FEATURE ARTICLE

Sam AwedaThursday, December 28, 2017
[email protected]
Lagos, Nigeria

COMMAND TO TITHE ENDS WITH THE LAW SYSTEM. NO CONTROVERSY!

he Lord Jesus said and I quote "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future (st John 16:13). So there can be no controversy about God's word as long as the Holy Spirit is allowed His place to lead and guide.

Understanding the truth about God does not depend on the numbers of Ph. D one has in Theology. I heard someone boasting on the numbers of Ph. D he has in Theology.

In the New Dispensation, our giving is not restricted to any percentage of our earnings but according to the individual's measure or level of faith (Rom.12 :6-8).

Our giving is related to how much we can entrust back into God's hands, what He (God) had blessed us with (I Chr.29:11-14), which in return will yield back proportionately.

Paul the apostle wrote in 2 Cor.9:6 "A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much"

So a giver of ten percent gets in return, a reward, proportionate of a tenth and a giver of nine-tenth, receives in return a reward proportionate of nine-tenth.

But the reward being talked about does not necessarily have to be received here on earth but stocked or banked for us in heaven. In fact, our savings in heaven is what Papa is more concerned about and that is why He asked us to lay our treasure there (Matt. 6:19-21; Matt. 19:21; Lk.12:15; Mk. 8:36; Lk. 6:38). Doing this faithfully, will lead anyone to Biblical and true prosperity and not the amount of wealth we accumulate on earth.

Unfortunately most preachers today ask us to give so that we can gain worldly materials, laying too much emphasis on this world rather than our everlasting home.

Under the New System, each Christian is to decide how much of his earnings he wants to give to God's work (I Cor.16:1-2), depending on his level of faith without any curse on him, unlike what it was, under the law, when the defaulter of the tithe by commission or omission brought a curse upon himself (Malachi 3:8-9).

In the early Church, members who had properties sold them and brought the proceeds in full (Acts 4:34-37). Ananias kept behind some but claimed it was the whole money. Peter told Ananias: "The property was yours, either to sell or not, as you wished. And after selling it, it was yours to decide how much to give" (Acts 5:4).

This is a perfect summary of what is obtainable about giving under the New System. Ananias did not die because he didn't turn in, to the Church, the total proceeds, or 10% of the sales, but by claiming he gave all, when in reality he had kept some away.

The one-tenth, which Abraham paid to Melchizedek was not dictated to him by anyone. The percentage he paid, was not by any mandate. It was 'as purposed' in harmony with what applies under the New Testament (2Cor.9:7).

Remember God had made His plan of Salvation through Abraham, which was "By Faith" (Rom.3:20-23,27-28;4:1-3,16-17;Gal.3). So really, Abraham, is the father of the New Testament. The father of faith (Gal.3:7).

In the same manner in which a grandson of Abraham, Jacob, vowed to give a tenth of whatever he possesses, if God would bring him back from his sojourn, to his father's home (Gen. 28:20-22), so also can an individual and I suppose, a group, a church, a denomination, on a consensus, agree among themselves to each contribute 10%, 20%, 50% or whatever of their earnings to the church's coffer. But there is no backing either from the Lord, or from any of the apostles that 10% (tithe), or any percentage of our earnings is still relevant as a 'must' under the New Dispensation. And this is why no one will find a verse and I repeat no verse in the New Testament; from the gospel of St. Matthew to Revelation where our Lord or any of the Apostles taught it.

Even then, there is no record that neither Abraham nor Jacob made the 10% a recurrent issue. At other times they might have paid more or less.

Of course, there will be those (and in fact, many, they are), whose faith will carry them to pay beyond the legalistic tenth which was required under the strict law system of the Old Testament (Lev. 27:30-34; Numb. 18: 20-24; Deut.12:17-23; 14:22-27; 26:12-15) because the death of Christ has freed us from all the rules of worship. So, therefore, we can't any longer restrict anyone's blessings to that of a tenth-giver since God does not.

Someone has suggested that tithe is a covenant. I searched through the whole Bible and I could not find such a statement, neither could the one who made the suggestion. Even circumcision, which was ordained by covenant (Gen. 17:6-14), became irrelevant with the death of Christ (Gal.5:6).

It is the lack of understanding of the background to Malachi 3:8-10 that makes anyone to use it to argue in favour of tithing under the New Dispensation.

References of the offering, which Malachi reminded the people of, are found in Numb.18:8-24; Ex.28,29; Num. 3& 4, which were animal sacrifices for sins and which the Saviour paid, with His life afterwards. It should therefore not be misinterpreted as money put into the offertory plates.

With Christ making Himself a onetime perfect offering, the institution of Levitical Priesthood was dismantled. Thus, offerings (sacrifices) and tithes that supported it became irrelevant.

The Lord as recorded in Matt. 23:23, same, which was also recorded by Luke in 11:42 did not as of then out rightly condemn tithing because its purpose was yet to be achieved. And even then, the way He talked about it can best be described as 'passive', attaching no significance to it, as opposed to the rigidity and the great importance attached to it under the Law System. And it was not only tithing that was observed when Christ was here, but all the other rules for worship. He Himself observed all the ceremonial worships that took place (Lk. 2:40-52; John 7: 1-10; Lk. 22:7-20 etc) to make true His words that "Every law in the Book will continue, until its purpose is achieved" (till all be fulfilled) (KJV) (Matt.5:18); meaning till He makes Himself the perfect offering.

The purpose was achieved by His death. "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, said: "It is finished" (John 19:28-30) and the "thick veil hanging in the temple split apart"( Luke 23:45), bringing an end to all the ceremonial and legalistic rules of worship which had been in place for 1400years "and henceforth Christ became "the end of the law"" (Rom.10:4).

"Christ has made us free"; Paul wrote in Galatians Chapter 5. "Now make sure that you stay free and don't get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish Laws and ceremonies. Listen to me, for this is serious: If you are counting on circumcision and other Jewish Laws (tithing inclusive) to make you right with God, then Christ cannot save you. I'll say it again, anyone trying to find favour with God by being circumcised (or by obedience of tithes) must always obey every other Jewish Laws or perish" (Gal.5:1-6).

Such a person must read the books of the law properly and start to obey the rules about permitted and non-permitted food, perform the several annual feasts/festivals, perform the daily, weekly and yearly sacrifices (shedding of blood). The Temple must be restructured and partitioned into the inner and outer sanctuary and institute again the Levitical priesthood so that Offerings (Burnt, Grain, Peace, Sin, Guilt etc) and tithes can become relevant again.

I myself had been ignorant in the past. I was ordained an elder of a certain Church in the early eighties. This denomination neither taught nor practised tithing. We got to the Elders' Council meeting one saturday night and the Pastor alerted us of the poor financial situation of the Church and asked for our suggestions of how to raise fund for the needs of the Church. Being brought up in a denomination which lays serious emphasis on tithing, I did not hesitate to suggest the idea. All the council members approved it and that was how tithing got introduced into that Church and spread to other Churches of that particular denomination. I regret it now but that was what I knew then.

The utterances of many preachers today on a number of issues betray their ignorance of the total understanding of the essence of Christ. The ignorance centres mainly in their inability to see the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation as a single story, which is the story of Jesus Christ. Their ignorance also centres on their inability to reconcile the old agreement with the new. The Old Covenant looks towards the coming of Christ and prepares the ground to that effect.

I too was in the past, a arithmetic/calculator giver until 1975 when I started to publish and distribute tracts freely when a tenth of my income could no longer sustain my evangelical vision and my wife and I started to budget for evangelism as we did for our food, housing and other essential family needs. But I still taught tithing and I sincerely believed in it.

Perhaps if one brother had opened up to me and not talked sarcastically, I could have seen the inferiority of 'tithing' to 'giving' much earlier. This brother saw on my study table, some notes about Tithing, which I was going to teach that week. This was in 1976 and he said: "So you are still teaching people, the old legalistic ways of what to give to God" I made no comment and he too did not say anything further. Albeit, I kept it in my mind and years later after my eyes became opened to the total truth of the essence of Christ, then I realized what this brother probably must have meant in 1976.

I must say that even as a child, I had some concern as it relates with the tithing card of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Every true Baptist must carry a tithing card. The cover page of the card quoted Malachi 3:10 "Bring ye all the tithes into the store house----"Then there was a pocket (envelope) attached as you open the card. And on the back page are two other quotations from the book of Corinthians 1st, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him…" (ICor. 16:2) and 2nd, "Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver" (2Cor 9:7).

The Malachi quotation and the Corinthians' sounded contradictory to me as a child. In one place it says "as purposed" and in another, it was "levy" But with time, the feeling of contradiction faded away and I obeyed without further questioning.

But anyone who has been reading my submission on this subject will have observed that there is no contradiction whatsoever. The system in Malachi was temporary, a shadow of the real image--- (Hebrews 10:1). Corinthians' quotation outdated the Malachi's.

Jesus knowing what changes the end result of His death was going to bring, had said earlier to the Samaritan woman by the side of the well "Woman,….the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father,….God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth"(John 4:21-24).

And this is the reason why nowhere in the New Testament is found a verse that demands for tithe after Jesus had resurrected.

"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days"; (or what proportion of your income you should worship God with, tying you down to the blessings of a tenth giver) "For these were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came. They were only shadows of the real thing - of Christ Himself"(Col. 2:16-17).

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