By David Yeubanks
have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen out of God's favor."
That opening verse is quite a strong statement isn't it? Yet, week after week, Christians all over the world buy into the traditional teaching that paying monetary tithes to a religious organization will earn them points with God. Most have been taught that this is an ordinance of Scripture (yet often without really knowing exactly what Scripture fully teaches regarding the tithe). Christians are often taught that if they will faithfully tithe money, this will guarantee them favor with God, blessing, provision, protection and prosperity. The main problem with this logic (aside from the lie which suggests that God's favor and His gifts can be purchased with money - Acts 8:20-22) is that all of these things (favor, blessing, provision, anointing, etc.) are already promised to every believer by God's grace and to each who makes Christ his Lord. Nothing further is required. Let me put this very plainly another way: Even if you never tithe a cent of your money throughout your entire life as a Christian, it will not change God's promise to watch over you, love you, protect you, bless you, lead you, provide for you or take you to heaven when this life is through! God does NOT want or need your "tithe" and there is nothing on earth you can do to buy His favor or blessing!
Jesus said that ALL of our provisions will be met on the basis of two things. One, that God loves us - PERIOD. Even the little flowers of the field who do not work or gather into storehouses, Jesus said the Father clothes them with beauty beyond even the splendor of Solomon - so of how much more value are we who are His dear children? Two, that as we seek only His kingdom and His righteousness, everything we have need of in this life will be provided for according to His own purpose. (Matthew 6:24-34; 7:7-11; Luke 12:15-34)
Many of today's tithe teachers suggest that by giving money to a religious organization, this obligates God to return unto the giver incredible blessing. Of course, their primary (not to mention distorted and removed from context) text on this is Malachi 3:8-10 (a passage that, if we honestly observe the context, was spoken by God to THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS who were failing in their obligations and oppressing the poor, the fatherless, and the widows - Malachi 3:5). In fact, God is so upset with these religious leaders that He threatens to spread animal dung on their faces because of their abuses concerning what He commanded!
Malachi 3:3-4 (GNB) - He will come to judge like one who refines and purifies silver. As a metalworker refines silver and gold, so the LORD's messenger will purify the priests, so that they will bring to the LORD the right kind of offerings. Then the offerings which the people of Judah and Jerusalem bring to the LORD will be pleasing to him, as they used to be in the past.
The rebuke in Malachi was not to a congregation for failing to pay money to keep a church going, it was to a group of leaders of the people who were squandering the gifts of the people upon themselves and they offered unclean sacrifices to God. For more comments on Malachi, illustrating how the original Hebrew text of Scripture proves the above stated points even further, may I recommend the following short blog entry by my friend Deanna Rodriguez: MALACHI 3:1-16.
Verse 10 of Malachi (the most quoted - and misunderstood - passage concerning tithing), actually proves even further that God's rebuke was to the religious leaders, NOT the full congregation of Israel. Notice the text:
Notice that the text clearly instructs these offenders to bring the full tithe to THE TEMPLE. Israelites did NOT bring their tithes to the Temple! This was the responsibility of the Levite Priests! The ordinance began in Numbers 18 when God very clearly instructed that none of the Israelites were to come near to the Tent of Meeting. If they did, they would be held responsible by death!
Tithes of the general populous of Israel was collected by the Levites in their farming villages, NOT the Temple complex.
Nehemiah 10:38 (GNB) - Priests who are descended from Aaron are to be with the Levites when tithes are collected, and for use in the Temple the Levites are to take to the Temple storerooms one-tenth of all the tithes they collect.
Without getting into all the details of Malachi and literal Israelite tithing here, it is important to state that God does not owe anything to any man... Not even if he pays tithes (which, biblically, were always food anyway and never money). God Himself said in the book of Job:
So how does one give to God? Scripture, again, answers this plainly. Jesus clearly told us how it is we "give to God". Oddly enough, the giving He spoke of had nothing to do with financing a church organization. He said, in as much as we give to others who are in need (the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, even the lost), we are ministering directly to Him. This ministry of giving entails far more than finances. It embodies the commandment to love others with our lives. That doesn't mean washing our hands of them (and alleviating our consciences) by sending in our money to some organization so that someone else can do the work... It means we listen to the voice of our Heavenly Father and go ourselves to each one He sends us to. If we see our neighbor with a need we have in our power to meet, we must bring forth the fruit of love and meet it. God has made each of us who know Him priests unto Him. That means that no one else can mediate His work for us. We must hear His voice and obey.
Contrary to the words of some modern teachers who suggest we may not have all of God's blessing if we don't follow some rule of law (i.e. tithing), the Scripture rather says that God has already given us EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). To ignore this truth is to ignore what He did for us in giving His life. What greater example of giving can there be besides Jesus who gave it all on the cross? Can 10% really match this example? How many times have we heard that a Christian should give a tenth of the income because it's the least we can do? In other words, we are told, it's the "starting place" for giving. Or, as some have put it, it's considered a sort of "benchmark"; a basic guideline. To this logic, I have to ask the question, does Romans 12:1 agree with "benchmark theology"?
Is 10% really "the least we can do"? God's Word seems to boldly declare otherwise doesn't it? He wants our whole life - not 10% of our money! The Bible says that we are purchased with precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19) and that means God owns us 100% (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:23). There is no legalism on earth that stands higher the right of God's Holy Spirit to direct us as He so pleases. Hear the Word of the Lord:
It is an offense to the truth to suggest that 10% of something so base as money could appease the will of God who loves us so fully, without any reserve and who has given us everything FREELY and to whom we claim to have given our lives. He has adopted us as dear sons and we are His children. Do children of the king pay their father taxes? Jesus answered this question:
Is God our King? Are we sons and daughters in His family? What heresy is it to presume that God collects taxes and fees of His dear children? It is not the truth! Jesus made this clear! Either we believe the truth that we are made children of God by the work of Christ Jesus, or we reject it and instead embrace the law. Those who embrace the law are choosing to be treated as foreigners - not sons. They reject the freedom that is in Christ and they prefer the curse of the law. Just as Jesus said that man cannot serve both God and money (i.e. mammon), neither can we serve the law and follow the Spirit. It's one or the other.
Galatians 5:4 (GW) - Those of you who try to earn God's approval by obeying his laws have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen out of God's favor.
The Bible says that those who are LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD they are the children of God. Do the logic... Who are they that are led by the law (i.e. "benchmarks", legalism, ritual, formula, etc.)? Are they not denying their position as sons of God? Is it any wonder that those who live according to the law are under a constant sense of fear and condemnation? The fear that if they fail in keeping the law they will be rejected, denied, disapproved of, disfavored?
Sure enough, even many of those who preach monetary tithing, will agree with the general truth - that God owns us 100% and therefore a tenth is a pathetic sum to think measures up to the magnitude of Christ's example (yes indeed, they know all the lingo); HOWEVER, most of the same who love to preach tithing, while saying that God own's us 100%, are not at implying that the choice to give is without legalism or that it may involve giving that is not associated with money or service to a religious organization! For the tithe teacher, the tithe is always money, and giving is always money, and usually it is advised to be given/paid to the "church" one attends. But, as we already read, Jesus never spoke of paying money to an organization... Rather He said to have regard for those around us; to care for the sick, the impoverished, and show God's rich kindness to all we encounter. This kind of giving involves a great deal more than money and we would be foolish to believe anything different. God's Word is abundantly clear what our "reasonable service" is to Him and how we are to give to others.
Jesus said, "you cannot serve both God and mammon" (Matthew 6:19-24). In other words, it is wholly inconsistent with the truth, to think that one can serve God by obedience to His call and also think that he can serve God for money. It really is one or the other. If you are a so-called "minister" and your "ministry" depends on a paycheck, then you are serving mammon (to put things bluntly). It makes no difference whether God has called you, your expectation of being paid is what keeps you in service - not your faith that God has called you and promised to meet your every need. Which leads the rest of us to inquire as to whether or not God really called you at all, and if He did, why are you prostituting His free gift? You should stop expecting pay, get a job, and demonstrate true faith in God!
By the same token, any "church" that exists on the basis of a financial requirement (such as tithing) is not, in truth a church at all, because an assembly of believers who have their foundation on Christ alone will continue together regardless of the financial situation of some organization. Put another way, such obligations only prove that the foundation is money not Jesus. This brings us to face, head on, a vital issue... what is the Church of God? Is it a building? Is it a program? Is it an organization? Or is it what Scripture claims it to be; the body of Christ - a SPIRITUAL "house" NOT MADE WITH HANDS but fashioned of LIVING stones by Christ Jesus Himself? Is the body of Christ built upon the foundation of money (i.e. tithing)?
1 Peter 1:18-19 (BBE) - Being conscious that you have been made free from that foolish way of life which was your heritage from your fathers, not through a payment of things like silver or gold which come to destruction, but through holy blood, like that of a clean and unmarked lamb, even the blood of Christ.
If we are 100% honest in this examination concerning what the real foundation of the traditional institutional church system is, shouldn't we ask the question, "is the foundation fully Christ?" One would hope (and, no doubt, this will likely be the quick, initial reaction of most of those who presently believe in tithing as well)... However, since tithing has become such a central issue, even posed as a requirement for the institutional church program to be built and continue in operation, someone ought to ask the hard question whether the institutional church system - in general - really places its foundation on Christ or not? If one removes the money from the institution, what will happen? Will it not crumble? Is that not clear evidence that the institution has built on another foundation instead of Christ alone? Even more damning is the revelation that, as we already touched upon, no system structured by man can truly be defined as "a church" according the biblical example, for Christ's Church is ONE and it is a spiritual house of living stones (people). When men claim that "the Church" must be supported by "monetary tithing" and that the work of spreading the Gospel cannot go on without it, they are - in fact - placing MONEY at the foundation - NOT Jesus Christ! Therefore, NO organization that teaches tithing as a foundational doctrine are teaching the truth. They are building something... but that something is NOT the Church. Those who spend their efforts raising temples made with hands forget what people testified of Jesus:
As usual, the people (just like many today) misunderstood Jesus' words, even though they inavertently spoke the absolute truth about the reality of what was about to happen. All they could see at the time was that they thought Jesus was saying he was going to physically destroy the literal Temple on earth and build a new one (almost as some sort of colossal magic trick). Sigh... Jesus referred to the temple of His body, which He would raise again (John 2:19) - BUT it is clear that the Temple was also destroyed not many years after His death - proving a very real prophetic symbolism (see also Matthew 24:1-2). Still, even when that massive event transpired before their eyes, they did not understand. Hebrews talks about the coming change in order, when the Temple form of worship would be totally removed leaving only Christ. EVERY CEREMONIAL ELEMENT OF THE LAW (INCLUDING TITHING) WAS FULFILLED IN JESUS AND COMPLETELY DONE AWAY WITH!
Hebrews 9:1, 9-11 (NKJV) - Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary... It was SYMBOLIC for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience; concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed UNTIL the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
Colossians 2:14 (NIV) - having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Romans 7:4, 6 (NIV) - So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God... But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Christ is the END of the Law for all who believe! But there are many who are zealous in their pursuit of keeping laws because they falsely believe that observing the Law earns them "brownie points" with God. They think that things like observing ritual and ceremonial ordinances like tithing will gain them favor, blessing and provision by God. The Scripture, however, call such individuals ignorant of the truth of the Gospel.
Galatians 2:18-20 (NLT) - If I start to rebuild the system of Law that I tore down, then I show myself to be someone who breaks the Law. So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead---killed by the Law itself---in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.
The prosperity teachers today who love the doctrine of monetary tithing, spend great efforts to convince millions of people that God works miracles in their life if they will simply observe little aspects of the Law here and there. THIS IS A LIE AGAINST THE TRUTH!!!
Jesus also, in His discourse with the woman at the well, said that the time was soon coming (and had in-fact already come with His arrival) when God would NOT regard worship according to the Old Levitical system anymore, but now would only regard worship according to spirit and truth - our lives before God every day.
So every facet of religion that comes packaged and patterned after the Old Covenant system is a fraud against the Truth! You simply cannot have it both ways. Jesus' sacrifice changed the rules forever! There is no going back... and those who teach you otherwise only prove themselves to be in gross error (especially as it concerns tithing, which Hebrews chapter 7 also very specifically deals with):
There is obviously nothing wrong with gathering together with other believers in a building or even to come together and organize events, especially as the Holy Spirit may prompt such, but programs and buildings are nothing at all in comparison with the true nature of God's Church, which is simply and purely His people, assembled in Heaven, born in Christ Jesus. There is also nothing wrong with believers making a personal choice to set aside portions of their finances to bless others in Christian service, but such is NEVER commanded in Scripture, NEVER has anything to do with biblical tithing, and NEVER is instructed to be given to a religious organization (i.e. church). Every believer is FREE to serve God by FAITH ALONE!!! Every believer is FREE to respond to God's goodness according to Love and his/her financial ability and freewill volition!
As my friend Jan remarked once in an e-mail, "The true Body of Christ is alive and money nor anything else can destroy it. The true Body of Christ or 'Church' does not need our money because Christ is building it without human hands."
While some today wish to preach that struggle and tribulation in this life (even hunger or physical suffering) may be the evidence that we are not walking in favor with God and perhaps are under curses for disobedience, the truth is that God's Word teaches the opposite; that NOTHING can separate us from His love and even the difficult things we sometimes must endure are no indication that we have lost favor with Him. Those who preach this kind of doctrine are not preaching the truth but lies.
Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) - Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And where the giving of money is concerned, the New Testament is not silent at all. We are instructed to give from a cheerful heart, out of only what we can afford (2 Corinthians 8:12) and only as our heart motivates us to do such - in keeping with the only motivation of God's grace and love (2 Corinthians 8:7-9; 9:7). God does not want our so-called "gifts" if they are extracted from us by force, pressure, guilt, manipulation of any kind or a grudging heart. No man on earth has the right to pressure anyone in matters of the conscience of giving. This is wholly a matter between Christ and His people. And yet still so many have questions about the validity of tithing with respect to Scriptural expectations. So, it is a concern that needs to be addressed so that there is no longer any confusion. What does the Bible say about tithing and giving? Are we willing to examine the truth according to Scripture and will we then be bold enough to obey that truth, even if it strikes a blow to our traditional presumptions about giving?
Admittedly, this resource list on tithing is biased, but it is not biased against the truth. It is rather the truth that convicted my own heart that motivated me to post this information for others to examine and be set free. The thing I have constantly been impressed with concerning this debate is the clarity in which the non-tithe side of the issue is able to present their case without any manipulation of reference texts. They simply quote the whole Scriptures in their context and the matter is clear, not to mention the fact that history is on their side. However, the pro-tithe camp is fraught with many complications in proving their point of view. They rely continually on proof-texts removed from context and they have to use elaborate, convoluted, circular reasoning and testimony to bolster support of their view. But the second it is met with clear Scripture, history, and simple, logical reason, it all falls apart. It's no wonder that so many eyes are opening to the truth. I receive literally hundreds of e-mail at TruthForFree.com reporting how God has opened their understanding about the truth concerning tithing. Even more encouraging is the fact that many institutional pastors have written me to share how they are revisiting this subject, and many have stopped teaching tithing all together! Again, not just a few here and there, but literally HUNDREDS! In just the 5 short months that this Tithing section of the TruthForFree.com website was first live on the Web (March 2006 - August 2006), over 1,000 people had visited the page and thousands more have since download articles from the other pages related to this subject over the past few years! There really does seem to be a sort of "revival", if you can call it that, where many Christians are awakening to the Scriptures on this matter; no longer content with stale, traditional responses. They want the absolute hard facts and unquestionable truth that Scripture presents without any compromise. Praise God!
The interest of this site is the whole truth and counsel of Scripture, not the traditions of men. Monetary tithing for the support of religious organizations is, provably, a tradition of men. It is not found ANYWHERE in the pages of God's Word - Old Testament or New! It was rejected by the early Christian believers for more than 200 years after Calvary and it wasn't until almost 600 years more after that, that it was instituted as a formal legalism among Christian religious organizations for the purpose of financing those organizations and the institutions they busied themselves with building. All of these facts are completely evidenced by concrete historical account, leaving the pro-tithe teacher with the burden of proving his/her case. Tithing did not simply slip past the cross while Jesus fulfilled the rest of the Law through His death. The ordinance of tithing was nailed there on the cross along with every other ordinance of the Old Law! Since the tithing of money to support so-called church organizations has no foundation in Scripture whatsoever, one might logically ask: is it wise for believers to maintain it as an "essential" doctrine - even claiming it as being the very instruction of God Himself? The answer to that question should be obvious.
While there are still plenty of websites, books, publications, churches, preachers and teachers who loudly proclaim that monetary tithing is a biblical doctrine (and who will do their best to invoke fear and tell you that websites with information like this are heretical), not one of them have the authority of Scripture on their side though they claim the opposite. If you will honestly examine this matter and lay the arguments side by side you will see the severe disconnect in their logic (disconnect from biblical reality that is). They are continually left to proof-texting without regard for context and must rely heavily on traditional reasoning rather than Scriptural instruction. This is an uncompromising, and sometimes hard to hear, truth - especially for those who are supported by the income tithing generates for their organizations. The truth has a bias, indeed, and there is no such thing as "fair and balanced" discussion, where the traditions of men are in contradiction with clear Scripture. Though the burden of proof actually rests on those who claim tithing is biblical (due to their inability to effectively prove this with even a single clear Scripture reference), this site will take the challenge boldly and present a rock solid case, a full host of evidence, and a challenge to let Scripture speak boldly and clearly for itself concerning the matter.
If I were challenged to draw up a simple argument, bringing this entire debate to one simple conclusion in favor of proving that the doctrine of monetary tithing is false, I would say that is a most simple request. I would encourage every reader to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the perfect explanation for why monetary tithing to control "giving" is completely ludicrous! Jesus never exacted money at any time for his service to men (He came not to be served but to serve others). Even the rest of the apostles completely shunned the notion of charging percentages for service to the body of Christ. Jesus offered Himself with love for the entire world - a total sacrifice, a price HE HIMSELF paid, yielding His entire life and blood to the Father's will. He did not give a tenth of himself, nor did He ever teach anything so foolish as the notion that ten percent of wages pays off God and obligates Him to bless and protect His people. All was bestowed on those that believe by His own grace - not by any works of man! Jesus said that ONE commandment fulfills the whole law; LOVE! This is the first and greatest commandment (the one that He Himself demonstrated through His life, death and resurrection), and He said the second is like it - LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF! How can a 10% tithe hold a candle to Christ Jesus and the mandate to love? Quite simply it cannot! The whole notion is utterly pathetic. Tithing was crucified right there on the cross with Jesus. It's typology and symbolism was FULFILLED 100% in Him.
Furthermore, God's Word gives absolutely NO REGARD for the so-called "temples" (and so-called "storehouses") built with men's hands and which are financed by his false tithing schemes. The only temple in God's kingdom is the one He has fashioned with His own hands! We believers are His Temple. The only "storehouse" is Heaven (where we are to lay up our treasures). To fashion buildings of wood and stone and label them "God's House" (when it is only US who are His house) is an offense against the truth of the Gospel... It is, in fact, idolatry. Strong words? Yes indeed, but consider the magnitude of the statement so prevalent on the lips of those who enforce their tithing mandates. They tell people to pay their tithes to "the House of God" and they call their building "His Temple" even "His Church". There is not a single verse in all of Scripture that agrees with these man-made, pagan-inspired definitions! Therefore, for man to fashion an image of wood and stone and call it a "sanctuary" for God, he is committing idolatry for God has already made Himself a Holy Sanctuary in the very hearts of His people. What right has man to place this label on his little buildings, programs and methods of religion? He has no right whatsoever! Now, does this mean I am suggesting it is somehow wrong for believers to gather together? Certainly not! But if you have been led to believe that the place you gather holds any spiritual significance at all, you have been misled. With or without a building (be it a house, a church, or whatever place you may gather with other believers) YOU are God's Temple and the body of Christ is His Church. There is no other! How you decided to give is a sacred matter between you and your Maker! No one else! There is no legalism that trumps God's love and grace and the fruit of the Spirit at work in your own heart!
Galatians 5:4 (NLT) - For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace.
Galatians 5:7-9 (NLT) - You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn't God, for He is the One who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!
Galatians 5:13-14 (NLT) - For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Galatians 5:18 (NLT) - But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) - But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
So tithing breaks down really to this solitary issue: Choose you this day whom you will serve? Is it Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of your entire being? If it is then you cannot lay claim to tithing ordinances to govern your gifts. Has a pastor told you that you are obligated to follow the ordinance of tithing? Remind him that believers are to be led by the Spirit and that God's Word says that those who are such are under NO OBLIGATION to the Law of Moses (Galatians 5:18)! The Word of God compels you to lay your life down as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1). THIS IS THE LEAST YOU CAN DO! Those who have told you that tithing is the least you can do (i.e. a benchmark or starting place for giving) are not speaking the truth! Your life is owned in Christ! He alone has the authority to instruct you how to use your money, your time, your gifts, and your service to others - as well as WHERE to do it. You are not obligated to give money to any organization just because they misuse the Scriptures and try to convince you that giving into their offering plate equals giving to God. When you allow youself to be led by God's love, reflecting on the grace of Jesus Christ, and listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit inside you THAT is the most perfect way to give!
There is not a single law that is higher than love! God is love! You must submit your will to only His will. As Jesus said, He only did that which He saw the Father do. This is to be our call as well. Giving is something that MUST flow from love and obedience to His Spirit. If we reduce the gift and grace to God to a legalism like tithing, we err greatly, we dabble in idolatry and we fail in love!
Many of you visiting this site have many questions and that is good! I hope you will not rest until you have a full and complete answer. I pray you will never settle for the mere instruction of man, but dive deeply into His truth and embrace it with all your heart! God be with you as you study His Word! :)
In His grip,