In tithes and offerings.You are cursed with a curse,
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
In tithes and offerings.You are cursed with a curse,
But then some of the believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and insisted, “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5 NLT
We must understand that this being ancient times people couldn't just go to the local library and check out the Law and read up on it. People couldn't fire up their Mac and look up the Mosaic Law. So these Gentiles would have no learning in matters of the Law. When did they hear the teaching of Malachi and Leviticus commanding the tithe? Where would they read about the command to be circumcised?
Keep that in mind as you read and study Acts 15 in context. The legalists wished that the Church specifically keep the Law of circumcision. Note however what gets lost in the debate. They strongly desire that the Church be required to follow the Law of Moses. In this Law, there is the command to tithe. So they wanted to ensure the Church continues in the tithe.
What is the conclusion the Apostles reach?
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “ be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no commandment Acts 15:24 NKJV
The Apostles say in one accord that we never gave a command to continue in the Law. This would include tithing. The reason there is no command to stop tithing is that there was never a command to start in the New.
Did the tithe filter through the Cross? No! That is the thinking of legalists who wish to merge the Old and New Covenant together. Fair-minded believers will acknowledge that there are a few similarities in the New and the Old. What I mean is there are universal truths that reveal the Character of God.
Adultery was wrong before the Law, during the Law, and under the New. It is obvious because God is love. He isn't about breaking Covenant and betraying those He loves. So there are some moral similarities between the Old and the New. However, when you look to the Old to see principles of receiving blessing, favor, and goodness you've missed it.
So are we cursed for not giving ten percent of our income away? Absolutely not. We give to be a blessing and to advance God's influence in this World. There is no curse awaiting those who choose not to give.
Some would say the tithe is the way God blesses us. My response to that is what about the believer in war-ravaged lands? What about the Christian in drought-ridden lands? What about the single mom struggling to put clothes on her children's back and food in their mouths?
Is God looking at that single mom who struggles to get by with arms folded in disappointment and displeasure? Is He saying, "I wanted to pour my favor out upon you but you haven't given me exactly ten percent of your gross income?" I know tradition says yes. They say "you can't afford not to tithe." To say something like this means you believe there is an attached curse for not tithing.
Relinquish the lies of tradition. Cast down the fears tradition brings. Stand fast in the Finished Work. Follow God's giving plan for your own life. God may, in fact, tell you to give ten percent. He may tell you to give two percent. He may even tell someone else to give 90 percent. The point I am making is, don't allow any man or ministry to dictate to you how much or how often you should give. We also shouldn't try to put God in a box concerning a specific amount and no one should put guilt, shame, fear or condemnation on others for their giving amount. Just follow God's guidance for your life when it comes to giving.
Father God is a big God. He is a good Father. His divine hand of favor rests on the lives of His children. If we trust Him, if we lean on Him and follow His guidance He will lead us into paths of wisdom, favor, and blessings. This also means as we follow Him, He will use as instruments of blessing. He may lead us to pay for someone's gas. Buy their groceries. Help them with their rent. What an impact we can make when we flow with His Spirit. We are blessed to be a blessing and in Christ, we are never under a curse.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
A Dangerous End-Time Message?
Whenever the Church begins hearing a revelation of God's goodness and great love and mercy, tradition is quick to try and extinguish the flames of revival. In the 1940s and 50s, one minister began to boldly proclaim that God is a good God. You can't imagine the controversy this created.
People would tell ministers and fellow believers they didn't like it when this minister said this. Their reasoning? "people would get the wrong idea about God." Religion and tradition fear when the people know more about their Father. Perhaps this is because their controlling grip of fear will loosen on the minds of the people when they better know their Father.
Tradition resisted the Charismatic move, surely God can't move by His Spirit today and certainly couldn't bestow a personal prayer language to His kids. They fought hard against the move of Faith. Surely people couldn't simply take God at His Word. Surely God Would never answer the believing prayers of His people.
Today, God is doing it again, restoring the true Gospel to the Church. He wants to reach the World. Now we see religious tradition in a panic and doing all they can to resist this move. To them, Grace is an end-time deception that is leading that captive in its grip down the road to eternal damnation.
Some are even going so far to call this the great crisis of our time. That the Grace awakening is a mere distortion of the Gospel. That Grace does away with holiness, obedience, and repentance. They say Grace is producing and promoting lust driven immoral, remorseless living.
The True Crisis of Our Time
The true crisis of our time is the fact that religious tradition has abandoned and forsaken the original Gospel. They've replaced it with a gospel of mixture. They've embraced a gospel of works and performance. They add our efforts and performance to the simple Gospel of salvation by Grace alone through faith alone.
6 I am shocked over how quickly you have deserted the grace gospel and strayed away from Christ who called you to Himself by His loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel of salvation by works! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true! There is only one gospel— the grace gospel! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with Christ’s grace to confuse you with lies. Galatians 1:6-7 Passion Translation (first edition)
Paul rightly exposes what is the true crisis. The changing of the Gospel from the Gospel of Grace to the gospel of works and efforts. Tradition can't seem to accept the concept that salvation is begun by Grace and completed through Grace.
To them, once salvation is received, Grace's job is done so to speak. Now that you've been counted worthy to receive salvation, you need to get busy earning it and proving you were worth it. In essence, tradition's gospel message is God starts it with Grace and you finish it or bring it to completion by your performance.
The only time Grace is referred to is when they define Grace as some empowerment concept. In other words, God still has portions of the Mosaic Law that need to be observed, but don't fret He gives us the Grace to accomplish this task. If people don't walk this moral observance out? Either they were never saved, they are in rebellion or are just not "tapping" into this available Grace.
The traditional gospel starts with God's Grace. It begins with people sharing how much He loves and accepts you just as you are. Once you accept Him in your life then the message changes. Belief and acceptance are replaced with requirements and expectations. This is why so many find the Christian life to be too hard.
Let's stay with the true Gospel;
8 Anyone who comes to you with a different message than the grace gospel that you have received will have the curse of God come upon them! For even if we or an angel appeared before you, to give you a different gospel than what we have already proclaimed, God’s curse will be upon them! 9 I will make it clear: Anyone, no matter who they are, that brings you a different gospel than the grace gospel that you have received, let them be condemned and cursed! Galatians 1:8-9 Passion Translation (first edition)
Tradition can't accept this because they are so desperate to contribute to their salvation. When they get to Heaven, I half suspect they will be looking for Jesus to hear Him say, "Thanks for helping me save you. I couldn't have done it without you!"
Is Grace a dangerous message? Is the Grace awakening the crisis of our time? Absolutely not! Grace is the Gospel, not a message. Grace is the unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor of Almighty God. This favor received in and upon our lives will produce an empowerment to walk in victory. However, this victory is accomplished in different stages in every believer's life.
God sees the end from the beginning. He already knew you would be struggling with pride or anger throughout your lifetime. He has already seen how much you struggle with that sin or addiction. He still chose to save you and enter into an everlasting relationship with you. He will always encourage us and love us pointing us in the right direction. Sometimes we will follow Him and sometimes we fail. The good news He is still there and He isn't angry. He is their beaming with pride, looking at His child, flaws and imperfections and all because His love for you is eternal and unconditional.
Yes, God desires us to lead lives of moral excellence but He isn't holding our sins and flaws against us. He isn't walking away from us when we fail. He isn't demanding results or we are "fired." We need to have this truth established in our hearts and minds so we can fully benefit from a loving relationship that will be fruitful. This is the Gospel and Good news!