The Christian and Tithing

The Ark of the Covenant

What does the Bible say about tithing?

While tithing is part of the Old Covenant arrangement God had with Israel for the support of the priests, the New Covenant does away with tithing as required in the Old Covenant. There is no longer a Levitical system of priests to support. We have Jesus as our High Priest and as believers we are now considered a part of the priesthood. Consider the following verses:

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 3:1

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5

Note however, that while tithing is no longer required, giving is still a principle of God. As believers all that we have is God’s. We really should be praying along the lines of how much should I be keeping for myself, not how much do I give to God. And we believe God still honors giving, even structured giving such as tithing. Look at God’s promise to those who give tithes.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Malachi 3:10

Will He not also honor those who give from their heart? The apostle Paul tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.

Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:14

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:5-7

Please take a moment to read a short article written by Paul Winslow on tithing. You will find it at http://www.ldolphin.org/tithing.html.

The ultimate answer to the question of tithing is found in your prayer closet. Seek what God would have you to keep, and then as a faithful steward of that which He entrusts to you, seek to know how to use the rest for His kingdom.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Luke 6:38

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1 John 3:17

Study Resources :: The Christian and Tithing. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/tithe.cfm

The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day

A Ten Commandments monument which includes the...

Why do Christians observe the Sabbath on Sunday rather than on Saturday?

There are several reasons that we, as Christians, celebrate the Sabbath on the first day of the week. Some Scriptural basis for it can be found in Acts 20:7 and Revelation 1:10

“Now on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

“I [John] was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet” (Revelation 1:10).

The passage in Acts has the Christians gathering together on the first day of the week to break bread. The grammar here makes this out to be a regular occurrence. And so, this, if not the day during which the Church was observing the Sabbath, needs to be explained. Also, John, being in the Spirit on the Lord’s day demonstrates that the first day of the week bore enough significance to merit such a familiar nomenclature as “the Lord’s day” and John speaks of this day as if it were a normal occurance. These are just some reasons.

Here are a couple more based upon Biblical Theological models for interpretation. The original Sabbath is based in the seven days of the Old Creation: God worked six days and then rested on the LAST day of the week. Whereas the Sabbath falling on the last day of the week was indicative of the Old Creation, the Christian practice of observing the Sabbath on the FIRST day of the week is a congruent with God’s New Creation. Christ rose on the first day of the week and began His Sabbath rest then (cf. Hebrews 4).

Also of interest is the fact that the two versions of the Sabbath are typological of the two covenants that go along with each Creation. With the Old Creation, Adam was given a covenant of works whereby he would work for a time and then receive his heavenly rest. Adam failed in this and God uses the institution of the Sabbath falling on the first day of the week to demonstrate that with His New Creation, man begins in his rest and the good works follow.

These are all fair reasons I think that we, as Christians, celebrate the Sabbath on the Lord’s day (i.e., Sunday).

Study Resources :: The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/sabbath.cfm

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Fruitful Multiplication

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

How should we, as New Testament believers, fulfill the Creation Mandate, “Be fruitful and multiply”?

In Genesis 1:28, God commands His creature (man) to be fruitful and multiply. This is mandated from the Creation and so, stands wholly apart from the Mosaic Covenant; and thus, the command still has bearing today – but only truly in the risen Christ.

Originally intending to bless the creation of His own likeness, God assigns them to a creative labor to mirror His own (cf. Genesis 1:262:15). God’s work thence became the very frame for man’s work: the creature mirrors the Creator, working as he ought, with the hope of like Sabbath rest to God’s (to be won when the Creator judges his work “good” – like His own). As originally conceived, this blessing/command envisioned a sinless creature who, once confirmed in righteousness (through mirroring God via His Creation-covenant of works), would populate the earth with a holy people, a city of righteousness that would hold faultless dominion over the world (as per the Genesis 1:28 command).

Alas. Such was not to be the case.

Yet by common grace, the blessing/command to be fruitful and multiply was extended to fallen mankind who now being corrupt, quickly learnt to use the blessing to their own ends – to make names for themselves and increase their own houses (cf. Genesis 4:17). Instead of glorifying the Creator, man, the creature, deigned to usurp His place through self-deification.

But, with the advent of Christ, the command is renewed and is finally able to find its true and lasting fulfillment. As the Last Adam, the first born of the New Creation, Christ fulfills the Genesis 1:28 mandate in His dominion (cf. Romans 8:34 and Ephesians 1:20). And so, in His resurrection, Christ opens up a New Creation and reiterates the blessing/command in Matthew 28:18 with the Great Commission. In the New Creation, the “fruit” takes on spiritual meaning, finding spiritual fulfillment rather than carnal. Now, it is the spiritual children who are counted as fruit (over and against those who are solely children according to the flesh).

So, while the Genesis 1:28 mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” is strong in command today, it finds renewed and redeemed expression in the invitation to “make disciples of all nations.” Thus, it is by the sharing of the Gospel that we, as post-Ascension Believers, endeavor to fulfill the blessing/command.

Study Resources :: Fruitful Multiplication. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/fruitful.cfm

 

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The Christian and Doctrine

Why should we study Scripture and doctrine?

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” — Psalms 11:3

God the Father 11

If we have no solid base, if we know not the words of our Lord, nor comprehend their meaning, we shall surely be laid flat when the gales of false teaching assail us. Without the conscientious study of what God has shown us all, Truth escapes us and the only thing that remains is falsehood.

There is a cancer in the world. It drives men insane and causes them to call idiocy “reason” and reason “irrational.” Men claim to be lovers of logic, and yet embrace atheism, relativism, pantheism, and innumerable doctrines of self-deification. Men glorify the art of observation, but fail to see what lies directly in front of themselves. They exalt theory over fact. Being correct is in current favor over being right. They claim world-love on a grand scale, but behind the facade lies self-infatuation on a grander scale.

So then, what are we to do? We who would claim the existence of God. Of absolutes. Of a holy standard. We who would dare to believe that a god-man beat the king of death and now reigns with authority on High. What are we to do? How can we sturdy ourselves for the onslaught from the mockers and scorners that shall surely come? There are but two ways. The first is by honest, consistent prayer and supplication to the Lord who is ultimately in control of all things. The second is knowledge of and about that Lord and the things He has shown is Scripture (His loving revelation of Truth to us).

Without knowledge of God, His creation, His desires, His work throughout time, and His standard, the unhappy fellow who professes belief in the Christian God will never keep his balance above the world and will surely fall in. On the other hand, only the one who studies and loves the Word of God will be firm enough in his stance to weather the buffets of those trying to pull him into the world, and even pull the occasional fellow out. And as our Lord tells us, it is our sworn duty to pull that fellow out; so it is thus also our duty to know and study God.

Know the Word “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) and “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Once the necessity for the study of God has been established, we proceed into the realm of methodology. In what way should the student of God’s revelation to man go about his study? Would it be intelligent and reasonable to accumulate as much knowledge as possible, and yet leave it a mere jumble of un- or partially-related facts? Or should one integrate the learned information into a well-ordered system?

If a man has a jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces and he refuses to put it together, he will have a very difficult time trying to figure out what the whole picture is. Now if he organizes the fragments and puts all the pieces together, he shall be able to see the whole picture as well as focus on the details, which he now sees in relationship to the whole. Even better, he will realize which pieces are missing whereas before, he could only guess.

And so it is with theology. We have piles of Scripture containing vast quantities of information. It is when people refuse to systematize that information that heresy is born. If we are to find the Truth in God’s revealed will, we must come to it from a perspective of order.

Study Resources :: The Christian and Doctrine. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/theology.cfm

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Remarriage after Divorce

According to Scripture, if a marriage partner commits adultery, can the injured partner remarry or should they stay single? Ideally, divorce, even in the case of adultery, is not preferred. Christ only begrudgingly allows for divorce (Mark 10:6-10) in such an instance, declaring that Moses allowed it (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) ONLY because of the hardness of men’s hearts (meaning their unloving and uncharitable nature).

Paul, speaking of believers, though, says that a believer is NOT to divorce his/her believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). He does make allowances for the believing spouse of an unbeliever, saying that though they are not to initiate a divorce, if the unbeliever departs, the believer is no longer under any obligation to the marriage (1 Corinthians 7:12-15).

The following is a very succinct statement of the basic scriptural position. So let us put it succinctly. However, this subject is a very emotional and complicated one. Situations do not always easily fall within these categories (e.g., physical spousal abuse, or what happens when a spouse’s actions bring into question their statement of belief). Accordingly, we always recommend that pastoral counseling always be sought by persons faced with marrital problems. In addition, we recommend the following book by Dr. Jay E. AdamsMarriage, Divorce, Remarriage in the Bible (ISBN: 0310511119).

1. BELIEVER & BELIEVER:
Divorce is not right. If divorce occurs, reconciliation must be sought (the alternative is to remain in an unmarried state). If the divorcing party does not seek reconciliation, he/she should be brought into the order of church discipline. If there is no repentance, the divorcing party should be ex-communicated as an unbeliever (i.e., treated as a heathen and tax-collector) and so the situation would change to…
2. BELIEVER & UNBELIEVER:
Divorce is not to be sought by the believer (under the new covenant, the grace of God is stronger than under the old; in the Mosaic covenant the foreign wife made her husband unholy – Ezra 10:2,3 – but in the new, the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving). If the unbeliever desires divorce, it can be granted. And then, the believer is free to remarry.
3. IN THE CASE OF ADULTERY:
If the adulterer repents and falls into the grace of Christ, his/her spouse is not obligated to stay, but is not eligible for remarriage (1 Corinthians 7:11). If the adulterer does not repent, he/she should fall into the hands of church discipline by which he/she will either prove Christian and repent (allowing the victim to divorce sans remarriage) or prove unbelieving, by which listing #2 comes into effect.
Study Resources :: Remarriage after Divorce. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/divorce.cfm
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The Believer’s Relationship to the Mosaic Covenant

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

The Believer‘s Relationship to the Mosaic Covenant

At the Blue Letter Bible, we consistently receive questions on tithing, on which,if any, of the often “strange” Levitical laws (e.g., Do not weave two kinds of fabric together) apply to the believer today, on when to celebrate Old Testament feast days, et cetera. These are all questions borne out of an inadequate understanding of the agreement made between God and Moses on Mount Sinai.

Properly understanding the covenants and their importance seems to be one of the most eluding pieces of theology for the modern believer. The Mosaic Covenant was directed specifically toward the nation of Israel and was concerned in its chiefest aspect with Israel’s inheritance of and blessing in the land of Canaan—the Promised Land. The laws that attended this covenant, while revealing God’s desire for this nation to be set apart from all others as an example, do not necessarily give us any perfect basis for understanding morality. This may seem to be a strange statement. But we ask you to consider the following points.

  • Much of the time when people discuss the “Law,” they are thinking primarily of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments). However, the Law, (i.e., the Mosaic Covenant) contained several hundreds of commandments. Many of which today are not even possible to follow, due to the lack of a Jewish Temple. Yet, biblical morality is not affected by this situation.
  • In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus seemingly expanded the understanding of the Ten Commandments. Rather than just stating that we should not murder, He told us that if we called our brother a “fool,” it was the same as committing murder. So the Ten Commandments were not all encompassing as to morality.

The real question then presents itself, “What responsibility does the believer owe to the Mosaic Covenant?”

While the law is good (1 Tim 1:8), it is unable to justify (Gal 2:16). Under the “New Covenant,” Christ is our fulfillment of the law (Mat 5:17). Therefore, as to the question of what responsibility does the New Covenant believer owe to the Mosaic Covenant, the answer is “nothing” for the purposes of salvation (Gal 3:1-3). Some of the standards iterated from God through Moses upon Sinai were directed at the nation of Israel simply as the terms of a contract for possession of a certain portion of land. Deuteronomy 28makes clear the stipulations of this covenant; essentially God would bless Israel for obedience by granting great prosperity in the land. but curse Israel for its disobedience with all manner of catastrophe culminating in the loss of Canaan. Despite God’s longsuffering, Israel fails to uphold her portion of the covenant and reaps the curses God promised—climaxing in the Babylonian capture in the Seventh Century B.C.

The Law (both the covenantal and the universal, Ten Commandment aspects of it) now serves to lead mankind to understand his corruption. Just as Israel, a nation born of the fruit of God’s own grace, could not stand under the righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law, neither can any man stand under the condemnation of God’s universal requirement—absolute obedience of mind and action. Paul speaks of the Law as one who leads us step by step to grace, for it points out our dire need of such (cf. Galatians 3:23ff). And having taken hold of grace by faith, the believer no longer heeds the condemning beckon of the Law (cf. Romans). So then, is there any reason to look to the Levitical laws for ethical guidance unto righteousness? No—for their service now is to guide men to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

What then? Is this freedom merely for the believing Gentile? Or does the believer of Jewish decent likewise bear this liberty? As certainly as the Jewish believer holds to Christ is his freedom from the Mosaic Law assured. The chief redemptive aspect of the Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled by Christ. The blood of bulls and goats is useless and perfectly replaced by the sacrifice of the one Son of God Himself; to return to the Mosaic Law is to deny the sacrifice of Christ. This was the impetus driving the apostles as they stood against the Judaizers (those who were requiring believers in Christ to bear up under the Mosaic Law) proclaiming, “Beware the dogs, the evildoers, the mutilation!”

Where then do we find our Christian ethic? Quite simply, in Christ’s words: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). If we follow Christ’s command, we cannot break any aspect of the Ten Commandments, nor any aspect of God’s morality. And we find extrapolation of these ultimate commands in all the writings of the New Testament authors. That is our ethic—and it is borne by our faith in and love for Christ rather than from our fear of breaking the law.

Study Resources :: Mosaic Covenant Relationship. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/mosaic_cov.cfm

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