| Tithe series – Part 1 of 5

‘The Question of The Tithe, An ‘Unpopular’ Practice: Tithes (And Offerings) Are Required By God Today’

This forecasted examination of ‘tithing’ arises from the Bible’s first mention of the word in Genesis 12:20.

Intro: God’s Word represents fundamental and legal imperatives which call for believers to address the impact of such in both a practical and eternity context. The subject of tithing is one of the more emotive subjects in Christendom because of its associations with money and therefore it is important to treat this topic in a manner that seeks to arrive at an objective understanding of it as a matter of course.

The Word of God is necessarily interpreted in broader terms which is among other things founded upon fundamental truths such as Jesus’ statement in Matthew 4:4 that man is required to live ‘by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’.

* In this post I assert that there is direct proof in the Bible that tithing is required by God and that, by necessity, the ‘church’/”fellowship setting” pastor, or overseeing preacher of today, is the chosen New Testament (NT)(Eph 4:11) representation of the Old Testament (OT) Levite priest.

This reveals that Christians should consider properly everything the OT priests did in order to decipher what is and is not for today. To tackle this, this series firstly examines the question of church finances. Then, it will investigate the legal imperatives of tithing, preacher and member obligations, the role of precedent, and the manner of tithing.

The position to tithe is predominantly based upon the following Scripture which reveals that preachers had been commanded ‘all along’ to receive their living from the ‘good news’ (the Gospel).

1 Corinthians 9:13-14:

13 “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?

14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel”.

How? From tithes and offerings.

The Old Testament priests received the people’s tithes and offerings for the House of God (v. 13 above; ‘food for My house’ – Mal 3:10 – by tithes and offerings).

This was done in order that the House of Israel would be materially sustained as a whole (Deut 26:12) and primarily for the levite priests (and families) for their Service at the ‘Tent of Meeting’ (Num 18:21-24). And, in the same way above (v.14), the ‘equivalent’ ‘Church’ preachers today are required to receive the believers’ tithes and offerings (Mal 3:8; 9; 10) so that the Church of God can be sustained and primarily for the purpose of financing these overseeing preachers due to their service to the Church and which includes “non-church” preachers (1 Cor 9:14) by way of offerings only and not tithes being that they do not formally oversee (1 Tim 3; Titus 1:5-9) a ‘church’ or ‘flock’.

Note the words from God in verse 14, “in the same way”. This means that the preacher is commanded to do exactly the same thing as the OT priest did in regards to earning a living from doing God’s Work, and, in the modern context through the Gospel. That is, critically, there is no “breakage” or “demarcation line” here between the OT and the NT by the use of these words (‘same way’), and, tellingly, this letter is written years after Jesus Christ had ascended which is clear and dominant proof that God expects believers in this current day to compulsorily facilitate the preacher making a living from the Gospel which will be explored further below.

Therefore, the New Covenant of Salvation by Jesus Christ clearly did not abolish the connection of these NT verses in 1 Corinthians ch 9 to the OT, as is commonly overlooked to the detriment of the Church.

Further, Jesus Himself in Matthew 23:23 explicitly includes tithing as compulsory for all in His mentioning of it to all the people and His disciples (v 1). Furthermore, in this regard, the minimal mention of tithing in the New Testament hermenuetically and legally speaking does not in any way remove or diminish the need to tithe in the present time.

This is because just one mention of something in the Bible or in ‘legal’ documentation is sufficient for it to be God’s Will and, in any event, the doing or not doing of something or a truth can be implied from the Bible’s contents even if a subject or word is not mentioned at all. Two examples being that there are no express mentions of the words ‘omnipresent’ and ‘omniscient’ in foundational Bible translations yet the Bible’s contents make it clear that God’s presence is ‘everywhere’ and that He is ‘all knowing’.

–On the subject of ‘offerings’, these are unfailingly required to be given to the ‘church’ and ‘non-church’ preachers by believers as a matter of normal practice, as prompted by the heart and ‘cheerfully’ (Exod 25:2; 2 Cor 9:6-7). Though, in saying this, the ‘absence’ of a cheerful heart is not an excuse for believers to not give or withhold their offerings arbitrarily, as like a sinful habit. This is because God nevertheless expects giving, unless there is a credible and practical reason for not doing so, so that His overseers and house are sustained and therefore by extension His work is advanced.

More pointedly, both Tithes and Offerings* (below) are mandatory because they provide “food” to God’s House. That is, believers are required to ‘Bring’ (Mal 3:10) their tithes to God (through the church preacher) which denotes that people’s tithes ‘Already’ belong to Him, and therefore God is robbed (v. when believers do not do it and consequently such are under a curse (v. 9). Relevantly, in terms of language use, believers also ‘Give’* (at bottom) offerings because similarly not doing so is robbing God and carries a curse (v 8-9) and, importantly, the instruction to give cheerfully (2 Cor 9:6-7) also reflects the believer’s expected and obedient practice in giving to God.

Importantly, therefore, it is sin for believers to not bring Tithes, and to unjustifiably withhold Offerings. This is also because not doing so for instance restrains the preacher from doing the work of God more effectively in terms of not having sufficient time to serve believers and the wider community by effectively being forced to work secularly.

Though, this isn’t to say that a pastor or preacher cannot decide to work ‘secularly’ if he wishes, and is led to do so (1 Cor 9:12-23). This is known as a “permissive will” in God, however, it should be noted that a preacher if it is God’s Will for him has an unequivocal right (vv 1-23) from God in verse 14 to not work secularly which must be accepted and not opposed because God has called him to preach His gospel and live materially from it as with 1 Corinthinans 9:14 above.

Unfortunately, it is sad that the traditional though wrong and at times hostile teaching and beliefs by those opposed to tithing makes it difficult or even impossible for many tithe-believing preachers to raise it as a mandatory practice, not to talk of implementing it. Though, in saying this, it is sadder to witness that many if not most pastors and preachers do not for unbiblical reasons believe nor understand that tithing is mandatory despite the Bible clearly teaching that it is and particularly its requirement being affirmed ‘after’ the Cross in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.

Importantly, it’s time for this to change and for believers to cease believing and championing the traditional but thoroughly unbiblical and misinformed view that tithing isn’t for today.

Unfortunately, among other things, this view is often due to a misunderstanding of the role of money in the Church and how the Church is to be financed. Significantly, it must be said that it is also often due to a prevailing mistrust towards many seemingly and actual money-oriented preachers though I suggest that the dominant reason as alluded is that the Church has traditionally but wrongly believed that tithing is only for the ‘Old Testament’ and for Israelites and that it is almost exclusively mentioned in the Old Testament.

In this regard, and critically, there is nothing in both the Old and New Testaments that abolishes the bringing of tithes by all believers. This is particularly because the Salvific work of Christ biblically and legally did not in any way negate the continued need to compulsorily finance the House of God and primarily the leadership ‘after’ the Cross in the same way as the levite priests above (1 Cor 9:14) and the Israelites as a whole (Deut 26:12) were sustained ‘prior’ to the Cross.

That is, the NT and OT verses above variously Command (1 Cor 9:14) that the pastor and preacher is ordinarily materially sustained by both the giving of tithes and offerings (offerings only for non-overseeing preachers) as grounded directly by the practices of God’s OT priests in the OT ‘storehouse’ (Mal 3:10) which in the modern context is the local ‘church-house’.

In closing, as the Church of God, we need to be properly understanding of full biblical truth and apply proper interpretation and cross-referencing and identify Typology which illuminate OT practices that clearly point to their continuation in the NT and up till today. This includes having a better appreciation and understanding of the nature and role of ‘precedent’ in the Old Testament and elsewhere in its pertaining to the ongoing perfect will and heart of God and His expectations for preachers and believers alike in the current ‘age of Grace’ dispensation.

* (Above – asterix)

((The use of the word ‘bring’ in Malachi 3:10 concerning tithes may not necessarily exclude the word and practice of ‘Bringing’ offerings to God’s house. This is because the scriptures may may be conveying that, by word arrangement, it is unnecessary linguistically to repeat the word ‘offerings’ by including it in verse 10 in terms of what should be ‘Brought’ into the ‘storehouse’.

In this regard, Malachi 3:8 states that the people of God rob God by not providing both tithes and offerings. Therefore, the inclusion of both in this verse may mean that automatically there is also a need to specifically ‘Bring’ offerings.

If so, this is not biblically inconsistent with the conventional New Testament directive to ‘give’ offerings and also suggests that the provision of offerings to God is given the same weight as the “bringing” of tithes to Him and, therefore, while given freely, believers are nevertheless required to be givers.

(Compare Mark 16:15-18 concerning the “absence” of the word ‘baptised’ in verse 16 following its use in the earlier part of verse 16)).

| Tithe series – Part 2 of 5

‘The Question of Tithing, An ‘Unpopular’ Practice: Tithes (And Offerings) Are Required By God Today’

‘Believers Have To Tithe’

In Matthew 23:23, Jesus Christ states:

“Woe to you, scribes (teachers/exponents of the law) and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”.

Of paramount and ultimate biblical and legal significance are the Words of Jesus Christ and the New Testament concerning whether a practice in the Old Testament is continued or discontinued.

In accordance with biblical and legal interpretation, unless there is an irrefutable basis in the Old or New Testaments which abolishes or ends an Old Testament practice, then that practice is still continuing.

For instance, believers do not sacrifice animals today on account of sin as was done in the Old Testament because Jesus Christ is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) having paid the Price for sin by His death on the Cross, and, therefore, ‘animal-sacrificing’ has ended at the Cross.

First, the various types of tithe-bringing in the Old Testament simply represented the various instances where the people of God fell into increase of those things or ‘jobs’ that sustained their well-being. Proverbs 3:9-10 states: “Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine”. The people of God back then were to honour God with their increased substance each time it arose from all sources by God (Deut 8:18) and therefore in the same way by precedent believers today must do the same thing.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:23 are an Express Command to believers that we must tithe. The argument that Jesus in this verse was instructing only the scribes and Pharisees to tithe is error. Jesus would have spoken in the same manner if any person had for instance asked Him if tithing were required in that He may have said something like ‘you should not neglect tithing’ (“the former” above)(v. 23) and, importantly, in this chapter, Jesus is principally instructing the whole crowd and His disciples (v 1) and thus is obviously including them in how to live in His various criticisms of the scribes and the Pharisees.

Significantly, the scribes and the Pharisees were not the only people who tithed their own types of material increases in Jesus’ day but all the Israelites did so as well as His disciples. Then, by necessity, as God’s “firstborn son” (Exod 4:22), Israel serves as God’s ‘Example’ nation to the whole world of the need for all individuals across every nation to bring tithes to God upon Covenanting with the God of Jesus Christ.

In this regard, it is crucial to note that Jesus’ death on the Cross did not “suddenly” discontinue the abundance of teachings and commands that He gave during His ministry.

That is, as if to incorrectly say that His death, and His forgiving of sins, automatically means that the status of being “born-again” extinguishes the need to obey All of Jesus’ instructive Words spoken ‘before’ the Cross.

This is especially given that the tithe’s function of sustaining the people of God with ‘meat’/food (Mal 3:10), through its provision to the Pastor or ‘overseeing’ church preacher, as like the Old Testament priest, remains an essential and obvious need for the Church today. To elaborate, this is the reason God indirectly but explicitly Commands tithing by the mention in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 that preachers are to live off the ‘food’/’substance’-money given by the church in their ministering of the Gospel.

Further, Jesus’ Death and Blood and Resurrection specifically represent the ‘Act’ by which the Salvation of a person’s soul is effected, due to repentance. That is, then, this Act does not in substance “disturb” nor diminish nor expunge His necessary and separate though related Express instructions of faithful believer requirements such as tithing in Matthew 23:23 which was and is a continuing and unaffected “accompaniment” to His Salvific Work on the Cross and to the life of believers ‘beyond’ the Cross until the present.

In this regard, the words that Jesus spoke in the New Testament “accompany” the New Covenant that He made with His Blood. That is, that, His Redemptive Work is premised or founded upon His very Words expressed while on earth which give effect to the establishment of the New Covenant upon His death (see Exod 24:7-8; 3-4; 12 for the instructive features of a Covenant/”Agreement”). These Old Testament Scriptures reveal the necessary ‘binding’ of the Old Testament commands of God to the Old Covenant and in the same way New Covenant believers are bound by the “accompanying” Words of Jesus Christ and the New Testament to the New Covenant which, analogically speaking, essentially represent the existence of the “terms and conditions” contained in an “Agreement” or “Contract” (Covenant “obligations”) that all believers are obligated to as adherents to Christ since the time of Christ.

To understand this, in order for the New Covenant to be instituted by the Blood of the Saviour Jesus Christ, He had to by necessity firstly express and explain to the people and the world what the Covenant’s New Testament “contents” or “accompanying Kingdom righteousness” (Matt 6:33) entailed. This was done in order that people have knowledge of the substance and intent of it and therefore also appreciate the realities involved in following Jesus Christ of the New Testament and in turn to seek God and all that ‘accompanies’ His Kingdom (Matt 6:33).

A modern expression of this is in the field of politics where a government firstly explains the rights and obligations (accompanying “righteousness”/factors) of a ‘bill’ or ‘law’ it introduces to its nation and later enacts or effects that bill as official Law by signature typically. Hence, Jesus Christ firstly “introduced” and explained the “content” of the New Covenant ‘laws’ to the world throughout His ministry which were later “enacted” or effected or put into ‘force’ by His Blood.

In this context, we thus can better understand the important role that a practice like ‘tithing’ plays in the New Covenant’s required ‘righteousness’ and which represents faithfulness to God as required throughout the entire New Testament. To illuminate further, and as stated above, among other things, tithes (and offerings) are essential elements for the sustainment of Church leadership and the people of God (Deut 26:12). This, therefore, facilitates the Gospel’s advancement which is driven by God who gives us the power to gain ‘wealth’ (Deut 8:18) and it is thus through tithing (and offerings) that God is recognised as being the first ‘priority’ of honour and gratitude in the disposal of our material gain.

In conducting a thorough study on ‘tithing’ in the Bible, it is found that it is mandatory for all believers to tithe according to scriptures such as Matthew 23:23, Malachi 3:10, 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, and many others and the above statements.

Therefore, to conclude, there is no scriptural evidence whatsoever for the discontinuation of tithing by the example early Church and therefore up to the present which means not doing so is robbing God and sin against Him (Mal 3:6-12).

| Tithe series – Part 3 of 5

“The Question of The Tithe, An ‘Unpopular’ Practice: Tithes (And Offerings) Are Required By God Today'”

—-‘The Rights of an Apostle’ (1 Corinthians 9:1-14, Paul): –

1 “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8 Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely He says this for us, doesn’t He? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel”.

Concerning verses 13-14:

Donations from people? Offerings? Tithes? Both? None? Or should preachers only, or always, be in full or part-time employment?

Food for thought, particularly because the Lord Himself in verse 14 has commanded that preachers should receive their living from the Gospel.

Therefore, the regular ‘church’ preacher should seek to ensure this happens by instructing and encouraging the congregation to bring tithes and give offerings.

To iterate, the divine Command from God above is for a preacher to earn a living from the Gospel. As is clearly evident in verse 14, this Command is not subject to the misguided application of the ‘Grace’ period position, or the influence of “modern times”, or the existence of fraudulent preachers, or, whatever other reasons, which, in any event the latter for instance cannot and should not influence nor stop preachers from requesting what is expected for them according to the Lord’s Command.

In this respect, Luke 10:7 states that a ‘worker’ deserves his wages, and thus, the preacher, being a ‘worker’, is no different to any other ‘job’ or profession in terms of expecting ‘wages’.

Thus, a preacher is not out of order nor sinning if the congregation, who are “beneficiaries” of a preacher’s efforts in God, is asked and reminded to tithe and give. This is because the preacher, as like the Levite priest in 1 Corinthians 9:13 above must see to discharging his ‘overseeing’ responsibility before God (Mal 3:10) and also so that he and his family and the House of God may eat and be sustained (Mal 3:10; Deut 26:12) according to the Lord’s Command (1 Cor 9:14)

Thus, a preacher sins if he does not communicate to a non-tithing and giving congregation the need to bring their tithes and offerings. This is also because not doing so acts to restrain or prevent the people’s required understanding of and obedience to verse 14 with the consequence that both preacher and non-preacher are under a curse (Mal 3:7-12) for not tithing and offering and thereby they cannot reap the inherent material benefits from God (Mal 3:10-11) that are derived by contributing to sustaining the minister and therefore advancing his work for God.

Conversely, it is sin on the believer’s part to not bring and to withhold giving to the preacher (if not brought or given for a compelling reason), as commanded in Malachi 3:6-9 and 1 Corinthians 9:14. This, as highlighted above, is because not doing so fails to facilitate and enable the divine right and duty of the preacher which is to receive tithes and offerings from the congregation on behalf of God in order that there is ‘food’ in His house (Mal 3:8-10) and therefore a believer is under a curse (Mal 3:7-12).

Thus, this serious failure prevents the preacher from rightfully earning a living and in turn prevents the church from ‘eating’ (Mal 3:10) and therefore benefitting from God’s Will and it is especially grave in the preacher’s case if he cannot otherwise find employment or has little or no money to sustain himself.

Lastly, it is the decision and reasons of the preacher alone concerning whether or not he personally obtains a portion of the given tithes and offerings (1 Cor 9:12), or is secularly employed, or does both, in light of 1 Corinthians 9:1-23. Relatedly and importantly, it must also be said that a preacher who receives tithes from the congregation must also apportion his own tithe to God. That is, by prevailing biblical principle, he must set aside his own one-tenth (tithe) to God from the collective tithes of the congregation for the sustenance of His house in accordance with Numbers 18:25-26 and 31 below:

25 ‘The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering…31 “You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting”.

Finally, as highlighted above, it is the ‘church’/’fellowship’ pastor or preacher that receives both the tithes and offerings from the congregation.

Though, in the case of the “non-church setting” preacher, he will typically receive offerings only being that he does not ‘oversee’ a congregation where tithes are brought into the storehouse (Mal 3:10). This ‘storehouse’ is the Old Testament ‘Type’ and Precedent pointing to the corresponding local church or church-fellowship ‘storehouse’ in New Testament times.

| Tithe series – Part 4 of 5

“The Question of The Tithe, An ‘Unpopular’ Practice: Tithes (And Offerings) Are Required By God Today”

‘The Law of Precedent and The Tithe’

* Definition of Precedent:-

Oxford: ‘an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances’.

Merriam-Webster: ‘prior in time, order, arrangement, or significance; an earlier occurrence of something similar; something done or said that may serve as an example or rule to authorise or justify a subsequent act of the same or an analogous kind’.

Unpopular topic. However, the Church of God needs to come to terms with this topic because it is being ‘starved’ of required finances for the purpose of meeting its essential needs and that of others.

In this context, it must go without saying that the Church as a whole and believers in general are gravely sinning against God by not systematically and properly financing God’s Church by requirement (1 Cor 9:13-14: Mal 3:6-12).

As has been the case in this Tithe study so far, 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 by Paul the apostle has been the focal point:

13 “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel”.

Note the ‘date’ that this letter was written. Many years ‘after’ the Cross of Christ, therefore current from then till now.

The question posted from the outset is, are we as believers sure that verse 13 is not a precedent for how the overseeing ‘shepherd’ or pastor of a church ‘flock’ today would ensure that there is ‘food’ in God’s House (Mal 3:10)?

If the entire 1 Corinthians letter is for today, as it obviously is, are we certain that we would not logically utilise the chief currency of today, which is money, as different to the way of food or agricultural products in order to sustain God’s House with ‘food’/’meat’ as with Malachi 3:10?

Verse 14 states that it is a Command from God that preachers receive their living from the Gospel.

That is, to receive their living from the people of God, through tithes and offerings, and through benevolence in general by way of offerings or “donations” and the like from the Church of God or from others.

As has been stated, this is in order to sustain and advance God’s people as a whole and importantly the ‘overseeing’ pastor or church ‘shepherd’ and others in need as well as called and ‘non-church’ preachers (offerings) in accordance with the overall Scriptures and verse 14.

Relatedly, and as written earlier in this series, it is the remit of the preacher alone as to whether he does secular work on occasions or more according to 1 Corinthians chapter 9:1-12 and verses 14 to 15.

That is, it is not for the Church to assume or tell a church preacher or non-church preacher that he must do secular work and especially when he personally and generally has little time to take care of all his church members fully or many people in general because he is ordinarily often busy with people and tasks. This idea or expectation is unbiblical and a false tradition in belief and practice.

Importantly, verse 13 is a Precedent and mandate to tithe which was set by God from Old Testament practices. In this regard, Paul the apostle was clearly and simply affirming what was already practiced by the people of God for the Levite priests, which this Levite ‘type’ giving is revealed as a Command by God (v. 14) for how the ‘age of grace’ Church would continue to tithe and give for the reasons above. There is no difference at all.

Furthermore, the act of ‘tithing’ in verse 13 follows a pattern of many Old Testament precedents that are quoted in the writings of Paul and others and clearly act as the justification for the Church to engage in such acts today. In the case of tithing, there is no need for Paul to explicitly mention the ‘tithe’ word because it is obvious and normal that the people typically gave ‘food’ to the priest as their “currency” for the tithe (verse 13), and therefore, by modern equivalency, money is obviously the currency for the tithe today.

That is, today, the world simply and logically uses the transactional trading form of money which primarily sustains our essential well-being and which is used for general commercial or trading practice just like food for instance was often used for such back then.

Let’s be reminded that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians many years ‘after’ the Cross. That, it is a Command of God in New Testament practice that tithes must be given to the church ‘pastor’, after the Cross, therefore until today. This is abundantly clear. The words, “in the same way”, in verse 14 mean that the people of God today are to do Exactly as the people of God did back then. As said, evidently there is no difference except as above the world primarily uses money today in engaging in trade and human sustainment and advancement and not food or agricultural products.

There are of course various other considerations in respect of Precedents in the Bible. Namely, not only are they established bases for doing acts or engaging in practices that advance the kingdom of God and societies as a whole, but they also carry legal weight. That is, precedents are intrinsically the Law and heart of God and are one major and essential way that God operates and governs His people and the world and which carry rights and responsibilities for human beings.

To elaborate, it is God’s legal Requirement that we must follow His Precedents. This, somewhat unsurprisingly, is even often the practice of many countries across the world when establishing or following laws and rules for living and the advancement of human progress and which carry attendant implications and consequences for people.

Further, precedents may have been established centuries or decades in a nation’s past but they still have great legal relevance in the determination of a matter and the understanding of it. Indeed, in Australia, as with many other nations, when the High Court makes a decision on a case then all decisions and practices in the ‘lower’ courts across Australia, and in society in general, must follow and abide by that decision, regardless of when it was made.

This is because the decision remains in place perpetually unless there is overcoming legislation or a later High Court decision that overturns it which now becomes the guiding or ‘leading authority’ concerning a topic or matter. This is the law of ‘precedent’ which is abundant in the Bible and is evidenced by numerous Old Testament quotations by New Testament authors and, which among other things, allows for consistency in biblical and societal law and practices past and current and respect for them.

Further still, there is nothing in both the Old and New Testament that overturns the Old Testament precedent in 1 Corinthians verse 13 concerning tithes. Rather, in verse 14, Paul affirms that it is current New Testament practice for the believers in Corinth and by extension everywhere until today to facilitate their tithes for God through the preacher and which reflects the letter’s theme which is an addressing of the believers’ Christian conduct.

Therefore, it is important that Christians are aware of and understand the critical nature and role of Precedent in the Bible.

To reiterate, precedents act to point to the necessary ‘leap’ from the Old Testament to the New in terms of the New following established Precedents from the Old and which enable such Old Testaments ‘types’ to be realised and done in New Testament times. In this respect, below are instances where the Lord Jesus Christ followed Precedent in order to uphold the ‘current’ Will of God and Truth even where God’s original Will was different from the ‘Beginning’.

Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32 are such examples of teachings in the New Testament that directly follow and affirm an Old Testament teaching, a ‘precedent’ set down by the “High Court” adjudicator Moses (Exod 18:26).

In Matthew 19:7-9, Jesus says the following in the context of teaching that man should not separate what God has joined together:

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery”.

(Matthew 5:31-32)(Jesus):

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”.

Let’s look at the words “sexual immorality” in both passages. They stem from the passage in

Deuteronomy 24/1:

“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house…”.

The word “indecent” (NIV 1984)(“uncleanness” – KJV) in this verse means “sexual immorality” of some sort. This is the reason Jesus used the words “sexual immorality” in the passages in Matthew above and whereby the Greek for it does not only mean fornication but employs this wider meaning. So, Jesus, while revealing in context that God did not permit divorce from the beginning, nevertheless had to express words that were consistent with the Old Testament teaching on the subject.

To elaborate, Jesus could not contradict what Moses had permitted the Israelites to do, albeit due to the hardness of their hearts, but, had to uphold the teaching and thereby uphold the ‘law’ of God and glorify God. Thus, as above, His use of “sexual immorality” explains what Moses meant by “indecent” and, critically, it also attests that the New Testament necessarily adheres to numerous biblical and ‘legal’ precedents from the Old Testament which require following in order to understand why particular words or reasonings are employed for a related subject occurring at a later time in the Bible such as 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.

Importantly, the use of these examples are not in any way meant to advocate for divorce here and in any event the topic of divorce as well as remarriage is somewhat complex and deserves significant attention. It is merely to show that it unsurprisingly but at the same time tellingly reveals that Jesus Himself could not speak inconsistently with the Old Testament’s rule that the only biblically acceptable ground for divorce in the context of certain acts that constitute ‘adultery’ (Matt 5:27-28; 9:19) is sexual immorality.

Thus, tithing has absolutely nothing to do with being ‘under the law’ or ‘Old Testament’ only, Rather, and evidently, it is a current Command given by God in 1 Cor 9:13-14 to bring to the preacher’s ‘church-setting’ (storehouse – Mal 3:10) in order that the House of God is sustained and that the ‘shepherd’ and his family would live and that the wider community would be assisted as appropriate (Deut 14:28; 26:12).

This truth reveals the deep importance and worth of the Old Testament with respect to often providing understanding or answers to topics that people seek information and solutions for today. Importantly, it also illuminates the reality that the New Testament writers were significantly informed by the Old Testament which is evidenced by their numerous quotations from it as well as the fact that they almost exclusively only had the Old Testament to refer to in terms of a written record which perhaps some may overlook or forget.

* The conclusion is that the New Testament authors’ practice of following relevant Precedents from the Old Testament is a legal and essential requirement in God as evidenced in the above statements and scripture teachings from Jesus Christ. This knowledge encourages and enables an understanding of God’s Will and reveals why the authors wrote what they wrote such as with 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 in relation to ensuring that the preacher makes a living from the Gospel through tithes (and offerings)(Mal 3:8;9;10) which is God’s command.

Finally, note again that the word ‘food’ in verse 13 actually represents the tithe, the amount of ‘currency’ through food that God commanded His people to bring to the Temple through the Priest back then. “In the same way” (v. 14), due to 1 Corinthians being a ‘current’ letter and ‘after’ the Cross, the ‘food’ in verse 13 is equivalently and unfailingly money by simple logic of current ‘currency’ used ‘everywhere’ today, as like food back then.

As like back then, the ‘money’ today is brought into the “temple”, which is to the ‘Church’, through the ‘New Testament’ “priest” and antitype which is the overseeing preacher.

| Tithe series – Part 5 of 5

“The Question of Tithing, An ‘Unpopular’ Practice: Tithes (And Offerings) Are Required By God Today”

‘Gross Or Net Tithing? (Cain And Abel: Genesis 4:1-7)’

This is the final post in this 5-part series on the biblical requirement of Tithing. Up till now, the series has examined several relevant areas concerning the concept of tithing. These are: the role of finances in the church, the legal contexts of tithing, who is responsible in tithing, and the role of precedent.

This last post presents how tithing is done in terms of the ‘point’ at which it occurs and its relation to the ‘quantity’. As is well known, tithe means ‘a tenth’, so it is important to discover how this specific ‘portion’ is applied within a historical context in order to necessarily understand how we can arrive at tithing correctly which importantly we will see also examines the state of a person’s heart before God.

Although the word ‘tithe’ itself is not mentioned in the scripture passage below, the reference is presented so that it can be seen that the concept of ‘bringing’ to God was established and required at the ‘beginnings’ of human history. That is, we are able to understand that the Genesis account establishes an important ‘precedent’ for human beings to ‘give’ to God and the way it is done in recognition of His sovereignty and love and which we witness as an important and dominant theme throughout the Bible.

(Genesis 4:1-7):

Cain and Abel

1 ‘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.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? 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” ‘.

These verses reveal that Abel’s bringing to God from the “firstborn” (Gen 4:4) of his flock is represented in modern understanding as the “gross” from “our flock” (‘gross’ – ‘from the very top’/or “the best”/priority ; ‘our flock’ – from our money or whatever type of material substance that sustains us and is ‘capable’ of being offered to God).

Abel’s bringing of the “fat portions” (Gen 4:4; Lev 3:16) represents God’s own ‘part’, which should be properly understood as the type of ‘tithe’ (10 per cent) part that we bring to God (Gen 14:18; Gen 28:20-22).

One way to understand why tithing occurs on the ‘gross’ is for instance when people are offered a job and are told that, for example, they will earn $52,000.00 per year in wages or $1000 per week, obviously everyone automatically knows that this is $1000 gross. This is what the worker’s job is worth, and is one’s actual real wage, and if not for tax to be deducted then one would obviously earn this fully. Pertinently, it is important to note that many people earn various types of incomes where tax etc is not deducted and therefore naturally they receive the full amount which they would tithe on.

Let’s consider a person who in addition to having let’s say $300 tax deducted from his or her $1000 pay per week has $400 per week deducted due to other things, and then spends $100 per week on personal expenses, making a total of $800 in ‘outgoings’ per week. In such a situation it would be a great error and sin before God as well as a “spiritual trap” to bring to Him a supposed “tithe” of $20 on the remaining $200 left over for the week. This is simply and obviously because the $200 is not represented as the worker’s ‘true’ earnings as above which means that it is not an acceptable base for bringing 10% to the Lord and thus it is incorrect tithing.

In this light, we definitely do not tithe on the ‘net’ amount, and certainly never based on what is left over (which may nevertheless be very small). We tithe on the “gross” and therefore bring to God from the outset at least $100 from the $1000, and if not done immediately then the $100 must be brought from any remaining monies such as the $200 above in accordance with the Command to honour God with the ‘first’ of what we have obtained from Him materially (Prov 3:9-10).

Thus, God simply wants us to live by faith as if we were earning 90% of what our wage or income is.

In this regard, from the time of Cain and Abel at least, God has always required that we do not live on the 100% or on all that we have received. This is because He already ‘takes’ His own part and requires us to rely on Him for living and material advancement and not on the absolute full amounts of our money and income types gained.

Furthermore, an often unstated fact by those that teach that tithing is required is that there is a penalty levelled by God in cases where the tithe is redeemed. For instance, in Leviticus 27:27, God commands that if people redeem any part of their tithe, they must add a fifth of the value to it. Redeem in the case of the tithe means to retain. That is, say, if a person is to ordinarily give $100 for the tithe, and they retain $20 of it, then one-fifth of $20 must be added to $20. This means that $4 must be added to the $20 making $24.

The question may arise as to why one-fifth must be added to the retained portion. This is because the tithe belongs to the Lord, and that it is holy to Him (Lev 27:30), and therefore the incomplete giving of it to Him and at the appropriate time generates a ‘penalty’ for withholding what belongs to Him. This is analogous to those situations in Leviticus where God instructed people to add one-fifth to the value of those things relating to changed or inappropriate decisions for dedicated things and vows to the Lord. This also included mistakes as well as sins such as dishonesty.

Attention to such requirements associated with tithing like anything in God takes faith and particularly in circumstances where the issue of money is involved. In saying so, it should be re-emphasised that believers are not supposed to keep for themselves the entirety of the material gains that God Himself has given them the power to obtain but rather as stated above He requires His own part as evidence of our recognition of Him and therefore He faithfully blesses us materially: “But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today” (Deut 8:18)(Prov 3:9-10).

Yet, to reiterate, the temptation to tithe on the after-tax ‘net’ or worse to tithe after all of one’s expenses are paid as above must be avoided by faith. This is because the ‘bringing’ of God’s own part to Him from one’s ‘official’ or ‘officially-stated’ income is mandatory. As detailed above, Cain did not consider his ‘uppermost’ or ‘priority’ “grouping” of his ‘income’ (‘from the top’)(of his fruits/food) and therefore he could not accurately extract or obtain God’s own required portion or part and bring it to Him like Abel did with his own ‘income’ (his flock). As stated earlier, Cain was required to ‘select’ the ‘First’ crop (as like the “firstborn”) of his crop/food increase and then from that bring to God His own ‘Part’ (“fat portions” – ‘tithe’) which already belonged to God (Lev 3:16). Therefore, Cain did not tithe properly which is sin and it revealed the state of his heart.

Moreover, and importantly, it is not as is commonly and wrongly believed that God rejected Cain’s offering because he brought ‘fruits of the soil’ to God instead of an animal ‘sacrifice’ like Abel. Rather, it is due to Cain not bringing properly to God from his own particular field of endeavour whereas Abel did and thus the type of “object” that is brought to God is irrelevant.

To elaborate, obviously believers engage in their own particular and various types of income endeavours and not the same ‘flock rearing’ like Abel. That is, if Cain were only supposed to bring to God an ‘animal sacrifice’ (animals were not his ‘work endeavour’), instead of his ‘soil fruits’, then this implies that God only accepted or accepts tithes from animal farmers. Though, if this were so, then it clearly concludes that God rejected and rejects the bringing of tithes of all people from that time until now that worked and works respectively in all other jobs including land farming and agriculture which is plainly ludicrous and great error.

Lastly, the manner of tithing is one of countless examples of knowing people by their fruits, as the Word says (Matthew 7:20).

That is, by the good or bad ‘things’ that a person is “producing” on the “outside”, or what one is doing ‘outwardly’, like obviously fruit on a tree is seen ‘outwardly’/’outside’. Therefore, anything that people are seen as doing or omitting on the “outside” that is contrary to the Word such as not tithing or improper tithing is sin before the Lord. Some other examples of “outside” conduct in the context of one’s life after Salvation are: a person’s actions, what one says, the type of clothing one wears, how one wears clothes, what a person does to his or her skin from head to toe, and how one keeps head and facial hair (Lev 19) in light of the Word of God. All are important to God.

*Concluding comments

This topic has been described as “unpopular” above. This is mentioned in such way due to the dominant view across the Church of God that believers of Christ are not required to tithe and consequently there are typically varying levels of disdain levelled at opposing, minority views.

However, as this series has asserted and shown, not tithing is a wrong belief because it is thoroughly unscriptural. As the Church of God, we have a personal and collective duty to God to facilitate the provisions of God’s house through our finances and other related ways in order that preachers can live from the Gospel (1 Cor 9:13-14) and that the Church of God can ‘eat’ (Mal 3:10).

This means that God’s house, by nature and necessity, must be adequately financed by the people of God with predominantly monetary assets. This, also, as scripturally evident, is so that the work of God can be done effectively by the leadership without in many situations having to be effectively ‘forced’ with already little time to engage in casual or part-time or often full-time secular work in order to support oneself and family in various ways let alone many members of a church.

It is not the ‘normal’ Will of God for preachers to work in secular settings as revealed in 1 Corinthians 9:13-14. Rather, as seen, the Lord has commanded that the preacher should make a living from the Gospel which as above means the Church is supposed to bring their tithes and offerings to enable this and God’s ‘wider’ Will to happen as found in Malachi 3:10.

It is high time Church, especially in these fast changing and challenging times where there is an increasing need for God’s biblical truths and maturity in His Church, that the Church obeys God’s clear commands and Will and quickly frees itself from erroneous teachings and typically long held and false convictions such as the majority belief on this topic.

It is hoped that, by tackling this topic, the grave practice and yoke of sinning against God (Mal 3:7-12) through not tithing or ordinarily giving offerings would be destroyed.

In doing so, it is by consequence that the Church of God would be in a better and more powerful and resourced position to tackle the Great Commission of God (Matt 28:18-20) that we have been tasked to undertake and to do so with greater financial support for the biblical leadership and adequate collective responsibility for God’s work.