when there is sin and offence

 

Offence is an insidious thing. It does not rest until it has been satisfied, and it gets its satisfaction in destruction. Although it likes to have the appearance of wanting to stay hidden, it really desires to spread and infect others, and thereby infect the whole Body.

As long as the Church exists in its present form there will be occasions of offence.

How these are dealt with will impact the health of the church both as a body and as individuals. If dealt with properly, according to the Word, it will ultimately strengthen the Body (although there will most certainly be tense and uncomfortable moments).

Conversely, if offence is not dealt with as God has set forth, it will hinder the growth of the Body, and may even destroy it.

There are several scriptures that tell us how we should or shouldn’t handle offence, and I think it will do us good to take a close look at them.

The first (and perhaps the most important) is Matthew 18:15, where Jesus is teaching about offence.

Here’s the text in the NKJV: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector”.

First, Jesus is instructing us that when someone sins against us to go to them and work it out if it is possible.

There are probably several reasons for this instruction, but two come to mind immediately:

1) God wants people to work out their issues at the lowest level possible. By doing so, the offence is contained at the lowest level and people who are unaware of the sinful action remain unaware and are therefore not able to take up the offence. This keeps the offence from spreading throughout the body and makes reconciliation easier for both the offended party as well as the offender.

2) The person who committed the sin might very well not know that it was a sin. Note that Jesus said to “show him his fault”. God wants us to work through these things for edification.

Also note that Jesus said that “if he hears you, you have gained your brother”. The KJV phrases it “if he shall hear thee”. The meaning of the word “hear” is twofold: If the brother listens to the offended person and understands the offence (which takes spiritual revelation), then he or she will naturally repent, make the situation as right, and seek forgiveness from the offended party. At this point the issue can be put to rest.

However, if the person is unwilling to listen, or doesn’t agree that an offence has been committed, then in essence the offender has not “heard”, and the offended person continues to carry the offence.

Next, if the offended party is unable to “gain” the brother, they must then take the issue to one or two others in order to resolve the conflict. Why can’t the person simply drop the matter? Because this person will be downcast in their spirit, and the downcast feelings will be transferred to the rest of the body.

It is impossible for one who has been offended to not allow those feelings to spill over to the rest of the body. God has enabled everyone with a bit of discernment (whether a lot or a little) and all can sense the harsh feelings given enough time. It is unavoidable in a true, close-knit body of believers, because it is a spiritual principle (And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” 1 Corinthians 12:26).

Even if the offended party is able to fully set aside the offence, the matter must be pursued so that the offender can be confronted so as to prevent the person from committing the same offence again against someone else in the body.

It is important to understand that the others who are approached have been put in a position of evaluating the situation in order to resolve it and must take great caution not to take sides until the entire situation is fully understood.

“The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines” Proverbs 18:17 NRSV.

If these persons do not take extra caution it is very easy to take up the offence and become jaded and unable to properly evaluate the situation.

It is also important that both parties truthfully divulge all points in the issue as best they can, regardless of how painful it may be to do so, in order to get the fullest picture of the situation. This will necessitate a spirit of humbleness on both parties.

The others are there to mediate the situation so as to come to a correct (but not necessarily fun) outcome; they must identify whether an offence (sin) actually took place or whether the offended party has erroneously perceived the actions of the offender to be sin. Once it has been established that a sin has taken place, the remedy for the situation will usually become apparent.

Lastly, if the party is unable to resolve it with two or three witnesses, then they are to take it to the church for the same process.

The church has then been put in the position of evaluating the situation in an attempt to correct the offending brother. While this might seem dreadful if it gets to this level, and it may very well cause intense debate in the body, it is for good reason. It becomes harder for the offender to continue in their sin when confronted with an entire body of believers who agree that they are in error.

This also provides additional safeguards to ensure the situation has been handled correctly. It causes the body to press into the Lord more intensely to ensure they correctly evaluate the situation, and causes growth of the body.

If the person will not hear even the church then they are to be to the body as a “heathen and a tax collector” and put out of the church until such time as they realize their sin and repent. This is necessary for the health of the body. If such persons are allowed to continue in fellowship strife will be the order of the day until such time it is rectified.

 

 

 

 

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he that fears God and works righteousness is acceptable

…. in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is acceptable to God.
Acts 10:35

There it is again! That awful word, that downright nasty word, that stinky ole word, “works“!

Works righteousness” sounds like something I’m responsible for, something required of me! Yuk!  It sounds like “legalism”! It sounds like “law”!

The setting of course, was Peter arriving at Cornelius’ house after having been prepped by God with a vision. When he arrived, he found Cornelius,  a man who feared God and did righteous works, had had his own prepping experience with a visit from an angel. The whole household was now ready to hear what God had to say and Peter came to an understanding at that moment.

Truthfully I now perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.   Acts 10:34-35

But it’s so much easier to believe my behaviour and actions are not part of the equation , that God love, love, loves [I’ll put in a fourth love for good measure] me! That He is obligated to let me into heaven because “I believe in Jesus!” That my “faith in the finished work of Christ” is my ticket and that ole stinky word “works” has no place in my life! Can I get an Amen?!

It’s so much more spiritually hip to be “under grace” and follow preachers who tell me I am acceptable to God based solely on what “I believe”!  To look down my ever so enlightened nose at those “law preachers” who spew their “hate speech” about my behaviour and that it matters to God. Worse yet is those who say my behaviour is my responsibility and that God will JUDGE it! That is Old Covenant Law preaching! Can I get another Amen?

I like a good rousing church service as much as the next person and I am so grateful God made me a part of His family. However, much of what passes for various flavors of “the gospel” today have some truth but no solid foundation in the Truth.

How can I say that? Because I was sucked up in it, too. I am not speaking from the outside having never been inside. I’m speaking from the outside, grateful that God opened my eyes so I could see to get out and that He delivered me! The Holy Spirit was faithful to lead me to truth when I humbled myself to hear what He had to say. He always does.

There have always been false teachers and false teachings in the church and there are more today then at any other time. But there is one Teacher we can always trust to tell us the truth and His name is Holy Spirit! Too many have given that honor and position to men.

Two examples of modern teachings with no solid foundation in the Truth are the “prosperity gospel” which has been around for a while, and the “grace gospel” that quite literally took center stage a few years ago.

The “prosperity gospel” is largely focused around giving and giving and giving some more, usually to people who already have plenty. The message is, if you will just “give and believe God“, He will return your money manyfold, kind of like a spiritual slot machine.

The other works [personal responsibilities] required by God to be a good steward of all He has given you, are largely ignored. A partial list of those works would be, budgeting, living within your means, working hard, paying off your debts as the means to be debt free,  gaining knowledge and seeking wisdom to be lead by the Holy Spirit in your finances, including your giving.

Yes, I know. Most of those works [responsibilities] are so practical and do not feel supernatural or super spiritual at all. That’s what I thought when I was caught up in it. No exciting testimony about how my bank account supernaturally filled up with thousands of dollars or how I suddenly hit the mega jackpot!

It’s amazing how many thousands of people have been deceived by this teaching and have been following it for years, yet are no better off financially then they were when they started! And many are even financially worse off then when they started! At what point will they finally humble themselves and ask, “God, what in the world is wrong? Why isn’t this working?!”

However, the hottest one off the press today is the “grace gospel”.  It is centered around “just believe in the finished work of Christ“. Nothing more is needed. It’s all done!

Again, the works [personal responsibilities] required by the Lord such as a turning from and forsaking of sin, asking forgiveness, humility and accountability for ones actions and behaviour are ignored and arrogantly dismissed as “Old Covenant law teaching”.

On a humorous side note, recently I was watching a short preaching clip of the main bearer of this “grace gospel” and the pastor of a mega church in another nation. He was teaching in his home church on the dangers of men in ministry counselling or personally helping women in the church.

According to him, he doesn’t even offer help to a woman from his congregation who needs a ride, if he’s alone in his car. This is quite likely wisdom in his situation, he has a lot to lose!

He then went on to say, “We have a rule in our church that our people in the ministry do not counsel people of the opposite sex alone.” [Again, I would call that wisdom and a good policy to have.]

However, he ended it by saying “This is just a rule, not a law! Because we have no laws in our church! We are under grace! Can I get an Amen!”   And then he got what he asked for, an enthusiastic “Amen!”

Come on church!  Wake up from your slumber!!

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just how dangerous are “strong and controlling” women?

Today I was taken back when I read some comments made by a fellow Christian. Some comments about “strong and controlling women”. I was taken back several years to a time when I struggled to find freedom as a woman in the church and remembering how my freedom came from knowing truth.

First let me say, I am partial to the house church setting, finding it refreshing to be a part of something that is outside the boundaries of the control present in denominational church. A little of the same spirit that has caused immigrants to cross oceans and astronauts to explore space. It’s the “new frontier” being opened up by the Holy Spirit and very exciting!

Actually, it is a return to the original and Biblical model and pattern of fellowship but very “new” for many Christians.

However, when going new places we often take our old baggage with us. This is especially true in the church! And the problem is, our old baggage will contaminate the new environment. Pollute it and bring death.

The wrong teaching concerning women in the church, particularly the roles of women in marriage and women in ministry, has been a very destructive and effective tool of the enemy’s for centuries and I was abruptly reminded today he is determined to come into my new world called “house church” as well.

The way he will weasel in is through un-renewed minds of people who are entering my new world. People who love God but have baggage they are determined to hold on to, usually because that baggage represents some kind of power.

The comment was in effect that “some women are so strong and controlling that they don’t allow their husbands to grow in the Lord”.

What?! What is that supposed to mean?! How can that be?

The devil himself can’t stop a man from serving the Lord and growing in the Lord! Nor can he stop a woman from growing in the Lord. Can he send persecution and difficulty and blind people to truth? Of course he can! But he can’t stop a decision and choices of the hearts of individuals  to seek the Lord and serve Him.

Yes, it is wrong for a woman to dominate or control her husband and equally wrong for a husband to dominate and control his wife. But even being dominated can’t stop the desire and hunger for God in a person’s heart nor can it stop God’s response to that hunger, which will produce spiritual growth.

As I mused and thought about his comments I was reminded of an incident in my life many years ago.  I was part of a large denominational church at the time and attended Sunday school class on Sunday mornings before the service.

We got into some pretty good discussions in that class and one day the discussion ventured into the role of a woman in marriage. One of the men in the class was a part time “Christian marriage counselor” and offered some input.

According to scripture he said, the man is the “head”. He then referred to the women’s position as the neck! [I know, I know! Church people can come up with some weird stuff. And most of that weird stuff has put people in bondage for centurys.]

He then went on to say the neck is what supports the head and turns it in the direction it needs to go etc.. but warned the “neck” should never try to be the “head”! Well, I guess not! That would be an impossibility! As are a lot of other things women get accused of.

He then offered the women in the group some “advice”. If their husbands were a bit timid and found it difficult to gather the family to pray etc,  she as the wife, should look for  opportunities to build his confidence. This was her duty as a Christian wife.

So he suggested to the ladies that they should lather their husbands with praise when they did such small things as initiate prayer over meals or read Bible stories to the children etc.

“Oh honey! I am so proud of you!”, “You da man!” etc..  That kind of “praise”.

The counsellor indicated this would build the man’s confidence and make him stronger as the one who was the “head”! And, because the husband was God’s chosen authority and leadership for the marriage, the wife should be careful not to usurp that position.

After I choked back the barf I had a few questions for this man.

1.“So you’re saying the husband’s Christian conduct and his ability to be the “head” is dependant on his wife doing her Christian duty and building him up?”

2.“If he can’t be “the man” unless she does her duties as “the wife”, does that not put  her in the position of leadership by default?”

It’s been so long I don’t remember his response but I remember my indignation. I was furious at such a teaching!

I recognised in his ignorance this man was promoting spiritual manipulation. And I knew manipulation to be a form of witchcraft. So the very teaching was giving the enemy a foothold in marriages.

I have since seen this type of Christian marriage counseling in many forms. Dressed up in different curriculum and with different titles. Some even promoting the wife’s use of sex as one of the tools to “help” her husband. Shameful!

What is so difficult about a Christian husband and his Christian wife;

1.being equal before the Lord and following Him,

2.preferring one another in love and

3.taking personal responsibility for their conduct and obedience to the Holy Spirit?

What in the world is so hard about that?!

Posted in husband and marriage, institutionalizing the church, spititual abuse, wife and marriage, women and church | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

setting an example of leadership and willing to work

In continuation of my posts concerning the subjects of money and the deception of tithe teaching, I want to take a look at several Scripture passages that are relevant.

2Thess 3:5-16 is one such passage and is a glimpse into the personal monetary practices and lifestyle of Paul. I have never heard a power point sermon on these Scriptures but they are clear, to the point and difficult to misunderstand.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.

For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you.

We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you.

We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.

Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work, will not get to eat.”

Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.

We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.

As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.

Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed.

Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.

2Thess 3:6-15 NLT

How many “leaders” in the church today can say as Paul did, “We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night….we wanted to give you an example to follow.”

[And how many of us will obey this command to stay away from those “leaders” who do not follow Paul’s example in this area, and to warn them about their actions?]

While there are many in ministry today who would desire the results that Paul experienced, there are few who would sign up for the life of self denial and sacrifice that Paul lived.

Instead, today the majority of church leaders and heads of ministries live off of the generosity of their parishioners and donors. The reasoning is, these leaders are called into “full time ministry” and this entitles them to sometimes exorbitant monetary compensation for their efforts. Their excessively lavish lifestyles are attributed to the “blessing of God”.

There are wealthy “heads of ministry” and their families driving the most expensive cars available, draped in designer clothing and jewelry and living in multi-million dollar homes, all paid for by the “donations of their partners in the ministry”.

All over America you can find local pastors living in all expenses paid parsonages, with perks such as insurance coverage, paid vacations and clothing allowances, all of which are paid for by the “tithes and offerings of parishioners”.

While these leaders undoubtedly are “busy” and not necessarily sitting on the couch or in the coffee shop all day, the fact remains, this kind of “busyness” [business] is not the kind of labor Paul was involved in “day and night so we wouldn’t be a burden to any of you”.

So the question arises, all this “busyness” [business] that church and ministry leaders are involved in, is it of the Spirit? Or is it a means to build establishments and man made, man operated and man glorifying kingdoms?

Is this “busyness” beneficial to the body of Christ? Or does it keep the majority of church goers babyish and dependant on leaders to hear from God for them, to pray to God for them and thus abdicate to a mere man the position of Jesus as High Priest of their lives?

There is an elitism, hierarchy and spirit of entitlement in the modern day established church that is not endorsed by Jesus, nor will He continue to tolerate it.

He made a whip and drove the profiteers out of the temple once and He will do it again. He will again throw over the money changer tables stacked with materials to sell and call His people back to prayer as the means of knowing Him.

This problem is not isolated to church leadership. It is pervasive in the world and has developed inroads into much of the established church laity in their everyday lives. Many are content to live off of government programs with no conviction whatsoever to attempt to “earn their own living” as commanded in this scripture.

Where are the “examples” today to help correct this sin? Examples like Paul.

God commands us as believers to help the poor, including the widows and orphans, however those “unwilling to workdo not qualify as the poor!

He calls those with wealth to be willing to share [as led by Him, obviously] and we are commanded in this scripture to, “Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed.”

I believe that means your money should “stay away from those who refuse to obey this letter” as well!

While there are scores of leaders sorely lacking in being the example that Paul and his team were in this area, this command is clearly to all believers, not just leaders.

“… we gave you this command, Those unwilling to work, will not get to eat”.

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you’ve quit tithing, now what?

For many people who make the decision to turn their backs on the wrong teaching of the 10% tithe, the question becomes, “How and where do I do my giving now?”

In sharing some of my personal experiences over a span of several years, my purpose is merely to give an example and some encouragement. Jesus Christ is the model and needs to be the Lord of your giving, through the Holy Spirit who will lead into all truth.

When the Lord first opened my eyes to the truth about tithing I struggled with fear of man and some other personal sins. They surfaced in the form of thoughts such as, “What will the pastor, the church and my friends think of me if I quit tithing?” So I tried to convince myself and the Lord that my continued giving of around 10% was my decision. After all, I was free, wasn’t I? Therefore I could willingly choose to give 10% if I wanted to, couldn’t I?

Ahh…The deceitfulness of our own reasoning!

I personally knew no one else at that time who believed that tithe teaching in the church was a deception. So there was no one in my life for support on the issue and the enemy bombarded me daily with, “Who do you think you are?! What if you’ve got it wrong? You could be putting yourself and your family under a curse!”

Then he would have me take another look around at the hundreds of recognised preachers who preach their bi-annual sermons, expounding on how God commands us to tithe and then ask me again, “Compared to all those leaders and their understanding of Scripture, who do you think you are?!

It took me a while to work through all that. To be persuaded that I was who God said I was. A sheep who knew the voice of my Shepherd. And I had heard His voice on the subject of tithing!

I thank God for His beautiful faithfulness!

I dipped a toe in the waters of freedom and let the offering plates roll on by once or twice! It got easier each time and I waded in to splash around!

But now the question became, “How and where do I give?” Especially since I have stepped away from the institutional church and am in a home fellowship.

In looking back over several years and some trial and error in my learning, I realized at this point there are three basic categories I have been able to identify in my personal journey in giving.

The first category is giving when God says give and to whomever He says. If He gives you an exact number for the amount, give the amount He says, no more and no less. I found out this first one I’ve mentioned rarely happens in my life and at first I was surprised at how seldom I was commanded by the Holy Spirit to give! And I now understand that giving is a lifestyle, it is a heart position and it doesn’t always involve money.

For a glimpse into my trial and error experiences in this first category, I recall a pastor and his family who were acquaintances of ours and I could see there was a major problem in his personal life. There were some relationship issues in his family that weren’t of the fruit of the Spirit and I knew weren’t pleasing to the Lord. I found it very difficult to respect him.

He was a pastor in one of the many denominations who supported their pastors, paying for virtually everything including a house to live in.

When the pastor “lost his job” and the family was left with almost nothing the Lord moved on my heart to give them a certain amount of money. I argued all the points on why that didn’t make sense and gave them less then the amount the Lord specified.

Have you noticed when you disobey the Lord He doesn’t forget about it? He doesn’t sweep it under the rug and say, “Oh well, you certainly tried!” Needless to say, several weeks later that family got a second envelope in the mail for the full amount.

As far as I know that pastor has not yet repented of his wickedness but that was a steep learning curve for me in being trained to not lean on my own understanding when the Lord speaks to me about giving.

The second category is to give out of compassion to the poor around me, especially among the brethren. When I see people who are really trying hard, but are still struggling financially, it blesses me greatly to be able to contribute something to them.

I’ve been in those kinds of situations where a little goes a long way and it doesn’t need to be thousands or even hundreds of dollars to really make a difference.

However, I do not give to those with an aversion to physical labor. I agree with God in believing hunger can be an incentive to help people repent from a lazy lifestyle and the deception that someone else’s laboring should pay for their personal needs.

For another glimpse at a second steep learning curve in my life, I remember yet another pastor and his family who were also going through some tough times financially. I liked this man and his family and wanted to help them by giving them some money but the Lord said “No.” The situation they were in was His doing and He had a purpose in mind.

I sensed He has been trying to speak to them for some time on several issues including the issue of putting internationally known ministers and their teachings about money on the pedestals of idolatry.

He loves us enough to use circumstances to bring us to the point at times where we will be honest enough to cry out, “Lord, why isn’t this working?”

The third category is when I see a work of the Kingdom I would like to be involved in. I have noticed these works are usually small and virtually unknown ministries with whom I have a relationship. Nothing flashy or splashy, just people who love the Lord and do not lean on man for their provision.

Ministries who truly believe if they seek His Kingdom and His righteousness all their needs will be provided for. Including any needs they may incur while fulfilling their designated work in the Kingdom. Ministries who do not believe thousands of dollars spent in advertising with emotionally charged words and pictures are Kingdom methods nor are they necessary to get the job done.

I have become much more selective in my giving and much more blessed! To sum it up, my giving is no longer something I do, instead it is a loving that my heart participates in.

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facts about tithing under the law of Moses, [Part 3 of series]

This is a continuation as post 3 in a series on tithing or non-tithing rather, for Christians. In this post I want to bring out some little known and even strange facts concerning tithing under the Law of Moses. These facts will be very beneficial for those who are serious about the truth of this subject.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of facts. There are many more but these are the ones that spoke to me.

Once again, from the three loosely divided scriptural parts mentioned in two previous posts, today we will look at the one that’s left  “2. During the Law of Moses”.

  1. Before the Law of Moses = the book of Genesis and up to Exodus 20.
  2. During the Law of Moses = started in Exodus 20 [Ten Commandments] and ended on the cross.
  3. The Church Age = started in Acts and ongoing today.

The tithe was NEVER commanded to be collected in the form of money! All tithes were given and used in the form of food only. Food that could be eaten, not money that could be spent. This is a very difficult truth for modern tithe advocates to accept!

Tithes were commanded from the increase of the land and herds only. The priests and the Levites were not allowed to own or inherit land so the tithe replaced their property inheritance rights. The tithe included the priests and Levites’ allowance of food from the land and it was limited to “all the tithe of the land” and “the tithe of the herd”.

The priests were descendants of Aaron and the ones anointed to perform the sacrificial rituals in the temple. The Levites’ job description was performing servant duties for the priests.

The tithe supported a vast legal and religious system in which the priests and Levites were appointed by God to enforce the Law of Moses. They were in charge of a kind of national social welfare system also supported by the tithe. A system that fed the poor.

The priests and Levites were always counted among the poor of the land and were to be given the tithe so they could eat. Other people groups that were also to be provided for by the tithe were the stranger, the fatherless and the widow.

Many who benefit from the tithe that is collected today in the form of money, also own property and land. So even if the teaching of the tithe today were legitimate, the pattern in which it’s practised would be way off!

Now here is an interesting fact. There were actually several tithes required of the nation of Israel and they added up to more then 10%! Since the tithe is not a commandment for New Testament believers there is no reason to be dogmatic about the exact amount but most serious studiers believe it was at least 23% and possibly 30%.

One of those little known “extra” tithes was the feast tithe commanded in Deut. 14 and it presents a huge problem for tithe teachers today! I personally have never heard any that would touch it with a ten foot pole!

In the Deut. 14 account the tithers were commanded to eat and drink their own tithe before the Lord at a feast! Since carrying their tithe to this feast was referred to as a possible physical burden, it actually proves they didn’t take money.

Concerning Malachi 3, I believe it is a rebuke to the priests and Levites, not a rebuke to the tithers themselves. Instead of putting the tithes in the storehouse where they could be distributed as food {meat} to the poor in the land, the priests had hoarded it for themselves.

I also believe it is a grave sin for preachers today to take the curse of Malachi 3 out of context and use it to threaten church people who do not tithe!

It is interesting that for almost 300 hundred years of the beginning of church history, up until 325 AD and the Council of Nicea, the vast majority of church leaders lived very sacrificial and even ascetic lives in order to serve others.

In contrast, many leaders and heads of ministries today live excessive lifestyles that are way more extravagant  then the people whose “tithes and offerings” support those lifestyles. I believe this is an affront to God and a sin that needs to be repented of.

Let me be clear! By no means would I endorse a vow of poverty or anything of that nature! I believe the God of love we serve desires to amply provide for those who serve Him. However, Paul said he had learned how to be content with little or with much.

Those leaders who’s livelihood or salary depends solely on the “tithes and offerings of partners” or parishioners would do well to study Scriptures and seek the Lord instead of adapting to status quo.

It would be a great milestone for the established church to be found blameless in this area. So that it would not continue to be the open laughing stock of the enemies of God because of the obvious disobedience and love of money that prevails.

Admittedly the face and practice of Christianity would change drastically if all believers would know and walk in this freedom of truth concerning the tithe. Especially Christianity in the west.

There would be more true Christian relationships of love for each other, by which all men would know we are followers of Christ! That love would be demonstrated in a very real and practical way for all to see.

There would be less big, expensive, formal cathedrals and kingdoms of men and more small places bursting at the seams with joy, freedom and the commitment of true godly love and fellowship.

Not all will embrace this truth but every tree not planted by God will be uprooted. The transformation is already started and I rejoice in it!

Posted in encouragement for the Body, false gospels, institutionalizing the church, kingdom principles, liberty and sacrifice | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

is tithe teaching for the church, or is it error? Part 2

In my previous article “is tithe teaching for the church, or is it error? Part 1”, I loosely divided the Bible into three parts for the purpose of writing my views concerning the deceptive teaching of the 10% tithe being required of the New Covenant believer. Again, the three parts are as follows;

  1. Before the Law of Moses = the book of Genesis and up to Exodus 20.
  2. During the Law of Moses = started in Exodus 20 [Ten Commandments] and ended on the cross.
  3. The Church Age = started in Acts and ongoing today.

The New Testament clearly tells us, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the Law of Moses.

So, even though this is part two of the series, today I want to address;

3. The Church Age, starting in Acts and ongoing.

As a general rule, the only laws from the Old Testament that are commandments for the Christian are those that are mentioned again in the New Testament letters. This will help to accurately divide scripture.

Nowhere in the New Testament is tithing required to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly! {Or money in general for that matter.}

Nowhere in the New Testament is tithing required as a means to pay the “salaries of ministerial staff”! {Nor is a “salary” encouraged, but that is for another day.}

Nowhere in the New Testament is collection of the tithe advocated as a means to help the poor!

Nowhere in the New Testament is collection of the tithe advocated as a means to help spread the Gospel!

Nowhere in the New Testament is the believer commanded to tithe, or encouraged in any way to obey or practice the Old Covenant law of the tithe!

Shocking, I know!

At least it was for me when the Lord opened my eyes to this truth! My journey started with the Lord asking me a question in response to my repeated voiced frustrations to Him.

After years of faithful “10% and above” tithing that included thousands of dollars and still not having enough many times to meet the basic needs of my family, I was frustrated.

We were in a mega church in Texas attending a New Years Eve service that night. We were so excited to be there, to be a part of “what God was doing”!

The title of the pastor’s sermon was, “First Things First!” He opened up the service by informing us since it was the beginning of a New Year he was going to focus on a basic, foundational, “first in importance truth”!

That so called “truth” turned out to be 10% tithing. We were informed once again if we wanted God’s blessing in the upcoming year we would have to be faithful in our tithing! This  man said the reason many were struggling financially was because they weren’t faithful in their tithe! “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse!” he said.  I had heard it all so many times before.

But that night, among the weak chorus of “Amen!” in the audience, I heard another Voice. That still small voice inside of me in the form of a question.

If tithing is a basic, foundational, first in importance truth for the church, why did Paul never teach on it in any of his letters to the churches?”

I couldn’t believe it!

Revelation started pouring into me as I sat there. Revelation that completely negated everything this pastor was saying!

I spent weeks, even months pouring over scriptures {or lack thereof in the New Testament} on the subject of tithing. I soon came to the realization I had been fed a lie, possibly unintentionally, but a lie nevertheless! It remains a subject I am passionate about many years later.

I found Hebrews 7 to be the only mention of the tithe in the New Covenant writer’s teachings and it was not written as a command for believers to tithe. It was written to explain the high priesthood of Jesus and the priesthood of every believer.

I found in Acts 15 where New Testament church leaders had a meeting concerning what parts of the Law the Gentile converts would be required to obey. They came up with a very short list and tithing wasn’t in the list!

I found in Acts 20 where Paul declared he had been faithful to deliver the whole counsel of God, and yet he never once mentioned the tithe as a commandment or requirement.

I also found Paul worked as a tentmaker to pay his own way and refused to be a burden to anyone, setting an example for the rest of the church to follow and to help them be able to differentiate between true and false apostles. 2 Thess. 3, and 1 Cor. 11

I found in an early church apostolic writing, called The Didache, Chapter XI, “...And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges.  If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.”

I found the three times the subject of tithing was mentioned by Jesus in the four gospels, all were examples of hypocrisy and the tither failing in his attempt to please God. I don’t believe those three accounts were accidental.

I could go on and on. Once the flood gates of revelation opened for me, the flow was tremendous!

Even though my eyes were opened and I saw the truth almost immediately, it took me quite a while to become free enough to walk in this truth.  I had been so indoctrinated with fear of “disobedience to the law of the tithe”!

I also began to share my findings and they weren’t received very well, to say the least.

There were several explanations and objections presented to me.

One such explanation I would like to address was,  “10% is a starting point for our giving. The New Covenant is a better Covenant, so 10% is the least we should give”.

That sounds good and very persuading but the problem is, after the good persuasion, we still don’t have any scripture commanding us as Christians to give or tithe 10% or better. So it is a persuasion based on the silence of scripture and therefore not valid.

What we do have scripture for is, Spirit led, purpose in your own heart, cheerful giving. And we do have scripture commanding us to help the poor, especially among the brethren.

We do have scripture stating the rich should be willing to share. {Not take more at the expense of the those that have less.}

We also have scripture warning us about perverse disputing of men with corrupt minds, who are destitute of truth, who suppose that godliness is a means to financial gain or livelihood.

From such withdraw yourself.  1Tim 6:5

 

Posted in church and the Holy Spirit, encouragement for the Body, false gospels, institutionalizing the church, kingdom principles, liberty and sacrifice | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

is tithe teaching for the church, or is it error? Part 1

I have been asked by several people to tackle this subject so here goes!

It will have to be in parts because it is too vast to cover in one post. Suffice it to say, I believe the current teaching on tithing in many churches or possibly the majority of churches, is a huge error and requires a response.

There is a world of difference between Spirit led giving, which I may address in a later post, and Law tithing.

I am specifically addressing the tithe teaching of  “mandatory, starting point at 10 percent, if you want God to bless you and not be under a curse”. {Or any teaching close to it}.

The deception is in the teaching, not necessarily the teacher, although I believe those who would desire truth will be led into all truth, including this truth.

The resistance to open discussion among church people about the possible problem of tithe teaching says volumes about the dismal lack of love for truth in comparison to the love of money.

If you believe God requires New Covenant believers to tithe and you aren’t willing to consider the fact you may be wrong, this teaching is not for you.

If you are brave enough to consider the possibility you may have been “tithing” money for years in a manner that is not scriptural and therefore not pleasing to God , keep reading.

If you have secretly resented the fact that the pastoral staff in your church or ministry live very comfortable lives from the mandatory tithes you “contribute” while you struggle with a car that won’t start, your family wears clothes from the local thrift store and you have out dated bread on your table while working two jobs, its probably not because you’re “under a curse”.

More likely it’s a result of “my people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge”.

Let me be clear, I thank God for balky cars, thrift store clothes and stale bread. It is provision when you have nothing else!

When I tithed it was always for the “advancement of the gospel” of course, but there was a lot of my tithe that found it’s way into funding other people’s extravagant lifestyles! I could definitely see that!

That”s where I was in life when one day when I opened my Bible to Malachi chapter 3 and said, “Ok Lord, this isn’t working! I’ve been tithing faithfully for years and I have a lot of empty space to put those blessings you said you would pour out and that I wouldn’t be able to contain! Something is wrong here and I want to know what it is!” I was serious and meant every word.

How much truth might God be able to show us if we would just admit what we are doing isn’t working for us? If we weren’t afraid to ask Him honest questions when things don’t make sense. If we didn’t have such a need to be spoon fed and be so prone to follow man!

If you are dependent on the teaching of the 10% tithe for your salary and all the wonderful perks that go with it, you are probably going to have a difficult time with this article.

If the teaching of the mandatory tithe is what keeps the lights on in your wonderful new state of the art sanctuary, you are probably not going to like this post but I challenge you to seek God and keep reading.

To get started, it will help to break the Bible down into three parts for the purpose of this study. Very loosely, the three parts are:

  1. Before the Law of Moses = the book of Genesis and up to Exodus 20.

  2. During the Law of Moses = started in Exodus 20 [Ten Commandments] and ended on the cross.

  3. The Church Age = started in Acts and ongoing today.

So let’s begin with 1. Before the Law of Moses. There are only two times “tithe or tithing” is mentioned in this time period. Genesis 14 and Genesis 28. Let’s look at Genesis 14 first. The account of “Abraham’s tithe”.

Ah ha! you say, Abraham tithed to the Lord. No, he didn’t.

The truth is, there is no scriptural record or hint of Abraham ever tithing one thin dime from his own pocket! Or shekel, or whatever they used in those days.

The stuff Abraham tithed was heathen spoils of war from Sodom and Gomorrah. God never commanded Abraham to tithe from his own stuff or his own “increase”. As a matter of fact, God never commanded Abraham to tithe, period!

There is however, ample historical evidence there were customs in middle eastern countries that demanded such tithes from spoils of war. Abraham was most likely observing such a custom. It was a well known pagan practice of the area, including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia and Canaan.

There is no record of Abraham tithing anything to anyone ever again in his very long life, nor any record that God ever even once spoke to Abraham about tithing.

The only other mention of tithing before the Law of Moses was when Jacob made a vow in Genesis 28. Basically he said, “God, if you will bless me, and after you have blessed me, then I will tithe.”

I’ve never heard anyone preach from those scriptures to support tithing! I suspect you haven’t either! They would definitely not fit.

Again, no scripture record of Jacob being commanded by the Lord to tithe and no mention of who Jacob would have tithed to. Remember, there were no priests and no temple yet in Jacobs time. The Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments  were still centuries away!

I find it interesting that God Himself never refers to either of these two tithing incidents as a basis of support for His commands to tithe during the Law of Moses. When Moses gave the Law, he never referred to Abraham’s tithe or Jacob’s vow as a basis for tithing.

Yet Abraham’s tithe is quoted repeatedly as one of the very foundation stones for this teaching today. If you question it, you are labelled as robber of God and greedy with your money.

Most who teach the tithe as mandatory will declare, “The tithe did not start with the Law of Moses and therefore did not end with the Law of Moses!”  Well, I beg to differ. According to scripture, it did just that!

There was no command from God to tithe before the Law of Moses and no command from God to tithe after the Law of Moses. Only during the Law of Moses.

Posted in encouragement for the Body, institutionalizing the church, kingdom principles, liberty and sacrifice | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

cheap grace versus costly grace, which one is the gospel?

I seem to have generated some questions with my previous posts concerning true and false grace, so I have decided to keep at it, trying to explain what I believe is scriptural truth on the subject.

In centuries past, Christians have been identified by their behavior. Historians testify to the fact that Christians have always been known to behave differently then the rest of society.

I dare say all the letters of the New Testament have at least one section, some quite lengthy, that deal with instructions on behavior that is appropriate for Christians. However, in today’s gospel any such instruction is hailed as religious works! Resisting walls go up and doors close.

In times of great revivals of the past, the behaviour of entire nations was effected. The move of the Spirit of God in peoples hearts spared nations from revolutions and wars. Local court systems had no cases to try because of a lack of crime and neighborhood bars closed because of a lack of business.

So what is wrong with the gospel of today that it doesn’t produce the same results as the gospel of the past? A Christian faith that does not change the behavior of it’s “converts” is a Christian faith that is very different from the way God’s Spirit has effected people in the past.

I believe “cheap grace” is the problem.

Now, cheap grace is not a new problem. It is an old problem called antinomian-ism.

You see, today the majority of Christians believe God has changed His mind. While He once required obedience to His laws, he now only requires belief in the fact that Jesus died, as the means for eternal life.

Let me give you an example of the gospel that most people hear today.

God once decided that only those who obeyed the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses would get into heaven. But God knew that people sin daily and couldn’t obey Him as He required.

So He came up with a new plan and changed the conditions for entry into heaven with Him. He punished His own son Jesus, instead of us, for our sins!

Now any of us who believe that fact with all sincerity, can enter heaven. We are taught, the belief of that fact is what makes us Christians! 

Personal obedience, godly character and scriptural holiness are considered good things but not required.

So, the majority of people who hear and believe this gospel have a relief of any future retribution or consequences for their sin. They are also relieved of any fear of God in their lives and all of society suffers because of it. This describes the suffering of America today.

The idea is that, God is not concerned about my behavior and whether I sin or not. The only thing He requires is that I believe the fact that Jesus died for me, to take the punishment for my sins.

And it really is irrelevant how successful I am at obedience as long as I do my best to overcome those nasty things that have an uncanny ability to manifest repeatedly in my life. Those things are just “personality traits” or “personal weaknesses”.

So we have this creature, quite acceptable in today’s church, called the “sinning Christian”!

Meet “Mr. Smith”, who is just such a creature.

Mr Smith attends church regularly and has been baptised with a profession of faith. To give him credit, he does feel he needs to avoid sinning if he can.

However, Mr. Smith has had a bad day at work, his boss is unappreciative and mean and Mr. Smith comes home in a bad mood. He snaps at his wife and kicks the dog and grabs a drink. He heads for the den and views some questionable on-line sites to de-stress and calls the kids offensive names when they get too loud, interrupting his down time.

The next day Mr. Smith has some conscience pangs so he quickly prays, “God, I’m sorry”. He tells himself he is a Christian and the death of Jesus has him covered. He reminds himself he is under grace and all his sin was paid for two thousand years ago.

Now meet “Mr. Jones”. He, on the other hand, is not a Christian. He had the same kind of day at his office that Mr. Smith had and also comes home in a foul mood. He also abuses his wife and children and enjoys some well deserved down time visiting on-line porn sites.

Mr. Jones sends flowers to his wife the next day because he knows she is upset by his behavior. He also secretly feels he should cover all his bases in case there is a “man upstairs” he will have to answer to some day.

Mr. Smith is a “Christian” and on his way to heaven because he “accepted Jesus” and “believes” Jesus died to take the punishment for his sin. Mr. Jones does not make such a profession.

There is little to no difference in the two men’s re-occurring episodes of behavior!

There are many such examples that could be made.

Granted, there are some more “mature Christians” among us. Those who manage to smile when a rival snags a coveted position in the church. Those who watch from behind the drapes when the neighborhood beauty queen jogs by the house each evening. Those who are glad they are alone in the car when they get cut off at the light.

Now, this may not describe you! But whether you want to admit it or not, this does describe a large part of American “Christianity” today! The reason for that is a cheap grace gospel!

I recently watched a short on-line clip of just such a grace preacher being introduced on a mega church stage in Texas. It was mind boggling! The introduction was gushing with praise and adoration for the man! Adoration that included standing ovations and long bouts of cheering that drowned out his “preaching” as he marched back and forth with all the stage presence of a rock star!

He has celebrity status! He was hardly allowed to exit the stage as he waved to everyone and shouted “God’s provision is coming your way! It is finished!!” to the thundering applause of thousands of people.

I tried to imagine the apostles Paul on that stage receiving all those accolades and I could not. All I could see was Paul alone in a prison cell, writing by a dim light.

“Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.

A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear.” 2 Tim 4:2-3

So what is the gospel of grace? The answer is in the difference between two little words.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matt 1:21″. Not in their sins!

God does not change His mind. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has always wanted a people who look like Him and live in obedience to His will. He will have no less.

He did not create an Old Covenant of law and obedience and two thousand years later create a New Covenant of indulgence to sin. He still hates sin and punishes disobedience.

He did not change His mind and come up with a plan so a people that look nothing like Him, can be in heaven with Him. He will not be spending eternity with people who look and act like the devil, no matter what they “believe”.

Instead He came up with a plan in which the old man which is expressed through sin and self can be destroyed in the death of Jesus. A plan in which the resurrected newness of the life of Jesus can be experienced in us day by day. A plan in which we are changed so that we are able to obey His will!

The evidence that we are crucified with Him and living in Him is the ability to be like Him!

Instead of Jesus’ death being a one time event that we give a kind of mental assent to, so that we can go to heaven, it is an operating power that is at work in us. It’s purpose is to destroy sin in us, thus saving us from our sins!

This is the wonderful provision of God for all true Christians. As we submit to the working of the Holy Spirit, He will work this out in us. As we submit to the will of God daily, whatever the cost or inconvenience, the miraculous destruction of sin and self will be made real in us and we will be changed from glory to glory in newness of life!

But this is not cheap grace, it is very costly. It was costly for Jesus and it will also be costly for you.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

for he who has died is freed from sin”. Rom. 6: 5-7

In no sense that Jesus died instead of us, but in every sense that we died with Him. Let me assure you, the death of Jesus was very real and your “death” will be as well. If you “believe” you died with Him but do not experience the destruction of sin in your own life, I urge you to reassess your position.

If you “believe you are righteous” but you do not experience freedom from the desires of sin,  I urge you to re-evaluate your beliefs.

Christianity is not a concept to be believed, it is a reality to be lived!

This grace at work will continue to expose anything in us that is not like God. It will start with actions and appetites and all behavior that is not like God. But it will also delve deeper to feelings, urgings and desires you may never act on and then even deeper still, to motives and intents you don’t even know are there. There is a wonderful provision available for death to it all! And wonderful provision available for freedom and newness of life!

This is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, it is not our work!  However, this work of grace will require our participation and cooperation!

We will have to put off the old man and put on the new man. Eph 4: 20-24

We will have to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Rom. 12:1

We will have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Matt 16:24

We will have to cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. 2 Cor. 7:1

This nation does not need any more preaching on cheap grace. What this nation needs is a demonstration of scriptural holiness throughout the length and breadth of the the land!

An accurate representation of the gospel of grace.

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{Guest Post} living beyond a salvation experience

{I’m pleased to have Tracey Earley of M.U.D.D. Ministries from southern Indiana, guest post here today. You will always find her in the back row because she loves the quiet and obscure place where she can go unnoticed. But I can say, the “back row” does not describe her passion for Jesus, the Word, the Spirit, the Bride or the Kingdom. This is where she will move to the front and violently take hold of the Kingdom, proclaiming it’s coming and its’ King. This is where she will shout from the rooftop what is spoken in the midnight…a Bridegroom is coming; be ready. She longs to be prepared and prepare others and to see the Spirit and the Bride cry “come”; a Body of one under One. She will write her heart here- ’though it may be unsettling to give herself away, to put herself in the way of ridicule; but we know this: death always leads to Life.}

May God forgive us…for what we know not we do.

If there is one thing lacking in the pulpits of the mainstream church today, it is the message of Salvation; a true, unrestrained and unadulterated message of Salvation.

Oh it is true, Salvation is preached, but it is inadequate.  It leaves us in some sort of fog of unrealistic expectations tethering us to a leash of religion. It is full of false security, leaving us wide open for compromise and offense. We are left as the foolish virgins with no oil for our lamps and we will find ourselves “with the door shut”.

Jesus made that quite clear.

The Body is suffering and we live comfortably in such oblivion.

I most certainly don’t want that blood on my hands.

How little courage it takes to preach a “come to Jesus” message. “Come and ask Jesus into your heart and pray the ‘sinners ‘prayer.” Ask for forgiveness and be baptized so that your sins may be forgiven.

How little courage it takes to live the lifestyle taught in many pulpits across America today:

Read your Bible and do Devotions

Pray

Tithe

Get involved in the Church

Witness to others

Where is the eternal value of religion?

Where is the boldness; the daring audacity to be fearless in the pulpit?

Where are the forerunner’s of Jesus speaking the Truth no matter the cost?

Are we so pious to believe that we, “the chosen”, the ones with a confession of faith, may be released from God’s wrath if we don’t hold to the narrow way? That His mercy is unending? That His silence interprets tolerance.

 “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men will be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day”. Isaiah 2: 17

In that day, Man shall run into holes and into caves of the earth for fear of the Lord when He arises to shake terribly the earth, they shall cast their idols of silver and gold, which each one made for himself.

When the Lord arises to shake terribly the earth…

“Stop trusting in man who has but a breath, on what account is he”? Isaiah 2:22

Today, we have a six -step plan for eternity:

  1. Confess your sin
  2. Repent
  3. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
  4. “Repeat after me”- the sinner’s prayer
  5. Water baptism
  6. Find a good church

 I must say your confession of faith is simply not your ticket to heaven. Neither are your repentance, sinner’s prayer, water baptism and most certainly not church.

“But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-23 IF you continue in your faith established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” Colossians 1:22

“For Christ died that all would be saved and might receive the gift of Salvation. BUT He wants all men to come to a knowledge of the Truth..” 1 Timothy 2:4

We receive this Salvation through a continuance of living this life in the body through and with the Holy Spirit. They go hand in hand.

We are told in Philippians 2:12, to continue to work out our Salvation with fear and trembling. If our confession of faith is simply enough, why would there be anything left for us to “work out”, and why “with fear and trembling”? Is there a chance we could lose it?

The cross, His death, was a price paid for forgiveness of sin, that we might have eternal life.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

There is simply more to the plan of Salvation than simply “receiving Jesus into your heart”. We must carry our cross and walk the narrow way. We must prepare as the wise virgins. We must be baptized in water for repentance and baptized by the Spirit for entrance into the Kingdom.  Jesus made that quite clear to Nicodemus.

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”.

Jesus is telling Nicodemus that unless he is born of water, he will be unable to ascertain what to do about the Kingdom. He won’t be able to perceive or understand who Jesus is, or what he is about. That is the Greek terminology.

I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit”.

Jesus is saying literally, you will be unable to “come into life”.

Today we believe our confession and menial prayer and devotion time actually mean something for eternity. That somehow it is a crown we may cast at His feet. Here Jesus spells it out. We must be born of water and of the Spirit so we may be able to come into a knowledge of who He is and then come into life eternal.

There is one that stands among you that you do not know- John 1:26, 27. These are words that need to ring from our pulpits today…so that we may not hear them “on that day”; away from me you evildoers, I never knew you.

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