(This series was originally written as a contribution to a discussion on tithing on a Christian social media group, the Bethel Fellowship Online.)
At the root of the “tithing” controversy is Church organization. The regular Church of today is organized in a way that represents a far departure from what the early Christians had. As Brother Leke observed in his contribution, there is no biblical teaching or record of the paying of tithes among Christ and His disciples or in the early Church. This is absolutely not a coincidence, especially when placed beside the VERY HIGH place of tithing in many modern Churches. Tithing is actually often the primary indication of “membership” of a Church. Coming to think of it, if we are talking about “Sunday service,” we have an Apostolic precedent for it, but we have NOTHING for DOCTRINAL TITHING and no record of anyone tithing. For the avoidance of doubt, DOCTRINE means TEACHING, and TITHING has the clear meaning of GIVING A TENTH. So when we talk about DOCTRINAL TITHING, we mean THE TEACHING OF GIVING A TENTH. This is the key to fully resolving the tithing controversy. As you would agree with me shortly, it is indeed a simple thing that can be easily rectified. But given the spiritual quality that predominates in the modern church, many folks would rather stick with doctrinal tithing. The inducement of fear is indeed a powerful tool for those who want to manipulate people.
Now, some assert that tithing actually preceded the OT Law, that it was first practiced by Abraham before the OT Law, that the NT teaches the superiority of the Abrahamic covenant over the OT, that we are the children of Abraham and we should therefore walk in the steps of Abraham by tithing. Great line of thought. But so also did circumcision precede the OT Law and was first practiced by Abraham before its incorporation into the OT Law. Hear what the Bible says about circumcision: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, CHRIST SHALL PROFIT YOU NOTHING” (Galatians 5:2).
Right there is the reason why I said in Part 1 of this piece that we cannot afford to be carefree or sanctimonious about the issue of tithing. That is why we need to be very very afraid of DOCTRINAL TITHING. That is why I warned that getting it right about tithing is part of our preparation for the imminent Return of our Lord. When you allow yourself to be whipped by the doctrine of tithing, believing that such is what God requires of you, or that cursed is he that does otherwise, you are making Christ of no effect to you. If it does not cost you your salvation, it can very much make you a Foolish Virgin and expose you to the horrors of the coming Great Tribulation. Why? Because it is not just tithing that we need to get right, but there are other more important things that we take for granted in the present Church that must be rectified. But if we can’t deal with the very simple milk of tithing, how are we going to handle strong meat.
Here is what Paul had to say about where it would ultimately lead to: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED. And for this cause God shall send them STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE: That they all might be damned who BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). If we think that this is just about unbelievers, we need to rethink it. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it FIRST BEGIN AT US, what shall the end be of THEM THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL OF GOD? (1 Peter 4:17). Hope you saw the duality.
That is why we need to wake up from our slumber NOW, wrap your head around the true Word and know what the Bible teaches about EVERY aspect of our Christian faith. Brothers and Sisters, I repeat, there is indeed much that we need to re-learn. This issue of Christianity is not about you and me, or about your Church and mine, or about your pastor and my pastor – it is about what the divine Word says. Hear again what Paul says about the NT ordinances that were committed to him: “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they TEACH NO OTHER DOCTRINE… If any man TEACH OTHERWISE, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to THE DOCTRINE WHICH IS ACCORDING TO GODLINESS; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings” (1 Timothy 1:3; 6:3,4). So what does Paul say about “tithing”?
© David Olagoke Olawoyin