A 4th century Bishop named St. Gregory once wrote:
"A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire."
When professing Christians approach the Scriptures to prove themselves right with any of their own preconceived ideas, (what Ezekiel 14 calls "idols of the heart"), they will see exactly what they want to see. But the Scriptures; the Truth; will be a door shut tight, hiding the true light within.
But on the other hand, when you come to the Word with an open heart seeking only to know the mind of God, willing to give up every preconceived idea, every false church doctrine, every ounce of pride, with the heartfelt attitude of "not my will, but thine be done", then the Scriptures becomes a wide open door, shining a light brighter than the sun on endless truths never seen before though they were there all the while and you had been stumbling all over them for years.
"How could I have been so blind for so long?" you'll wonder.
And so it is with the tithing issue.
A PRE-PACKAGED SET-UP:
We set up our own laws of interpreting the Scriptures, laws which are now enshrined on a pedestal marked,
“I’m the pastor; your duly authorized overseer and I am seeking to bind your conscience.”
Keep in mind, these did not come from God's revelation; he invented them! By applying these "laws" we ascertain "truths." By sprinkling in a whole lot of "human wisdom, reasoning, logical deductions and inductions, a little waving of the pointed finger and raising the voice," we transform these "truths" into "God's Laws," and then, bind them on all of the church members.
These "laws of God” have now become nothing more than man’s will that has taken precedent over God’s revelation.
As was in Jesus’ day, He too had to contend with them. Time and again He challenged the Pharisees and scribes with respect to their “extra-biblical teachings”, charging them with making "void the word of God because of your tradition" (Matt. 15:6). The religious leaders of Jesus' day guarded their teachings, their interpretations, their agendas with a fervent zeal, and defended them with a "righteous indignation."
These "teachers of the Law" were willing to do most anything to protect their man-made systems and agendas. They would resort to treachery, hypocrisy, slander and the spreading of malicious lies in the name of God's service, and finally, would put to death God's Son before they would give up their "sacred idols." As then, so now.
The truth of the matter is that much of what “the church” has defined as "being biblical and following God’s law” rests upon the fallen, fallible and frivolous wisdom of man.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death"
What is the result of this carnal pressure? God’s people are bullied; their consciences are being defiled into giving one-tenth of their income every week.
When they do, they feel they have made God happy, and therefore made the pastor happy too. And they can expect God to bless them spiritually and financially. When they fail, they feel they are being disobedient, and trouble might loom ahead.
If you have been duped into this mindset, you have fallen prey to the spirit that rules inside the walls of Christendom.
But let us take a few steps backward and ask the penetrating question: “Does the Bible teach us to give back to God a minimum of 10% of our regular recurring income? And…are we spiritually obligated to fund the pastor and his staff?”
The answer to these two questions is shocking.
ALBERT N. MARTIN'S MESSAGE: "TITHING AS AN AID TO GIVING" EXAMINED:
Passages about Abraham, Jacob; passages from the Mosaic covenant, from Amos and Malachi, and the couple of references in the NT, keep many a pastor busy; especially when church giving is at low tide.
If you have spent any time in the modern church, you have heard these passages thundered from the pulpit on numerous occasions, not only in reference to tithing, but also to “building programs”, “special missionary needs”, “giving of your offerings”, etc. Many have had it pushed down their throat so many times they have lost count.
A typical definition of tithing goes something like this: (This is from a pastor named Albert N. Martin on the series entitled “Tithing as an aid to giving”)….. “That activity by which a man gives one-tenth of his possessions to God as an act of religious devotion with the conviction that it is required by and is well pleasing to God”.
Consider some of his rhetoric that goes with it:
●“Tithing is the training wheels for godly giving”,
●“We are binding the consciences of God’s people to care for their pastors”,
●“Since early in life, I have bound my conscience to the practice of tithing as a baseline minimum. Anything less is stealing from God. That’s my conscience before God”,
●“Some of you sit here self-deceived: ‘Oh I give to the Lord. I give as I am led.’ Amazing how little you are led to give”,
●“The tithe would provide for the full-time ministers-the Levites”,
●“Some of you find it difficult to bring those two words together: duty and delight”,
●“I don’t think you're a Christian if you have difficulty in feeling comfortable with duty/delight”,
●“Make conscience of giving one-tenth of ones gross income to the Lord”,
●“There is much witness to the fact of much spiritual progress if you give to the Lord 10% or higher”,
●“Seeking to bind your conscience”,
●“A wonderful parallel between the Lord’s Day Sabbath and the tithe”,
●“When you receive a $25.00 birthday gift, $2.50 immediately comes off for the Lord. Lord, $2.50 belongs to You!”,
●“I have met those with testimonies when those who give back to God a tenth, it turned the corner in many areas of their lives”,
●“I have yet to meet a person who told me ‘I once tithed and stopped and the blessing has been indescribable’ Not one! BY their fruits you will know them” is a biblical principle”,
●“The Lord Jesus takes careful notice of the giving of His people”,
●“giving a tenth of AAAAALLLLLLL that they possessed”.
In this same message, Mr. Martin talks about the incident with Abraham and Melchizedek in Gen. 14. He reads Genesis 14: 17-20. After Abrams (Abraham) victory at war, Mr. Martin asks the question,
“…What does this tell us?...It tells us that Abraham’s bank account has shot up immediately…and his first response is to take one-tenth of his newly acquired stuff and present it back to God in the person of God’s representative..”
Mr. Martin then asks these questions: “…Have I twisted anything?...Have I put something in it that isn’t there? Do you see with your own eyes that’s what God has told us?.....I am touching your conscience and that’s a sacred responsibility…”
Thank you Mr. Martin for asking those questions. Well yes, let’s answer them!
Yes! You have twisted something!
Yes! You have put in something that isn’t there!
NO! That's NOT what God said!
First of all, in Genesis 14, Mr. Martin conveniently ends the text that he is quoting from............. at verse 20!
He leaves off verses 21 – 24 which completes the context and answers many other questions!
Abraham went to war on behalf of Sodom (SODOM, mind you), to rescue his nephew, Lot.
He then gave 10% of these spoils of war to Melchizedek, and allowed Sodom to keep 90%, while he himself kept NOTHING! We arrive at this from verses 21-24!
No wonder Mr. Martin left this out!
Is there any bible teacher that can explain to us how this one single event, which was never again repeated by Abraham, is now Scriptural proof that Christians should give 10% of their incomes (not the spoils of war, but their money, their salaries), not once, but week after week, year in and year out, not to Melchizedek, but to churches and their clergymen who claim to be ministers of Jesus Christ and His New Covenant?
There is nothing here to indicate Abraham gave a tenth of his personal possessions !!
Again, please note Abraham said, "I will take nothing that is yours." (verses 21-24, the verses Albert N. Martin never quoted). This shows he did not tithe his own possessions.
Did Abraham tithe of all that he possessed? NO !!
The first thing you find is that the “everything” mentioned did not belong to Abraham. It was the property of other people, including Abram’s nephew Lot, who was captured by the armies of the kings. Abraham gave away ten per cent of other people’s captured goods. It was a thanksgiving offering to God on behalf of the people who had been miraculously rescued.
This event is NOT a tithe by command but an offering that Abraham engaged himself in. Abraham was never taught or instructed by God to give a tenth, nor did he discover the law of tithing. This was a one time only event in his life.
Abraham is recorded giving this tithe only ONCE in his lifetime. Abraham had not tithed of his own property or income, though at this time he was very wealthy and could have done so. He did not keep going back to Melchizedek to give. The idea of tithing to get something more by Abraham is not supported. He already had the goods.
He gave them back!!!
This has nothing in common with the teaching of tithing today, or offering what you do not have, or that you should give ten per cent of your gross weekly income to anointed men or churches for God’s blessings to come to you.
If Abraham was being blessed through the tithing system, as some claim, why did he do this only once? He never repeated it again for the rest of his life, and neither did he teach this to any of his sons.
This is ignored today by many “tithes and offerings” teachers. Instead it is replaced by clever twisting and then teaching on Abraham’s tithe to make it a requirement for the church.
TITHING DOES NOT EQUAL MONEY:
Some might be shocked to know that tithing has nothing to do with money!
Money has nothing to do with ancient Israel's practice of tithing food stuff to the poor and the Levites. (See our popular article, "Should Pastor's Be Cared For?")
Tithing money was started by the Catholic Church hundreds of years after Christ's ministry.
It was not until after Constantine (fourth century A.D.) made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire that the free-will offering was replaced with various forceful means of raising money. Constantine began a huge building program, constructing churches and renovating pagan temples for use in what would become Roman Catholicism.
Prior to this time, believers did not need ornate buildings.
After all, they knew that they were the true temple of God, not some buildings constructed in the very same form as the pagan temples only with some Biblical themes added to them. They knew that all believers were priests before God. They knew about and practiced living under the New Covenant. They knew about and practiced a new way of giving.
A study of the things Constantine and his mother did to pervert Christianity would be a very worth while study.
Let’s face it. Much of the lingering root behind the sustained push for giving 10% or more of your income in the modern church is to support your minister’s salary and the many perks that go along with it (free housing, medical benefits, transportation, pension, etc.)
Tithing, or giving back to God 10% of your income every week is a false teaching used by the church, independent cults, and charlatans of every description, as a club to beat and threaten church members into surrendering ten percent of their salaries in obedience to some phantom law.
Many churches even require this for church membership.
Let me repeat: fraudulently fleecing the flock by exacting ten percent of the church members’ paycheck under fear of breaking some Old Testament law of tithing or a New Testament precept of giving back to God 10% or more of your gross income, is a despicable false teaching.
Many professing Christian churches today can be liken to unbiblical slave camps that exist to serve the agendas of men; one of them being “binding the consciences” of their members with their OWN RULES stating that they are expected to give of their monies regularly to the church.
These "churches" can be likened to a modern day Egypt and the alleged “men of God" in the pulpits can be likened to Pharaohs.
Cheerfully giving from the heart.......(not out of grief, or out of necessity, or out of having your conscience being defiled by the false teaching of men)......is a genuine biblical quality of tremendous value.
It is with great desire that all who have been chafing under the unscriptural burden of “tithing” or “giving back to God 10% of your possessions” will feel free at last to follow their heart in giving to whomever they desire as God prospers them. John 8:32 tells us that Truth is Freedom.
"And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you FREE."
Do you blame Martin Luther when he said:
"Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God." ?
But just like they were in the church of Luther's day, there are many in the church today who accept the words of their pastor's and teacher's as the gospel itself!
We are in desperate need of reformation within the Church today, just as desperate as in Luther's day, perhaps even more so!
Yes, we need reformation in the church today! We need to seek truth only from the Word of God; always studying, always thinking, always questioning, always searching and always discussing what God's Word is telling us. Are there any Bereans left today?
Today if one challenges the viewpoints of their church, or the pastor, they are asked to leave the congregation to keep the unity. (Many times, the pastor deliberately destroys some marriages too!)
This allows for no honest discussion or study. If one strays from the positions that have been determined to be correct, he is cast out, receiving the right foot of fellowship ... and the prevailing system remains intact and unchallenged.
This is true of individual churches, seminaries, Christian colleges, Christian associations ... where thinking and Bible interpretation has already been done, and members are simply handed a package of beliefs and where there is no way to present individual viewpoints and bring correction when error is present. Instead, church members cling to their "package" as unquestionable truth!
This is not Biblical Christianity. This is not Christianity.
This is not the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Does anyone really imagine that God sees these types of "churches" as His representative on earth?
The evils so clearly and forcefully exhibited in unbiblical authoritarianism and spiritual abuse are the direct result of issues such as this. It is nothing but a man-made, man-centered, church structure.
Many in "church leadership" positions today, as well as many members sitting in the pew, need to wake up and take a good look around and see what is happening. Something is terribly wrong!
It is time to stop supporting wolves in sheep's clothing and be about your Father’s business. This will restore the joy of your salvation.