Reply to Pastor Darryl Dash
No Stealing (Exodus 20:15)
Dash: Paul emphasized that the law still has a role for us who believe we’re saved by what Christ has done for us. At the end of Romans 3 Paul said, “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31).
Kelly: Paul was not referring to the Ten Commandments because he had only quoted Psalms and Isaiah in Romans 3:1-20. He used the word "law" to mean "God's revelation of his character to reveal sin." To the Jews that meant the entire Old Testament revelation. To the Gentiles that mean creation, conscience and nature per Romans 1:18-20 and 2:14-16.
Dash: Paul says that we can’t be saved by our obedience to the law. We can only be saved through faith in Christ, who has kept the law perfectly and died for those who haven’t.
Kelly: The Old and New Covenant use the word "law" to refer to it as an indivisible whole of commandments, statutes and judgments. Paul taught that believers are "dead to law" in Romans 7:4 and are cannot be condemned because of the new "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" per Romans 8:1-2. The old law ended at Calvary as denoted by the ripping of the veil. Hebrews 8:13 says it has "vanished."
Dash: But then Paul says that we still uphold the norms of the law. We do this through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Kelly: That which was eternal and moral in the Old Covenant (only for national Israel) has been repeated after Calvary for the Church in terms of grace and faith. This is the law of love formerly revealed also in creation, nature and conscience.
Dash: We keep these commandments for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason is gratitude for what God has accomplished for us.
Kelly: If you are referring to the Ten Commandments, they were never given to anybody other than national Israel per Ex 19:5-6. We do not keep Saturday Sabbath; we do not own slaves and let them rest on the Sabbath and we do not promise that our children will live long in the land of Israel (eretz). Like the word "law," your use of the word "commandments" is confusing.
Dash: When the people of Israel understood that God delivered them out of bondage in Egypt, obedience to his commands is the only response that makes sense.
Kelly: Yes, and God commanded Israel NOT to share its covenant with other nations. The "Thou shalt nots" of the Old Covenant have been replaced by obedience in the New Covenant because of our new creation in Christ.
Dash: These commands, which look oppressive at first, are actually a charter of freedom.
Kelly: What commands? Only the Ten Commandments? Or the whole Pentateuch? Or what? The law commanded Hebrews to kill disobedient children and fornicators. It commanded them not to wear clothing of mixed cloths, etc, etc, etc. It was very difficult in order to remind Israel that they had been set apart from the Gentile world which did not have the law.
Dash: As Paul said to the Ephesians, “Those who have been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28).
Kelly: This is not because they were consciously keeping the Ten Commandments or the whole law of the Pentateuch. It is because they are new creations indwelt by the Holy Spirit. According to John 16:8-9 Jesus Himself is the new standard of righteousness for the believer.
Dash: This gets tricky, because tithes were part of the old covenant with Israel.
Kelly: Why do you admit this truth concerning tithing and not admit it concerning the Ten Commandments or the whole law?
Dash: The New Testament doesn’t require the tithe, but it has lots to say about giving.
Kelly: Yes, but absolutely nothing to say about the church being required to tithe. That is because both the temple and the OT priesthood have been replaced by the priesthood of every believer. Anybody who accepts tithes under the New Covenant is STEALING. He is accepting sustenance which only belonged to Levites and Aaronic priests. According to Numbers 18 he should also be required to forfeit property ownership and to kill anybody else who dared to worship God directly.
Dash: C.S. Lewis said, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
Kelly: C. S. Lewis was right. According to the "equality principle" of 2nd Cor 8:12-14 many should give much more than 10% but others may be giving sacrificially even though less than 10%.
Dash: Theologian John Frame suggests that the cheerful giving of the New Testament cannot be much less than the Old Testament regular tithe of 10%. Don’t rob God by the amount that you give.
Kelly: Theologian Frame has fallen for the false assumption that everybody in the OT began their level of giving at ten per cent. In reality only food producers who lived inside Israel qualified as tithe-payers. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel. Therefore the conclusion is based on a false assumption and is wrong.
I encourage you to enter into a full discussion of tithing to reform the Church.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD