Archive for May, 2012

On our main purpose

May 21, 2012

When anyone says that they are making X to do Y, then Y is the primary purpose of X. It may well be that X can be used for other things. It may also be that in time, Y is no longer the main use and Z takes over as primary purpose.

So, in this case X is mankind and Y is to rule over the earth. We can come back to whether there is a Z.

Gen 1:28 is where God gives man his first briefing. Any competent manager [yes I know God is more than a manager, but he is our Boss] will ensure that in the initial brief the main points are covered.

Here the instructions are:

1. Go forth and multiply, which as you say is necessary to the scale of the task. Humans have done this rather well. Christians in most parts of the world are rather poor though.

2. Replenish the earth and subdue it.

3. have dominion over all living things and the earth itself.

This is God’s explanation to man of his purpose. Y.

One of the things creeping on the earth was the serpent, the devil, so the rule / have dominion over the devil and, by implication, his works, is built into the primary purpose as stated by God.

Note that nowhere here does God mention worship. Which does not render worship as unnecessary, but does clearly not include it in Y.

Why did / does the earth need to be replenished and subdued? It was made good, and by the time man was made it was very good.

You only replenish things that have been depleted or used up and subdue things that are in rebellion or out of control.

So what is the outworking of point 2?

Farming would be one – watering the land where rain is lacking. But why is there lack of rain? Because of sin coming into the world and the devils actions.

But one of Jesus’ big priorities in his mission was healing (Luke 10:38 plus all the stories of healings). Much sickness is due to the body wearing out – disk problems, heart conditions, loss of eyesight/hearing. So replenishing those things on the earth means healing those sick.

What is in rebellion or out of control? Much. Why is it so? The overall teaching of the bible seems to say that the devil is behind most trouble on this earth, or people infested with his demons. John 10:10 and the demon possessed man in Luke 8:30 would be two examples to show this.

Therefore i conclude that attacking the devil and his works is at the heart of the initial command in Gen 1:26. I say that it is consistent with Luke 4:18-19 – the reason Jesus gives for the Spirit being on him. Who are the oppressed and captives and what oppresses and en-captures them? I suggest that this is clearly talking about sicknesses that oppress and trap people, plus devils that need casting out.

So this Luke 4:18-19 is totally consistent with Peter’s description of the life of Jesus in Acts 10:38.

Also it is consistent with the instructions Jesus gave to the 12 and 72. Go,heal the sick, raise the dead cleanse lepers cast out devils and preach good news to the poor. Freely you have received freely give.

Jesus did not say that he was given the Spirit to facilitate worship.

One of the last things Jesus spoke was John 20:21-22 As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

So we are sent exactly the same way as Jesus was sent. And given the same Spirit for the same purpose. Not for worship but for doing good to those who need God’s love and help.

I suggest that you cold summarise Luke 4:18-19, Mat 10:8 Luke 10:38 as replenishing people whose lives are depleted due to the devil’s work and subduing his attacks on people.

Thus these verses are totally consistent as outworkings of Gen 1:26,28 and the main purpose of Jesus’ three years was to do these things. Clearly, the ultimate main purpose of Jesus’ life was the cross – to defeat the devil, enable salvation by his death and healing of sickness at the whipping post (Is 53:6). And his main purpose, based on the information in the gospels, seems to have been to outwork this and preach the gospel of the kingdom.

If we are to be like him and sent like him, how can we be different.

Has our main purpose been changed to Z – Z being to worship God?

First, I know of no scripture to say it has.
Second, the rhetoric above, which I trust is much less weak that the original précis, demonstrates clearly that doing the works of the Kingdom and overcoming the devil was Jesus’ No 1 priority, and thus remains ours.

On a final note, if someone has totally fulfilled their primary purpose, but failed to address their secondary tasks, that is always excusable.

‘I am sorry I did not do thus and thus, but i was concentrating on my main job’.

So as long as we spend most of our waking life in worship and enjoying God’s presence, doing all the other things is relatively unimportant and living as a hermit would be a viable option.

Is tithing still for Christians.

May 4, 2012

We need to establish some ground rules before discussing this.

1. The Old Testament is written to Jews and is the Jewish scripture. It may still apply to Christians, but we have to ask whether the teaching of Jesus or Paul changed and whether the cross changed it.

2. If the bible teaches something, we have to take it precisely as taught. We cannot modify it to suit our tradition without scripture clearly changing it.

For example consider the Sabbath. That is defined as Friday evening to Saturday evening. If one wishes to observe the Sabbath, that is when it must be done. So when christians observe ‘their Sabbath’ on a Sunday, that cannot be legitimate without a scripture changing the day of Sabbath – and there is none.

So, if we are to teach tithing, it either needs to be that which was given to the Jews and done exactly as the Jews did it, or we need New Testament scripture to support a change.

What is the Old Testament rules on tithing?

1. 10% of your growth is given to support the Levites who have no inheritance, no property and no other source of income. The full time priests.

2. A second 10% is put aside throughout the year for a feast. Dt 14:22-28. This money is to be used to purchase whatever your heart ‘lusteth for’ KJV – including wire or strong drink. So God endorses and approves the drinking of strong alcohol in a religious feast to celebrate himself. Bit of a problem for the teetotal ‘christian’.

3. The tithe belongs to the Lord, all the balance belongs to the one who tithes.

So how do these stack up against New Testament teaching?

1. There is no mandate anywhere to give this tithe to anyone but the Jewish Levites. Nowhere does the NT say that this is to be transferred to a local church. Actually, in the NC we are all priests, so if anything, we could be the recipients of our own tithes.

BUT there is no basis to tithe to the Synagogue (church). Synagogue was always funded out of offerings.

Thus tithing to your local church has no NT mandate and is not obeying the Old Covenant.

2. For some reason this tithe is never taught by the church!

3. In the New Covenant we are bought with a price 1 Cor 6:20. None of who we are or what we have is ours any more. 100% already belongs to God. We have died with Christ in baptism Rom 6:4 and dead people don’t own anything. How can we give to God that which is already his, unless we take back ownership of the balance, thus denying the New Covenant.

Acts 2:44-46 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

This early believers attitude to their possessions goes far beyond mere tithing.

So there is no basis for christians to adopt and modify the Jewish practice of tithing, unless we can find some teaching in the NT.

In Acts 15 Paul has taken his gospel of grace to the leaders of the church. His message is that gentiles are required to have faith in Jesus, not to obey the law of Moses or and Jewish laws. They Council of Jerusalem makes the following declaration.

Acts 15:23-29
the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26  men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29  that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

What is totally clear from this is that they did NOT decide to include tithing and something to impose on the gentiles. When Paul reports on this incident in Gal 2:10 he reports that ‘they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do’. Note that remembering the poor is NOT part of the tithe as commonly taught in christian churches.

But it is clear from these two scriptures that tithing to a church in NOT for gentiles. Giving to the poor is.

In other places Paul asks people to make gifts and says each should decide what to give, without compulsion and give willingly and cheerfully.

In all the the NT from Acts to Revelation you cannot find a single reference to tithing or given 10% of anything.

From all this it is clear that christians do not tithe and the church tradition is just that – an unbiblical tradition.

 

Some will say that whilst tithing was never imposed on believers, 10% is a minimum standard. However, there is not a single scripture that says this, so it has the status of unbiblical tradition.

Jesus did endorse tithing at least once in his ministry, but that was speaking to Jews who tithed and Jesus said then that the law remained in place ‘until all is accomplished’. We now know that he was referring by that to the cross when he said ‘it is finished’. So tithing was still in place for JEWS during the life of Jesus. But we’re not Jews and Jesus has died and risen..

Abraham tithed before the law. Yes, once and once only. You cannot use something done once to support a teaching to do the same thing throughout your life and again, you need scripture to prove that Abraham was our example. There is none.

Of course, if someone wants to be part of an institutional church with leaders and expenses, then like any other club, it’s fair for them to pay membership fees. It is morally wrong to take all the benefits of a church and not expect to pay your share. But that is not tithing and those institutions never existed in the early church.