Why can’t people understand scripture? Do I have to tithe?

Posted on September 15, 2012

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Had a discussion with a friend earlier this week about, ‘speaking in tongues.’ I, of course, do not believe that one ought to. Because the bible, I believe, is very clear about it. My friend asked, rhetorically I suppose, why can’t people see the clear teaching in scripture regarding tongues. I replied, that the same reason that Catholics, Lutherans, and such denominations, will heatedly argue for infant baptism out of the book of Acts.

There are likely several reasons for this. One, people are lost. Thus having blinded eyes by the God of this world. Two. People are saved, and do not care, because they are not spiritually discerned. Now I know that those two options are not ‘politically correct’ that most do not appreciate the insinuation given by those two options…but, oh well.

That leads me to my actual issue of this post that I would like to briefly address. Tithing. I read a discussion on Facebook about this subject. Without going back and looking I believe that everyone partaking said that tithing was basically an option for the New Testament Church. I made one comment clarifying for myself to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. My comment was approximately thus, “So, if God just ‘leads’ me to give five dollars a week, that’s fine?” The answer? Yes! Well the correct answer is no. You can’t pick and choose how much you want your giving to be.

I began to search on the internet for the biblical arguments for New Testament tithing. I could not find one. Not one. Now, it is likely that there are websites that are correct in this matter, I just couldn’t find any. It leads me to believe that it is a DISAPPEARING DOCTRINE. Why? Because it’s not fun nor cool to tithe. The same reason people forsake any number of other biblical teachings.

Well, I know someone who believes in a God-given obligation to tithe. (There is a novel idea. That we have God-given obligations, that are not given to do only if we feel like it). That would be Pastor Robert Sargent. Pastor of Bible Baptist Church, Oak Arbor, Washington. I was trained under my dad, but the material we used was almost exclusively from this church. I owe much to the time and effort the pastors of this church for their training material they have compiled.

So what about this DOCTRINE OF TITHING. Yes, that’s right, I called it a doctrine. If the bible teaches it its doctrine. Doctrine (from Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. To some the doctrine of tithing goes something like this.

Tithing: whatever God leads you to give on any given week.

Uhh, ok. I can see the appeal I suppose. But I can’t see the scripture. Which is slightly more important in my estimation. The biblical definition of tithing?

Tithing: giving a tenth of your increase on a weekly basis

Now, I know that is not just loads of fun necessarily. But last time I checked life wasn’t about fun. It was about right.

(!!!Rabbit trail alert!!! I saw someone was looking for people to do guests post on their blog for a while. The word limit was 500. What can you say in 500 words? I haven’t even arrived at my actual blog post yet and I am at almost 600 words.)

Here, in a succinct way is the Biblical argument for tithing.

1. Abraham Commenced It

Genesis 14:18 –  And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

The question could easily be asked, “How did Abraham know to tithe?” Did it possibly come from Able? Genesis 4:4

2. Jacob Continued It

Genesis 28:20 –  And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

As an interesting aside. See that principle of God’s blessing upon the tither.

3. Moses Confirmed It

Leviticus 27:30 – 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: [it is] holy unto the LORD.

The law did not institute tithing it simply codified it for the nation of Israel.

4. Malachi Commanded It

Malachi 3:10 – Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].

Tithing manifested in the first book, and the last book of the Old Testament.

5. Jesus Commended It

Matthew 23:23 – Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Jesus was not under the law. And yet he still said that tithing ought to be done.

6. God Commissioned It

I Corinthians 9:13,14 – Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

In this passage we see that the Bible teaches that it is proper for New Testament preachers to be paid by those who benefit spiritually from their ministry (vs 7-11) a continuation of the practice of the Levites to live from the offerings and tithes in the Old Testament.

7. Paul Conformed It

I Corinthians 16:2 – Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

No, the word tithing is not used in this verse. The unqualified mention of the word ‘store’ is perhaps indicative of what the apostle was referring to. (Malachi 3:10)

There, that is it in a nutshell.

Here is the basic argument against the requirement of tithing.

We are not under the law but under grace.

That is a true statement. The question then becomes a) is tithing a requirement of the Law? b) Is tithing, as directed and exemplified in the Old Testament, excluded from the practice of Grace? c) When did the ‘law’ end and when did Grace start dispensation wise?

To answer the first question yes, tithing was a requirement of the old testament. But that  is far to limiting of a question. The better question would be. Was tithing ONLY a requirement of the law? Now the answer is no. Points #1 and #2 of my brief outline above show that tithing was practiced BEFORE the law. Let me explain it another way. “Christ abolished the law” True statement…right? Ephesians 2:15 – Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; Yes, that is right. Allow me to draw a distinction. Christ abolished the ceremonial law that was required of the Jews to be right with God. HE DID NOT ABOLISH THE ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT. The principle and practice of tithing was around long before the ‘Law’ (that Christ abolished) was given. It predates the law. Thus, the reasoning that Christ death on the cross absolved us from a responsibility to tithe is truly intellectually dishonest.

Second question. Is tithing, as directed and exemplified in the Old Testament, excluded from the practice of Grace? Let me ask you a question. Where do we find the standard EVER being lowered in the transition from law to grace? Nowhere. Go read Matthew five. Over and over again what we find is Jesus saying something along these lines.

Matthew 5:27,28 – Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

The standard, in what is expected of us, is always raised under grace…never lowered. This is where their whole argument that, “we give from the heart, not a set number” What you are saying is that, “God led me to do less that what he had always expected his people to do in the past.” Interesting, but biblically unsound reasoning. The lean heavy on verses such as these.

II Corinthians 9:7 – Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

It goes like this. “If I cant give ten percent with a ‘cheerful’ attitude, then I shouldn’t give it” Here is a novel idea. Get your heart right. But what about ‘as he purposeth in his heart’? What about it. Let us consider some of the laws of Biblical interpretation.

The Law of First Mention

The Law of First Mention may be said to be the principle that requires one to go to that portion of the Scriptures where a doctrine is mentioned for the first time and to study the first occurrence of the same in order to get the fundamental inherent meaning of that doctrine.

What does this mean? It means the first time a subject/doctrine is mentioned in the Bible is key to understanding its subsequent meaning. I would refresh your mind as to the fact that not only the first time, but also the second time tithing is mentioned in the bible (BOTH OF WHICH WERE ‘PRE-LAW’) the percentage of ‘a tenth’ was giving. Just because it doesn’t give the specific amount EVERY LAST TIME TITHING IS MENTIONED doesn’t mean there isn’t a set amount.

The Law of Progressive Mention

The Progressive Mention Principle: “God makes the revelation of any given truth increasingly clear as the word proceeds to its consummation.”

Let us apply this to the Doctrine of Tithing. In the Old Testament we are simply given the practice and principle of the precept. In the New Testament, the world is opened up a little bit further. The foundations as to the what and why have been laid forth. That is the Law. Now grace. Under grace we add to the ‘what and why’ of the Old Testament Law, and add the ‘how’ of New Testament Grace. That is….

II Corinthians 9:7 – Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

So, to briefly answer question (b)…the answer is no. Tithing is not executed from the Spirit of Grace.

Let us briefly address the issue of when did the Law actually end, and when did grace start. It is important because it has bearing on Christ’s teachings on this matter. Was Christ living under the law? Or had grace already started. Because as seen in #5 Jesus said that “these ought ye to have done.” He was telling us that tithing was something that ought to be done. When did the Law end, and when did Grace begin.

Mt 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

Christ’s entire ministry took place after the dispensation of living under the law was over. So even under the period of Grace, Christ still said tithing was something you ought to have done. Let me give an example. If I leave my house, and I tell you to mow my yard UNTIL I get back, and you start mowing my yard. I then return in 5 minutes. Are you going to continue to mow? I would think not. Because I told you to stop when I got home. So when the Bible says the law and prophets were until John. How come the same principle wouldn’t apply. When John got here the Law and Prophets were over. Thus, when Jesus said to give your tithe…he was speaking from under grace.

Not tithing is a sign of covetousness….not hyper spirituality.

Don’t agree? Tell me why.

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