Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Truth about giving under Grace

 Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. 2 Corinthians 9:7 AMPC

 Over our last few articles, we've been looking at the practices of tithing and giving in the New Covenant. This study somewhat responds to the uproar and outrage of traditional churches and ministries because an international megachurch pastor spoke the truth concerning tithing under Grace. It seemed good to continue examining our giving in light of Grace. 

 Over the many years that the Church has thrived in America, and throughout the earth, one constant is always prevalent. That is the act of giving financial donations. Just as with any practice, man has perverted it, corrupted it, misused and abused it. This is why God allows men of God with international platforms to address controversial issues to help us get back to the center, to the basics once again, in essence, to bring Jesus back into the focus. 

 When we see Jesus again as the focus, as the center of it all, our motives and our actions become Christ-centered. We are engaging in Christian practices because we are honoring our risen Savior. We pray, we read and study the Word, and we volunteer our time and talents to help others, we are a blessing to our local church, and yes we give financial donations. All these are sincere responses to Jesus and His Grace and Goodness in our life.

 We aren't acting under compulsion, pressure, or spiritual obligation. We aren't bowing to the crippling commands of the religious taskmaster. We aren't dutiful to the demands of traditional religion. We are responding to the Love of a loving Savior who took our place, bore our shame, and received our due punishment gladly.  

 This is what God intended. This is Grace in action. This is how life in Christ flows so freely. No demands, no obligations, and zero pressure. Just simply abiding in Him. Just basking in His Goodness and Grace. 

 My times in prayer, devotion, and detailed study of the Word are not "forced" or chores I must finish before I can enjoy my day. Religion turns relationship into tasks that must be completed. Instead of I get to spend time with my Father, I get to invest in His work, and I get to help that work come to pass through my talents, religion twists it into, I better spend time with God or He won't hear or help me later. I better give or I am cursed, or won't prosper in life, I better volunteer or I will never be rewarded. 

 The truth is God so loved this world and sent His Son so He could offer life everlasting to whosoever will freely receive it. He gave His Son, so He could have more sons and daughters. His Grace and Goodness are what motivated God our Father to do this. That's the point of it all. His Love. His Grace. His Goodness. 

 This is what draws the love response from His people, His family, His kids. God's Love for you, God's Love for me, that's what strengthens and encourages us to follow this Savior, to lay our plans down and embrace His. This is what moves us to know Him more and more. This is what moves us to invest our time and talents and our finances so others can see and know this beautiful Savior!

 What is not of God, what is the works of tradition, of man, is this obligatory concept concerning our walk with God. Use all the mental gymnastics you want to convince yourself and others, but when one says we must give a certain percentage, and/or teaches our giving or our doing is the source of blessings and prosperity then it's no longer about Grace but the works and performance of man.

 Want to be blessed and protected financially? Then you better give ten percent! Well, what about the people who've tithed faithfully for years and went bankrupt? Must have been in sin, is the only response they have.

 Want to be blessed and prospered? Give and keep giving above ten percent. Give right and you'll receive the hundredfold return! I have given above the ten percent consistently for years and never even saw thirty times, or sixty times. Let alone one hundred times my giving returned to me. Their response? You didn't give in Faith!

 Wait, let's analyze that comment. Faith is of the heart. Real Faith, Bible Faith is a persuasion, a fully persuaded heart that moves one to act on what is heard from God. Those of us who heard the teaching about giving to receive were persuaded in our hearts and minds. We, therefore, gave our finances. The fact we gave means we gave in Faith. 

 The disconnect is God never promised any believer if you give money you're going to get more money. So in reality, we were giving in "faith" to man's misuse and misinterpretation, and manipulation of the Father's Words. Keeping it about Jesus, and being transparent, giving and then getting more money in return, is not about giving to increase the work of God, but giving to increase the bank account, and fatten the wallet or purses of men and women. There is no Grace in this!

 Look at Jesus alone! Look to Jesus alone! Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is the source of life, healing, hope, protection, and prosperity. Our behavior isn't our Savior, Jesus alone is! 

 In summation, look again at Jesus Christ. The Author and Finisher of our Faith. The only One who can satisfy. The Lord of all, who died for all, so that whosoever will may come and abide with Him forever. 

 Look at this Savior, The Lord of Heaven and earth. This loving Savior, who gave all so He could be with me and you. Put Him back in the center of it all. When Christ is the focus, when He is the exalted One, our performance, our doings, our works, and disciplines, fade away in comparison. Live your life loved by this Savior. Live life with Him as the center of it all, the exalted One, and see how dead works fall by the wayside, and genuine worship and responses to the Love of God flow from you without strenuous effort. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Merchandising, manipulation, or ministry?


Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:10 NLT

 The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Good News of new life and total salvation for anyone who will simply believe. The Gospel is the Grace revealed in all Christ did for us. This love message must be proclaimed so people can hear it. In order to proclaim this Grace message through all means available, it takes time, talent, and funding. 

 In my last post, we discussed the great misunderstanding about giving. We looked at this issue of tithing for the New Covenant Christian. We want to continue this study examining our giving, and going deeper into this issue of tithing.

 When addressing this topic, some will be quick to accuse others that they don't want to tithe because they don't want to give. Those who say tithing isn't a New Covenant practice are just stingy Christians who are rebellious. Is this a fair assessment? 

 In truth, no matter what is taught about tithing, people who don't want to give will not give. In fact, for all this tithe talk, only 5% of Christians in America actually claim to tithe in the first place. So the issue is not that some teach tithing isn't for today but rather teaching the "why" we give in the first place. 

 We give because we want this Gospel proclaimed. We give because we love the family of God. We give because we want the kingdom to advance. We give because we want to be a blessing to those who minister the Word to us. 

 However, this tithing burden being put on believers actually hinders gifts being given. What I mean is, if the "tenth" is the only offering God accepts or demands as some proclaim, then people who can't afford this amount just won't give. When we proclaim the New Covenant truth that Grace is the giving standard then saints will give that 1%, 2 %, that 7% with joy and be a blessing, and this Gospel will be funded!

Merchandising and manipulation

 If we stay with the New Covenant we will see gifts given and the Gospel proclaimed and the Kingdom advancing. However, when we stick with the works of men, tradition, and demands put on people all we see are negative fruits. We open the door to all these manipulative gimmick offerings. 

 Many proclaim that if we give ten percent we will be financially blessed. This sounds appealing but this sentiment is manipulative and merchandising the Gospel. It also places fear, pressure, and condemnation on believers. 

 Fear concerning finances comes because the believer begins to look at their own situation and sees where it could be better. They begin to worry if their lack of giving 10% is causing their finances to not be blessed. They fear if they don't give how much worse could it get? 

 Pressure comes because believers now must do all they can to ensure they can give ten percent. Giving is not from a heart of love but from an obligation that must be met. They are giving not to bless but to meet a requirement, no matter how palatable you make the appeal to tithe sound.

 Condemnation abounds with tithe teachings. What about these believers who suffer loss, or go through major attacks by the enemy? How can they be expected to give a full ten percent when they have medical bills amassing? What about the sudden widow who was a stay-at-home mom? All they've heard is how they can't afford not to tithe.

 The concept that God blesses those who tithe means God has exclusive blessing reserved for only a segment of His children. What about the single mom who had a terrible past who just got saved? Does God look upon her in disgust because she hasn't given Him ten percent?

 I recently witnessed a minister who in response to the teaching that we aren't under the tithe command today, attempt to prove how we are cursed if we don't tithe. He tried to make it seem as if he was preaching good news by saying this. He also rebuked ministers who say the tithe isn't for today. 

 What I also noted was this same minister had no issue with the financial manipulation of his followers. He had no issue with the gimmick offerings claiming "God said there are ten people who are supposed to give $10,000 tonight."  Sadly, some only teach tithing so that their own bank accounts will be overflowing. 

 Many want to point to Abraham as the reason tithing is still for today. Look again at Abraham's tithe again. Abraham didn't tithe in order to be blessed financially or materially. He was already blessed before he gave anything away. His giving didn't create his wealth. Abraham didn't tithe from his income or his possessions, he only tithed the spoil of war, and only did it once.

 Why do so many claim tithing makes them blessed? They cite the Old Covenant passage Malachi 10. Malachi is speaking of food for the Levitical priests, not money. Also, some who give become more frugal with their money and their budget, still others have high-paying jobs due to their experience and/or education. 

 Yet for most, the experience isn't that positive. I know of countless others who have tithed faithfully for years and they've suffered bankruptcy, loss of business, and some have even been laid off from work. Contrary to how it's marketed, tithing is not a rabbit's foot, Linus' blanket, or lucky charm that ensures you're never going to have a problem.

 As New Covenant believers reject these gimmick-giving pressure tactics. Don't succumb to pressure-induced giving ploys. Don't look to your own works, your own doings, including your own giving, as a source of blessing. Look only to Jesus. Jesus became a curse on the Cross to redeem us from the curse. He exchanged our poverty and lack with His abundance and provision. 

 In summation, give in response to His Love. Give to further the kingdom. Giving is an expression of love. Give to support the proclamation of the Gospel of Grace. Trust in His Love to provide for you and give as He supplies and how He leads you.

Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. 2 Corinthians 9:7 AMPC

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Monday, July 4, 2022

The Great Misunderstanding

10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting a yoke on the necks of the disciples, such as neither our forefathers nor we [ourselves] were able to endure? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace (the undeserved favor and mercy) of the Lord Jesus, just as they [are]. Acts 15:10-11 AMPC  

 The Gospel has been revealed more and more to this generation than ever before. It has become more apparent and more evident that this Gospel is truly about the Lord Jesus Christ. A true move of God has filled all the earth.

 Believers from all quarters of the Body of Christ are receiving this move of God. Believers from traditional, mainline denominational backgrounds to believers from Pentecostal, and Charismatic Word of Faith camps are all embracing this powerful move of God. This move is the restoration of the truth of what the Gospel is. The Gospel is the Grace of God proclaimed and manifested in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

 Grace has turned the world upside down again. People are seeing it's about Jesus, not our pledges, promises, or performance. It's not about our promises to do better, to behave better, to do more for Him. It's not about our pledges of loyalties, or how well we perform in our daily lives. It's about Grace. It's about what Jesus has done, fully accomplished, and how the Father has received and accepted this Finished Work once for all time.

 Grace has overturned the proverbial tables of tradition and man-made works and idols of man. Believers are seeing things that have been taught for generations through the lens of Grace. Ministers and believers alike are seeing things from a new perspective, a Grace perspective. In this process, let's not throw away truth but examine truth with Grace, and let's not get into strife with other believers who may not see it the way we do.

 I am not speaking of end-time teachings, for there is no set end-time teaching that is hand stamped as the Grace view. Even among the differing views of end times, I see Grace being shared with those who disagree and all coming to common ground. Jesus is coming again we can all rejoice with that. 

 I am speaking of the truths of the Gospel that many are now seeing being opened up. The eternal security of the believer, the truth that it is Jesus who started the work and Jesus alone who will complete it. The other is concerning this issue of our giving. The subject of the tithe.

 A Word of Faith minister with a major platform has come forth with the Gospel light of Grace concerning our giving. This minister from the Atlanta, GA area, whom this site links to, has made headlines concerning the teaching of tithing. I believe along with this minister that tithing and giving have been a source of great misunderstanding in the Body of Christ.

 This Grace resource site has written extensively on the subject of tithing wherein all the Scriptures concerning tithing and the objections for and against it are expounded on in depth. You can see them and study them for yourself, New Covenant tithing, redeemed, under Grace, tithing for today, giving or tithing, Tithe to be blessed, all these will help you go deeper in the Word concerning our giving.

 I affirm and agree with this Pastor that tithing is not a command for the New Covenant believer in Christ. I agree with what Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 9. 

 each one, according as he doth purpose in heart, not out of sorrow or out of necessity, for a cheerful giver doth God love, 2 Corinthians 9:7 YLT

 The word necessity is crucial in discussing this topic. Look at the Greek definition here;

ἀνάγκη (anankē)

Strong: G318

GK: G340

necessity, Mt. 18:7; constraint, compulsion, 2 Cor. 9:7; obligation of duty, moral or spiritual necessity, 

See that the definition of the word is constraint or compulsion. That's addressing the manipulative gimmick tactics employed sadly by some ministries in order to get one to give. For purpose of this study, we want to focus on the latter definition. 

 Obligation and spiritual necessity are the antithesis of Grace. A gift is not obligatory. Those are two counter concepts. Some warn against preaching against the tithe, why? 

 If tithing is under Grace, that is ten percent of all you earn, then that means you are under obligation to bring this amount of financial resource to a ministry. If tithing is under Grace then that means something is required of you. That means your giving is of necessity. 

 You can't do enough mental gymnastics to make 2 Corinthians 9 equate tithing as grace giving. Secondly, before we continue let's make a really vital point. Those who preach Grace and claim tithing is still required, don't fully define what it means to tithe. 

 To tithe means you bring ten percent of your increase. That means you are required to tithe on gross, not net income. Some would argue no that's tithing under Law. Abraham tithed before Law. True, but he only did that one time. He didn't tithe from his income either, he tithed from the spoils of war. He didn't keep anything for himself. How is this a model for us to give then? He didn't give anything from his own income. Read it again in Genesis 14

 Some would say what about Jacob? That's great you mentioned him. His giving meets Paul's words. Jacob on his own, without compulsion or necessity, chose to offer God a tenth of what He gave him. 

 Back to the word necessity. If as it's taught that tithing causes a financial blessing, then in order to be blessed it would therefore be necessary to give ten percent. Hence, that would be the definition of spiritual necessity. So in essence the Cross forgives, makes new, and heals our bodies, but our ten percent, not Christ Finished Work, is the source of our blessing materially.

 What about the widows, and single mothers in the inner cities in America? What about the destitute and downtrodden in third-world nations? They literally do not have enough income to give away ten percent. What? Is God beholding them with arms folded in stern disappointment speaking over them, stop being poor, give me ten percent and I'll help you? 

 How is this the Gospel of Grace?! Fear of bucking tradition, fear of disagreeing with a leader, and ignorance of what the Bible actually says is why people fight this revelation. 

  I love and highly honor the Grace pastors who have brought forth Gospel truths that have changed my life. I love them and again honor them, however, they're not my Savior, Jesus is. It's ok to disagree with the particular light they have on a topic. 

 Is tithing the source of blessing? I say no it is not. Jesus and the Finished Work is our source. Abraham gave a tenth not to get blessed, he was already blessed. We don't give to get blessed. We give because we are already blessed. We give in response to how we've been blessed already.

 There is no condemnation or judgment for not giving ten percent. God only asks we give in response to His Love and Goodness poured out upon us. Give cheerfully, not out of some spiritual necessity. Give not in fear, or concern that you won't be blessed if you don't. 

Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. 2 Corinthians 9:7 

 In summation, let's be clear and faithful to actual Scripture. Tithing isn't a command for believers, isn't an expected practice today, isn't an expression of Grace giving. Tithing is an Old Covenant requirement. Christ is our source of blessing, not our donations. God's not mad at you! Give knowing that.   

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