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Question #38

What about tithe paying?

Send me scriptural proof against tithe paying.

The Answer:

Many modern "churches" bind tithing on their members. In fact, in some cases it seems that they don’t care if their members attend worship as long as they tithe. Some even bill their members for their “tithe.” Of course, the tithe is a part of the Old Testament milieu. While most associate it with the Mosaic Covenant, the tithe’s origin actually predates the law of Moses. Abraham gave a tenth of all to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:4). Jacob also promised to give a tithe ()Gen. 28:22-20. Of course, later at Sinai tithes were bound on the Jews as part of the Mosaic Code. There was a Levitical tenth (Numb. 18:21, 24; Lev. 27:30-33), a Festive Tenth (Deut. 14:22-27; 12:15-17), and an Third Year Tenth (Deut. 14:28-29). Limiting the giving required of the Jews under Moses’ Law to one tithe greatly underestimates what God required. Various scholars have estimated that the Jews were required to give from thirty to fifty per cent. Certainly the tithe was at the core and was the absolute minimum required. So strict was the requirement to tithe that if it were not given at the time commanded, a twenty per cent penalty was required (Deut. 14:28-29). Another Old Testament giving standard is found in Ex. 36:5-7. The Jews gave more than enough to do the work that God had commanded, as a result of which Moses commanded that they give no more.

If we are to go to the Old Testament for the Christian standard of giving, which of these standards shall we choose? The truth is that the Old Covenant has passed away, having been nailed to the cross, and is no longer binding. See, Eph. 2:11-17; Col. 2:9-17; Heb. 9:13-17. Thus, neither tithing nor any other Old Covenant standard is binding today.

Some say that since the tithe is the Old Testament standard, and since it is no longer binding, that Christians are not required to give a tenth. Others suggest that since the tithe is no longer binding, and since the Christian’s righteousness is to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20), the Christian must give more than a tithe. Both miss the mark. While the New Covenant does not give a percentage requirement, it does set a standard. A Christian is to give as God has prospered him (1 Cor. 16:2). While this expressly relates to earthly blessings from which the Christian is to give as he has been prospered, the Christian should not overlook the spiritual blessings that he has received under a Covenant that has the good things themselves instead of just the shadows (Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1).

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)