REPLY TO DEAN GREIMANN ON TITHING (PART TWO)
BY RUSSELL EARL KELLY, PHD
On December 17, 2016, Senior Pastor Dean Greimann, Regional Worship Center, Sherburn, MN, replied to Russell Kelly and James Sundquist concerning tithing. This is (hopefully) the first of a long open dialog on the subject to be posted on my blog... Since both sides of this controversy need to be heard, we encourage brother Greimann to stay with this discussion for the public benefit of the body of Christ. Greimann’s telephone is 641-812-0759; his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My email is email@example.com; my BlogSpot is russkellyphd.blogspot.com; 706-401-1276. Sunquist’s email is rrin Jay firstname.lastname@example.org.
DG: Much of the foundation of this worldview is based upon the church being the “New Testament Church” which has removed itself from the Old Testament foundational laws and commands and replacing them with a new foundation that says that we are no longer under the law (Old Testament) but under grace.
RK: Dispensationalism is based on the literal interpretation of God’s many unconditional promises to Old Testament national Israel. This literal interpretation is found in both the Old and New Testaments of God’s Word. It points out the many differences between God’s literal promises to the nation Israel and the Church: (1) one is a literal nation while the other is called a mystery. (2) One is promised a literal reign of Messiah on Earth while the other is promised a home in heaven. (3) One is called Yahweh’s chosen nation while the other is called the Body of Christ. The only way to dismantle God’s clear literal teaching about Israel is to re-interpret the scores of prophecies unconditionally given to Israel into a spiritual fashion; thus making the O.T. prophets totally wrong with no context for their listeners.
DG: This is indeed a true statement and there are many verses that can support this claim, as Martin Luther clearly pointed out, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
RK: In a sermon specifically about tithing and the Law in 1525, Martin Luther said
LUTHER, MARTIN; August 27, 1525
HOW CHRISTIANS SHOULD REGARD MOSES
The Law of Moses Binds Only the Jews and Not the Gentiles. An Introduction to Moses.
Here the Law of Moses has its place. It is no longer binding on us because it was given only to the people of Israel. And Israel accepted this law for itself and its descendants, while the Gentiles were excluded.
NATRUAL LAW: To be sure, the Gentiles have certain laws in common with the Jews, such as these: there is one God, no one is to do wrong to another, no one is to commit adultery or murder or steal, and others like them. This is written by nature into their hearts; they did not hear it straight from heaven as the Jews did. This is why this entire text does not pertain to the Gentiles. …
But we will not have this sort of thing. We would rather not preach again for the rest of our life than to let Moses return and to let Christ be torn out of our hearts. We will not have Moses as ruler or lawgiver any longer. Indeed God himself will not have it either. Moses was an intermediary solely for the Jewish people. It was to them that he gave the law.
We must therefore silence the mouths of those factious spirits who say, "Thus says Moses," etc. Here you simply reply: Moses has nothing to do with us. If I were to accept Moses in one commandment, I would have to accept the entire Moses. Thus the consequence would be that if I accept Moses as master, then I must have myself circumcised, wash my clothes in the Jewish way, eat and drink and dress thus and so, and observe all that stuff.
So, then, we will neither observe nor accept Moses. Moses is dead. His rule ended when Christ came. He is of no further service.
TEN COMMANDMENTS: That Moses does not bind the Gentiles can be proved from Exodus 20:1, where God himself speaks, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." This text makes it clear that even the Ten Commandments do not pertain to us. For God never led us out of Egypt, but only the Jews.
The sectarian spirits want to saddle us with Moses and all the commandments. We will just skip that. We will regard Moses as a teacher, but we will not regard him as our lawgiver - unless he agrees with both the New Testament and the natural law. Therefore it is clear enough that Moses is the lawgiver of the Jews and not of the Gentiles. He has given the Jews a sign whereby they should lay hold of God, when they call upon him as the God who brought them out of Egypt. The Christians have a different sign, whereby they conceive of God as the One who gave his Son, etc.
SABBATH: Again one can prove it from the third commandment that Moses does not pertain to Gentiles and Christians. For Paul [Col. 2:16] and the New Testament [Matt. 12:1-12; John 5:16; 7:22-23; 9:14-16] abolish the Sabbath, to show us that the Sabbath was given to the Jews alone, for whom it is a stern commandment. The prophets referred to it too, that the Sabbath of the Jews would be abolished. For Isaiah says in the last chapter, "When the Savior comes, then such will be the time, one Sabbath after the other, one month after the other," etc. [Isa. 66:23]. This is as though he were trying to say, "It will be the Sabbath every day, and the people will be such that they make no distinction between days. For in the New Testament the Sabbath is annihilated as regards the crude external observance, for every day is a holy day," etc.
TEN COMMANDMENTS: Now if anyone confronts you with Moses and his commandments, and wants to compel you to keep them, simply answer, "Go to the Jews with your Moses; I am no Jew. Do not entangle me with Moses. If I accept Moses in one respect [Paul tells the Galatians in chapter 5:3], then I am obligated to keep the entire law." For not one little period in Moses pertains to us.
THREE THINGS ABOUT MOSES:
FIRST: DISMISS WHAT WAS FOR ISRAEL ONLY.
TEN COMMANDMENTS: Question: Why then do you preach about Moses if he does not pertain to us? Answer to the Question: Three things are to be noted in Moses. I want to keep Moses and not sweep him under the rug, because I find three things in Moses. In the first place I dismiss the commandments given to the people of Israel. They neither urge nor compel me. They are dead and gone, except insofar as I gladly and willingly accept something from Moses, as if I said, "This is how Moses ruled, and it seems fine to me, so I will follow him in this or that particular."
TITHING: I would even be glad if [today's] lords ruled according to the example of Moses. If I were emperor, I would take from Moses a model for [my] statutes; not that Moses should be binding on me, but that I should be free to follow him in ruling as he ruled. For example, TITHING is a very fine rule, because with the giving of the tenth all other taxes would be eliminated. For the ordinary man it would also be easier to give a tenth than to pay rents and fees. Suppose I had ten cows; I would then give one. If I had only five, I would give nothing. If my fields were yielding only a little, I would give proportionately little; if much, I would give much. All of this would be in God's providence. But as things are now, I must pay the Gentile tax even if the hail should ruin my entire crop. If I owe a hundred gulden in taxes, I must pay it even though there may be nothing growing in the field. This is also the way the pope decrees and governs. But it would be better if things were so arranged that when I raise much, I give much; and when little, I give little.
When these factious spirits come, however, and say, "Moses has commanded it," then simply drop Moses and reply, "I am not concerned about what Moses commands." "Yes," they say, "he has commanded that we should have one God, that we should trust and believe in him, that we should not swear by his name; that we should honor father and mother; not kill, steal, commit adultery; not bear false witness, and not covet [Exod. 20:3-17]; should we not keep these commandments?" You reply: Nature also has these laws. Nature provides that we should call upon God. The Gentiles attest to this fact. … The Gentiles have it written in their heart, and there is no distinction [Rom. 3:22]. As St. Paul also shows in Romans 2:14-15, the Gentiles, who have no law, have the law written in their heart.
But just as the Jews fail, so also do the Gentiles. Therefore it is To honor God, not steal, not commit adultery, not bear false witness, not murder; and what Moses commands is nothing new. For what God has given the Jews from heaven, he has also written in the hearts of all men. Thus I keep the commandments which Moses has given, not because Moses gave the commandment, but because they have been implanted in me by nature, and Moses agrees exactly with nature, etc.
TITHING: But the other commandments of Moses, which are not [implanted in all men] by nature, the Gentiles do not hold. Nor do these pertain to the Gentiles, such as the TITHE and others equally fine which I wish we had too. Now this is the first thing that I ought to see in Moses, namely, the commandments to which I am not bound except insofar as they are [implanted in everyone] by nature [and written in everyone's heart].
SECOND THING ABOUT MOSES:
ACCEPT THAT WHICH IS ABOUIT CHRIST.
I find something in Moses that I do not have from nature: the promises and pledges of God about Christ. This is the best thing. It is something that is not written naturally into the heart, but comes from heaven. God has promised, for example, that his Son should be born in the flesh. This is what the gospel proclaims. It is not commandments. And it is the most important thing in Moses which pertains to us. The first thing, namely, the commandments, does not pertain to us. I read Moses because such excellent and comforting promises are there recorded, by which I can find strength for my weak faith. For things take place in the kingdom of Christ just as I read in Moses that they will; therein I find also my sure foundation. In this manner, therefore, I should accept Moses, and not sweep him under the rug: first because he provides fine examples of laws, from which excerpts may be taken. Second, in Moses there are the promises of God which sustain faith. … Genesis 3:15 …Genesis 22:18 … Deuteronomy 18:15-16 …
One must deal cleanly with the Scriptures. From the very beginning the word has come to us in various ways. It is not enough simply to look and see whether this is God's word, whether God has said it; rather we must look and see to whom it has been spoken, whether it fits us. That makes all the difference between night and day.
The word in Scripture is of two kinds: the first does not pertain or apply to me, the other kind does. And upon that word which does pertain to me I can boldly trust and rely, as upon a strong rock. But if it does not pertain to me, then I should stand still. Therefore tell this to Moses: Leave Moses and his people together; they have had their day and do not pertain to me. If Christ had not added, "preach to all creatures," then I would not listen, would not be baptized, just as I now will not listen to Moses because he is given not to me but only to the Jews. This distinction should be noticed, grasped, and taken to heart by those preachers who would teach others; indeed by all Christians, for everything depends entirely upon it.
"God's word, God's word." But my dear fellow, the question is whether it was said to you. God indeed speaks also to angels, wood, fish, birds, animals, and all creatures, but this does not make it pertain to me. I should pay attention to that which applies to me, that which is said to me, in which God admonishes, drives, and requires something of me. …
It is like this with the word of God. Suppose I take up something that God ordered someone else to do, and then I declare, "But you said to do it." God would answer, "Let the devil thank you; I did not tell you to do it." One must distinguish well whether the word pertains to only one or to everybody. … Thus what God said to Moses by way of commandment is for the Jews only. …
Thus we read Moses not because he applies to us, that we must obey him, but because he agrees with the natural law and is conceived better than the Gentiles would ever have been able to do. Thus the Ten Commandments are a mirror of our life, in which we can see wherein we are lacking, etc. The sectarian spirits have misunderstood also with respect to the images; for that too pertains only to the Jews. [[2nd commandment]]
Summing up this second part, we read Moses for the sake of the promises about Christ, who belongs not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles; for through Christ all the Gentiles should have the blessing, as was promised to Abraham [Gen. 12:3].
THIRD THING ABOUT MOSES:
READ FOR EXAMPLES:
In the third place we read Moses for the beautiful examples of faith, of love, and of the cross, as shown in the fathers, Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the rest. …Therefore we should not sweep Moses under the rug. Moreover the Old Testament is thus properly understood when we retain from the prophets the beautiful texts about Christ, when we take note of and thoroughly grasp the fine examples, and when we use the laws as we please to our advantage.
Conclusion and Summary. I have stated that all Christians, and especially those who handle the word of God and attempt to teach others, should take heed and learn Moses aright. Thus where he gives the commandments, we are not to follow him except so far as he agrees with the natural law. Moses is a teacher and doctor of the Jews. We have our own master, Christ, and he has set before us what we are to know, observe, do, and leave undone. However it is true that Moses sets down, in addition to the laws, fine examples of faith and unfaith - punishment of the godless, elevation of the righteous and believing - and also the dear and comforting promises concerning Christ which we should accept. The same is true also in the gospel. For example in the account of the ten lepers, that Christ bids them go to the priest and make sacrifice [Luke 17:14] does not pertain to me. The example of their faith, however, does pertain to me; I should believe Christ, as did they.
Enough has now been said of this, and it is to be noted well for it is really CRUCIAL. Many great and outstanding people have missed it, while even today many great preachers still stumble over it. They do not know how to preach Moses, nor how properly to regard his books. They are absurd as they rage and fume, chattering to people, "God's word, God's word!" All the while they mislead the poor people and drive them to destruction. Many learned men have not known how far Moses ought to be taught. Origen, Jerome, and others like them, have not shown clearly how far Moses can really serve us. This is what I have attempted, to say in an introduction to Moses how we should regard him, and how he should be understood and received and not simply be swept under the rug. For in Moses there is comprehended such a fine order, that it is a joy, etc. God be praised.
DEAN GREIMANN: Paul wrote of this in His letter to the church in Rome, For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Romans 6: 14-15).
RK: Paul’s struggle in Romans 6 and 7 is explained in Romans 8:1-2. Believers are still under “law” principles but the “principle“ has changed to “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” You have not shifted to the new definition of “law.”
DG: Yet the Bible clearly states that “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17).
RK: One can dig a hole too deep to escape by quoting Matthew 5:17 and ignoring its context.
A. From verses 21-48 Jesus quotes all three parts of the law: commandments, judgments and worship statutes. All are moral; transgression of any is still sin.
B. Therefore, “law” in 5:17 must refer to the whole law as illustrated in 21-48.
C. Therefore, using your own logic and focusing on 5:19, we are either under all of the law or none of it. Which do you choose?
D. If 5:20 is a clue (and it must be), Jesus is only referring to the “righteousness of the law” which He fulfilled at Calvary.
E. Therefore, post-Calvary New Covenant believers are not under the jurisdiction of any part of the Old Covenant law.
RK: According to Matthew 5:19 – ALL OF IT – that is what “every jot (period) or tittle (hash mark) literally means!!! – the two smallest marks of the Hebrew alphabet. It takes willful sin to twist the meaning of 5:18-19 and then sub-divide the law! It was one indivisible law. Mankind (not God) has subdivided it into moral, judgments and ceremonial. Even the judgments and ordinances were moral to Israel! Shame on anybody for trying to break up the wholeness of the law.
DG: Is it that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament altogether?
RK: No. If we define “law” is “God’s revealed will,” then (for Hebrews) “law” includes everything from Genesis to Malachi as we see demonstrated in Romans 3:10-18 where Paul includes Psalms and Isaiah with the law.
DG: This would be a false teaching, as many of the prophesies have yet to be fulfilled by Jesus are found in the Old Testament.
RK: Again, Jesus wanted His hearers to attain the “righteousness of the law” in 5:20. He did not want them to attain the fulfilled prophecies of the future. Your interpretation forces you to remain under the whole law.
DG: To suggest that ALL of the Old Testament falls under one Law, which is the Law of Moses, the Torah, would be equally damning as the Levitical Law, not to mention the Old Testament points to Jesus.
RK: I ask you to sit down and define “law.” You cannot and will not do it because it confuses you. Yet, while you cannot use it consistently, you accuse others of not understanding it.
“Law” is God’s revealed will. For Gentiles before Calvary it consisted of nature and conscience (Rom 2:14-16). For Hebrews before Moses, it consisted of whatever God had revealed to them at that time per Romans 5 where death reigned.
When the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed, citizens of the colonies instantly declared themselves free of all English Law (both good and bad English laws). However, when they began replacing those English laws, they re-incorporated them into new laws under the new context. That is what God did! The New Covenant was “not according” to the Old. The “Thou shalt nots” became “you will” from new creation Spirit-indwelt believers.
DG: There are several different laws given in the Torah, which you, as holding a doctorate, should know. I will not go into the moral laws, the civil laws and the universal laws that God gave to the Israelites and to all humankind,
RK: Why not? The hermeneutic of law is the root of our disagreement over tithing. Hebrews saw ONE indivisible moral law; you see THREE un-equal types of law and call one “moral” without any biblical validity!
ALL THREE IN ONE LAW: COMMANDMENTS, JUDGMENTS, and STATUTES. ALL ARE MORAL TO ISRAEL.
(1) Lev 26:14-15, (2) Deut 5:1, (3) Deut 5:31 (4) Deut 6:4, (5) Deut 7::11, (6) Deut 8:11, (7) Deut 11:1, (8) Deut 26:`17, (9) Deut 30:16, (10) 1 Kings 2:3; (11) 1 Kings 6:12, (12) 1 Kings 8:58, (13) 1 Kings 9:4; (14) Ps 89:30, (15) 2 Chron 33:8, (16) Neh 1:7, (17) Neh 9:13-14 (Sabbath reference), (18) Neh 10:29, (19) Matt 5:17-48, (20) Gal 3:10 BOOK.
DG: … however I will get into the Levitical laws that God gave to Moses (offering up sacrifices go all of the way back to Cain and Abel) which are the sacrificial laws.
RK: While God gave Adam and Eve sacrificial laws, you cannot simply conclude that they were the same as the Levitical sacrificial laws. (1) The head of the household was no longer the priest. (2) The Levitical laws were far more intricate. (3) The Hebrew festivals were custom-designed for Israel. And, (4) as long the head of the household was the family priest, tithing would not be a law (and that appears to be where you seem to be going with this line of argument).
DG: Although there are several different sacrifices and offerings that are given to the Levites (priests) in the Torah, the only means of covering (not forgiving) of one’s sins was through the shedding of blood by the priests (Levites) on behalf of the accused by the sacrificing an innocent animal at the altar.
(1) The judgments include the PENALTIES for presumptive sin and the statutes/ordinances included the PENALTIES for lesser sins. Since laws cannot exist apart from their penalties, it was essential that both judgments and statutes remain as long as the Ten Commandments.
(2) Read Exodus 21 to 24 of the judgments. They appears to be an appendage to the Ten Commandments and cover sins not specifically covered by the Ten. The judgments declare the death penalty for willful major transgression!!!
(3) Like murder and adultery, bestiality is a sin punished by death. If the judgment did exist, would bestiality be a sin?
(4) I know that O. T. sins were only “covered,” but you seem to forget that they were also pronounced “forgiven.” Check out “forgiven” in Strong’s. That is why God had to declare Himself “just” in Romans 3:25-26 and Hebrews 9:15.
DG: As the writer of Hebrews states throughout the first half of the book, this was an incomplete, never ending system of offering up the blood of sheep and goats by the priests, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.
DG: However, Jesus fulfilled the Law (the Levitical Law) by offering Himself up as our sacrificial Lamb, without blemish or sin,
RK: More so, Jesus fulfilled the whole righteousness of the whole law by living a perfect sinless life. There was “no sin in Him” refers to far more than the minor sins of ignorance and omission covered by the Levitical sacrificial laws. Jesus was also innocent of transgression of the presumptive sins punished by death in the judgments by the judges! Why don’t you discuss this aspect?
DG: When Jesus said that it is finished, the need for having and observing the Levitical law was fulfilled by Him.
RK: This is absurd because the Levitical law only dealt with sins of ignorance and omission and very minor sins. Again, it did not deal with grievous high-handed willful sins of presumption which allowed no sacrifice to reconcile from broken fellowship.
There was no sacrifice offered when Moses struck the Rock, or Achan stole from Jericho, or David murdered Uriah. Why? They were all high handed sins which had no prescribed sacrifice (Heb 10:26) and were punished either by God Himself or the judges –not by the priests.
DG: In other words, when Jesus, our High Priest, offered up His blood for the forgiveness of sins, He did what no other High Priest was able to do, which was that He sat down.
RK: Yes, but, more than that, He did what no Judge could do –He could forgive presumptive sins of idolatry, parental abuse, Sabbath-breaking, murder and adultery.
DG: But the rest of the laws of the Old Testament, (with the exception of the civil laws that God gave to the Israelites that were entering into the Promised Land that were given to them to keep them from following the Canaanite culture and customs), are still there for us to follow.
A. You don’t keep the Saturday Sabbath.
B. You don’t follow circumcision which is Genesis 17.
C. You don’t follow multiple wives.
D. You don’t follow the unclean food laws.
E. You don’t follow the tithing law of Numbers 18:20-28.
F. You don’t endorse bestiality which is found in the judgments.
G. You don’t endorse slavery which is nowhere condemned.
H. You don’t force women to wear hats.
Again, you want to discard the Judgments as irrelevant. If you discard the Judgments, you discard the PENALTIES for presumptive sins and transgression of the first list of commandments to love God. Your concept of biblical law is greatly lacking.
DG: One of these laws is giving God the first fruits of everything that He blesses us with, including our finances.
RK: You keep returning to the firstfruits’ error. Where are your validating texts? For the eighth or ninth time, “firstfruits are never the same as tithes in God’s Word.” If you spend time to research it, you will discover that, like tithes, firstfruits were also ONLY food ONLY from inside HOLY Israel increased ONLY by God’s hand. They are not the increase of man’s hand or money. You have no texts.
DG: I am not intimidated with your Ph.D. as I have an earned Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University, a Master of Arts in Teaching and have been accepted into both the Ph.D. programs and the Doctor of Ministry programs at several seminaries, including the AGTS in Springfield.
RK: I am not trying to intimidate anybody. Almost every adversarial tithing book on Amazon.com is written by less educated who often cannot defend their position well. Naturally, I am trying to get noticed to have an honest open debate. For over 15 years, this has only happened three times in outlets with large audiences --- London’s Revelation TV, the Wall Street Journal and CBS Sunday Morning. If you really care for the Church as a whole, you will continue this dialog and I will continue to post it on my blog.
DG: I am well versed in the teachings of the “New Testament Church” along with the “Grace Only” movement, both which have been gaining in popularity in our churches and are heresies.
RK: I am an Independent Conservative Dispensational Baptist. Most of my brethren disagree with me on tithing. I believe that God is using me to finish the Reformation and restore the final doctrine of grace-giving.
DG: I firmly stand upon the doctrines and teachings of the Assemblies of God, along with the Evangelical Statement of Faith. Therefore, let me go on record that your teachings, including your teaching on tithing, are false teachings that do not line up with the Word of God.
RK: And let me go on record that I totally disagree with your faulty hermeneutic of law and with your spiritualizing God’s literal unconditional promises to Israel.
Luke 1:32-33 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
1. The throne of David does not reign over the Church.
2. The house of David does not refer to the Church.
Matt 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
This is literal Israel; it is future; it does not refer to the Church.
Acts 1:6-7 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Jesus did not correct His disciples about the literal kingdom to come.
2 Thess 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
This is not referring to the Church building or believers.
Jer 31:35-36 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.
This is a literal prophecy about literal Israel.
Please explain these in context if you can.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD