Tuesday, December 12

Should New Testament Christians Pay Tithes?

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Once having established that before the Law there were many instances that some of the most outstanding figures of the Old Testament paid the tithe, on a voluntary basis, there remains another question.   After the  “Law,” should Christians tithe? Is it even legal for Christians to practice tithing in the New Testament? We know of a certainty that “during the Law” it was indeed mandatory for the Children of Israel to pay the tithe for the maintenance of the Temple(s) and the Levitical priesthood. Therefore, we will not concern ourselves on this point. Having come the Christ, the Old Testament or the “Law” was then made complete or fulfilled.

An examination of tithing practices after the Law, reveals the following: there was no recorded document of the early Christians having practiced the tithing principle in the New Testament. The emphasis and focus is on “goodwill offerings”. Yet, today, especially across our television screens come a deluge of rantings, manipulations, twisting and just plain coercion as most tele-evangelists and many “ministers” of the Gospel do their best to convince followers of Jesus Christ that should they neglect to tithe, they rob from God Himself.

I beseech you to hear the following with your spirit and your heart and not with your head. Not according to what you may or may not have heard at Bible college or seminary. After the period of the Law, there was a change, a shift into another dimension, from the age of the Law to the age of Grace. It was a shift into a dimension in which the priesthood along with all of the nuances, rules and regulations of the priesthood had to shift, they had to change.

In Hebrew 7:12 we read, “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Could it be also that the rules concerning the tithe also changed, along with all else pertaining to the Law? Were Christians now exempt from “tithing in the New Testament? (1)

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Let’s go a little further. We know further that as a result of this “shift” to another dimension, that of Grace, that Jesus Christ became the High Priest and that He offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice, even to the extent of the shed of His own Blood. If He is, in essence, the Lord of the tithes, does He not determine to whom the tithe should go; when it should be given; the storehouse in which He wishes it to be distributed and even if a tithe should be given at all?

Many years ago I had a precious sister in the Lord, a recent divorcee, who was actually a spiritual daughter of mine be laid off from her job. With two young boys to raise, she was given three hours notice as the factory in which she was employed began a massive lay-off. She never told anyone and she never even asked for prayers.

At the exact moment, I was getting ready to send off my tithe to one of the television ministries at the time of much renown. Suddenly, I couldn’t write a check or do anything with the money. My hand would tremble every time I would take the pen in hand. After two days of prayer asking God as to the why of this occurrence, I sensed the Lord tell me to send my friend the amount of the tithe. When she came home that week from job searches, she looked into the mailbox. Inside were three envelopes from different persons – totaling the exact amount which would have been her salary for that week.

In the New Testament, it is stressed that Christians should bring in offerings and give with a willing heart after they have determined in their heart the amount they are to give. There is no mention of the tithe.It doesn’t say to tithe but it doesn’t say not to tithe either. That is another can of worms so to speak. Christians are to give to the poor; to the widow; visit those in prison and be a father to the orphan. A Christian’s responsibilities are clearly defined and delineated but nowhere does it mention the tithes. Yet, in the area of giving of offerings, the Bible is fairly graphic. Christians in the New Testament are to give: give of their time; give of their love; and give of their wealth not mattering if they are rich or poor. However, once again, it says nothing specifically about the tithe.

There is a certain Hebrew word, halakah, which in the Talmudic literature deals with the Law and with the interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures on the Law. That is under the Law. Under the Grace of the New Testament times, there also are halakahs with a deeper more personalized application.

When in doubt of something not specifically covered in the Word of God this practice should be implemented until a halakah is given by the Holy Spirit. It may come in a Word through the preaching of a sermon; through a dream; through a vision; and it may come even by neon lights flashing on the Goodyear blimp He should so desire.

 * Pray about the situation. Ask God what is His mind on the matter as it relates to you
personally. It may be on a family matter, concerning one’s health or a financial one.
But take it to Him first in prayer.
* Search the Scriptures to see what they say on the matter.
* Don’t share with anyone what you are enquiring of God. Keep your mouth shut
and let the Lord be your confidence only. He’ll keep your foot from being needlessly
entangled and caught in a snare.
* Take communion before making the decision you feel in your heart that God
wants made on the matter and do it!

Above all, concerning the giving of the tithe after the Law, settle it once and for all with Him. It is a private and personal matter, but when you give offerings, give with all of your heart after having settled the matter. But do give!

There are seasons in which He has indicated to this writer – “tithe!” There are other seasons in which He has instructed “don’t tithe” or “not now”. However, the Bible in no manner annuls the responsibility of a Christian to give. There is no question on that matter. Whether Christians should give tithes in the period of Grace, remains to be settled between the Believer and the Lord.

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Sources:

(1) Into the Light Ministries, http://www.intothelight.org/tithing.asp

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