Russell Kelly comments on Tithing Sermon by Willie George, Church on the Move, Tulsa, Ok
1. He totally misunderstands the biblical idea of Law. The OT Law was only given to national Israel which was forbidden to share it with Gentiles. That part of the Law which was moral and reflected the character of God was repeated to the Church after Calvary in terms of grace and faith. Tithing was not repeated.
2. He does not correctly define holy tithes. True biblical holy tithes were always only FOOD from inside Israel which God had miraculously increased. Money was never tithed.
3. He quotes Ps 24:1 and 50:10 to claim that God deserves the tithe from everything. That is not true. Although God owned everything in the OT he only accepted tithes from his holy land of Israel.
4. He mentioned the rich young ruler. Why? Jesus did not tell the rich young ruler to tithe.
5. He pointed out that Abraham tithed before the Law. Yet Abraham’s tithe of spoils of war is not comparable to holy tithes under the law off God’s holy land. Abraham only tithed spoils of war and gave the 90% to the King of Sodom. We do not follow those examples.
6. He uses Malachi 3 in error. Malachi is about the sins of the priests who are the “you.” See 1:6; 2:1, 17 and 3:1-5. Every priest in the nation had stolen tithes per 1:13,14 and Neh 13:5-10. Tithes in Malachi are only FOOD from inside Israel. Christians cannot be cursed per Gal 3:10-13.
7. He pointed out that God’s character does not change. True, but the way God deals with OT Israel under the Old Covenant is different from the way God deals with the Church under the New Covenant. We do not kill disobedient children per Ex 21:15, 17.
8. He said that there was only one storehouse for the tithe which was the Temple. Read Neh 10:37b-39. First, the Temple only had two small rooms to hold the tithe (Neh 13:5; 1 Kg 6:6). Second, 98% of those who needed tithes for food lived in the Levitical cities (many texts). Third, only Levites and priests had been commanded to bring tithes to the Temple per Neh 10:38; Mal 3:10).
9. The NT church had no legal buildings for over 300 years after Calvary and was not a storehouse. The Temple and priesthood were both replaced by the priesthood of all believers.
10. Malachi says tithes and offerings: tithes from food producers who lived inside Israel and offerings from everybody else. The formula is not tithes PLUS offerings.
11. Tithing is not an “ongoing ordinance.” It was in that part of the law called “ordinances” and “statutes” which ended at Calvary per Eph 2:12-17; Col 2:12-17; Hebrews 7:12, 18 and numerous other texts. Actually the entire OT Law (only given to Hebrews) ended at Calvary when Jesus died and the veil ripped.
12. He quoted a small part of Leviticus 27:30 which says that the tithe was holy. Almost everything called holy and most holy in Leviticus is not holy under the New Covenant. He did not point out that the tithe was only FOOD and only from THE LAND of Israel. The tithe was never money or income either from inside Israel or outside Israel. Defiled pagan land could not produce holy tithes.
13. He complained that a lack of tithing means that the church cannot send out missionaries and build churches. However OT tithes could not be used for either mission work or for buildings and maintenance.
14. He misused Jacob’s tithe reference in Genesis 28:20-22. Jacob the supplanter set the terms and told God what to do. Jacob’s tithe came from pagan Haran in Syria and was not a holy tithe. It would have been rejected under the law. And it was not given to support any preacher. It was probably given to the poor.
15. The NT priesthood is: (1) Jesus the High Priest and (2) all believers are priests (1 Pet 2:9-10) who do not tithe to themselves. There is no NT text which says to support gospel workers with tithes. They are more like OT prophets who were either self-supported or received freewill offerings.
16. He abuses Hebrews 7 and stops at verse 8. Hebrews 7:5 introduces the words “commandment,” “tithes” and “law.” 7:5 says that there is a “necessary change of the law (from 7:5) and 7:18 says that the commandment (from 7:5) has been disannulled. The tithe was not changed from the Levitical priests to the gospel preacher. The context MUST at the very least include the disannulment of tithes.
17. While quoting Heb 7:4 he stresses “the tenth” and ignores “of the spoils.” Hebrews 7 using tithing to demonstrate the superiority of Christ’s High Priesthood.
18. He quotes Hebrews 7:8 as if Jesus is still in heaven receiving tithes from Christians. Since the Temple was still functioning when this was written, it means that tithes were spiritually being received by Jesus the real High Priest.
19. He says that “the purpose of the tithe is to bless you.” The purpose of the tithe was threefold: (1) Levitical tithes were taxes to support the Levites and priests; (2) festival tithes were eaten in the streets during the religious festivals and (3) the poor tithe was kept in the towns to feed the poor and Levites.
20. He said that “Scripture teaches that the tithe is to go to the local church.” This is not true.
21. He said that those who oppose tithing “almost give nothing.” This is not true. The early church prospered while giving freewill offerings. According to Acts 21:20-21 Jewish Christians continued to tithe to the Temple system. Many great scholars, churches and schools did not and do not teach tithing. See http://www.tithing-russkelly.com/id2.html.
22. He referred to Galatians 6:6 and said it teaches tithing. That is not true. Tithes are not mentioned in pagan Galatia.
23. He abuses 1 Timothy 5:17. First, from verse 1 it is in the context of discipline. The church is to be double-cautious when disciplining its head elder. No reputable honest translation says that this means double salary.
24. None of the OT tithing statute of Numbers 18 is obeyed by any church today: (1) tithes are only food from inside God’s holy land of Israel, (2) only Levitical priests can enter the sanctuary, (3) Levitical priests are to kill anybody attempting to worship God directly, (4) Levitcal tithes are to be given to the servants of the priests such as ushers, deacons, musicians, choir, treasurer and politicians, (5) priests only get 1% of the whole, or a tenth of the tenth, (6) recipients of Levitical tithes cannot own or inherit property.
Russell Earl Kelly, Author of Should the Church Teach Tithing?