Vladimir Mazur

Владимир Мазур

 

About the Tithe

15.06.2015
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In recent years, the preaching of the tithe has entered many churches and denominations, especially new religious associations, in connection with the "activities” of foreign ministers and theologians.Although the idea of tithing has been present in Christian churches throughout the history of Christianity.What kind of phenomenon is the desire of Christian leaders to preach the tithe to their congregation? This is a dangerous delusion with deep roots leading Christian churches to grave consequences.This is a serious temptation which can be called "temptation of Galatia” whose essence is the circumcision by the law.However, we firmly declare that in the true Christian church there should be no place for preaching about tithing. We can prove it quite sufficiently using the doctrine of the New Testament. Any person becoming firmly established in Jesus Christ is called to perceive the essence of this temptation.

 

First of all, let us say that the word "tithe" can be found in the Bible in the description of Abraham's life. Abraham met Melchizedek and "gave him a tithe of all.” James promised the tithe to God when he struggled with God and received blessings from Him: "...and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” But these two places in the Scripture clearly show that the gifts from Abraham and Jacob were not compulsory, but freewill gifts, i.e., they came from man's free will. Nobody compelled these gifts from them. Moreover, these gifts are not even called directly the tithe, but only a giving of "a tenth." This is a very important aspect in the doctrine about giving.

Therefore, it must be said that the concept of "tithing" is inseparable from the concept of "the law".So it is to this day. The reason for this attitude toward tithing is undoubtedly the law of Moses and the whole history of the Old Testament Israel, for which all God's commandments were associated with the word "forever and ever" and were sealed with the punitive function of the law: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." These requirements of God surely released a man who was under the law from arbitrary or voluntary attitude toward tithing.А man under the law was obliged to bring a tenth of all his revenues into the temple as obligatory offerings.

The law commanded: "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord." And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord." The word "shall" leaves no doubt about the forced nature of the gifts which were brought. The word "holy to the Lord" led the Jews to the fear of the Lord unless the tithe was not brought. All this kept an orthodox Jew in a lifelong need for counting of all his income and brining the tenth part of them into the temple. This single thing positively distinguishes offerings of Abraham and Jacob from the tithes of their descendants.

But besides the tithe, the Jews of the Old Testament were suggested to bring "offerings" to the temple according to their own choice or in their zeal, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering." Most often, these offerings were brought to build the tabernacle or temple. These offerings were often made as a peace offering before the Lord, as a sweet aroma. In any case these offerings were freewill, very different from compulsory tithes. Although it was necessary to observe good intentions towards the offering: "That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth."

So it is important for us to understand the difference between tithes and voluntary offerings. The tithe is a compulsory offering, it does not imply free attitude to it, but a freewill offering was up to a free will of a man. Sin offerings were called 'sacrifices' and although they were voluntary, the orthodox Jews could not but bring such offerings.

According to this single fact it becomes quite clear that there are no grounds for the word "tithe" in Christian churches if these churches are not under law but under grace. The very word "tithe" of all believer’srevenues shows the strictest confession of the law. The word "tithe" personifies the word "law". And if anyone of the believers does not bring the tithe as holy things which are supposed to be spend on God’s work and brings as much as he thinks is possible for him, then it is no longer tithing but freewill offering. On what grounds do the ministers preach tithing? It is the result of the ignorance of ministers or their selfish purposes.

The remarkable thing is: Those ministers of Christianity who preach tithing base solely on the words of the Old Testament, as the word "tithe" is absent in the New Testament as such. On the contrary, there is a "freewill offering” in the New Testament “as one purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity… not as a grudging obligation." However, it does not confuse those who are "jealous" for tithing. The tithe preachers know intuitively that if they do not keep saying the word "tithe", and keep preaching the word "freewill offering", the donations from the people will be greatly reduced. Then they contrive to put in the word "tithe" into their preaching under all sorts of plausible pretexts making the people to donate as in duty bound, circumcising the people by law, placing them under the "grudging obligation". It just proves the selfish interests to the tithe of such ministers.

The very fact that these ministers who rely on the words of the Old Testament only, while preaching the tithe, demonstrates that they don’t know the mystery that distinguishes the two Testaments. Apparently, there is no border in their minds which would lie between the Old and New Testaments, while it is impossible to disregard these words: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant... For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people... In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."

Therefore there is no place for the law of Moses in the New Testament and consequently for the commandments of the law. The Apostle Paul strongly rebuked Galatia Church for their return to the law of Moses: "Yet the law is not of faith... And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law... Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace... For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump."

Now therefore, we are witnesses of the fact that the preaching of tithing, which is the personification of the law, invades the church again under various plausible pretexts. But "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." Once Christians incline to the tithe, the burdens of the letter of the law come as result, there surely takes place weakening of Christ, and the falling from grace among the people of God.

We would have to draw special attention of proponents of tithing to the following words of Paul, "And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law." And something more, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." That is, preaching the tithe, we should preach all the commandments of the law and, correspondingly, achieve the righteousness which is according to law and live according to the law and not by grace, because, "if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.”Therefore, those Christians who are inclined to keep the tithe, think rather unscrupulously about the definitions of God, mixing concepts, not analyzing entities, not understanding either times or seasons, not distinguishing between the Old and New Testaments. In other words, he who inclines to keep the tithe does not know Christ.

Christ says: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Christians rely most often on this place of the Scripture to justify the need to return to the commandment of tithing. However, Christ's words mean the truth of the inner essence of the law, but not of its letter, because in any case, "the letter kills." Christ spoke about the saving essence of the law which He revealed by His coming. As it is known, the Old Testament Israel has lost the opportunity to be saved by keeping the law of Moses.Paul speaks very strongly and in various ways about it in his epistles: "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit," i.e. "not according to the law but according to the faith." So, keeping all the commandments of the law has saving power no longer neither for modern Jews nor for the Christians all the more. As the law of Moses lost its saving mission and fell to the ground because of the coming of Christ, so, surely, the commandment of the law is powerless. Paul firmly declares that the law is not against the promises of God, but it is powerless to bring a man to them, "Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law."There is no salvation through the keeping of the law, asserts Paul, there is no law or commandment of the law which may give life. And again, "...knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." And if one does not need to reach the justification or righteousness through the keeping of the law, why then should one keep some of its commandments? Moreover, the study of God's word reveals the secret that God favored only faith and justification by it from Abraham. It is written, "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness." But the law was given through Moses. "What purpose then does the law serve?" - asks Paul in the epistle to Galatians. "It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come", i.e. Jesus Christ. "But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." It's so obvious to the spiritual man in Christ that it doesn't even occur to him to think, "Should I keep the commandments of the law of Moses?" If it is necessary, we should keep the whole law. And what should we think then of the word, "We are not under law but under grace" and "the law is not of faith?"

Christ is "the One greater than the temple" and, therefore, than all its ordinances. "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." We should read in a deep sense of the word that all the statutes of Moses' law were annulled by Christ. (Paul): "For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." Why do Christians return again to that which is weak and unprofitable? Why should we reject a better hope of drawing near to God? According to the law of Moses, salvation was supposed in due time, i.e. the attainment of the saving nature of the Holiest, which the Old Testament Jews could not accept.Therefore, Christ opens a perfect new way to salvation in the New Testament in this connection, "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh... In that He says, “A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."

Therefore, only those Christians who have not perceived this "new and living" way of salvation, only they are tempted to return to the obsolete way which has already been abolished by God Himself. Paul speaks about this issue this way: "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ... I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."How can anyone oppose the doctrine of the New Testament and become a transgressor against God?

And again. Only those can talk about the need to keep the law or commandments of Moses' law who did not lift the finger as to begin observing the commandments of the law. If those who preach the commandments of the law or the commandment of tithing would really be jealous of the law, then they would know what the apostle Paul writes in Romans Chapter 7. Namely: "...the law arouses sinful passions... sin is not known except through the law... for apart from the law sin was dead...sin revived when the commandment came (including the commandment of tithing)... and I died... the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death... because the law brings about wrath..." So, "the commandment brings death" for those who begin to observe the law; but it is immediately relevant to those who keep the tithe. The only way out of these regularities is in the following, "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage", Paul teaches us.

Therefore, whoever and however thinks of the commandment of the law, he may find only one thing: The law and every its commandment is "the handwriting of requirements against us." But Christ frees us from any dependence of the law, "Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Christ "has abolished the law of commandments by the doctrine" of the New Testament. Therefore, we can firmly say that today those who entice Christians into keeping the commandments of tithing with all perseverance and without a doubt are false brethren and heretics. Since profound and constant preaching about tithing willingly or unwillingly brings Christ down to nothing and returns to the righteousness coming through the law. It is written in chapter 15, Acts: "But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.. But an exhaustive rebuff was given to all the "false brethren" by the meeting of the apostles, as Peter said: "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" The apostles also testified about such thing in all the churches: "...We have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law"; to whom we gave no such commandment."

These apologies for ministers of Christianity shouldn't "confuse" unscrupulously people with their sermons, and frighten people with the words of the prophet Malachi: "Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," Says the Lord of hosts. "But you said, 'In what way shall we return?' "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”We do repeat that again that the Apostles did not entrust this task to such religious leaders.So we shall advise such apologies for ministers to be principled. If they really use the word of Malachi about the "tithes and offerings" and the word "robbed", they should utter the word "cursed with a curse" as well. But no, the first words are told, and the latter ones are hushed up. It proves only that these ministers do not understand what they say. We say only that the word of Malachi does not relate to Christians at all, because it speaks of "tithes and freewill offerings," according to the law of Moses, to which Christians do not relate. Every cursing punishment of the law, saying "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them," does not relate to Christians, because Jesus Christ has borne the curse, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree." Now they who believe in Christ"are not under the curse but under the blessing" because "those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham." But it seems that the tithe preachers do not understand the meaning of the highest words of Jesus Christ,"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require." The very meaning is that God did not require tithes and freewill offerings of the Old Testament because of their impotence and futility. So, God determines the New Testament through Christ which is confirmed by His blood. (Paul): "Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second.” "Sacrifice", i.e. compulsory tithing "or voluntary offering" which are offered by the law, "You did not desire..." How can proponents of tithing transfer automatically and without argument the statutes and the concept of the Old Testament to the New Testament? So we declare that a powerful catching of churches by "the Judaizing heresy" and "Galatians temptation" become effective in a simple and unassuming preaching about tithing , which is nothing more than a return to the circumcision by the law. I must say that in many churches many ministers suffering from this temptation have confused the concepts of the Old and the New Testaments so that they do not differ the law of Moses from the law of Christ. For example, they say, "Faith is faith, but we are not allowed to destroy the commandments of the law as well." Meanwhile, they mean a commandment of the Sabbath or commandment of the tithe. That is, the essence of the law of the New Testament is reduced to the essence of the Decalogue of Moses. The law of the New Testament, "the Perfect Law of Liberty", i.e. the law of Christ becomes insufficient for the life and belief of Christians. However, as soon as the word "law" sounds, the law of Moses is meant which is even named, "God's principles of public life." (Gospel - "The way to new life", p. 296)

We know that Christians are called to keep the commandments, as Christ says: "If you love Me, keep My commandments."But what commandments are meant, of what law? Christ is the Lawgiver from God like Moses, as the Apostle James says: "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy", i.e. the word of God which is Christ. Therefore, we should understand the commandment of the law as the aggregate God's will expressed by Christ. Paul says that "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds." While the law of Moses was taught "by the hand of the Angel," as it is said in the epistle to the Galatians.

So do Christians really turn away "from Him who speaks from heaven" and return to the verbs of Angel? Therefore, all the wealth of "the Perfect Law of Liberty", i.e. the law of Christ, in which there is not a word on tithing, is directed to those who among Christians is seeking to keep the commandments of the law.

Why was it necessary for ministers of Christianity to preach about tithing? We answer this question very simply: To live on the alms of the people. But what is the will of God on this issue?

In the Old Testament, as we know, the priesthood in the Old Testament Israel was elected according to the will of God in the following way. There was originally a commandment: "All males that open the womb shall be the firstborn of the Lord." That is, all the first fruits of the land and cattle had to be necessarily sacrificed in the temple as a burnt offering, a sweet aroma to the Lord. The first-born of a woman had to be redeemed. And these very male babes were planned by the Lord as the first-born of God, as a priest caste. Later it was abolished and the tribe of Levi was appointed as the first-born. There were the commandments of the priesthood by which every one of the tribe was supposed to have no inheritance on the land, to have neither land nor livestock, but only the tabernacle, the temple, and to have ministering in them. Accordingly, the life support of the priests, ministers, and all the Levites in the temple was exercised at the expense of the donations of all the people. Therefore, the tithes of the people were addressed exactly according to its intended use: "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs. The best of all first fruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priest's; also you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house.” It is not so in the New Testament.

There is no commandment in the Gospel, which would call for separation of the priests or ministers from the people. Moreover, it is said, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood." Therefore, there is no commandment that ministers would live on the compulsory contribution of the people and would not work with their own hands. Christ's commandment, "A worker is worthy of his food," does not suppose compulsory use of the people's tithes and offerings by the ministers. However, in Christianity there is a historically established experience of separation between the people and the ministers.The last ones are granted the rights to use church funds for their living. Such funds of the church are formed due to the tithe, or paid services, which the ministers render to the people. In all fundamental denominations of Christianity there is a right for assigned ministers to use church funds as wages, as it was defined for the tribe of Levi in the Old Testament, which had a right to live on the tithes from the people according to the law. But we declare that the right to use church funds as salary or pension for ministering is a serious and mysterious form of temptation for all administrative ministers of Christianity. Any such legal allowance from the church is also the devil’s sharp hook, on which thousands of ministers of Christianity are hopelessly caught.

Today such a situation has emerged. Thousands of Christian leaders enjoy the flow of material wealth from abroad: salaries for the heads of missions and teachers of the Bible schools, scholarships for students in these schools, "humanitarian aid", payment of bills and business trips, the emergence of charitable funds for building of the houses of fellowship and for other needs of the church, rendering cars and equipment, etc. All these come from, supposedly, donations of God's people from foreign churches, i.e., from tithing. Ministers of the church receive funds from certain benefactors and donors who donate huge amounts of money at certain times, ostensibly for the work of God. As a rule, it is always done by the sponsors supposedly believing in God, or by some powerful religious organizations that are sponsors for many churches. The church ministers interpret this as a blessing from the Lord, and gravitate towards those high and mighties. Such ministers do not notice a certain regularity that at a definite time the church is persecuted, and at other time it is corrupted.

Therefore, historical Christianity is quite rich and the only reason is the allocation of funds for the church by the authorities of this world. It has been so with the Orthodox-Catholic Church since the days of Constantine and Charles the Great. It is so up to this day. This is a mortal danger for the God's church of the last time. "He who pays the piper calls the tune", i.e. he implants his own image of standing before God, embroiling passive churches into the orbit of anti-Christian life and false goals. This day a lot of Christian ministers are pulled into endless tours and trips, symposiums, assemblies and representations, pointlessly moving from country to country. All spiritual centers are covered by the visibility of creativity but in reality they abide in "vanity of vanities." The biggest and various "Assemblies of God" in many countries get all other confessions involved in the sphere of their own confessions. All religions are involved in a pompous "biblization", generating mass carnal Christianity, like Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The eyes of thousands of Christian leaders are directed toward the spiritual centers and spiritual missions waiting for charity. But being caught by this "charity", God's people and ministers of Christianity are deprived of the main thing - independence and initiative in selection of true spiritual purposes and direction of the way. So we say that just as foreign Christianity is degraded to lumpens due to the authority of dollar, Russian Christianity is also degraded to lumpens due to the foreign Christianity.

But we know that the Church of Jesus Christ has always been poor and persecuted. That is why God's people in Christ Jesus will not have "humanitarian aids" and rich sponsors, they will not have the protective missions and paid positions of the priests in the church. Up to this day earning the livelihood for the people in the church and their ministers, working in the word of God, is one of the hardest questions. The forces of hell counteract purposely and constantly every intentions of God's people coming out of Babylonian captivity and trying to solve this problem. As satan said to Christ in the wilderness, so he says to all of Christ’s, "All this authority I will give You, if You will worship before me." Since the chosen people do not do it, then all the powers of hell attack them in order that these people "may not buy or sell." The Churches of Jesus Christ and their ministers stay precisely in this regularity and not in the flow of materiel means from abroad.

However, what is the solution of the material and economic problems of the church? After all, we are well aware that God's people cannot successfully build the church and preach the gospel without solving this problem, because it is even impossible to imagine that there may be some successful striving for the work of God without means for livelihood. God promised not in vain "milk and honey" to Israel in the land of promise when He was leading them out of Egypt, and He also rained down manna on them to eat in the desert. Israel "robbed" not in vain the Egyptians in the time of Exodus and those funds were used for the building of the tabernacle. As well as David enriched the kingdom in his wars for the building of the temple. Thus we conclude: the materiel and economic support of God's people is a spiritual ministering as priests. What do we mean? Christ said to His disciples, "...a worker is worthy of his food", and we can conclude from these words that in the New Testament God provided an opportunity for those who preach the gospel to live from the gospel.And to this day the ministers jealously use church funds for their needs. But let us focus our attention on the words of Christ, because He said the following words in one phrase, "...go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs. Now whatever city or town you enter, eat what they suggest to you, for a worker is worthy of his food. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"

But strangely, the upholders of tithing have only chosen the words about "being worthy of food" for their preaching from the bulk of these words of Christ, and they do not pay their attention to the "casting out of demons, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers." They do not take the commandment to, "provide neither gold nor silver in the money belts, nor two tunics", no one "shakes off the dust from their feet." And if they do not do this, then they are probably not "worthy of food" because they do nothing. So we must also consider carefully to whom to apply the same words about "being worthy of food", and to whom not, who is a worker in truth and who is "not working at all, but is a busybody".

That is why in the truth of the New Testament while there is a permission to live from the gospel, there is a prohibition to use church funds as salaries for the church administration. So Paul says, "We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat." And he proved this by his own life, ministering and working with his own hands.

Well, we continue to talk about material and economic support of the church, saying that the material and economic support of God's people is a spiritual ministering as priests. What do we mean? In His time on the earth Christ supported His disciples by His power and holiness so that they had no need, i.e. He solved this problem. "And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." But leaving them, Christ said, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." Therefore, these words sound for the people of God from the days of the early apostolic church up to this day, "Now take a money bag and a sword." Therefore, God's people and their ministers need to pray a lot to God and to work thoroughly with their own hands both for the means of livelihood and for the gospel preaching. It is necessary to fulfill the commandment of Christ and to "take a money bag and a sword", i.e. "the sword of warfare" against the forces of hell for material and economic support and "the bag of wise saving" of their own and church funds. But it obliges all of God's people to think over well and to work hard before they take any kind of money from anywhere and from anyone for their living and for the gospel preaching.

Paul says, "But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing." This applies equally to all people and ministers, and it is just what Paul says about later: "But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread." How then it is important -"to eat one's own bread."

So the church of God is called by Jesus Christ to resolve this material and economic issue. Therefore, God's church of the last time has nobody to rely on, except for Jesus Christ Himself and His blessing directly inside the church. Every local church should survive inside itself; it must find a way to the necessary material and economic support inside itself through Jesus Christ. Let it be some church factory or some sole proprietorship or some agricultural activity. But the church should become a "city on a hill" in order to turn into a fortress "on a hill" with complete and self-contained life support when the gates of hell are uprising. So the "bag" of prudent savings and the “sword" of confrontation in defense of these savings are destined for the people of God in the course of the material and economic survival in this world.

If the church is able to obtain "manna from heaven" by prayer to God, let it use it. If God's people have lands and possessions which they could be able to sell and lay the proceeds of the sold things at the ministers' feet, let them sell and distribute the money as anyone has need. If the people are provided enough and can give from their income to support those who are over them and the poor in the church, then let it be so. However, if it is not so, then do not delude yourself and do not be a busybody, but work with your own hands and provide for your family, so that you may have something to give to the needy. God's people are destined, consciously and creatively, to take themselves off the material and economic "hook", on which the satan has hung the historic church and keeps attracting it to him with all perseverance. It must get "all things that pertain to, life and godliness from its God, and lack nothing." It must become strong in the fight for not worshiping the gates of hell. But this cannot be achieved without freedom from the devil's "assistance" to material and economic needs of the church. This is impossible without a successful solution of its material and economic problems through faith in Christ Jesus. That is why we say that the solution of the material and economic problem of the church is a spiritual ministering as priests.

If you strive to be accurate in the preaching of the New Testament about the freewill offering of your funds for the work of God, you must follow the words of Paul in chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians. Paul writes,"For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing..." That is, the words "freely willing" absolutely exclude the concept of "tithing", i.e. the tithe has only a single meaning - mandatory, that cannot include voluntary or freely willing. It is a private matter of everybody to be freely willing "according to their ability, or beyond their ability." Next, "...imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints." Is this the order of things in the churches today? It is not so! The people not only "do not ask to receive their gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints," but the ministers continually require tithes and rebuke the people for not being zealous in tithing. Literally, not a single Sunday meeting is held without congregation being reminded about tithing, while many of the people are poor and can barely support themselves. Therefore, the infirm people suffer from condemnation in their conscience for shortage of their offerings, as the letter of the law judges them and they become weak in faith.

Next, Paul writes,"But as you abound in everything: in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us - see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment..." That is, donations of the people for God's work are a good deed in the Lord. But first, Paul speaks about "faith and speech, knowledge and love," and only then about freewill offering. This means that the ministers should first lead the people of God to the first things, and only then they can use the freewill offerings, according to the principle, "If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?" Again, it is said "...not by commandment...", but as some advice, and advice cannot mean tithing. Paul says, "And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage..."

Next, “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality..." This question is not probably investigated in many churches at all. But we can say with confidence that the ministers collecting the tithe from congregation are always "eased" and the people giving the tithe are always "burdened". It is very rarely, when it is the contrary. And there is hardly any "equality."

Next, "...now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack; that there may be equality. As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack." This word of Paul opens a very important idea which every Christian needs to understand. Freewill offerings of the people belong to all the people, it is the "ministry to the saints," and not just ministry only to the ministers, as it was in the Old Testament. Can anyone show the "abundance" of the ministers who share with the people. However, if there are such ministers who give some funds for the needs of the people, then again, these funds are exactions from other people. Ministers separated from the people, as a rule, "gather" from the people, and not from the fields to give to the people. Next.Paul calls freewill offering as "a matter of generosity," and not as "a grudging obligation":"...that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation." However, a modern "tithe" is just as "grudging obligation" and not otherwise. "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously will also reap generously." Of course, this is right because "God loves a cheerful giver ...", but this, again, has nothing to do with tithing.

So we finish the topic of tithing with the following words. We are not against doing good deeds and freewill offerings, as the truth of the New Testament encourages us to do so. We are "FOR" doing good deeds and freewill offerings. We are not against "distributing to the needs of the saints", but "FOR" all kinds of participation in such needs; we are not against virtue, but "FOR" good deeds. But we are against the distortion of the truth of the Gospel, we are against tithing. Therefore, we induce all adherents of tithing to fear God and to exclude the word "tithe" even from the vocabulary of their preaching because there is no will of God about tithing in the New Testament. We remind them a stern warning: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

As a reminder, let us say these words. Tithing in the Old Testament was a compulsory donation and freewill offerings were not compulsory. However, there was a commandment of the law also talking about the compulsory offerings. "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them... The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves." The word "shall" made the offerings "to make atonement for yourselves" compulsory. The responsibility for violation of the will of God was as a sin on the souls of the Jews of the Old Testament. But it was the only commandment of the compulsory offerings "to make atonement for yourselves." For us, the New Testament Christians, as we believe and know, Jesus Christ became this offering for the redemption of our souls. Therefore, there is no need for every Christian to be responsible for the lack of some offerings, and the lack of the offerings is not a sin. There is a need to accept the sacrifice of Christ, as a sacrifice for the redemption of each of us once for all. As it is said, "...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." He became a freewill offering for us and we are free from the responsibility for the lack of our offerings. That is why, there is no word about tithing as compulsory offering in the New Testament, and all giving can only be "freewill... not grudgingly or of necessity."

This is one more prophecy of Christ's sacrifice. There was always a compulsory golden plate of pure gold on the forehead of the high priest of the Old Testament Israel with the words, "Holiness to the Lord" for the propitiation of the Lord, in order not to decrease the Lord's goodwill in case of a lack of offerings from the people. (Exodus 28) All this is an image for the New Testament, in which there is a prophecy of the favor of God to His people through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as it is said that "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins." Accordingly, "He is the propitiation" for the lack of our offerings.

And the final note. Christians are called to a single sacrifice, to a single offering: "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." Any other donations or compulsory tithes are not commanded. We no more "owe" anything to anyone. However, there is the next commandment for us about the sacrifice: "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." So, let us not forget to do good to others and have fellowship with everyone, thus pleasing our Lord.

Amen!