Two articles by Kenneth D. Willis dealing with the tithe.
TITHING AND TITHING DISCLOSURE
Posted on August 8, 2018 by Rev. Kenneth D. Willis
This subject has been weighing on my heart for some time, and I feel compelled to open up my heart and share my position on the issue of tithing and giving in the church. Please hear my words knowing they come in brokenness and sincerity. I know some will disagree, but my heart is confident in the peace of the Spirit and a proving conscience that both agree that this has been the moving of the LORD on my heart.
My personal position on tithing and the disclosure of personal tithing records in the church for the members and the leadership:
I am well aware that many believers are in the practice of using tithing envelopes with the amounts being recorded by the church treasurer or finance committee for the purpose of tax deductions and or accountability to the church and or leadership. I am also aware that some feel each member’s tithing records should be accessible by the finance committee, and or the treasurer, and or the pastor. This is apparently a big issue and one that many have opinions and positions on. I write this publically, not to attack, defend or change anyone’s mind, but to explain why I take the position I do and why I live it out in the manner I do.
I will address this issue in two parts.
Is The Tithe Mandated For New Testament Believers?
Should tithing records be disclosed to anyone in the church?
Is Tithing Mandatory For The New Testament Believer?
1. The strongest argument for tithing comes from the examples of Abraham and Jacob when they tithed a tenth. Abraham tithed a tenth to Melchizedek (or a pre-incarnate Christophany), and Jacob gave to God. The problem with this argument is that neither example shows a continual pattern of monetary tithing and neither establishes a mandate for anyone else to do so. They were tithing food, possessions, etc. No matter how hard anyone tries to make that doctrine fit in these examples, both are one time incidents and do not establish a required practice. Tithing seen in these examples was good and reflected a grateful heart toward God, but nowhere can I establish these incidents as mandates for anyone to repeat them systematically.
2. The second strongest argument is that of tithing being a requirement under the Mosaic Law. Yet the requirement of tithing in the Torah (Law of Moses, Pentateuch, Law, etc.) is specifically for national Israel. Believers are not under the Mosaic covenant, but are under the blood of Christ and operating under the New Covenant (Rom. 6:14–15; 7:5–6; Gal. 3:15–4:7; 2 Cor. 3:4–18). Tithes under the Mosaic covenant were given to the Levites and priests, because they had no land or inheritance. Yet in the New Covenant, there are no Levites or levitical priests. We are all priests in God’s eyes now, under our Great High Priest, Yeshua (Jesus) (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6; Heb. 7).
3. The third argument is that Jesus taught the tithe. Yes He did, but He did so under the Mosaic covenant and He taught obedience to the Mosaic covenant. But after His death and the beginning of the New Covenant, we never again will hear Him or any Scripture commanding it. Jesus also commanded offering sacrifices in the temple (Matthew 5:23-25), yet we clearly know He did not intend for us to continue that after the New Covenant was in place. He was using these good things as illustrations for godly living, and was only commanding them to be done under the current covenant–which was the Mosaic covenant. Never under the New Covenant will anyone find Jesus, Paul or anyone commanding to offer sacrifices or tithe. What you will find is constant mention of Christians being commanded and encouraged to give generously to the poor, the needy and to the work of God in the Church and Missions (Acts 2:43–47; 4:32–37; 11:27–30; Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1–4; 2 Cor. 8:1–9:15; Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Cor. 9:6–14; 1 Tim. 5:17–18; 1 Tim. 6:17–19; 2 Cor. 8–9).
I believe that the Christian who believes they are obligated to give God ten percent of their income is severely limiting their Christian life by viewing themselves bound to give God His 10% “cut” and living by a traditional teaching that has no Scriptural basis under the New Covenant. They should view giving as an opportunity to worship the LORD from a cheerful and grateful heart that is not grudgingly relinquishing a mandatory ten percent tax. I realize the potential backlash I may receive for posting this position, but I humbly and heavy-heartedly beseech my brethren to realize that we have made this tradition of men a stumbling block that prevents a cheerful giver–which the LORD loves, and we have tread the path of the Scribes and Pharisees–who transgressed the perfect law of love by their tradition. There should be no limit set on how much a loving and grateful giver gives. It is a matter of the heart and not one of duty to fulfil a requirement under the Mosaic Law. Give hilariously unto the LORD out of love for Him with a grateful and worshipful heart! If you are worrying about “do I have to tithe?”, you have entirely missed the point. And why would God even want such an offering? He doesn’t need your money. He wants your heart.
Should Tithing or Giving Records Be Disclosed To Anyone In The Church?
I understand many desire to write off their donations to the church from their taxes. I see no issue in this, if someone wants to do so. And on this point, there will have to be a written, kept record. And that is entirely up to the giver.
But should people in the Church, or even the pastor know how much individuals give for “tithes” and offerings? Nowhere in Scripture will you find this man made teaching of modern Christianity. We are to not let our right hand let our left hand know what we give, let alone others, or even more concerning, a committee or the pastor? I deliberately stay away from the money at church. I know what we have in the bank and how we spend it, but I refuse to know who gives what. That is none of my business and is purely between God and the heart of a worshipful giver who is honoring God in secret, and who will be blessed and rewarded by God in the open. Jesus railed against men who gave for others to see what amount they contributed. It leads to preferential treatment, respecting of persons, gossip and pride. There is nowhere in Scripture where you will find anything teaching where your pastor or your fellow believers should know what you are sacrificially giving to God. That is a very sacred and precious issue of the heart between you and your Creator. Pastors should be accountable for how they handle the church’s money, yes. But no one should know what they are tithing or giving unto the LORD.
My giving record is kept in Heaven and it is not for the admiration of men. It is my personal, sacred privilege to give freely from my heart in love and worship to my God. And so it is with you. While some mean well when they preach on tithing, all too many times, men who harp on tithing and faith promise giving, are seeking bigger salaries, vacations, bigger churches, more entertainments and seeking to control their congregations. God help us if that is what we believe a church is for. We need to repent of our sin of worshipping the building funds and remember why we should give after all.
First, we give to worship and give thanks to our God. After all, does He not deserve 100 percent of everything we have? Why stop at 10? The Old Testament tithe was closer to 20.
Second, to support the work of real missionaries who are dedicated to reaching the lost and spending their lives on the field, reaching the unsaved and waging war for Jesus Christ—not touring the world under the guise of evangelism on the church peoples’ dollars.
Third, to help those who are unable to provide for themselves, such as widows, orphans, the infirmed and the handicapped.
Fourth, to support their pastor. He is giving up more than they know and cannot be an effective undershepherd if every moment he has is dedicated to earning a living to feed his family and keep his home. (Bible Budget has a different idea on this point which we will share later.)
Fifth, spread the Gospel in their community, to print Bibles, tracts, and spread literature to the lost to bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
I realize this may sound radical and shock even the closest of friends I have. I am not angry or attacking anyone because I know good people can disagree and I know I am not infallible and may be wrong, yet I am convinced by my understanding of the Scriptures and the peace in my heart of the Holy Spirit that we must carefully examine ourselves and see whether we are making our own tradition a stumbling block to others, and one that keeps them from experiencing the freedom in the New Covenant where we are not bound to a mandatory tax, but are free in Christian liberty to give freely and infinitely from a worshipful and grateful heart.
May God open our hearts to His Word and keep us from repeating the same mistake of the self-righteous Pharisees. Amen and God bless,
MEN OF GOD IN HISTORY ON THE ISSUE OF TITHING FOR NEW COVENANT BELIEVERS
Posted on September 1, 2018 by Rev. Kenneth D. Willis
B.B. Warfield – “When told by sceptics that we are bound by the Bible to pay tithes, to execute the idolater and blasphemer, to put the Sabbath-breaker and witch to death, our answer is that the apostolic decree sets entirely free from these and all other peculiarities of the old Jewish economy. They are not names among the exceptions, and therefore are of no binding force upon the Gentile believers (p.193)”
C.I. Schofield – “In contrast with the law, which imposed giving as a divine requirement, Christian giving is voluntary, and a test of sincerity and love.”
Charles Ryrie – “Not even the most ardent tither would say that the Sabbath should be observed today because it was observed before the law (Exodus 16:23-36), yet this is the very reasoning used in promoting tithing today. The New Testament teaches us about a new day of worship, and it also gives us new directions for giving. To tithe today following the examples of those who did it before the law would mean that only 10 percent of one’s income would go to the Lord and only on certain occasions; to tithe on the basis of the teaching of the law would mean that 22 percent would be given to the Lord as payment of what was owed Him; but to give on the basis of the principles of the new Testament might mean any percent, and given in recognition that 100 percent belongs to Him. The Lord’s work will never lack support if we preach and practice New Testament principles of giving.”
Charles H. Spurgeon – “But you are not under a system similar to that by which the Jews were obliged to pay tithes to the priests. If there were any such rule laid down in the Gospel, it would destroy the beauty of spontaneous giving and take away all the bloom from the fruit of your liberality! There is no law to tell me what I should give my father on his birthday. There is no rule laid down in any law book to decide what present a husband should give to his wife, nor what token of affection we should bestow upon others whom we love. No, the gift must be a free one, or it has lost all its sweetness.”
Campbell Morgan – “I hear a great deal about the tithing of incomes. I have no sympathy with the movement at all. A tenth in the case of one man is meanness, and in the case of another main is dishonesty. I know men today who are Christian men in city churches an village chapels, who have no business to give a tenth of their income to the work of God. They cannot afford it. I know other men who are giving one-tenth, and the nine-tenths they keep is doing harm to their souls.”
Irenaeus – “and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share Matthew 19:21 all our possessions with the poor”
Vernon McGee – “Today we are living in an age of grace. Under the Mosaic Law, men were required to give one-tenth to God. (Actually, I think that if the Mosaic Law is examined correctly, they not only gave one-tenth but they gave three-tenths.) Today we’re to give on an altogether different standard or basis. That is, we’re not under Law; we’re not under compulsion relative to this matter at all.”
John Bunyan – “his paying of tithes was ceremonial, such as came in and went out with the typical priesthood.”
John Gill – “Hebrews 7:4 which is no proof of any obligation on men to pay tithes now to any order of men; for this was a voluntary act, and not what any law obliged to; it was done but once, and not constantly, or every year; it was out of the spoils of the enemy, and not out of his own substance, or of the increase of the earth; nor was it for the maintenance of Melchizedek, as a priest…”
John Milton – “And yet the Jews, ever since their temple was destroyed, though they have rabbies and teachers of their law, yet pay no tithes, as having no Levites to whom, no temple where, to pay them, no altar whereon to hallow them: which argues that the Jews themselves never thought tithes moral, but ceremonial only. That Christians therefore should take them up, whicn Jews have laid them down, must needs be fore absurd and preposterous.”
John Nelson Darby – “They proposed the subtleties of casuists and neglected the essential things of the law of God. Exact as to the minutiae of the tithes demanded by the law of Moses, they neglected justice, mercy, and faith, all that which was really important in the eyes of God. They washed the outside, and within they were full of rapine and unrighteousness.”
John Owen – “it is no safe plea for many to insist on, that tithes are due and divine, as they speak, that is, by a binding law of God now under the gospel. . . .according to the duties required of all the ministers thereof in the gospel, to sing unto themselves that tithes are due to them, by the appointment and law of God, is a fond imagination, a dream that will fill them with perplexity when they awake”
John Smyth – “Wee hold that the tithes are either Jewish or popish” “Mr. Bern. pag. 156. of the Sep. Schisme avoucheth that to deny tithes, & a set mayntenance to Ministers is contrary to the Lords wisdom, who vnder the law appointeth tithes a set maintenance & ther is nothing against it in the gospel: I answer with the Apostle, the old testament and the ordinances thereof are abolished”
John Wesley – “give all you can, or, in other words, give all you have to God. Do not stint yourself, like a Jew rather than a Christian, to this or that proportion. “Render unto God,” not a tenth, not a third, not half, but all that is God’s, be it more or less”
John Wycliffe – “why curates are so severe in exacting tithes, since Christ and his apostles took no tithes, as men do now ; neither paid them, nor even spoke of them, either in the Gospel or the Epistles, which are the perfect law of freedom and grace. But Christ lived on the alms of holy women, as the Gospel telleth ; and the apostles lived sometimes by the labor of their hands, and sometimes took a poor livelihood and clothing, given of free will and devotion by the people, without asking or constraining.” ” Paul proved that priests, preaching truly the gospel, should live by the gospel, and said naught of tithes. Certainly tithes were due to priests in the Old Law — but it is not so now, in the law of grace.”
Justin Martyr – “and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit;”
Martin Luther – “But the other commandments of Moses, which are not [implanted in all men] by nature, the Gentiles do not hold. Nor do these pertain to the Gentiles, such as the tithe”
Matthew Henry – “The tenth is a very fit proportion to be devoted to God and employed for him, though, as circumstances vary, it may be more or less, as God prospers us”
Roger Williams – Secondly, as to the Labourer worthy of his Reward, I answer, we find no other patterne in the Testament of Christ Jesus, but that both the Converting (or Apostolicall Ministry) and the Feed (or Pastorall Ministry) did freely serve or minister, and yet were freely supported by the Saints and Churches, and that not in stinted Wages, Tithes, Stipends, Sallaries, &c. but with larger or lesser supplies, as the Hand of the Lord was more or lesse extended in his weekly blessings on them.
W.E. Vine – “Love and devotion to God! That imparts the real value to giving. And this perhaps serves to explain why no command as to the amount is laid down for believers. To obey a command stating the amount or proportion would be easy, but what exercise of heart would there be? Where would the motive lie? Loyalty would be superseded by mechanical religion. Love would be replaced by formalism. Both individuals and local churches would lose their sense of the high motive which should inspire in the offering a loving response to the love of the great Giver Himself.”
Walter Elwell – “Nowhere does the New Testament require Christians to tithe in the sense of giving 10 percent, but it does reiterate many things associated with tithing: those who minister are entitled to receive support ( 1 Cor 9:14 ); the poor and needy should be cared for ( 1 Cor 16:1 ; Gal 2:10 ); those who give can trust God, as the source of all that is given ( 2 Cor 9:10 ), to supply their needs ( 2 Cor 9:8 ; Php 4:19 ); and giving should be done joyously ( 2 Cor 9:7 ). The New Testament directs that taxes be paid to the state ( Rom 13:6-7 ), which replaced Israel’s theocracy. Paul’s vocabulary and teaching suggest that giving is voluntary and that there is no set percentage. Following the example of Christ, who gave even his life ( 2 Cor 8:9 ), we should cheerfully give as much as we have decided ( 2 Cor 9:7 ) based on how much the Lord has prospered us”
John Huss – “they came to the town hall to present their petitions for their tithes. ” Ah!” said the lords,” you [Huss] said before that tithes were not purely alms; but you assert now that they are, and so condemn yourselves.” Huss noticed this absurd course of the clergy. “I wonder,” says he, with stinging sarcasm, . . .They condemned the article that tithes were alms; now they beg that their salaries,which are alms, may not be taken away.””
Moody Bible Institute – “Tithing is never mentioned by any of the New Testament writers as a compulsory behavior of the church, but generous giving is emphatically expected.”
The Berean Call (Dave Hunt) – “I don’t think tithing is for Christians. Everything belongs to the Lord…I don’t read anything in the New Testament saying that we give 10%”
The Anabaptists – “Another very disturbing feature of the 16th-century Anabaptist movement was its opposition to paying tithes. This state-church tax was experienced by the poor as oppressive and provoked frequent protests (for example in the peasants’ movement of 1524-1526), but it was foundational to the Christendom system and defended by both church and state with determination and increasing desperation. Anabaptists, in common with other radical groups, rejected the state churches’ approach to tithing as unjust and based on bad biblical interpretation.” “Leaders of these groups included Felix Mantz, Conrad Grebel, Simon Stumpf, and Wilhelm Reublin, all of whom Zwingli had an impact on. Hubmaier, the Hutterites, and Thomas Müntzer also opposed the exacting of tithes. The Anabaptists maintained that the New Testament taught nothing about tithing and paints a picture of Christians having all things in common.”
The Early American Baptists and Separatists – “That the due maintenance of the Officers aforesaid, should be of the free and voluntary contribution of the Church, that according to Christ’s ordinance, they which preach the Gospel may live of the Gospel: and not by Popish Lordships and Livings, or Jewish tithes and Offerings.”