Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Law Walking Or Grace Giving?

Tithe And Offerings, Or Cheerful Giving That God Loves?

Question: "God told the Israelites they were robbing Him in two ways: in their tithes and in their offerings. The word tithe means one-tenth, and it refers back to a time even before the nation of Israel existed, when God conveyed the expectation that man would recognize His sovereignty by giving a tithe.

In Genesis 14:17-24, Abraham offered Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a tithe because of the victory God had given him and the blessing that God had bestowed upon him. Abraham offered a tithe to Melchizedek, who was the forerunner to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is greater than Melchizedek (Hebrews 7). If Abraham had to offer a tithe to Melchizedek, and Jesus is the follower of Melchizedek, then how much more do we have a responsibility to honor the sovereignty of Christ who is the King of the world?

Leviticus 27:30 says that the tithe is "holy to the Lord." The tithe doesn't belong to us; it belongs to God. The tithe teaches that there is only one Creator and Sustainer, and it's not us.

While the tithe is mandatory, the offering is voluntary. We determine the amount of the offering, and it is from the heart. But an offering is never an offering until we have given the full tithe. We must first give what God expects
[i.e. Tithe], and then we can give over and above that expectation to reflect a heart of love, gratitude, and rejoicing [i.e. through voluntary offering]. If we don't give to God out of obedience and gratitude, it shows that something is wrong with our hearts."

The writing within the quotes above is that of a dear Pastor who lives for the Lord. What do you think he is revealing, the law or grace, voluntary gift or mandatory tithes, salvation by works or faith?

What is your take on the above writings? Do you agree with it.

Answer: I have come to see the NT
[New Testament] as something greater than OT [Old Testament], where from the Scripture God proves the same. Scripture says, "liberality" "causes thanksgiving through us to God" through the proof of the New Testament ministry which is the salvation of souls and building of the lives of the saints, who will then pray for your blessings, and as a result, eternal blessings will be imparted to your spiritual account in righteousness (2 Cor 9:11). Liberality in giving is directly influential enough for the spread of the kingdom of God and in the collection of heavenly treasures for those who do out of love for God. 

Will not the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious than that of Moses who instituted the rule of Tithe
(2 Cor 3:8)? By all means the ministry of the Spirit will be more glorious, because grace is greater than the Law. The Law came through Moses, but truth and grace came through Jesus Christ, of whose ministry the Spirit of God is continuing to the saints of God in the Church (John 1:17; 15:26-27; 16:7, 13-14; 14:17).

Tithe is not mandatory in the NT, but during OT it was. Paul the apostle reveals in the Scripture,
"How much you sow towards God financially through money or talent or anything else will be that which will get multiplied and come back in return as a blessings from God, so the Lord loves a cheerful giver who chooses to give voluntarily out of his love for God." (2 Cor 9:6-7, Paraphrased). But generally through the harvest we get, we can come to know whether we have sowed to the Lord and His kingdom work abundantly or sparingly. Praise the Lord! Voluntary gifts whether regularly done or once in a while collected from those who are blessed by the Word are the one that the New Testament tells to use as a financial support for the minister of the Word of God to carry on God's mission for the Church and his life (Gal 6:6-10).

Two things from Old Testament the apostles never repeated, one is the keeping of Sabbath
[i.e.] Holy days and Festivals, and the other is Tithe (Col 2:16-17).

So we should be careful to do the same.

Yes God told the Israelites that they have robbed Him in two ways,
"tithes and offerings", but why did He tell them that they were robbing Him, because they had no faith in their heart to believe that God was their provider who provided all things they have already. So God was revealing to these people that their unbelief led the protection of His to be removed from their lives, so that devourer destroys the fruit of their ground and the vine fail to bear for them in the field (Mal 3:11). God wanted them to have faith and try Him, so that the curse upon the nations infertile drought and lack of fruitfulness can be overturned again by God. As we know that in the Old Testament one should obey the law sincerely before God can see their seriousness of intent, and see their failure and hopelessness to bless them supernaturally (Mal 3:8-10), this is what had happened in the repentance call of Malachi the prophet to the people of God in those times he lived. The same cannot be applied to the Church, because the law is not of faith and faith cannot be mixed with law of works (Gal 3:12). If someone chooses to keep the law of "tithe and offering" by taking it from Malachi, then as he works out, the wages that comes out of his life are not counted as grace by God, but rather as a debt that he must pay to God (Rom 4:4). No saint in the Church of the New Testament should set aside the grace of God, or else by practicing the law, they have made the death of Christ to have become useless in their own lives (Gal 2:21). No man can pay back the infinite debt we owe to God if we choose to walk by the law mistakenly, because all things originate in God and He is no man's debtor (Rom 11:35-36). We humans are good receivers, if we do it with a thankful heart. Grace makes God the greater giver, and us the greatest receivers in humility. Pride keeps us away from grace, humility positions us to receive grace instead!     

Did God tell Abraham to Tithe? No the Bible clearly says that the law came through Moses, so Abraham was not following any law of tithing on spoil or on anything else. Abraham’s tenth was only in the nature of a voluntary
(free will) offering of thanksgiving to Melchizedek God for the deliverance of his people from captivity (Gen 15:18-24). Symbolically it can be a special one time tithe of Abraham for his entire generation of children and faith children (Heb 7:4, 6-7, 9-10). In fact, Abraham himself had never again met this mysterious priest of God named Melchizedek after that one instance or have seen him again, until it was later revealed that of the line of Melchizedek Christ Jesus came in to the world (Heb 7:6). In fact, this Melchizedek was told as the one who was "made like the Son of God, and remains a priest continually" in heaven which reveals it was the Father in heaven who met the father of faith Abraham for the only and only time through a visible image like the Son of God (Matt 6:9; Heb 7:1-4; Rom 4:16). No man has seen the Father in glory or can see Him in the zenith of his glory (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12; Exo 33:20; 1 Tim 6:16; Heb 12:14), as we do not as mere humans have the capacity to handle the glory of our Creator, the same is applicable to Jesus who left his glory in heaven when he became a man to live among us and shown God to us visibly (John 14:9; 5:17-30; Php 2:5-8). In fact, Jesus did not just leave the glory of God before he became a baby on earth, but much before the world began (John 17:5), so that he could reveal himself in various ways and means to the people of God who will live by faith. He it was who said in John 5:39, “You [Jewish people] diligently study the Scriptures [which at that time were the 39 books of the Tanak/Old Testament].... These are the Scriptures that tes- tify about me.” That should settle the question. But even more famously, Jesus rebuked Cleopas, and that other unnamed disciple, as they walked along the road to Emmaus on that first Easter Sunday, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the [Old Testament] Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27). So the tithe of Abraham was a voluntary one that he gave to this heavenly priest as a thankful gratitude for the victory God gave to him on the battle field, and not out of the law as there was none at that time till angels mediated and Moses received the law of God and gave it to people (Gal 3:17, 19, 18; Deut 33:2).

In the Old Testament,
Leviticus 27:30 says that the tithe is "holy to the Lord," in the New Testament, God says, "19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." (1 Cor 6:19-20, NIV). What does it teach us? It shows us that we only give to God, what has already been given to us. So give to God cheerfully and not grudgingly, this concept of giving, the man after God's own heart who is David understood better than anyone else to utter the following words, "But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!" (1 Chron 29:14) and also he said the following, "I will not offer ... offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing." (2 Sam 24:24, ESV). Have we today in the New Testament have the understanding of David, because this is the right New Testament concept of giving? The right attitude in heart, before the offering is done. Which is greater, the Old Testament obligation of Tithe to fulfill or the New Testament offering of our everything to God and then out of it giving cheerfully whatever we can give, and carry on building the kingdom of God by love towards God and men which fulfills all law (Rom 13:9-10; Matt 22:36-40)? New Testament is the higher level without a iota of doubt!

God instructed Moses to collect an offering from
“whoever is of a willing heart” (Exod. 35:5), and the text frequently informs us that this was the case (cf. 35:21, 22, 26, 29). Every indication of our text is that the people gladly gave their gifts so that the tabernacle could be built.

In fact, the text informs us that the gifts exceeded the need, so that Moses was requested by the workers to command the people to stop giving
(Exod. 36:2-7). My reasoning of the above giving phenomenon in the time of Moses is to bring out a great truth hidden in it. The reason behind such a generous and cheerful giving has come out of the grateful heart of the people of the nation of Israel, because they remembered how God delivered them all out of the slavery of Egypt, and above all when they thought that it was God who made them plunder the gold and silver and bronze and whatever they asked of all the Egyptians as per his instruction and help, they were moved in their heart to be grateful to the Lord through their giving back to what He has given them (Exo 12:36). So according to me the heart behind the giving shown here was above the law of tithing, that is what Paul the apostle also tries to emphasize and bring the truth of the importance of the good heart behind the giving that give value to the offering or tithe in the sight of God, than the tithe or offering itself given as a means to an end for the survival (2 Cor 9:11).

In fact, as the Christians have freely received the salvation of the Lord and deliverance from sin through the good news of the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
(Eph 1:13-14; 2:8-9; 1 Cor 15:1-4), therefore we ought to have a grateful heart towards God and have faith in his provision (Rom 8:31-32). We should all as Christians give, not with a expectation for blessing or protection or to avoid the curse or any other reason for ourselves, but the only reason for giving to God should be because we are already blessed with all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places through Jesus Christ and that all our past, present and even future sins have been forgiven forever by God, with promises from Him that He will never remember it against us unlike the Old Testament (Eph 1:3; Heb 10:17-18). The simple and acceptable prayer of offering a Christian can make is to say the following, "O dear Father in Heaven, thank you for all the goodness you have shown to me of which I am least worthy (Gen 32:10), help me live and serve you. I am offering my body including my money, home, properties, whatever I have or own to you, use whatever you want and help me continue to serve you acceptably by helping me renew my mind with your Word continually according to your will in Jesus wonderful name! (Rom 12:1-2)". So we know from the above, that God demands not what we have with us now in the New Testament times, rather all we have with us He asks us to submit it as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service for the great things Jesus has done for us. Jesus demands our heart desire and its function, will we not give our money which is only a part of the whole if we are truly living for Jesus (Luke 16:10-11, 12-13)! That is why New Testament is always higher than the Old Testament way of life, which in actuality when compared is very inferior and ready to vanish away (Heb 8:13).

The above offering of Israelites for the building of Tabernacle is thus a pattern for the offering of the NT that God uses to build the living tabernacle of men where he chooses to stay and work for the Glory of God (2 Cor 6:16-18). But people can start with the Tithe as the Minimum which they can be taught to give as a bare minimum, but even that should not become a law. In NT, grace giving of voluntary offering should be emphasized.

While in the Old Testament God commanded to his people to, ".... make a [physical] sanctuary for [Him]... so that ...[He] may dwell among them," (Exo 25:8), the New Testament concludes that OT was only a shadow and now there is no command for a physical structure to be built, but only the people of God who are considered as that tabernacle in whom God promised to dwell and move among them in our times (2 Cor 6:16-18). So this shows us a new living way which is totally different from the Old Testament which only has an outline of the New Testament truth (Heb 10:20).

While all were free to give or not to give during the time of Moses, the text strongly suggests that there were few, if any, who refused to have a part in contributing toward the construction of the tabernacle (Exo 35:23-28). This is our pattern for the NT Church. If we emphasize grace giving, no one will refuse to have a part in contributing toward the construction of the living tabernacle of God which are the people of God themselves. Therefore even if the Church takes a weekly offering, no saint should ever be maligned and pressured to give out of a obligatory sense like in the Old Testament, but "each of the [NT saints voluntarily]... is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he prospers [for the tithes or offerings to be taken in the Church gathering]." (1 Cor 16:2). In other words, "the disciples, every man according to his ability" (Acts 11:29), should give offering with a cheerful attitude that will cause God's heart to rejoice (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4). In other words, God sees the heart that offers, than the offering itself. But the prime message and prayer of the Church for the saints is, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." (3 John 1:2). When the saints come to the understanding within the Church, that it is God who has given them everything they have and prospers them, it will be easy for them to give to God what He has already given to them in their lives.

God neither loves the tithes and offerings, nor the cheerful givings, but rather he loves the person who gives cheerfully with a thankful heart during the present New Testament times. Thus those people who give are more blessed by God directly in all aspects of life and spiritually, than the receiver who receives the blessing of God through them (Acts 20:35). In other words, the hands that keeps itself open shall have no lack, because when God blesses someone and you are ready to be his vessel, what blessing flows to others actually flows through you, so you shall have no lack in anything (1 Tim 5:18-17). Thus grace giving and not law's demand should ever be used to receive support in the New Testament Church for sustaining and for the extension of the Kingdom of God.

Last but not the least, I would like to tell you, Do not listen to the “TV evangelist”, pastors in the church, or any man or a woman of God who say they are prophets and apostles telling you to sow your seed for your need? Promises, promises… but those kind of coercion are not based on the word of God, in fact, Paul the apostle writes and warns the true believers saying, “For there are many unruly, vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the law-keeping kind: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake” (Titus 1:10-11). In other words, a preacher or a teacher of the Word of God who does his job for the sake of collecting money without the right motive which comes from God is doing it against the will of God, and therefore they should never be entertained by true believers who will come to be deceived by them if they willingly let them so, and in doing so they will miss more of the blessings of God which have been already given for free from God to all of them, from the first to the last.

Much Blessings.....


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