Friday, October 09, 2009

Reply to Pastor Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, CA on Tithing

Reply to Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, Ca. on Tithing by Russell Earl Kelly

From the book "The Treasury", by Anne Kalvestrand. The question's were asked of, and answered by, Pastor Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor, Bethel Church, Redding, California. USA.

Johnson: Question: Is the tithe a principle only for those who live under the Law of Moses? Answer: No.
Abraham practices the tithe 400 years before the Law was given - "Melchizedek, king of Salem ... to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all..." Hebrews 7:1-4

Kelly: Nothing Abraham did concerning tithes is followed by any church today. (1) only pagan spoils of war from defiled pagan dust, (2) not holy tithes from God's holy land which had been miraculously increased by God's hand, (3) other than spoils, nothing of his own personal property, (4) only once recorded, (5) he kept nothing and (6) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom. Just because something is very old and very common, that does not mean it is eternal and moral.

Johnson: Jacob also tithed. "... of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You." Genesis 28:22
The Law ratified the wisdom of tithing. "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; so it is holy to the Lord." Leviticus 27:30

Kelly: Jacob set the conditions and told God what to do. His tithe was a freewill vow and was not given to support a Levitical priesthood. Neither Abraham nor Jacob's tithe are used in the Law as examples for Israel.

Leviticus 27:30 and 15 other texts all describe the tithe as only food from inside Israel. Although money was common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never included in the definition of biblical tithes. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe-payers and neither did the poor nor anybody who lived outside Israel.

Johnson: Jesus confirmed the principle of the tithe. "... you pay tithe of the mint and anise and cummin ... these you ought to have done..." Matthew 23:23

Kelly: The actual quote from Mt 23:23 includes "matters of the law." Jesus was rebuking hypocritical scribes and Pharisees for abusing the law. Jesus did not command the Gentiles whom he healed to obey the law and could not have commanded them to tithe.

Johnson: Question: Did the early church fathers practice tithing? Answer: YesJusitin Martyr, Renaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenaius, Ambrose, Augustine, and many more."Our ancestors used to abound in wealth of ever kind for this reason that they used to give tithes and pay the tax to Caesar... we have been unwilling to share the tithe with God, now the whole is taken away." - Augustine

Kelly: It is not true that any early church father of the first 200 years after Calvary taught tithing. Johnson is wrong to include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian. Cyprian's middle of the third century concept included equally sharing the tithe with all in the church and even it was rejected.
Then came the state-supported Roman Catholic Church. Augustine's concept was not adopted by the Church. Attempts in 567 and 585 failed to spread beyond local churches. Tithing did not become church law until AD 777. Study this.

Johnson: Question: Can I choose where the tithe is to go? Answer: No.The tithe is a payment, already designated by God to go into the storehouse for the ministry of the local church. "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house." - Malachi 3:10
Kelly: The OT Temple and priesthood have been replaced with the priesthood of every believer who do not tithe to themselves. The covenant, Levitical cities, Levites, priests and temple all ended. There is no such thing as the storehouse of the church. Early church buildings did not exist for over 200 years after Calvary.

Johnson: "But the firstborn among animals, which should be the Lord's firstborn, no man shall dedicate... it is the Lord's". - Leviticus 26:27

Kelly: The firstborn and firstfruits were never the same as tithes in the Bible. Firstfruits were very small token offerings per Deut 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-38. It is wrong to teach that the first tenth of income must go to the local church. According to 1st Timothy 5:8, the first should go to buy medicine and essential food and shelter.

Johnson: Question: What is the purpose of the tithe? Answer: To provide for the priests. They are the ones in ministry that work to equip the saints for service."For the tithe of the children of Israel, which they offer as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance..." - Numbers 18:24
Kelly: Numbers 18 is the tithing statute-ordinance of the Law. Nothing in it is followed by any church today. (1) tithes are only food from inside Israel, (2) only ministers can enter the sanctuary, (3) the first Levitical tithe goes to the servants of the ministers, (4) the ministers only get one per cent of the total tithe, (5) ministers are to kill anybody who dares to worship God directly and (6) Levites and ministers who receive the tithe cannot own or inherit property.

Johnson: Question: Can we borrow the tithe? Answer: Yes, at 20 percent interest."If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it." - Leviticus 27:31Kelly: According to Leviticus 27:30-34 the tithe is (1) only food from inside Israel, (2) is only agricultural crops or clean animals, (3) the tenth and not the first, (4) the tenth and not the best and (5) part of the Law given only to national Israel at Mt Sinai.

Johnson: Question: What happens if I keep my title? Answer: You can withhold tithe, but you never get to keep it. It belongs to the devourer."He gave them all into his hand ... to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths... to fulfill seventy years." - 2 Chronicles 36:17-221
Kelly: According to Galatians 3:10-13 the curse of the law (including tithing) ended at Calvary. And verse 10 says that the only way to be blessed by law-keeping is to keep all 600+ commands of the law. The Law (and tithing) was never given to Gentiles and/or the Church after Calvary in the New Covenant.

Johnson: Withholding the tithe is idolatry."... all Israel... broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the alters... As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought the abundance the first fruits of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all." - 2 Chronicles 31:1-5Kelly: According to 1st Chronicles, chapters 23 to 26 the tithe was used by the king to pay Levites who also worked for him in secular areas. Why is this ignored? It was a tax. It is also stealing to accept the tithe and own property.

Johnson: Question: Will tithing remove all financial difficulties? Answer: No. But it is the beginning place of those wanting God's blessing. Some problems are related to other areas needing obedience.

Kelly: The ghettos are full of honest believers who have been faithfully "tithing" for generations and remain in poverty while many of their pastors are much better off.

Johnson: Question: Do I tithe on the net or the gross? Answer: Our taxes are our payment for living in America from our income. The tithe should be based on the gross income.

Kelly: Neither. Tithes are only food from inside Israel. The definition never changed for over 1500 years from Leviticus to Luke. And it is absurd to expect modern farmers and self-employed businessmen to tithe gross when they must first spend exorbitant sums to produce any profit.Johnson: Another way to look at it would be, which measure would you like for God to use to bless you with? A tithe of the gross, or a tithe of the net?

Kelly: This is a con job.

Johnson: Question: What should a wife do if her unbelieving husband does not want to tithe? Answer: …. Testing God in this way is a practical way for people to see God's faithfulness.

Kelly: The whole law was a test --not merely tithing. Obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. God never gave the law to Gentiles or the Church. Deu 28-30.

Johnson: Question: What is the difference between a tithe and an offering? Answer: The tithe is a payment, while the offering is a gift. Both are required that we do not rob God."... but you say, ‘In what way have we robbed you?' In tithes and offerings." - Malachi 3:8

Kelly: Tithes were always only food from inside Israel. Offerings were either above the tithe for food producers inside Israel --or-- from non-food items which could be cleansed in the fire from outside Israel. See Numbers 31. There are no post-Calvary NT tithes.

Johnson: Question: Where should we give our offerings? Answer: That is your choice.Give according to your burden. Just remember to put the work of the Kingdom of God first.

Kelly: Earlier in this article you wrote " The tithe is a payment, already designated by God to go into the storehouse for the ministry of the local church."


Unknown said...

I seem to remember a beloved minister stating that we live in an usidedown kingdom as we know kingdoms. This is where you rule with a heart of a servant but, serve with the heart of a king. Jesus emphasizes this in saying the greatest in the kingdom will be the servant of all. With this perspective, 10% seems to me the bare minimum someone would give. If The King's son would give his life for those yet his enemies, what love could we be willing to withold for the king and for his children.

Russell Earl Kelly said...

Sounds good but it is not true. Only food producers who lived inside Israel were required to follow that rule.

Freewill giving has no limits either up or down but many should give much more than 10 per cetnndt.

Daniel said...

Bill is "right on the money" so to speak. I love sound doctrine, we give tithes now to the "one who lives" (Hebrews) which of course is Jesus, who of course is the head of the CHURCH. Stop trying to muzzle the ox, those that labour in the Word deserve it. More important than doctors, lawyers. We have no probs paying them but oh no not the minister.....bohoo Come on!!!!!!!!!!!

Charles said...

Johnson handled the questions better from a believers perspective. Johnson quoted the scripture every time, Kelly never directly revered to a scripture to make his point. If he could quote a scripture that said that "jesus came to remove the tithe..." it would make his point. The problem for Mr. Kelly is that no such scripture exists

Russell Earl Kelly said...

Where in the Bible Were Tithes Abolished?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you continue to send money to a church after

1. The building is destroyed?

2. The preacher has been defrocked?

3. The workers have found other jobs?

4. The members have all left?

5. The land has been inhabited by non religious people?

6. The purpose for the church no longer exists?

7. You have died?

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

(1) WHO: The Levitical servants to the priests received the tithes and they have been superseded. (2) WHO: The OT priests who received a tenth of the tithe and ministered in the Temple have been superseded. (3) WHAT: The definition of God’s holy tithe as food from inside Israel has ended. (4) DESTINATION: The Levitical cities which received the Levitical tithes have disappeared. (5) TIME: The time to tithe after harvest and at the three annual feasts has ended. (6) COVENANT: The Old Covenant which legislated tithing has vanished. (7) WHY: The commandment for Hebrews to tithe has been disannulled. Heb 7:18. (8) DEAD TO LAW: Believers are dead to law per Rom 7:4. (9) CALVARY: Jesus abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances per Eph 2:13. (10) CALVARY: Jesus blotted out the handwriting of ordinances per Col 2:14. (12) TEMPLE: The Temple whose priests tithing supported has been superseded by the indwelling Holy Spirit per 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20. (12) NT PRIESTHOOD: The priesthood which was supported by tithes has been superseded by the priesthood of every believer per 1 Per 2:9-10. (13) BLESSINGS AND CURSES: The blessings and curses of the law for obedience or disobedience to all the law have been superseded per Gal 3:10-13. (14) We Gentiles never were under the Old Covenant. We were excluded from it.

TheBishop said...

It's a conceptual practice of portion giving that predates the law.... It was the tree in the garden, the "portion" of cain and able...It wasn't a dominate teaching in the NT "books" because it had been taught for 4000 years. In Malachi God said you robed me in tithe AND OFFEREING....God seems to think He's worth it.....since He owns it ALL.
If you want to go with the "free will" offering of the NT the take EVERYTHING you have to the Apostle/Pastor so you can have ALL things common.
Paul hints at "lay aside a gift in proportion as God has blessed you" WHAT portio...? The only thing they had as a guide would be a tithe...
Remember "ALL scripture is given..." what you and I call NT is a collection of letters encouraging us to read the OT!
The only people that complain about money in church are the people who don't give it!
David said "i will not render to the Lord that which cost me nothing"
Biblical stewardship understands that God owns it all was never mine to keep!
Jesus, in every instant raised the standard in the New Covenant.

Russell Earl Kelly said...

Idolatry, child sacrifices and temple prostitution also predate the law. That argument proves nothing.

Tithing was not taught in the garden of Eden. How many trees were there? One tree out of how many? Not ten per cent to me.

You confuse freewill offerings with mandatory tithes.

“It wasn't a dominate teaching in the NT "books" because it had been taught for 4000 years.” No. God only commanded OT Israel to tithe as one of over 600 commands. The “you” of Malachi 3 is “Old Covenant Israel” if you read 1:1 and 4:4. And the tithe of 3:10 is still only food from inside Israel.

God owned it all in the O.T. but still only accepted HOLY tithes from inside His holy land. Why don’t you explain that?

The “all things in common” was not commanded by God and was temporary because that group thought Jesus was returning any day.

Acts 21:20-21 prove that the Jewish Christians of Acts 2 still support the Temple system. If you want to receive Levitical tithes, you cannot own and inherit LAND and must remain among the poor.

Where do you find the word “portion” in 1 Cor 16:2? According to 16:1 the money was not intended to support the local church or a pastor. Until Constantine, early church pastors boasted about their poverty and the Christian ideal.

The only persons who were required to tithe in the O.T. were food producers who lived inside Israel. It was not a standard minimum beginning place for anybody else – and applied to nobody living outside Israel.

“Remember "ALL scripture is given..." what you and I call NT is a collection of letters encouraging us to read the OT!”

You act as if there is no fundamental difference between the Old and New Covenants.

“The only people that complain about money in church are the people who don't give it!”

Wong. Luther, Moody, L. S. Chafer, John Walvoord, John MacArthur and Craig Blomberg did/do not teach tithing and their churches prosper.

I could say that those who teach tithing the most have the most to gain by gaining wealth. That would not be fair either.

“Jesus, in every instant raised the standard in the New Covenant.”

Jesus raised it to sacrificial giving. For many that means more than 10%, but not for all.

Unknown said...

Russell, thanks for your insight. I believe that as time goes, the issue of the tithe will become irrelevant.

My view in all that you have said, is not against pastors and leaders of church constructs being provided for. Rather, it's about the teachings which have been used to build and sustain "temples, made by the hands of man".

I do believe that there is a place for believers to meet together, and celebrate the goodness of God ~ we should never forsake the gathering of the saints. There is often, but not always, a need to a person to facilitate these gatherings, and a worker is worthy of his wage.

We have taught that "tithes" are Gods way of that person being compensated for their work. We've built Christianity on this theology, and practically, if we change it now... who knows how we'll run my empires!?

I personally believe that we are moving into a time such as the early church. They gave according to their willingness and ability, to help those who had less than they had. Their conviction was that Jesus was going to come back, and they were compelled by their love for him, to love for their fellows, for His return.

As we see the signs around us, we recognize the times we're living in. May we too be compelled by love.
May we be so moved by the love and heart of the Father, as we experience more of the truth of adoption, and become more and more like Jesus, that "tithing" will become fulfilled in us today, as it was in Jesus.

When we live as Jesus did, everything we do fulfills the intent of the given law. This is the fulfilled of the greatest commandment of all, to love the Lord our God, with everything we are. It is expressed in the second greatest commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Personally, as I pursue these two commandments, I'm giving MORE than 10%... and I love it! ... and it's not just money... it's whatever my neighbor has need of. What if... every one of us believers on the planet, believed that everything was God's, and we were willing to share it all, not just the tithe? What if...?

Regarding Bill Johnson. I love the man! I consider Bill, and his associates, to be the greatest influences in my journey with my Spiritual God. (Outside of the Bible and God himself.. obviously!)
I honor and respect Bill highly.

This does not mean however, that I agree with everything he says. Not one person alive today, has the whole story, and we still need iron to sharpen iron.

BTW - I am a tither/giver, and have been all my life. I live it and love it!... but I still "complain" about money in the church :), as one person phrased it. I do, only because I believe that there is more for the body of Christ to do, and if tithing is not going to do it (it hasn't up until now), maybe, just maybe, we could consider that there could be another way. I'm open to the more...

Be Blessed!

Ethel Alice said...

Bill Johnson is out of his mind ,he's not reading any of the bible versions I know of, and makes up the rules as he goes along to suit himself and only himself. False prophet! City of Redding just approved plans for a new bethel college to pump out more zombies with no true or valuable theological education or everyday academics. Bill Johnson wants to take over the whole world to honor himself and anyone who supports, believes what he and his church stand for will have to answer to God. So sad are the lost sheep who will not see! E.A. Gerard

Anil Philip said...

To those who claim that we pay tithes to Jesus - did Jesus accept tithes?
Why Not? Answer: he was not a Levite.

David N said...

One could say and be Biblically correct that if you tithe you have put yourself under the curse of the law because you then must follow all 613 commandments perfectly. It is good to give, even more than 10% if you can but don't call it a tithe. Kelly's statements were all correct and Bill Johnson give's the same reasons as all other tithe preaching pastors give.
Furthermore there were 3 tithes in the OT,, 10% to the Levites (of which 10 of the 10 went to the Levites), 10% to yourself for your journey's to the Holy Land, and 10% every 3 years for the poor. So when the tithe is preached it should be 23 1/3%. So by saying 10% they are false teaching, even if tithing was for today.
Why do the epistles, which are our main teachings for how to live today, never mention tithing if it is so necessary?
Also note that the tithe was a tax because Israel was a Theocracy and the Levites were the administrators. Additionally, the pastors are not the priest of today. All believers are priests.
Don't muzzle the ox while it is treading the grain- yes, give and support the churches, but it is not tithing. All giving is to be from the heart and should be considered offerings, not grudgingly or under compulsion 2 Cor 9:6-7. There might even be more given if all believers had this attitude.
I did not list all the appropriate verses but they are all there. Be a Berean and look for yourselves., not just taking the view of what most pastors say,