eChristian Finance, Aug 10, 2009
Rebuttal of eChristian Finance by Russell E Kellyk
A Defense of Tithing
Nameless: Since tithing is definitely a principle taught in the Bible, it is absolutely shocking to hear the number of people that teach that tithing isn’t relevant for Christians today.
Kelly: No texts given to validate this statement.
Nameless: Many of these individuals decry tithing as an “illegal and abusive practice of the Church”. They claim that if you practice tithing you are still under “Old Testament bondage”.
Kelly: We claim that tithing was only commanded to Old Covenant Israel who was forbidden to evangelize the Gentiles with missionaries and give them tithing and the rest of the law.
Nameless: The purpose of this article is not to identify every scripture in the Bible relating to tithing, but rather to try to refute some of the arguments commonly used to convince people that Christians don’t need to tithe.
Kelly: We want full scale long-term discussion by qualified church leaders. We are not afraid of open discussion and urge it.
Nameless: 1) Tithing is not necessary under this current dispensation of grace.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “If the ‘grace’ you have received does not help you to keep the law, you have not received grace.”
Kelly: Lloyd-Jones' remark makes no sense because he does not define "law." Is he a slave-owning Sabbath keeper? Are his children promised long life in Israel? Paul quoted Isaiah and Psalms in Romans 3 and called it law. Jesus used law in Matthew 5:17-19 to include all of the commandments, statutes and judgments. What part of the law do you discard? Do you kill disobedient children and not wear clothing of mixed fabric?
Nameless: While it is true that we now live in a dispensation of grace, that grace was purchased at a tremendous cost.
Kelly: When Christ began the new dispensation at Calvary, the veil in the Temple ripped open and the old law was replaced by the New Covenant law of love.
Nameless: It did not free me of all obligations to Christ. Lev. 27:30-32 emphasizes that the tithe is “holy unto the Lord”. We are commanded to “Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Kelly: Read all of Leviticus, not merely the last five verses on tithing. Everything in the Old Covenant sacrificial service was either holy or most holy. What gives you the right to keep "holy" tithing and ignore the multitude of other "holy" and "most holy" items in Leviticus?
Nameless: ‘If the “grace” you have received does not help you to keep the law, you have not received grace’.
Kelly: Again the statement makes no sense because you do not define what you mean by "law." Romans 8:2 says "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
Nameless: 2) Tithing was only an Old Testament teaching, and was not applicable in the New Testament.
Scripture records several ceremonial obligations, such as the law of animal sacrifices, which are no longer binding upon the New Testament church (Heb. 9:8–10). These were types that were fulfilled by Christ at his first advent. However, tithing was instituted for a specific purpose and not as a type.
Kelly: Tithing was instituted in Numbers 18 to sustain the Levites and priests for their service in the sanctuary. In turn they were not allowed to own or inherit property. How many tithe-receiving preachers own property? The Levites who received the first whole tithe were only servants to the priests and correspond to our UNPAID ushers, deacons, choir, musicians and even politicians in 1 Chronicles 26. Why is this not followed? The Levites gave 1% to the priests. Why are not ministers paid the 1%? The priests were to kill anybody other than themselves who dared to enter the sanctuary and worship God directly. Why is this not done?
Nameless: The Apostle Paul presented no argument against tithes as he did repeatedly against the ceremonial issues of the law (ex. meats, holy days, new moon feasts, Sabbath days, circumcision, etc.).
Kelly: Paul knew that true biblical tithes were always only food from inside Israel. As a rabbi he had been trained that it was sin to be paid to teach the Word. He also knew that it was illegal for Gentiles to tithe to the Temple system.
Nameless: Jesus himself even commended people for tithing (Matt. 23:23).
Kelly: That part of the New Covenant which is before Calvary belongs to the Old Covenant. Jesus was born under the jurisdiction of the law in order to redeem those Hebrews under the law (Gal 4:4). Matthew 23:23 is a condemnation of law-teachers for adding burdens to the law. It is a discussion of "matters of the law" and does not concern the church. Jesus could not have told his Gentiles disciples to tithe because it was illegal.
Nameless: There are many scriptures in the New Testament showing where the ceremonial law of God was fulfilled and no longer applicable to the church, but there is no scripture stating that tithing in no longer necessary.
Kelly: What a monstrous contradiction!!! Another name for the ceremonial law is the statutes or ordinances. Read Numbers 18. Tithing was the very foundation of the ceremonial law and began its function. Ephesians 2:16 and Colossians 2:14 both specifically destroy the ordinances of the law. Hebrews 7:5,12, 18 annuls the tithing-commandment of 7:5.
Nameless: It is very audacious of men today to take it upon themselves to make changes to God’s written plan for the tithe.
Kelly: It is very audacious of you to ignore the difference between the old and new covenants. The old one completely disappeared --the good with the bad. And God repeated from the old what he wanted to Church to obey after Calvary.
Nameless: 3) Tithing was only required of Jews, not Gentiles.
The vast majority of our Bible was written to the Jews. All of Jesus’ words were spoken to Jews. That does not mean we can disregard them because we are not Jews. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
Kelly: Again you reveal ignorance about the difference between the old and new covenants and the meaning of the dispensations. Read Exodus 19:5-6 and dozens of texts similar to them. God's promises to Israel were not God's promises to the Gentiles. You would have James and Paul in Acts 15 and 21 commanding the Gentiles to keep all of the law of Moses.
Nameless: 4) Before the Law of Moses, tithing was done on a voluntary basis.
All true worship of God is voluntary on our part. That was true before, during and after the Law of Moses.
Kelly: This is a shrouded reference to Abraham in Genesis 14. The Bible does not say that his tithe was voluntary. Tithing was a common tradition in all pagan nations of Abraham's time in Babylon, Assyria, Tyre, Phoenicia and Egypt. The local priest-kings required tithes from spoils of war.
Nameless: 5) Malachi 3 was only written to the Jews that were under the Mosaic Law.
Kelly: Correct. They had repeated the covenant blessings and curses in Nehemiah 10:29 and has told God to curse them for not tithing. The real thieves of Malachi were the dishonest priests who had been cursed in 1:13-14; 2:1-2; and 2:17 to 3:5. They had stolen the Levites' portion of the tithe in Neh 13:5-10.
Nameless: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Tim. 3:16).
Kelly: 2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Nameless: Of course Malachi was writing to the Jews in his day, because the Gentiles were still the wild olive branch that had not yet been grafted in (Romans 11:17).
Kelly: Thank you. And no tithes were ever used to send out missionaries to them.
Nameless: If we are to say that the scriptures only apply to the people that they were originally written for, then we can disregard the entire Bible.
Kelly: Neither we nor dispensationalists teach that. 2 Tim 2:15 … rightly dividing the word of truth.
Nameless: 6) It is impossible to give tithes to the one true High Priest and anyone else collecting tithes under grace is a fraud and a robber. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40) It is true that we are not able to physically give our tithes to Christ, and he has no need of them anyway.
Kelly: You miss the point entirely. Both the OT temple and priesthood have been replaced, not by pastors, but by the priesthood of every believer and the temple of God is within each believer. We do not tithe to ourselves.
Nameless: He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalms 50:10). However, he has established a church that bears his name and is his representation in the earth.
Kelly: God also owned the cattle on a thousand hills in the Old Covenant but only accepted tithes from inside Israel. These statements are not reasons for New Covenant tithing.
Nameless: 7) Those that tithe are denying that Christ fulfilled the law of Moses. There was a law of God in place long before the Mosaic Law was instituted. For example, God instructed Noah regarding the number of animals he was to take into the ark. He differentiated between the “clean” and the “unclean” animals. The Bible does not record the law defining such unclean animals, until Leviticus 11. Yet, that law was already in existence in Noah’s time.
Kelly: What do you say ended at Calvary? Do you think Christ fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law? Do you eat pork but still tithe? Isn't that inconsistent? If you tithe, do you forbid your tithe-recipients from owning property? Where is your consistency?
Nameless: Similarly, the principle of tithing preceded the establishment of God’s covenant with ancient Israel and it did not cease with the establishment of the second or new covenant!
Kelly: The fact that something is very common and very old does not make it an eternal moral principle. Idolatry, child sacrifice, temple prostitution, multiple wives and unclean food also preceded the written covenant. If the Old Covenant existed as a unit before Moses, then why did God say it was unique to Israel?
Where in the Bible Were Tithes Abolished?
1. WHO #1: The Levitical servants to the priests who received the first whole tithe have been abolished. See Numbers 18:21-24. Modern equivalents to the Levites are unpaid ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, etc.
2. WHO #2: OT priests who received a tenth of the tithe (only 1 per cent) have been abolished. See Num 18:25-28 and Neh 10:38.
3. WHAT: The definition of tithes as only food miraculously increased by God from inside His holy land of Israel has been abolished and replaced with the false unbiblical definition of income. See Leviticus 27:30-34 and 14 other texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Yet money was common in Genesis.
4. WHERE: The destination of the OT tithes first to the Levitical cities some to the Temple has been abolished. See Neh 10:37b and Mal 3:10.
5. WHEN: The time to tithe has been abolished. The Levitical tithe was paid yearly in the Levitical cities. The second festival tithe was eaten at the three festivals. The third poor tithe was kept in the home every third year. Tithes totaled 23 1/3 per cent.
6. WHY #1: The covenant which prescribed them was abolished per Heb 8:8-13; Gal 4:21-26' 2 Cor 3:6-10.
7. WHY #2: The "commandment" for Levites and priests to collect tithes was "annulled" per Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18.
8. WHY #3: The law which condemned believers has been rendered of no effect when the believer died in Christ per Romans 7:4. No law can tell a dead person what to do.
9. HOW #1: Jesus abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances per Eph 2:13. Tithing was an ordinance per Num 18.
10. HOW $2: Jesus blotted out the handwriting of ordinances, per Col 2:14. Tithing was an ordinance per Num 18.
11. HOW #3: The Temple which tithes supported was abolished in AD 70. God's temple is now within each believer per 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20.
12. HOW #4: The priesthood which was supported by tithes was abolished in AD 70. God's priesthood is now within every believer per 1st Peter 23:9-10.
13. HOW #5: The blessings and curses of tithing as part of the whole law have been abolished per Galatians 3:10-13.
Would you continue to send money to a church after
1. The building is destroyed?
2. The preacher has been defrocked?
3. The workers have found other jobs?
4. The members have all left?
5. The land has been inhabited by non religious people?
6. The purpose for the church no longer exists?
7. You have died?
Nameless: 8) A pagan Roman Catholic Church established tithing centuries after the Bible was written.
This is a very weak argument since there are so many scriptures in the Bible that shows God’s people observing the principle of tithing.
Kelly: There is not a single text for the Church after Calvary where tithing is commanded. There is not a single legitimate church historian who agrees that the early church taught tithing in the first centuries.
Nameless: The truth is God himself established tithing in the book of Genesis (Gen. 14:20).
Kelly: Nothing, absolutely nothing Abraham did concerning tithes is followed by any Christian church today: (1) only pagan spoils of war, (2) not holy food from inside Israel, (3) only once recorded, (4) he kept nothing and (5) he returned the 90% to the king of Sodom.
Nameless: 9) Only Levites could collect tithes and since the Levitical priesthood has ended, so has tithing. This argument is based on the assumption that God gave the tithe eternally and unconditionally to the Levites. The Bible does not say that.
Kelly: It certainly does in Numbers 18. And the Levites were only servants to the priests. Do you give tithes to your ushers, deacons, choir and musicians?
Nameless: When we tithe, we are giving it to the Lord and not to man. Man only uses it. In Malachi 3, Israel was not robbing the Levites of tithes – they were robbing God.
Kelly: They were robbing both.
Nameless: The ability to receive tithes was not just based on ancestral heritage.
Kelly: If you are speaking of true holy biblical tithes from the holy land, it was based on ancestral heritage in Numbers 18.
Nameless: The Bible even records some examples of individuals receiving tithes that were not Levites. Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedek (Gen. 14:18-20) and he obviously was not a Levite since Levi would not be born until many years later.
Kelly: These were not holy tithes and would not have been accepted inside the Temple system under the Law. They were tithes from pagan spoils of war which were expected to be given to one's local priest-king.
Nameless: There were some who came and brought their tithes to Elisha (II Kings 4:42).
Kelly: These were freewill offerings. Unless prophets were Levites they were not allowed to accept tithes.
Nameless: 10) Only food products from the land were “titheable”; money was never a “titheable” item. There is certainly no scripture that excludes money as a “titheable” item.
Kelly: There are 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. Tithes were always only food from inside Israel.
Nameless: In fact, the scriptures say that you are to give tithes of all your increase (II Chron. 31:5).
Kelly: Read the whole chapter. Tithes are described in detail in 2 Chronicles 31 as food. Also read all of the "increase" texts. The "increase" could only comes from God's miracle hand and not from what man produced.
Nameless: In the agricultural society of Moses day, the primary source of wealth for people was their crops and animals. This was their source of income. God is laying out a principle that you are to tithe from your source of income.
Kelly: Wrong. Money occurs over 30 times in Genesis and 44 times before the tithe in Leviticus. Money was essential for sanctuary worship and many sanctuary offerings. Yet money is never included in any description of tithes.
Nameless: 11) Giving offerings has replaced tithing, and you only need to give what you feel is appropriate for your situation.
Kelly: You water down our objection. The Christian is a new creation and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit who gives him a desire to give sacrificially.
Nameless: “Proportional giving” is a concept that is impossible for Christians to fulfill. We can never give back to the Lord in proportion to how he as blessed us. If we gave everything we had, we would still fall far short.
Kelly: Neat. You change the biblical definition of "proportional giving." According to 2 Cor 8:12-14 it means that many give more than 10% while others cannot give that much. It is equality giving. We give proportionally as the Holy Spirit moves our yielded heart to support gospel causes. We do not give out of fear or being cursed.
Nameless: In addition, offerings were not a New Testament creation designed to replace tithing as some would want you to believe. In fact, the giving of offerings was taught in the Old Testament in addition to paying your tithes.
Kelly: Read all of Exodus. Freewill offerings were given before the decision was made to separate Levi because of the golden calf incident. According to Exodus 19:5-6 God's original purpose was for everybody to be a priest and no tithing would have been needed. That purpose was re-instated in 1 Peter 2:9-10.
Nameless: The children of Israel were required to bring an offering when they came up to the Temple three times a year (II Chron. 8:13). Giving offerings is not to be in place of your tithes, but in addition to it.
Kelly: Those who worked as food producers inside Israel gave both required tithes and extra freewill offerings. Those who did not produce food from inside Israel only gave freewill offerings. Those traveling from outside Israel for the three annual feasts had nothing tithe-able.
Nameless: The Israelites had robbed God of “tithes and offerings” (Mal. 3:8).
Kelly: You ignore the context of Nehemiah 10:37-39; 13:6-10 and Malachi 1:13-14; 2:1-2; 2:17 to 3:5. The dishonest priests had robbed God of both because they had received the good tithes and refused to give them as vow offerings per Malachi 1:1-14.
Nameless: If they were one and the same, this passage would not make sense.
Kelly: You ignore the above texts.
Nameless: In conclusion, people can come up with all kinds of arguments to not do something that they don’t want to do.
Kelly: Nobody who lives outside of Israel and is not a food producer can possibly give a biblical tithe.
Nameless: Due to space, I have not even addressed some of the weaker arguments sometimes used (ex. tithes were suppose to be brought into the storehouse and the New Testament church has no storehouse).
Kelly: The first church had no buildings of its own for over 200 years after Calvary and even then not really until Constantine's time. Tithing did not become church law until AD 777. You also ignore Nehemiah 10:37b when compared to Neh 13:5. The temple really had only two small storerooms because the tithe was taken to the Levitical cities.
Nameless: From studying the scriptures, I strongly believe that tithing is still relevant for our day. It was instituted as a method to support the work of God and to be a vehicle by which God could bless his people. Both of which we still need today.
KellY: Then you will continue to dialog. Again I remind your of Numbers 18. If you accept tithes under the above premise "to support the work of God" then you must accept the entire premise: (1) forfeit property rights, (2) give tithes to ushers, deacons, etc, (3) accept only 1% for ministers, (4) only allow ministers inside the sanctuary and (5) kill anybody who dares to worship God directly.