Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | April 8, 2010

Tithe Doctrine: challenging what’s preached from the pulpit- part I

As a believer in Jesus Christ who enjoys the blessing afforded by the New Covenant, I am grateful for God’s grace extended to us in Christ Jesus. Instead of trying to earn God’s favor through our own strength and performance, we are invited to enter into the rest of faith, embracing the fact that in Christ Jesus we are truly blessed beyond measure, having been redeemed from the curse of the law through His finished work. We relate to God and receive from God by grace (his undeserved, unmerited favor) through faith, living in the newness of the Spirit. Relating to God through a performance/reward paradigm or through any other legal means was dealt a death-blow when the law was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). This took place for our benefit, so that we may experience relationship with God over performance based religion. A New Covenant has been ratified through Christ’s finished work; a covenant not dependent on man’s ability to fulfill duties and obligations, but on God’s faithfulness to keep covenant forever.

I first came to faith in Christ in 1991 and was blessed to be in a church environment which established me in some strong, foundational truth. But over the years, and it really didn’t matter which church it was, I always heard the same basic message about “the tithe.” If you wanted to be blessed in your finances, you had to. It was God’s money, not yours. It belonged to the local church. It’s how you honored God. It was an eternal principle applicable to new covenant believers. If you didn’t, you were giving the enemy entry to mess with your finances, and on and on. Worse yet, to not tithe was the equivalent of “robbing God.” I’m sure many of you can relate.

As I continued to read and study the Word, and as God began to establish my heart in New Covenant grace, I seriously began to question the idea of a mandatory New Covenant tithe. Things I heard from the pulpit simply were not jiving with what I was seeing in the New Covenant, especially as it pertained to basic Pauline apostolic doctrine pertaining to grace. It seemed that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, except for the Malachi curse….that one seemed to slip through the blood of Christ and still applied to those who would “rob God” by not giving their 10%! I think it was also about this time that God started to deal with me on a personal level when it came to practical giving. What I was being led to do was so contrary to established religious norms that it made me feel very uncomfortable. But in time, what I discovered, both through sound new covenant teaching  and through practice, is that when it comes to our finances, like anything else, we are to relate to God and receive from God by grace, through faith, and are to be led by the Spirit, rather than quenching the creativity of the Spirit by mindlessly adhering to a  a system of obligation that cannot be justified from a new covenant interpretive perspective (more on that later in future posts).

Over the next few posts, I plan on looking at some of the most common arguments  used to support tithing, and refuting them, not through my own opinion, but through the Word. The New Covenant is not silent on the subject and how we are to be generous givers, but I believe the voice of the Spirit has been drowned out by the inordinate & illegitimate tithing focus coming from the pulpit. I also will give some real life examples of giving that are “outside the box” of what is typically taught, yet right in line with what Jesus would have his followers do. It’s all meant to help us reassess what we have been taught, what we have believed, and to make any adjustments necessary for the furtherance of His kingdom.

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