Does Hebrews promote tithing?

FaceLift says (at least until S&P deletes it):

In regard to some people’s understanding of the tithe: I will say, from previous discussions, that we [i.e. heretic & facelift ] have a fundamental difference of opinion regarding the role of Melchizadek and Abraham, and the types portrayed at their meeting at Salem, which is also evidenced by the writer to the Hebrews. If it were not evidenced by the writer to the Hebrews then there would not be any real connotations for the New Testament, or for believers. As I say, I won’t go over this with you again unless you are prepared to allow the discussion to be ridicule and accusation free.

I’m happy to give my views, but I don’t think it would serve any purpose here. However, in view of some of the understanding by other ministers of these passages, ie that there is some merit in considering Abram’s tithe an act of faith, calling people who teach ‘tithing by faith’ (for want of better terminology) fraudulent is not helpful, and more likely to stifle debate or discussion than encourage it, so, in the end, it goes nowhere and we have a stale-mate.

After previous discussions between heretic, FaceLift and others this passage is the last hope for those who believe that tithing can be taught to believers. All others were weighed in the balance and found wanting. Stuart Murray has a pretty good look at them in Beyond Tithing http://www.christianbits.co.uk/product.php?id=1842270001.

FaceLift’s overview of the argument is recorded above. The overview is too brief to launch into a discussion so I will allow him to attempt to show from scripture how the writer of Hebrews promotes tithing by reference to Abraham and Melchizedek.

It is usually possible for one to start with a cherished belief and read selected scriptures in such a way as to give one’s self confidence that this belief is supported from scripture. But this is not FaceLift’s task. FaceLift’s mission on this post (should he chose to accept it) is to show that scripture supports tithing by Christians, because if it does not this means that when “churches” teach tithing they are adding to scripture to obtain money from Christians. Specifically his task is to show that Hebrews supports tithing by Christians since we have already determined that no other scriptures do.

My belief is that tithing is preached due to the need for “churches” to meet cash-flow needs rather that because the scriptures teach it. My expectation is that scripture cannot be read in such a way as to promote tithing to believers but if it can I will retract my statement that preaching tithing obtains money by deception and is therefore fraud.

Over to FL.

Heretic.


252 thoughts on “Does Hebrews promote tithing?

  1. Firstly, I have, as I stated, extreme reservations about the sense of going down this path, heretic. That is, on this site, where the majority have a fixed view, and where anything I say is taken as having an ulterior motive anyway.

    It’s rather like a lone footy supporter walking into a Collingwood pub wearing a Bomber’s scarf. It ain’t gonna work out well.

    Secondly, you have already set up the criteria, based on your set of rules, having already missed what I said in the post above, let alone what I’ve said in the past. You have set it up as if there is only one area to cover, that of Hebrews, which, if you’d care to read what I said briefly above, is not the case.

    Thirdly, we still haven’t cleared up the use of the concept of Biblical principles, which you have made it clear don’t believe in, whereas I do!

  2. Boys and girls.

    Why bother trying to argue fixed positions?

    The Anti-Tithers won the big debate a couple of years ago, but we didn’t change FL’s mind on this issue.

    The bottom line here is that if Hebrews tells us to tithe, then it implies that we give 10% to The Church and 90% to Sodom. (Satan in other words.)

    Congratulations.

    If people want to give a set proportion of their income every month that’s fine. Just don’t tell me about it. It could be 5, 10, 20, or 95% if you like. I don’t care.

    All that matters is that people have the joy of giving it. God doesn’t have to give you anything back either. If you get something … that is a mercy.

    But really. Let’s put this one to bed now. Please?

    Shalom

  3. FL has on this site always been like a lone Bombers supporter walking into a Collingwood pub. It never stopped him before, in fact he seemed to relish walking up to the bar and saying “How about that game on the weekend, eh?”

    And he has never before felt constrained by the terms of reference or scope mentioned in the initial post. But now he does… very interesting.

    The Hebrews/Melchizidek argument was preached to me from in my small AOG church many years ago. Even then, although I thought it was probably sound teaching, I was struck by how different it was to normal preaching from the Bible. It used typology, something normally used in more liberal theology. It even went further than saying Mel was a type of Christ, the preacher even speculated that Mel could have actually been Christ!! No real support from scripture given, the thought was just left hanging there.

    Evangelicals and Pentecostals generally pride themselves on using the plain literal meaning of the text. In this case though, the preacher went right out to the land of speculation. I dont think this was an isolated case, he seemed to have all the whole thing worked out by a standard theology.

    The only reason I can see for the abrupt change in approach is that it involves the collection of money.

  4. Thank God not every word in the Bible is taken as absolute literal meaning. I think warnings are there to guide us into a better path. Love is the key…Loving Christ’s ways makes you want to please Him. Your children want to please you because they hate disappointing you, they love you. And because you loved them first.

  5. I can’t agree more wazza. But then I agree with FaceLift too in that it is constraining to limit yourself to what scripture actually says.

    Far easier to find a school of thought you agree with and then read scripture from the perspective that your school of thought is truth and scripture just has to align enough to validate it for you.

    And as you say when it comes to money and self-interest perspectives change quite a bit. The world understands this phenomenon and calls it moral hazard. The world accounts for this tendency for individuals to view the world through the lens of self-interest (e.g. regulations about disclosures of interest) and both old and new testaments talk about it.

    But in the church we don’t seem to admit that moral hazard affects us. I have heard and read the people who perpetuate tithing imply that those who require biblical sanction for such doctrines before believing them are lovers of money. I have also heard promoters of tithing deny the possibility of moral hazard in themselves simply because they are pastors.

    There is a sense of fighting against reality (“kicking against the goads”) in all this. They need it to be true so it must be true so the scripture supports it – by whatever means necessary.

    ————————————————————
    I can’t agree more mj. You have it sussed.

  6. “But in the church we don’t seem to admit that moral hazard affects us. ”

    This is a major issue.

  7. If there was more open discussion about the Bible then it would be different. You can’t take one man’s view of the Bible as true. I trusted man before but i will be careful from now on. 1John:2,27 literally says “But the annointing you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you.” today im going to take that “literally” :o)

  8. 1John:2,27 literally says “But the annointing you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you.”

    People hate this verse. I copped some flag for touting it some time ago 🙂

  9. Yes. but what is the import of this verse?

    I don’t read it as an ” you can get stuffed” verse, and ” I’ll do what I like cause the Spirit says its OK for me to do that”.

  10. So I need no one to teach me on the tithe. If I think the tithe is good then I continue to tithe because I read it in the OT and therefore I need to tithe because it tells us the tithe is Holy unto the Lord! Added to this, if I meet with a group of people who similarly hear of that verse I can also encourage them to tithe, ad I need no man to teach me if it is right of wrong?

  11. FL

    If you want people to take you seriously stop stuffing about! That is a disingenuous argument AND you know it.

    The OT also says an eye for an eye!

  12. I was being tongue in cheek! The implication that we don’t need sound Biblical teaching by well-versed teachers was apparent, but, OK, sorry, mn, I won’t go there! 🙂

    Perhaps a tithing discussion should begin, for once, with the things we agree on.

    It’s clear that we are under no legal obligation to tithe. I am beginning to wonder what to do about ministries which continue to teach as though it were either a compulsory obligation, or the only means of God’s blessing. That is possibly misleading, although I wouldn’t go as far as to call it fraudulent in every case. I think people read the Bible in different ways. That doesn’t condone error, but it certainly means we who are strong need to be careful about those who have a weakness in understanding what we have learned.

    Paul says he is all things to all men so he can win them around to truth.

    I may come to the Melchisadek passages, but I would like to know what people make of the following:

    God Himself said two clear things. One, in Leviticus, he tells us that ‘the tithe is holy unto the LORD’. Then, in Malachi, actually, “I am the LORD I change not”, after which He proceeds to discuss Israel’s neglect of the tithe.

    Is the tithe still holy unto the LORD, and, if not, when did it cease to be holy and why?

  13. Context is everything FL.

    God was speaking to Israel under the mosaic covenant.

    There were 5 covenants mentioned specifically in the Old Testament.

    1. The Noaic Covenant. God promised Noah that He will not destroy the Human Race with water. He also promises to provide enough food for all people to be fed. It’s not God’s fault that we in the west are greedy and have problems with our weight when one third of the world goes to bed hungry and another third goes to bed starving.

    2. The Abrahamic Covenant. God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants. The one thing he had to do was to circumcise the baby boys on the eighth day.

    3. The Mosaic Covenant. The Law of Moses. God promised to Curse and Bless His people according to their commitment to the Law. The tithe is a part of a whole Law. The Law is like a string of pearls. You break one law and you have broken the lot. The tithe was part and parcel of welfare payments to the Levites. They were to look after the temple etc. They were not allowed to own land, or earn money for themselves. (so the analogy with the church totally breaks down … how many leaders actually have secular jobs, or earn their own money through book deals/worship CD’s and the like?)

    4. The Davidic Covenant. God promised David that a Messianic descendant would reign in Jerusalem.

    5. The New Covenant. Jeremiah foretold that one day, there would be a New Covenant that would do away with the Mosaic Covenant. He specifically mentions that the generational curse will be done away with as an example of how the New Covenant will replace the Mosaic Covenant.

    Leviticus is the outworking of the Mosaic Covenant. What Jesus picks up in His ministry comes through into the New Covenant, only stricter. e.g. Don’t even think about Adultery!
    What doesn’t get picked up, doesn’t come through.

    Sabbath observance is gone. Jesus, in the Sermon on the mount, only picks up 9 of the ten commandments.

    “It is written (or said) … but I say unto you …” He is saying, “this is what I meant by that law when I wrote it”.

    Paul’s letter to the Galatians is the killer blow to any who wish to bring back the Mosaic Law … which includes the legalistic application of Tithing (which is not what FL is supporting … he merely is teaching that you can be blessed through a voluntary tithe … may sound the same but it is quite a different issue … my response to that is to quote Paul “who has given to God that God should repay him?”) or the Kosher Food laws (check out Joel Osteen on YouTube … he’s the ‘Pastor’ of America’s largest Mega-Church with 43,500 weekend attendance (circa 2008) … success breeds ignorance it seems.)

    This has turned into a very long post.

    I hope it is helpful.

    Shalom

  14. Nice work, Bull. I’ll comment later. I’d like to look at covenants, because that is certainly a key.

  15. FL; “I was being tongue in cheek! The implication that we don’t need sound Biblical teaching by well-versed teachers was apparent, but, OK, sorry, mn, I won’t go there! :)”

    FL if you don’t act like a martyr and simply play the ball perhaps you won’t get treated like one. These comments do you no favours.

    FL: “It’s clear that we are under no legal obligation to tithe. I am beginning to wonder what to do about ministries which continue to teach as though it were either a compulsory obligation, or the only means of God’s blessing…..”

    On the other hand comments like these indicate a mind that is actually thinking about the issue at hand.

    Great summary Bull.

    I’ve just read through Heb 5-7 and also Gen 14 about Melchizedek.

    Clearly he was an impressive and special dude.

    I can see why the Hebrews passages are used to justify tithing, but it clearly goes way beyond that.

    The real point of it seems to be to make an absolute distinction in comparison to the Levitical priesthood – in other words Jesus is not like or in the order of the Levitical priesthood, but rather in the order of Melchizedek whose priesthood in type was much greater than the Levites and based on righteousness, power and an indestructible life.

    I’m not sure it is possible to go the next step and say M was Jesus.

    Jesus priesthood was like or resembling that of M’s.

    Abram’s giving of the 10th seems to be a heartflet recognition, homage, and humbling of and towards the greatness of M as high priest.

    It seems to me that people are at liberty using that example to give a 10th if they want, but also based on other scripture nothing, more or less than they want.

    The key bit we are left with I think is the acknowledgement of the high priest and that humbling – again I am drawn to the widow and her two mites – who gave more than those who gave of their wealth.

    The key issue then in my mind is what was she really giving? Two small copper coins or something a whole lot more?

    To bang on about money in church Sunday/service in and out I think in effect is to cheapen that acknowledgement and giving of one’s heart.

    I agree with FL that people read scripture in different ways, but if the door is permanently shut on any re-examination of issues no matter where we are at today is to lock God out.

    If churches have made their success about money and all the trappings then they inevitably will have locked God out, as do we all on different matters through out our lives.

  16. Abraham literally tithed only once to Melchizedek in this manner, out of the spoils of war; of course if we took this literally we’d do the same – if we had an spoils, we’d give 10% to ‘Melchizedek’ and give 90% back. So clearly, whatever is being said to us in this passage isn’t to be taken as a strictly literal example that we must copy. We are looking beyond that. It is a foreshadow of what is described in Hebrews – but in what sense?

    Apologies for the length of the quote that follows. I think it raises some pertinent issues re the application in the NT. Particularly, that the principle of ‘fixed percentage’ in the OT as per Abraham to Melchizadek, is replaced in the NT by ‘freely proportionate’; also that ’10’ is a symbol of completeness – so shadow of the fullness in the NT of giving everything.

    Here it is:

    Some have noted that the Land was promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:1; 17:8) before the Mosaic covenant was established, and hence, Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek establishes a permanent pattern. I think the pre-Mosaic emphasis is somewhat overblown; as one pastor remarked, “The argument that it was a ‘pre-mosaic’ institution is curious — circumcision is also a pre-mosaic institution, but not too many are insisting on that today!” Of course, I would agree that Abraham’s tithe has theological significance and an aetiological purpose. However, I don’t believe one can simply (simplistically?) take this verse out of its historico-cultural context to impose a mandatory statute on Christians to tithe.

    First of all, tithing was a custom commonly practiced in the ANE. Secondly, the number ten is often symbolic of completeness. Hence, the tithe (“one-tenth”) attests that all belongs to God, the Creator and “possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:22). Abram’s tithe reflects his recognition of the Kingship of God. Thirdly, under the Mosaic covenant, the tithe becomes legislated as part of the Law in relation to the priesthood, and hence, the Israelites were obligated to tithe. However, it was never meant to be a just a duty, but a delight (Deut. 14:26), and an expression of reverence: “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always” (Deut. 14:23). I need not belabour this, as I’ve already dealt with Gen. 14:18-20 elsewhere (1).

    Certainly then, the theological meaning of the tithe carries over into the NT teaching on giving. Here, however, the symbols give way to the substance, as we look to the Cross and see what an unspeakable gift God so graciously gave to us. It is no wonder then that the principle of fixed percentage is transformed into freely proportionate. In their helpful paper on stewardship, Ron Walborn and Frank Chan observe that, “On the subject of giving, the New Testament appears to de-emphasize the notion of percentage or amount. Nowhere does any New Testament writer call for a ten percent tithe. If in fact, the heart is the key issue, and if we are merely stewards of what is ultimately owned by God, then the driving question we must put to ourselves is not, How much do I give? but How much dare I keep?”. Similarly, Charlie Dennison, in preaching against tithing as a binding obligation for Christians, asserts (2)
    that we who belong to Jesus Christ dare not place a percentage on our demonstration of devotion to him … Thank God Christ’s offering of himself was not an offering of a mere “tithe”. The Cross of Christ means that we cannot hide behind a tenth … the obligation laid upon us is that of Christ, who gave his all.

    It is best therefore, to view Abraham’s tithe in a pedagogical rather than a prescriptive sense.

    http://www.bereanbunch.com/tithing-ps.html

    So in no way is the act of giving diminished by rejecting tithing doctrine. Tithing doctrine is probably less challenging than true NT giving. However, it also potentially harms the poor, when those who can’t afford it give out of guilt, fear or as an attempt to solve their financial woes. What we really need, is for all to understand true NT giving, and for our hearts to be transformed so that we do it, without the need for manipulation.

  17. So, when we give in a truely free proportionate manner, as per the NT, recognising that we are stewards of all God has put in our hands, then we are in fact ‘tithing by faith’ because we are enacting the substance of what Abraham forshadowed.

    Now if ‘tithing by faith’ is taught in this manner, then it is quite different from teaching ‘10% guideline’. It may result some people giving more, some less; the amounts changing at different times; but essentially the actual percentage being irrelevant, since it misleads us into quantifying a heart attitude; it is the heart attitude which provides the impetus for the substance of what we do, which transforms what we do into the fullness of what Abraham forshadowed.

  18. ie: the outworking of the heart attitude provides the substance for the fullness of our NT ‘tithe by faith’, and this is something that we cannot attempt to quantify. Only God can see it. Jesus saw it when he saw that widow.

  19. Really, I have just re-expressed what MN said about the heart immediately prior, from another angle.

  20. I hope this is not a sidetrack, and ignore it if you think its unhelpful. Anyway – since the spoils of war were not just money, but goods of value (including hostages!), to limit the interpretation of ‘tithe’ to merely money is just modern convenience. Perhaps then, when we look at the fullness of this in the NT, our ‘Abrahamic tithe’ might include all those occasions when we freely give items that are not just restricted to money. So when we are generous with any of our goods or possessions due to our transformed heart attitude, we are also participating in the fullness of this kind of ‘tithing by faith’.

  21. Therefore any attempt to define measurable parameters for an acceptable amount giving or kind of giving, limits our giving, and can prevent us from fulfilling what Abraham foreshadowed.

    I’d really better stop now.

  22. “The argument that it was a ‘pre-mosaic’ institution is curious — circumcision is also a pre-mosaic institution, but not too many are insisting on that today!” I’m not that good at working these things out, but isn’t that a strawman argument? And why would the end of one practice eliminate another?

    But, if we are to accept it as a valid argument, doesn’t God up the ante and say that the circumcision remains under the New Covenant, and is essential to our relationship with God, but as the circumcision of the heart?

    Which ties in nicely with what I understand mn and RP are saying about giving, in any measure, being of the heart, freely willing, cheerful, and not by compulsion.

    Then faith, being of the heart, is important to any agreed transaction we have with God.

  23. FL: Then faith, being of the heart, is important to any agreed transaction we have with God.

    What do you mean by “agreed transactions we have with God”?

    I don’t think we are supposed to “agree transacton[s]” with our Father. He has given us all things and works all things to our our good. What is there to negotiate/agree?

    We have a love relationship with him. We do things because we love him and he does things because he loves us. We don’t do deals like a business relationship surely? Surely giving is not about a transaction.

  24. If that is the case then Greg, why the emphasis in comparison by the writer of the Hebrews of Jesus to Melichizedek?

    I’m not siding either way with your comments above.

  25. Perhaps I should have said ‘purposed’ giving. According as we purpose in our heart. I take that to mean that we interact with God in our giving. The passage in 2 Corinthians certainly indicates this.

    ‘So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.’
    _______________________

    Greg, scripture identifies The Order of Melchizadek as far more than a person who was serving another God.

    You can’t just read one passage on Melchizadek and make an assessment like that. You have to read all the passages which refer to him, then it becomes obvious that Melchizadek was of a far higher Order than Levi, and was indeed a priest of the Most High.

    As I said, the Hebrews passage qualifies this. So does Psalms 110.

    Otherwise, Jesus has just become a High Priest after the Order of Melchizadek, who, you claim, is a priest of Baal? I think not!

  26. Heretic beat me to it.

    FL – up front I am being too picky here but I think sometimes the language is part of the problem.

    “Transaction” jars with me a little, and for those for who struggle with the whole tithing thing I would see it sounding alarm bells.

    Having said that in my church the expression ‘doing business with God’ or transacting business with God’ are euphemisms that are used from time to time.

    Some definitions.

    “A transaction is an agreement, communication, or movement carried out between separate entities or objects, often involving the exchange of items of value, such as information, goods, services, and money.”

    “1 a : something transacted; especially : an exchange or transfer of goods, services, or funds b plural : the often published record of the meeting of a society or association
    2 a : an act, process, or instance of transacting b : a communicative action or activity involving two parties or things that reciprocally affect or influence each other”

    I can go along with the 2b version, although the idea of influencing God is interesting. Subject of another thread – I mean isn’t that an aspect of prayer even though all things have been set out in advance.

  27. Its a “heart” condition how we give. The NT Jesus says, “I was hungry and you feed me, clothed me” I believe He means people in our path that we know are struggling. ie: Sending an anon money gift to a sole parent or widow in need. Anyways got things to do….i can’t believe we debate money so much but i guess that’s life

  28. Heretic – are you knit picking like a school teacher???

    Try and have any life or relationship or work etc with transactions. God created it that way, even if some of those transactions are one way!

  29. Covenant is an exchange. It is an exchange of lives, goods, possessions, relationship. In this light it is a trans-action.

    The Genesis 14 account is all about covenant.

    Abram in covenant with Lot, and God in covenant with Abram, so the mutual support given in rescuing Lot when he was captured. Being in covenant Abram plainly had no choice but to stand with his nephew. God stood with both.

    Then the interaction between the King of Salem and Abram in acknowledging God’s part in the covenant, which brought about Lot’s rescue. The bread. The wine. The offering. The acknowledgement of God as the Possessor of Heaven and Earth. The worship.

    Melchizadek ratified as a priest of God in Ps. 110. Confirmed in Hebrews 5, 6 & 7, which speaks of a better covenant made on better promises – the promises God made to Abraham.

    There is much in the Genesis 14 passage to indicate a transaction of sort, but, as I already indicated, ‘purposed’ giving was probably a better term.

  30. Agreed FL. There is a difference between “bargaining” with God and “transacting” with Him. Our surrender to Him is also a transaction.

  31. The Order of Melchizadek is an Eternal Priesthood, ratified in heaven.

    Hebrews 7:3b ‘…remains a priest continually’.

    ‘Condiser how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils’

    He was both King of Righteousness and King of Peace. God called the Order eternal in Ps 110.

  32. The bread and the wine are tokens of exchange. The tithe could also be seen this way, in light of what Abram did, come to think of it.

  33. There is a series that some may find interesting, that was taught by David Pawson. You can find it by entering his name and covenants on You tube. It is 15 parts (hour and half in total), but talks about covenants, exchange and the irrelevance of tithing to Christians as it comes under Mosaic Law.

  34. Greg,
    There’s no doubt whatsoever that Jesus is our High priest. He is the Mediator between man and God.

    Hebrews 4:14-16
    Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

    This particular area of scripture makes perfect sense and ties together. There is an eternal priesthood, and it is in Christ.

    The priest received offerings. He mediated between man and God. He gave the bread and wine. Bread representing Christ’s body, and wine his blood, the eternal sacrifice given for us, pointing to his eternal covenant.

    Beautiful! And powerful!

  35. David Pawson has an excellent book called ‘Unlocking the Bible Omnibus’, which I presented to our leadership team last Christmas. It’s worth having in your library.

  36. Heb 9: “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”

    I think there can be little doubt that in the mind of the writer to Hebrews that Jesus was THE high priest.

    I presume this would have resonated with the Jewish readers far more than the Gentiles.

  37. In answer to your first question I would understand it as Jesus is acting as High Priest and mediator on our behalf to and for the Heavenly Father.

    Re your 2nd question I agree with you re the connection the author wanted to make, but that in no way invalidates the High Priesthood of Christ.

    It just means He was and is the best one.

    I’m not full bottle on priesthood, but a key role is to intercede on behalf of the people, which seems to be a common and well entrenched theme throughout the Bible, e.g Rom 8:

    “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

    Note the present tense.

  38. Agreed FL. There is a difference between “bargaining” with God and “transacting” with Him. Our surrender to Him is also a transaction.

    I have to disagree sorry. A transaction usually implies an exchange. Two parties negotiate/agree and each provides something to exchange or the transaction does not occur.

    Salvation is not a transaction it is a free gift. I don’t think we are saved as a result of offering our lives. We receive a free gift and our reasonable response is to offer our lives in return. There is nothing we have to do to obtain the gift other than receive it.

    And what is salvation anyway? It is eternal life. And eternal life is “knowing him” according to the Gospel of John. It is a relationship rather than a transaction.

    One definition of “transaction” is “transfer” so technically a free gift could be called a transaction I suppose. But in the normal use of the term we don’t do deals with Father – I mean really, what do we have to bargain with? Our lives? They are His already.

  39. Just going back a bit:

    “But, if we are to accept it as a valid argument, doesn’t God up the ante and say that the circumcision remains under the New Covenant, and is essential to our relationship with God, but as the circumcision of the heart?” – FL

    Precisely. So circumcision was a foreshadow of the better thing to come; so tithing whether by Abram or under Mosaic Law, is a shadow of the better thing to come, which does not need to be legislated since it is in our hearts. We don’t need to nominate a guideline of a particular percentage, as even that harkens back to the imperfect, which has now been perfected in Christ. (A guideline may assist a child, but as we grow, we should cease to need such things. By perpetuating these things, we perpetuate immaturity.)

  40. Jesus is the Word become flesh. The Word is God, and the Word is Man. He is both Son of God and Son of Man.

    1 Tim. 2:5
    For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus’.

    As mn says, he is also interceding for us.

    He introduced to the Church the breaking of bread and taking of wine, which is a priestly vocation, and is to be continued until he comes.

    On Levi being in his loins, the idea of the seed was paramount to God’s purposes. It was, and still is, more important to Orientals than it is to the secularised West. It is far more than a figure of speech. The seedline to Christ had to come through Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and Lvi was chosen out of Israel to represent the firstborn, and therefore the priesthood under the law.

  41. FL: “The bread and the wine are tokens of exchange.”

    Luke 22:19: “This is My body which is given for you”

    The bread and the wine are tokens of a gift.

  42. Clarification: When I started using the term ‘guideline’, I did so because when churches want to introduce tithing without teaching ‘tithing by law’, sometimes they encourage the use of 10% as a ‘guideline found in the OT’ which we should aim to equal or better. What I am trying to say above, is that even using it as a guideline can mess with people’s approach to giving, steering them away from understanding the NT approach; subjecting them to guilt if they can’t cheerfully give at least 10%, or encouraging them to feel they’ve fulfilled their quota by reaching 10% or some amount over. Neither of these approaches are what we are meant to experience in our giving, and neither is a fulfillment of what Abram foreshadowed.

  43. That was my point, really, RP. Circumcision isn’t negated, it’s updated. The tithe was a legal requirement, but it meant more to God than just a means of giving a freewill offering. The OT talks of tithes AND offerings.

    The tithe was linked to the giving of first and the best. The first of the grains. The first fruits. The first born. The first of our substance. He gave the first and the best – His own Son – for our complete redemption.

    Then it follows that giving of the first and best of us is a reasonable act of worship. Not by compulsion, but as a heartfelt gift.

    I’m just telling you how some people feel about this.

  44. FL: “On Levi being in his loins, the idea of the seed was paramount to God’s purposes.”

    Absolutely. Important chunks of Paul’s teachings don’t make sense without this understanding Greg.

    For example 1 Corinthians 15:22: For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

  45. Everyone must be on holidays, this is such an active thread.

    I still want to hear from FL how Abram tithing to Melchizadek allows him to teach ‘tithing by faith’, and what exactly that is – including whether a percentage is suggested as an example to follow, and if so, why. Is FL’s teaching on tithing a matter of encouraging 10% to be cheerfully aimed for, with himself as the leading example, or is it something else? (Just going back to the topic in the original post.)

    Though I also think the ‘transaction’ issue is worthy of its own thread.

  46. FL, I hadn’t read your most recent comment when I wrote just above; but if you could elaborate, that would be great.

  47. Perhaps we need a discussion on ‘first fruits’ and whether that is how we should look at giving. There’s a lot in that one, and many uses and abuses of the term.

  48. Heretic – re transaction.

    The point was that you were picking up on semantics, not on the point that FL was discussing at the time. And I’ve been looking for a way over the last week or so to take the mickey out of you for being alikened to a school teacher.

  49. “Then it follows that giving of the first and best of us is a reasonable act of worship. Not by compulsion, but as a heartfelt gift.

    I’m just telling you how some people feel about this.”

    I have no problem with anyone cheerfully giving whatever they regard as their best and first fruit, in faith (providing they haven’t been manipulated by others to think like that). But we are not under any requirement to even think of it that way. Again, it is applying an OT example when we have something better now. If we regard all we have as the Lords, then we don’t divvy it up into His and ours, even in the context of giving Him the first and best. How do we make that assessment?

    I’ve heard twenty years of first fruits teaching! Maybe not the same as yours. It was in the context of tithing of course; used to justify why we should ‘pay God’ before we pay our bills or other commitments. It was also used to justify why we should tithe on our gross incomes, pre-tax – why should the government get the ‘first’ cut of our fruit. That belonged to God!

    Unfortunately, there are quite a lot of people out there who have strong negative feelings re dodgy first fruits teaching. It sounds so logical, but the teaching on this that I have heard still misses the mark in terms of NT giving.

  50. 🙂

    The point was that you were picking up on semantics, not on the point that FL was discussing at the time.

    Sorry to sidetrack things but it was not semantics to me. The tithers often say you are doing a transaction with God. You give 10%, you get back 100% (or 1000% in one of PP’s lessons) so the reference to transactions goes to how the tithe preachers tend to think – you do this for God and you get that.

  51. Fair enough – perhaps I need to listen to Phil on You tube aswell to understand more of whats said.

    By for now Cricket is back on!

  52. On the transaction issue, I think there is room for that word, but I can understand how some who come out of an environment where that word is part of the vernacular of effectively what is wrong teaching would get toey about it.

    It’s a commercial word to me but I wouldn’t normally respond to it so quickly in my own environs compared to how others may.

  53. I have to say I am really enjoying the conversation on this thread so far.

    Sticking to the issues for a change.

    And back to he cricket also for me!

  54. I think that the point the writer of Hebrews is trying to establish in the passages in question is that Jesus is a/our high priest. To the Hebrew mind Jesus couldn’t be high priest being from the tribe of Judah rather than Levi. The author shows that Jesus is of a preceding, greater and everlasting priesthood, that of the order of Melchizedek or king of righteousness. The blessing upon Abram and the tithe to Melchizedek establishes only that Melchizedek was the superior in the relationship. There is, in my mind, absolutely no teaching, encouragement or instruction for NT tithing here, no example to follow, no tithing point being made. The mention of the tithe is only by way of establishing Christ as high priest.

    If tithing is an important part of church function why doesn’t Paul teach on it but everywhere refers to giving unspecified amounts? It’s almost incomprehensible that Paul would speak of generous giving to support the poor brethren and of ministers having a right to live from the gospel and not even mention the tenth if all churches had been taught to give it. Surely the gentiles would have taken some convincing and required some teaching to support giving a regular tenth of their income as well as giving generously? No church in the NT gets praise for faithful tithing or admonishment or instruction.

    Why do the very early church writers speak as though it was never a custom for Christians in a matter of fact, “the jews had their tithe, but we…” kind of way. If it was practised by NT churches is it conceivable that it disappeared without a trace by the end of the first century to reappear in the fourth or fifth as a law to support a new and sedentary clergy and the building of Christian temples? The early writers speak of giving what each person thinks is right for him.

    As soon as an amount is specified it is surely compelling to give that amount. I don’t know if ‘tithing’ can be, by it’s very nature, “without compulsion”. It doesn’t seem likely that one can teach about tithing for the NT church and then say, “but nobody should feel obligated, just do it if you want to”. I mean, it might be possible but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it. It creates two classes; those who tithe and those who give what they are able and willing. If someone teaches that tithing is in the NT and the NT churches tithed then how is it that we shouldn’t unless we feel like it? Moreover, how could it be important, practised by the NT church, qualified as completely voluntary yet never actually taught in the NT scriptures? If it’s not taught in the first place how then do we go on to claim it’s either necessary or voluntary? Giving is taught as voluntary but specifying an amount suggests that this is the amount you should give.

    Sorry if this sounds confusing but I’m on the fly and thought I’d just throw these ideas into the mix. God bless.

  55. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are our new convenant, we are under no obligation or pressure to tithe. Our lives are living sacrifices to God, the temple of the Holy Spirit. But one should give to less fortunate and when they can or sacrifice our time to help someone, other than that….enjoy your life, it is precious, RP the beach sounds the ticket

  56. Yes – it was a perfect afternoon at the beach today, mj, calm for the kids, not too much breeze, not too crowded and just the right temperature. Idyllic.

    Anyway – just reread Hebrews 5-7.

    Right. I agree with Hal that the primary purpose of the passage is to establish that Jesus is our High Priest, and he is of the Order of Melchizadek. The significance of this includes that:
    1. It is a change of priesthood and therefore a change of law. The Levitical priesthood was to do with the Law, and has been replaced with Jesus (Order of Melchizadek) with the perfect New Covenant;
    2. The Law was imperfect; now we have the perfect, through Christ;
    3. The Levitical Priests died (one of the imperfections), but Jesus is our High Priest _forever_ so we have assurance _forever_ of being saved _forever_. (Pretty fantastic – our hope will never die.)

    The relevance of tithing here is primarily to establish which priesthood is greater – Abraham tithing to Melchizadek demonstrates that Jesus’ Priesthood is greater than the Levitical one.

    Nothing is directly said here about Christians tithing, even as a foreshadowing of NT giving, and it would be quite reasonable not to take it any further at all. There is no attempt to teach about giving in this passage.

    However – since Abram did actually tithe to Melchizadek, and Melchizadek is a type of Christ, I think it is reasonable to argue that there is a foreshadowing of something happening here. If we say that 10 symbolises completeness, then we could argue that giving everything to Jesus is foreshadowed. We might be wrong, but its not completely insane to look at that possibility. On the other hand, it is known that tithing was a common practice back then, so this may be reading too much into it as well. Certainly however, there was the perfect opportunity here for exhortations for believers to give 10% as Abram did – yet those exhortations did not occur. The passage is just not teaching a model of tithing.

  57. “As soon as an amount is specified it is surely compelling to give that amount. I don’t know if ‘tithing’ can be, by it’s very nature, “without compulsion”. It doesn’t seem likely that one can teach about tithing for the NT church and then say, “but nobody should feel obligated, just do it if you want to”.” – Hal

    Yes, completely agree. The moment it is suggested, guilt and fear become part of the equation. Best to let the amounts be determined in people’s hearts so that it can remain a cheerful act without compulsion.

  58. Hal and RP everything you said was spot on. There is no direct support in Hebrews for tithing.

    I recall debating this tithing by faith with FaceLift on the old blog (at least I can’t find it on this blog). FL can correct me here but I believe his argument was that:

    1. Abraham is a man of faith
    2. Therefore he tithed by faith
    3. Therefore we can tithe by faith.

    I don’t remember how Hebrews was involved back then but it was used to strengthen the case.

    A counter argument was:
    1. That Abraham also did a bunch of stupid things so not everything he did was by faith
    2. The scripture does not say he tithed by faith we are inferring this conclusion
    3. We can’t really pick and choose for ourselves which things Abraham did by faith and which he did not.

    Hebrews 11 gives three examples of what Abraham did do by faith. In each case he heard God, believed God and did what God said to do. There are no other references to what Abraham did by faith (correct me if I am wrong).

    There is no record of God telling Abraham to tithe so his tithing to Melchizedek does not fall into these “by faith” types of action because they were all examples of obedience to what God said. Since tithing was common practice it may just have been etiquette to tithe in this instance – either way the scripture does not state it so I don’t think we should presume it.

    I think that Hal’s and RP’s and others’ position that
    1. no amount (like 10% or any other amount) should be taught because it is basically wrong and misleading and that
    2. proportionate giving (and not just money) is the NT testament model and so should be taught is the much stronger argument.

    To teach something other than the scripture teaches is just plain dodgy.

  59. This has turned into a brilliant discussion. Signposts at it’s best.

    Thank you all.

    Just a couple of things. 😉

    1) Melchizadek. He was King in Salem. He was also High Priest. It is likely that he was also a ‘Prophet’. A mouth piece for El Elyon.

    By Saying that Jesus is of the order of Melchizadek, the writer to the Hebrews is merely showing, from another angle, that Jesus is better than the all the prophets, all the angels, all the priests in the temple. He transcends them because he does everything they do, but better.

    By being prophet, priest and prince (sorry for the alliteration) He shows us what to expect when He returns to Earth.

    2) What exactly happened when Abram met Melchizadek?
    Well, there had just been a battle. By the sounds of it, Abram had been outnumbered but had won a decisive battle. Perhaps because as a nomad, he was more mobile. Horse archers, Chariots maybe. There were likely to have been many wounded. Animals would have to be put down. It would have been a bloodbath. All would have been exhausted and very hungry and thirsty.

    Melchizadek comes out from the fortified town and provides food and water, helps with the wounded, helps bury the dead. What a good way of checking out the victors. As soon as he met Abram, he would be relieved that Salem wasn’t next.

    Abram can now choose to return the favour with some of the booty from the battle. He also gives back what wasn’t his, to Sodom et al.

    I suspect that Abram had any wounded animals replaced by Sodom though.

    Does that sound too matter of fact?

    Well, Battles of antiquity are often called meat-grinders. Particularly the ancient greek battles which used a large formation of men with very long pikes. both battle lines would approach one another and unless you could launch a flank attack (from the side or even the rear)both armies would effectively stab one another at long range until one or the other lost it’s courage and decided to run away.

    Such armies would be useless against horse archers of course who could pepper them with arrows at long range and then out run them if they ran out of arrows.

    Yeah … I’m into military history too. Really into the American civil war. In fact, I am a Civil War Bore.

    3. Who did Melchizadek worship? Well, I don’t have any difficulty in believing that He worshiped the same God as Abram.

    We have discussed whether it is Appropriate to use Allah for God.

    Well, David himself called God Baal. This use of Baal for God existed during Abram’s day. It simply meant lord back then, and even Sarai called Abram ‘Baal’ meaning husband. It was only when it became a specific name for a specific Deity that it became problematic.

    Anyway, isn’t it a pity that whoever came after Melchizadek did not follow in his ways.

    That should cause a prayer for our children shouldn’t it?

    Shalom

  60. Melchizadek didn’t bring out jam butties for the tired troops, Bull! He brought out bread and wine for Abram. It was a highly significant meeting, written down for us by Moses, Abraham’s descendant.

    Hebrews makes the meeting even more significant.

    The actual battle took them from Mamre, south of Hebron, down below Engedi, next to the Dead Sea, and Abram’s troops pursued their enemies as far as Hobah, north of Damascus!

    The fighting wasn’t a single battle, and didn’t take place in some field next to Salem, where Melchizadek could come out and treat the wounded. It was all over by the time Melchizadek came on the scene.

    Abram returned with Lot to the King’s Dale, the Valley of Shaveh, near Salem to give an offering to Melchizadek, who came out to meet them there.

    This was a very deliberate act.

    Abram came to present an offering, a tenth of the spoils. Melchizadek came to present bread and wine. He came to bless Abram.

    Just prior to this God had told Abram that all Canaan was his and his descendants forever. Abram made an altar at Mamre to remember the promise.

  61. Well that sounds an awful lot like one big battle followed by the victors chasing down and killing the survivors. Good practice if you want to make sure you’ve killed em all (no chance of them putting another army together any time soon) … as well as stripping the corpses of every last little thing.

    Meanwhile, any wounded men of Abram’s would need assistance. Quid Pro Quo, The King of Salem helps the victors and then the leaders subsequently have a meeting. A meeting of military equals.

    “Thanks for all your help, I won’t be staying on your lands, and here’s 10% of the spoils.”

    “Thanks very much, here’s food and drink for you and your men.”

    A summit meeting. Since no records were kept apart from a word of mouth tradition for 400 years (this is shown to be quite an accurate method BTW!), we can still read too much into a what must have been quite a tense meeting at the start.

    After much wine I am sure they were both quite relaxed.

    “After this I’m off to Mamre to build an Alter”

    “Great … that’s some distance away … will you be heading back down here any time soon.”

    “No, I’ll be heading off thataway”

    “Oh good. Have some more wine.”

    These guys weren’t so Holy they were levitating in the tent. Serious men with armed guards. Lots of armed guards. Warlords.

    Think Afghanistan.

    400 years later, Joshua would operate a scorched earth policy with regard to the Canaanites as the Israelites took the promised land. They killed everyone they could. They waded in blood to do it.

    Shalom

  62. Bull, you didn’t need a coffee after describing that battle. Maybe war history is a suitable caffeine substitute?

    I know its speculation based on historical knowledge about battles, but that was very interesting. Brings out the ghastly nature of the whole engagement. Also FL’s emphasis on the geographic location was helpful.

    We have to be careful, don’t we, about exactly what we lift from such contexts into our own completely different one. Yes, the writer of Hebrews shows us the significance of that meeting, which we’ve discussed above, but just because it was significant in illustrating the greater Order of Christ’s Priesthood, doesn’t necessarily mean it has significance in terms of us tithing to Jesus. Please illustrate for me how this can be done, and how it stands up to scrutiny.

    This whole tithing thing falls apart whatever thread you pull. This is why it is so completely outrageous, and an attack on the integrity of our faith, that it is taught so widely. How can we possibly trust our teachers when they insist on this issue, like ostriches?

    So many OT battles have been used as analogies in church for various reasons… that might make a good topic as well.

  63. v good discussion. I just wonder FL why do you bother coming to this site so much? We are obviously saved, wouldn’t you be better off putting your energy into the world’s “lost” souls. Sorry to be so direct but Im wondering what the motive is. To prove your point? To refute our view? Just curious.

  64. Be nice to FL.

    He’s played a pretty straight bat in this exercise.

    Maybe these interactions are food for thought.

    I am speaking for myself only here….some major changes in the positions I have held over the year have only come after some years of thinking about them, and some howlers of arguments along the way.

    Also by way of illustration visiting Signposts has helped me crystalise my thinking about tithing and giving, even though it wasn’t a major issue for me before, and still isn’t for me in my own situation. For others of you this I think is different.

    And in any case any changes to my thinking are invariably after going away and thinking about things for some time, not being in the hurly burly.

  65. Yes in this particular exercise. Not others. Im not personally offended by FL’s comments anymore. But when one first comes to this site and in a position, like I was, its a slap in the face. But I agree he is editing himself a bit more.

  66. Yes, I agree MN. It’s good when we can all just discuss the issue at hand.

    I’m yet to see any pro-tithe argument appear here from the Hebrews verses though, from anyone. Is that because there is none as most of us believe? Most of us have explained why we think that, but we’ve heard no alternative really put yet.

    I’d like to know if there is a ‘tithe by faith’ approach from Hebrews that we haven’t answered here yet.

    Re changing of thinking – Signposts02 has helped me crystallise my thinking too, around a number of issues. Plus, my thinking is still evolving.

    A post related to this would be good. I’m getting a few ideas for posts at the moment, mainly from people’s comments here, which is great.

  67. ““It is written (or said) … but I say unto you …” He is saying, “this is what I meant by that law when I wrote it”.” – Bull

    I didn’t know this! Wow!

    “There is much in the Genesis 14 passage to indicate a transaction of sort, but, as I already indicated, ‘purposed’ giving was probably a better term.”

    The Melchizedek account is very similar to the Jacob account when it comes to the issue of the tithe.

    Falsely, tithe preachers say that we need to tithe so that God may bless us. This is old covenant transaction.

    I encourage you Facelift to read these accounts again.

    God blessed/gave to Jacob first – then Jacob gave what he wished out of his personal response to God.

    God blessed/gave to Abraham first through Melchizedek – then Abraham gave what he wished out of his personal response to God to Melchizedek.

    That’s not a transaction – that’s a beautiful gospel response. They chose to give a percentage of what they had (as back then, a tithe was a pagan thing to do).

    God gave us His Son, I respond to Him with my life, expressed through the various facets he has given to me to express my love towards Him: worship, giving, time, energy, sacrifice, etc.

    As far as I am concerned, I may have given a tenth of my income to God without realising it.

    If God decided to bless me that week because I unknowingly gave a tithe, I would be disgusted to see a pastor use my testimony of God’s goodness be twisted for their own gain.

    If Abraham and Jacob sat through a sermon today and heard how pastors were twisting their testimonies for their own gain, Jacob and Abraham would probably plunder them. 😀

  68. This has been a great read and a great thread. I’ve learnt quite a bit reading all your responses.

  69. Bull, paraphrasing Gen:14:
    “Thanks for all your help, I won’t be staying on your lands, and here’s 10% of the spoils.”
    “Thanks very much, here’s food and drink for you and your men.”

    Now that’s a transaction! 🙂

    I think your paraphrase is very interesting, Bull, but falls short in a couple of areas. To a degree, you’re doing what the Corinthians did and turning the bread and wine love feast into a business lunch! And making them pay for it! But it was an administration of covenant.

    As s&p hints, it wasn’t transaction, it was an exchange of gifts. I believe it was an exchange based on covenant, and there are strong indications of this.

    There is a key word in Gen.14:13. The word in the KJV is ‘confederate’, in other versions, ‘allied’. The Hebrew word is be’riyth, which elsewhere in the OT is translated ‘covenant’, ‘a cutting’. The covenant is extremely well represented in this chapter, and is a key to unlocking the meaning of what is taking place, and this is confirmed in the Hebrews references, which is revealing the significance of the New Covenant, compared to the Old.

    Greg,
    it’s generally excepted that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, being the first five books of the OT. I know some liberal theologians disagree, but, the truth is that no one really knows, so perhaps you’re correct, but it’s very likely that Moses was involved in some way. In fact the term ‘Moses’ is often taken as another name for the Pentateuch, as well as his own name.

    mj,
    Thanks for your advice. I am involved in winning souls as well as occasionally discussing issues with friends, but I appreciate the encouragement. We could all take more time over winning souls, I agree.

  70. To a degree, you’re doing what the Corinthians did and turning the bread and wine love feast into a business lunch! And making them pay for it!

    – FL

    Isn’t this what a lot of churches do these days???

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  71. There is a key word in Gen.14:13. The word in the KJV is ‘confederate’, in other versions, ‘allied’. The Hebrew word is be’riyth, which elsewhere in the OT is translated ‘covenant’, ‘a cutting’. The covenant is extremely well represented in this chapter, and is a key to unlocking the meaning of what is taking place, and this is confirmed in the Hebrews references, which is revealing the significance of the New Covenant, compared to the Old.

    – FL

    Please unlock this for me, FL, with respect to ‘tithing by faith’. I still can’t see the connection, unless it is what I originally described where the quantity is irrelevant (hence the term ‘tithe’ becomes misleading)>

  72. anywho, the NT Good News was made simple and easy to understand so noone would boast or get bogged down with laws. One must always put credit to Jesus.

  73. “As s&p hints, it wasn’t transaction, it was an exchange of gifts.”

    Umm… That’s not what I was ‘hinting’ at all about.

    God blessed Abraham.
    God blessed Jacob.

    They accepted God’s blessing. The end.

    I will give my son pocket money, not because he earned it, but because I love him. I do not expect him to give me any back. It is a gift from me to him.

    It’s a beautiful thing to see him sometimes move to actually give me something in return. I delight when he is thoughtful of me and likes the idea that he is ‘blessing me’. I actually like it when I spend time with him. The fact that I am on his mind and heart is what matters to me – not money, or an icecream he just bought me.

    I can earn more and buy my own ice cream.

    But he is acknowledging me and wanting to spend time with me. Whats even better is that when I don’t give my son something and he wants to do something with me. That’s even greater then a blessing.

    The issue I have with the tithe is that it focuses on the politics of the hands of God, rather than cherishing the moments one could have with the heart of God.

  74. Very good, RP!

    Being the season when people are on hols, we ran a Café Church style of meeting last Sunday night, where everyone had coffee, candlelit tables, etc, and it was a lot of fun. Although we didn’t take communion! The thing we got out of it was identifying people who sit alone, and making sure they were included and felt part of it. You wouldn’t necessarily pick that in morning meeting in a larger crowd. We had time for people to chat and get to know one another, and it was very relaxed.

    I think there’s a place for paid business lunches, but not to substitute for church. Different kinds of functions for different needs, I suppose.

  75. Yes, that sort of extra effort can be a good idea when congregations reach a size at which people begin to be lost in the crowd. Sounds like a good thing to do.

    And nothing wrong with actual business lunches of course, or fund raising meals.

    Also, the practice of taking communion together around a meal table is something missing from much of modern church life. The meaning comes through more strongly in a table setting I think. It’s a shame that its a rare event in so many churches.

    One of the things I enjoyed about being in a smaller congregation was that you did begin to recognise people, and knew whether they were with friends or new and alone. When I was new myself, it was much easier to meet people in that setting.

  76. “Being the season when people are on hols, we ran a Café Church style of meeting last Sunday night, where everyone had coffee, candlelit tables, etc, and it was a lot of fun. Although we didn’t take communion! The thing we got out of it was identifying people who sit alone, and making sure they were included and felt part of it.”

    What you did was communion. Awesome.

  77. So you don’t think the exchange of gifts between Abram and Melchizadek had any spiritual significance, s&p?

    This isn’t an argument for a NT tithe, s&p, but do you suppose God loved or cherished the nation of Israel any less than Abraham?

    I guess you’d say no to that. Then what was his purpose, do you suppose, in making it a legal requirement to pay tithes?

    He certainly provided all their needs, and covered them and protected them without requiring payment, or expectation of anything but their obedience and loyalty.

    Besides this there were at least three different tithes required. I read into it that they were mostly to support a separated ministry. But then I wonder why even the ministers were expected to pay tithes.

    Jesus even confirmed that the ministry leadership of his day should not neglect paying their tithe, but also that they should pay more attention to the weightier matters of justice and mercy.

    So why would the tithe have to be a payment for services rendered? It was surely holy unto the Lord.

  78. Facelift, I’m sorry to ask again, but would you please try to describe for me the logical steps by which you link Hebrews 5-7 (probably 7) to Christians tithing.

    I think I’ve asked a few times now, and you must just not be noticing.

  79. After all, you are asking S&P questions now, but don’t seem to want to answer them yourself.

  80. “…the logical steps by which you link Hebrews 5-7 (probably 7) to Christians tithing. ” should read,

    “…to Christian’s tithing by faith”. And clarify what you mean by ‘tithing by faith’ so that I know if I am understanding you correctly or not.

    Thanks.

  81. I have noticed your silence on RP’s questions FL.

    If you want to be taken seriously put your best foot forward.

    Your case please!

  82. I’ll have to ask you to to talk about me, or making rules about how I might be taken seriously, otherwise I have to keep on explaining why I do things, and get accused of making this about me! I’ve answered lots of questions, but not all. Stick to the issues, and no-one will have a case against me personally. It’s an area I have to consider well before entering, in view of the present illustrious company. Bear with me.

  83. I take it that means you intend putting your case after thinking a bit more how to do so.

    As for illustrious company…..ummm…errr…???

  84. I will go back to my original comments here, and, firstly, reiterate that heretic and I have a fundamental difference of opinion over the significance of the Melchizadek/Abram exchange. My second point being that The rest of the immensely illustrious commentary team here would have similar objections to heretic. I don’t think I’ve made much headway with most of you with this, nor did I expect to, but that’s OK, although mn has taken another look at what I’m saying which is good.

    I don’t think your objections in any way nullifies what many see as the importance of the Melchizadek interaction. Bull’s paraphrase is unhelpful, and may even have been tongue in cheek. It couldn’t be historically or culturally true, and takes away from the spiritual significance of the interaction. But, if you at to believe his version of events, that it was payments for services rendered that’s OK, but I think that cheapens the passage.

    Like many others, I consider it an important revelation of covenant. The bread, the wine, the tithe. Abraham is considered the father of faith for all those who believe. We are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Abraham in regards to faith. I don’t think here is any passage of scripture without some significance. All scripture is given by God and is profitable.

    If you consider this interaction a one-off expression of a singular event, and therefore not an example to follow, that is fine, but there is no reference that this is either a singular or common event. We do know that Jacob committed to tithing on all his increase, which made his act of honour, appreciation and worship a common event. For some of us the Melchizadek exchange is an example of mutual respect and blessing in covenant.

    Solomon advised his descendants to give the first fruits of all their increase, to honour God with the first and best of all their substance, and for a reason, as well as to honour God, since, he claimed, God would then ensure that their storehouses would be full. This wasn’t under law, or by compulsion, but an act of honour towards God.

    But how do we define the first and best? God tells us. The first of our livestock, or a tenth of our grains. Money is also given as a proportion in the tithe given by all for festivals. It is also mentioned as the value of livestock or grain when it cannot be transported easily. So the first and the best of our substance and our goods can be given to honour God.

    Some of us want to know how we can give of our substance to honour God. These are simple solutions. Let your conscience reveal to you how best to honour God. You may disagree with what I have said. Others will understand what I am saying. We would lie to be able to giev something which actually costs us. It’s also a matter of value. What we value we will give towards. If we value God, we value his kingdom, and his purposes.

    I also understand that under grace, we give all, we have been bought with a price, we belong to Him. All things are His. He is in no need of anything. Well, in at, we do have something to give even though we are his. We can give our devotion, our love, our affection, our adoration, our praise, our worship, our service, our sonship, our time and possessions, our everything into his hands for his use. And our lifestyle should be a continual expression of these things and more towards him.

    But some of us gather together at regular intervals, and part of our gathering includes adoration for him, where we want o express ourselves towards him, and give something of our substance, even though it is his anyway.

    In describing the idea of tithing by faith, I understand there is no actual verse which says, conveniently, for you and I, ‘You will tithe by faith’. In a way, although I wouldn’t consider it as simplistic as this, it is an unnecessary statement, as we are supposed to live by faith in all things, so faith is a given in all things. i think i tried to say this earlier, but linked it with the word ‘transaction’, which was given more focus than necessary, but I think I cleared it up.

    Adding the word ‘faith’ gives a distinction between tithing by requirement under law, and giving a purposed portion as an act of worship.

    There’s more to this, and I can’t do it in a ‘nutshell’ without tempting controversy, but I’m doing my best for a sceptical audience.

  85. Sorry, ‘We would lie to be able to giev’ should read, ‘We would like to be able to give’. But you knew that!

  86. Thanks for this FL it is good to know what you mean by tithing by faith. The core of Hebrews/Melchizedek/tithe argument seems to be this:

    Abraham is considered the father of faith for all those who believe. We are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Abraham in regards to faith. I don’t think here is any passage of scripture without some significance. All scripture is given by God and is profitable.

    If you consider this interaction a one-off expression of a singular event, and therefore not an example to follow, that is fine, but there is no reference that this is either a singular or common event.

    and that the logic is:

    1. “Abraham is considered the father of faith for all those who believe.”

    2. “We are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Abraham in regards to faith.”

    3. This act of tithing is not a “one-off expression of a singular event”

    4. Therefore the tithing act is “an example to follow”.

    5. Because the the tithing act is not a “one-off expression of a singular event” this is an example to follow on a continual or regular basis.

    I this is the logic I can follow it. Have I understood the argument correctly?

  87. In essence, provided you understand that faith has nothing to do with law, and is of the heart, and is a decision based on a heartfelt conviction, by which I mean a firmly held belief motivated by received inspiration.

  88. Thanks FL.

    Look I have no problem with what you have said in that I see it as you working out an approach to giving that is by conscience and faith to God.

    In that working out you have leant on – and I prefer your wording – an exchange of mutual respect and blessing in covenant.

    I agree that is important to understand what a ‘tithe’ is as part of that, but for me what you are saying goes beyond that.

    To me the fly in the ointment is the politically loaded word ‘tithe’ which brings with it the baggage of obligation and fixed amounts no matter what. And no matter how one expresses themselves if the purpose is to push people towards obligation and the making of a new law the same problems as we have been discussing will result anyway.

    Others have described this better than I can.

    To me if you maintained the way you have expressed yourself above the argument that we seemingly can’t avoid would be bypassed on the basis that this is your way of working things out – which we all have to do for ourselves.

    The other issue which you acknowledged in the last few days – can’t remember where – was the concern about how the ‘tithe’ is emphasised – my words – with a continuum ranging from simple misunderstanding of scripture to flat out misrepresentation and deception in name of supporting the church or worse the luxurious lifestyle.

    As I say to me the best solution is to lose the word ‘tithe’ and explain what you have just done as “a way’ that many have come to, but there others, and it is for each person to work through before God.

    I note Heretic’s rendering of how he takes what you said being summarise:

    Because the the tithing act is not a “one-off expression of a singular event” this is an example to follow on a continual or regular basis.

    Again this is where I can see problems of emphasis potentially arising whether in fact that approach is about engendering an unnecessary obligation, or if in fact this is just one of many ways to work through this issue.

    Hope I’m making sense.

    Cheers

  89. I just lost a long comment.

    Not going to re-write it.

    Thanks anyway FL.

    I’ll just prop on you later comment that faith has nothing to do with law.

    I have no issues with what you have written as long it remains one way to approach the issue of giving before God – which we all have to work out for ourselves.

    As soon as fixed obligations come into it the plot has been lost.

    Seems to me the best thing would be to lose the word ‘tithe’ even though I think it is important to understand – the whole concept and how it (past tense) worked – which carries way to much baggage.

  90. In a sense you’re correct, mn, but language has moved on also. I’m convinced that for some Christians ‘tithe’ means as much to give as ‘to give’, if you see what I mean.

    Just as some have argued in the past that ‘tithe’ came to be associated only with grain offerings for some people of the OT, which is a reasonable argument, although not completely convincing, so the term ‘tithe’ has come to mean, for many Christians, not just a fixed percentage, but the very concept of giving to God. I don’t see how you can change this. Not in a hurry, anyway.

    In our modern economy, people move around, and have a variety of different influences and ideas. Pastoring is quite different to caring for the fixed communities of yesteryear. Poeple arrive from churches which are either more extreme or more liberal in some areas of their theology. You have to take them through to a better understanding without crushing them. One person’s concept of giving and even the tithe is not the same as another’s. To some, obviously, it is a burdensome word, to others it is a blessing.

    What is important, I think, is to avoid judging people excessively for not understanding the Word the same way we might, or to call them fraudulent for basing their giving on a concept we don’t understand in the same light. I don’t see how you can bring about the necessary change with that approach.

    I will agree that those leaders who use the law as leverage to find financial security for either themselves or their ministries need to read the txts again ad review their processes.

  91. I take your point about people having perhaps many different understandings of the word tithing =nd its implications, and gently exposing others to the intricacies of it all.

    In in 35 years of being ‘churched’, however, I have never heard the word used other than in its traditional rendering.

    We obviously move in different circles.

    In terms of judging people excessively, which people?

    The general hoi polloi no issue.

    Pastors and lay people slogging their guts out in small churches mostly agreed.

    But you will know as one’s responsibilities increase the greater the duty of care.

    Softpedalling the issue re teaching of intentional or unintentional tithing – which at face value has no relevance to the Gospel of Jesus, but more so to sustaining a church entity or personal lifestyle, and or which promises 100 in, 1000 out is deceptive and misleading conduct or fraud – by other Christians does GOd’s church no good.

    It is in effect an attack the integrity of God’s holy catholic church, and one of those issues that greatly weakens us from within.

    If God’s own people don’t stand up to this – in the most plain speaking way if necessary – then who will???

    If you’re on the inside and you let it go, then to quote that old adage if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. And no I don’t expect anyone of us are in positions that could magically “fix” – awful word- these things

    Now before you cry ‘foul’, I want to be absolutely clear that in a lot of instances as you outlined above people have their own individual opinions which we may think are right or wrong in varying ways, and which in the normal scheme of things I think most of us would take or leave at any given time.

    I’m not talking about those scenarios.

    I’m talking about those in positions who by the nature of their positions and what they are ‘putting out’ have a ‘graven in stone obligation’ and duty of care’ to get it right.

    If they want to be in those position or put it another way – if they are of the view that occupying that role is what God would have them do, then have no where to go on this, and must get it right.

    As a large part of the church these days if churches and big name pastors abuse this they then set the precedent for everyone else, and totally muddy the waters.

    At this point judging excessively may be out of order, but judging sure isn’t.

    And at that point the anger is just.

  92. Just to clarify again I don’t see any great issue with your position on giving by faith using Abraham’s example. It would seem that if the Holy Spirit leads people in this way fine – and it doesn’t to me anyway seem out of whack with other scripture

    As we drill down further into the issues seem to be:

    1. What is the status of tithing as a basis for giving today? If tithing as an OT doctrine is extinct is it still possible to tithe by faith – using FL’s framework – as a sign of respect, honour and blessing to our God?

    2. If it is held that tithing as an obligation is dead, and that one doesn’t give to God in order get, then how do we respond to those who forcefully put this view and put people into bondage over it?

  93. My answer to (1) would be yes as the Spirit leads, but the Spirit may lead others to different but equally valid positions.

    (2)….well now….

  94. So how do people red Matthew 23:23, where Jesus rebukes the lawyers, yet also acknowledges the tithe, adding that they should not neglect the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy and faith, without leaving the others, including the tithe, undone?

    He has certainly said nothing about the tithe ending here, but rather being sustained in an atmosphere of justice, mercy and faith.

  95. Thanks for clarifying FL. I only have 10 minutes here, so will have to be briefer and perhaps less clear than I would like.

    First, I really do appreciate you honestly sharing your position. This is worth doing.

    Secondly, I would say that if someone’s faith requires that they give 10% of whatever, then I do not want to stop them from doing it, however, I wish that one day they would find the freedom to give without that as a parameter, whether that be more or less. That is, I hope that if they can only give 5% or 1%, they would do so freely and guilt free, and similarly if they give 20%, 50% or 100%, they would do so without comparing themselves to others who give less.

    Regarding Abraham being the father of our faith, and following his example – to me this means that we seek to follow his example of faith, not necessarily mirror or translate his actions. His faith was illustrated in many examples; this tithe may have been one of them, but it is his faith that we follow.

    I can elaborate later if you wish.

    Secondly re Matt 23:23 – I read this as Jesus speaking to the Jewish Pharisees, at the time the Old Covenant applied, before His work on the Cross. So what He said was true, but it is a misinterpretation to say that we should follow any instance of Jewish law including the tithe, as we are not Jews under that law.

    I expect you know that this is how I and others will read this verse.

    Anyway, have to go again now, but primarily MN has put this well in more detail.

    Last thing – are people who attend church but do not tithe regarded as bona fide church members? You will be aware that both Brian Houston and Phil Pringle have publically cast doubt upon people’s commitment to Christ and their church if they do not tithe, and some churches have people sign covenants or membership rolls with a commitment to tithe incorporated on that statement.

    Anyway, there’s more but I have to rush off again now.

  96. I see that passage.

    I don’t think it changes anything.

    More along RP’s lines.

    Agree Jesus doesn’t state the tithe ends, but neither is the point of that comment from Jesus about reinforcing the tithe but bringing out the blatant hypocrisy, status seeking, pride and thievery of the Pharisees – who were what – the religious ruling class and elites of the day.

    I take that in the context of other NT comments.

    I agree tenuously it supports your own personal position of ‘tithing’ by faith, but we’re not natural Jews, nor subject to the law.

    Beyond that…it becomes an aggregation of all references, combined with personal circumstances and what the Spirit leads and convicts each person to do.

    Your leaning no matter how much you work it through is to come back to some form of tithe.

  97. And now you mention it I suspect the problem with many here is that they see an uncanny resemblance between the Pharisees whom Jesus roundly castigated, and some pastors/church leaders in the world today.

    I’m with RP – if that’s what floats your boat before God and really it would be disobedience not to follow through. I think people who honour God this way out of their best decision before Him are to be commended – not for the giving, but for the obedience and honourng God as they have been lead.

    But there is room for people to arrive at different positions……unless you’re in the sort of congregations RP referred to.

  98. I would tend to agree with your comments, and, no, I don’t think people are any less Christian or saved if they chose not to tithe. Our membership is made up of people at various places in their walk with God. Let the Holy Spirit go to work in them and with them. It’s His Church. Our job is to minister the Word and Spirit.

  99. but that’s what i have an issue with, some churches “word” obviously dictates that people should not only tithe but to not would bring a curse. Any speaker that says that is on rocky ground or should i say sandy ground.

  100. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, so we can receive the Spirit through faith. When we live by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation.

  101. that’s true, of course, but when the pulpit pressures one, through words, to tithe i dont think that’s right

  102. Just to clarify a bit further FL, when you say Abraham’s tithing act is “an example to follow” do you mean that giving 10% is an example to follow or something else is an example to follow?

  103. Further to Matt 23:23 –

    This is an important verse since it is widely used to demonstrate that Jesus supported tithing, so we should also tithe.

    Galatians 4:4-5

    4But when (A)the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, (B)born of a woman, born (C)under the Law,

    5so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as (D)sons.

    So Jesus was born under the Law. When Matthew 23:23 was spoken, he was exposing the Pharisees. How could He have said they should not tithe – it was required of them under the Law; he was instead illustrating the point that they were outwardly righteous (to the nth degree, tithing dill etc), but inwardly hypocrites and lawless.

    In no way do we in response seek to do all the items they were bound to do under the Law – yes, we are all priests now, but we are under a different order. As pointed out by the Melchizedek passage. There has been a change of law. At the time Jesus made that comment regarding the Pharisees though, there had not been a change of law, so the old laws applied.

    In Matthew 23, we see Jesus giving a series of illustrations, demonstrating his various points. Vs 23 is one of 4 illustrations of hypocrisy. It is not meant to be an instruction for those who are not under the Law to tithe, when it is clearly being spoken about those who are under the Law by one who himself was under the Law at that time. Rather, we have later illustrations in scripture, including the passages in Hebrews regarding Melchizedek, which demonstrate to us that there has been a change and we are no longer under the Law. (This point has already been made so I won’t labour it again.)

    So Matthew 23:23 is being mistaken when it is used to support a practice that does not line up with what the rest of scripture teaches us is not applicable to us thanks to the work Jesus did on the Cross.

    The seriousness of this issue, apart from the financial and spiritual damage it can at times cause people, is that attempting to perpetuate this actually works against what Jesus did for us on the Cross. He paid for our freedom with His life; we must make sure that our reading of scripture does not undo what He has done for us.

    So when we follow the example of Abraham, we follow the example of his faith, not his specific action. We are not under any obligation to tithe due to Matt 23:23 or Heb 5-7 – in fact those verses when examined lead to the opposite conclusion.

    Since Jesus has now perfected the law, by writing it in our hearts, we can trust Him to guide us to give as He would have us do and we do not even need a ‘guideline’ or suggested quantity to follow. Still, we are free to do this if we choose. But we must choose without being led by the nose.

    Even if we are not told we have to tithe under law, if we are told we ought to follow the example of Abraham or Jacob and tithe by our leaders, and especially if the leader also states to the congregation that he/she tithes, then obviously guilt or fear can come into play as a motivator. Guilt if you don’t want to or can’t give 10%; guilt if you do give 10% but find it painful rather than cheerful; guilt (when we add in first fruits doctrine) if you pay your mortgage before your tithe. Fear if you can’t/don’t do it, because you might not be a good enough Christian; because you might be less acceptable to God – and He knows! You can’t hide it. Fear that others in your community might find out that you don’t tithe and think less of you or question your faith.

    What we need is to give cheerfully, with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, in the fullness of the transformed hearts that Jesus has made in us, and not comparing ourselves to others or judging others in the process.

  104. So when Abram gave tithes of all, RP, was it not an act of faith, or at the very least a free-will decision, with no obligation made by God, or nothing demanded by the High Priest? Did he not determine for himself what to give, and as a blessing?

    Then, in the light of this, where does God’s demand that Abraham obediently sacrifice his promised first born son by Sarah on the altar at Mt Moriah stand with you? Surely tat was a higher and far more costly offering than a tithe of the spoils of victory. And an even stronger type to consider. And, O, what faith was required! This was indeed the first born, the very seed to the Seed!

    Heretic, you’re edging along and heading somewhere, why not ask all the questions in one go?

    It was attitude in the the giving of a recognised portion that was important. Whether it’s ten per cent or not is up to the individual. It was the custom, even then, to consider ten per cent to be a good representation of the first fruits. He obviously felt that was a good way to bless the Lord, and give thanks for the victory they had won in covenant.

    That the tithe later became the acceptable offering confirms that the tenth is agreeable to God as a fair portion to give. It appears that a tenth is the bottom line what he accepts. Jesus said that was not necessarily a given that God would accept an offering. The examples of the firstborn and firstfruit offerings of Abel and Cain spell this out, and is again referenced in Hebrews. So we should give the first and best, but it is the manner in which the gift is given which determines whether it is received.

  105. ‘It appears that a tenth is the bottom line what he accepts.’ No, I’m not comfortable with that statement! Better to say it’s the bottom line of what he expected from Israel.

  106. FL, my point is that we follow Abraham’s example of faith, rather than his literal action. His actions were in faith in his circumstances. It is the faith that is the important thing – I am sure we agree on that.

    In our own lives, our faith will be in all circumstances that we find ourselves in. Abram won a victory thanks to the Lord, very outnumbered. His faith allowed him to take that battle on. The tithe he paid to Melchizedek is used in Hebrews to demonstrate that Jesus is of a higher order than the Levitical order; we can’t even follow it literally since the situation is so different to our own – spoils of war – a one-off. If that was our model of tithing, we’d tithe once if ever. I believe Abraham gave freely, in a manner he chose himself, but also using the wisdom pertinent to the time – he was doing something culturally appropriate. Other than the demonstration of the higher order of Melchizedek, the remarkable thing is probably that he chose not to keep the rest of the spoils – a remarkable free-will choice; again no doubt evidence of his faith.

    Now when it comes to him preparing to sacrifice Isaac, of course this is a remarkable and powerful story and illustration of what is to come, and of Abram’s faith. It demonstrates an amazing trust in God, and amazing and terrifying obedience; trusting God in the most extreme situation. The sort of faith which humbles me, and I hope I never have to go there.

    Yet we are not called to offer God our children in this literal sense despite being called to follow his example of faith. Just as we are not called to tithe in that literal sense.

    We all have challenging circumstances in our lives, and the work that God does in our hearts transforms us so that we can exercise faith in any situation (at times, that faith being a particular gift, and not even of ourselves). We may be confronted by a terrible situation that we are called to give into – we may give everything we have to help, trusting then that God will supply our needs as we supply others. We may be confronted by extreme life circumstances, where we cannot see where God is taking us, even into death and pain, but we exercise our faith to get through. I know I’m using extremes here, and mostly our circumstances are simpler and less extreme, but we still exercise our faith. This is how I believe we are called to follow Abraham’s example – his life was an illustration of the heart to us, not something to literally trace a copy of.

  107. “and the work that God does in our hearts transforms us so that we can exercise faith in any situation (at times, that faith being a particular gift, and not even of ourselves).”

    Here I don’t mean that our faith is ever of ourselves – it is a result of the work He does in our hearts, but sometimes we don’t think we would normally have faith in a situation, and then we find we have a gift of it.

  108. FL: “Heretic, you’re edging along and heading somewhere, why not ask all the questions in one go?”

    I did and then I had more. I am trying to determine what the argument is in its entirety.

    FL: “It was attitude in the the giving of a recognised portion that was important.”

    So I need to adjust my understanding to this (updates in italics):

    1. “Abraham is considered the father of faith for all those who believe.”

    2. “We are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Abraham in regards to faith.”

    3. This act of tithing is not a “one-off expression of a singular event”

    4. Therefore the tithing act is “an example to follow”. The important things to follow are (1) the attitude of the giving and (2) the giving of a recongised portion.

    5. Because the the tithing act is not a “one-off expression of a singular event” this is an example to follow on a continual or regular basis.

  109. I accept all you say, RP. I see other things in this, but I’m just looking at the picture Abraham gives us as we stare into his life journey, all conducted as he searched for city we have yet to see, he aimed at the New Jerusalem by faith, and has yet to arrive. So our journey should be of faith, and we should die in faith, which means we will be engaged in faith projects we will not see come to pass. Truly a remarkable example, and one worth following.

    In fact the Mt Mariah experience was God demanding everything, including Abraham’s hopes dreams, future, all he saw ahead and all he had to give, the very promise God had given him in his son. And. as it was shown, it was a just demand, and the reward was great.

    In return God gave him, not only the ram in the thicket for the sacrifice, the type and vision of Christ our Sacrifice, but immutable promises, that blessing he would bless him, and multiplying he would multiply, and that his seed would possess the gates of his enemies.

    God is truly awesome.

  110. So we should Abraham’s example of giving a recognised portion. By “recognised portion” do you mean 10%?

  111. Sorry, should read …

    So we should follow Abraham’s example of giving a recognised portion. By “recognised portion” do you mean 10%?

  112. I mean, what is God telling you about your giving? Surely that is the question here.

    However, I think, if we’re not sure what or how to give, God should be the One to set the goals. It is clear from scripture that he recognises a tenth as an acceptable amount comparable to the first born. The important thing here is the idea of giving the first and the best.

    Abel gave the firstling of his flocks, and the best. He sacrificed it to God, and God accepted the offering. It is recorded that he sacrificed the firstling by faith. In other words, he had an inner witness that this was acceptable to God.

    God accredited it to him as righteous, and God personally gave testimony of these gifts, which still speak to us today, according to Hebrews.

    So if this offering was righteous and by revelation, what is it saying to us today about how or what we give?

  113. Or do you mean for recognised as the amount or portion God has called each person to give on an individual basis?

    Look believe it or not on an individual basis I don’t see that much between us.

    There a differences in emphasis.

    FL do you agree that each person should give as God leads them to and that will conceivably be different for each person?

    If yes (I think you have already acknowledged this tenet) then the crunch is question 2:

    If it is held that tithing as an obligation is dead, and that one doesn’t give to God in order get, then how do we respond to those who forcefully put this view and put people into bondage over it?

  114. You beat me to it.

    Where I would be wary is again setting up this arbitrary notion about giving of the first fruits every time.

    I try and honour that myself but I am not hardline about it, and wouldn’t want to put that expectation on others.

    I believe God want us to give in faith, but not put us in a strait jacket.

    Again its differences in personal emphasis and interpretation.

    Where the crunch comes is how those in leadership deal with this.

  115. And I am trying to work out what you believe because I don’t yet understand it.

    By “recognised” amount do you mean “recognised by God”? Your response did not answer the question for me.

  116. I would currently agree to one, mn, but I think there is still some way to go before I personally could discount two completely.

    I agree that tithing as per Leviticus is not an obligation. As for tithing in order to get, I would need to to have that qualified, because there could yet be said to be blessing to tithing, or rather to any amount given.

    For instance, there are two ways of looking at the same scriptures on giving in 2 Corinthians 9.

    It could be understood that, if we purpose, and give cheerfully, the scripture indicates that God is able to cause all sufficiency to abound to us, then there is a harvest to seed sown.

    However, if this passage means that God gives seed to us for the purpose of sowing, and he is able to lend all sufficiency so we abound to all good works, then the seed sown has first come from him, as indicated, in that he gives bread for the eater and seed for the sower, and provides increase for the seed sown. It is then conceivable that it is correct to expect a return on seed sown.

    I would have claimed the former at one time, but I am leaning to the latter, which makes God the first to purpose to give us seed, so there is a harvest to sow into.

    If I seem to have a shifting position on some things, it is because I am in time of reassessment.

  117. By give to get I mean, I give as a short term investments which I expect a return on.

    FL: “I would have claimed the former at one time, but I am leaning to the latter, which makes God the first to purpose to give us seed, so there is a harvest to sow into.”

    I would flatly disagree with the former, and have some sympathy for the latter.

    I don’t give for either reason in my own mind, even though the latter is probably close.

    I give very simplistically because I think it is a good thing, and while God does not need money He certainly uses it.

    In short I give out of obedience, but not out of obligation and trust that He will use it to expand His Kingdom.

    That’s it.

    My hope is in God for the future.

    If He chooses to bless me in the here and now, well and good.

    If I give and things go badly I hope I can at least do a bad impression of Job, but my faith has to be that in all things God will look after me and mine.

  118. However, I think, if we’re not sure what or how to give, God should be the One to set the goals. It is clear from scripture that he recognises a tenth as an acceptable amount comparable to the first born. The important thing here is the idea of giving the first and the best.

    – FL

    This view seems to me to still be trying to translate OT practices into a modern day equivalent, when the context of the OT giving was entirely different to any context that we find ourselves in today.

    While the important thing here sounds great – to give of our first and the best – how is that applied?

    The only way that I have ever heard this applied is to encourage us to tithe – a minimum of 10% because that is the minimum example we have in the OT of what God regarded as acceptable – on our gross incomes. It is on our gross because this is our income before anyone else has taken a cut – and we give God our _first_ fruit.

    So we have say $1000. We give God $100 of that before we do anything else with it, by giving it to our chosen church. Of the remaining $900, we might then give $300 to the government (this is 30% of the gross). We then have $600 left to live on. All of our bills and commitments are then managed to fit into that amount.

    This then applies whether we are childless and living at home supported by our parents, or whether we have 4 children and a mortgage plus all our bills to go with it. If we can’t afford what we need to pay out of that remainder, we then trust that because we have given our first fruits faithfully to God, He will then respond by supplying our needs and making up any shortfall.

    Is this correct?

    We know that 10% is the minimum that was demonstrated to be acceptable to God in the OT, so we now freely choose to give 10% based on the scriptural model, since that is one of the ways in which God speaks to us. But we also have the freedom to choose to give more, and in fact we will increasingly do this over time, as evidence of the transformed hearts within us. Because our hearts are transformed, we can go further than the law, and be far more generous in our giving.

    Is this correct?

    So it is doubtful that we have really experienced that transformation of the heart and we lack faith if we find it difficult to trust God in this area enough to at least give that historic minimum.

  119. I think i read somewhere too that the OT tithe was a payment to the govt/church, like a tax. Can’t remember the reference but can find it.

  120. If you’re going to take up the morality of giving to God and having to pay high taxes to Government, then you’ll have to examine your own conscience on it, and decide where the moral void is, if indeed there is one.

    I don’t think we should allow high Government taxation to stunt our decision to give God of our best and first. That’s where the rubber hits the road, really. Do we put pressure on God to relieve us from the ‘burden’ of giving into his purposes and kingdom, or do we put pressure on Government to ease the burden on the people?

    As I said before, I think worship is a form of sacrifice, and should cost something, otherwise it has no significance and cannot reflect the value we put on our relationship with the One we worship. I’m not asking you or anyone to agree with that. It’s a personal choice.

    The other side of this is that people believe that regardless of what we give, as long as we give with a cheerful attitude, God will see to it that our families are taken care, and in that we see how faith operates in giving. We seek the kingdom and righteousness first, all the things we need are added to us.

  121. off topic a bit. Recently I read about a rich actor (who pays high tax in the UK) say he is happy paying it as it helps others. He was apparently brought up in govt housing and won a scholarship to a London uni, sort of where he got his start. He’s very grateful the govt supported him and he is v rich and happy, and is glad to help others get ahead.

  122. I guess FL will respond to RP’s questions in due course, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind the universal and hard wired tendency to turn freedom into either:

    a) law for ‘control’ purposes, or

    b) tick the box – for ‘get us off the hook’ purposes.

    I am not in any way suggesting at this point that this underlies FL’s views.

    In many of the churches I have been in people have given from a variety of different views, but the people up the front will usually preface the offering with:

    “And now its time to take up your free will offerings;

    and

    If you are a visitor don’t feel obligated. This is something we do as a family to give something back to God after all He has given us here at, and/or

    Please give as the the Spirit has lead you to give.”

    The only other time money gets a real run is when the church is in a financial hole and that is brought to the congregation’s attention.

    None of the intense excruciatingly painful focus on money that seems to dominate the hearts and minds of pentecostal and charismatic churches. Aaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

  123. I wasn’t taking that up. I was asking if the example I gave is a correct example of the outworking of this kind of giving.

    Can I infer from your movement to defend the morality of the description of giving that I provided, that the description is a typical example of your belief?

    I’d like to make sure we are discussing what you believe we are shown in scripture, rather than my misinterpretation of what you believe and teach.

  124. ” I don’t think we should allow high government tax to stunt our decision…” – FL

    I’ve often thought about this, but when the Jews were told to give 10% to the temple they were living in a theocracy (almost a govt tax). We live in a democracy that has its own taxes.

    As a business owner, if the teaching holds true, I should give 10% to the church of my first fruits (revenue), then pay GST, Payroll tax, income tax etc. Then once all the outgoings are met, there will be some left over for me, of this I will pay a further 30% tax.

    Most businesses owners couldn’t follow those guidelines.

  125. You have to use commonsense to release faith rather than limiting it – thats why there is always a balance to work out on an individual to individual basis.

  126. MN – I know the feeling! Yep, excruciating is the word.

    Actually, I’ve never been in a church which says:

    ““And now its time to take up your free will offerings;”

    The Pente churches I’ve been in say ‘tithes and offerings’. Also, there are envelopes provided with a box to tick if the donation is your tithe, and an ‘other’ line to fill in if the offering is for something else. The envelopes were available, but not compulsory.

    The example I gave is a model I’ve been taught in the past. There were other models. First fruits was a part of the teaching on giving.

    All the Pente churches also frequently said:
    “If you are a visitor don’t feel obligated. This is something we do as a family to give something back to God after all He has given us here at, and/or”

    When there was a love offering or another offering separate to the tithe offering, they would also say:
    “Please give as the the Spirit has lead you to give.”

    Anyway, I am genuinely trying to ensure that I understand FL’s logic about NT giving. I don’t want to misconstrue him.

  127. FL: “Do we put pressure on God to relieve us from the ‘burden’ of giving into his purposes and kingdom, or do we put pressure on Government to ease the burden on the people?”

    This is a general response to this question not one to FL specifically.

    Tithing was for the Jewish people who were THE nation.

    In Australia tithing or giving is not for the Australian people but only a small percentage of people who are Christians.

    If anyone wants to maintain the line that the taxes our government(s) impose are a burden on the people please move either to Monaco or Kazakhstan.

    If the country our God has seen fit to place us in makes life that difficult for us….there is no satisfying people.

  128. Muppet said it…that word….. commonsense – the thing you can’t legislate for.

    I wonder if this is what the Holy Spirit is for?

    Gotta go to a 6 year old nephew’s party!!

  129. I think so MN. I think the Holy Spirit is the voice of commonsense, probably another thread but….Its that gentle voice/sense that tells you something is wrong or right. Some may say instinct, but as a Christian, especially lately, i sense that inner voice/or sense. Does that make sense :o)

  130. Back to topic, we do have to pay tax first, so is all this a moot point (tithing)? Render to caesar, what is caesar’s. Obey authorities that are ruling you. I think most people try and do this, our society isn’t perfect but its fairly fare.

  131. and a question for anyone. In mega churches does a pastor pay income tax? Always wondered. Sorry to mix it up a bit but FL the technicality is we pay the govt first so….just saying

  132. I have noticed your silence on RP’s questions FL.

    If you want to be taken seriously put your best foot forward.

    Your case please!

    – mn

    I’ll have to ask you to to talk about me, or making rules about how I might be taken seriously

    – FL

    mn’s request is completely valid. This post is about the theology of tithing – what the scriptures actually say about tithing and how they support it if at all.

    I am asking you, FL, how you use scripture to support your point of view and you are so far avoiding the questions. Your points of view are interesting but what matters is what the scriptures say and how you use them to put your case.

    Can you please answer questions about how the scriptures support your point of view. So far we have (rearranged a bit since last time with updates in italics):

    1. “Abraham is considered the father of faith for all those who believe.”

    2. “We are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Abraham in regards to faith.”

    3. Therefore the tithing act is “an example to follow”. The important things to follow are (1) the attitude of the giving and (2) the giving of a recognised portion.

    4. This act of tithing is not a “one-off expression of a singular event”.

    5. Because the the tithing act is not a “one-off expression of a singular event” this is an example to follow on a continual or regular basis.

    FaceLift you state here that it is important to give a “recognised portion”. Could you please answer the following questions so that I can understand what you are saying (feel free to adjust your previous comments if you need to).

    Q1. Is the recognised portion 10% (you replied to this question but did not answer it). For example is under 10% not a recognised porting but over 10% is a recognised portion.

    Q2. Is the recognition of the portion from God or from other believers?

    These are not difficult or tricky questions. I assume you know the answers. I am not storing up a “gotcha” if you get them wrong. I am simply trying the understand your theology as currently I do not.

    Please?

  133. Income tax is paid on the wage drawn down but there are large FBT concessions (with cars etc). Also money spent that can be linked to ministry (going out for coffee with a member of the congregation etc) are tax right offs.

    Businesses within the church are not subject to income tax.

    A church staff member can also have their tithe taken out of their salary before the government taxes it. In otherwords, they pay income tax on the salary minus the tithe.

  134. Muppet is responding above to mj’s question, ‘In mega churches does a pastor pay income tax? “

  135. Since so much has been written here since I asked, I’m just going to reiterate my earlier questions so they don’t get forgotten:

    So we have say $1000. We give God $100 of that before we do anything else with it, by giving it to our chosen church. Of the remaining $900, we might then give $300 to the government (this is 30% of the gross). We then have $600 left to live on. All of our bills and commitments are then managed to fit into that amount.

    This then applies whether we are childless and living at home supported by our parents, or whether we have 4 children and a mortgage plus all our bills to go with it. If we can’t afford what we need to pay out of that remainder, we then trust that because we have given our first fruits faithfully to God, He will then respond by supplying our needs and making up any shortfall.

    Is this correct?

    We know that 10% is the minimum that was demonstrated to be acceptable to God in the OT, so we now freely choose to give 10% based on the scriptural model, since that is one of the ways in which God speaks to us. But we also have the freedom to choose to give more, and in fact we will increasingly do this over time, as evidence of the transformed hearts within us. Because our hearts are transformed, we can go further than the law, and be far more generous in our giving.

    Is this correct?

    See https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/does-hebrews-promote-tithing/#comment-7662 for full comment.

    Sorry for the repetition.

  136. At the time, I felt that FL’s move to immediately defend the first example, and debate the ‘burden’ of tax, seemed to imply that the examples were correct.

    But I’d like this confirmed or corrected.

  137. I see. So lunches as well, i thought the Australian govt stopped “entertainment” tax, i worked for a co in the 80s where lunch etc was tax deductable. what do you call ministry tax, what is it classed as, a coffee with member (i wonder).

  138. Councelling is a direct part of their job!!

    Can also hold property etc in the church businesses or training institutes of course.

  139. Re the tax issue, which should probably be another thread, but in my role as an interim church treasurer not so long ago I looked at this.

    Basically ministers and pastors get expenses directly related to ministry, building up the church etc as ‘exempt benefits’. This is not the quite the same thing as a ‘fringe benefit’. They may include car, phone, books, relevant training, mortgage, study and home office. It does not apply to adminstrative functions whether they be pastors or not – the function is the key.

    Different churches administer it in different ways, but the way it works is that as a pastor if you use your phone primarily for congregational purposes and building up the church (my words)you get reimibursed on a before tax basis.

    So for an ordinary $70 phone bill I have to earn $100 to pay for it because I have to pay tax first.

    The pastor pays the bill $70 and gets back the $70 gross.

    Most churches manage this responsibly but I have heard of some who will work it so that the predominant amount of their income is spent this way.

    Please withhold any angst over this. Not worth it on this thread.

    As usual there are always some who stretch the lacky band far more than they should, but based on what I know I am assuminging the majority treat this benefit responsibly.

  140. mj – in answer to your question, income that is expensed as ordinary salary and wages is taxed. If expense as an exempt benefit – it is not taxed.

  141. Sorry that is the wrong way of putting it.

    Income paid as normal salary and wages is taxed. Income that is received as an exempt benefit is not taxed.

  142. Heretic: “I am asking you, FL, how you use scripture to support your point of view and you are so far avoiding the questions.”

    My take on that Heretic is that FL is currently re-evaluating and re-working his position.

    As I said before for me when that has occurred has sometimes taken years.

  143. mj – yes. If the house is used to have people over from, that’s where the home office is etc, and is used in his/her work to grow the church.

    If the house is never used for purposes related to that then the answer should be no.

    Please bear in mind that most pastors don’t earn truck loads of money. Again if people want to pursue this suggest another thread. And also has been looked at before.

  144. FaceLift are you not answering my questions and RP’s questions because you are reassessing tithing? Since you put it out there, what are you reassessing?

  145. I ask because this thread is here as a platform for you to put your case. If you cannot put your case because it is being reassessed then it would be helpful for that be stated clearly.

  146. luke18:12 is a good example of the issue in the NT. Its about a pharisee saying “i fast twice a week, I give tithes of all i possess” it is to show that self-rightousness is well…read the whole verses for yourself…

  147. sorry, not Hebrews i know, but I think Jesus was trying to display that the OT covenants were over-ruled now. He was trying to describe the “new” Gospel in this example. He was fully aware of the old Jewish laws etc

  148. heretic, I answered everyone’s questions, and then they asked more. You haven’t stopped asking questions. I’ve been out and about and doing stuff! This is a discussion, not a courtroom. Calm down!

    Some of the questions asked are, in fact rhetorical. If we are to have a moral dilemma over giving then we need to take it up with God. That was my answer to RP’s questions. I can’t tell you what is correct in a given situation. You have to ask the Holy Spirit what you need to give and how, and then be bold to step out and obey.

    Under the NT more emphasis is give to our part in decision making, since we are not being organised by mosaic law, which was very precise. Now we have to trust God in and for everything. Therefore, I can’t moralise for you, or put another law in front of you to obey since you have been made free of the law of sin and death, to live under the law of perfect liberty. Now we need to listen, hear and obey for ourselves.

    I don’t think we can avoid giving as a part of our lives, but if we are going to look at the wind or the rain or the snow before sowing then we’ll never have a harvest. Isn’t that what Proverbs says somewhere?

    My household predetermined how we would give and have been able to maintain our purposed giving, although it hasn’t always been easy. And God has blessed us. If God is telling you to give in a certain way, then just step out and obey. All things are lawful under the NT. What we need to examine is the expedience of each moment and interaction. If we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, there is no law.

    Further, I have said several times that I believe that you would not be able to agree with me on the Melchizadek/Abram exchange, and that is proven to be so. I’m not worried by this. You have t be led by your conscience and understanding of scripture. I have not criticised or condemned you for what you believe. Both you and RP have already dismissed that interchange as a one-off event, not to be followed. That is for you to determine, but I still see more in the exchange that continues to convince me that giving is part of covenant.

    God has stated a recognised portion. It is a tenth. It was/is important to him personally. I made it clear, though, that is could be any amount, but if the attitude in giving was amiss it would be pointless to give, since giving grudgingly or of necessity is unacceptable to him, no matter what the purposed amount is. I take the tenth/first-fruit/first-born as an example not as a necessity.

    I think I’ve made this clear.

  149. yes FL, God may have stated a portion but doesn’t Jesus and the NT over-ride that, do you agree? Or not? And, of course its not a courtroom, who ever saw it as that? Its a discussion. CS Lewis often discussed between his collegues, philosophy et al, just as an example, some agreed, some never did, some had their own ideas….”written” or other

  150. For mine FL I think that is fair enough.

    At this point I read you as having reached a view which you hold firmly to, but you do not wish to impose it on any one else. Further I read you as having some issues still under review, but that is a work in progress.

    I still believe in a general sense that leaves us with Q2.

    May be that is for another day.

  151. In fact, mj, there is nothing to suggest that Jesus has overridden tithing, just the law of Moses. Or, rather he fulfilled the law. It’s not illegal to tithe, any more than it is illegal not to.

  152. well, its not illegal, of course. But, is it moral? Is it fair, that some charismatics pressure people into tithing a tenth of their gross, that’s the issue

  153. There are two issues there mj, not one

    The first is is it moral to tithe.

    Well I’d have to say it is not immoral, and if the Lord leads a person to that position I would have to respect it.

    The issue about leaders pushing the envelope and what do we do about that, well that’s my Q2:

    If it is held that tithing as an obligation is dead, and that one doesn’t give to God in order get, then how do we respond to those who forcefully put this view and put people into bondage over it?

    Others may word it differently, but that is where things get gnarly in my view.

  154. I’ll re-phrase my response to whether its moral to tithe.

    If the position a person comes having searched their heart etc is that they decide to tithe, that decision should be respected.

  155. Thats, right, and if one gives to “get” a blessing or return, is that the right way to do life. One should perhaps give without expecting anything. Or, why does it have to be monetary, why not visit that elderly lady down the road, have cuppa and listen to her problems (even if u dont feel like it).

    What used to annoy me about (previous church) is yes, people might give a tenth or whatever, and leave it at that, for the rich that wouldn’t hurt too much, its easier to pray or throw money at something than actually “do” something. anyway, going to watch a movie and chill…God bless all

  156. Ps, forgot to add, i blame the leaders of this “thinking” that manipulate the flock to obey ancient laws. I don’t blame people that are under that “teaching” whose hearts are trying to please God. byeeeeeeee

  157. I would consider the ‘give to get’ issue a separate issue again whether that giving is via a tithe or other means.

  158. There are actually different ways of giving, just as there are different kinds of prayer, and we have different kinds of meetings. It occurs to me that we often lump everything into one basket and miss the significance of the variety of ways in which it possible to minister and be ministered to.

    There are times when simply give because we want to bless someone, or we give to honour or worship God. We give because someone has a need. We give to a cause, or to a defined corporate project, ie a building project, or we give to sow seed, we give to support a work, or a minstry.

    Sometimes we give without expecting a return. Other times it is clear we can expect a return. We give in secret, or we give alongside others in a concerted effort. There is no one way and no specific rule to giving. Jesus discussed different ways of giving, with different expectations. The Bible mentions giving in all sorts of ways.

  159. The meaning of the ‘order of Melchizedek’ is discerned by examining the general message of the book of Hebrews.

    The author is writing to Jewish Christians who have been steeped in the Mosaic law and have an intimate knowledge of the OT.

    Laws and rituals have great importance for them. So too are the lines of birthright, succession and authority for the spiritual leaders of the nation.

    “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:
    “You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”
    The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.”

    Hebrews 7:11-18

    Along comes Jesus, the great high priest of God who defies the expectations of the Jews. He is not of the Levitical line. Yet how can he claim that he is the Son of God let alone His prophet or priest?

    The author makes reference to the way God works outside the accepted conventions of the Ancient Jewish world. In the way that Melchizedek did not come from Levi, nor does Christ. He is not saying that Christ descends from Melchizedek but that in the same way God has appointed him by His authority.

    The old Levitical law (including the tithe) have been surpassed, and the new promises of Christ have now come.

    “No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
    “You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father.”And he says in another place,
    “You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”

    During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

    Hebrews 5:4-9

  160. FL said,

    “There is no one way and no specific rule to giving.”

    But is there one biblical principle that guides the motivation and way we give?

  161. Love is the primary motive for all things.
    ______________________

    Melchizadek, ‘without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.’

    So, rather, Melchizadek is after the Son of God, being made like him, and the Son of God is declared by the Father to be after, or according to the Order of Melchizadek. Christ is pre-eminent in all things.

    The chapter, and chapters before, demonstrate the greatness of the Order of Melchizadek, being superior to Levi, and even greater than Abraham, who paid tithes in respect of this, and received the blessing, where truly the Blesser is greater than the blessed. This to demonstrate the greatness of the High Priesthood of Christ, who is after the Order.

  162. Melchizadek, ‘without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.’

    Christ’s earthly lineages very well described yet there are plenty of important characters in the Bible where it is not even stated. I am am not sure you can extrapolate much meaning from the lack of information of Melchizedek’s ancestry.

    “Love is the primary motive for all things.”

    But love of who? Neighbour? Enemy? God? Self?

  163. FL: “God has stated a recognised portion. It is a tenth. It was/is important to him personally. I made it clear, though, that is could be any amount”

    Thank you for answering the question. Still trying to understand the logic though. Surely these two sentences cannot both be true at the same time:

    1. It is important to give a recognised portion (recognised by God), “it is a tenth”

    2. “it can be any amount”

    How can both be true simultaneously? How can it be both a tenth and any amount?

  164. “If we are to have a moral dilemma over giving then we need to take it up with God. That was my answer to RP’s questions. I can’t tell you what is correct in a given situation. You have to ask the Holy Spirit what you need to give and how, and then be bold to step out and obey.”

    I wasn’t trying to raise a moral dilemma, but putting examples of the way I was taught tithing that included the first fruits doctrine.

    You didn’t tell me if the patterns of giving that I described were the patterns encouraged by your teaching. If they are not, you could just say so.

    I could give another pattern –

    A person earns $1000 per week, and before they do anything else, they give $20 (2%) to their chosen church. They then pay tax, bills etc with the rest of their money. They firmly believe that the Holy Spirit has led them to give $20. However, their church tells them that they should be giving $100 – they are actually robbing God by holding $80 back.

    Is this person OK because we can give any amount that the Holy Spirit leads us to, in faith, or have they questionable faith because the portion they’ve chosen to commit to is less than that recognised portion in the OT of 10%?

  165. Whether your give nothing or everything the outcome is the same. You enter the kingdom under grace and you won’t be able to take any of your worldly possessions with you. The important question Jesus asks is what and where is your treasure. Let’s hope that the blessing some people seek may not be the only blessing that they will ever receive.

  166. “Now we need to listen, hear and obey for ourselves.” -FL

    I think we all agree with that. But if we hear amount that is less than 10%, can we know that we have not heard correctly, since this contradicts the recognised portion in the OT?

    You also said, “I take the tenth/first-fruit/first-born as an example not as a necessity.”

    I guess then my question is in what sense is it an example – the principle of giving of one’s best in acknowledgement that all we have is from Him; of acknowledging what the Lord has done for us by giving in return to others in need and/or our church; or the example we can use as a guideline to quantity?

    BTW – the tithe and the first fruits weren’t the same thing in the OT, but I’m sure you know that.

    ******************

    I also don’t wish to condemn anyone whose conscience leads them to literally tithe 10%, and it may be that it is in the Lord for them to do so. I would just hope that they know the freedom to have the amount change over time, as circumstances change, and also that they know the freedom to give to a variety of things with their giving portioned as they are led. For example, those with a rich church, or with a church that has minimal expenses for some reason (they meet in a tent with a self-funded rich pastor) would feel free to give hardly anything to their church but perhaps a great deal to the mission supporting the homeless down the road.

  167. Hmmmm! When you take a sentence out of its context and put alongside another sentence also out of its context you alter the sentiment and meaning of what was being said. And, I’m sure not deliberately, you also attribute a line of thinking which wasn’t intended. I tend to write long comments to avoid this. To qualify what I’ve said. If you only look for phrases with tenth or tithe in hem then it’s like using a concordance to prove a doctrine which doesn’t exist in the text.

    If you’re attempting to pin me down to saying that we must give a tenth you are mistaken. You’re claiming I haven’t been clear. I have. maybe you haven’t understood.

    You give what you know God is asking you or instructing you to give.

    If you’re not sure what God is asking you to give and you would like an example of what God clearly approves, then you can take the example of first and best. If you would like a proportion to give on a regular basis, you could take the simple option of paying a tenth, since God obviously has no problem with this. I gave you examples outside of the law, which are right there in your Bible.

    The important question is what is the purpose of giving? Most Christians prefer targeted mission. If your church members asked for a financial goal, and you wanted to set a giving aim for your church, and you all agreed to attempt to meet that target, then you could separate a tenth as a reasonable giving goal. I believe the tenth is fair and equitable being a percentage, not a fixed rate. It is slightly out there to cause people to have to think about their contribution, and not become blasé or lethargic about their involvement in mission, and it is a substantial amount which will help improve the mission you are engaged in for the kingdom. It is treasure stored in heaven. It is a blessing to those who have yet to come into the church. I believe that most people prefer to attend churches with vision, mission and goals they can help to reach, including financial goals.

    If people were unable to meet that target they should not be forced to contribute, or condemned, but rather helped out by those who are able.

    I don’t know really what you’re looking for here. Some kind of sub-new-covenant law? I can’t give you one. The only thing you owe anyone is to love them.

  168. Then why do we bother giving anything, RE? What’s the point? Why does God even leave us in the earth? Why doesn’t he just pull us all out as soon as we accept Jesus as Lord?

    Well, he leaves us here to help convert the fallen world we just left. He resources us so we can resource the kingdom in the earth, reach more souls and maintain his mission to the lost.

    Why does he say, through Paul, that if we so bountifully we will also reap bountifully, but if we sow sparingly we will also reap sparingly? Why does God bother to give seed to the sower if he is not required to sow?

    Help me with this.

  169. RP said:

    ” I believe the tenth is fair and equitable being a percentage, not a fixed rate. It is slightly out there to cause people to have to think about their contribution, and not become blasé or lethargic about their involvement in mission..”

    Or another way to start thinking about this:

    “O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.”

    1 Chronicles 29:16

  170. FL said:

    “Then why do we bother giving anything, RE? ”

    Simple answer is because he says we ought to. But this doesn’t alter my salvation and it doesn’t mean I ‘get’ anything in return. Nor does God need us to complete his mission. But we have the privilege of Him asking us to participate in it. That’s grace.

  171. It’s not our salvation that is at stake. Giving saves no one.

    God’s grace gave us seedtime and harvest.

  172. Going in circles here.

    Heretic and RP – don’t think we would have been having this conversation even a couple of weeks ago.

    This is where as individuals we need to cut each other some slack.

    And again I say the real issue is are not the views that anyone on this thread has espoused so far, but with those who either with good intentions or not put others in a financial strait jacket in the name of the Gospel and being blessed.

    Being bold here and I know there are sensitivities about this from previous lives but based on current comments I don’t see FL in that category at all from his own personal explanations – whether we quite understand them or not.

  173. I might ask though FL if you would explain your thoughts around seed time and harvest again. These seem to be a touchstone in your thoughts at the moment for giving and I think other aspects of your faith at the moment.

  174. Thanks FL, I think I understand your approach better now. I really have been trying to, you know.

    Now I understand that your approach is not the same and is more moderate than the churches I have been in. They would have said that a tenth is the amount we are supposed to give and that the OT example combined with Jesus comment to the Pharisees in Matt 23:23 proved that 10% was the appropriate amount for all Christians. (Etc etc.) If we didn’t or couldn’t give that amount, then something was wrong, whether it was our faith, the fact that we were holding on to money too tightly, or that some other sin in our lives was preventing this from working within our finances.

    Instead, it looks to me that you encourage people to give 10% by looking at the OT example, but don’t insist that they do, or that they are bad Christians if they don’t. It also looks to me that you genuinely believe that if everyone took 10% as a guideline (freely) it would be fair and equitable. Also, it appears that to you, it is more important that people give cheerfully as they are led than that they achieve a 10% milestone.

    So if someone was led to give 2% or 1% to their church, that’s OK.

    I think one way we differ is that I think that calling our regular giving ‘tithing’ can be coercive, since it creates an expectation that it _should_ be 10%, or that that is the thing we _should_ aim for. So while some may do this freely and cheerfully, there will be some who feel guilt if they cannot do it cheerfully, or if they cannot do it at all. I can see though that you might not see this as a problem, believing that it is literally what God has shown us he has recognised in the past and also that it is equitable to all.

    I would prefer that our giving just be called giving (not tithing), so that all can be assured that whatever people give is from the heart and not from guilt, fear or coercion.

    I don’t think a particular percentage is equitable to all. Our circumstances all vary. Some may even have obligations which they did not choose, which make aiming for 10% or even 2% difficult (say someone in a carer role for chronically ill or dependent family members), and they must actually provide for those members before giving to the church, in accordance with scriptural principles laid out in the NT and the OT. To not do so and always give to the church while their dependents go without their needs, could be great sin.

    At the same time, I think that it is good when attending a church, to commit oneself to an amount to give on a regular basis to support that ministry, and other missions they are involved in. Even when not attending a church, we can all still commit ourselves to supporting various causes God leads us to.

    Anyway, we differ on this, but it is good to make progress in understanding where you are coming from. Otherwise it is far easier to identify your teaching with what I’ve experienced in the churches I’ve attended, and not understand where you differ.

  175. If you’re not sure what God is asking you to give and you would like an example of what God clearly approves, then you can take the example of first and best. If you would like a proportion to give on a regular basis, you could take the simple option of paying a tenth, since God obviously has no problem with this.

    – FL

    OK I think I get it now. Your position is that if you are sure what Father is telling you can give that amount whatever it is but 10% is the example to be followed.

    “Tithing lite” as it were.

    And I think I see the where your view differs from mine and where tithing proponents in general differ from mine. Won’t discuss that now.

  176. OK. Nice discussion. I think it’s clarified some understanding, at least.

    RE. I agree on grace. You’re correct. However, I do think there are times when giving has a reward, and that is also grace, although reward shouldn’t always be our motive, nor should we always seek it out. God simply has some things in motion which produce increase regardless.

    He causes the seed to produce. Our sowing merely aids the process. He gives the increase. It’s in his power only.

  177. RP said:

    “I would prefer that our giving just be called giving (not tithing)”

    I agree that the terms are not interchangeable and the two theologies need to be developed separately.

  178. FL said “However, I do think there are times when giving has a reward, and that is also grace, although reward shouldn’t always be our motive, nor should we always seek it out”

    Grace is unmerited favour from God is it not? So there is no sense in Grace of a reward or any action on our part that might earn or merit the reward.

    What times do you think that giving to God has a reward? You say that reward shouldnt always be our motive, in what cases is it appropriate that it be our motive? You say we shouldnt always seek it out, but that implies there are times when we should seek it – when and how?

  179. Does God trust us with more (including money) if we are faithful in that? What is the context of the parable of the talents?

    Please ignore if its already been discussed in relation to giving.

  180. Galatians 6:5-6
    ‘Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.’

    Generally understood to be supporting those who teach the Word.

    Gill…
    ‘communicate to him that teacheth; who is commissioned, and qualified and sent forth by Christ, and whose office in the church is to teach
    the word, to preach the Gospel, to instruct men in the truths of it, and teach them their duty also to God and men, such are to be
    communicated to; that is, such as are under their instructions ought to impart of their worldly substance to them, for their honourable
    and comfortable support and maintenance; for since they spend their time, and make use of their talents, gifts, and abilities, for
    their instruction in spiritual things, it is but reasonable, and no such great matter, that they partake of their carnal things; and
    especially since it is the will and ordinance of Christ, that they that preach the Gospel should live of it.’

    Adam Clarke:
    ‘Verse 6.
    Let him that is taught in the word] He who receives instructions in Christianity by the public preaching of the word;

    Communicate unto him that teacheth] Contribute to the support of the man who has dedicated himself to the work of the ministry,
    and who gives up his time and his life to preach the Gospel. It appears that some of the believers in Galatia could receive the
    Christian ministry without contributing to its support. This is both ungrateful and base. We do not expect that a common
    schoolmaster will give up his time to teach our children their alphabet without being paid for it; and can we suppose that it is
    just for any person to sit under the preaching of the Gospel in order to grow wise unto salvation by it, and not contribute to the
    support of the spiritual teacher? It is unjust.’

    2 Cor.9:6-11
    ‘But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”

    Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.’

    Discussing financial support, and clearly saying there is a return on what is sown, and that the return is dependent on the degree and manner in which it is sown, and that the supplier to the sower, and the giver of increase to the sower is God Himself.

  181. Taking a look at the passage in Matthew 25 it falls in the period after Jesus triumphal arrival in Jerusalem and just before being betrayed and crucified.

    He begins with a set of parables beginning from Chapter 21 regularly making reference to the kingdom of heaven i.e. ‘The kingdom of God is like…’

    In these last days he is clearly preoccupied with the understanding that his main mission is to bring people into God’s kingdom.

    Each parable given builds a picture of how God is calling people to him and our role in this.

    The parable of the talents is sandwiched between two stories. It is prefaced with the foolish and inattentive virgins who are shut out of the wedding banquet of the Lamb. It is then followed by the goats who gave no thought for the strangers that God places so much value on.

    In this context, the story of the talents suggest that God has invested us with resources (talents) to lead people to him (reward). God is particularly critical of those who hide them or take no interest in the lost people of this world.

  182. I’d like to start a new thread on this, inquiring on the type of reward we can expect as a result of giving. This is a related but separate issue from tithing. Will put a thread up tonight.

  183. Great, wazza. I think the reward issue is a different one to tithing, and deserves its own focus.

  184. we dont get a rewared (expecting something back) we just “give” there is no law, there is no contract. We give for the sake of giving, there is no law, love loving people is the law.

  185. well, Fl, isnt going to take the issue further. He is ‘fixed’ in his ways and thats it. I actually accept that. He sort of cannot change his views, presently. He is somewhat unable to.

  186. This really is for the thread that Wazza siad he was going to put up.

    You’ve seen me refer to this (Gen 4) before, but in the context of giving and rewards this sets the tone for everything else.

    Note the following when reading thru it:

    We don’t really know what it was about Cain’s offering that did not please God, but it can be inferred that both Cain and God knew that Cain’s offering was not “right”.

    The reward for doing right is being accepted or going well for us – in the here and now and also I would suggest in the eternal sense.

    Even when Cain has killed his brother God still in His mercy looks after Cain.

    Two key messages – do what’s right and it will go well with us and giving is part of that equation.

    If we don’t God will still look after us, but there are consequences.

    That is as far as I want to push it.

    “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.

    So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? (the New Living T has this as “You will be accepted if you do what is right.”)

    “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

    Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
    “I don’t know,” he replied.
    “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

    Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

    But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

  187. Perhaps these two passages are of help. Note that in both passages the true blessing is one of justification and sanctification so that we may enter the Kingdom of God. There is no promise of an ‘easy life’ or worldly reward. In fact Paul makes it clear that suffering, persecution and death will lie in wait for us – but we need not fear because we already have everything in Christ. All things (good or bad) in this world are of no consequence in comparison to the riches of heaven.

    “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Romans 8:38-39

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

    In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

    Ephesian 1:3-14

  188. “So you don’t think the exchange of gifts between Abram and Melchizadek had any spiritual significance, s&p?”

    Everything is spiritual. The prophecy and blessing was spiritual. Neither was greater than the other. They were just different. BUT these words were more reminders of what Abraham was receiving from God. If Abraham and Melchizedek naturally bonded brotherly, then that is just as awesome a spiritual blessing then what was said.

    “This isn’t an argument for a NT tithe, s&p, but do you suppose God loved or cherished the nation of Israel any less than Abraham?”

    Of course not. Is this a noose question?

  189. Part of A. W. Pinks view of the Abram/Mel exchange from http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Gleanings_Genesis/genesis.htm.

    “And Abram said to the King of Sodom, I have lifted up mine hand unto the Lord, the Most High God, the Possessor of heaven and earth.[3] That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say I have made Abram rich. Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion”
    (Gen. 14:22-24). What noble words were these! With quiet dignity our patriarch refuses to be dependent in anywise upon the King of Sodom—what a contrast was Balaam and the offer made him by Balak! Abram knew that in heaven he had a “better and an enduring substance” (Heb. 10:34). The words, “I have lifted up mine hand unto the Lord” (compare Deut. 32:40) signify a vow or solemn oath, and seem to show that when he started out in pursuit of Lot’s captors he promised the Lord that if He would give him success he would not enrich himself by his campaign; but it is beautiful to note that he did not forget or overlook the claims of those who had accompanied him and shared his perils. In the giving of tithes to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, Abram acknowledged God’s grace in giving him the victory.

  190. ‘Abram acknowledged God’s grace in giving him the victory.’

    Amen!

    It was God who made Abraham wealthy. He didn’t need Sodom’s wealth.

  191. Hey Bull, could you go into more detail about the sermon on the mount how it relates to the nine commandments minus the sabbath.

    Also, just curious are u Jewish?

  192. Todd,

    I am not Jewish. I am a gentile. Regarding the Sermon on the mount … if you look at it the following way “this is what I meant by …” you can then see that Jesus isn’t so much reinterpreting the ten commandments as he is explaining what they mean.

    The only commandment he doesn’t revisit is the Sabbath.

    Paul expands on this later of course when he tells us not to keep feast days, or a special calendar. Paul says that we are free to choose to keep one day as holy or every day as the Lord’s Day … we are free in Christ!

    Free of tithes … that was a Jewish ordinance and part of the Mosaic Covenant. Free of Sabbath observance. Free of Kosher food laws. Free.

    Yet we see the Pastor of America’s biggest Church bringing the Kosher food laws back. The legalistic application of a tithe leads to a slippery slope. Before you know it, it’s no longer about relationship … it’s about complying with the rules of your ‘church’.

    All dodgy christian cults started off being more orthodox than all others. Then a charismatic leader went off the deep end, and dragged dependent followers with them. JW’s, Mormons, Branch Davidians, People’s Temple.

    Dodgy teaching ends up in people going to hell. That’s the danger. Check out Paul Washer. He’ll rock your world … because he is the first preacher I have heard who seems to be going out of his way to demolish his own ministry … so that he can save some from a life of mediocrity and many others from going to hell.

    Everyone check him out. You may hate what he has to say and disagree with it … but none could say that he wasn’t a believer.

    Fakes like Todd Bentley though … well, you can tell they worship the “Angel”.

    Shalom.

    Hmm … hot chocolate I think.

  193. And dodgy teaching can bring a type of hell on earth too. All sorts of pain and grief as people are not getting fed properly, lives suffer…

    Bull i watched Paul Washer too and i coudnt believe my ears about how straight forward he is. But he does it in love. He’s a good speaker.

  194. Bull remarked:

    “All dodgy christian cults started off being more orthodox than all others. Then a charismatic leader went off the deep end, ”

    I think what is common to Christian cults, various religions and humanist philosophies is the ‘grain of truth’ in each of them.

    The Fall of Man, exile from Eden and relational divide with God produced a whole range of unexpressed losses for human kind.

    What is common in the cults is the presence of a teaching (often with some scriptural basis but often taken randomly and out of context) that remains the central tenet of the movement. The doctrine(s) generally have an intrinsic appeal to the followers and attempt to fill some deep yearning in their lives.

    More often people feel a ‘connection’ with the followers, ideals or leaders on a psychological, emotional and spiritual level rather than on an intellectual one. This is true of Branch Davidianism as much as radial Islam.

    Eventually the teaching dominates over all other considerations. Thus the ‘truth becomes distorted’ or ‘having a form of godliness but denying its power’.

    The more sinister cults actively suppress or penalise any careful reflection or questioning. Other movements simply use mind-numbing rituals or liturgies to distract the followers from this purpose.

    The solution for sincere seekers of the truth is both surprisingly obvious yet seemingly difficult to apply. Christ simply asks us to follow and obey Him.

    Maybe a series of reflective questions could be helpful:

    1) When I reflect on a spiritual teaching who do I immediately identify it with? God who spoke it or the leader whose mouth I heard it originally spoken through?

    2) When I receive teaching do I take it on face value because of the ‘status’ of the speaker or verify it carefully with scriptural references?

    3) Whenever I hear something that may call into doubt a long-held cherished belief where do I first turn to? The source of truth, the Bible – or some other reference e.g. pastor, elder, favourite author or speaker?

    4) What do I crave more? My next church’experience’ or a deeper overall understanding of who God is?

    I’d suspect that the followers of the more extreme movements either have never considered these issues or have been denied the opportunity to ever think about them.

  195. “2) When I receive teaching do I take it on face value because of the ’status’ of the speaker or verify it carefully with scriptural references?” – RE

    When I was younger, I used to believe that people in senior positions were there because of merit, whether in work or church life. So when a speaker or preacher taught me, I used to accept what they said based on my logic that “they’ve been around longer than me so they must know better” or “they’ve been Pentecostal longer than me so they’ve had more practice hearing God clearly or moving in the gifts”, or, “they’ve done a theology degree and I haven’t, so they must know better”.

    Since I didn’t note down any bible references, I didn’t have the ability to look them up later, nor did I feel I needed to, since I trusted my leaders.

    Over time, the trust eroded, particularly as I saw people being put second after programs and organisational needs. Finally it all blew away, and now I look everything up.

    I value leaders who value questions and enjoy discussing them. If a leader does this, and consistently points back to scripture in a way that makes sense, and demonstrates Christ in their life, then they win my respect and benefit of the doubt – though these days I’ll always look things up regardless.

  196. A good comment RE. This bit especially stands out “I think what is common to Christian cults, various religions and humanist philosophies is the ‘grain of truth’ in each of them.”

    I heard a preacher say years ago that no self-respecting rat would eat rat poison. To get it to eat the rat poison you have to mix it up with rice or something else. The good stuff is a delivery mechanism for the bad stuff.

    Isaac Asimov took it further in one of the “Foundation” books and noted that the more truth a lie contained the more powerful a lie it is – and that to successfully lie using only the truth was to wield great power.

    All the more reason I think to ask the questions you ask and others like them when people use scripture to make points that scripture does not make. Worth a separate thread perhaps?

  197. Yes you see it in twisted scripture and that quoting from the Bible gives one carte blanche to manipulate the minds of their audience, and using other “methods”. Its funny when i left former church, whilst i was immersed in it, i ddnt notice as much and then stepping back (plus reading the Bible for myself) i could see the light…pardon the pun

  198. I hear what you guys are saying about incorrect/unhelpful teaching, but we have all has held a doctrine that now we would see as a lie or just have another perspective.

    I think what guards against dangerous theology is a wide community challenging your own theology and being open that you maybe be wrong or looking at it at an unhealthy view.

  199. yes, we can have our own views but a teacher should know their doctrine back ‘d front and not preach lies, superstition, fear and falsehood.

  200. Todd said:

    “I think what guards against dangerous theology is a wide community challenging your own theology and being open that you maybe be wrong or looking at it at an unhealthy view.”

    To some extent I agree but often your main connections are people who share similar doctrinal beliefs.

    At the end of the day only the primary text can verify any particular teaching.

    The problem with a number of large churches is a lack of systematic or Biblical theology. Much of the teaching is topical and thematic rather than exegetical. Consequently, the congregation don’t have any proper method of approaching the scriptures themselves.

  201. Raving Evanelical,

    Very true about church people not having the tools to study the bible for themselves. By that saying we do bring own ideas/emotionals/experiences to the text and having other viewpoints can bring so much more out of the text that we cant see ourselves. Also, alot of the times we hold some tools greater than other.

    I do think the same that topical teaching is more dangerous than going through text in detail.

    Topical sermons or teachings should be the exception not the norm.

  202. RE,
    ‘The problem with a number of large churches is a lack of systematic or Biblical theology. Much of the teaching is topical and thematic rather than exegetical. Consequently, the congregation don’t have any proper method of approaching the scriptures themselves.’

    Most large churches carry a Bible Training Centre alongside, which provides for more in depth study, and leadership training. They grow because they are more likely to provide systematic training schedules and classes, not less likely. The larger the church the more likely theological studies are provided.

    The Bible wasn’t written exegetically, that is, in the sense you mean, unless NT writers referenced OT scriptures to illustrate or demonstrate the point they were making. It was, for the most part, topical and thematic.

    ‘Exegesis’ is merely a high-brow word for explanation or interpretation of a text. In which case, all teaching, and to an extent, all preaching is exegetic, whether it is thematic or topical, or verse by verse teaching.

    In fact, many churches with large congregations have very systematic teaching, in that they will cover a set annual program of important teachings, covering the main areas faced by their congregants on a day to day basis. Which is very Biblical. If you read the teachings of Christ, you will see that they were very topical, and extremely thematic, covering many aspects of everyday life in an agrarian society.

    With the vast array of tools at our disposal, there is no excuse for any serious Christian for falling short of diligent study of the Word. I can’t think that there’d be a single bona fide Pastor who would actively discourage believers from studying as much of the Word as they can. Of course, along with the study aids available, most good pastors would take care to warn their people to avoid error, and would, if they are wise, spend some time teaching in this area so their sheep are not led to and fro with every wind of doctrine. Teaching by warning against cults is topical, but a subject often covered by Paul, James, John and Peter, as well as Jude.

    There is no excuse for Christians who ignore personal Bible study. It is not the responsibility of their church or Pastor to enforce discipline, but for each individual to engage in discipline, encouraged by their Pastor. Blaming churches and ministers for a Christian’s lethargic approach to study isn’t helpful.

    The Bareans took it upon themselves to check what was being said. This is the right way to approach Bible teaching.

  203. FL said:

    “‘Exegesis’ is merely a high-brow word for explanation or interpretation of a text.”

    The term might have evolved this way in common use but exegesis has a unique and specific meaning in Christian theology. It also needs to be contrasted with other methods of Biblical interpretation such as hermeneutics and the methods by which the message is conveyed, homiletics.

    Roughly, the general principle of evangelical theology begins with understanding the text in the original context with no pre-conceived or traditional bias. The idea is to see the passage afresh in the minds of the original audience. Amongst other things issues such as historical, religious and cultural context and then considered. This is particularly important in the Ancient Jewish world but equally so in the Greek NT context. Certain events are rich in meaning, for instance ‘birthright’. Literary style, the way language is used, often governs the the way certain words and phrases are interpreted by the original listeners. For instance the visions from the Book of Daniel and Revelations are stylistically different from the Pauline letters or the orderly narration of the Gospels. Events may be described in order from beginning to end or in recurrent sequences and patterns. Some books have no particular timeline such as Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs.

    When it comes to interpretation, the order should be the verse within the passage within the chapter within the Book within the Testament within the Bible.

    Alongside this is the principle of Biblical theology. Geoff Bingham explains this in his book “The things we firmly believed” as the story of salvation history.

    Since the Creation of Man and his Fall the Bible is a progressive historical account of God’s personal interaction to ultimately restore us to Himself through Christ. The OT story of the Jews is not simply a frustrating reconciliation attempt by God. It is to to be understood as an important and necessary prelude prior to Christ fulfilling His final plan.

    When it comes to reading the Bible, it is tempting to flit from OT and NT assembling passages to develop a theology about a particular issue. On a superficial level the passages may appear to have commonalities. But if one were to transplant the meanings back into the narrative of the original book, they appear disjointed, bizarre or illogical. Unsurprisingly for a multi-author work written by people geographically and chronologically separate addressing different groups of people.

    Typically in our preaching programme, we tend to focus only on one book of the Bible for a few weeks. The aim is to see the passages in their original form. Most often ‘difficult passage’ are explained within the book itself without needing to refer outside the text. Cross referencing is used sparingly and judiously referring only to writings by the same author (Paul’s letters) or of the same style (Gospels) or if there is a historical precedent (Melchizedek, the ‘Son of Man’). As you mention many books have focal themes such as Paul’s letters that address specific issues to the churches he writes to. On the other hand, only by reading the entire OT account from 1 Samuel to Ezra and Nehemiah will we understand the purposes of God’s hand upon Israel.

    In summary, our understanding is first based on the premise that God had already developed an unfolding salvation plan seamlessly moving from the Fall of Man to Christ. Next this is interpreted in the evolving covenants of Abraham and Moses through to Christ. The books of the Bible are then individually seen in each of these periods. Only then can we carefully extract and combine passages from its different parts to further develop any other meanings.

  204. ‘When it comes to interpretation, the order should be the verse within the passage within the chapter within the Book within the Testament within the Bible.’

    I wouldn’t disagree with what you say, but there is a danger of over-analysing scripture. And context is paramount to understanding. Each line is confirmed by the whole, and everything points to Christ, and our need of a Saviour.

    The key is surely to know and live by the Spirit of the Word not the letter.

    Cults arise because they have to avoid the Spirit of God, being unable to enter the Spirit because of unbelief. They use the Bible texts to prove what they already believe, regardless of how error-strewn it is, rather than reading the Word and making the adjustments necessary to have their doctrine and lifestyle arranged for them by God.

    Without the leading of the Spirit we just become legalistic.

    I’m often amazed how writers like Paul seemingly took scriptures from the OT and applied them to the NT without adhering to the context of the OT passages.

    For instance, the teaching on speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians takes texts out of context, in a literal sense, and applies them in a spiritual sense. peter used a similar method to expound on the phenomenon of tongues on the day of Pentecost. he used a Joel passage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but it doesn’t fit contextually with the literal understanding of Joel 2.

  205. Arent you sort of going against what you previously adhere to FL? what happened to legalistic by the word literal FL. Its a miracle

  206. FL remarked:

    “I wouldn’t disagree with what you say, but there is a danger of over-analysing scripture. ”

    Over analysis of each verse without reference to the whole would naturally lead to error.

    The Pharisees were obsessive about keeping every letter of the law. Understandably they were fearful of repeating the mistakes of their forefathers. But in their devotion to God’s law they missed the whole point of God’s grace.

    More recent examples of over analysis include literary numerology such as the Bible Code or the mystical Nostradamian interpretations in The Plain Truth.

    As our minister has said “Remember to keep the main thing, the main thing”

  207. The main thing is the plain thing, and the Plain thing is the main thing.

    It is true that Paul took the odd verse and applied it in a new way. For example, “Don’t muzzle the Ox when he’s treading out the grain.”

    That’s a reference to a paid ministry folks. The original context (OT) was nothing to do with a paid ministry as far as I can see.

    In any case, the key thing is that while it might be nice for large churches to have some kind of Bible College thing where those few believers actually want to learn some Bible (presumably, the majority don’t want one, or lack the time for more meetings etc) the majority of believers only get the opportunity to receive some teaching on Sunday mornings.

    That is where systematic bible teaching should take place. It is not for some elite minority … it is for every believer. We are all ministers after all.

    The priesthood of ALL believers.

    Shalom

  208. mj, where scripture is clearly literal one adheres to what it says.

    Jesus spoke in parables much of the time, and there is also allegorical revelation in the NT which requires an understanding of the OT to be correctly discerned.

    Scripture is often prophetic and may reference more than one era or people group.

    Most of the OT refers to God’s lead up to and dealings with Israel as the seed-line to Christ, who is the Seed. However, contained within the OT is the mystery of the Church, which no one really understood until Paul revealed the hidden truths by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t think I’ve shown a legalistic view of scripture, but a literal understanding unless it is clearly proven otherwise.

    Keep it simple is usually the best course.

  209. I agree with Bull. Systematic bible teaching would ideally take place in at least one Sunday service, in a traditional church model.

    My experience at C3OF searching for teaching went like this: – first few years, really enjoyed learning about practical gifts of the spirit, and great worship, neither of which occurred in my prior Anglican church. Enjoyed evangelistic services at night, and teaching on life issues in the morning. Enjoyed the annual Ozfire conferences and wondered if God was really going to bring the Revival. The building fund began. Enjoyed evangelistic services at night, and learnt about giving in the morning. Learnt about giving at the annual conferences as well. Wondered again about Revival. Obviously we needed to build a bigger church for this to happen. After some time, began to feel starved for real teaching and began to die of boredom in Sunday Services. Stopped bothering with annual conferences, feeling vaguely guilty at lack of enthusiasm. Decided Bible College must be the place to find meat, since clearly the Sunday services were considerately designed not to alienate new Christians just learning the faith. After only a few weeks of part time college, nearly died of boredom. Learnt about how a pastor’s wife exercised faith in her life as a Mum. Nice, but really for a homegroup or Sunday morning homily. Gave up. Tried another church. Finally found teaching on a wide range of well thought through topics. Worship didn’t sound so great, but didn’t care – God could see my heart, and all that mattered was that we were giving it our best shot. Cut to recent times… discover new pastor is falling into patterns of church that I previously left. Couldn’t bear to go back there. Discovered it was unnecessary to even attend traditional church, and that I could learn more by following my own desires to study, still connected with a group of encouraging people. Acknowledged that some people will probably think I’ve become whacko and highly dodgy. Acknowledge that I could have done the same thing while attending church – but didn’t. Hmm. Pray for forgiveness. Cease caring about that what other people think of me. Not dying of boredom anymore. Excited about God. Heart revived.

  210. Left out the revelation of how I’d absorbed dodgy doctrine along the way… no need to go over that again!

  211. I advocate meeting as a church/congregation …

    however, I recognise the boredom thing in myself. It is already driving me nuts!

    Too late for coffee!

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