Tithing in the Age of Grace
Most Christians are dispensational. They don’t know it, but they are. It is often heard in statements like, “not under the law, but under grace.
This morning in the Christian church we attend the pastor made the weekly plea to collect the offering. In his plea he noted that tithing is an Old Testament teaching that is “ratified” in the New Testament. He went on to talk about the “thread” that tied the old and new testaments together. He used the illustration that if we do not tithe we should just take the pages between Malachi and Matthew and “just rip the Old Testament out and throw it away.”
I didn’t find anything unusual about the plea since this is the typical approach by most Christian churches across the United States every week. However, this week we began a new series on giving from a biblical perspective. Apparently, giving comes down to two things: money and talent. An example was made between Michael W. Smith, a famous Christian musical artist, and Madonna, a secular musical artist. To illustrate the difference, the preacher compared and contrasted the two artists pointing out that one of them gave their talents to God while the other did not. I don’t want to read a WHOLE lot into this, however, let me point out. Madonna is using her talents, like all other musical artists, to garner wealth. Musicians love what they do and they love it better when they can make a living doing it. Michael W. Smith, and ALL OTHER Christian musicians are doing the exact same thing. They are using their talents to garner wealth. There is virtually no distinction between their talents. However, there is a distinction between their message. But to illustrate this point, just google how many Christian artists have had a moral failure, or come out of the closet. Let’s not put any stock there!
If you are not aware, several great sages have listed the 613 laws of the Torah (Law) in a catalog version. The most commonly viewed version is found in the Mishneh Torah by the great Rabbi Maimonides. It must be noted that many of these commandments (such as all the commandments associated with sacrifices) are not practicable as long as there is no Temple in Jerusalem. But apart from that, the commands, called Mitzvot, are expected to be followed by faithful Jews. Of these 613 laws several of them prescribe the laws of tithing. Tithing was prescribed under the Law first with Abraham and then carried down through Moses and ensuing generations. Dispensationalists, however, do not believe in the Law: “We are under a new Law, the Law of Grace. We have more revelation about God, and are no longer required to keep ceremonial laws given to the Jews. The moral law is always in effect as a guide, but we are no longer condemned by it, since we have a savior that has overcome for us.” Tithing was a part of the ceremonial Law, not the moral Law, and therefore is no longer applicable. But that is not what is taught in churches today.
If we were to turn to the Christian New Testament and search on tithing, there is virtually nothing listed about tithing as a percent or a required obligation for Christians. But if we all stopped giving to the church, it would go bankrupt! So this ruse continues. It is no wonder most Christian really do not know what they believe, since their own worldview is self-refuting.
James the brother of Jesus warns us (James 2) that we can not just keep part of the law–that we are bound to all of it, or bound to none of it. The churches teaching on the law and tithing is contradictory and self-refuting. Next week we will hear a message about some other other moral issue and told we are not under the Law, but under grace. But NOT today!
Which is it?
The only way to rationalize tithing as bound upon modern day Christians in any fashion is to embrace the reality that Gods Law is fully in effect and will remain so until the next world comes. But this becomes problematic for modern Christians that want to deny the power of the Law and it’s presence in the daily lives of the Christian faith. But at the end of the day, this is also the very reason that being a Christian no longer means that a person adheres to any specific set of moral or ethical suppositions. The rejecting of God’s Law displaces any moral or ethical obligation by which I must live, while absolving any recourse on the part of God to intervene on my behalf. What is clear in the Old and New Testaments alike: obedience yields blessing.