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#25063 Wed Jun 01, 2005 1:31 AM
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I must be dense. Why are my two statements above contradictory? I don't see where there is ANYTHING that is "binding" upon new covenant believers in the manner of "law."

Must a Christian abstain from idolatry? Must a Christian abstain from blasphemy? Must a Christian abstain from dishonoring his parents? Must a Christian abstain from murder? Etc. In short, if it is a "binding" commandment, it is sin to fail to obey the commandment. Is the tithe such a commandment?


Kyle

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Kyle wrote:
Must a Christian abstain from idolatry? Must a Christian abstain from blasphemy? Must a Christian abstain from dishonoring his parents? Must a Christian abstain from murder? Etc. In short, if it is a "binding" commandment, it is sin to fail to obey the commandment. Is the tithe such a commandment?

Are all those things "binding," Kyle? Wow! I am feeling SERIOUSLY dumber by the minute . . . . . .

I could be persuaded that ALL of those things you mentioned are "sins" -- including failing to "tithe." However, I don't understand the "binding" part. Please forgive me!

[By my way of thinking, I am convinced that failing to give away more than HALF of my salary is a "sin," but I stumble over the term "binding."]

Confused and confusing, as always,
Ted

#25065 Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:13 AM
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Ted said:
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Kyle wrote:
Must a Christian abstain from idolatry? Must a Christian abstain from blasphemy? Must a Christian abstain from dishonoring his parents? Must a Christian abstain from murder? Etc. In short, if it is a "binding" commandment, it is sin to fail to obey the commandment. Is the tithe such a commandment?

Are all those things "binding," Kyle? Wow! I am feeling SERIOUSLY dumber by the minute . . . . . .

I could be persuaded that ALL of those things you mentioned are "sins" -- including failing to "tithe." However, I don't understand the "binding" part. Please forgive me!

If it is a sin to fail to observe a particular commandment, then that commandment is "binding" on the Christian, insofar as he must repent of his failure to abide by it, and those who do not repent show themselves to be false brethren. Tithing, that is, giving 10% of one's gross income to the church, is not one of those commandments. It ought to be clear from what I showed that the only tithes commanded were part and parcel of the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel.

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[By my way of thinking, I am convinced that failing to give away more than HALF of my salary is a "sin," but I stumble over the term "binding."]

Why are you so convinced? We are not called to be ascetics, after all. We may rightfully enjoy certain pleasures afforded in this life, with thanksgiving to God for them. Unless you are spending frivolously and your heart is in your possessions and purchases, what is the matter? It isn't the quantity with which God is concerned, but rather the quality of the giving heart.


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Thanks for your post, Kyle. A couple of questions from your self-described "dense" brother, here:

You wrote: "If it is a sin to fail to observe a particular commandment, then that commandment is 'binding' on the Christian, insofar as he must repent of his failure to abide by it, and those who do not repent show themselves to be false brethren. " My question is "how does this fit with what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 6 & 7:

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:14-15 (ESV)

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. - Romans 7:6 (ESV)

I am SOOOOO confused. Please forgive me!

Love,
Ted

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Kyle wrote:
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[By my way of thinking, I am convinced that failing to give away more than HALF of my salary is a "sin," but I stumble over the term "binding."]

Why are you so convinced? We are not called to be ascetics, after all. We may rightfully enjoy certain pleasures afforded in this life, with thanksgiving to God for them. Unless you are spending frivolously and your heart is in your possessions and purchases, what is the matter? It isn't the quantity with which God is concerned, but rather the quality of the giving heart.

I guess I am convicted by what Alcorn and, more so, Piper have written and preached regarding God's promises -- that my satisfaction and joy would be and are greater in God than in the "things" of this earth (which I've been spending my money on!). Does that make sense?

Yours in Christ,
Ted

#25068 Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:42 AM
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Ted said:
Thanks for your post, Kyle. A couple of questions from your self-described "dense" brother, here:

You wrote: "If it is a sin to fail to observe a particular commandment, then that commandment is 'binding' on the Christian, insofar as he must repent of his failure to abide by it, and those who do not repent show themselves to be false brethren. " My question is "how does this fit with what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 6 & 7:

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:14-15 (ESV)

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. - Romans 7:6 (ESV)

I am SOOOOO confused. Please forgive me!

What doesn't fit? If we have been justified, we are no longer condemned by the law, are we? And if we are regenerate, we obey in love and in spirit, so we avoid more than outwardly sinful actions which the law describes, but also sinful thoughts.


Kyle

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#25069 Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:52 AM
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I guess I am convicted by what Alcorn and, more so, Piper have written and preached regarding God's promises -- that my satisfaction and joy would be and are greater in God than in the "things" of this earth (which I've been spending my money on!). Does that make sense?

It makes sense, I'm just concerned that your thoughts are more on the quantity of what you give than on the quality. I rather doubt it is particularly feasible for you to give more than half of your income to the church, unless you are quite wealthy. So why do you think in such a manner? Do you spend a lot of money on frivolous things which are neither rightfully enjoyable nor useful and do not honor God?


Kyle

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#25070 Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:58 AM
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Ted said:
Thank you, Kyle. I benefitted from it more THIS time than last. I guess I am confused by this:


Ted wrote:
Please forgive me for any confusion I may have caused, Jeff. I do NOT believe that the "tithe" is binding upon new covenant believers. . .

Please forgive me, Jeff, but I just don't see how "the tithe was specific to theonomic Israel" . . .

I must be dense. Why are my two statements above contradictory? I don't see where there is ANYTHING that is "binding" upon new covenant believers in the manner of "law." . . .


Ted,

Let just BRIEFLY deal with this issue and with these two statements which I think are representative of the many contradictory things you have written, of which after reading more of the exchange between you and CovenantInBlood, I think I'm beginning to understand why this contradiction exists.

1) You state clearly that you believe the O.T. tithe is not binding upon Christians.
2) You state clearly that the tithe was not restricted to the old covenant and theonomic Israel.
3) You state clearly that you believe that nothing is binding upon Christians 'in the manner of the law'.

Then you provided a quote from Randy Alcorn who states clearly that the O.T. tithe is perpetual [not specific to Israel] in principle and it is binding upon new covenant believers:

Quote
Acorn writes:
I'm a strong believer in the new covenant's superiority over the old (Romans 7; 2Corinthians 3; Hebrews 8). On the other hand, I believe there's ongoing value to certain aspects of the old covenant. The model of paying back to God the firstfruits (tithing) and giving freewill offerings beyond that is among those. Because we are never told that tithing has been superseded, and because Jesus directly affirmed it (Matthew 23:23) and prominent church fathers taught it as a requirement for Christian living, it seems to me the burden of proof falls on those who say tithing is no longer a minimum standard for God's people.. . . and

We don't offer sacrifices anymore, so why should we tithe? Because sacrifices are specifically rescinded in the New Testament. As the book of Hebrews demonstrates, Christ has rendered inoperative the whole sacrificial system. But where in the New Testament does it indicate that tithing is no longer valid? There is no such passage. With a single statement, God could have easily singled out tithing like He did sacrifices and the Sabbath. But He didn't.

- page 181 of Money, Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn

With the hopes you will come to a better and biblical understanding of this matter I would have you know that if God requires and/or expects you to do something, say something, or think something specific, then it is "binding", i.e., you are obligated [aka: bound] to obey those things. ALL that God wills is "law". We are therefore to obey ALL the law. To fail to keep ALL the law is sin. Now, sinners are guilty of disobedience; of being law-breakers and are under the wrath of God and judgment. Salvation is accomplished in only one way and that way is "by works"; the perfect keeping of the law. You either do it yourself or you trust in the obedience of another. But the Law of God must be kept completely and perfectly in order to have any relationship with God whatsoever and avoid eternal punishment.

Self-justification is an impossibility as you well know. Thus salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Lord Christ is the sinners "Substitute law-keeper", i.e., He kept the law of God always, completely and perfectly (aka: active obedience). Further, because we have all sinned and stand guilty before God, in His death, He is the sinners "Substitute law-breaker", i.e., He suffered the penalty which belonged to us due to our sins. (2Cor 5:21)

So, what all this when the topic is "tithing"? Because it has to do with the Law of God, what does that law require, and whether or not a Christian is bound to keep it. The ONLY law which Christians are under obligation to keep is the Moral Law of God, for all the civil and ceremonial laws were shadows and types which pointed to the coming of the Messiah and His perfect sacrificial life and death which were pleasing to God and which fulfilled ALL that was required of Him. Christians are not free to be Idolaters, to worship God as they wish, to take God's name in vain, to do as they will on the Sabbath, to be dishonoring to parents, to murder people, to commit adultery, to steal, to speak falsely, to desire that which belongs to another. These things are summarized by Jesus as two basic laws which are to govern all of one's thoughts, words and deeds. (cf. Mk 12:30, 31) Obedience is mandatory; not optional. These moral laws are "binding" upon ALL men but especially Christians. They are that which serve as the "rule of life". They tell us HOW we are to live. They set forth man's duty; that which he is required to obey for they are the expressed will of God [aka: prescriptive will]. For more see here: The Moral Law and its Relation to Believers, by Ernest Kevan.

Okay... and the point is? If the "tithe" is something which is "binding", i.e., it requires obedience, conformity to, etc., then it is part of God's law and to not fulfill its requirements is sin. Remember now, we are speaking of sanctification, i.e., living out a life in conformity to all that God requires of us; becoming partakers of Christ's divine nature, not by compulsion by out of thankfulness and with the freedom and power of the Spirit of God. Thus, if the tithe has not been abrogated, which Alcorn insists is true, then it is still "binding" and thus as he points out, it is to the the "standard", "guide", "rule" by which a Christian governs his life in regard to giving and stewardship. In short, stewardship is defined, determined and distributed by the "law of the tithe", i.e., a bare minimum of at least "10%". So then, this is not an option.... it is God's will and it MUST be done; it is binding and thus requires perfect obedience.

Lastly, Alcorn says the "tithe" must still be valid because there is no clear statement in the N.T. that says it has been abrogated. He erroneously compares the Sabbath with tithing, thus making tithing part of the moral law; a major hermeneutical flaw. But there IS a clear statement that says that ALL the civil and ceremonial laws have been abrogated (fulfilled) . . . Matt. 5:17. Of course, Theonomists/Reconstructionists would argue otherwise. But that's another matter which has been thoroughly discussed on this Board and not relevant here.

So, there it is Ted . . . either the "tithe" is binding, i.e., the will of God (law) to which Christians must render obedience, or it was specific to the Israelic civil and ceremonial laws, being shadows of that which was to come and fulfilled by Christ in His perfect life and death. Is my relationship with God to be determined by my checkbook or by Christ's substitutionary sacrifice in my behalf and expressed by my love for Christ and my desire to become like Him, and do all that God commands of me in His moral law? (Jh 14:15; 15:10; 1Jh 5:3)

In His Grace,


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Jeff wrote:
So, there it is Ted . . . either the "tithe" is binding, i.e., the will of God (law) to which Christians must render obedience, or it was specific to the Israelic civil and ceremonial laws, being shadows of that which was to come and fulfilled by Christ in His perfect life and death. Is my relationship with God to be determined by my checkbook or by Christ's substitutionary sacrifice in my behalf and expressed by my love for Christ and my desire to become like Him, and do all that God commands of me in His moral law? (Jh 14:15; 15:10; 1Jh 5:3)

GREAT post, Jeff. Thanks for once again providing me much meat to chew on. I have spent quite a few precious moments reviewing articles online and Scripture passages regarding "The Law & The Gospel" and "Christian Liberty" and "The Law & Christian Liberty" and the like. What a blessed opportunity. Thank you!

As always, I will choose to take a contrary stance -- "confusing" as always, you might say. I pray that I have found a third way of looking at this.

Yes, I would agree that "the tithe" is NOT "binding" in the way that the Ten Commandments are. However, I am moved by Hebrews 12:1 to consider another way of looking at this topic.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

In the light of this jewel of Scripture, consider the words of Donald Macleod as they might apply to our discussion:

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Then we ask: Will this be beneficial to my own spiritual life? Sometimes there are things that are not sins but which are weights or impediments. The writer to the Hebrews says, Lay them aside (12:1). Not only the sins that beset us but the weights, the things that hold us back.
- Christian Liberty by Donald MacLeod

<span style="background-color:#FFFF00">Might the failure to give a tithe (or greater) be just such a "weight?"</span>

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to discuss this weighty matter of Christian living. I pray it has been as much of a blessing to you and others as it has to me.

With love,
Ted

#25072 Thu Jun 02, 2005 12:55 AM
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Then we ask: Will this be beneficial to my own spiritual life? Sometimes there are things that are not sins but which are weights or impediments. The writer to the Hebrews says, Lay them aside (12:1). Not only the sins that beset us but the weights, the things that hold us back.
- Christian Liberty by Donald MacLeod

<span style="background-color:#FFFF00">Might the failure to give a tithe (or greater) be just such a "weight?"</span>
<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/nope.gif" alt="" /> Not if the tithe is not binding upon a new covenant believer. Since a Christian is not under ANY obligation whatsoever to give "10% or greater", there is no "weight" to be borne which can burden his/her conscience before the Lord.

Further, your use of Heb 12:1, 2 is irrelevant to the discussion. The writer is speaking about matters of conscience and sin under which the believer labours and which tend to bring spiritual depression and anxiety. Realizing that we have been included by God's grace to be among all the elect who have gone before us and especially since we have a Saviour Who has borne all our griefs and sins, having nailed them to the cross, we are to cast them aside and boldly press on with the full assurance that we have been adopted into the family of the Living God. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:", Rom 5:1.

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Perhaps it’s a sinful desire on my part to attempt to have the last word (if that is so, please forgive me), but I haven’t felt entirely comfortable leaving this thread where it is.

And, thanks be to the Lord, as I was preparing for a study of Nehemiah 10, I ran across the following comment on Nehemiah 10:37-39 by James Montgomery Boice:

Quote
I feel about the tithe much the way I feel about the Sabbath, having said often that I see no specific passage in the New Testament that lays the tithe upon Christians as legal obligation. But as I said before, that is not the whole story. It is true that Christians are not under the specifics of the Old Testament legislation, but where ethical issues are concerned, it is always the case that when you pass from the Old Testament to the New, the standard goes up rather than down. The Old Testament Jew was to give a straight 10 percent of his income to the Lord. It was a simple matter in order to avoid any manipulation of the angles, prevarication, or confusion. It was 10 percent of everything he received: wages, tips, gifts, an inheritance, a lottery! And it was for everybody: the young, the old, wives, husbands, students, the rich, the poor. It was the minimum. That much was owed to the Lord. The Jew was to “pay” the tithe. After that, if he had been particularly blessed and wanted to, he could give additional gifts and offerings.

What is our principle today? It is higher, as I indicated. It is not 10 percent but 100 percent. All we are and have is the Lord’s. Our question is not how much we are required to give but rather how much it is proper to keep for ourselves for our maintenance.

Jesus stated the principle in the Sermon on the Mount:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, your heart will be also . . . No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:19-21. 24

I call this “lifestyle stewardship,” a pattern of life in which we have first given ourselves to the Lord and then regularly give ourselves to others in His name (cf 2 Cor. 8:5).

In closing, I bring you to the words a wise man once wrote . . . .

Quote
“Beloved of God, do see what love Christ has shown you? See what great sacrifice He has rendered in your place. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2Cor 5:21) For in Him and through Him we have been made beloved of God (1John 3:1). "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa 53:6 )

Dear sinner, do see the mercy and love of God in the Lord Jesus. There is none so sinful that He cannot save; none so polluted with sin that He cannot cleanse. "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Heb 7:25 ). May God in His mercy show you your true condition; that you are full of leprosy and that you shall surely die in your miserable condition lest you come to the Great Physician to be healed. The Lord Jesus Christ, the "Great Physician" is ever able and willing to receive all who will come to Him for healing. "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:17) Go to Him! Go to Him now, acknowledging your helpless guilty condition and your need of Him! And in doing so, He will "touch you" and cleanse you of all your uncleanness and clothe you with His perfect righteousness. "For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2Cor 5:21)

Amen

Each time I read that, I am transported into an extremely thankful spirit to Him who has saved a lowly sinner like me.

In my thankfulness, I cry out, “Lord, your will be done in my life! ALL I have is yours!”

With love and thankfulness for the God who richly and graciously blesses us,
Ted

#25074 Sun Jun 05, 2005 9:46 AM
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Ted quotes James Boice:


I feel about the tithe much the way I feel about the Sabbath, having said often that I see no specific passage in the New Testament that lays the tithe upon Christians as legal obligation. But as I said before, that is not the whole story. It is true that Christians are not under the specifics of the Old Testament legislation, but where ethical issues are concerned, it is always the case that when you pass from the Old Testament to the New, the standard goes up rather than down.

Sorry Ted, but I can't let this go unchallenged. This is NOT a matter of what you or anyone else wants to deem proper as a foundation for your giving (stewardship), but rather one of proper interpretation and application of God's inspired and infallible Word. So, once again, I must affirm and insist that there the Scriptures do not teach nor do they allow the perpetuity of the tithe of Israel to be applied in any way, shape or form to the new covenant church. It is not a principle, standard, mandate nor law that bears upon the Church. In the quote you provided from Boice, he too is guilty of gross contradiction. On the one hand he affirms that the tithe is not a "legal obligation", i.e., no Christian is bound to the old covenant tithe. And as I pointed out to you before, the civil and ceremonial laws were abrogated (fulfilled) by Christ and thus do not apply to the Church. However, the MORAL LAW of God is eternal and perpetual due to the fact that they are the very expression of God's holy character. On the other hand, Boice, knowing that this is true concerning the MORAL LAW, without any justification whatsoever, relegates and elevates the Israelic "tithe" to a place alongside the MORAL LAW, e.g., the Sabbath.

If the tithe is an "ethical" issue, then it is moral and thus perpetual and BINDING upon all men no less than "shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou bear false witness," etc. This then makes the "tithe" a law to which all men must obey. It cannot be said to be a matter of personal choice.

If the tithe is not "ethical", which it is clearly not, then it cannot be binding upon new covenant believers and thus for anyone to make it a basis for determining what is "good" stewardship is to fall back into a form of legalism. (cf. Rom 14, Gal. 3; Col. 2; et al)


Acts 15:5, 10 (ASV) "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses. . . . Now therefore why make ye trial of God, that ye should put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"



The New Testament tells us WHERE we should direct our giving, e.g., supporting those who labor in the Word, widows, the poor, etc. And the New Testament tells us the MANNER in which we should give, e.g., with a cheerful heart, etc. But the New Testament nowhere tells us HOW MUCH we should give nor particularly in reference to the "tithe" specific to theocratic Israel. All that men have has always been from the Lord, even the air they breathe. So it is not a valid argument to make that as being unique to the new covenant in relation to one's giving. It is not a matter of "giving" but more what you DO with that which you have been given. One may give away little but do great things with what they have for the kingdom of God. Another may do little but give away much. By way of illustration, one who has minimal income and is therefore not able to put much money into the offering plate when it is passed around, may use his Chevy van to transport the elderly to Church who otherwise might not be able to attend. But one who has a much greater income may give a considerable amount of money to the Church yet give nothing of himself. Do you think God is more pleased with the latter over the other?

I say again..... WHAT, HOW MUCH and to WHOM one chooses to give is a matter of conscience; aka: Adiaphora. Determining if one is a "good" steward must never be based upon QUANTITY, e.g., if it meets or exceeds "10% of one's gross income" but rather upon QUALITY, i.e., the intention of the heart to please God, further the kingdom and desire to help those who are in need.

In His Grace,


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