God cannot do anything for them if they don’t test their faith by sowing a sacrificial seed. The truth though is that God does not need you to do anything in order for Him to work a miracle in your life or give you a breakthrough.
Naaman did not know God as he was an idol worshipper, yet he came to the prophet Elisha for his healing. He received his healing without sowing any seed and even after receiving his healing the prophet refused to take gifts from him. This shows that God is sovereign and He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy and there is nothing man can do to appease God. God healed Naaman not so that Elisha would be blessed materially but because it was His sovereign will to do it to the praise of His glory. Elisha made sure not to corrupt the Grace of God by accepting money and gifts because God is not in the business of selling miracles. There are some ministers today however who have become as greedy as Gehazi by collecting gifts in exchange for God’s grace. If one receives a miracle, healing or breakthrough through the preaching or personal ministration of a minister, it is not a time for collecting money.
Of Blessings, Breakthroughs and Divine Favour! October 14, 2010Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
Tags: blessings, breakthroughs, church giving, divine favour, financing the gospel, giving to God, gospel, Kingdom of Heaven, offerings, reaping, seed time and harvest, sowing, tithes
Are you frustrated that the Lord has not answered your prayers for the breakthroughs and divine favour which you seek?
Have you faithfully tithe but find that the “windows of heaven blessings” continue to elude you?
Have you diligently sown your seeds into “good soil” and confessed daily but you are still not receiving a harvest?
Do you “give to God” faithfully but feel like the Lord has abandoned you as you are not receiving anything in return?
If any of these questions apply to you then I have good news for you. The reason why you are feeling frustrated and disappointed is because you have been fed a false gospel. God is not man that He should lie so do not be disappointed in God. God did not make the above promises to you – the man in the pulpit did. The man in the pulpit who presents himself as God’s mouthpiece is the lier and I will demonstrate as I examine those questions one by one.
Firstly, the Lord did not promise you “breakthroughs” or divine favour, man did. The Lord gave you divine favour when He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for you and I so that we may obtain mercy – this is Grace, which is divine favour. Man however changed the meaning of divine favour to mean that you can receive “supernatural abundance” in earthly things and sup with kings, which the Lord did not promise you. To obtain true divine favour therefore all you need to do is seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else shall be added unto you. This does not mean that you will receive all the material desires of your heart but the Lord promises to meet your needs. You should also remember that before you ask, the Lord already knows what you need. In much the same way a parent takes care of a young child without the child needing to ask the parent for anything so too the Father will take care of His children. What “breakthroughs” do you seek therefore?
Paying your tithes and expecting the “windows of heaven blessings” is foolhardy to say the least and no amount of “confessing” will bring those benefits to you. Under the New Covenant a Christian is NOT required to tithe and the Lord will not honour your tithe according to Mal 3:10 because that scripture was not spoken to the church but to Israel under the Old Covenant. Under the Covenant Israel were required to give a tithe not because this would ensure God’s blessings but they were required to give it because the Lord had blessed them. In this sense the tithe was like a tax that the Lord required to sustain the Levites, who had no inheritance in the Promise Land. As such you do not pay taxes to ensure future income but rather you pay it because you already have an income and because it is required by Law. If you are therefore paying the tithe because you think that this will compel the Lord to do something extra for you then you are already giving it with the wrong motives. The Lord is not a debtor to any man – so if you pay the tithe thinking that the Lord owes you something then you have been deceived. In the first place the tithing practice today is a violation of God’s Law – it is therefore the man that collected the tithe from you that owes you, not God.
Some preachers within the Word of Faith movement will tell you that the Kingdom of God operates on the “principle” of sowing and reaping. I contend however that this is not the case. Indeed the analogy of sowing and reaping is often used to describe the Kingdom of God or certain aspects of it but the Kingdom of God is not reactive. It doesn’t depend on us doing something but it is rather all about the sovereign Will of the Father. The Kingdom of God is about salvation which comes by Grace. Grace is God’s sovereign will to lay down the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins (John 3:16). It was because God first loved us and not that we did something to appease God in order to earn His love, why He gave us this FREE gift. The Lord does not need you to “sow” therefore in order for you to receive a “harvest” from Him. Did Christ not say, “Does the rain not fall upon the just and the unjust?” What did the unjust do to deserve rain from God? Absolutely nothing! Yet even his harvest is being multiplied because of the rain. The following verses which Jesus spake should also be considered:
26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Since the Lord did not ask you to sow therefore He does not need to honour your sowing with a harvest. You have therefore sown in vain because you were deceived – you have given your money to a man who lied to you instead of exercising due diligence and being a good steward of what the Lord had already given you.
Lastly, this idea of “giving to God” is perhaps one of the biggest misnomers in the church. How does giving some money to the offering plate or bucket constitute giving to God? Indeed when you give money to church you are contributing to financing the activities of the church but the Lord is not getting a single penny of that money. Man it is that collects the money and man it is that disburses these monies according to how they see fit. The Lord does not need your money, moreover, this idea that money is needed to finance the gospel is simply not true. The Lord Himself was the first pastor and minister of the Gospel yet He did not collect tithes and offerings and other monies to finance the Gospel He came to establish. He did not build a church and set up an administrative structure to which money would flow into. Yet today we are being told that the Gospel cannot go forth without money. This is somewhat ironic when we consider that Jesus called the Twelve and sent them out and specifically told them not to take money or food with them. On their return the Lord asked them if they lacked anything when they went out to deliver the gospel to the Lost Sheep and their response was no. Indeed money is needed to sustain people but we have subscribed to the Roman church model in creating the cash machines we call church today, and financing these cash machines are seen as tantamount to financing the Gospel. The reason why you might not be receiving the blessing therefore is that you mistakenly think that by giving to church you are giving to God and as such the Lord owes you something. You would be more blessed however if you gave to the poor and needy as shown in the following scriptures (noting that it is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 20:35):
17He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.( Prov 19)
27He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. (Prov 28)
The Church as a Non-Profit Organisation October 6, 2010Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
Tags: church buildings, church money, Emperor Constantine, heresy, Martin Luther, reformation, Roman Church, The Gospel, tithes, Wittenberg Door
My good friend Glasseyedave, over at “The Gospel According to the Gospel” suggested that I put out a complimentary post to the topic “Should Pastors be Salaried”, to address whether churches should be non-profit organisations and subjected to government rules. In my view these two subjects naturally go hand in hand and this will become clearer later. However the best starting point to looking at this subject is from the position of the early church as well as to take a cursory glance at its evolution.
When Christ started the church He most certainly did not create so much as an “organisation” but rather established a “social movement”, which in essence constituted a “community” of believers. Whilst individual members of this informal community were subjected to the laws of the state there was no organisation as such which needed to be regulated. People met in each other’s homes or in the open to worship and shared what they had with one another and the pastors (who were the elders) certainly did not draw a salary. The modern church in contrast is characteristic of formal structures that are clearly defined and distinct from each other. Perhaps Emperor Constantine has a lot to answer for here since it was he who first came up with the idea to organise Christianity so it could be more effectively managed, due to its perceived threat to the state. As a result the modern church has inherited a system from the Roman church whereby churches meet as a group of people in a building and with namely one pastor (or priest) presiding as the head. It was Constantine who built the first church buildings (or temples) in Constantinople and elsewhere in 324 A.D (see here for an Historical account). With the advent of church buildings, the priestly class was raised up in order to minister over the affairs of these churches. This resulted in the division between priest and laity and it was during this period that the idea of salaried pastors began. Constantine initially sponsored the building of churches but over time the congregations were required to give contributions in order to sustain the ministry of the priest (or pastor) and the maintenance of the church. Giving was thus seen as tantamount to religious piety and this construct allowed for forms of giving such as the “tithe” to be reinstituted. The system that was instituted in churches therefore was pretty much like the Levitical system of the Old Testament (see here for an historical account on the salaried pastor)
The reformation movement, which arguably began when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the Wittenberg Door, went some way into addressing some of the heretical practices that had seeped into the church as a result of the influences of Constantine, but this did not go far enough. Today the modern church has still not shaken off the shackles of the Roman church and most of its practices in terms of how we “do church” are still intact. However, if we should return to the example of the early church there is clearly no need for the church to operate as a formal organisation, which owns or meets in a specific building. Perhaps however the practices of the established churches are entrenched and therefore somewhat hard to shake and this could be why this model of church is still used. What then is the motivation of newly formed churches today to establish themselves as non-profit organisations, subject to the rules and regulations of national governments?
I will submit that one of the primary motives for churches today to register themselves as charities/non-profit organisations is because of MONEY. By centralising ministerial activities from a church building this of course necessitates fundraising activities both to sustain the officiating priests/pastors and to maintain the building. There are therefore certain financial advantages for having such a venture registered as a non-profit organisation. In the UK for instance, if charities raise more than £5,000 per annum they are legally required to register as a charity with the Charity Commission (the body which oversees charities). It is evident however that most churches that meet in a rented building or own their own building cannot sustain themselves on a paltry £5,000p.a. because this will not meet the operational costs which includes the salary of the pastor and the maintenance costs. Most churches therefore would need to raise far in excess of £5,000 in order to meet these costs so therefore the way to go about it without falling foul of the law is to register as a charity. The benefit of registering as a non-profit making organisation is that the church would therefore not be subject to income or corporation taxes. Another motive is that when donations are made by the church members/attendees they may give under the Gift Aid scheme. This means that the church can claim back 28p in the £1.00, for every £1.00 of donation given, from the Tax Office (HMRC) which helps to swell the funds of the church. Money is therefore the main reason why churches come under the regulatory framework of governmental bodies.
I do not believe that the current status quo is what Christ intended for His church though! In my view however, the church is the body of Christ and as such is (should be) regulated by Jesus Christ and He alone since He is the only Head. The church in essence is the Kingdom of God – a spiritual Kingdom – and therefore is not of this world (John 18:36). As such the Kingdom of God is not (should not be) subject to temporal authority. In God’s Kingdom Christ is King and His commandments are the laws, which govern the operations of His Kingdom – laws not written on tablets of stones but upon the hearts of every believer (2 Cor 3:3). We are in this position today though because of the love of money and also because we have left the true path to follow the heretical path instituted by the Roman church under Constantine.
Money Matters – even to Christians! – Part 2 February 16, 2010Posted by Henry in Money & Finance.
Tags: Christianity, Church, church finance, church money, faithful giving, faithful stewardship, finances, handling money, stewardship, tithe, tithes, Tithing, tithing faithfully, tithing lie
In part 1 of this series I highlighted some of the financial concerns that are no doubt affecting some Christians in the world today. I put forward a “thesis” that some of these problems faced by individuals and their families may be alleviated if we the church would return to an attitude of being our brother’s keeper as this is the example shown to us in scripture. Unfortunately however the world we live in today is largely characterised by a disaffection brought about by materialism and consumerist capitalism, a state in which it is largely, “dog eat dog”, and “every man for himself”. This type of mentality has also infected the church with a false ideal of each man to pursue his own “blessings”. With this in mind therefore the following treatise will attempt to look at what individuals might do to help “ease” their financial plight.
1 Taking Care of Your Own
Each of us has a responsibility to take care of our own families in spite of the fact that assistance should be given if a brother is in need and unable to sustain himself. However, scripture says in 1 Tim 5:8 (NIV):
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
The man (or woman) of the house therefore is responsible for going out and getting a job (even two jobs if necessary) so he can earn enough money to supply the needs of his immediate family and even his extended family. This does not mean however that we should pursue the world as the Gentiles do but as we have seen from Paul’s example in Acts 20:33-35, he worked to support himself so that he does not become a burden to others. Perhaps many able pastors should “take a leaf out of Paul’s book” here instead of relying on the church but that is an aside. Earning money will require prudence also in managing it because scripture doth say that a fool and his money will soon depart. Imagine a man who spends his weekly pay packet on drinking and socialising with friends or going gambling instead of using it judiciously to provide for his family. This is not being wise or prudent and in so doing such a man is regarded as worse than an unbeliever.
2 To tithe or not to tithe: Church Giving
Many will have heard the phrase that we have to be “responsible stewards” for what the Lord has given us and it is suggested that an example of responsible stewardship is to “tithe faithfully”, especially to the church. Tithing faithfully usually means giving 10% of your gross weekly or monthly earnings to the church as this is set as the standard. Some ministers will even go as far to say that when you take care of the “Lords house” then He will take care of your own. The dilemma faced by many people who are struggling financially however is whether they can or should continue to “tithe faithfully” to the church or whether they should reduce their “tithe”. Many are therefore in bondage to their conscience as they struggle with this issue and this is heightened by the guilt and fear they feel as a result of the threat of curses for “robbing God” based on Mal 3.
For those of you who have been tithing faithfully for years however, let me ask you this, have you received the promised “windows of heaven blessings”? I already know the answer to that question because if you had you would not be still struggling today. Let me assure you that you will never receive the “windows of heaven blessings” of Mal 3 because this promise is not for you. This promise was made under a covenant to the Israelites, at a particular place and at a particular time. That covenant has never been transferred over to the church as Jesus abolished it when He fulfilled the Law and gave us a new covenant. To claim something for yourself that wasn’t given to you therefore is futile. The tithe is not for the New Testament believer and the curse mentioned in Mal 3 is the said curse of the Law which Jesus redeemed us from (see my post on the tithe here). Why then do you put a yoke on your neck to try and practise a Law that Jesus abolished? Eat your tithes or use it to take care of your family if you are struggling and give what you are able to give to the church. Did he really say to eat the tithe but..? Yes I did! Read Deut 14:23-26, it says so right there. I would like to see people being freed from this bondage of conscience concerning the tithe especially if they are struggling financially, and be giving more “freely” according to what they purpose in their hearts (2 Cor 9:7).
3 Being wary of Covetousness
In the book of 1 John 2:15 we read:
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
It is strange to think however that in spite of this warning from scripture, church people today are buying into this same lust of the world and the pride of life and as a result many people find themselves in financial troubles. We want to get things which we see advertised on TV or things that we see our neighbours have instead of trying to live within our means. Many people are unable to resist the temptation to purchase something being advertise especially when it is offering a zero percent finance, “buy now, pay later” deal. The truth however is that it is never zero percent finance as you will pay the interest when you start to repay the loan amount later. This can therefore impact on one’s finance and contribute to mounting debts as the interest accumulates and this is all because of covetousness. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble by using our money sensibly to buy what we need and looking for cheaper alternatives where possible, rather than to use debt to accumulate a bunch of stuff that we don’t need, just because we are trying to “look good” and impress others.
4 Avoid the “get rich quick” schemes
Today there are so many get rich quick schemes (or scams) in the world and there are tonnes of books, some even written by pastors, on how to create or maximise wealth. Some of these schemes are even being marketed in church and many people have suffered financial loss as a result of investing in these schemes, as many of them do not work. Scripture tells us in Proverb 23:4-5 however that we should not labour to be rich:
Herein lies sound wisdom concerning the pursuit of riches. Scripture also warns us in 1 Peter 2 about being made merchandise of by those with feigned words. The problem with this world however is that it has become so engulfed in materialism that even Christians are not immune from it. We live in a world in which success is defined by how high we can climbed and how much things we can accumulate and that if we have fallen short of the mark we are a failure. It is natural therefore to gravitate towards a scheme that promises untold riches. Jesus pointed out however in Luke 12:15 that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things he possesses. The scripture also tells us in 1 Tim 6:5-8 to be content with what we have instead of trying to pursue wealth.
The list I have outlined above is not an exhaustive one but I believe that they can act as a useful starting point of what a believer’s attitude towards earning and handling money should be.