Reply to Bethel Baptist Church (greatly edited)
Bethel Baptist Church, http://www.bethel-laleston.co.uk/2009/07/church-life-series-notes-study-6/
Russ: When you discuss tithing you turn into a total contradiction of yourself and God's grace.
Bethel: EVERYTHING belongs to him.
Russ: While this was true even in the Old Covenant, it was never used as a reason to accept tithes from outside Israel. Biblical tithes were always only food miraculously increased only by God only from His holy land. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel.
Bethel: Exodus 25:1-2, 35 was emphatically voluntary. 2 Cor 9:7-8 tell us that our giving must be voluntary.
Russ: Yes, yes, yes. But it is dishonest to ease into teaching tithing by first emphasizing freewill giving which is totally different. This is taking something out of one hand and passing it behind the back to the other hand.
Bethel: Luke 21:1-4 The widow's mite.
Russ: The widow's gift was money, therefore it was not a tithe (from food). It was a freewill and sacrificial offering. It is a good example for New Covenant generous giving.
Bethel: OT tithe was used in a number of ways – to support the ministry to God (worship) …
Russ: According to Numbers 18:21-24 the first whole Levitical tithe went to the Levite servants to the priests who worked as carpenters, sculptors, metal workers, janitors, guards, bakers and even politicians under David and Solomon. Also Num 3 and 2 Chron 23 to 26. According to Num `18:25-29 and Neh 10:37-39 the Levites only gave a tenth of their tenth to the priests. No church teaches this today.
Bethel: … the ministry to God’s people (nurturing) …
Russ: A second tithe was eaten in the streets of Jerusalem during the three annual feasts. No church teaches this today either.
Bethel: … and ministry to world (gospel and social care).
Russ: A third third-year tithe was kept in the towns and given to the poor which included the Levites and strangers. This is not taught in churches either. Tithes were never used to send out missionaries to the Gentiles.
Bethel: We don’t limit ourselves to a mere tenth (we want to give ALL to our Lord and King) but principle of tithe use is helpful.
Russ: WRONG. The tithe never was a principle-standard-expectation-beginning-training wheel in the Old Covenant excect for food producers who lived inside Israel. It is wrong to build on a false assumption that everybody was required to begin their level of giving at ten per cent.
Bethel: Money should be used by church to support the worship of God, to maintain the ministry of the word, to take the gospel to the world and for caring for others.
Russ: Money --yes. Tithes --no, because 16 of 16 biblical texts which describe the contents of the tithe call it only food even though money was required for sanctuary worship. This is a fundamental error.
Bethel: Final question is a challenge to us all to provoke us to think through this issue, to test our hearts, to hear God’s word and to act on it.
Russ: If you actually did this you would immediately stop using the word "tithe" as a New Covenant imperative. You would start using better Holy Spirit- blessed New Covenant giving principles based on 2 Cor 8 and 9. Equality sacrificial giving means more for some and less for others.
Bethel: You are to give willingly, joyfully, sacrificially, diligently and then the church is to use that money to glorify God.
Russ: Amen, amen, amen. I always point out that New Covenant giving is: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment (or percentage) and motivated by love for God and lost souls.
Bethel: Read these verses as a final word of challenge Malachi 3:6-12 and pray that God might have the glory as we honour him with our giving.
Russ: NO, NO, NO. Malachi and the Law was only commanded for the Levitical priesthood. Tithing was never commanded to the Church. The whole law was a test, not merely tithing. Obey ALL be blessed; break ONE to be cursed.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD