Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reply to Pastor Jesse at Highland


Jesse: I personally believe in and practice tithing. But I am not a legalist.

Russ: Nobody literally biblically tithes today. True biblical HOLY tithes were always only food from inside God’s holy land which God had miraculously increased. Tithes could not come from what man’s hands produced or from outside Israel.

Jesse: I detest legalism. I certainly don’t want to pour new wine into old wineskins, imposing superseded first covenant restrictions on Christians.

Russ: “Yes” you do “impose superseded first covenant restrictions on Christians.” Just listen to your very next statement. You actually teach MORE than 10% for everybody, including the poorest who cannot even buy medicine and food.

Jesse: However, the fact is that every New Testament example of giving goes beyond the tithe. This means that none falls short of it.

Russ: Your conclusion is based on the false assumption that everybody under the Old Covenant began their level of giving at ten per cent –including the poor. In reality only food producers who lived inside Israel qualified as tithers. Not even Jesus, Peter and Paul qualified. The increase could not come from man’s hands or from outside Israel.

Jesse: The strongest arguments made against tithing today are “law versus grace.”

Russ: The strongest argument against tithing is the biblical definition. The word “tithe” does not stand alone. It is always the tithe “of food from inside Israel.” While God still owned everything in the OT, He only accepted tithes from inside His special holy land.

Jesse: But does being under grace mean we should stop doing all that was done under the law?

Russ: What kind of question is that? There are hundreds of “holy” and “most holy” things in Leviticus. You retain tithing and discard the others. “We” Gentiles never were under the Law at all.

Jesse: I’m a strong believer in the new covenant’s superiority over the old (Romans 7; 2 Corinthians 3; Hebrews 8). On the other hand, I believe there’s ongoing value to certain aspects of the old covenant.

Russ: What is your hermeneutic? Nothing from the Law applies to the Church after Calvary except that which has been repeated to the Church after Calvary in terms of the New Covenant. And tithing was not repeated.

Jesse: The model of paying back to God the firstfruits (tithing) and giving freewill offerings beyond that is among those.

Russ: You have just made another false assumption. Firstfruits (firsts) are never the same as tenth-fruits (tithes) in God’s Word. Firstfruits were very small token offerings brought directly to the Temple (Deu 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-37a). Tithes were only counted after the full harvest of holy food in Israel was completed. The first whole Levitical tithe was taken by the people to the Levitical cities per Neh 10:37b-38.

Jesse: Because we are never told that tithing has been superseded …

Russ: (1) WHO: The Levitical servants to the priests received the tithes and they are superseded. (2) WHO: The OT priests who received a tenth of the tithe and ministered in the Temple are superseded. (3) WHAT: The definition of God’s holy tithe as food from inside Israel has ended. (4) DESTINATION: The Levitical cities which received the Levitical tithe have disappeared. (5) TIME: The time to tithe after harvest and at the three annual feasts has ended. (6) COVENANT: The Old Covenant which legislated tithing has vanished. (7) WHY: COMMANDMENT: The commandment for Hebrews to tithe has been disannulled. Heb 7:18. (8) DEAD TO LAW: Believers are dead to law per Rom 7:4. (9) CALVARY: Jesus abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances per Eph 2:13. (10) CALVARY: Jesus blotted out the handwriting of ordinances per Col 2:14. (12) TEMPLE: The Temple whose priests tithing supported has been superseded by the indwelling Holy Spirit per 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20. (12) NT PRIESTHOOD: The priesthood which was supported by tithes has been superseded by the priesthood of every believer per 1 Per 2:9-10. (13) BLESSINGS AND CURSES: The blessings and curses of the law for obedience or disobedience to all the law have been superseded per Gal 3:10-13. (14) We Gentiles never were under the Old Covenant. We were excluded from it.
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?

Jesse: … and because Jesus directly affirmed it (Matthew 23:23) …

Russ: Remember, you just wrote a few statements ago “I detest legalism. I certainly don’t want to pour new wine into old wineskins, imposing superseded first covenant restrictions on Christians.”

Jesus would have never taught against tithing or any other part of the Law. He was born, lived and died under its full jurisdiction. He came to live a perfect sinless life in perfect law-keeping in order to redeem those under the law. Mt 23:23 is in the context o “matters of the law” and is addressed to those who “sit in Moses seat” (23:2-3). Jesus could not have commanded his Jewish disciples to tithe to Himself and He could not have commanded His Gentile disciples to tithe at all –both were illegal according to the Law. Tell us why you do not teach your own church to tithe mint and cumin as Jesus taught. Tell us where Jesus defined “tithe” as “a tenth of income and money before taxes.”

Jesse: … and prominent church fathers taught it as a requirement for Christian living …

Russ: This is a distortion of church history. For the first 200 years the church fathers OPPOSED tithing as a Jewish legalistic ritual. When Chrysostom and Augustine suggested it, it was not adopted. Tithing did not become an enforced church law until AD777.

Jesse: … it seems to me the burden of proof falls on those who say tithing is no longer a minimum standard for God’s people.

Russ: You have reached this conclusion only by deliberately REDEFINING the true biblical holy tithe. It never was a minimum standard except for food producers who lived inside Israel.

Jesse: Christ fulfilled the entire Old Testament, but He didn’t render it irrelevant.

Russ: Please tell me where God commanded uncircumcised Gentiles to obey any part of the Old Covenant Law. None of it was relevant to Gentiles. According to Romans 2:14-16 the eternal moral principles of the law are revealed to Gentiles via nature and conscience before the New Covenant –and tithing is not revealed in natural law and in the conscience.

Jesse: Old Testament legislation demonstrated how to love my neighbor. Although the specific regulations don’t all apply, the principles certainly do, and many of the guidelines are still as helpful as ever.

Russ: The OT Law commanded Hebrews to KILL disobedient children Ex 21:15, 17) and to send unclean women out of the camp one week per month. How are these principles helpful today?

Jesse: We don’t offer sacrifices anymore, so why should we tithe? Because sacrifices are specifically rescinded in the New Testament. As the book of Hebrews demonstrates, Christ has rendered inoperative the whole sacrificial system. But where in the New Testament does it indicate that tithing is no longer valid? There is no such passage. With a single statement, God could have easily singled out tithing like He did sacrifices and the Sabbath. But He didn’t.

Russ: I have already given you 14 easy-to-understand reasons why tithing ended. You belligerently boast that the tithing statute never ended. Read Numbers 18 which is the tithing statute. You do not obey a single part of the tithing statute: (1) Holy tithes are only food from inside Israel. (2) Levitical tithes only go to servants of the priests who did not minister sacrifices (ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, treasurer, politicians). (3) Levites gave a tenth of the tenth they received to the priests who ministered (1% total). (4) Priests were to KILL anybody else who dared to enter the sanctuary and worship God directly. And (5) Levites and priests who received this tithe were not allowed to own or inherit property. Please tell us why you violate all of these tithing laws.

Jesse: Some argue against tithing by saying, “The New Testament advocates voluntary offerings.” Yes, but as we’ve seen, so does the Old Testament. Voluntary giving is not a new concept.

Russ: Voluntary (freewill) giving is the ONLY concept which has been repeated to the Church in the New Covenant after Calvary.

Jesse: Having a minimum standard of giving has never been incompatible with giving above and beyond that standard.

Russ: The point is that this argument is invented and is not biblical. The OT Law never had a “minimum standard” of giving except for food producers who lived inside Israel. This is the third time you have repeated this argument.

Jesse: If both mandatory and voluntary giving coexisted under the old covenant, why not the new? It’s not a matter of either tithing or voluntary offering. The two have always been fully compatible.

Russ: You are adding principles of law back into principles of grace in violation of Galatians 3:1-5. Voluntary giving was repeated after Calvary and tithing was not repeated. NT giving principles are: freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful, not by commandment (or percentage) and motivated by love for God and lost souls.

Jesse: The disciples gave all that they had because “much grace was upon them all” (4:33).

Russ: According to Acts 21:20-21 the Jewish Christians were still “zealous of the law” 30 years after Calvary and must have continued to tithe to the Temple system. On the other hand, they refused to place Gentile Christians under the Law in Acts 15 and 21.

Jesse: It was obvious from the beginning that being under grace didn’t mean that New Testament Christians would give less than their Old Testament brethren. On the contrary, it meant they would give more.

Russ: This is the fourth repetition without any supporting texts. This is a common ploy of tithe-teachers to repeat this so often that one is subliminally convinced.

Jesse: Being under grace does not mean living by lower standards than the law.

Russ: Fifth repetition. What is a “lower standard”? The OT only commanded only food producers inside Israel to tithe. The NT commands all believers to give sacrificially. According to 2 Corinthians 8:12-14 the “equality principle” means that many should give MORE than 10% while some give less.

Jesse: Christ systematically addressed such issues as murder, adultery, and the taking of oaths and made it clear that his standards were much higher than those of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:17-48). He never lowered the bar. He always raised it.

Russ: From Matthew 5:20-48 it is clear that Christ was speaking of the whole law, all of it, including commandments, statutes and judgments. This was before Calvary when the Old Covenant Law would “vanish” per Heb 8:12 and be “disannulled” per Heb 7:12, 18. Jesus never removed “eye for eye” or the killing of disobedient children (Ex 21:15, 17); he merely intensified it. His context and audience was still Hebrews under the Law.

Jesse: But he also empowers us by his grace to jump higher than the law demanded.

Russ: Sixth repetition. Hypnotism anybody?

Jesse: It is a great joy and blessing in obeying God in giving Him our tithes and offerings.

Russ: A conclusion based on many false assumptions.

Jesse: God’s plan for financing His Kingdom work on this earth is through the tithes and offerings of His people.

Russ: This was his plan for “His people” of Old Covenant national Israel. According to Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18 this plan was “disannulled” because of its “weakness and unprofitability.”

Jesse: ... There are some mission opportunities that we would like to pursue. There is some much-needed work that we need to do on our buildings.

Russ: The OT tithe was never used for building construction, maintenance or missions proselytizing of Gentiles.

Jesse: … If you’re not tithing, start tithing. If you’re tithing, begin giving an offering above your tithe.

Russ: All this from a man who began this blog by saying “I detest legalism. I certainly don’t want to pour new wine into old wineskins, imposing superseded first covenant restrictions on Christians.” I wonder if you are planning of selling your property and killing church members who want to enter the sanctuary.

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