REBUTTAL TO STEPHEN J COLE
God, Money and You, December 1993
BY RUSSELL EARL KELLY, PHD, 2021
This is a real slick sermon on tithing. The preacher pretends to be preaching against tithing, but he is really preaching more than tithing. He probably broke his arm patting himself on the back for being so slick.
1. He never defines the words “holy tithe” from God’s Word. However, beginning at Leviticus 27:30-34 and 15 later texts, the CONTENTS of the holy tithe were always only FOOD from INSIDE ISRAEL miraculously increased by the hand of God and not man. Until God’s definition is used, the entire discussion is a moot total man-made waste of time.
2. He says “tithing is the bare minimum.” That is a lie and is not biblical. Holy tithes were only commanded to Hebrews under the Law and lived inside God’s holy land of Israel. If a Hebrew did no live inside Israel or earn his livelihood off the land, he was not required to tithe. Also, as Jesus, Paul and Peter did not qualify as tithe-payers.
3. The question is asked, “If not 10 percent, how much should I give?” At one point near the end of the sermon, author correctly replies that we should give sacrificially, generously, to the best of our ability after essential household necessities have been met. I would include First Timothy 5:8.
4. Tithing is not the New Testament standard for giving: generous sacrificial giving is the standard, not tithing. For many, sacrificial giving might be more than 10%; however, for many sacrificial giving is far less than 10%.
5. “Believers are not under the Law.” In fact, Gentiles never were under the Law.
6. Tithing is not an eternal moral principle. Eternal moral principles apply to every Hebrew and also every person. They are known by the conscience or through nature (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16). Tithing is neither.
7. Tithing was not repeated under the terms of the New Covenant by the Holy Spirit. It is not a post-Calvary New Covenant doctrine.
8. He incorrectly says “The tithe was commended for every Israelite to fund national worship and help the poor.” This is wrong. It was only commanded from food producers who lived inside Israel. And those who received tithes were not allowed to own or inherit property inside Israel or to amass wealth. This part of tithing is totally ignored today.
9.We are told “Jesus mentions scribes and Pharisees who tithe ..., but he never commanded his disciples to tithe.”
This was only true because the Law was in full effect before Calvary. He commanded His disciples to tithe to the Jewish worship system and not to Himself or to His Apostles (Mt 23:1-24).
10. He says that “Tithing was not mentioned by the early church fathers.” That is simply not true. See David’s Croteau’s writings. However, their version of tithing was not accepted for almost 800 years.
11. He wrote “It leads to the notion that 10 percent is God’s money and 90 percent is my money. In reality, 100 percent is God’s money.”
Here is where the slick trickery starts to unfold. The author began by saying that tithing is a bare minimum. He also began by failing to correctly define what a holy tithe was in God’s Word. He defines “tithe” as “ten per cent of one’s total income before taxes” and builds the lie upon his unbiblical false definition.
12. “Grace giving does not mean that you give every now and then, hit and miss, but it is planned and systematic (1 Cor 16:2; 9:7).”
Those two texts teach giving “as God has prospered you” and “not under compulsion.” The giver gives to the best of his/her ability.
13. “God’s grace should motivate us to excel far more than the minimum under the law (1 Cor. 15:10).”
First, First Corinthians 15:10 is not about giving. Second, if there were a text which supported his claim, he would have quoted it. Third, he cannot justify this with his comments that the Law had three tithes of 22%. Does grace teach 22% giving minimum?
14. “God deserves the best, not just what is convenient.”
Although this sounds good, it is not biblical. Read Leviticus 27:30-34. The tithe of the herd was NOT the best --- it was merely the tenth! The priests offered the BEST 1% of the total tithe in Numbers 18:25-28.
15. “He deserves first place.” Again, although this sounds good, it is not biblical. God did not require the best of the land or herd.
16. “Grace giving is based on God’s example in Christ (2 Cor 8:9).”
Why stop at verse 9? Read and include 8:14-16. “Equality giving” means that some give more and others give less. This chapter is not about tithing; it is about freewill sacrificial giving.
17. “All that we are and have belongs to God, not just a tenth.”
The slick pretense is over. After all the arguments against tithing, Stephen J. Cole DOES teach tithing.
18. He quotes First Corinthians 8:1-12 and not 8:14-16 which disagree with his conclusions.
Stephen J. Cole teaches that God cannot accept less than 10%; he wants everybody to give more than 10%. First, his definition of the “holy tithe” is unbiblical. Second, contrary to God’s requirement for O.T. tithe-recipients, he probably owns property and has a savings account (Num 18:20, 15-28).