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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Alms, Not Tithes?









Alms, Not Tithes.




How far we have missed a teaching that is close to God's heart.

Although tithing was never commanded or taught by any apostle to any church or saint, let us look at  what scripture says about ALMS.

1. Matthew 6:2 When therefore you do alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. verse 1)
Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

It should get our attention that Jesus called "alms" as "your righteousness"<==
2. === 6:3  But *when you do alms*, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand does:
3. === 6:4 that *your alms* may be in secret: and thy Father who sees in secret shall recompense you.
4. ===  Luke 11:41 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, all things are clean unto you.
5. ===  Luke 12:33 Sell that which you have, and *give alms*; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fail not, where no thief comes near, neither moth destroys.

6. === Acts 3:2 And a certain man that was lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
7. === Acts 3:3 who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked to receive an alms.
8. === Acts 3:10 and they took knowledge of him, that it was he that sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

9. === Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 

10. === Acts 10:2 a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.
11. === Acts 10:4  And he, fastening his eyes upon him, and being affrighted, said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and your alms are gone up for a memorial before God.
12. === Acts 10:31 and saith, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

"WHEN YOU GIVE ALMS...." and   "your righteousness..."

Jesus did not say "when you tithe..." and none of the apostles He sent did either.
ALMS defined: ccompassionate that is, (as exercised towards the poor) beneficence, or (concretely) a benefaction: - alms (-deeds).

How many teachings did we have on "alms" in 24 years in the church system, and listening to thousands of sermons, messages, and teachings?
In my experience, I vaguely recall them being mentioned once.... and that was around 25 years ago...

2Corinthians 9:5 (NKJV)
 1 For as touching the ministering *to* the saints
 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.6
But this I say, He that sows sparingly ("TO THE SAINTS") shall reap also sparingly; and he that sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
 9 as it is written, He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor (TO THE SAINTS);
    his righteousness abides forever.  note: "his righteousness"...

Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not ===>your righteousness <===before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2) When therefore thou doest alms

Do you see Jesus called alms (ministering to others needs), and Paul, "your righteousness"?
This is illustrated in 1st John 3:17               But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his compassion from him, how doth the love of God abide in him?

In contrast,  we  have no instruction for the church to “tithe” in our Covenant.
I have taught that in times past, but I cannot prove it from scripture.
The 10% benchmark is not according to New Testament for  ministering in giving. 

In fact, if we really believe Jesus, what he said in Luke 14:33 is a  key to discipleship. I believe he meant it..  "except you renounce ALL that you have, you cannot be My disciple".
"ALL"  may include our time, possessions, and even our doctrine as we give ourselves to Him and ask for His Will to be done in us. We simply give ourselves to Him and then expect Him to use us in our day.

IF we are to be His disciple.. When I realized He meant that, I saw how I had read over it without stopping to consider the weight of His Words... Luke 14:33.

"as you have done it to the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto me".
Giving to needs is an act of love that blesses the giver and the ones who benefit, and is a wonderful ministry to the Lord...


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Who is Qualified to Oversee A Church according to GOD?




Who is Qualified to Oversee A Church according to GOD?





1st Timothy 3:1 Faithful is the saying, If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

A "bishop" is defined by the scriptures as an "overseer", and is one who watches over the "called out ones".
But the modern church has perverted the term "bishop" into a titled "Bishop" position in an ecclesiastical structure unknown in scripture.
We will see the apostles never ordained solo pastors or a priest over the churches.

 The responsibility of an overseer is to watch over, protect, and feed the flock of God. 
Sad to say that today most "elders" are yes-men to a pastor and the "sheep" are meat for their table. The sheep are rarely defended but the wolves and hirelings usually are.

1  Faithful is the saying, Ifman seeks the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.
     (bishop means simply  "overseer")
2   The bishop therefore must be without reproachthe husband of one wifetemperate, sober-minded, orderlygiven to hospitalityapt to teach;
3   no brawlerno striker; but gentlenot contentiousno lover of money;
4   one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5   (but if a man does not know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6   not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7   Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1Tim. 3:1-7

There are twelve masculine nouns and pronouns in that passage. There are no feminine nouns.

In Titus 1, he wrote a second time regarding elders:
 Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that you should set in order the things needed, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you:

The qualifications for those elders that are to be the "overseers" of the churches:
6)   if any man is blameless, husband of one wife, having children that believe  not accused of riot or unruly.
7)   For the bishop must be blameless, as God`s stewardnot self-willednot soon angry, no brawler, no strikernot greedy of filthy lucre;
8)   but given to hospitality, as lover of goodsober-mindedjust, holyself-controlled;
9)   holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the opposers.

1Peter 5
1)   The elders among you I who am a fellow-elder exhort, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2)   Tend the flock  (i.e. feed the  flock) of God which is among you, exercising oversightnot of constraint, but willinglyaccording to the will of Godnor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3)   neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock.

Although this may upset a few people, the most often repeated qualification begins with the nouns "man" and "he", a total of 14 times.  11 are in 1Timothy and 3 more in Titus.  
Masculine nouns are used repeatedly in multiple verses and is the first qualification specified and is referenced 14x times.

The noun for the office itself "bishop", Greek "episkopos", is also a masculine noun. (Strongs 1985). 
So when the Scriptures speak in terms of the office of an overseer and the elders that rule, it always does so with men. Even the word "pastor" ("poimen" in Greek), is a masculine noun, and there is no such thing as a wife being "co-pastor" or "pastor" over an assembly.

Having swallowed the "red pill" of truth from the Word, let us look at the points Paul gave in 1Timothy 3.
In our 24 years of church involvement and leadership, we never heard these taught or reviewed in regard to the people who were appointed or put in places of leadership.

This is example of how the church departs from scripture as church leaders are usually those who demonstrate loyalty, financial support, natural gifts for speaking, or a willingness to support and volunteer.Pastors are hired.

We also see that among the elders that minister, no one office such as the pastor, prophet, or apostle, is given pre-eminence above the rest. Notice that no titles are mentioned for those exercising oversight of the churches in these qualifications which apply equally to all ministries and the elders. 

QUALIFICATIONS IN 1Timothy 3

1.   without reproach:  not open to censure, irreproachable. He is honest and his word and motive is good. He is not hiding any sin.  
2.   Husband of one wifeHe is a "husband" of one wife. He does not divorce and remarry another, unless the first wife committed adultery,  or she died.
3.   temperate; sober, not given to alcoholic drinks and not a food glutton.
4.   sober-minded: curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate, prudent , sensible
5    orderly:  well arranged, seemly, modest. This speaks of his life not being disorderly or out of control.  
6.   given to hospitality:  He is hospitable and generous to guests. Their home is made comfortable to others and they are made to feel welcome.
7.   able to teach: He is apt and skillful in teaching in order to benefit and spiritualy mature others in the Scriptures.
8.   not a brawler: Not ready for a blow, not a pugnacious, contentious, or quarrelsome person. "Not" means not. Contentious means argumentative. He is peaceable.
9.   no striker: He does not hit others, nor his wife, nor his children. seemingly, suitable
equitable, fair, mild, gentle
10.  gentle:  He is reasonable, listens and considers the words of others. He is equitable, fair, mild, and gentle. He is not over-powering, a bully, overbearing, stubborn, or hard.   
11. not contentiousafter "gentle" comes not contentious again.
That is posturing as not to be withstood, acting as invincible, and abstaining from fighting whether it be with WORDS or ACTIONS
.
12.  not greedy of moneyHe is free from the love of money, and not given to deals and scams.

13.  one that rules well his own houseHe manages over, superintends, presides over, provides for, and is a protector or guardian
14.  children in subjection with all gravityHis (not adult) children  are under control, obedient, in subjection, submissive.   With dignity: the characteristic of a thing or person which entitles to reverence and respect, dignity, majesty, sanctity,honour, purity.
15.  not a novice: He is not newly planted, a new convert, or neophyte (one who has recently become a Christian. -No matter how gifted they are, sincere, or giving of financial support.
16.  Lest he be puffed up. An imature overseer will try to meet his ego needs through the church. he will imagine himself to be above others, he will think those who disagree are going over his head, he will feel threatened easily.  He will see himself as being something he is not and entitled to things by reason of his position or title.
17. having a good testimony from outsidersHis bills are paid, his word is known to be good, he has a good name and reputation for honesty.

In Titus 1:
18. blameless:   He cannot be called into account, un-reproveable, un-accused, blameless. What if he sins? If he is walking in repentance and forgiveness, he is blameless.  Except from the devil.
19.  husband of one wife:  He is once married unless widowed, and did not divorce for any cause other than adultery by his ex-wife.
20.  children that believe and are not riotous:  His children believe in the Lord and are not those that cannot be subjected to control, disobedient, unruly. His children are not in rebellion.
21.  not self-willed:   He is not self-pleasing, self-willed, arrogant.
22.  not quickly angry:   He is not prone to anger, irascible, hot-headed, fiery, hot tempered. 
23.  not given to wine:   He is not a drunkard, given to wine, or drunken.
24.  no striker:   Not ready for a blow, not a pugnacious, contentious, or quarrelsome person. "Not" means not. Contentious means argumentative. He is peacable.
25.  not greedy of lucre:   He is free from the love of gain, desire for wealth and substance, eager for base gain, or greedy for money.   
26.  given to hospitality:   He is hospitable and generous to guests.
27.  a lover of good,   He is of a sound mind, sane, in one's senses,
curbing one's desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate
28. sober-minded: He is safe (sound) in mind, that is, self controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion): - discreet, sober, temperate.
29.  just: In a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God
of those who seem to themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves to be righteous, who pride themselves in their virtues, whether real or imagined
innocent, faultless, guiltless
30. holy: undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, religiously observing every moral obligation, pure holy, pious.
30.self-controlledstrong, robust, having power over, possessed of (a thing) mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining, controlling one's self, temperate. He can control his apetite.
31. holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching:  He cleaves hard to the Word, the sayings of God, not just in head knowledge, but in action. He speaks as an oracle of God.
32. able to exhort in the sound doctrine:  To refute, comfort, establish, correct, reprove, to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort

In 1Peter 5:1
"The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder",  the elders are to:
33. tend the flockto feed, to tend a flock, to rule, govern, shepherd
of rulers (overseers)
to furnish pasture for food
to nourish
to cherish one's body, to serve the body
to supply the requisites for the soul's need
34. exercising the oversight:
to look upon, inspect, oversee, look after, take care of the church which rested upon the elders, to look carefully after, beware in regard to protect 
35. not by constraintnot to shepherd and tend by using compulsion or force of title or position. (carnal authority)
36. willinglyof one's own accord, voluntarily. -not as a hireling, but as a volunteer.
37. according to the will of GodAs a man sent from God, according to and from the Will of God, not by men or a Bible College Certificate.
38. nor yet for filthy lucreTo do so NOT for gain, i.e. money. How plain that is. No tithes or salary
39. of a ready mind. eagerness, willingly. Ready to help, work, and of the faith, fully persuaded.
40. neither as lording itNot as to lord against, that is, control,subjugate: - exercise dominion over (lordship), be lord over, overcome.
41. ensamples to the flock an example to be imitated, of men worthy of imitation.

Can you imagine the typical church reading these scriptures from the pulpit?
Deacons were not the titled, name tagged folks with offering plates in the original church.
They were more typically the hosts of the people who met in their homes and they were servants to the church. 
Do you want to see a deacon's role model?  You have the church selecting seven of them in Acts 6, one of whom was Stephen.

"seven men of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom",
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus a proselyte of Antioch;
And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people.
Now there's some real deacons, full of FAITH and the Holy Ghost.   

In Summary: we have given the direct instructions and meanings from the scriptures for those holding "positions" in the church. It is very convicting to realize how far our old churches had departed from God's Word on this. Do you realize a pastor is not above correction? Pastors were only one ministry among God's people, they were not singled out as the head of the church.  

What is presented here should make it obvious that the church structure around us is hopelessly departed from the Word of God. It is as it was at the time of Christ when Jesus called His sheep out from the sheepfolds of the false shepherds.. 

Does this list sound like what any elders do that you know?
This is not a life of managing, giving orders, adjusting the thermostat, making announcements, governing as a  CEO.

If we set aside the traditions and look just at scripture, we can see an elder as a vigilant, self-sacrificing, humble, giving, working servant of the flock.
He might be an apostle, he might be a prophet, he might be a teacher, he might be a pastor.
He may be a matured saint in life and spiritual experience.

These older ones could recognize a wolf even when it looked like another shepherd.
These older ones knew how to love, to care for and to feed God's sheep.
 It was not a job for the power-hungry or those seeking position or special privileges.
It was not a call to showcase our name, knowledge, or personality.
It is not a call for those who crave the pre-eminence in an assembly.

The church at Ephesus Paul spoke to in Acts 20, was overseen by elders, not one man.
 The pre-eminent pastors and Nicolaitanes Paul warned about would come later.
He called them "wolves", they would do the very things Paul told them not to do.
If the church did not follow the scriptures, a wolf could come right in and explain why the scriptural qualifications did not mean what they said.
 It happens every day. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Unscriptural Offering Plate?









Back to Malachi and just what are God's "offerings"?
It was not just a matter of tithes in the passage from Malachi 3 so often used to pull 10% from our gross or net.
God gave equal emphasis to the "offerings" He required under the Law.




Church often skips over that part of the verse, just as with the "ordinances" in verse 7 with what God said He abolished in the new Testament.  "From the days of your fathers ye have turned aside from my ordinances"...

Let's look at what God required in those Old Testament "offerings",

because the tithe was cursed if the offerings were not brought.
Malachi 3:8-10: Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! 
                     But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?'  In tithes and offerings.      
The Levite priests (not the people) were robbing from God in Malachi 3.
Those "offerings" were just as lawful as the tithes. When we see how God defined what the offerings were, we will see Christians do not give correct "offerings" as required in the Law from which Malachi was referring in 3: 7

Here is a list that includes most of them:
Ex 13:12 First offspring of every womb
Ex 29:14 Sin offering   the flesh of the bullock, and its skin, and it dung
Ex 29:18 Burnt offering  thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar
Ex 29:40 Drink offering   according to the drink-offering
Ex 29:41 Grain offering  the meal-offering of the morning
Ex 30:10 -16 Annual atonement (vs 13 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, ...the offering of The LORD, to make atonement for your souls)

Lev 3:1    Fellowship offering 
Lev 5:15  Guilt offering his trespass-offering unto Jehovah, a ram without blemish,
and    the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass-offering
Lev. 7:11 Thanksgiving offering    offer ...of thanksgiving unleavened cakes
Lev. 7:13 Peace offering   cakes of leavened bread he shall offer his oblation with the sacrifice of his peace-offerings

Lev 7:12   Thank offering  offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes
Lev. 7:32  Heave offering       the right thigh shall ye give unto the priest for a heave-offering 
Lev 7:37   Ordination offering  he law of the burnt-offering, of the meal-offering, and of the sin-offering, and of the trespass-offering, the sacrifice of peace-offerings;
Lev 19:24  Praise offering for new fruit trees  all the fruit ..shall be holy, for giving praise to Jehovah
Lev 22:18  Freewill offering  of the house of Israel, or sojourners in Israel, that offereth his oblation, whether it be any of their vows, or any of their freewill-offerings, which they offer unto Jehovah for a burnt-offering

Num 5:15 Grain offering for jealousy      meal-offering of jealousy,
Num 5:15 Reminder offering    a meal-offering of memorial
Num 5:26 Memorial offering for discovering sin the priest shall take of the meal-offering, as memorial
Num 19:17 Purification offering   for the unclean ... the ashes of the burning of the sin-offering
Num 28:14 Monthly burnt offering  in the beginnings of months ye shall offer a burnt-offering...

Deuteronomy 16:10  ...feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering .... according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
Deuteronomy 12:11... Then there (in Jerusalem)  shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; there shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:

Those that insist on the tithe to avoid the curse and earn the blessings, often fail to keep the rest of Malachi 3:8

Those mandatory "offerings" very seldom get proper attention.
This is primarily because most church spokesman focus on that 10% to fund the church.
To add insult to injury, tithing may curse you for adding  practice to the New Testament scripture that neither God nor the apostles ever commanded Christians to do.

Have you ever heard of a tither getting sick, having problems with his children, borrowing money, losing their home, suffering pain or affliction? Those are some of the things mentioned in the "curse" that Malachi referred to, as also Paul in Galatians.

We have considered Malachi's tithes before, now let's turn on the truth-spotlight on Malachi's offerings.
We saw the weekly tithes and offering plate and envelopes distributed every time, and in every service, like God set it up that way in the Bible.
The truth is there is neither tithes NOR offerings are given to the church in the New Testament. Have you ever heard the phrase "bring your offering" or similar in church?

Here is every New Testament verse with "offering":

1  Mark 12:33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.
2  Luke 21:5   And as some spake of the temple, adorned with goodly stones and offerings..
3  Acts 24:17  Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings:
4  Hebrews 10:6        In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure:
5  Hebrews 10:8        Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law)

1  Matthew 5:23         If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, ...brother hath aught against thee...
2  Luke 23:36   And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, offering him vinegar,
3  Acts 21:26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them went into the temple, declaring the fulfilment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them.
4  Romans 15:16      that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
5  Ephesians 5:2       and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.
6  Hebrews 10:5        Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body didst thou prepare for me;

7  Hebrews 10:10  ...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
8  Hebrews 10:11      And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins:
9 Hebrews 10:14      For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
10 Hebrews 10:18    Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
11 Hebrews 11:17    By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;
12 Hebrews 13:11    For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned without the camp.

With few exceptions, offerings mentioned in the New Testament scriptures reference back to the offerings defined by God from back under the Old Testament Law which is done away in Christ.

Let's see what a search of the New Testament church yields in regard to what the church practices. 
We find  "collection" and "collections" mentioned once.
Chapter 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia
2 Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.

The word "giving" is found 26 times in the New Testament and only once in the epistles to the church:
Phillipians 4:15   And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving..

This "matter" Paul spoke of was relating to his needs being met.
He was in prison and prisoners were supplied by friends and family.

"Gift":
2nd Corinthians 1:11   ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf. and to the Philippians,
Phillipians 4:17   Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account.

The word "give" is used many, many times (176 times) in the entire NT, but never in a context of a weekly church collection. The one collection mentioned was for giving TO the saints at Jerusalem.

However, there are many, many exhortations and reminders to meet the needs of others such as illustrated by these passages:

2nd Cor    9:9            as it is written, He hath scattered abroad,
                                    he hath given to the poor; His righteousness abideth for ever.
Galatians 2:10          only they would that we should remember the poor;
                                   which very thing I was also zealous to do.
Romans 15:26          For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make
                        a certain contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
Acts 2:45        and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according
                        as any man had need.
Acts 4:35        and laid them at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto each,
                        according as any one had need.
Phillipians 4:16        for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need.
Ephesians 4:28   ... let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.
1st John 3:17   But whoso hath the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

Acts 20:35     In all things I gave you an example, that so laboring you ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
And let's throw in a Proverb:  (28:27)  He that gives to the poor shall not lack; But he that hides his eyes shall have many a curse.
Did Jesus teach His disciples to gather, collect, and take up offerings for themselves?
Mat. 25:35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me.

To whom was He referring?
40  And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it to me.

As it works in the typical church today, the building, organization, and most ministers are taking what the Lord intended for the needs of others, for their own  benefit.
The average pew-member participates with a nice, comfortable building once or twice a week for great music and a sermon from a hired messenger. 

This passage caught my attention and is very convicting for us former church-goers that were trained to feed the offering plate instead of God's people. And let's rethink where those offerings are to go while we are at it.:
 Jesus said in the strongest of terms: (Please read these and ask yourself, Did HE really mean what he said here?)

Mat.25:37        Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink?
45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.
46   And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.: 

Isn't it odd that God's people enrich famous ministers and for the most part ignore the poor? 
The comparison to our enrichment of preachers and televangelists is in stark, convicting contrast in our treatment of the poor. I saw a picture of the Jesse Duplantis estate the other day and was astonished. But there are many just like that and you can google their name and the word "house" to see for yourself.

The leaven of tradition has spoiled the definitions and meanings of both tithes and offerings as defined by God.
Church leaders have redefined (the scripture uses the word perverted) the meanings of both tithes and offerings for many years, right down to that weekly offering plate for which there is no instruction that it was to be an on-going permanent practice.

Tithing in the Book Of ACTS




Tithing in the Book Of ACTS

The Acts of the apostles. Of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
…And a question of tithing.





Acts is unique in the books of the New Testament. The church was formed as the Holy Spirit was given and the New Covenant confirmed. The disciples and apostles received power and authority through Jesus Christ. The New Covenant became of force and the original disciples of Christ began to minister, teach, baptize, heal, assemble, and spread the gospel.  Acts is the record and details of the "real deal", God gave for us to see and do likewise.

Tithing is commonly taught in modern Christianity. Let's see what we can or cannot find in the Book of Acts in places where there may have been an opportunity to demonstrate or teach the disciples to give 10% of their income.

Acts 2:44-45 and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. -Why were there no tithes upon the sale of possessions and goods here?

Acts 4: 34 For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
-there is nothing on tithing from the sale prices here either, is there?

Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
           2 ) and kept back part of the price, his wife also privy to it, and brought ==> a certain part <==
                and laid it at the apostles` feet.
...Nothing  is said about them withholding tithes. But maybe he only gave "a certain part", such as a 10% tithe?
We do not know, but if he was under a 10% “standard”as today, they may tithed 10% which could be the “certain PART” they gave. But many pastors teach tithing 10% on the increase of things sold in today's church world.


Acts 6:1
Now in these days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
... In the daily "ministration", nothing about tithes there either but under the law food tithes were given for widows from the priests.

Acts 8:18
Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles` hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money
... no tithe was mentioned.. -but today many might not pass up the offer of Simon!

Acts 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money.
… no blessing from tithing silver money is mentioned.
Simon was rebuked for thinking he could buy the blessing with money. Nor did Peter correct him saying "just your tithes are fine".



Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did.
... Dorcas was known for faithful "alms" giving, not tithes.
"Alms" are compassionate giving.


Acts 10:2
a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.
.. Devout Cornelius did not tithe. He "gave much alms" to “the people”, not religious leaders.


Acts 11:29
And the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send ===> relief to the brethren that dwelt in Judea:
.. they sent them“relief”, not "sent tithes"..

Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.
… elders were appointed over churches. There were no tithes ordered to support them with.

Acts 15. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying,
   It is needful to circumcise them, ===> and to charge them to keep the law of Moses. <===
.. The church, elders, apostles and Holy Ghost release Christians from the law. 
They did not "decree" tithing.
People had been teaching the law of Moses to Christians. (15:4)
Tithing was "of the matters of the law" -Jesus said in Mat. 23:23

Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us,
                    to lay upon you ===> no greater burden <===than these necessary things:
29  that ye abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled,
      and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, it shall be well with you.
… The Holy Spirit and the apostles did not include tithing as a "necessary thing".

Acts 16:4 And as they went on their way through the cities, they delivered them the decrees to keep which had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem.
Apostolic decrees were delivered confirming the churches, but no tithing decreed and none of the apostolic epistles to the churches decree tithing

Acts 16: 15   And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, if ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord
Lydia, a sellor of purple was judged faithful. She was not told to tithe or commended for paying them.

Acts 18: 3 and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked, for by their trade they were tentmakers.
 Paul and Aquila do not pay tithes on earnings from their trade. Paul and Aquila were tent makers who never paid money tithes under the OT law. 

Acts 19:1 while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul ... came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples
             10 And this continued for the space of two years
…Paul  ministered in Ephesus three years. But he made no mention of tithing from income in chapter 19, nor did he receive tithes.

Acts 20: 7  And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them….. and prolonged his speech until midnight.
… Paul and Luke were in Troas 7 days but on the first day of the week no tithes were gathered nor an offering mentioned.

Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the church.
… where he does not tell them to tithe or receive them from others.

Acts 20:27 For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God.
…the “whole counsel of God” he declared does not mention tithes from income. He also wrote the Ephesian epistle and never ordained tithing in that church letter.

Acts 20:28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock,
   in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord
… “elders” are called “bishops” and instructed to “feed the flock of God”, not feed themselves from them.

Acts 20: 31 Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one…
Paul remembers his ministry for three years. he never thanked them for tithes or mentioned any of his own. Three years and nothing about tithing? -Nor did he write of tithing in the Ephesian epistle.

Acts 20: 33 I coveted no man`s silver, or gold, or apparel.
… Paul did not covet their money, a salary, or benefits. He did not request offerings and he did not instruct tithes.

Acts 20: 34  Ye yourselves know that these hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
… Paul used “these hands", his own hands, to minister to his own needs and others through working.

Acts 20: 35  I gave you an example, that laboring like me,  ye ought to help the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
…Paul told the bishops to work as Paul did, and help weak. He did not tell them to live from tithes. -He did not give them an example to tithe. He did not tell them to tell the church to tithe.

Acts 21: 25   But as touching the Gentiles that have believed, we wrote, giving judgment that they should keep themselves from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what is strangled, and from fornication.
… The letter from the church at Jerusalem included Paul, James, Peter, Luke, and other elders. But there was no reminder to  pay tithes to churches. They did not mention tithing from income.

Acts 22: 3 I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, … instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God
… Paul gave testimony as a former strict law observer. He does not mention tithing, even though he was a tent maker, earned wages, and was zealous for the law.

Acts 23: 1 And Paul, looking stedfastly on the council, said,
                   Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day.
… Paul lived in good conscience, yet never mentioning tithing. People today are put under a guilty conscience from the perverted use of Malachi 3.

Acts 24: 17 Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings:
               18 among which they found me purified in the temple
… Paul brought alms and offerings. Not tithes from income. And  it says he was “purified”. He was purified without tithing!
Acts 24:17 Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings:
 -Paul brought “alms” not "tithes".
“offerings” were not money according to the Law.
 http://preparinghisway.blogspot.com/2011/02/tithes-and-offerings-in-malachi.html

Acts 26: 20   but declared both to them of Damascus first and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God,
doing works worthy of repentance.
…”works worthy of repentance” never mentioned tithing from earned income or the lawful  Jewish tithe.

Acts 28: 10 who also honored us with many honors; and when we sailed, they put on board such things as we needed.
…  Paul and Luke were honored. But no tithes reported. Their "needs" were met as Jesus promised in Matthew 10.

Acts 28: 30 And he abode two whole years in his own hired dwelling, and received all that went in unto him,
              31  preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him.
… Paul did not remind anyone to bring tithes. Never in Acts and not once in all his writings. He mentioned his *needs* in  Phillipians 4:16  for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again to my need, and he was in prison when he wrote that. Many preachers will remind the people to send tithes to their ministry today, but none of the apostles ever did.

Now isn’t it of interest that in these 30 passages from the Book of the Acts , not once is tithing mentioned for the saints or churches to observe?  


Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Worldly Church?



Just like the World??

You are watching TV and a big "Crusade" featuring a famous evangelist is giving an "invitation" to"come forward" and or "make a decision" for Christ".  You then see streams of people move toward an area in front of the stage.
 Or perhaps you have been in a church service where the minister says something like "with every eye closed and every head bowed, if you want to be saved, ask Jesus into your heart (no one looking now, to give everyone privacy), indicate yes by raising your hand".   

This action may be followed by asking them to "come forward so we can pray with you", or from the pulpit pronouncing the hand-raisers "saved".  Others may include baptisimal salvation.
Having watched this scene or a variation played out countless times over the years, I suppose we just ignored the still small voice inside that softly nagged at us with doubt because we had never read of these methods or statements in the Bible.
But we trusted our leaders as we thought they knew what they were saying was true... 

Still, questions flitted through our minds like "did they repent? what about being baptized? Are they really "born again" like Jesus said?  

We were part of a 150+ member assembly, regular church attendees, tithers, and read the Bible and there was much exhortation to "be faithful". (attendance, participation in programs, and of course, "giving" in the form of tithes and offerings...)
We followed our leaders and were busy doing church "stuff", but in looking back, I wonder how many of the "brethren" were really even "born again"? 

If "accept Christ", "going forward", or "ask Jesus into your heart" was how you get saved, then WHY wasn't that in the Bible? 
Those last couple of years "in church", as we considered our own lives and those in our assembly, it became painfully clear we were all a pretty worldly bunch, -all the while we played the church routine.

                                       

What do I mean by "worldly"? 

We talked about the things in the world,
we borrowed and charged to finance our wants just like the world,
we pursued financial gain and security like the world.
we saw church people divorced and young people pregnant without marriage like the world,
we listened to worldly music and even had a dance or two in the church just like the world.
we watched the same movies and entertainment produced by the world...
we followed sports and news just like the world.
we broke traffic and other laws just like the world.


We coveted wealth just like the world,
we over ate and indulged in fleshly appetites like the world,
we accepted blatant sin among us just like the world,
we fund-raised and sold merchandise for profit just like the world... 


we avoided taking loving responsibility for others just like the world,
we looked down our self-righteous noses at those we disagreed with just like the world,
we held grudges just like the world,
we got political just like the world,
we pledged allegiance to a worldly kingdom,

we got angry and resentful just like the world,
we murmured and complained just like the world.

we told a few risque jokes like the world.
We sought help from lawyers, tax specialists, psychologists, and doctors just like the world without seeking the Lord's help first..


We substituted church attendance and membership for discipleship,
we substituted "seeker sensitivity" for repentance,
we substituted tithes for giving to the needy,
we substituted a few catchy songs for real worship,
we traded fellowship in a building for reaching out to the lost,
we traded holiness of character  for the comforting acceptance from a pastor or the group. 


......... and we justified every bit of it just like the world.



The main difference was that we called ourselves "Christian"and a lot of our time was centered around church activities.

If we believed the preachers on TV or behind the pulpit we could convince ourselves it was so, but when we dared to compare the gospel and message of Scripture with what the religious leaders said, and we gave attention to that "something is missing" sense inside, then we might have cause to rethink the smooth and easily acceptable "salvation".


Let me ask you, is "going to church",
living a moral life,
being a nice guy and
a "good" person,
taking communion or the mass,
listening to Christian radio or watching Christian TV,
but still doing the things listed in the blue paragraph above, evidence of a disciple of Jesus Christ?


It might ease our conscience to put a church-patch over a gaping wound, but it truly grieves me to say much of the church-world has lost its salt. 

Some might want to do what Paul told the church in 2nd Corinthians 13:5

Examine your own selves, whether ye are in the faithprove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, 
that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobateReprobate means
unapproved, that is, rejected; by implication worthless (literally or morally): - castaway, rejected, reprobate.

You see, it is easy to build an assembly if you water down the gospel by offering a pleasant sounding, comfortable, easy-to-accept message.

What we have done is removed our cross from the gospel; by this we have walked away from the gospel of scripture.
I realize most of the readers of this are no longer "in church" and many of you have walked away from the hollow shell of church services.  Some of you are trying to make sense between the conflicts of scripture and the Christianity that is mostly represented by traditional church.

 You may find you really don't know much about your walk with God
until you walk away from a church building
++++++++++++

And if you are reading this and wondering if you have obeyed the gospel, there is GOOD NEWS for you. Salvation is free,
but God requires faith in Jesus Christ, rrepentance from dead works of sin, and for a life of obedience where Jesus Christ is Lord.
Those who are "born from above" will produce the fruit of the nature, character, and authority of Christ as evidence of a truly transformed life. The works Christ did, we shall do also.

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby.
Luke 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but,
 except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luke 14:33 ..whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
to the church, Jesus said:
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except you repent.

Repentance is a change of mind and heart that brings forgiveness and was never a one-time response to the gospel.

8   And he entered into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, reasoning and persuading as to the things concerning the kingdom of God9   But when some were hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples,
(from among the unconverted Jews at the synagogue)
reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

That friends, is how several dozen new believers were added to the church. And not a word about:


    

Is there any wonder when we shuffle people through the wrong door into Christianity that we get an altogether different looking Christian from those in the Bible?  -And this is why Jesus Christ is once again calling His people to come out from the religious institutions of man.