Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Redeemed from the curse on tithing

6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. Hebrews 8:6 NKJV

 Tithing, it is a very controversial subject. Many have been taught this principle from their youth. It is a deeply rooted financial principle for so many. With any subject that concerns a believer,  we should return to the source of truth, God's Word, to validate whether a practice is birthed in truth or in tradition. 

 After careful study of this new and better Covenant, we can see that tithing is not a principle that is required for the Church. Now tradition strongly resists this. One reason for this is, they fear that if people didn't tithe, churches and other outreach ministries would fold due to a shortage of funds. Fear should never be a motivating factor in Christian giving. 

The "Fear Factor"

Fear is one of the most significant motivating factors in why many practice tithing in this New Covenant. Why the fear? Because many churches and ministries have planted into the minds of believers that if they don't tithe they are under a curse. That if they fail to tithe, then God won't rebuke "the devourer" on their behalf. 

 The basic premise told to people is when they tithe, God will ensure their appliances and other possessions won't wear out. They are told that by giving the tithe this sets apart the rest of their money. It causes the rest of a person's assets to be holy. Now, what would happen if you failed to tithe? Would you dare miss a payment? 

 This idea is rooted in people quoting Malachi.

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try 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 such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”Says the Lord of hosts;  Malachi 3:8-10 NKJV

 See? It is right there brother. We are cursed if we don't tithe. He won't rebuke the devourer on our behalf if we don't tithe. First, this is written to the Nation of Israel under the Mosaic Law. Secondly, the tithe was used to provide for the priesthood. The Levitical priesthood had been forbidden any land or inheritance when Israel was established. The tithe from the other tribes was their inheritance. If people failed to tithe at this time they would be depriving the priesthood of sustenance. 

 We can see this in context is not addressed to the Church. What about rebuking the devourer? If we fail to tithe won't we be cursed? That was Old Covenant. Let's see God's plan for the Church in the New.
13 the Anointed One, the Liberating King, has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. It was stated in the Scriptures, “Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed by God.” Galatians 3:13 Voice

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Colossians 1:13-14 KJV

 Christ in His Finished Work has completed the Work. He completely defeated the enemy and made an open show of Him (here). Religion says perform just right or give this amount and the enemy will not prevail. Grace says trust in the Finished Work alone and you will see  complete victory. Christ's Finished Work has forever rebuked the "devourer", no more should we fear.

 Tradition uses fear and manipulation to keep people in bondage to an Old Covenant practice. People are fearful if they are not exact to the penny on their tithe then calamity will surely overtake them. Religion thrives on these types of mindsets. Instead of the Finished work and Christ alone, people are placing all their financial hopes and trust in their faithfulness and ability to give a certain amount of finances. 

 Allow me to show how good our Father is. Recently, my vacuum cleaner malfunctioned. Having pets also means having to contend with pet hair, which can clog vacuums. My wife tried to clear away any obstructions but couldn't find any. So our vacuum of several years had ceased working. I went to the store to purchase another. As I entered this store, an impression, or thought entered my mind.                                                                                               "well if you'd been tithing, your vacuum cleaner wouldn't need to be replaced!"

Well, I cast this thought down, declared under my breath "I am the righteousness of God in Christ" and commenced to purchase a new vacuum. The price of this Vacuum totaled approximately Ninety-eight dollars.  After taking it home my wife and I left to run some errands. 

 In the process, we saw some papers in some folder in the street. We stopped our car picked up this folder and noted it had a name and a phone number. We notified this person of their found possessions. He met up with us, and upon returning what belonged to him he blessed us financially for finding his lost property. 

 This person blessed us with exactly $100. This covered any expenses we incurred in the purchase of a new vacuum. This showed to me that when the enemy and traditional mindsets wanted to accuse me of loss due to my lack of tithing, God's Word and this New Covenant silences their accusations. 

 In summation, there in no longer any curse for the Child of God. This New Covenant ensures our redemption from the hand of the enemy and any of his schemes. Don't live in fear that you must continue an Old Covenant practice or something dreadful will befall you. Jesus has purchased you eternally and you are in His Family now and the wicked one cannot touch you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Covenant Tithing?

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. Hebrews 8:6 NKJV

 Scandalous Grace, this Grace that is greater than all our sin, addictions, and flaws and fears. This amazing Grace...

We interrupt this present series on the Scandalous Grace of God for an important series of messages on an extremely controversial topic...

 I have been stirred in my spirit to share a brief but important series on a major subject that is affecting the Body of Christ. I am confident in the Lord's desire to shed light on this topic and see people released into the freedom Christ alone brings. We will resume the previous study at a later time. For now, we are going to be addressing this issue of the New Covenant and the practice of Tithing.

First things first

 First, I need to lay the proper foundation to properly begin this study. If we have a faulty foundation then all we build upon will be unstable and prone to collapsing. The foundation of any study of the truth is, of course, the Word of God. The Word of God is the final authority. 

 The Word of God is where true Radical Grace is discovered. It is where we find the beauty of this New and Better Covenant. It is the Word that reveals God sent His Son to take our place. It is the Word, that reveals by virtue of His blood, we are made perfectly righteous before God. That we are forever forgiven, cleansed from all our sins, eternally secure, completely acceptable to our God and made as worthy as Jesus to receive all He has promised. 

 We place our trust in God and His Word. We place our trust in Christ's Finished Work. I am sharing the truths firmly established and rooted in God's Word alone, not man made ideology or philosophies of human reasoning or intellect. In this study, we are referencing authentic Grace, nothing else.

 To be clear, authentic Grace is what we have discovered in the Word. Ideologies and human philosophies like universalism, or the various philosophies of inclusion (all humanity is already in Christ apart from trust in Christ), ideas that God was never angry at sin or that a place of eternal separation called Hell is non-existent are not rooted in Scripture and are not authentic Grace. With this established let me state what this study endeavors to prove from Scripture.

Tithing is a practice that is rooted in the Old Covenant and has never been commanded or instructed for the New Covenant

 To once again be clear, we are not proclaiming a "grace hippie" idea. This study is in no way intended to prove we as Christians should be stingy, greedy, or never give or support God's work on this Earth financially. I am not against giving or donations or charitable work in the name of Christ.

 I need to establish this foundation because religious traditional strongholds are deep in the minds of so many concerning tithing. If we endeavor to reveal the truth of the New Covenant, many will simply dismiss it, saying we are ignoring the Word or deviating from it. We don't want to give them any reason to doubt the truth.

 Traditional mindsets will immediately declare, I wouldn't want to expose my ignorance by declaring tithing is an Old Covenant practice. Abraham tithed before the Law. Therefore, tithing is for us today. Well, it is true Abraham did tithe before the Law. 

 Abraham tithed his spoils of war to Melchizedek. We will discuss this in depth in a further study. However, it is worth noting that Abraham isn't recorded continuing to give a tenth of all his possessions. He gave a tenth one time, just once. Since we mentioned before the Mosaic Law, it is worth noting that circumcision was instituted before the Mosaic Law. 

 According to some to establish if an Old Covenant practice is valid for us today in the New Covenant, we must see it in practice before the Law was established. Circumcision was established before the Mosaic Law. In fact, tithing is only mentioned four times in the New Covenant. All in the Epistle to the Hebrews, yet circumcision is mentioned twenty times in the Epistles.

 Certainly, we know from context circumcision is not required for us today. It is the same for tithing, biblical context is key to understanding this. The main point I want to leave you with today is why is tithing such a popular concept among many? Because many in the New Covenant don't understand rest. They want a part to play, they don't understand the New Covenant. 

 This New Covenant is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet through religious tradition and lack of grace understanding we make it all about us. That the New Covenant is contingent upon our faithfulness, our abilities to perform just right, even our consistency in giving. This New Covenant was a Covenant cut between God and God. We are the beneficiaries if we simply believe and freely receive what He accomplished. This is why our performance or faithfulness have nothing whatsoever to do with receiving or partaking of the benefits of the Covenant.   

 We have much more to cover in this study. We will look at Jesus words about tithing. We will look at Hebrews 7. If anyone will just open their hearts and minds and without preconceived notions, they will see somethings from the Word they haven't seen or understood. We want to be gracious in this study. We aren't trying to be critical  in studying this controversial topic. I'm just endeavoring to set the Body free to follow the Lord's guidance in love and not traditions of men.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Scandal of Grace: Grace that is Greater than our sin.

God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling—not because of any good works we may have done, but because of His own intention and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 2 Timothy 1:9 VOICE

Grace, scandalous Grace, what have you done? Justified lost and sinful ones? Made them forever forgiven and acceptable to their Father above? This is exactly what God's Grace has accomplished. In our last study we saw how forgiven we are through the Finished Work. 

 In the study, I pointed out the objections religion has to the truth that we are forever forgiven. One objection I pointed out is this philosophy of judicial forgiveness versus actual forgiveness. I sense the need to expound on this erroneous idea, and once again reveal how greater His Grace is than all our sins.

 Religious tradition has a cunning deception that has robbed many of their freedom in Christ. Some circles in the Church would flat out deny we are forever forgiven of our sins. They only see us forgiven up to the point of conversion. Yet, in religious traditional circles, there are some who will agree that we have indeed been forgiven of all sins past and present and future. However, this forgiveness is simply judicial forgiveness. When you do sin, you still need a parental or familial forgiveness from above.

Why is this? Because when you sin, you are out of fellowship with God, walking in darkness, and unclean. So you see with this philosophy, you are forgiven forever, but not really. You are still apart from God when you fail. To suggest that your sins can no longer separate you from God or that you are still in fellowship with God when you sin is heresy to these religious-minded ones. 

 Where does this teaching or philosophy find its roots? It is discovered in a misunderstood and wrong interpretation of 1 John 1. In their eyes, this first chapter of 1 John is written to the Church. 
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:6-9 NKJV
Because they ignore the entire context of the first chapter they assign these passages here to the Christian. How this philosophy goes is if a believer commits a sin, they are now walking in darkness. If we don't sin we walk in the light and have fellowship with God. So because of a sin we are now out of fellowship with God. If we don't agree we are still sinners we are deceiving ourselves. If we don't confess this sin we are not forgiven. 
 By taking four passages and assigning them to the believer this philosophy single-handedly has made sin greater than Grace in the minds of believers. In order to contrast all the Scriptures from the New Covenant that declares we are forgiven of all sin, they say these passages are only referring to judicial forgiveness. For the claims of the need for familial or parental forgiveness, this philosophy utilizes passages from the Old Covenant to "prove" the need for this other level of forgiveness the Finished Work didn't accomplish, but humans do by their continual "repentance" (Latin definition, turn from sin) and confession of sin. 

 Grace IS greater than our sin!

 If those espousing this philosophy would simply look at 1 John 1 in full context it is easily proven that this is not written describing the believer. In the first few passages, John does not address the audience as the Beloved or the children of God. He contrasts those in fellowship with the Lord and those without. 

 For those in Christ, we walk in the light. For those who've yet to receive Christ, they walk in darkness. John is also describing a specific philosophy in these passages. Those of the Gnostics who denied Jesus came to Earth as a man and denied the existence of sin. He expounds the way of salvation for these sin deniers. This is God's Grace revealed. God showing the way for all to come to Him.

 In the Second Chapter the first verse, we see John begin to address the Church. 
 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 NKJV
Here it is made clear. Jesus is the propitiation for all our sins. In other words, His Finished Work satisfied all the claim of justice against sin. This is when John began addressing and encouraging the Church. 

 One last passage in 1 John puts the final nail in this false philosophy of judicial and parental forgiveness. 
I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. 1 John 2:12
Correct me if I am mistaken, but children would be speaking of a parental or familial relationship, right? Here, the Word of God declares we as God's children are already forgiven through Jesus Finished Work. 

 Don't allow the traditions of men to rob you of your identity in Christ. God's Word declared we are forever forgiven. This once for all time forgiveness is something we possess right now. We don't have to work for it, strive for it, or confess our faults, misdeeds and each failure to receive it. His Grace is greater than our sin. 

 Remove this idea of partial forgiveness. When we sin we are not walking and stumbling in darkness. We aren't out of fellowship with the Lord. We are in the light permanently, because the Finished Work translated us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light. Jesus said He would be with us always. Religion panics at the hearing of this scandalous Grace. For it causes their control and domination of men to weaken and wane. Grace, scandalous Grace, frees men into a place of rest and freedom. A place where they can lay aside the burden to achieve perfection and be who God already made them. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Scandal of Grace: Totally Forgiven

God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling—not because of any good works we may have done, but because of His own intention and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 2 Timothy 1:9 VOICE

 In our last post, we began to look at the scandalous Grace of God. This Grace that turns a sinner into a saint. I since the impression to continue in this study of His Grace. I want to begin today by looking into our forgiveness.

 Just how forgiven are we? If we listen to the traditions of men, we would conclude we are only partially forgiven. If we listen to theologians we would conclude that we're forgiven but not really. They have coined phrases like "judicial forgiveness" and "parental forgiveness." 

 Because religious tradition hasn't fully grasped the reality of the Finished Work, we get left with religious double talk. We are forgiven of our past sins, but not our present or future sins. For any current sins, or future failures we are left with maintaining a short account with God by our continual confession of sins.

 Another form of this religious double talk is this "judicial forgiveness" philosophy. It states we are forgiven but not really. We are forgiven but we are still accountable for our sins to God. Given the way religion views our forgiveness, we can see now why this Radical Grace of God is so scandalous.

 Grace declares from the Word of God, not from man, not from any religious tradition that we are totally forgiven. This scandalous Grace reveals that God hasn't just wiped our past clean, but has completely forgiven us of all our sins past and present and future. Certainly, this flies in the face of traditional religion. Many believers are comfortable with the idea of a forgiven past but not so much with the idea that we are forgiven of future sins, or the sins we have yet to commit.

 This is why this over the top Grace is so scandalous for it takes away all of our sins, (here.) Religion resists the idea that we are completely forgiven. They wrestle with reconciling 1 John 1:9 (confess your sins to receive forgiveness), with other passages that declare we are forgiven of all sin, (see here, here, here.) This is why they adopt their religious double talk, you're forgiven but it is not a forgiveness you actually possess. 

 What many fail to grasp is that 1 John 1 is written for the Church, concerning the Gnostic sects attempting to infiltrate their ranks. 1 John 1:9 is inviting these lost souls who deny sin exists a way of escape. It is an evangelistic statement. It was never intended to be the Christian's "bar of soap" for any time they miss it. Look at what John even declared in the second chapter.
I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. 1 John 2:12 NLT

 Was John confused? Was he now adopting the religious double talk of you're forgiven but still need to confess it when you blow it? Rightly dividing the Word, we clearly see he was addressing the lost in chapter one and the Church in chapter 2. John agrees with the other writers of the Scriptures that we are completely forgiven. 

 An illustration of this complete forgiveness may help you see it clearer. When you are driving in a vehicle and stop for a train crossing what do you see? You may see a few train cars directly passing you, but often times you can't see the whole train from engine to caboose. What if you were in a helicopter? Certainly, you would be able to see the first car to the last of any train. This is how God sees us. He saw our first breath and sees the last breath we will ever take. When we came to Him He took the sum total of our life from beginning to end and declared over us, forgiven.

 We are forever forgiven in Him. When He died on that Cross He took all of our sins away. He gave us total forgiveness. He didn't just forgive us partially or up to a certain point. Because of the Finished Work of the Cross we will never again be accountable for our sins. Jesus took the full punishment for all of our sins. We are forgiven once for all time because of that shed blood. 

 Rest in the Finished Work. Enjoy this scandalous Grace. Revel in Christ who forever forgave us. No longer burden by sin consciousness, we can enjoy our relationship with our loving Father. We can rejoice in the good news that all of our sins past and present and future are forever forgiven. Yes, this is scandalous Grace, we are already forgiven for the sins we have yet to commit. We are complete in Him.