Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reply to Pastor Steven Bryant

Stevan Bryant, pastor of Grace Chapel Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Madison, Mississippi

Russ: Your comments about tithing are very shallow and reflect poor hermeneutics.

First, the true HOLY biblical tithe was always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which God had miraculously increased. Tithes could not come from what man increased, from Gentiles or from outside Israel. Not even Jesus, Peter or Paul qualified as tithe payers. They gave sacrificial freewill offerings. While money was very common and essential for sanctuary worship, there are 16 texts limiting the tithe to food from inside Israel.

Second, yes, God is the source and yes, God owns everything. While that was also true in the Old Testament, HOLY tithes could still only come from food increased inside God’s holy land. This is a serious flaw in your logic.

Third, your argument that the tithe is a minimum expectation, starting point or training wheels is based on the false assumption that everybody was commanded to begin giving of all increase at ten per cent. It only applied to food producers. The poor, Gentiles and non-food producers could not tithe.

Fourth, you call that tithe “firsfruits” when it is actually “tenthfruits.” Compare Deu 26:1-4; Neh 10:35-38 and many other firstfruit texts.

Fifth, you wrote “When the crops were harvested, the grateful sons and daughters of God would bring to Him one tenth of the harvest, or one tenth of the proceeds…the first, the best, not the left- overs, and no less than He instructs us to give.”

Russ: This should read “grateful HEBREW sons and daughters of God.”

See Lev 27:30-34. The tithe was neither the “first” nor “the best.” You are opposite God’s Word here.

Only the “best” one tenth of the tithe went to the priests per Num 18:25-28. The first whole tithe went to the servants of the priests per Num 18:21-24. You ignore this.

Sixth, you wrote “Some Christians ould lead you astray teaching, “we’re under the New Testament now, and the mandate of the tithe no longer applies to us.”

WE Gentiles of the Church never were under the Old Covenant law or its tithe. According to Gal 3:1-5 it is witchcraft to place Gentiles under that law. Also Gal 3:10-13.

Seventh, you wrote “Jesus never set aside the tithe. Rather, He commends the tithe in Matthew 23:23.”

While living under the jurisdiction of the Law before Calvary Jesus MUST teach compliance to the whole law. Of course he never sst it aside –that would be sinning before Calvary.

The hermeneutic of Mt 23:23 is a discussion of “matters of the law” addressed to “you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Jesus did not and could not legally command anybody to tithe to him.

Eighth, you wrote “None of the New Testament writers declare the tithe null and void.” Wrong.

Where in the Bible Were Tithes Abolished?

1. WHO #1: The Levitical servants to the priests who received the first whole tithe have been abolished. See Numbers 18:21-24. Modern equivalents to the Levites are unpaid ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, etc.

2. WHO #2: OT priests who received a tenth of the tithe (only 1 per cent) have been abolished. See Num 18:25-28 and Neh 10:38.

3. WHAT: The definition of tithes as only food miraculously increased by God from inside His holy land of Israel has been abolished and replaced with the false unbiblical definition of income. See Leviticus 27:30-34 and 14 other texts which describe the contents of the tithe. Yet money was common in Genesis.

4. WHERE: The destination of the OT tithes first to the Levitical cities some to the Temple has been abolished. See Neh 10:37b and Mal 3:10.

5. WHEN: The time to tithe has been abolished. The Levitical tithe was paid yearly in the Levitical cities. The second festival tithe was eaten at the three festivals. The third poor tithe was kept in the home every third year. Tithes totaled 23 1/3 per cent.

6. WHY #1: The covenant which prescribed them was abolished per Heb 8:8-13; Gal 4:21-26' 2 Cor 3:6-10.

7. WHY #2: The "commandment" for Levites and priests to collect tithes was "annulled" per Hebrews 7:5, 12, 18.

8. WHY #3: The law which condemned believers has been rendered of no effect when the believer died in Christ per Romans 7:4. No law can tell a dead person what to do.

9. HOW #1: Jesus abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances per Eph 2:13. Tithing was an ordinance per Num 18.

10. HOW $2: Jesus blotted out the handwriting of ordinances, per Col 2:14. Tithing was an ordinance per Num 18.

11. HOW #3: The Temple which tithes supported was abolished in AD 70. God's temple is now within each believer per 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20.

12. HOW #4: The priesthood which was supported by tithes was abolished in AD 70. God's priesthood is now within every believer per 1st Peter 2:9-10.

13. HOW #5: The blessings and curses of tithing as part of the whole law have been abolished per Galatians 3:10-13.

Ninth, you wrote “In fact, the standards are raised. Just as we have seen in our study of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raises the standard of obedience to the Law; He raises the standard of fidelity in marriage and what constitutes a legitimate divorce.”

Does raising the standards of the law for Gentiles mean that you kill your disobedient children for even lesser offenses? Does it mean you send your menstrual wife farther away one week a month? Does it mean you must rebuild a larger temple and reinstitute a greater priesthood to receive tithes? Your interpretation forces you to obey all 600 commands of the law in an intensified manner.

Tenth, you wrote “Jesus never lowers moral obligations.”

Yes, but tithing was never a moral obligation. It was a command only given to food producers who lived inside Israel. It was cold hard law and must be given whether one was moral or not.

Eleventh, you wrote “Why would we think that God would suddenly lower His expectations of how Christians from the New Testament era unto the present moment deal with our money? In fact, the standard is higher in this area too.

Again, you are arguing from a false assumption. Jesus could not and did not command Gentiles whom he healed to obey the law and show themselves to the priests.

Twelfth, “Instead of demanding a percentage, the Gospel demands it all!”

This is empty rhetoric unless you give your entire paycheck back to the church. It means nothing since you have no real application.

Thirteenth, Malachi 3:8-12.

Yes, bring out this horse (Heb 7:5, 12, 18). Tithing was part of the cultic ceremonial worship statutes/ordinances of the law which were certainly abolished in Ephesians 2:13-17 and Colossians 2:13-17.

Malachi was addressed to Old Covenant Israel and tithing was a small part of the whole law per Neh 10:29 and Mal 4:4. The whole law was a test to Old Covenant Israel.

Even in Malachi 3:10-12 the tithe is still only food from inside Israel. This never changed.

Fourteenth, you wrote “I want to urge you to take God at His Word.”

Russ: Please do.

Heb 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

Pastor Steven Bryant, I urge you to reconsider you position on this important doctrine. Even John Calvin, John Owen, J V McGee and many other famous Presbyterians agree with me on this,

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

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