This excerpt in four parts is taken from TITHES & OFFERINGS STORING TREASURES IN HEAVEN by Collins Enyeribe. It was published in 2012.
The issue is not whether to pay or not pay ten percent of a Christian’s increase as tithe – Levitical or freewill. The real issue is what a believer is doing right with his or her talents, gifts and material possessions including money for God’s kingdom. Man is a free moral agent. The ability to relate with the Creator of the Universe is governed by free-will. It is the greatest attribute God gave to mankind. God does not impose His will on us otherwise we become robots. The result of our decisions could be pleasant or agonizing. Your decision to do or not to do something makes you responsible for the outcome. If you want to play safe and allow others to take decisions for you, you are still responsible for the consequences. Sowing or not sowing into the kingdom of God is a personal decision with far-reaching consequences. Since freewill decisions, based on the power of choice, have corresponding results, every saint is at liberty to choose how and where to build his or her eternal heritage: on earth or in heaven.
MODERN AND REVISED STANDARDS
God has standards. A standard is a required level of proficiency. God’s standards specify the way things should be done at any point in time. God has set the same standards for everything and everyone in the visible and invisible realm. The standards differ only in relation to dispensations. There are seven human dispensations. The immediate past dispensation is Law. The current dispensation is Grace. Man has no discretion in setting, improving, revising or modernizing a standard set by God in any era.
Jesus Christ is the epitome of God’s standards. He conducted His earthly ministry totally in accordance with God’s standards in the power of the Holy Spirit. For the standards God has set, the Holy Spirit helps those mindful of obeying them to meet the prescribed requirement. Where the standards are met, there are profitable rewards. Conversely, disobedience to the standards is visited with punishment. It is unprofitable to do things according to standards based on culture, other peoples’ opinion or what has always been done. Ignorance of divine standards is responsible for the prevalence of the ‘traditions of the fathers’ and for operating with double or no standards at all.
Everything written in the Bible is for believers but not everything written in the bible is about the New Testament Christian. One of the standards of the Old Covenant that is not applicable in this New Covenant dispensation is the Levitical priesthood. I know it may not be easy to convince a ministry that has been collecting tithes and offerings for a long time that Levitical tithing is not a requirement of the New Covenant church. The arguments and strenuous efforts made in using unrelated scriptures to support this Old Covenant provision is a pointer. Hebrews chapter seven is the passage used by most people to support Levitical tithing. Contrary to supporting Levitical tithing, this passage is all about a changed priesthood.
There is no scripture in the New Testament directing ministers of the gospel of Christ to collect ten percent tithe after the order of the Levitical priesthood. However, money collected in churches and fellowships ‘for the Lord’ attracts His attention in the same way God would be interested in a child named ‘Samuel.’ A covenant name, Samuel means ‘name of El’ or name of God. A child named Samuel has an automatic remembrance from heaven in line with “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13).
There are many publications with the intendment of justifying the demand and collection of Levitical tithe in this period of grace. The usual contention is that pastors are free to collect Levitical tithe from parishioners and do what they like with the fund. In one of such publications, the author gave persuasive reasons to prove that genuine ministers of the gospel who are appointed by Christ, and whose fruits validate their call and ministry, cannot steal the tithes and offerings contributed by their local Church members, because these belong to them by divine ordination and privilege. Many pastors around the world support the view that pastors cannot steal church-money.
The author observed quite correctly that a pastor or minister can be rightfully accused of stealing ‘Church Money’ or illegally taking tithes and offering from the people, only if he is an illegitimate fraud, who is not called or appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ into the ministry office which he occupies. Here, we have a difficult situation, a conundrum as it were. Who are the ministers appointed by the Lord and who are those not so appointed? How are apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers who are not supposed to run local churches to be remunerated? Does that mean every called person regardless of mandate should run a church in order to earn an income?
Money is amoral but its pursuit has bewitching power. In 1 Timothy chapter 6 Paul warns Pastor Timothy to shun filthy lucre. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim 6:9-11).
Three things happen to money: collection, custody and disbursement or utilization. Where a head of ministry handles all three functions with nobody to supervise the process or share the functions it breaches the financial management discipline of internal control. Biblically, that would appear not to accord with “let all things be done decently and in order.” In the corporate world Internal Control is a method of arranging duties in such a way that a person’s work acts as a check on another person’s work with the result that fraud cannot be perpetuated without collusion. In addition to internal control, many big denominational churches have internal audit units apart from periodic auditing of church accounts by professional auditors as required by their nation’s corporate laws.
Support for Levitical tithing stems from two factors: firstly, the burden of Levitical tithing is lighter than the burden of New Testament giving. Secondly, Levitical tithe is easier to collect than giving that requires impartation of doctrine for faith to arise in the hearts of givers to sow generously with cheerfulness.
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