Posts Tagged ‘false teaching’

Warning! This may be offensive to some.

John Hyde, Willam Booth, John Knox, Sam Shoemaker, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Keith Green. These were all men of God who were concerned with people’s souls and the sins within the Church. They all preached boldly on the subject of repentance and revival in the Church. 

They were drastic, radical and at times offensive. They shocked some and frightened and alienated others. Many considered them too extreme or legalistic and at times even heretical. But each one of them knew what God had called them to do. 

John Hyde prayed more than 400 people into God’s kingdom. One of his biographers spoke of the holy power generated in Hyde’s prayer closet. He said that to be near Hyde when he prayed was to hear the sighing and the groaning, and to see tears coursing down his dear face, to see his frame weakened by food-less days and sleepless nights, shaken by sobs as he pleaded, “O God give me souls or I die.”

John Knox is known for his prayer “Give me Scotland, or I die.” Knox’s prayer was not an arrogant demand, but the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the pure preaching of the gospel and the salvation of his countrymen. 

The apostle Paul wrote: “I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Israel…” (Romans 9: 3-4) 

William Booth was a remarkable man, who was given the title “The Prophet of the Poor.” He had a passion to save men’s souls. He was a man born into poverty and who worked in the midst of poverty his whole life. His life could be summed up in his own statement, “Some men’s passion is for gold. Some men’s passion is for art. Some men’s passion is for fame. My passion is for souls.” 

What is to become of us now that their voices have been silenced in the grave and there is no one willing to take up their mantle? We owe it to these men to seek the truth from God’s Word—not the preacher’s truth, not the evangelist’s truth, nor the truth of the best selling Christian author, but God’s truth found in the Bible! 

Where are the bold men of God today? Why is there no real spiritual growth in the Church today? Why is there no true revival in the Church today? Because most Christians today don’t want it! There is no travailing over the lost. No crying out to God to send revival. 

What kind of salvation do you have when you go out dancing, drinking and sinning like the people of the world on Friday and Saturday night and then go to a church service on Sunday morning, holding up hands and singing praises to God?  As believers and followers of Christ we are to be set apart from the world and its activities. If we act and speak the same way the world does, how will they know that we are different?  

What do the Scriptures say? “As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…” (1 Peter 1:14-15) We are not to conform to the world, (Romans 12:2) but we are to encourage the world to conform to God’s will. But how can we teach them what we don’t know ourselves?

Christian, you have been deceived into believing the lies told to you from the pulpit, from Christian radio, and from your favorite televangelist—What the apostle Paul calls teachers who will tell you whatever your itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

The Bible makes clear what is true and what God requires of His followers. Here are just a few things that the Church has mistakenly (or purposely) taught as Bible truth and what the Bible actually teaches. Please note that these have nothing to do with salvation. Only what the Bible teaches is our obligation to God’s truths.

Natural immortality

The belief that the moment a person dies their souls are immediately ushered into heaven to live in eternity with Jesus and God, or immediately ushered into a burning hell to be tortured for all eternity.

Every mention of the word ‘hell’ in Scripture refers to “the ground’ or “the grave’. The only exception is when the Bible refers to the “Lake of Fire”. This is not to be confused with “Gehenna”, which is an actual valley in the city of Jerusalem. In Israel’s past, it was used as a place of child sacrifice to pagan gods. From the reign of Josiah onward, it was used only as a garbage dump where the fires burned the refuse continuously. Jesus used it only as an illustration of the final judgment of the wicked.  

There is no one in a burning hell. There is no Lake of fire burning…yet. And the only ones living in heaven right now is God, Jesus, the angels, and possibly Elijah and Enoch. In apostle Peter’s dissertation in Acts 2 he said, “Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” Now king David was a prophet who was a “man after God’s own heart.” So if he didn’t go to heaven when he died, where did he go? Nowhere! He’s still in his grave. Along with everyone else who has died since. 

I have heard many people—even evangelists that I respect, misquote 2 Corinthians 5:8 in order to prove their belief in natural immortality. They misquote it as: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” What the apostle actually said was: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Some version read, “prefer to be with the Lord.” I too would prefer to be with the Lord. Unfortunately that will not happen until the resurrection. 

I understand that it’s a romantic notion that our loved ones who have passed away are looking down from heaven and watching over us. But how could they be able to enjoy their eternity if they have to constantly witness their loved ones being beaten, murdered, robbed or raped? The Bible clearly teaches that we who have died will remain in our graves until God resurrects us on the Last Day. (Daniel 12:1-2)

We no longer have to obey Old Testament Law

I have heard so many Christians tell me that Jesus’ sacrifice did away with God’s Laws and we are no longer under the Law but under grace. Matthew 5:17 is the scripture that most Christians quote in order to show that Jesus did away with the Law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” They say, “See? Jesus fulfilled the Law when he died on the cross.”

But does this make any sense? Why would Jesus destroy the Law and still command the apostles to keep them? We need to read verse 18 where Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” 

Was everything accomplished? Does heaven and earth still exist? Yes! Has everything in God’s plan been accomplished? No! That won’t happen until Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on the new earth. So then is the Law of God still in effect? Yes! Jesus says it is. Jesus continues to explain God’s laws and commandments in verse 19: “Anyone who breaks one of  the  least of these commandments and  teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” 

What Jesus fulfilled by sacrificing himself on the execution stake was to make a way for humanity to be saved by grace. God took His judgment against us and placed it onto His son. That’s why Jesus is called the Sacrificial Lamb of God. The only Laws that Jesus did away with was the Ceremonial and Sacrificial Laws. And he did this before the destruction of the Temple.

Think about it; if Jesus did away with all of God’s Laws, was the apostles and the early Church wrong to continue to observe them? (Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16) Many Christians today use Colossians 2:16-17 to support their belief that we should not observe the “Jewish” Holy Days: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Paul was not saying not to observe these things. He was saying don’t let others pass judgement on you when you do them. 

Christians also mistakingly believe that in Galatians 4:10 Paul was referring to God’s Feast Days. No! He referring to pagan practices and astrological superstitions, which are also condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10-14.

Many Christians today believe and teach that the Sabbaths and Feast Days are for only the Jews. But several times in Leviticus 23 God told Moses that they are God’s Sabbaths and God’s Feast Days. In fact, God went so far as to say that the same law for the Hebrews applied to the foreigner who resided with them. God was referring to the mixed multitude that traveled with them from Egypt. 

God gave us His Laws because He loves us and wants us to be set apart for Him. And we can show Him how much we love Him by obeying His commandments. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves those born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.” (1 John 5: 1-4) “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2: 3-6) God gave us 613 commandments but sadly, most refuse to obey even 10, or 5 or 2!

The Rapture

This is another belief that is taught that could have detrimental consequences for uninformed Christians who don’t study God’s Word. The apostle Paul wrote: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15: 51-53)  

This will not occur until the last trumpet sounds. So then what happens during the first six trumpets? The answer is in Revelation 8 through 11. And during this time all believers are still on earth! We will not be changed or resurrected until the last trumpet is sounded. 

So when will the end come? “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NKG) Some versions read; “…until the apostasy shall have come first…” or “the great rebellion”. 

We need to ask ourselves, “What would make so many believers turn from the faith?” Is it possible it’s because many Christians used the “Rapture” as one of the cornerstones of their faith? And when it didn’t happen they turned against God? In Matthew 24 Jesus warns us ahead of time that in the last days false prophets and false Messiahs will arise and deceive even the elect. And if those days were not shortened no one would be saved. But for our sake those days will be shortened.

I write all of these things not to frighten you or upset you. But simply to warn you and encourage you—No, challenge you; to seek God now with all your heart, soul, mind and strength while you still can. Search diligently through the Scriptures, asking God to reveal His truths by His spirit so that you may “present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Most importantly pray. Pray that God will send true revival to His Church. We are living in dark times. And our only hope for our country and this world is if God sends us a great awakening—A true spirit sent revival. We must pray and fast, and weep and mourn for the Church to repent of its wickedness. Only then can God hear from heaven and heal our land.

Whenever we enter into communion with God, we should have a sense of the infinite distance between us and the holy God. How shall we, that are but dust and ashes, speak to the Lord of glory? Nothing is more likely, nothing more effectual to revive the drooping spirits of the saints, than to be assured of God’s love to them. From the very first day we begin to look to God, He is ready to meet us in the way of mercy. Thus God is ready and willing to hear our prayers. While Satan and his angels, and his evil counsellors, excite princes in high places to do mischief against the Church, we can rejoice and trust that God will answer our prayer from the moment we pray—but just like the prophet Daniel, all of God’s mighty angels battle against our enemies from the first day we pray. 

Lord God, teach us to pray and be faithful to your word. And send us revival now! 

Amen!

According to his website, evangelist Bill Wiese has been traveling around the country, selling books, and making lots of money by exploiting people’s fear of the unknown… Hell in particular.  Although compelling, and definitely frightening, there is no Scriptural support for many of his claims.

In his alleged vision he saw enormous sized demons with giant jaws and huge teeth with claws sticking out that simply aren’t taught in the Word of God. The Bible plainly teaches that the fallen angels (demons) aren’t in Hell as workers tormenting people. That false idea came from pagan beliefs and later adapted by some in the Church. Numerous Scriptures; such as Ephesians 6:12 and 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, are evidence that the demons are living amongst humanity, seeking to deceive and destroy lives. Satan is the god of this wicked world. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Mr. Wiese states… “God took it out of my mind that I was a Christian.” This is deception! The Bible declares in Titus 1:2 that God cannot lie. Why would God do such a thing and violate His own Word? Is God a liar? No Mr. Wiese, you are the liar, not God. God has promised eternal life to all who believe upon His only begotten Son for the forgiveness of sins. God would never forsake us, making us believe that He had abandoned us, not even for one second! (Hebrews 13:5) Although this may seem harmlessly beneficial to some Christians, such bizarre claims are damaging to the truth.

Bill Wiese’s Gospel invitation:

“The Bible is real plain, we are all sinners, and whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Jesus said if you will confess me before men, publicly, then I will in turn; confess your name before my heavenly Father and the Holy angels. But if you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father. I want to ask you to do something. If you’ve never publicly, in front of other people, if you’ve never publicly declared Jesus Christ as your Savior, and made Him the Lord of your life, or if you’re unsure whether heaven is your eternal home, remember Jesus hung naked on a cross, in a market place, he hung there for you, He endured your shame.”

As you can see, the basic plan of salvation is given; but Mr. Wiese adds (and perverts) the gospel of Jesus Christ when he mandates people to “publicly” declare Jesus as their Savior and make Jesus “the Lord of your life” to be saved. All a person needs to do to be saved is to come as an undeserving sinner to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. All Jesus asks is that we believe on Him (John 3:16). Salvation only requires people to surrender to Christ to be saved, ceasing from one’s sins. Lordship Salvationists, such as John MacArthur claim to believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone; but then they teach that a person cannot be saved if they don’t make Christ their Lord. My friend you don’t make Jesus Lord… HE IS LORD!

Repentance means a “change of mind,” not necessarily a change of lifestyle. The changed life comes later as a person grows in the grace of God. (2Peter 3:18) A changed life is the fruit of genuine repentance (James 2:18-21) and not the root of saving-faith. (Romans 4:5-6) If you add as much as a drop of water to faith alone in Jesus Christ for salvation, then you’ve fabricated a false gospel and a dangerous heresy. Salvation is received, not achieved. Salvation is receiving, not giving. Eternal life is the gift of God—freely offered (Romans 10:13) and freely received. (Revelation 22:17)

We read in Hebrews 1:1-2, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” How does God speak to us? Through His Son, the WORD of God. (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13). If you want to find God today, and hear from God, then you must look to the Scriptures. (John 5:39) This is the key to truth; for the Word of God is truth. (John 17:17)

Beware!

Beware of modern evangelists who teach about spirituality and appear to be Christian, but who don’t teach and promote the Word of God. God doesn’t need to speak through any individuals today through private revelations today like He did in the Old Testament. We have His Word; and the Word of God is complete!

Hell = Sheol – the OT designation for the abode of the dead; the grave.

Hades = death, hell; the grave.

Gehenna = the lake of fire.

Hades and Sheol are Greek and Hebrew words used for “the grave”. That is where everyone goes when they die. (The righteous and wicked alike) Gehenna should scare people—Because Gehenna is very real. The Bible clearly describes Gehenna as a place of horrible fire and death for those who reject God’s forgiveness and salvation through His son Jesus.

But we should not try to scare people into heaven. (Proverb 16:6-7) God is a God of love; not a God of fear. How sincere would our love for our earthly father be if that love was rooted in fear? Would we truly love him if we were afraid that if we did not we would be the subject of his wrath?

Our love for God should not be used as a fire escape or insurance policy. He wants us to freely love Him for the same reason we want our children to love us. – Because we are.

Why are Christians so gullible?

The answer is in the Scriptures: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

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Some of the most well-known and widely accepted religious cults have been accused of using mind control to bring their followers into mental and emotional bondage. It sometimes becomes so powerful that the followers seem to lose the ability to think for themselves. Many mainstream denominations warn its members to be wary of groups that they consider to be religious cults.

Below are some warning signs of a religious cult that are posted on several “Christian” websites:

PRIVATE REVELATIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS WITH GOD’S WORD: Private revelation and interpretations are added to the Word, and sometimes substitute it. Passages contradictory to the orthodox beliefs are twisted and taken out of their context. Strong emphasis is placed upon certain passages making them their thrust in ministry. While other pertinent scriptures on essentials and practice is completely ignored. Bible scholars who give a different interpretation from them are ignored or ridiculed.

MISPLACED LOYALTY: Loyalty is nurtured and even demanded. Loyalty for Christ is replaced by an organization, church or leader. Because authority is usually from an individual or a group, one is asked if they will be loyal to God confusing the member that to be loyal to a person or group means the same.

ISOLATION:Members are discouraged to have contact with other ministries or Christians that could influence them. And are discouraged to read other books if they oppose their views. Members are kept so busy that they don’t have time for life outside of the cult. A cult leader will try to persuade you to reduce or eliminate altogether outside friendships and even family. Many times the leader or cult group will drive a wedge between the family unit by coercing them into separating them from family activities.

MOTIVATIONAL TEACHING: Techniques designed to stimulate emotions, usually employing loud speaking or music with group participation, group dynamics are used to influence responses. You become overwhelmed with smiling faces and handshakes and hugs with unconditional friendship. Those who were newly invited will be asked how they liked it and told how much fun they have and what they have to offer. They will immediately become your best friend and want to know when you’re coming back.

A DOUBLE STANDARD: There is one standard for the followers and another for the leaders. The leaders are allowed to do almost anything wrong while others will be rebuked and made examples of if they do the same things. Cult leaders exalt themselves, requiring the followers to serve them or the church’s program.

RULES OF SILENCE: They do not allow members to disagree with the church authorities — especially the pastor or your spirituality and loyalty will be questioned. Silence becomes a fortress wall of protection; many will shield the pastor’s position of power from any scrutiny or challenge. If one questions what is said or the rules they are seen as being against them and God.

PRIDE OF THEIR CHURCH: We are the only ones who are right. If you are not one of us, then you are destined for hell. Correct doctrine is used by them alone to the exclusion of any others; they alone have the truth so one must join them to be saved.

DISTORTED RULES ON TITHING: Members are asked make a commitment to give and keep their obligation. More and more money is needed to attain higher degrees of spirituality and submission to God. Give to get back from God, the more you give the more God will give back.

INTIMIDATION:  Intimidation and accusation are the most often used. For example, any questioning of authority is treated as rebellion, and not trusting. They suppress questions and encourage members to conform to the group’s behavior. Critical thinking is discouraged being called prideful, sinful or rebellious. No independent thinking is encouraged and they may reply with comments like, “Satan is the cause of all doubt; he is keeping you from the Truth.”

Controlling Leadership: For abusive cults, the key word is control, control, control. By submitting to the leadership – leaders tend to be the absolute end. It can take time for them to gain power over the new convert, but it will eventually be there. Control is usually overwhelming and can cover most aspects of the followers’ lives: Dress codes, activities, finances, time, possessions and relationships. They can dictate to the member who to see, what to do, what the right thing to say is, and how to say it. Various degrees of control can be experienced, from subtle manipulation to blatant ordering.

These “cults” will expect rigid obedience of the members’ time and activities – involving their followers in physically and emotionally draining activities leaving little time for privacy and reflection, or questioning their authority. They expect, (and at times demand) that members show up when everyone else does, and everything is usually done in groups. The methods of control which are used are usually fear of displeasing God, the leader, or both. Fear of rejection, punishment, losing one’s salvation, missing the rapture, going to hell. Guilt, fear, and intimidation are weapons used to maintain their loyalty and devotion to the group.

Members may experience:

  • A marked mental or emotional weakness, compliance, and a sense of servitude.
  • Flattery that is used to puff up in order to make them feel accepted and valued.
  • Being asked to spy on other members and report on their lives.
  • Manipulation of their emotions and downplaying their feelings as unimportant or in error.
  • Being unable to visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group for fear of punishment or consequences.
  • Being reprimanded for not participating in every meeting or activity for fear that their loyalty will be questioned.

You may have noticed a lot of similarities between the tactics mentioned above and the church where you worship at. Unfortunately, these tactics of spiritual abuse are not limited to only religious cults but are also used in many churches that are considered by most to be mainline denominations.

Spiritual abuse is a growing trend in many religious organizations across the country. There are many reasons that religious leaders would stoop to these tactics: Lust for power; spiritual delusions; or fear of losing their congregation are only a few. But whatever the reason, we must be on guard so as not to fall into the spiritual abuse trap.

The Lord Jesus does not want you to participate in a church where fear and intimidation is used. From scripture we know that his desire is for us to freely choose him as Savior. What kind of relationship would the Lord have with you if you felt forced or coerced to love him?

The Lord wants us to live in freedom.

“I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.”   – Isa 49:9

“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” -Ps. 119:45

 “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

“He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” – 1 Tim. 2:6

So how can you protect yourself from becoming involved in spiritual abuse?

  • Study to know the Bible.
  • Question and compare all teachings to the Scriptures.
  • Be sure all the teaching and practices are in agreement with the Scriptures.
  • If you find yourself in a place where spiritual leadership is abusive, then walk away and find a place where the true Gospel is taught.

In Galatians 1:6-9 we read, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

In the Church today, some claim that God instituted the “tithe” 400 years before God brought the children of Israel under the covenant of the Law of Moses. Therefore, since the “tithe” preceded the Law of Moses it is still relevant and therefore binding in the New Covenant. But the Sabbath was also instituted before the Law of Moses; on the seventh day of creation week. (Gen 2:2-3) If it can be claimed that the “tithe” is binding in the New Testament because it is a pre-law ordinance, shouldn’t it also hold true of the Seventh Day Sabbath?

We all know that Abraham gave a tithe (or a tenth) to Melchizedek, the priest. (Gen.14:20). Many proponents of New Testament tithing use this verse to prove tithing is valid for the church today. Yes, Abraham gave 10% to the priest. But he gave it from the spoils he repossessed from the enemy kings. Abraham gave the remaining 90% to those to whom the goods belonged to in the first place and only tithed once in his lifetime (as far as the Bible recorded). Abraham had not touched his own property or income. (And he was a very wealthy man)

Gen 28:22 is another favorite verse New Testament tithing proponents use to support tithing. Jacob pledged the Lord his life and a tenth of all possessions that would become his along the way. But remember that Jacob was the person who, through deception, took his brother’s birthright and blessing. His name even means deceiver. (Gen. 27:36) Jacob made this promise of giving his tithe conditional: If God would remain with him, keep him in the way, and bring him safely home again,  then he would carry out his part of the pledge. “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” (Gen.28:18-22)

Some try to use Deuteronomy 14:22 to support tithing. But this verse is taken completely out of context. Deut. 14:22-29 refers to the tithe during the Pilgrimage Feasts, which went to support the house of God and its services during this time. It also refers to the tithes received every third year for helping the poor and needy. This has nothing to do with the weekly tithe taught by the Christian Church.

I do not claim that believers today should not give back to God as they prosper, and as we purpose in our hearts. Believers should “give liberally” as the grace of God allows them. (2 Cor. 9:7) My argument is that the verses used by these tithing proponents are invalid and they are clearly taken out of context. Christians have grace to give, but they are not commanded to tithe. Pastors who want to do what is right should study to rightly divide the word of truth and end this fraudulent teaching.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:10)

Here we have the tithing teachers’ favorite verse in the whole Bible. On this verse they hang most of this doctrine. But if we take a closer look at the verse, we will find something very interesting.  In Nehemiah 10:38 we read, “And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes (tithe of the tithes)to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.” The word ‘storehouse’ is translated as ‘treasure house’ and the Hebrew (‘owtsar) is the same in both Nehemiah and Malachi.

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” (Mal 3:8-9) The tithe was payable by the Levites, not the people. (See Num. 18:20- 32) Malachi is not rebuking the people, he is rebuking the Levites. (Mal.2:1) When our modern day tithing teachers use this verse to point at the people, they are really pointing at themselves –except that most of them refuse to accept this teaching and refuse to teach their congregation this Biblical Truth. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 warns, “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”  The pastors today who claim to have authority to receive tithes place themselves in a position equivalent to the Levites. So the pastors (Levites) are the ones whom Malachi is rebuking; not the people.

The only ones ever authorized to receive tithes were the Levites. Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible to keep the tithing law. Today, Orthodox Jews do not tithe because no one is qualified to receive tithes now that the priesthood and temple are gone. WHY? Because the sacrifices that needed to be offered daily has been accomplished “once and for all” (Heb. 10:11-13) There is no more work for the Levite in the administering of offerings. If Christians today need to give offerings then they also need to offer heave offerings, burnt offerings, meat and drink offerings and even peace offerings. But we no longer need to do these things because Christ made peace through his blood on the cross. (Col 1:19-20)

If you have money your family needs, but you withhold it from them in order to pay it to the Church as tithes, you are doing exactly what the Pharisees did. You are saying your money is “Corban” (a gift devoted to God) and is more important than caring for your family. Jesus taught that by doing so you were invalidating the Word of God. (Mark 7:9-13)

I commend churches I have visited that have installed a collection box in the back of their church for contributions and rarely mention tithing. This practice actually has its origin in the Jewish temple.  A charity box called ‘kuppah shel tzedakah’ was a repository of public treasury. It was constructed and placed in the courts of the temple, in which the property of widows and orphans were deposited. In Mark 12:41 the term “near the treasury” seems to be used to refer to this receptacle mentioned by the rabbis where contributions were voluntarily paid by the Jews for the service of the temple and the support of the poor.

We are under the perfect law of liberty. (2 Cor. 3:17) According to scripture, we are not told where to worship, or when. (John 4:20-24) We are told to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, (Heb. 10:25) but we are not told how often to assemble. We are not told that Christ instituted a “new” Sabbath that replaces the seventh day Sabbath with the Lord’s Day-Sunday, as many preachers teach. We are not told we must be in church to assemble ourselves together. We are not told how much to give. And we are not told that all of our Christian giving must go only to the church where we are members.

The Gospel is the free gift of God in Jesus Christ. (If it were not free, it would not be a gift!) If you really think about it, discipleship is often reflected fiscally in the life of a congregation. Jesus said that repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations. (Luke 24:47) What does your congregation really need for the hearing and spreading of the Gospel? Usually, very little is needed.

For example, how large a chunk of the congregation’s budget is used up for evangelism? How much does it cost to hear a sermon? How many items on the budget have nothing to do with the spreading of the Gospel? How much more could be spent for world-wide mission work, if the non-Gospel expenses were minimized? If all the extra frills in your budget are sinking your congregation into the red, it probably means that in God’s eyes you do not really need them.

What does a Gospel-based congregation truly treasure, anyway? I remember talking to a member of a congregation that had moved into a very large building and they were now dealing with many problems within and without the congregation.  When asked what time in the congregation’s history, did they remember most fondly, their response was: “The days when a few of us heard the Gospel in the pastor’s home.” Yes, it was a time when they had no building at all!

Many people wrestle everyday with poverty. Yet, Jesus did not allow people to use poverty as an excuse for failing to accomplish His purposes. Our Lord said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:6)

Jesus knows that poverty can be a blessing, instead of a curse. He said, “The poor you will always have with you.” (Mark 14:7) His statement doesn’t reflect a lack of concern for the poor because He cherishes all of humanity; rich and poor alike. Instead of allowing poverty to be used as an excuse for failure to do the will of God, Jesus made the most of whatever He had and encouraged others to do the same.

The Lord also knows that everyone who wants to get rich can fall into temptation, and get trapped into many foolish and harmful desires that can end in ruin and destruction. “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.”  (I Tim. 6: 9, 10)

Jesus taught His disciples to focus on doing His will before worrying about daily necessities. The Lord wants us to have our priorities right.  Jesus told His disciples,  “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink or what kind of clothing you will put on. Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? But seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all of these things will be added to you as well.” (Matt. 6:30-33)

Jesus commended people for giving to the poor, but His priorities involved introducing people to the new birth, discipleship, and building up His church. Ministering to others should be done out of a God love that seeks to draw people into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus knew that many people are easily distracted by money matters – do not fall into that trap. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head… Follow Me.” (Luke 9:58)  The Lord was always actively encouraging people to be busy about the business of helping the kingdom of God grow. This seems to be God’s mission for all of us. And it isn’t dependent on our finances but on our trust in God’s ability to work through us.

Some people give less than a tithe, and because of the Gospel, they still remain recipients of God’s grace. But there will be others in the Church who will be moved to give a tenth of their income. But there may be others who wind up giving more than a tithe like the widow who gave 100% (Luke 21:4) or Zacchaeus, who gave far more then what was expected. (Luke 19:8) You never know what is going to happen when the truth of the Gospel is preached and people are given the freedom to choose.