Reply to Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, Ca. on Tithing by Russell Earl Kelly
From the book "The Treasury", by Anne Kalvestrand. The question's were asked of, and answered by, Pastor Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor, Bethel Church, Redding, California. USA.
Johnson: Question: Is the tithe a principle only for those who live under the Law of Moses? Answer: No.
Abraham practices the tithe 400 years before the Law was given - "Melchizedek, king of Salem ... to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all..." Hebrews 7:1-4
Kelly: Nothing Abraham did concerning tithes is followed by any church today. (1) only pagan spoils of war from defiled pagan dust, (2) not holy tithes from God's holy land which had been miraculously increased by God's hand, (3) other than spoils, nothing of his own personal property, (4) only once recorded, (5) he kept nothing and (6) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom. Just because something is very old and very common, that does not mean it is eternal and moral.
Johnson: Jacob also tithed. "... of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." Genesis 28:22
The Law ratified the wisdom of tithing. "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; so it is holy to the Lord." Leviticus 27:30
Kelly: Jacob set the conditions and told God what to do. His tithe was a freewill vow and was not given to support a Levitical priesthood. Neither Abraham nor Jacob's tithe are used in the Law as examples for Israel.
Leviticus 27:30 and 15 other texts all describe the tithe as only food from inside Israel. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never included in the definition of biblical tithes. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor anybody who lived outside Israel.
Johnson: Jesus confirmed the principle of the tithe. "... you pay tithe of the mint and anise and cummin ... these you ought to have done..." Matthew 23:23
Kelly: The actual quote from Mt 23:23 includes "matters of the law." Jesus was rebuking hypocritical scribes and Pharisees for abusing the law. Jesus did not command the Gentiles whom he healed to obey the law and could not have commanded them to tithe.
Johnson: Question: Did the early church fathers practice tithing? Answer: YesJusitin Martyr, Renaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenaius, Ambrose, Augustine, and many more."Our ancestors used to abound in wealth of ever kind for this reason that they used to give tithes and pay the tax to Caesar... we have been unwilling to share the tithe with God, now the whole is taken away." - Augustine
Kelly: It is not true that any early church father of the first 200 years after Calvary taught tithing. Johnson is wrong to include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian. Cyprian's middle of the third century concept included equally sharing the tithe with all in the church and even it was rejected.
Then came the state-supported Roman Catholic Church. Augustine's concept was not adopted by the Church. Attempts in 567 and 585 failed to spread beyond local churches. Tithing did not become church law until AD 777. Study this.
Johnson: Question: Can I choose where the tithe is to go? Answer: No.The tithe is a payment, already designated by God to go into the storehouse for the ministry of the local church. "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house." - Malachi 3:10
Kelly: The OT Temple and priesthood have been replaced with the priesthood of every believer who do not tithe to themselves. The covenant, Levitical cities, Levites, priests and temple all ended. There is no such thing as the storehouse of the church. Early church buildings did not exist for over 200 years after Calvary.
Johnson: "But the firstborn among animals, which should be the Lord's firstborn, no man shall dedicate... it is the Lord's". - Leviticus 26:27
Kelly: The firstborn and firstfruits were never the same as tithes in the Bible. Firstfruits were very small token offerings per Deut 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-38. It is wrong to teach that the first tenth of income must go to the local church. According to 1st Timothy 5:8, the first should go to buy medicine and essential food and shelter.
Johnson: Question: What is the purpose of the tithe? Answer: To provide for the priests. They are the ones in ministry that work to equip the saints for service."For the tithe of the children of Israel, which they offer as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance..." - Numbers 18:24
Kelly: Numbers 18 is the tithing statute-ordinance of the Law. Nothing in it is followed by any church today. (1) tithes are only food from inside Israel, (2) only ministers can enter the sanctuary, (3) the first Levitical tithe goes to the servants of the ministers, (4) the ministers only get one per cent of the total tithe, (5) ministers are to kill anybody who dares to worship God directly and (6) Levites and ministers who receive the tithe cannot own or inherit property.
Johnson: Question: Can we borrow the tithe? Answer: Yes, at 20 percent interest."If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it." - Leviticus 27:31Kelly: According to Leviticus 27:30-34 the tithe is (1) only food from inside Israel, (2) is only agricultural crops or clean animals, (3) the tenth and not the first, (4) the tenth and not the best and (5) part of the Law given only to national Israel at Mt Sinai.
Johnson: Question: What happens if I keep my title? Answer: You can withhold tithe, but you never get to keep it. It belongs to the devourer."He gave them all into his hand ... to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths... to fulfill seventy years." - 2 Chronicles 36:17-221
Kelly: According to Galatians 3:10-13 the curse of the law (including tithing) ended at Calvary. And verse 10 says that the only way to be blessed by law-keeping is to keep all 600+ commands of the law. The Law (and tithing) was never given to Gentiles and/or the Church after Calvary in the New Covenant.
Johnson: Withholding the tithe is idolatry."... all Israel... broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the alters... As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought the abundance the first fruits of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all." - 2 Chronicles 31:1-5Kelly: According to 1st Chronicles, chapters 23 to 26 the tithe was used by the king to pay Levites who also worked for him in secular areas. Why is this ignored? It was a tax. It is also stealing to accept the tithe and own property.
Johnson: Question: Will tithing remove all financial difficulties? Answer: No. But it is the beginning place of those wanting God's blessing. Some problems are related to other areas needing obedience.
Kelly: The ghettos are full of honest believers who have been faithfully "tithing" for generations and remain in poverty while many of their pastors are much better off.
Johnson: Question: Do I tithe on the net or the gross? Answer: Our taxes are our payment for living in America from our income. The tithe should be based on the gross income.
Kelly: Neither. Tithes are only food from inside Israel. The definition never changed for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. And it is absurd to expect modern farmers and self-employed businessmen to tithe gross when they must first spend exorbitant sums to produce any profit.Johnson: Another way to look at it would be, which measure would you like for God to use to bless you with? A tithe of the gross, or a tithe of the net?
Kelly: This is a con job.
Johnson: Question: What should a wife do if her unbelieving husband does not want to tithe? Answer: …. Testing God in this way is a practical way for people to see God's faithfulness.
Kelly: The whole law was a test --not merely tithing. Obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. God never gave the law to Gentiles or the Church. Deu 28-30.
Johnson: Question: What is the difference between a tithe and an offering? Answer: The tithe is a payment, while the offering is a gift. Both are required that we do not rob God."... but you say, ‘In what way have we robbed you?' In tithes and offerings." - Malachi 3:8
Kelly: Tithes were always only food from inside Israel. Offerings were either above the tithe for food producers inside Israel --or-- from non-food items which could be cleansed in the fire from outside Israel. See Numbers 31. There are no post-Calvary NT tithes.
Johnson: Question: Where should we give our offerings? Answer: That is your choice.Give according to your burden. Just remember to put the work of the Kingdom of God first.
Kelly: Earlier in this article you wrote " The tithe is a payment, already designated by God to go into the storehouse for the ministry of the local church."