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Unravelling the tithing dilemma December 9, 2011

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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I previously wrote an article on this issue which can be read here. However I thought I would revisit this issue because tithing is one of the most controversial topics in the church today yet I believe it is such a simple issue to deal with once we have disentangled the different myths and arguments. I will therefore try to make this as simple and as clear as possible and I hope this will help others to gain clarity on this matter. In addressing the tithing issue I want to also expand the issue a little bit to include offerings with the hope of bringing some clarity to both subjects given that they usually go hand in hand


The question for most people is whether or not Jesus abolished the tithe and therefore whether or not the New Testament believer is required to pay a tithe and are we robbing God if we don’t pay the tithe? There are several questions rolled into one here but before answering them lets look at some simple points of facts.

Two Approaches to tithes and offerings


There are two approaches to the tithe from a Biblical standpoint:

1. Firstly, there is the voluntary tithe (Abraham’s gift to Melchizedek and Jacob’s promise to give a tithe to God)

2. Secondly there is the legal or compulsory tithe (the Mosaic Law on tithes which requiredIsraelto observe several tithes, including the tithe to the Levites from who’s tribe the priesthood came)


There are also two approaches to offerings where the Bible is concerned:

1. Firstly, there is the pre-law offering which like the pre-law tithes were voluntarily given (Cain offering a gift from the produce of the land – Able offering a gift from his herds of animals)

2. Secondly, there is the legal or compulsory offerings (like the legal tithes the Mosaic Law instituted there were a number of offerings which God required ofIsraelto perform)

So from this synopsis we can see the two approaches to both tithes and offerings – There was the pre-law position of voluntary giving and the Legal position of compulsory giving. Before the Law anyone could choose whether or not to give a tithe or an offering and they had sole control over the nature or size of the gift – after all this was “freewill” giving. Within the Law however everyone who were bound by it were compelled to give both tithes and offerings and there were specific prescriptions as to the nature and size of the gifts according the legal status of each person.

Answering the Original Question

Going back to the question highlighted above we need to first separate it into its constituent parts because there are a number of issues muddled together there.

Argument 1 – Did Christ abolish the tithe?

Some supporters of the tithe argue that Jesus did not abolish the tithe because the tithe existed before the Law, citing Abraham and Jacob as examples. This argument is flawed primarily because it makes the assumption that the Mosaic (legal) tithe and the voluntary tithe (as per Abraham and Jacob) are one and the same. This is not the case and anyone who argues such is being dishonest. As I have demonstrated under the “Two Approaches” heading above – the voluntary tithe and the tithe required by Law are different (diametrically opposed) and likewise the pre-Law offerings are different from the Legal offerings. When Jesus therefore fulfilled the Law, He abolished the Legal tithes and offerings – NOT the voluntary tithes and offerings. The voluntary tithes and offerings fall under the category of “freewill” giving and Jesus did not abolish such giving.

Argument 2 – Are New Testament Believers required to pay tithes?

Supporters of the tithe believe that since the tithe is pre-Law, as demonstrated by Abraham and Jacob, the church today should also pay tithes (note emphasis added to imply a Legal or compulsory requirement). As I have demonstrated under Argument 1 however Jesus abolished the Law along with all the legal requirements to pay tithes and offerings. The church is therefore under no obligation, legal or otherwise, to observe the Legal tithes and offerings. It is therefore an incorrect position to attach a legal obligation on the church to observe the Abraham and Jacob tithing example. The example of Abraham and Jacob demonstrates “freewill” giving and therefore the church may freely or not as the case may be follow Abraham and Jacob’s example to give a voluntary tithe.

Argument 3 – Are you robbing God by not paying the tithe?

As I have already demonstrated under Argument’s 2 and 3, Jesus abolished the Legal tithes and offerings and to attempt to impose a legal duty to observe an example of voluntary giving by Abraham is completely wrong. Since Jesus abolished the Legal tithe then you are not robbing God if you choose not to observe something that is already abolished. Are you therefore robbing God if you do not observe the “freewill” tithe? Note here that the reference to “robbing God” for not paying the tithe, found in Mal 3:10, is a direct reference to the Legal tithe – NOT the voluntary tithe suggested by Abraham and Jacob. You are therefore not robbing God if you do not choose to exercise your free will by giving a tithe.


This presentation demonstrates that to understand our position in regards to tithing we must make a clear distinction between voluntary tithes and offerings and compulsory tithes and offerings. It should become clear to the reader therefore that whilst Jesus has abolished the Legal tithes and offerings along with the Mosaic Law, we may exercise our free will by giving a voluntary tithe and offering. We should never make the mistake however of attaching legality to what may be given as a “freewill” gift. If we understand these points clearly it then resolves a whole lot of other questions such as whether or not we are required to observe first fruit offerings etc. The abolition of the requirement to observe the legal tithes and offerings leaves us with the voluntary position of Abraham, Jacob, Cain and Able. This falls in line with Pauls teaching on giving, suggesting that we should give not out of necessity or compulsion but according to what you purpose in your own hearts. You may therefore exercise your free will in Christ to give a voluntary tithe or to give another amount according to what you purpose in your own heart.

The Church as a Business July 6, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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One of the quickest ways to become rich today is to become a pastor and start your own church. Seriously, this is no joke! All you need to do is to declare that “God gave you a vision” to build the biggest church in Europe or America or Africa and you promote the vision heavily. You develop a seeker sensitive, purpose driven doctrine and employ church growth strategies to ensure the pews are filled. Another essential ingredient is to ensure you have a band and a choir to provide lively music and you provide a vibrant, fiery message to create a “spiritual atmosphere” and take the people on a “spiritual” high. You turn them into “spiritual” junkies so that they keep coming back for fix and they will even gladly pay for the privilege too when you make demands on them to part with their cash in the form of various seed sowing/offerings. You appoint yourself as the MD or CEO of “Your Name” Ministries Inc and you appoint your sons and daughters as members of the board. You prepare materials such as books, CDs, DVDs and you promote them in the church services by giving a taster to get the people interested and you impress upon them to buy these vital materials and get their friends to purchase them also. Thus you create a market not only in your church but across many churches. You then sit back and watch the cash rolling in and you say to yourself, “soul take thine ease and enjoy the fruits of thy labour.”

As you become richer and richer your lifestyle changes and you start to wear expensive clothing, wear expensive jewellery and drive expensive cars. Why heck, why stop here now, you may even establish an aeroplane fund to buy your own Lear jet and say it is for the church but only you and a select few confidants will be travelling in it on speaking engagements abroad. You are in high demand and you charge a hefty fee arranged prior to accepting the speaking assignment. To keep the charade going you convince the people that your wealth was solely derived from the blessing of having paid the $1000 seed or from tithing faithfully. You may even claim to pay the 90% tithe and live off 10% to encourage people to follow suit and give more, thinking they will be blessed likewise, and come to enjoy the “abundant life” too. You run the church with a strong hand and swiftly and forcefully put down any challenge to your authority as the senior pastor and head of the church. You may even misquote scriptures like, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm” to make the people afraid of saying anything that will expose you. You may also use other scriptures to demonstrate how the people should submit themselves to the pastors put above them.

The above scenario is unfortunately the way a lot of modern churches have been established and are controlled and this is allowed to happen because the people are gullible and undiscerning. When a pastor claims to have received a vision from God to build the biggest church in an area for example, we need to ask, is God competing against Himself? Why should He give one man such a vision when in all probability other smaller churches will be in the same area? Take GODTV for example where Rory and Wendy Alec claims that God gave them this vision of building this television ministry to bring about 1 billion souls for Christ. I think in many cases, rather than having received such a vision these desires are born out of hubris however noble the intentions seems to be. Indeed it is Jesus’ wish to see the gospel preached in all the world and this was the great commission given to the original apostles (Matt 28:19-20). If we notice though, none of the apostles were given any special mandate to “win” more souls than another. Further more Jesus said wherever two or three are gathered in His name He will be there in the midst (Matt 18:20).

It is therefore not about establishing huge church gatherings because the church is simply one body (of Christ). This idea of one man getting a vision to build a church however lends itself to such a venture becoming his own private business and thus lead to spiritual abuses. It may be called church, look like a church, sound like a church but in reality it is no more than a business owned and controlled by its owners. The members are therefore its customers who pay a fee for whatever services they enjoy. This is the sad state of affairs within some organisations called churches. On literally every street corner churches like these are popping up but they couldn’t be further away from the true gospel message.

Should Pastors Be Salaried? July 5, 2010

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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This question of whether a pastor should be salaried is quite an interesting one as it throws up many controversial issues; nevertheless, it is a valid question which should be asked in Christendom today. In looking at this question we could equally ask, should “workers” in the church be paid for their services also? Should the choir be paid for serenading us with good music?  Should the ushers, the Sunday school teachers, the people who make the tea and do the washing up be paid as well? But more importantly, what of the other elders such as the deacons, bishops, apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers, should they be paid also?  Evidently if all were to be paid for their services this would put an immense strain on the churches finances especially if the church is relatively small. In most modern churches there is one man or woman at the head who is the pastor and beneath him are the deacons and elders and the other “workers” but only the pastor draws a salary. But why should one group of people (the pastors) receive a wage for their services yet another group (the elders and workers) do not! Surely this status quo is not equitable?

 My personal experience of the Baptist church is that usually a Baptist pastor/minister would be in ministry fulltime and as such he would be given a monthly stipend decided upon by the deaconate. This would usually be a modest amount of money that would be considered reasonable to meet his needs and that of his family. The church may also provide a manse for the pastor and his family to live in, the expenses of which would be dealt with by the church. On retirement or resignation the pastor would evacuate the premises and find other accommodation, and the manse would be prepared for the new pastor. In my opinion this arrangement is reasonable and I have no problems with this at all. After all the scriptures do allow for those who minister at the altar to eat from the altar or in other words those who minister the gospel should be fed from the gospel. Where I have a problem however is where the role of a pastor is treated as any other profession and where he is expected to attract the market rate that other positions of a “similar level” do. One of the reasons why this problem arises is because when a pastor studies for four years or so to earn an M Div or higher qualification he is then seen as on par with other master’s level graduates who may attract significantly high salaries. Thus the role of a pastor is in some churches is seen somewhat as that of a professional in their field. Perhaps this is why the pastor is salaried and the other elders of the church who did not attend seminary do not receive payment.

In truth I am not advocating that any of the elders or workers should be paid a salary. However the church has a responsibility to meet the needs of those in their midst who are in need and this includes the whole church, not just a select few individuals. If we look at the church in Acts 2 and Acts 4 this is exactly how they operated. The people would bring their gifts and lay it at the apostles’ feet and this would in turn be distributed to the congregation according to everyone’s needs so that none lacked. Today however we have the opposite scenario where the pastor gets the lion’s share of the takings (tithes and offerings) and some who are in need do not get anything and are still expected to pay tithes as well. Whilst this might not be the case with the traditional churches like the Baptist, this is certainly the case with the mega-churches.

When Jesus called the twelve disciples and sent them out to minister the gospel, He told them specifically to freely give that which they also received freely (Matt 10:8). They were forbidden from collecting a wage although it was reasonably expected that those they came in contact with would meet their needs of food, clothing and shelter.  Likewise the gift of “pastoring” is a free gift which should be used/exercised in the church freely along with all the other gifts. However what we have done with organised religion is to create a system whereby one man stands at the head and speaks to a congregation for a fee on Sundays. Confidence is invested in such an individual because he has the requisite qualifications and therefore considered as a “professional” and in like fashion a suitable remuneration package is decided upon. However all this is foreign to the gospel message. I pray we may return to the truth of God’s word.