Tithing Did Not Equate To The Early Church

By Larry Vanyi

One of the big mistakes made by the modern day clergy is that as with pre-law Abraham the giving of tithes is justified for the modern day Church. In other words Abraham tithed outside of the law so a grace principle outside of the law as seen with pre-law Abraham is handed down to the Church. When approached with the query of where in the New Testament do we find instruction for such an accusation it will be met with the answer “it was practiced by the early church and we should stay in compliance with the precedent as it was set in Scripture.

They admit that there is no direct scripture per sey` that deals with the direction to tithe but that precedent was set by those closest to the formation of Christian activity, and that we are to assume they understood and put into practice the will of God as was learned, even though it was under the Law. Their argument for the tithe is based upon the premise that God speaks to His people from an argument of silence.

Not so, for in the Old Testament we see that whenever God wanted a thing done He made sure that Israel understood His plan as revealed by Him. Examples of this can be seen in the direction to build the Tabernacle and later the Temple. Also look at the rituals of feast and sacrifices, and the giving of the Law. Nowhere do we find such New Covenant instruction concerning the institution of the tithing practice.

One of the great arguments of those who support the pro tithing position claim that the Tabernacle equates to the Church, the Levites to our Elders or Pastors and that the Church is the Storehouse for the tithes. This all presupposes the church as being a organizational institute. This brings to question “was the early community of believers an organized organization as is the Church today? Was the early church the “storehouse” equivalent of the Tabernacle? Did the church even exist then as it is now known—a unique building full of people with the capacity to act as a storehouse for tithes? Let us take a closer look at what the scriptures say about the early community of believers.

The scripture passages below show that common, ordinary dwellings were used for spreading the gospel and for discipling new converts both during Jesus' lifetime as well as during the expansion of the New Testament church in the book of Acts.

The following is from “The Church in the House." To learn more about REAL house church read the complete book http://www.robertfitts.com/HTML_books/The%20Church%20in%20the%20House.htm

The evidence it presents makes the case for the early community of believers (church) as found in the New Covenant Scriptures.

A House Where Jesus Is Worshipped:

    "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and myrrh." (Matt. 2:11)

The very first time a group gathered to worship Jesus and offer him gifts was in a house, the house of Mary and Joseph.

Peter's House Is Used For A Healing Meeting:

    "When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in a bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon possessed were brought to him and he drove out the spirits and healed all their sick." (Matt. 8:14-16)

In the early days of his ministry, Jesus used the house of Peter to conduct preaching, healing and deliverance meetings.

The First Communion Service Is Held In A House:

    “In the last week of Jesus' ministry he said to his disciples, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, `The teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house,'" (Matt. 26:18)

Our Lord could have chosen to celebrate the first communion with his disciples in a synagogue, in the temple, or in some other place of religious significance, but he chose to celebrate it in a common ordinary house. Thus he set his seal on the common dwelling place as a holy and sanctified place, worthy of the most solemn worship services. Jesus Preached To Crowds Assembled In Houses:

    "Several days later he returned to Capernaum, and the news of his arrival spread quickly through the city. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn't room for a single person more, not even outside the door. And he preached the word to them." (Mark 2:1 Living Bible)

The things we do in our church buildings today, Jesus did in houses, in the open air, and in the temple courtyard during his three years of public ministry.

Pentecost Came To A House Church:

    "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.". (Acts 2:l-2)

Many of us have never considered the number of foundational events that took place in someone's house. The first worship service happened in a house. The first communion service was in a house. Jesus preached and healed the sick in a house. The gospel was first preached to the gentiles was in the house of Cornelius. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was in a house. And the first churches that the Apostle Paul started were all in houses.

Over the centuries we have lost the dynamic of simplicity and have added things that have slowed the progress of the church into all nations. In The Streets And In The Houses:

    "They worshipped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for communion and shared their meals with great joy and thankfulness.." (Acts 2:46)

The early church not only met in small groups in homes but also in larger gatherings in public places. The most rapid growth of the church, both in the past and in the present day, has been when the church was not using formal meeting places, but remained flexible, mobile, and militant.

Saul, the Persecutor, Attacks The House Churches:

    "But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house: and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison." (Acts 8:3)

Where did Saul of Tarsus go to find "the people to the way" to drag them to prison and to death? He found them meeting in houses. He himself would later plant churches in houses on his missionary journeys.

A Praying House Church Delivers Peter From Prison:

    "Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the news that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 5:42)

They did not meet in the temple proper, but rather on the temple grounds, or in the vicinity of the temple where the people were gathered. This was an open-air meeting. THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY by Lion states that,

"Christians had no special buildings but met in private houses. Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) was asked by Rusticus the Perfect: `Where do you assemble?' Justin said, where each one chooses and can, or do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so, because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place.'"

The House Church That Opened The Gospel To The Nations:

    "The Following Day Peter arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people." (Acts 10:24-27)

This is a good example of how to start a house church. Someone who is hungry for God and for the things of God calls together a number of his family and friends and then calls for the man of God to come and share the Word of God. So simple!

This meeting in the house of Cornelius was historic. It was the breakthrough that convinced the Jewish believers that the Good News was for all the nations of the world and not just for the Jews.

Lydia's House Was Europe's First Church:

    "After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house where they met with the brothers and encouraged them.." (Acts 16:40)

The church of Philippi was formed in the house of Lydia. We are not told how the church grew, but when the group could no longer fit in Lydia's house, they probably formed another group somewhere in the city and continued to divide and multiply. Church history supports this conclusion.

Paul's Rented House:

    "For two whole years Paul stayed in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 28:30-31)

These final words in the book of Acts reveal that Paul not only made use of the homes of others for the proclamation of the gospel, but that he also used his own rented house for spreading the good news of God's love.

The fastest growing movement in the world today, the Christian movement, began in houses. It had its greatest growth while it remained a fluid, simple, mobile, relationship-oriented people.

All the types and shadows of the Old Testament were totally fulfilled in Christ. We no longer need the tabernacle, nor the vestments, nor the temple, nor the furniture, or any such thing. "Christ is all and in all. We are complete in Him" We no longer need a "holy place", or an altar of incense' or a laver, or shewbread, or urim, or thummim. We don't need the shadows for we have the substance. HIS NAME IS JESUS.

    A woman said to Jesus "Sir, our fathers worshipped on the mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus declared, 'Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father, neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and is now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:20-24)

Jesus made it clear that the time had come and that Jerusalem was no more a holy place than Samaria was for HE HAD COME and in his coming he forever brought an end to the idea of holy places, for he himself had fulfilled all the types and shadows of the Old Testament.

Let us rejoice and praise the Lord that we have been released from all bondage and legalism as to a place where we are supposed to worship God! We are free to worship him alone or together, anytime day or night, in any place we choose!

Let me ask “does the evidence support the proposition that the early community of believers were participating in anything that could be construed as the “Storehouse Church” concerned in collecting tithes as we know it today? The evidence does not support such a position. NEITHER does it support the contemporary need for tithes to continue on as mentioned below: (This is from the conclusion of Roland Allen's Book – Spontaneous Expansion of the Church).

“The spontaneous expansion of the Church reduced to its elements is a very simple thing. It asks for no elaborate organization, no large finances, no great numbers of paid missionaries. In its beginning it may be the work of one man, and that a man neither learned in the things of this world, nor rich in the wealth of this world. The organization of a little church on the apostolic model is also extremely simple, and the most illiterate converts can use it, and the poorest are sufficiently wealthy to maintain it. Only as it grows and spreads through large provinces and countries do any complex questions arise, and they arise only as a church composed of many little churches is able to produce leaders prepared to handle them by experience learned in the smaller things. There is no need at the beginning to talk of preparing leaders to face great national issues. By the time the issues have become great and complex the leaders of the little churches of today will have learned their lesson, as they cannot possibly be taught it beforehand.

No one, then, who feels within himself the call of Christ to embark on such a path as this need say, I am too ignorant, I am too inexperienced, I have too little influence, or I have not sufficient resources. The first apostles of Christ were in the eyes of the world 'unlearned and ignorant' men: it was not until the Church had endured a persecution and had grown largely in numbers that Christ called a learned man to be His apostle. The missionaries who spread the Gospel and established the Church throughout the lands round the Mediterranean are not known to us as men of great learning or ability. Most of them are not known by name at all. Only when the Church had been established and had spread widely did Christ call the great doctors whose names are familiar to us by their writings,or by their great powers of Organization and government.

What is necessary is faith. What is needed is the kind of faith which, uniting a man to Christ, sets him on fire. Such a man can believe that others finding Christ will be set on fire also. Such a man can see that there is no need of money to fill a continent with the knowledge of Christ. Such a man can see that all that is required to consolidate and establish that expansion is the simple application of the simple organization of the Church—a dedicated man and his house.

Hope this finds all of you well. Keep praying for me as I am still in great pain and according to doctors will be so for an extended period of time. This is written thanks to a computer program called voice recognition which types the spoken word.

Larry the elder.

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