Reply to STRICTLY GOSPEL on Tithing
Note: Long article precedes this. Edited.
Strictly: Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest . . . when your heart is lifted up . . . then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ . . . For it is He who gives you power to get wealth . . .” (Deuteronomy 8:7-18, emphasis added throughout).
Kelly: It is interesting that you quote a text which proves that the whole law either stands or falls together. The Law was only given to Old Covenant Israel as a whole. The only way to be blessed by law-keeping is to keep all 600+ commands.
Strictly: Not only do the earth and its wealth belong to God, but we should ponder that even the “power to get wealth,” mentioned in the above passage, is a gift from Him.
Kelly: You say all of this to lead up to teaching tithing. However, while all the earth and its wealth also belonged to in the Old Testament, that logic was never used to accept tithes from outside God's unique holy land of Israel.
Strictly: If a person’s life is dedicated to God’s service, so will be a portion of his wealth or income. God’s Word tells us to “honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9). If God is a priority in your life, you will desire to honor Him with your life and your time—as represented by your income, your money.
Kelly: While this is true, it is not true if used as a lead-in to teach tithing. Biblical firstfruits were only a very small token offering of food from inisdie Israel per Deuteronomy 26:1-4, Nehemiah 10:35-38 and many other texts. According to 1st Timothy 5:8 a Christian should give his/her first to buy essential medicine, food and reasonable shelter for the family --otherwise we are worst than the infidels.
Strictly: God reveals in His Word that one way to do this is to tithe to Him. Tithing is giving the first 10 percent of one’s income (”increase,” Deuteronomy 14:22) to God.
Kelly: Your long article was a lead-in to ttithing. God never commanded the Church or Gentiles to tithe to him in the New Covenant after Calvary. You define tithing wrong. In God's Word the tithe was always only food from inside Israel and the increase was from God's miracle hand in the form of food. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctaury worship, money was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor those who lived outside Israel --like ourselves.
Strictly: To tithe is to give God what is His, not ours.
Kelly: The definition of food from His holy land never changed for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke.
Strictly: However, even though it is really all His (Psalm 50:12; 89:11), He lays claim to just the first 10 percent of our increase (Leviticus 27:30).
Kelly: Read all of Leviticus 27:30-34. (1) only food, (2) the tenth, not the first, (3) not even the best and (4) part of the whole law for Israel given on Mt Sinai.
Strictly: Obviously we have no way of giving cash or a check directly to God in person. Our Creator has directed, through the ages, that the tithe that is His be given to those on earth whom He designates to receive it, those actively doing His work.
Kelly: This is not found in the New Covenant for the Church after Calvary.
Strictly: Abraham, the “father” of the faithful (Romans 4:16), gave tithes to Melchizedek, God’s representative (Genesis 14:16-20).
Kelly: Abraham is only an example to us in things he did "by faith." The Bible does not say that Abraham tithed "by faith" --it was more likely in obedience to common custom know around the world in his time. Nothing Abraham did concerning tithing is an example for Christians to follow: (1) only pagan spoils of war, (2) only once, (3) not a true holy tithe from inside God's holy land, (4) kept nothing and (5) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom.
Strictly: Later, under the terms of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel, God assigned the tithe to be given to the tribe of Levi for the work of the tabernacle and later the temple (Numbers 18:21).
Kelly: Tell all of it. Numbers 18 is the statute-ordinance of tithing. It requires those who gave the first whole Levitical tithe to (1) give it to the servants of the ministers, (2) only give the ministers one per cent, (3) kill anybody other than mininsters who dared to enter the sanctuary, (4) kill anybody else who dared to worship God directly and (5) forfeit property ownership. NONE of this part of tithing is done today.
Strictly: However, since Jesus Christ’s resurrection to be the High Priest of the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:20), the tithe no longer goes to the Levites but to His Church and the faithful ministers who serve under Him in proclaiming His true gospel and caring for His flock (Hebrews 7:12).
Kelly: Wrong. Hebrews 7:12 says that there was a necessary change of the law (of tithing from 7:5) and that "change" was its "disannullment" of the "commandment going before" in Hebrews 7:18 because of the better new covenant of 7:19.
Strictly: “Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given to You” (1 Chronicles 29:13- 14).
Kelly: "Offer so willingly" refers to freewill offerings which paid for the Temple --not to tithes. According to 1st Chronicles, chapters 23 to 26 the tithe-receiivng Levites were guards, builders, bakers, choir members, muscians, treasurers and poliltical rulers for the king. Why is this ignored by modern tithe-teachers?
Strictly: Another need is that we learn spiritual maturity and develop God’s giving nature (Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 9:7).
Kelly: You ignored the context of Acts 20:29-35. Paul was boasting to church elders that he had been totally self-supporting and encouraged them to follow his example and care for the needy. Today the situation is reversed.
Strictly: In the book of Malachi, God puts into stark language the spiritual issues related to tithing: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:8-10).
KellY: Of couse you will use this out-of-context verse only addressed to Old Covenant Israel. Galatians 3:10-13 clearly replaces Malachi 3:10-12 for Hebrews and it never did apply to the Church. The curse of the law is removed in Galatians 3:13 and believers are dead to the law per Romans 7:4.
God cannot bless New Covenant believers beceuae of their obedience to vanished Old Covenant conditiohal promises per Heb 8:13. New Covenant giving is: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment or percentage and motivated by love for God and others. That was plenty for the early church and should suffice today. For many it means more than 10% and for many it means much less.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD