Friday, January 20, 2006
Giving to the "Lord's Work" is good and right.
Teaching giving to the "Lord's Work" is good and right, if done biblically.
Have I made the above clear? The Lord, and I, love a cheerful giver. Giving is a wonderful thing. And therefore, teaching giving is a wonderful thing. Giving 10% or 90% of one's income is fine, if done biblically.
But teaching tithing is evil.
It's not "neutral", it's not "O.K.". It is evil. But say that to some church leaders who teach tithing, and they will show you how evil they can act.
If you've been around the church for long, you've heard the nonsense many many times. It goes something like this:
"God expects you to give 10% of your money to the local church (the "storehouse"). This is your moral obligation. To not tithe is a sin. Only what is above 10% is your "offering". The 10% is minimum, and it must go to the local church. If you don't . . . according to Malachi, you are robbing God!"
Those who are consistent in their wrongly using Old Covenant Malachi will go so far as to say that those who don't tithe are under a curse from God!
You know the routine. This sad "Clubbing of the Sheep" is done weekly in many churches. Some do it monthly or quarterly, or whenever the budget calls for it. Then they will preface their remarks with something like, "Now you know we don't often talk about money, here at Blankety Blank Church. But today we are going to fulfill our biblical responsibility and Club you Sheep!"
Here is why it is positively evil to teach tithing:
1. It Is Utterly Unbiblical Under the New Covenant.
Tithing was a requirement for physical Israel under the Mosaic or "Old" Covenant Law. Even then it was not related to money, but produce and animals. Jesus spoke of tithing briefly, because He lived under the Old Covenant Himself. But otherwise, it is never taught to the Church.
Cheerful giving is taught and encouraged, but always as a response to the good news of Christ, with no compulsion or set percentages.
When today's teachers of tithing are given the above simple truth about the New Covenant, they often parrot the old mantra they've learned from other teachers of tithing, "If under the Law, one was expected to give 10%, then how much more even under Grace." I'm compelled to give them the benefit of the doubt in not judging their hearts regarding the love of money. So the kindest explanation I can give for that is pure open-eyed biblical ignorance. But that level of ignorance in a teacher of the Word of God is a sad shame.
2. It Puts The Sheep Under False Condemnation.
It's a well-know statistic that over 90% of born-again church members do not tithe. That means that potentially 90% of born-again saints are repeatedly put under condemnation by their shepherds. And for an unbiblical legalistic teaching! This is such a tragedy, because it's wrong and unbiblical in itself. But beyond that, it hinders the spiritual growth of the the saints, because when they are put under false condemnation, the Holy Spirit is quenched in their lives.
Even those who do tithe under such compulsion are often hurt in their spiritual walk for at least three possible reasons:
a. they still feel they aren't "offering" enough above their tithe.
b. they are easily subject to pride for "doing their duty" before God, "not like that Publican over there".
c. they are led away from a biblical distinction between the Old and New Covenants, causing their whole biblical understanding to be askew.
In conclusion, teaching tithing in the church is legalism of the worst sort.
Picture a giant glimmering diamond the size of a basketball, perched on black velour, with a bright spotlight shining on it. It shines with brilliance, and a thousand facets of beautiful light. Its blinding beauty puts a smile on all who see it. Then picture a vandal smashing the spotlight with a hammer, and spraying the diamond all over with black paint, obscuring it's beauty.
The beautiful diamond is "Giving". The vandal is the Teacher of Tithing, who masks the beautiful diamond in darkness.
Who is robbing God?
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.
Friday, January 13, 2006
God doesn't, and never did, need us.
To quote A.W. Tozer from The Knowledge of the Holy:
"To admit the existence of a need in God is to admit incompleteness in the divine Being. Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator. God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself. His interest in His creatures arises from His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need those creatures can supply, nor from any completeness they can bring to Him who is complete in Himself....
"The river grows larger by its tributaries, but where is the tributary that can enlarge the One out of whom came everything and to whose infinite fullness all creation owes its being?....
"The problem of why God created the universe still troubles thinking men; but if we cannot know why, we can at least know that He did not bring His worlds into being to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word necessary is wholly foreign to God." (A.W. Tozer, from the Chapter, "The Self-Sufficiency of God")
And yet He has chosen to love us, and we are His "delight".
The Book of Job puts those two almost antithetical truths in perspective when God asks, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?....When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4ff)
We can only use non-God things to think of and explain God, so it will always be incomplete. But God's creation of us and delight in us reminds me of a Master Italian Baker who really enjoys his craft, singing opera loudly over the creation of some rich pastry that he didn't need to make, and then thoroughly enjoying it, bite by bite.
Don't forget that He delights in you, even when you don't seem so delightful. Delight in Him.
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
An Open Letter To A Friend
By Michele Rayburn
I don't think that the Church has only been teaching that God is love. The unsaved world may seem to be, but it seems that the Church is teaching doctrine (often legalistic doctrine) to the exclusion of love.
The Bible says that we are nothing without love, and yet I do not see its principles expounded upon very often. And I believe that it has had its effect on the body of Christ. If the Church is not "walking in love" then we are not spiritually mature...we are not "walking by the Spirit". And that is what is so lacking.
I don't think that we should deny that God loves the lost just because you think too much emphasis is being given to "For God so loved the world...". That would not be a biblical approach. Because the concept that "God so loved the world" may confuse the unbeliever is no reason to downplay it. It's not a matter of giving them "false hope" by telling them that God loves them, but rather, it is biblically accurate.
We can say that God will not save all people, even though "God so loves the world", and it doesn't matter if it confuses them, because it is the truth. "God's ways are higher than our ways" and we can't always understand His ways. "The deep things belong to God". And, "The natural man cannot understand spiritual things". The clay is not to ask the Potter, "Why did you make me this way?"
But, we know from John 3:16 that God loves the world (the whole world) because in that same verse, God says "whosoever believes". This is a recognition that some (the "whosoevers") in the world will "come out from them" (come out from the world) and believe.
And, nowhere does the Bible say God did not love His elect before He saved them. The Bible says that God chose you before the foundation of the world, which is an act of His love. He sees the end from the beginning and He still set His love upon you before you were created. When John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world...", was it before He knew them or after? God so loved the world always. There is no mention of time limitations on God's love or preconditions for His love.
God's love is the motivating reason (or, at least, the best known reason) for our salvation. It is because He loved us that He saved us. You said the Gospel begins not with love. But even the giving of the Law to convict man of sin was an act of love.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world [His love comes first] that He gave His only begotten Son [the good news comes second]". The reason God gave His Son is because He so loved the world. God was motivated by His love.
"We love Him [why?] because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
Here are more Scriptures that show that God's love came first and that His love was the motivation for His salvation plan:
Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
1 John 3:16, "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us."
1 John 3:9, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
1 John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
This last verse, 1 John 4:10, by the way, together with 1 John 2:2 "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world" is a clear Biblical statement of fact. For 1 John 2:2 to say "not for ours only, but also for the whole world" clearly states that God means "the whole world". Because, who is left over after He is the propitiation for our sins?
The word "propitiation" does not mean "turn away God's wrath", but rather, it more closely means "to satisfy God's wrath" ("It does not make God merciful; it makes divine forgiveness possible"--The New Compact Bible Dictionary). It means that Jesus Christ's offer of Himself is a sacrifice that is sufficient for all. But it is not describing an act that is accomplished in all. The turning away of God's wrath comes after the act of propitiation is received by those who repent.
The love of God is the motivation for the salvation of man, and the law is used to convict lost souls in order to show them their need for salvation.
If we see God as only angry toward unbelievers, I think we could very well become angry Christians, since we are imitators of God. God has the right to be angry because He knows how to be angry and not sin. He has a righteous anger, because underlying His anger is His perfect love.
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.