A Rebuttal of Tony Evans’, No More Excuses, pages 215-231, by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD; January 21. 2015
Evans: (216) “God’s will and plan for His people. … God has set up creation to act as a stewardship. Now He’s not going to revamp His eternal plan …”
Kelly: Tony Evans lists a Th. M. and Th. D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas is a pioneer in conservative theology. A key hermeneutic (principle of interpretation) is “To whom is the text addressed?” “His people” before Calvary was clearly national Israel (Ex. 19:5-6). After Calvary God’s “new covenant” was “revamped” to include Gentiles and the Church which were never under the Old Covenant Law.
The founders of DTS include Lewis Sperry Chafer and John Walvoord. DTS does not teach tithing. My book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?, quotes from their book to agree with my viewpoint. Tony Evans knows better.
Evans: (218) Ps. 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.” The Bible declares that God owns it all.
Kelly: Every tithe-teacher quotes Psalm 24:1! Why? The words “tithe, tithes, tithing” do not occur even once in the Psalms! This text does not somehow magically prove tithing. While it is a true statement, tithes in the Old Testament and during the time Psalm 24:1 was inspired were still only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which He had miraculously increased and they could only come from Hebrews living inside that land. Gold, silver, money and income are never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the HOLY tithe. Not even Jesus, Peter or Paul qualified as tithe payers; nobody living outside the HOLY land qualified, especially Gentiles. Therefore Psalm 24:1 cannot support tithing of non-food items by Gentiles.
Evans: (220) “If you are the Creator and you have created something for a purpose, you have a right to demand that it fulfill your purpose and nothing else. … If God owns everything how does that relate to the concept of tithing?”
Kelly: Evans never mentions the biblical purpose for the tithe found in Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy. He replaces God’s stated purpose with his own opinion.
According to Numbers 18 (the exact wording of the tithing statute/ordinance) the purpose of the first Levitical tithe was to reimburse the Levites for their (part time) service in the sanctuary/temple in exchange for their loss of land inheritance inside Israel. This real purpose is almost totally ignored by gospel preachers who also own property. “Part time” refers to the many professions and trades of both Levites and priests found in 1 Chronicles 23 to 26; they served the king and the LORD often as government employees. See my chapter on Kings, Tithes and Taxes from Should the Church Teach Tithing?
The total tithe was actually around 23%. Tithe-advocates like Tony Evans dare not point out this fact as it would be awkward asking for 23%. A second tithe of 10% was required to feed the masses at the seasonal feasts. A third tithe of 10% every third year was kept in the towns to feed the poor and Levites (who were expected to be among the poor). See my chapter, How Many Tithes? (www.tithing-russkelly.com).
Evans’ most fundamental error is in failing to define the biblical HOLY tithe as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. There is no biblical authority to define the holy tithe as income from Gentiles and the Church.
The Bible does not tell us why uncircumcised Abram gave a tithe from spoils of war to Melchizedek in Genesis 14. It neither says he was commanded to do so nor does it record that he freely chose to do so. Yet tithe-teachers usually assign one of these two reasons. Abram was most likely merely obeying the common demonstrable tradition of giving his local king-priest a tithe from the spoils of war. On the other hand, Jacob’s tithe was a freewill vow. Both were from defiled pagan sources; neither would qualify as a holy tithe under the law or by Malachi or Jesus.
The HOLY tithe (as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi, Matthew and Luke) was always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. It could not come from non-Hebrews. It could not come from non-food sources. It could not come from outside Israel. It could not come from what man made; it must come from the miraculous hand of God. There are 16 verses which validate this claim. Even Malachi 3:10 and Jesus in Matthew 23:23 still limit it to food.
Evans and all other tithe-teachers simply will not be honest and define the HOLY tithe according to God’s Word. They say that food was barter and used as money. In doing so, they fail to perform a simple word search in an exhaustive concordance such as Strong’s. The words “money, silver, gold” are common and required for temple worship but are never included in any description of the tithe or firstfruits. Check it out for yourself.
Evans: (220) God established the tithe with Israel in the Old Testament.
Kelly: Yes, yes, yes – and only with Israel in the Old Testament. Even then He severely limited it to food producers who lived inside His HOLY land. The tithe never did apply to occupations and trades beyond food production. The tithe was never used to build mission stations and proselytize Gentiles (so there is no precedent there). O. T. Gentiles could not tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul could not tithe. Not even crops grown outside Israel by Hebrews could be tithed.
Evans: He told the people that he wanted the first ten per cent of everything they produced, whether the crops in the fields or the animals born to the flocks and herds (see Lev. 27:30-33).
Kelly: Evans omits Leviticus 2:34 which limits the instructions to national Israel.
Evans uses Leviticus 27:30-33 to prove that the tithe was to be given first when the text limits the tithe to the tenth! Incredible! Any casual reading of the texts makes it clear that the tithe was the last tenth. Plus the texts do not include money, gold, silver or income among tithed items.
Evans: Now the tithe was not designed to allow the Israelites to say “O.K. God here’s your ten percent. No, the tithe was a way of saying “God, this tithe is my way of saying that you own it all and gave it all to me. I realize that the 90% is yours too.”
Kelly: These are nice sounding words heard very often but they are not biblical and they ignore the real purpose of the three tithes as previously discussed. It is dishonest to teach on tithing and totally ignore Numbers 18. Again, “God owned it all” in the Old Testament times also, but only allowed the holy tithe to come from what He had miraculously increased from inside His holy land.
Evans: (221) The tithe was also to be given first, to remind the Israelites that God would meet their needs if they honored him.
Kelly: This is a lie; it has no validation from God’s Word. The tithe is not the same as the firstfruits! The firstfruits was a very small token offering which could be carried in a small basket; it was a handful of grapes or olives; it was several apples or a handful of grain; it was not the tenth of the total harvest which could only be counted after the harvest was finished. Think straight; look us “firstfruits” in a concordance.
Evans: This is a view of stewardship most of us aren’t used to.
Kelly: It is unbiblical to use the principle of God’s ownership to teach that believers must give the first tenth of their income to the church.
Evans: The Israelites of Malachi’s day dishonored the Lord by giving Him the worst of their flock for sacrifice (Mal. 1:7-8). The people would …. (1:9)
Kelly: Stop what you are doing for a moment, pick up a Bible for yourself, and open to Malachi, chapter one. It begins with an address to Israel in 1:1. At 1:6 the writer/speaker begins addressing “you,” the priests. From 1:6 to the remainder of Malachi, the word “you” refers to priests and not to the people of Judah as a whole.
Evans has skipped Malachi 1:6 and begins at 1:7. This is dishonest because he changes the focus from dishonest priests to the people. It is the dishonest priests who have taken the worst (of the best tenth, Num. 18:25-28) from their flocks (Num. 35; Josh. 21)
Evans: (222) Look how seriously God took this insult, “O that one of you would shut the temple doors that you would not light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands” (Mal. 1:10).
Kelly: Anybody who honestly reads the Bible in context will realize that Malachi 1:10 is still speaking to the priests (the “you”) from 1:6. Even more so, the text itself (1:10) limits the context to only priests who are responsible for “shutting the doors” to the Temple and for “lighting fires at the altar.” This is not a condemnation of the people for not tithing. Rather, it is a condemnation of dishonest priests for substituting unqualified sacrificial animals.
Evans: God says shut the temple, close down the church if that is all we are going to give him.
Kelly: The New Covenant Church is never called a “storehouse” in the Bible. In fact, church buildings were illegal until after A.D. 313.
Evans: He wants to be first in everything.
Kelly: Evans again uses the magic trick of equating tithes with firstfruits. In the Old Covenant neither were non-food items; neither could come from outside Israel; neither could come from non-food-producing occupations. Sacrificial freewill offerings is another thing though.
Evans: When we give God lesser any
priority in our lives, we are relegating the Owner to the demeaning position below that of his steward of manager.
Kelly: Sounds good, but this is not biblical. Consider 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Modern tithe-teachers want the tithe first. They want the poor and needy to buy their medicine, food, shelter and other necessities after the tithe is paid.
Paul said to take care of one’s own essential family needs first! Yet many sincere “tithe-payers” are cutting pulls in half and doing without proper food and shelter for their family in order to avoid an Old Covenant curse for Israel and escape their preacher’s wrath.
Evans: (God) would not be satisfied with your leftover time, energy and skills.
Kelly: If there is nothing “leftover” after buying essential medicine, food and shelter, God will not be angry. Evans has placed his own words into God’s mouth.
Evans: That’s the principle of priority we need to understand.
Kelly: Evans’ “principle of priority” is based on two false assumptions: (1) that Psalms 24:1 includes tithes from non-food increase outside of Israel from Gentiles and (2) that firstfruits and tithes are the same thing.
Having completed Evans’ arguments, let us look at a few facts.
(1) Evans failed to define the holy tithe as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus.
(2) Evans fails to point out that those being cursed in Malachi 1:11-14 and 2:1 were clearly the priests and not the people.
(3) Evans fails to follow the pronoun “you” from 1:6. The priests’ question of 2:17 is answered in 3:1-5 as God’s promise to purify the priesthood. “This whole nation” of 3:8-10 only makes sense when understood as “this whole nation “of you priests” –every priest in the nation. In Nehemiah 13:5-10 the priests had removed the tithes from the small storeroom and forced the Levites to return to their cities for food. Also see Neh. 10:35-38.
(4) It makes no sense to teach that the temple in Jerusalem held the whole tithe of the whole nation.
a) It was too small (compare 1 Kings 6:6);
b) priests would have to travel to the temple every time they wanted food; c) there were no large storerooms for tithes in Solomon’s temple and a crisis was created in Second Chronicles 31:1-5. The crisis ended when most of the tithes were re-distributed back to the Levitical cities where they belonged. Again read Nehemiah 10:37b-38.
(5) It is absurd to imply that God owes believers “overflowing blessings” simply because they tithed. The O.T. Law was to be obeyed wholly and perfectly before blessings were dispensed (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26). God did not bless tithe-payers who broke the law in other areas.
(6) The principle and doctrine of the priesthood of every believer abolishes tithing because every N.T. believer is a priest before God (1 Pet 2:9-10: Rev 5:10).
Mr. Evans, I invite you to enter an open dialog on this subject. It is far too important to ignore.
In Christ’s love
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
316 Aonia Rd
Washington, Ga 30673