Are Christians Commanded to Tithe?

The Widow’s Mite by Gustave Dorè 1880

Where your treasure is that’s where your heart will be also. -Jesus

There are often debates surrounding this question. Some say that tithing was only for Old Testament Israel. Some say that the mandate is still in effect for the New Testament Church.

So, which is it? Well, I’m not going to answer that question. You should prayerfully study the scriptures and be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

But I am going to ask you, the reader, to reflect on a few questions.

1. What is the heart of the person asking this question? In Proverbs we read, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit” (16:2 and 21:2). Are we asking to find a loophole to be disobedient? Perhaps they are asking because they don’t want to give 10%. But the Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. So maybe we should ask not what we are commanded to do, but be joyful of what we get to do.

2. Isn’t everything you have God’s? He provides us our money, our food, our time, our talents, our gifts. Therefore, whatever we give back to God, He only allowed us to have in the first place. It’s not 10% of what we’ve earned, it’s 10% of what God made us stewards of. Everything was created by God, so everything that exists is His. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters,” Psalm 24:1-2. And Paul reminded Timothy that we brought nothing into this world and we can’t take anything out (1 Timothy 6:7).

3. What would give God more glory, more or less of your earnings? Whatever gives God the glory also blesses the believer. Wouldn’t God get more glory with more of your time and possessions? If the Christian isn’t mandated to give 10%, God would still bless those that gave more of what they have. Scripture tells us that those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly (2 Corinthians 9:6). David Guzik states, “A farmer sowing seed may feel he loses seed as it falls from his hand to the ground, and we may feel we are losing when we give. But just as the farmer gives the seed in anticipation of a future harvest, we should give with the same heart.” In the New Testament, Jesus said of the widow who gave only a couple coins into the temple treasury, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” This principle of giving is an echo of the widow in the Old Testament who gave her last bit of food to Elijah. Both widows gave all they had and were blessed as the result.

Are you willing to give 10% if God has commanded it? Are you willing to give it all to Him if He asks of it?

Like I stated, the purpose of this blog was not to be another arguing point for the tithing debate. But it’s purpose is for us to take a look ourselves and our hearts behind our giving and not to be so black and white on the amount that we give. So, while I’ll leave the tithe debate up to others, I do believe these points I brought up are worth considering. All things considered, the Kingdom of God advances when the people of God give of their resources and time. What has God placed in your care that could be used? How are you making yourself available?

Further reading on giving: Deuteronomy 15:10-11, 16:17; 1 Kings 17:7-23, 1 Chronicles 29:6-17, Proverbs 3:9-10, 11:24-25, 21:26; Malachi 3:10, Luke 3:11, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, James 2:15-16

Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

Advertisements

Who Were The Wise Men?

20171124_091905
Wise Men From the East (grayscale) by Douglas Ramsey

In the Biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth, we see that wise men came from the east bearing gifts for the Christ-child. We see images of them displayed at Christmas time on Nativity scenes and in plays. We sing Christmas carols about them. One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is watching the 80’s classic, Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas in which the Wisemen’s camels sing “We Three Kings.” But, who are these “wise men”? Were they kings? What can we know about them? Here, I’ll seek to address these questions as well as some common misconceptions we may have about them.

In Matthew 2, we are told the story of how “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem”. They were looking for Jesus that they may worship Him. From here we can see that they knew somehow, where to find Jesus and that he was someone to be worshiped when they did find Him. Where did they come from and how did they know where to go?

The word “magi” comes from the Greek word magos from which we get the word magic. The Blue Letter Bible app defines magos as:

  • the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc
  • the oriental wise men (astrologers) who, having discovered by the rising of a remarkable star that the Messiah had just been born, came to Jerusalem to worship him

While the word “magos” is used in Acts 13:8 concerning a sorcerer, in the context of the Nativity narrative “astrologers” probably fits as a good descriptor. They probably came from as close as Babylon (Iraq) or far as Persia (modern day Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan) when they saw a particular star in the sky. As astrologers they were looking to the stars for signs of different events and were aware that this star ushered in a most significant event of world history.

Dr. Michael Molnar believes the star was actually the planet Jupiter that aligned with the constellation Aries. At the time Jupiter represented a new king and Aries represented Judea. The Magi would have seen this unique heavenly display to the west of them and would have recognized it as being of major importance. However, I think this view has some problems and I’ll address them another time.

I believe it was also familiarity with Hebrew prophecies that drew the Magi to seek out the newborn King. Several hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Daniel was made “chief over all the wise men” of Babylon (Daniel 2:48). Being chief, he would have taught them the writings of prophets like Isaiah who foretold of the coming King. They would also have known of Daniel’s “70 weeks” prophecy in Daniel chapter 9 which some believe predicts the exact timeline for the birth of Jesus, His baptism, and death.

The Bible also says these wise men came with gifts for the newborn King. Gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because of the three gifts being represented, it has been assumed that there were only three wise men. However, the Bible never states the number. All we know is that there were multiple wise men. They chose these specific gifts because they understood that Jesus was to be king so they brought gold. The frankincense symbolized His deity and priesthood. The myrrh was used for anointing and embalming. Jesus being our Prophet, Priest, and King is represented in these three gifts. They also have prophetic meaning in that Jesus is King, God on earth, and the Suffering Servant the prophet Isaiah foretold of that would die for the sins of His people.

So while the Bible doesn’t give us numbers or names of these “wise men” we do know they sought to worship baby Jesus. Other than the incarnation itself, this may be Jesus’ first miracle in the flesh; bringing “magicians” or “priests” of foreign religions to worship Him. Here He is already showing His power and supremacy over all nations. He was proclaimed King by Gentiles at His birth and He was proclaimed King by Gentiles nearing His death.

textgram_1511532226_20171124093858321

The wise men were wise in that they sought till they found. God met them where they were at and thus they knew they had to respond. If God is calling you today, He is meeting you where you are at to move you to a place He will guide you. Like the Magi, God is taking you to His Son. If in reading this you feel led to get to know the Savior of the world, that is God calling you. Respond to God and He will direct you.

They presented themselves to him: they fell down, and worshiped him. We do not read that they gave such honor to Herod, though he was in the height of his royal grandeur; but to this babe they gave this honor, not only as to a king (then they would have done the same to Herod), but as to a God. Note, All that have found Christ fall down before him; they adore him, and submit themselves to him. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him. It will be the wisdom of the wisest of men, and by this it will appear they know Christ, and understand themselves and their true interests, if they be humble, faithful worshipers of the Lord Jesus. – Matthew Henry

Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

What is MOST Important to God?

michelangelo-buonarroti-creation-of-adam
Detail from The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 of Sistine Chapel ceiling.

To start, let’s define the terms.

Definition of most:
Greatest in amount or degree.

Definition of important:
Strongly effecting the course of events or the nature of things

So with God, what specific thing strongly effects the course of events or the nature of all things in the greatest amount or degree?

To me, three answers seem to stand out; there is love, there is free will, and there is holiness.

John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved* the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes** in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned*** already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

*We know love is important to God because He died to redeem us so we might be saved from sin.

**We know free will is important to God because He gives us the opportunity to choose His Son, to choose to spend eternity with Him, and this is evident even from the beginning when God created man and woman in the garden of Eden.

***And we know that holiness is important to God because those who do not choose to believe in Jesus don’t just get a free pass, but condemn themselves to an eternity apart from God.

In contrast, we know it cannot be any of the three by themselves because the others clearly exist, as this is evident throughout all of the Bible.

What does this mean for us?

Well, with all the beliefs in theology, there seems to be 3 levels of importance.

A. Matters of Salvation – How one is saved, the most important. Jesus is God in the flesh. It is only through belief in Him that you can be saved. This is not by works but by faith.

B. Matters of Witnessing – Effecting salvation of others, second most important. Some beliefs can affect your witness to the lost and possibly the salvation of others. Such beliefs include the authority of Scripture, the role of Christians as missionaries, views on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc…

C. All Other Beliefs – The least important. These are the denominational differences that seem to divide believers but are really trivial beliefs; the proper way to baptize, types of acceptable music, religious traditions, etc…

Other theological stances on certain issues may inadvertently lead to violating A or B, for example: condoning homosexuality, gay marriage, or theistic evolution may seem innocent enough but by doing so, one would have to compromise on what Scripture says about those issues and could thus compromise the authority of Scripture leading to that person’s effectiveness in witnessing.

Also, taking something that falls under C too far could effect one’s witness, for example: if believers fight and argue about religious traditions instead of agreeing to disagree and acknowledge that traditions don’t save people, only Jesus does – that can tarnish the view of the Body of Christ for those who observe this division.

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we can deduce that love, free will, and holiness are so important to God, we know that each person is first solely responsible for his/her salvation. After that, we all share a responsibility to present ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ and to bring the good news to the lost. And lastly, anything else we believe should be laid aside and not cause contention among one another. Let us strive to build each other up and spread the Gospel to all.

For further insight on love click here
For further insight on free will click here and here and here
For further insight on holiness click here

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org