STAND YOUR GROUND (first revision)
Thursday, June 19, 2010
Friends of Tithing-Study Group and Dr. Russell Earl Kelly:
The following is a great revision of my original article, Stand Your Ground. I asked for discussion and have incorporated almost every suggestion into this revision. I thank all who contributed. I also pray that this revision will be acceptable to all.
After a recent meeting with my good friend, Charles Crabtree, I have come to the conclusion that we have been using the wrong strategy. Most of us, INCLUDING MYSELF, have been leaving churches which teach tithing instead of STANDING OUR GROUND.
What did Jeremiah do when he was right and almost everybody opposed him? He obeyed his holy prophetic calling, STOOD HIS GROUND, and made the king act against him. If the king had killed him the negative publicity might have been bad for the king.
What did Jesus do when He was rebuked by the scribes and Pharisees? He responded in love, STOOD HIS GROUND and publicly severely rebuked them! He did not apologize for hurting their feelings. The truth was worth dieing for.
What did Peter do at Pentecost? He was filled with love. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He STOOD HIS GROUND and said things which the leaders did not want him to say.
“You killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:15). “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (3:19). When the Jewish leaders became angry that Peter and the disciples were preaching a different doctrine, they threw them into prison -- but abut 5000 believed (4:1-4). From bonds Peter STOOD HIS GROUND testified in front of the high priests and all the rulers (4:5-12). Upon seeing their “boldness” (not their knowledge of the Bible), after the leaders had commanded them NOT to teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John STOOD THEIR GROUND and said “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Stephen was bolder than Peter. Out of love he told his fellow Jews “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). He accused them of murdering the Messiah and not keeping the law” (7:52-53). After STANDING HIS GROUND, the Jewish leaders were “cut to the heart, and they gnashed their teeth” before killing him (7:54-59). Stephen was willing to pay the ultimate price.
What did Paul do when he was kicked out of synagogue after synagogue? He STOOD HIS GROUND. He stayed in each synagogue until he was forcibly removed –and—by then he had reached many with the truth. Paul was certainly motivated by the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, but that love never stopped him from speaking and living the truth: “for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). Tithing was the farthest thing from Paul’s mind. His love for Christ, his calling of God and his desire to win souls sacrificed any monetary gain (1 Cor 9:18-19).
Almost every Protestant church has rules in its by-laws granting any member the right to be heard with a grievance before the entire congregation. Neither the pastor, the elders, the deacons nor the board of trustees has the biblical authority to remove members or command members not to return.
From this point onward I will not counsel anybody to leave his/her present church UNTIL AFTER they have been heard before the congregated church at a formal called and scheduled business meeting. This is biblical (Acts 15:4-7; 21:17-22).
WHEN YOU INITIATE THE DIALOG
1 Tim 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
1 Tim 5:20 them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
1 Tim 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
1. If you decide to initiate an inquiry about your pastor (elder, bishop) concerning abuse of authority, discipline or doctrine, BE DOUBLE SURE that you know what you are talking about and be double prepared. He/she has been chosen by the assembly to fill a position of double honor and is “double worthy” of double caution. Discipline of church leaders is the context of First Timothy 5:17-18 from verse 1.
2. The Bible commands doing such in front of two or three witnesses. This is your opportunity to be clearly heard. Anticipate objections and expect to have certain texts injected into the discussion (Gen 14:18-20; Lev 27:30-33; Mal 3:8-10; Mt 23:23; 1 Cor 9:13-14; Heb 7:1-10).
3. Regardless of promises of confidentiality, this WILL very soon be known in the entire church. Do not fool yourself. If you do not want widespread whispering, then say nothing.
4. An approach of superior knowledge will not succeed. If your opposition is not motivated by much prayer, love for the truth and abuse of the needy in the church, it is for self-gratification.
5. Remember the counsel of Romans 14 about offending the weaker brethren. Most tithe-payers are wonderful sincere Christians who will be severely shaken by the truth about tithing. Be fully prepared to prove to them that you are not against supporting the church; that you are FOR generous sacrificial giving which can, for some, mean MORE than ten per cent. If you cannot offer better giving principles, stop and study more before proceeding.
6. Consider your wife and family. Tithing is a non-salvation issue. It would be wrong for arguments over tithing to cause a divorce. And I do not think that one should stop going to church merely because it teaches tithing and you cannot find a non-tithing church. Christians are all part of the Body of Christ and need sustenance from the Body even though the Body is not rock-solid in doctrine.
7. If you are not prepared to be severely criticized, keep quiet. These are not games to be played.
WHEN SOMEBODY ELSE INITIATES THE DIALOG AGAINST YOU
Matt 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Matt 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Matt 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
1. When any in the church accuse you of teaching a false doctrine and takes it upon themselves to discipline you, then Jesus’ words come into effect.
2. Be aware that, most likely, you will eventually be asked to leave the church because you disagree with it over tithing. Again, if you are not willing to take this route, keep quiet.
3. First, the accuser is commanded by Jesus to talk to you on a one-to-one basis per Matt 18:15 –even it the accuser is the pastor. The first meeting should not be a gang-up on you. If it is, do not participate. They are disobeying Jesus’ direct command. Ask for this correct biblical sequence.
4. Second, if there is still no agreement, the next step is for the accusing party to speak to you again in front of two-three witnesses. This second meeting is NOT to be in front of the board of elders, deacons or the church. If it is, do not participlate. Ask for this correct biblical sequence. The purpose of this meeting is to insure that all parties are being understood clearly. Make sure that they understand you are not equating tithing with freewill offerings
5. Third, if there is still no agreement, the accuser is commanded by Jesus to bring the issue before the entire congregation. Only the church body has the authority to discipline you or anybody else.
6. Again, there is no biblical authority invested in the pastor, the elders, the deacon or the church board to discipline you BEFORE the entire church has heard your case. Exactly like the examples of Jeremiah, Jesus, Peter, Stephen and Paul -- this is your golden opportunity to defend God’s Word and your conviction about tithing before the entire church. Project love.
7. Let the Tithing-Study Group know of your progress through these steps in order that all of us may pray for you. Because of the nature of our Tithing-Study Group, I feel that there is no need to ask for assistance to a brother or sister facing questions. This is why we exist.
Note: We realize that there are some churches which do not follow the biblical sequence and give far too much authority to the leader. If you recognize this in your church, it is probably best simply to state your conviction and quietly either submit or leave. At least attempt to be heard before you leave. That is how the Apostle Paul acted.
In Christ’s love
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD