Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Russell Earl Kelly's Reply to James Morris on Tithing

Russell Earl Kelly’s Reply to James Morris on Tithing, Edited July 24, 2016

James Morris is the son of Robert Morris, Gateway Church, and Associate Pastor of Financial Stewardship
James Morris
Date: July 13, 2016
Reply Date: July 19, 2016; Edited July 23, 2016
Reply by:

James Morris: Hey Buzz, Good to hear from you. I appreciate your heart and attitude to want to seek this out. I hope this can turn into a healthy dialogue, and I would love to continue to hear from you. 

Russell Earl Kelly: James Morris, Your gracious reply overwhelmed me and is beyond my ability to respond in detail. I have asked my mentor, Dr. Russell Earl Kelly, to respond.  

1.  The context of Malachi is shifting back and forth from the Nation to the priest. I truly believe that within the context it is saying Malachi 3 is indeed for all of us. 

Comment: I do not see that it is for any of us because we are not Old Covenant Israel and tithing was never commanded to Gentiles or the Church. Beginning at to the nation and narrowing at 1:6 and 2:1 to the priests, I see no indication in the context that God switches back to the nation or ever addressed Gentiles.

2.  I have some concern in the context that you are expressing. It seems that you may be saying that those scriptures were directed to a very specific group, and therefore we should ignore it.

Comment: That is what a literal hermeneutic interpretation demands.
When God addresses non-Hebrews in Scripture, He makes it clear that He is not addressing national Israel or Judah. Do you have any texts which place Gentiles and/or the Church under the Old Covenant?

3.  However, if we took this approach then we would have to eliminate nearly the entire bible.

Comment: You would have to quote the Bible in context. The first principle of interpretation should always be “to whom is it addressed?” According to First Corinthians 10:1-14, we can learn from the mistakes of others without being in their shoes. Also, many of their sins apply to everybody because they are eternal moral principles written in nature and conscience (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9).

4.  If I quoted scripture to someone and said God has a purpose and desire for them which I believe is true, couldn’t we apply the same argument and say “No that scripture is talking to a specific group of people?”

Comment: (1) If it has no relevance whatsoever to Gentiles or to the Church, it should be ignored. (2) If it is repeated after Calvary in terms of grace and faith, it should be obeyed. And, (3) if an eternal moral principle is involved, it should be obeyed; but you have not proven that tithing is an eternal moral principle! For example “giving” is known by everybody and is an eternal moral principle, but “giving ten percent of one’s increase” is not known in the heart by nature or conscience and is cultic.

God did not tell me to leave Syria and live in Canaan. He didn’t tell me to build a sanctuary. God did not tell me to have many wives, worship   on Saturday or not to eat unclean foods.  God did not tell me to make my wife eat dirt if I think she is unfaithful and He did not tell me to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year. Those were cultic commands only for Old Covenant Israel.

5. God uses stories and other people to teach us all throughout His scripture. And with this idea that we are to eliminate scripture based on who it was written to then that would bring concern. 

Comment: See #4. God does not tell everybody to do the same thing. Your hermeneutic ignores biblical context.  While God told Israel that it would be above other nations (Ex 19:5-6), you make them all accountable to the same Old Covenant laws. God did not make all nations alike.

6.  We believe that tithing is a principle that is all throughout scripture, and not just part of the law nor just apart of Malachi.

Comment: In order for something to be an eternal moral principle, it should be written in nature and conscience (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9).  The mere stating that something is a principle does not make it a principle.  You continually call tithing a principle, but never bother proving your assertion. Next, you make no effort whatsoever to explain the detailed tithing ordinance found in Numbers 18:20-28.

7. Malachi 3 is two parts. It starts off talking about the coming of the Messenger which I believe that you would agree with, and without saying that this could be eliminated based off of the context.

Comment: Malachi 3 begins with God answering the priests’ question of 2:17: “Where is the God of judgment?” God is still speaking specifically to the priests whose tears cover the altar (2:13). He promises to send His messenger to “purify the sons of Levi and purge them” (3:3) as “I come near to you [PRIESTS] in judgment” (3:5). How can you miss that point?

8. God is then saying through Malachi 3 that God has two offenses with His people. Both offenses run side by side and paint a picture of what has frustrated God about His people. In each one God shares the issue that He has, the problem, the repercussions for our mistakes, what we should do, and finally how he will bless us if we obey Him.

Comment: If you want to teach that these are secondary applications, I will agree. However, they are not the original context to the dishonest priests from 1:6; 2:1; 2:13, 17; 3:3, 5 etc. It is strange that God cursed the priests four times (4x) between 1:14 and 2:2 and now you have Him cursing the people for not bringing tithes to the priests who abused them in 1:6-14. That is a strange twist.

9. His first offense is that we are robbing God, and the second is that people complain harshly. Let’s look at this together. The issue: We are robbing from God. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’

Comment: You have no legitimate biblical principle for saying that “we” includes Gentiles or the Church. (1) The “we” is either Israel (1:1`) or the priests (1:6; 2:1`); you do not tech that. (2) The priests had robbed God by bringing inferior sacrifices while they had good ones; you do not teach that. (3) God had cursed dishonest priests for robbing God in 1:6-14; you do not teach that. (4) God had cursed dishonest priests for breaking His covenant with Levi in 2:1-10; you do not teach that. (5) They were robing God of HOLY tithes which were still only FOOD from inside HOLY Israel; you do not teach that. (6) O. T. tithes went first to the servants of the priests; you do not teach that today (Num 18:21-24; Neh 10:37b). (7) O. T. Levitical tithe recipients were not allowed to inherit property in their land or amass wealth and you definitely do not teach that today and live exactly the opposite from what God commanded (Num 18:20-28).(8) In fact, you obsess over Malachi 3, avoid chapters 1 and 2 and ignore Numbers 18:20-28. 

10. And the next issue is that the people are speaking harshly. “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’

Comment: Why do you say that “What have we spoken against you?” refers to the people when the questions and comments in 1:6, 7, 13; 2:13-14, 17 are clearly from the priests? If you follow the question-and-answer stream back to 1:6, you will discover that it is the dishonest priests who are questioning God and not the people. Today dishonest gospel workers collect tithes contrary to God’s limitations and amass wealth contrary to God’s limitations.

11. The problem: The first problem He says what it is that we stole from Him. "In tithes and offerings”

Comment: No post-Calvary Gentile or Hebrew can steal tithes today. HOLY tithes (as Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus) properly used the term) were always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel under the Old Covenant to reimburse Levites and priests for their loss of land inheritance and wealth (Num 18:20-28; Lev 27:30-34).  You have no authority to quote Malachi and Jesus while NOT using the description of “tithes” they used; a court would reject your description. Also, money was very common even in Genesis, yet money was never included in tithes. Why don’t you address that point?

12. The second problem of how we spoke harshly. "You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the Lord of hosts?   So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’ ” [Mal 3:14-15]

Comment: 3:13 sounds like a restatement of 1:12-14 where the priests were mocking God. 3: 14 is similar to the vanity of 1:12 and the rebuke of 3:7. Yet you persist in inserting “we” as if God were speaking to the post-Calvary church. Have you not read the context of Malachi? Nehemiah 10:28-29 and Malachi 4:4 place it inside the Old Covenant Law.

13. The repercussion for our mistakes:  God says that this is our repercussion for having stolen from Him in tithes and offerings. "You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.”

Comment: (1) “We” the Church have not robbed God of tithes and offerings.  (2) Currently there are no such things as “tithes of food from God’s HOLY land.” (3) God has not commanded “us” the Church to support a ministry with tithes. (4) Many gospel ministers own much property and amass great wealth contrary to the tithe ordinance.  You want it both ways; you want gospel workers to receive [your definition of] tithes and also own much property and amass wealth clearly contrary to the tithing law (Numbers 18:20-28). “This whole nation” is “this whole nation – of you” (NAS, RSV, NIV) -- meaning “of you priests” for consistency with 1:6; 2:1 forward.

14. God says that the repercussion for having spoken harshly towards Him is that God is going to judge against us for this and will not spare us. 

Comment: Context: it is the dishonest priests of 1:14-16 and 2:13, 17 who asked “Where is the God of judgment?” in 2:17. God answered their question in 3:1-14 by promising to “refine” (3:2) and “purify the sons of Levi” (3:3) as He comes “near “to them “in judgment” (3:5).  God is throwing “dung” in their faces by cursing them (2:3). The repercussion was no rain for food crops as the context literally says. You act as if the curse of the law still exists for non-tithers contrary to Galatians 3:10-13. That is a terrible manipulation of God’s Word. Does that mean that God is bound to bless tithers who sin greatly in other areas?

15. What we should do: God tells us what we should do instead of robbing Him is "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, 

Comment: Your own text screams against you – FOOD, FOOD, FOOD!! (1) Notice that “tithes” are still only FOOD over 1000 years after they were first described in Leviticus 27:30-34. And they were still only FOOD 400 years later when Jesus used the word in Matthew 23:23. Money was common but God never changed His definition of the HOLY tithe. (2) The “house of God” after Calvary is the body of believers. Church buildings are never called God’s house in God’s Word. Why do you? (3) The early church met in secret and moved often to avoid detection; it had no legal buildings for almost 300 years. Why are you distorting God’s Word here also?

16. And finally God promises a blessing if we obey Him and bring the tithes and offerings to Him and that is "“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it11   “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts.

Buzz and Russ: None of this is post-Calvary New Covenant context. (1)  You have replaced the legitimate Levitical Aaronic priesthood with YOURSELF and have totally ignored the doctrine of the priesthood of every believer. (2) The “windows of heaven” very clearly in its context referred to holy food from God’s holy land and you have replaced it with money and income from any source! (3) Why is the U.S.A. so blessed that it exports food while it is not “tithing”?  Why doesn’t God destroy the “fruit of our ground” or the wine in the field”? Is it because that law has been replaced by the New Covenant? (Heb 7:5, 12, 18)

17. And the blessing if we will not speak harshly against His name, but will instead fear God and meditate on His name is “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

Comment: The U. S. A. is the most blessed and richest nation on earth – AND IT DOES NOT TITHE! Yet you say God will not bless us until after we tithe!  Your Old Covenant context and covenant are both wrong. Please use post- Calvary New Covenant principles of giving such as: freewill, sacrificial, generous and “with a heart towards soul-winning. God can still surpass your financial needs.”

18. So you can clearly see that there is a direct parallel and that in Malachi 3 God first shares about the messenger that is coming and then these two offenses God had against the people. My question is:  if one took the stance that we are to disregard the first and say “no, times have changed” and we are now allowed to rob God by not bringing our tithes and offerings because of the context then, by the same logic, couldn’t we say that we are now allowed to speak harshly towards God and we do not have to fear the Lord nor meditate on His name anymore?

Comment: You are carefully twisting the argument: “If I no longer have to obey God in ‘A’ and ‘B,’ then I no longer have to obey God in ‘C’ and ‘D’”; if I no longer have to tithe, then I no longer have to respect God in other things He says.” I reject that kind of twisted logic. (1) God ended HOLY tithes from a HOLY land (Heb 7:5, 12, 18) and did not replace them with tithes to support gospel workers (Heb 7:5, 12, 18). (2) God ended the Old Covenant and replaced it with the New Covenant based upon principle of grace and faith – not Law (Heb 8:8-13).  (3) God ended the Aaronic priesthood and replaced it with the priesthood of every believer (and priests did not tithe) (1 Pet 2:9-10). (4) Jesus did not tithe because O. T. non-food producers did not; but you change God’s description with your own in order to grab even welfare checks from the poor. (5) O. T. Levitical tithe recipients could not own property in Israel or amass wealth; you ignore both of those rules. In other words, your reject ‘A’ (the description of holy tithes), ‘B’ the purpose of holy tithes) and ‘C’ (the limitation of holy tithes; no property ownership and no wealth) but expect gospel ministers to ‘D’ (receive the whole tithe rather than one tenth of it; Num 18:25-28; Neh 10:38) and ‘E’ (to be blessed). You have made a mockery of the literal context of God’s Word.

19. However, I have never known anyone to take this stance.

Comment: Neither have I!!! Absolutely nobody is that stupid.

20. Therefore, that means that the logic would fall through. Because now we would be saying that the first applies, and the last applies of Malachi 3, but we are to disregard the middle. In fact, I would challenge you to read through all of Malachi and see if there are any other scriptures that you would want to rule out for present day. I truly doubt there would be.

(1) You rule out 1:6 when you despise God’s name by re-defining the HOLY tithing, taking it for yourself, owning much property and amassing wealth.
(2) You rule out 1:8 when you amass for yourselves ornate houses, expensive cars and large bank accounts. Your luxury living robs missions and gives the needy “blind” leftovers.
(3) You rule out 1:10 when you do not shut the doors until your church completely re-organizes itself to follow post-Calvary Spirit inspired worship principles based on grace and faith.
(4) You rule out 3:10-14 when you presumptuously change God’s description of the HOLY tithe to fit your needs.  Your actions say that God wasted His time when He repeated it 16 times.

21. A couple additional principles to pull out of Malachi 3 is that after talking about tithes and offerings it is followed by "Says the LORD of hosts". It is so difficult to shoot holes in this.

Comment: What is the “principle” behind “Says the LORD”? You imply that whatever precedes or follows “says the LORD” is an eternal moral principle. (1)Please, please, please, tell me, what is a “principle”? (2) What is an eternal moral principle”? (3) What is the difference between an “eternal moral principle” and a principle that is only meant for a specific time, place or people? I really do not think you know! (4) There are scores of “says the LORD” statements in the Bible that have very limited application such as moving to Canaan, leaving Egypt killing Canaanite and building the Sanctuary.  I offer Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9 to show that an eternal moral principle must reflect the character of God in nature and conscience, replacing the cultic tithing with “giving.” What is your reasoning?  

22. As we know that all scripture is God breathed and inspired by God as 2 Timothy 3:16 says ….

Comment: Why did you quote 2 “Timothy 3:16? Unless you are the first one, I know of no church anywhere which teaches that all Scripture is for everybody. God made it extremely clear that His covenant was only with national Israel and that other nations were not included (Ex 19:5-6). God held national Israel accountable to the standards, blessings and curses of His (old) covenant; He did not hold any other nation or race of peoples accountable. What is your reply?

23. … but even as a reminder on top of that God adds a foot note reminding us that He is the one saying this about tithes and offerings. Notice it doesn’t even say "says the LORD of host" when talking about the Messenger coming nor speaking harshly towards His name.

Comment: You act as if “He is the One saying this” automatically creates an eternal moral principle for all nations. Such cannot possibly be true. God was the One telling Noah to build the ark; God was the One telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac; God was the One telling Moses to build the Sanctuary. As long as Malachi 1:1, 6; 2:1, 2,13, 15; 3:3, 5 and 4:4 are in the Bible, it is positive that God was only speaking to national Israel (also Ex 19:5-6; Lev 27:34; Neh 10:28-29; Mal 4:4). Malachi 4:4 “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” You would twist this to read “Remember that I gave my covenant to all nations and people to obey in its entirety.”

24. Yet there are several that would say the first and the latter I will believe, but not the middle and not the one part where God reminds us that the message is coming straight from Him.

Comment: Yes, “straight from Him” and straight to national Israel. Moses’ message “straight from God” was to “caste out” the nations of Canaan and not to make any covenants with them. Your message is “Include them because God’s Words apply equally to everybody.”

God reminds us that He is still speaking only to the dishonest priests of 1:6 and 2:1. (1) They had kept the best tithes and offerings for themselves and had offered God the sick and disabled (Mal 1:6-14). (2) They had broken God’s special “covenant with Levi” (2:1-10). (3) They have covered the altar with crocodile tears and kept Gentile wives (2:13-16). (4) They had dared God to judge them (2:17). (5) God promised to send His messenger to “purify the sons of Levi” (3:3-5).  Why do you ignore the context and substitute “we” for the Levitical priests?

25. in Malachi 3:6 God says “For I am the LORD, I do not change” Out of all the places in scripture I think it is very important that God put this scripture right before He shares on tithes and offerings. Why does God not change? This is a deep theological question, but in short it is that God does not change because He is perfect. If He could change then that would mean that He could get better, but He can’t get better because He is already best.

Comment: God cannot change His own character, but God does change the ways He relates to Israel and mankind before and after Calvary. (1) God promised to curse Israel when it stopped tithing and He kept that promise. (2) God never promised to curse the Church or Gentiles for not tithing and it has been annulled today (Heb 7:5, 12, 18). (3) God changed the use of tithes to support Levitical priests when He made all believers priests. You changed God’s description of HOLY tithes – not God. (4) God changed the Temple from a building to the body of believers. You changed it back into a building called the “house of God.” (5) God changed the Old Covenant to the New Covenant based on grace and faith. You changed the New back into the Old by retaining tithing. (6) God changed the restrictions of Levitical tithe recipients concerning land inheritance and amassing wealth when he abolished it (Heb 7:18). You changed God’s Law into your own law by allowing gospel workers to receive tithes, own property and amass wealth.

26. Therefore, knowing that God cannot change and He declares that you are robbing Me (God) from tithes and offerings. Now both the tithes and the offerings belong to Me (God) and if God said that 2000 years ago and knowing God cannot change then is it possible that now 2000 years later the tithes and offerings still belong to God?

Comment: Not at all. God’s character cannot change. That does not mean that God cannot relate to Israel under one set of rule and the rest of the world under another. That does not make Him a respecter of persons because He demands more expectations from those who have received special revelation. Just because He commanded Israel to tithe does not mean He commanded everybody to tithe!!! Why is that simple comparison so hard for you to grasp?

It is YOU who has changed God’s address from (old) covenant Israel to Christians.  It is YOU who has changed the description of the HOLY tithe. It is YOU who has changed the priesthood of believers back to gospel ministers. It is YOU who has allowed that which God prohibited –property ownership and much wealthy Levitical tithe recipients.

How do Christians bring tithes to the priests when they are priests? How do Christians bring tithes to the Temple in Jerusalem when every believer is the temple of God? (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19). Why do you literally disobey God and NOT bring HOLY food tithes from inside HOLY Israel to God’s Temple building? You are willfully disobeying the very same text you are quote as your evidence of no change.

27. The principle of the tithe was in place during the law. However, tithing and the principle of tithing is all throughout the entire Word of God. Tithing is not just law; it is a biblical principle. The principle of the tithe is pre-law, during law, and post law.

Comment: The “principle” of a HOLY tithe s NOT pre-Law. Both Abram and Jacob’s tithes were pagan in source and are not the same as the description used by Moses, Hezekiah, Malachi and Jesus.
“All throughout the entire Word of God”!!! Really???
(1) TITHING is mentioned in only 12 of 66 books.
(2) TITHING IS not mentioned in 54 of 66 books.
(3) TWICE (2X) from pagan sources before the Law (Gen 14, 28)
(4) ONCE (1X) from pagan sources during the Law (Amos 4:2-6)
(5) ELEVEN (11x) chapters during the law (Leviticus to Luke)
            ONE chapter:  Lev 27:30-34, Num 18:20-28; 2 Chron 31, Mal 3:8-10; Matt 23:23
            TWICE in Luke 11:42; 18:9-14
(6) ONE chapter, Hebrews 7 after the Law ended
(7) NONE Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, Ezra, Ruth, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,  Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Mark, John, Acts, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thess, 2 Thess, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon,  James, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation

28. Before we go on lets briefly go over some of the principles of the tithe. Here are a couple of the principles of tithing: -We return the tithes to God, not give the tithe.

Comment: You miss the principle behind HOLY tithes (Lev 27:30-34). HOLY tithes did not come from what man produced with his own skill and intelligence. Man cannot increase food or reproduce animals. They increase and reproduce solely because God miraculously increased and reproduced them. As you said, God first gave the tithe to His unique HOLY nation living in His unique HOLY land.  Since chairs and tables made by man are not “given,” Jesus, a carpenter, could not tithe. Since animal skins fashioned into tents are not “given” to man miraculously,” Paul could not tithe on money he received selling tents (especially in pagan lands).

29. -It must be the first portion.

Comment: This is wrong, wrong, wrong. Do your own research. Use a complete Bible concordance such as Strong’s. Look up every instance of the words “firstfruits,” “firstborn” and “tenth.”  You will discover that they are never the same thing as tithes. “First” and “tenth” are different. Like the tithes, the “firstfruits” and “firstborn” were always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel.  According to Nehemiah 10:35-37a, they were only eaten by the priests who were ministering in the Temple in Jerusalem.  It is a great lie to teach that the first 10% of one’s paycheck or welfare check must go to pay the salary of gospel workers.         

The first-fruit was a very small amount of the first crop harvest and the first-born was the first offspring of animals. The first-fruit was small enough to fit into a hand-held basket (Deut. 26:1-4, 10; Lev. 23:17; Num. 18:13-17; 2 Chron 31:5a). First-fruit and first-born offerings went directly to the Temple and were required to be totally consumed by ministering priests only inside the Temple (Neh. 10:35-37a; Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 18:4).

30. -It is 10% of all your increase.

Comment: This is man’s definition of the tithe; it is a gross twisting of God’s Word; it is not God’s description of the HOLY tithe found 16 times in His Word. Lev 27:30, 32; Numb 18:27-28; Deut 12:17; 14:22-23; 26:12; 2 Chron 31:5-6; Neh 10:37; 13:5; Mal 3:10-11; Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42.

31. -It takes faith.

Comment: Texts please. Tithing of food from HOLY Israel to support its Levites and priests in exchange for their loss of land ownership and wealth accumulation was LAW --- not faith! The word “faith” is not found in any tithing text! God wrote it that way!

Before you proceed with what probably comes from a previous article, since repetition from you brings repetition from me, do not become irritated if I repeat my same answers to your same assertions.

32. [Genesis 4:3-6]: The reason why God blessed Abel but did not bless Cain is because Abel followed the principle of the tithe.

Comment: Nonsense! Listen to yourself! You provide no validating texts. The word “tithing” occurs only once in Genesis in 14:18-20. (1) Cain and Abel were both outside the Garden where the land had been cursed. (2) Cain should have known that God required a blood sacrifice. And (3) unless there were only ten trees left, the one tree out of thousands could not represent a tithe either. (4) This was clearly a freewill, sacrificial offering.

33. It does not take faith to give out of your leftovers. It takes faith to give your first.

Comment: Again you falsely equate first-born and first-fruits with tithing when God’s Word does not. How do you explain First 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.” Do you want first-tithes from widow’s welfare checks before they buy essentials like shelter, food and medicine? Why did Jesus’ usage of tithes three times all condemn the tither? Outside of Paul’s letter to Hebrew Christians in Jerusalem, why did Paul never write the word “tithe”?

34. There are many examples I could have started with to show tithing, but the reason I am using this scripture first is that the law was not even in existence during this time. This was 2,000 years before the law. (Several examples like this that shows the principle of tithing both before and after the law can be provided)

Comment: This is pitiful hermeneutics and theology. Law in its basic form of nature and conscience did exist and sin against that law ended in death (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; 5:14; John 1:9). “Giving” is an eternal moral principle found in the heart and conscience of every person; giving 10% is not. One is a universal moral law principle; the other is cultic.

35. The tithe is actually in the New Testament in multiple areas as well. In fact, both Jesus and Paul say you need to tithe. In Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 Jesus Himself (red letters) says you ought to tithe.

Comment: Your faulty hermeneutics are showing again. (1) Since the New Testament (New Covenant) did not begin until the blood of that covenant was shed at Calvary, Matthew 23:23/ Luke 11:42; 18:9-14 are not examples of post-Calvary New Covenant tithing. Please tell me why you disagree. (2) Jesus taught the Law; He told those whom He had healed to show themselves to the priests in the temple and bring the gift Moses commanded (Mt 5:23-24; 8:4). (3) Your logic is from the Old Covenant context (Gal 4:4-5). (4) Jesus did not tell ME to tithe! He told His Jewish disciples to tithe --- TO THE TEMPLE SYSTEM. (5) Jesus would have sinned if He had commanded His followers to tithe to either Himself or to His disciples!!! Please comment. (6) Jesus could not, and did not, tell His Gentile disciples to tithe in any manner whatsoever; it was against the Law of Moses! Please comment.

36. Paul said you need to tithe. In 1 Corinthians 16:1–2, Paul writes: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." This is Paul saying that the people of the church must give a tithe to the church so that the church may do the work of the Lord. 

Comment: No! No! No! Read the texts! (1) This is not about support for gospel workers; it is about collecting food for famine relief in Judea (16:1). (2) It is outrageous how you can call this an example of tithing. (3) We get “logistics” from “logia – collection.” It is food, not money. One does not “store up” money to load on a ship. (4) Most tithe-teachers teach that freewill offerings are “in addition to” tithes. Although not true after Calvary for anybody, your argument is now calling freewill offerings tithes.

37. Through Jesus we are saved through grace. Justice had to be served so God sent His Son, His only Son to die for us. If we accept Jesus we are saved. Thank God for grace!!! 

Comment: I wholly agree with you and hold you to your own words here. As Martin Luther insisted “By grace through faith” – ALONE – plus nothing! That means we cannot add water baptism, tongues or tithing to the formula. We are saved through grace.

38. One quick note on this before I continue: Jesus was actually a form of the tithe. God gave His firstborn Son for us in faith that we will accept Him, and you will actually see that Jesus is often times referred to as the firstfruits or firstfruits offering.

Comment: While it is true that Jesus was the firstfruits, or the firstborn from the dead in pre-eminence, it is NOT true that Jesus was a form of the tithe. The firstfruits and/or firstborn were promised and given to God BEFORE tithes were gathered at the end of the harvest and/or animal count. You continue twisting God’s Word by erroneously equating firstfruits with tithes.

39.  Tithing is not a principle of law. Tithing is a principle of God.

Comment: Here we go again –texts please! Again, I ask you to please define “eternal moral principle.” Eternal moral principles reveal the eternal moral character of God. Beneath the Law is the character of God by which even Gentiles are judged (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9). “Giving” reveals the eternal moral character of God; giving is found in us through nature and conscience; ; giving 10% is not an eternal. It can only be known through special revelation and God only gave that special revelation to (old covenant) Israel. Be honest. You know Leviticus 27:30-34 and Numbers 18. God added HOLY tithing to the Law.

40. Let’s again look at Malachi 3:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12: ...This is one of many good scriptures on tithing.

Comment: Again? O. K. It is only a good scripture for those to whom it is addressed – Old Covenant national Israel and its dishonest priests (1:1, 6-14; 2-1-10; 2:13-17; 3:1 to end).If it is sooooo good, then why does no post-Calvary New Testament writer quote it? It did not help Israel which was a vassal nation at the time. . Except for 164-54 B. C., Israel remained a vassal nation from 586 B. C. until it disappeared as a nation in 135 A. D.

41. One thing I like about it is that God starts off by saying. "I am the Lord, I do not change." God cannot and will not change. This is the theological understanding of the immutability of God. He cannot change. Because if He could change then He could get better and He cannot get better because He is already Best. Why would God start this scripture with, "I am the Lord, I do not change"? 

Comment:  He begins that way because He wants Israel and its priests to know that He intends to keep His Old Covenant blessings and curses as seen in Deuteronomy chapters 28 to 30 and Nehemiah 10:28-29 for context.

Your logic is extremely easy to discredit. It shows no deep thought. God’s character cannot change: He is just and merciful; He cannot be otherwise. He only gave His Law to old covenant national; He did not give it to the Gentiles. Yet He is just and merciful because He requires more to whom He has given more. We treat our own children better than other children., but we expect more from our own children than from others.

42. Please listen to me on this analogy. I know God is not 10 foot tall, but please listen to get the understanding of where I am going. If God says that He is 10 foot tall and “I do not change,” then how tall is God 3,000 years later? He is still 10 foot tall because He does not change so 10 foot must be the perfect height. So if God says that the tithe belongs to Him and He has not changed in the last 3,000 years ... Then who does the tithe belong to today? It still belongs to God.

Comment: Let us use your analogy for HOLY tithes:
(1) If God defined and described HOLY tithes as food from inside His HOLY land which He had miraculously increased –and God does not change, then (using your analogy) HOLY tithes are still only food from inside His holy land brought to Him by Old Covenant Hebrews. Malachi 3:10 verifies no change.
(2) If God commanded that HOLY tithes be given to Levite servants to Aaronic priests –and God does not change, then (using your analogy) tithes of food can only be given to Levite servants to Old Covenant ministers (Num 18:21-24; Neh 10:37b).
(3) If God commanded that only ministering-priests from Aaron’s lineage be given one tenth of the Levitical tithe –and God does not change, then (using your analogy) only descendants of Aaron are legitimate priests and they only received one tenth of the food tithe (Num 18:25-28; Neh 10:38).
(4) If Levites and priests who received the first Levitical tithe could not own property or amass wealth –then (using your own analogy) tithe recipients cannot own property or amass wealth. THAT IS THE FOOLISHNESS OF YOUR ANALOGY!!!

43. Now let's look at the difference between law and grace. There were ceremonial laws in the Old Testament, which were in place to drive the people to needing and wanting the grace of God.

Comment: This is extremely unbiblical! I do not think you really know the difference between law and grace. Like the Trinity, the Law was an indivisible three-in-one: Commandments, civil judgments and ceremonial statutes/ordinances. ALL of it was to “drive the people to needing and wanting the grace of God” –not merely the ceremonial law!!!  The judgments included presumptuous (willful, deliberate) sin and its violators were punished by the judges of Israel. The ceremonial statutes/ordinance included lesser sins of accident and ignorance; its violators were punished in the Temple by Aaronic priests.

44 However, there was also God and biblical principle that is throughout the entire Bible. It was and is before the law, during the law, and after the law.

Comment: The eternal moral principle of “law” underlies the Old Covenant and reveals the character of God in every person through nature and conscience (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9). “Cultic law” is that kind of law which is not known through nature and conscience; it must be revealed through special revelation to a limited audience. That is why men died before the Law and why Gentiles are guilty before God.

45. Also if something was right under the law does it now make it wrong under grace?

Comment: Not necessarily. It was “right” under Law for Hebrews NOT to share their Law with un-circumcised Gentiles. Please grasp that very important fact!  If something is right under the eternal moral character of God, it is always right. However, if it is not part of the eternal moral character of God, it does not apply to all mankind unless specially revealed. Under this category are multiple wives, eating unclean food, Levitical health laws, cultic laws separating Israel from other nations, the seventh-day Sabbath and tithing.

46. Ceremonial law vs. God's character and principles. Matthew 5:19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 5:20. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Comment: I am curious. How do you interpret Matthew 5:17-20? (1) Is this a passage which must mean the same thing both before and after Calvary? (2) Since in 5:21-48 Jesus gives examples from the Ten Commandments, the civil judgments and also from the ceremonial statutes/ordinances, do you conclude that 5:17-19 refers to the WHOLE Law? – or do you delete the ceremonial law (in which tithing exists)? (3) If you delete the ceremonial law, what does 5:19 refer to when it says “the least of these commandments”? (4) Since the scribes and Pharisees were fanatical about keeping the law; does not 5:20 point to the sinless imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ?

47. Tithing is where the rubber meets the road. Believe in him so much that you are willing to put him first in your finances? …

Comment: Your hermeneutics are miles away off the road and in your own mind. You act as if God must bless tithers whether they disobey him in other areas or not. Does God bless unmarried couples who live together and tithe? I have known a few. Does God bless Christians who change the description and location of holy tithes? Does God bless Christians who redefine gospel ministers as Old Covenant priests due the tithe? Does God bless gospel workers who receive “tithes” under a false pretense and then own much land and amass great wealth contrary to the tithing ordinance? You have made your own road and are not on God’s road at all.

48. Let us now compare Old Testament principle and law vs. New Testament grace. Old Testament law is: Honor your father and thy mother. … [Quotes Matthew 15:3-9.] … So let's review. The Old Testament law says to honor your parents, but under the New Testament grace and Jesus actually upped the bar on us.

Commit: First, since Matthew 15 is before Calvary, it is still in the context of the Old Covenant, or Old Testament. Second, it is dishonest tithe-teachers who equate tithes with firstfruits who are weekly dishonoring parents today. How? By changing God’s definition of the tithe, they steal the first ten per cent from those on welfare. They say the equivalent of “Corban”—the first 10% of my income belongs to God-- give the church your first ten per cent and do without essential shelter, food and medicine!

This is sin! They completely disregard the fact that only food-producers living inside HOLY Israel ever tithed and they disregard Paul’s post-Calvary command in First 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.”

49. … Now under grace, Jesus upped the standards on us again and says to not even have a hatred thought towards someone.

Comment: You quote the references to the Ten Commandments from Matthew 5:20-48 but you do not quote any references to civil judgments and ceremonial ordinances in that same passage. You do not want your reader to know that “the Law” in 5:17-19 means the WHOLE law.

50. The Old Testament says to tithe the first 10% of all your increase.

Comment: No, it does not! (1) You have no validating texts. (2) Firstfruits and tithes were never the same thing. (3) Even firstfruits were always only FOOD from inside HOLY Israel. (4) There is no precedent: even non-food producers living inside Israel (like Jesus and Paul) did not qualify as tithe-payers.

51. New Testament grace says (refers to 2 Corinthians 9:6-15).

Comment: Read 2 Corinthians 9:7-15. (1) The nine verses demonstrate the principle that each occupation has its own ways to recompense workers. (2) Soldiers collect spoils; vineyard workers eat grapes from the vineyard ; herdsmen drink milk from the herd (9:7); un-muzzled oxen eat the grain they grind (9:9); gospel workers also deserve recompense (9:10, 11); temple workers lived “from things brought to the temple” (9:13) and gospel workers live from the gifts motivated by gospel teachings such as grace and faith (9:14). If 9:14 only refers to tithing from 9:13, it teaches too much because 9:13 includes much more than tithes. Why do you ignore 9:12 and Acts 20:28-35 where Paul boasted about being self-supported? Paul definitely did not receive tithes!!!

52. 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 

Comment: As discussed earlier, this is a discussion of collecting food for famine relief in Judea. It has nothing to say about supporting gospel workers. Read it.

53. Matthew 23:23 (And Luke 11:42) On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

Comment: (1) Again, as discussed earlier, this is pre-Calvary and in the context of “matters of the law” as Jesus Himself said. (2) In obedience to the Law,  Jesus taught tithing TO THE LEVLTICAL SYSTEM. (3) If Jesus had taught tithing to Himself or to His disciples, He would have been a sinner. (3) If Jesus had taught His Gentile disciples to tithe, it was against the Law. Please comment on my conclusions.

54. They would even tithe on their spices. Jesus didn't say you don't need to do that anymore, because this is the New Testament and you are now under Grace.

Comment: Sadly, you cannot grasp the fact that this is still before Calvary and still under the Law (Gal 4:4-5). (1) 1500 years after Leviticus 27:30-34 tithes were still only food from inside HOLY Israel. (2) The scribes and Pharisees had added garden spices to the list of tithed items. Since the people had allowed them to be the official interpreters of the Law, it was legal then. (3) Of course Jesus did not say they could stop because the Law was still in full force before Calvary.  Telling them to stop would make Jesus a sinner. (4) Again, this is still Old Covenant before Calvary.

55. Why would you argue with this scripture, but even more importantly why would you want to?

Comment: Why would you want to use this Scripture to teach New Covenant tithing when it is clearly before Calvary??? (1) The tithes still went only to Levites and priests, not gospel workers. (2) Jesus did not include money because it was still not tithed. (3) Levitical tithe recipients still could not own property in Israel or amass wealth (Num 18:20-28).

56. Hebrews 7:8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there He receives them, of whom it is witnessed that He lives.

Comment: Grasp what you quoted; the “mortal men” who receive tithes are Levites and priests; they are not gospel workers. Hebrews 7:8 is in the present tense because the Temple was still operating. The purpose of Hebrews 7 is to prove that the Levitical Aaronic priesthood had been replaced with the typical ORDER of the Messianic Melchizedek priesthood prefigured in Psalm 110:4. Follow the sequence of 7:5, 12 and 18. The Law of tithing (7:5) was not “changed” to gospel workers (7:12); instead it was “annulled” in 7:18.

57. So now the Old Testament says to tithe the first 10% of all your increase.

Comment: No Scripture teaches this. Tithes are never firstfruits.

58. Now God says in the New Testament under grace that not only does God want you to tithe the first 10%, but that He wants you to return the first 10% of all your increase with a pure heart, not grudgingly or out of necessity but instead do it with a pure heart for the reason that you love God and desire to put Him first in your life.

Comment: You are mixing commanded Old Covenant Law tithing with optional New Covenant freewill giving (2 Cord 9:7).

59. … Under grace God now upped the bar on us once again and said. No more being angry and bitter when you tithe and obey Me, but now I want you to continue in Tithes and Offerings with a pure heart from now on under grace.

Comment: Your hermeneutic is –“If the pastor says it is true, then it must be true.”

Under grace God upped the bar. Instead of limiting tithes from only food from inside His holy land, now God encourages sacrificial, freewill, generous, cheerful giving from every believer in every occupation in every nation.

60. And I would hope that we would all be able to return the 10% to God with a cheerful heart, and not grudgingly or out of necessity. …

Comment: Again, you are mixing Old Covenant commanded tithing for Israel with post-Calvary New Covenant freewill offerings for Christians. Terrible hermeneutics!

61. Through our tithe God is learning about our character, how much we think of Him, how much we think of the bride of Christ, how much we respect Him, and how much we love Him.

Comment: This is a guilt trip with no validating texts.

62. I’d like to bring up an additional issue you brought up. You mentioned that Jesus did not tithe. Where do you get that from? There is no documentation saying that Jesus tithed or did not tithe. I know that He was the tithe. But did He also personally tithe? Well it is not written. I personally completely believe that He did tithe. I have wondered probably similar to you why that would not be in the Bible.

Comment: There is ample documentation that Jesus did not tithe: (1) Jesus was a carpenter, not a farmer or herdsmen. (2) He may have tithed herbs and spices off His mother’s back porch, but that is not what you a talking about. (3) You personally completely believe that He tithed because you have completely CHANGED God’s description of the HOLY tithe (as it was correctly used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus) from “FOOD from inside God’s HOLY land” into “increase from all sources from any land.” (4) God described His HOLY tithe 16 times and not once did He include your changed description!!!! That is called “severe overkill” in some quarters. (5) “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be FOOD in mine house” meant FOOD 1000 years earlier in Leviticus 27:30-34; it  meant FOOD in Malachi 3:10 and it and it still meant FOOD 400 years later in Matthew 23:23! While money was common, God did not change His description of the HOLY tithe. You have!!!

63. … I do not believe that it is safe to say that Jesus did not tithe based off of scripture, Based off of His character and putting God first I would think it's a no brainer that he tithed.

Comment: We agree that Jesus gave His all and we agree that Jesus is the epitome of sacrificial giving –but that does not mean that He tithed! Teaching that a carpenter must tithe is like teaching that a full-time fisherman must drive trucks for a living.  It is nonsense. One does not degrade a fisherman for not driving trucks all day. Neither does one degrade a carpenter for not tithing food as was required from farmers or herdsmen in Israel. You are creating an offense for no reason.

64. In fact if you were to believe that tithing is under the law as expressed then you would have proven that Jesus actually did tithe.

Comment: Your faulty hermeneutics are showing again. The most basic hermeneutic, “To whom was the Scripture addressed,” does not exist to you.  Listen carefully, “Not everything in the Law (or the Bible) is addressed to everybody!” Sometimes God addresses Noah, Patriarchs, Kings, and Priests and sometimes God addresses Cain, Noah’s sinful population, Gentiles, Pharaoh and the masses of His people. You have not grasped this!

65. Matthew 5:17-19: … Jesus did fulfill all of the law. Therefore, if one were to believe that tithing was of the law then you would prove that Jesus did tithe because He fulfilled the law.

Comment: This is twisted childish thinking.  Our law includes laws governing scores of occupations and trades. One can be a law-keeper without keeping the vast majority of existing laws. Much of God’s law was addressed to women; Jesus did not have to be a woman to be a Law-keeper.

66. If you believe that it (tithing) is not law and instead a biblical principle and a characteristic of God then you would also have proven that Jesus tithed. 

Comment: Like Saturday-Sabbath keeping, tithing was a principle through special revelation (cultic law) only given by God to Old Covenant national Israel only to support its Levites and priests who forfeited property ownership and wealth rights (Num 18:20-28). Tithing had absolutely no relevance to other nations. Tithing was not an eternal moral principle for all mankind because it is not known in the heart through nature and conscience (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; John 1:9).

67. Tithing is life, not law. You don’t tithe just because tithing is a part of Old Testament law. You tithe because it’s life to you and your family. This is a principle that runs all throughout the word of God. Tithing is meant to be a normal part of your everyday lives.

Comment: Why is this “true” –because you declared it? You think too highly of your own words. You have no validating texts which agree. Something is not true merely because you say it is.

68. The Bible says that your heart follows your treasure. That is why tithing represents the ultimate “heart test” for every Christian.

Comment: if you give a starving woman $10.00 on the street, would you want her to give back $1.00 or use it to pay for shelter, food and medicine for her family? (1 Tim 5:8) Where is your heart? A person can give sacrificially far beyond a set amount because his heart is in the right place. That is what J. Vernon McGee taught.

69. More significantly, however, is that tithing is the only area where you are invited to test God. He promises to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings if you will only tithe.

Comment: [Malachi 3:10] (1) First you  dare ignore the literal text where tithes are only FOOD and “windows of heaven” refers to RAIN for food crops. (2) Second, you ignore Deuteronomy 28 to 30 where the whole Law is a test! – keep it all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. (3) Your ignore Paul’s words in Galatians 3:10 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (4) If you teach tithing, then you must a) describe it as only food from inside HOLY Israel, b) limit it to Levites and Aaronic priests and c) prohibit tithe recipients from owning property and amassing wealth Num 18:20-28). Why are you so quiet about those texts?

70. It’s a simple truth really. If you tithe, you’re blessed. If you don’t, you’re cursed.

Comment:  (1) I seriously doubt that everybody in your church who tithes has received so many blessings that they cannot hold them. (2) If everybody who tithed became affluent, then everybody would tithe. (3) God does not treat the whole world as if it were on Old Covenant giving standards. (4) The largest social group who tithes is also the poorest in our society. How do you explain that? (5) And the opposite is true also; the wealthiest social group in our society gives the least in percentage. As of March 1, 2016 there were 540 billionaires in the U. S. A. alone; I seriously doubt most tithe and most are probably not even church goers. Only 120 of the 540 donate to charity per Forbes Magazine. Your statement is hollow.

71. This may be a surprise to you, but this is actually my short answer on this topic. I would love to go into more depth. There is just so much in the Bible on this topic that I would love to take my time and really unpack this subject. 

Comment: You have overwhelmed my friend. I sincerely hope you are not offended by him finding a friend on the same par as yourself to reply. That is only fair. You are the first pastor in 15 years who has replied in such detail. I appreciate your desire to make this go much deeper and I look forward to it. However, like others, I expect you will not survive the depth of my reply.

72. Pastor Robert's book takes this topic in a little different angle to try to explain this in his book The Blessed Life I would encourage you to continue to read through and study his book.

I am so glad that we got to communicate even if it is just through email and we couldn’t get together in person, but I do hope to meet you in person some time. I will be praying for you back. I hope this email has shed some light and that you are able to read through it without any resistance. I’d love to hear from you again sometime and hope you have a wonderful day.
James Morris
Pastor, Gateway Stewardship

Comment: I would like to meet you in person also (John 17:17). I have read The Blessed Life and reject its fundamental premise that tithes are the same as firstfruits.  Let us bring this dialog into the open for all to see both views. I am posting it on my blog at:

Russell Earl Kelly, 316 Aonia Rd, Washington, Ga 30673