14″ Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross….” Colossians 2:14
10 “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Acts 15:10
7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
I strongly believe that generous giving is an essential element of New Testament Christianity. We are to give to the poor (if coupled with gospel evangelism), and to those who labor in the word, in evangelism and in doctrine. I also believe we are to care for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to the extent that they have physical needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. The scriptures are clear – we are to give joyfully, freely and without any type of man-made limit. We are told time and time again by Jesus and Paul, that we are not to live for the treasures of this dying world but instead are to build up treasure in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy and where thieves cannot break in and steal. Therefore, generosity should be second nature to any true believer, redeemed from the lies of this world by the precious blood of the lamb.
What I wholly reject, based on the clear mandate of scripture, is the teaching that the Old Testament law of tithing (Hebrews 7:5) is still somehow in effect. Jesus abolished the law (ALL OF IT) in his body on the cross. (Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:14-17, Hebrews chaps.7-10, Galatians chaps. 2-5, etc.). In the western church, many pastors have greedily and fearfully resurrected a dead doctrine, thereby spitting on the very cross they preach. Tithing perished on calvary, yet is taught as law by tens of thousands of pastors either out of willful ignorance, or in order to manipulate their congregations into giving. If God is truly for their ministries, then HE will provide, with no wresting of the scriptures required.
There are a multitude of sound biblical arguments, which prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that tithing is dead. As a starting point, believers are never, ever told to tithe in the New Testament. Furthermore, there are enormous portions of scripture (in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, to name a few), which torturously lay out the fact that the entire body of Old Testament law died with Jesus on the cross. Yet many pastors still, somehow, gleefully and forcefully proclaim it as the law of the Christian land, without teaching that any other part of the Jewish law (such as animal sacrifices) survived the cross. Why do they cling so tightly to the only law that gives them money? I think we all know the answer, and in America at least, that answer is green.
When I am out evangelizing on the streets, a substantial number of the church goers I meet, especially those from lower income areas, have been brainwashed into believing that they MUST sow their seed to their pastor by, at a minimum, tithing. They are so indoctrinated by their “church” that they often become angry when anyone suggests the contrary, even when using scriptures. Many are so deceived by this false and legalistic rule, that they ignore the fact that their pastor has a Mercedes and a nice house while they have a bike and share a small, filthy apartment with six other family members. It is disgusting, but just like everywhere else where serious doctrinal error exists, the problem is due to the fact that they haven’t studied the Bible for themselves, but simply trust whatever the well-dressed, charismatic preacher on stage tells them…yet may God be true, and every man a liar. (Romans 3:4).
Paul addresses New Testament giving clearly and directly in 2 Corinthians 9:
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”8
Not only does Paul make it clear that we are not to give with a bad attitude or because we feel we must (ahem…guilt over tithing), but he also makes it resoundingly clear that a generous heart will lead to bountiful reaping. While I do not know what that means exactly, I do know from 1 Timothy 6:4-6, that we are not to equate godliness with financial gain. What I have seen in my own life is that when I am hoarding my money and placing my trust in material blessings, I never seem to have enough, but when I am free with the things the Lord has provided for me, I always seem to be at peace with where I am financially. That…can only be from the Lord.
Another key point in the case against tithing is the fact that, when the Jerusalem Council met (see, Acts 15) to discuss what elements of the Old Testament Law should survive for the protection and edification of the church (as legalism had begun to leach into the body), money was not even mentioned one time. While many of the converted Jews were trying to reinstitute elements of the OT law (such as circumcision), the concept of creating a new, legal framework for believers was resoundingly rejected by the apostles. Instead, a few simple guidelines were laid out to help protect the young church from slipping into sin. Here is a brief summary of why the Council met, and what was said by the apostles:
5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them (the Gentiles), and to command them to keep the law of Moses.6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe…9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Acts 15:5-10
After discussing the fact that the church should not be placed in the unbearable fetters of the law, the Council declared:
28″ For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well….” Acts 15:28-29
Even the way the above passage is phrased makes it clear that no Old Testament laws were put back in place for the church. Instead, the church was simply given guidelines in order to help believers walk in the holiness to which we are all called…and money wasn’t mentioned at all.
The question I have for everyone who considers tithing mandatory or even highly advisable (versus giving freely and generously through the spirit), is: why would you lay a yoke of slavery on either yourself or others that our forefathers in the Judeo-Christian faith couldn’t bear, and one which the actual apostles refused to place on their own disciples?
It has been argued by some that, since tithing preceded the Law of Moses (Abraham tithed to Melchizedek), then it should survive the death of the law as well. My answer to that is simple. Besides the fact that not even one New Testament scripture supports this belief, animal sacrifices also predated the law (Abel, Abraham, etc.), and, like tithing, were merged into the law – yet no one teaches that they somehow survived the cross (not Paul, not Peter, and not even Benny Hinn or Creflo Dollar!). All of the law perished via the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that includes the practices which predated Mosaic Law but were merged into it. I have never heard even one sound argument(or scripture) explaining why tithing survived the cross but blood sacrifices did not. More importantly, there is not even a single letter to a church from an apostle that tells us that tithing is still in effect. Thus, there is no biblical justification for teaching it today. Fortunately, we now have a better testament, a living hope, and the yoke of slavery…is gone.
It is often said that biblical doctrine can not be gleaned from one or even two verses on a subject. In the case of tithing, as noted above, there are exactly zero verses where Paul, Peter, James or John tell the church to tithe. In fact, the most direct verse on giving (2 Cor. 9:7, quoted twice in this article) says the very opposite – do not give out of necessity but give what you want to give from your heart. That exhortation is consistent with everything the blood of Jesus Christ did to the law. It was destroyed in the body of his flesh so that a new, better testament, written in blood, might prevail. Thus, in my estimation, those who push this false doctrine, are in deep danger…wresting the scripture to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
Caring for the needs of the poor, and providing for our Christian brothers and sisters, are most certainly acceptable acts of financial stewardship in the eyes of our holy God. Giving directly to a sound teacher, author or evangelist is also in perfect accord with the scriptures – whether or not they are part of a building with the word “church” on it. Sadly, the corporate “church” has falsely corralled believers into thinking that a 10% tithe must first go to them, and then and only then can one give “offerings” to anyone else. That teaching is self-serving, false, and will not stand at the judgement seat of Christ. The very reason Jesus came to earth to live and then die brutally on a cold, hard cross, was to set us free from the bondage of the law of sin and death (Romans 8). Yet out of ignorance, greed and fear many pastors are quick to place that yoke of slavery right back on our necks…exactly where it was prior to the blood of our great God being spilled to wash away our sin. Pastors and teachers are informed by James that they are under a higher standard of judgment than the average believer (James 3:1). If I were one of them, I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with placing even a small part of that unbearable yoke on the necks of God’s precious little flock.
I would love to see pastors, worldwide, reject the false doctrine of tithing, and to publicly repent for the bondage under which they have placed their congregations. I would love to see them trust the God of heaven and earth to provide for their church no matter the cost, even if they, like Paul (a tentmaker), have to occasionally work to meet all of their needs. If their ministry is truly of Jesus Christ, instead of simply being a means to have a nice middle class lifestyle on the backs of God’s children, then He WILL provide. It may be a struggle, and the pastor’s life might not look like it did when the yoke of slavery was on his congregation, but it just might look a lot more like the life of the greatest apostle to ever preach the gospel….Paul, and great will their reward be in heaven.