In this study we shall consider how one can know whether a particular religious practice is from heaven, or from man.
Examples for such things are:
What does the bible say?
Man is created in the image of God; God is Spirit; a spirit does not have flesh and bones; therefore the image of God that man bears is his spirit, not flesh. (Gen. 1:26, 27, John 4:24, Lk. 24:39). Man is made up of body, soul, and spirit. (1Thess. 5:23, Matt. 10:28). “Soul” sometimes stands for the whole man. (Acts 7:14). When man dies, his body returns to dust, but his spirit returns to God who gave it. (Eccl. 12:7, Zech. 12:1, Heb. 12:7). The bible also talks about “our outward man and the inward man…” (2Cor. 4:16). The bible talks about Rachael’s soul departed when she was about dying (Gen. 35:17-18). Jesus Christ made mention of one losing or forfeiting his soul (Matt. 16:19-31).
MAN, A DUAL BEING
Let’s look at man as a dual (two - part being). The bible quite often desires man as a dual being. For instance, King Solomon wrote “The dust (physical body) will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). James in his book says “the body without the spirit is dead” (2:26). Here, man is obviously seen as an “outer man” like mere animals, temporal in nature, and an “inner man” just like the angels, eternal in nature. Christians having understood their nature do not focus their attention solely on the things which are seen (i.e. flesh and the things of the flesh…) 2Cor. 4:16-18.
MAN, A TRIPARTITE BEING
Let’s also look at man as a tripartite (three-part) being. Man is not only seen as a dual being (body and spirit). The author of the book of Hebrews in 4:12 maintains that the Word of God is so sharp to the extent of piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit. But then, a distinction is also drawn between the soul and the spirit in Paul’s prayer-like letter to the Thessalonians that “spirit, soul and body be preserved “(1Thess. 5:23). A good number of people do not have problem in differentiating between the body and spirit, but the difficulty lies on distinguishing between the soul and the spirit. Let’s use Ralph Weinhold diagram to vividly illustrate this point: Gen. 2:7 teaches that “the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground”. That fact might be illustrated as follows:
“God then” breathed into his (man’s) nostrils the breath of life.
Man, finally became a living being (or soul).
The Passover Lamb was the animal God directed the Israelites to use as a sacrifice in Egypt on the night God struck down the firstborn sons of every household (Exo. 12:29). This was the final plague God issued against Pharoah, and it led to Pharaoh releasing the Israelites from slavery (Exo. 11:1). After the fateful night, God instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover feast as a lasting memorial (Exo. 12:14) God instructed every household of the Israelites people to select a year-old male lamb without defect (Exo. 12:5, cf Lev. 22:20-21). The head of the household was to slaughter the lamb as twilight, taking care that none of its bones were broken, and apply some of its blood to the tops and sides of the doorframe of the house. The lamb was to be roasted and eaten (Exo. 12:7-8). God also gave specific instructions as to how the Israelites were to eat the lamb (cf Exo. 12:11; see also Eph. 6:14). In other words, they had to be ready travel. God said that when He saw the lamb’s blood on the doorframe of a house, He would “pass over” that home and not permit “the destroyer” (Exo. 12 :23) to enter. Any home without the blood of the lamb would have their firstborn son struck down that night (Exo. 12:12-13). The New testament establishes a relationship between this prototypical Passover lamb and the consummate (complete and perfect) Passover lamb, Jesus Christ (1Cor. 5:7). John the Baptist recognized Jesus Christ as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), and the apostle Peter links the lamb without defect (Exo. 12:15) with Jesus Christ, (cf 1Peter 1:19). Jesus is qualified to be called One “without blemish” because His life was completely free from sin (Heb. 4:14).
In revelation, John the apostle sees Jesus as “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). Jesus was crucified during the time that the Passover was observed (Mk. 14:12). The bible says that believers in Christ have symbolically applied the sacrificial blood of Christ to their hearts and thus have escaped eternal death (Heb. 9:12, 14). Just as the Passover lamb’s applied blood caused the “destroyer” to pass over each household, Christ’s applied blood cause God’s judgment to pass over sinners and gives life to believers (Rom. 6:23). As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Rom. 8:2). As the first Passover was to be held in remembrance as an annual feast, so Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death in communion until He returns (1Cor. 11:26).
The Old Testament Passover lamb, although a reality at that time, was a mere foreshadowing of the better and final Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. Through His sinless life and sacrificial death, Jesus became the only One capable of giving people a way to escape death and a sure hope of eternal life (1Peter 1:20-21).
The Lord’s supper is not observed quarterly, annually, or monthly, but weekly. Upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Just like the Sabbath was observed weekly (Exo. 20:8).
There is perhaps no more hotly debated issue in the Church today than the issue of women serving as pastors/preachers. As a result, it is very important not to see this issue as men versus women. They are women who believe women should not serve as pastors/preachers and that the bible places restrictions on the ministry of women, and they are men who believe women can serve as preachers and that they are no restrictions on women in ministry. This is not issue of chauvinism or discrimination. It is an issue of biblical interpretation.
The word of God proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1Tim. 2:11-12).
In the Church, God assigns different roles to men and women. God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors or bishops over men, which definitely includes preaching to them, teaching them publicly, leading in public prayer and exercising spiritual authority over them.
“I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. “(1Tim. 2:8).
The structure of 1Tim. 2:11-14 makes the reason women cannot be pastors perfectly clear. Verse 13 begin with “for,” giving the “cause” of Paul’s statement in verses 11-12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because “Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived; it was the woman who was deceived” (verse 13-14). God created Adam first and then created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. The order of creation has universal application in the family and in the Church (cf Gen. 3:16, Eph. 5:22-33). To the Corinthians, Paul wrote:
“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (1Cor. 11:3).
The fact that Eve was deceived is also given in 1Tim. 2:14 as a reason for women not to serve as pastors or having spiritual authority over men. God has chosen to give men the primary teaching authority in the Church. However, many women excel in gift of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, prayer, etc. much of the ministry of the local Church depends on women.
Women, just as men, are called to minister to others, even to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matt. 28:18-20, Mk. 16:15-16).
Paul to the Philippians wrote:
“And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of Life” (Phil. 4:3).
God has ordained that only men are to serve in the positions of spiritual teaching authority in the Church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the Church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership - in their lives and through their words. Women are to take less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women.
“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things... that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children ” Titus 2:3-5
Candidly speaking, Christian women do display their spiritual talents in such areas as evangelism, teaching other women, teaching the children, hospitality, etc. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men.
“Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says... for it is shameful for women to speak in the church” (1Cor. 14:23, 33, 34-35).
This command regarding women’s subordinate role is universal, transcultural and not local. The restrictions are therefore as binding today as they were in the first Century.
I wish to categorically and unequivocally discuss the issue of tithing under the following headings for easy understanding:
The aim of this section is to help the reading public and all truth seekers discover the truth their “pastors” would not tell them about tithes till they leave this world. But the truth was meant to be known. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
WHAT IS TITHE, AND WHY WAS IT PAID?
In the Hebrew language the word tithe is derived from the Hebrew word, “aser” which means ten. The “ma’aser,” or tithe, therefore means the tenth part. Since this implies the application of this tenth part we find that “ma’aser” has come to mean the giving of a tenth part which is, as we shall see, the normative contribution that a person is expected to give under biblical law. Carefully read the following passages of the scripture for a clearer understanding of the meaning of tithe! In Lev. 27:30-32, tithe is seen here as “one tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain of fruit”
Deut. 26:12, Moses also writes that “every third year give the tithe, a tenth of your crops to the Levites, the foreigners, the orphans and the widows, so that in every community they will have all they need to eat.”
The above quoted passages vividly tell us what tithe is, and even go ahead to tell us the reason WHY God directed the people of Israel to pay tithes. It is very obvious that it was a divine arrangement for the less privilege in the Jewish so society of that time, it was also meant to take care of the Levites because they have no land or property of their own, and above all, to enable them learn how to fear the Lord, that God might bless them.
BENEFICIARIES OF TITHES
Besides the Levites who were the beneficiaries of tithes (Num. 18:20-24), others were the strangers, fatherless, the widows etc. (Deut. 14:28-29). These bible passages unreservedly capture the verse which lists widows, orphans or fatherless, strangers and the Levites as being the beneficiaries of the tithes. This passages also expose the fact that tithes as it is preached today by “pastors” is nothing but a monumental fraud consequent on distortion of scriptures. The only way out of this religious bondage is for one to study the scriptures with an open mind to discover reasons tithing as it is preached and practiced today by “sow seed” pastors is wrong and contrary to the will of God.
WHO WERE TO PAY TITHE?
Without mincing words, the bible makes it clear (from the time of Moses onward) that Israelites were to pay tithe. But in doing so, they were strictly ordered by God to pay the tithe (the tenth) to one group of people, and one group only. To whom was the tithe paid to? They were the Levites who (among other things) ministered in the Temple. “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... for the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance” (Num. 18:21,24).
To this effect, no one else had the slightest authority to receive that tithe. Even Christ Jesus, while He was teaching on earth, did not use (nor did He demand) biblical tithe for His ministry or those of His apostles. After all, our Lord Jesus was descended from the tribe of Judah (Heb. 7:14). He was not a Levite. This made Him ineligible to receive any part of the biblical tithe that was ordained for use by the Levites at the time of Moses.
In this new dispensation, where there is no physical Temple in existence, there are also no Levites and priests serving in such Temple. With no physical Temple, the major factor for tithe paying does not exist as far as the biblical laws of tithing are concerned. For preachers and church leaders to change the direction of paying the tithe from that of the Temple to the service of a Christian ministry is to do so without any biblical authority. No one has the right to choose whom they pay the tithe that God has ordained to be paid to the Levites.
It could be recalled that a squabble came up in the time of Moses over who were to be the priests. Korah and his group felt they had the right to be priests just like Aaron and his sons, but God made Israel to know very plainly that when He chooses people to perform a job and to be paid for it, no other person has the privilege to proclaim that right (Num. 18:1-50). Korah and his group found out that God does not like other people usurping the role of His ordained Levitical priests. If God did not spare Korah and his group for their usurpation, He will not spare today’s preachers and evangelists (men of God) who are still defrauding the innocent people by collecting tithe that belonged to the Levites.
WAS TITHE MONEY, INCOME OR LAND BASED?
Supposing two farmers had crops of 10 cucumbers each, they both would be obligated to tithe just one cucumber. Under the agrarian (land-based) tithing system, it didn’t matter if one sold the remaining 9 cucumbers for ! N3,000.
Please NOTE: The tithe of the harvest was unrelated to the income of the harvest. This is to say that THE TITHE WAS NOT ONE TENTH OF INCOME, BUT ONE TENTH OF THE HARVEST. The tithe was agrarian which means BASED ON THE LAND.
Tithing was NOT based on your income or money AT ALL! During the time of agrarian law tithing bartering was common (Deut. 14:25), but there were also MONEY SYSTEM in place then (cf Gen. 23:15-16, 42:25, Jer. 32:9-11), yet the tithe remained agrarian (land based). Christianity has no agrarian system, no Levites and every Christian is now a priest, the temple and co-workers with Christ (1Pet. 2:5, 2:9, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:6). Please read: Nehemiah 13:10-13, Deut. 14:22-23, 18:1-5, 26:12, Nehemiah 10:38-39, 12:44, Lev. 27:30-33, Josh. 13:14.
Note also that pre-law tithing was VOLUNTRY AND PROFIT-BASED and Law tithing was mandated land-base. (cf: Gen. 14, Heb. 7:1, Gen. 28:23) Agrarian means “of the land,” and agrarian tithing was on what you were able to produce from the land, plants and livestock.
WHAT WAS THE FREQUENCY AND DIFFERENT TYPES OF TITHES?
By frequency, we mean simply was tithe given daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly? The reason for all this important question is because proponents of tithe and preachers of our time are seriously taking about tithe in church, even sometimes during weekly activities they stress on this tithe. In a situation where “pastors” of our time have completely abandoned preaching on holy living, righteousness, faith toward God, salvation, undiluted gospel of Christ, love toward God and fellow human being, which if stressed frequently could help the society a great deal, and not to blow trumpet of sowing of seed, what should the righteous do?
The Israelites were predominantly farmers at this time. Everything you read in Mal. 3 is using agricultural language. Therefore they did not receive a weekly or monthly salary. Their income was when they gathered in the various harvest (wheat, grapes, olives, etc.). Different types of tithes are:
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deut. 14:28-29 NIV).
In all these tithes, they always derived from food grown or raised on the Israelites’ land, NOT MONEY EARNED from any of their crafts or skills. However, the application of the Old Testament tithes served specifically different purposes. The tithe compensated for the lack of an inheritance and temple duties, supplied food for the yearly celebration before the Lord, and provided sustenance for the poor around the cities of Israel.
WHAT ABOUT MALACHI 3:8-10?
The first question one should ask is that, who was the message of Malachi directed to? The answer lies in the book of Numbers 18:25-28. Pick up your bible and read it now!
From the just read passage, it is clear that it was the Levites who were directed to pay a tithe of the tithe they collected from the Israelites to the priest who represents God and the people of Israel. It was these Levites that were being referred to in the book of Malachi as those who rob God. A thorough study of the book of Malachi would reveal that in those days, the Levites were collecting the tithe from the people of Israel and not remitting a tithe of it to the house of God, hence Malachi’s statement which is not being quoted out of context. To understand what tithes really means one would have to understand the social reasons and cultural/religious setting. More so, upon reading passages such as Num. 18:25-31 and Deut. 14:22-29, one would understand what tithes really means, but unfortunately most modern “pastors” prefer to neglect these passages that tell us the true meaning of tithes and emphasize on Malachi 3:8-10 which was directed to the Levites of that time to remit the priest’s share of the tithes they collected to him. It is worthy of note that Malachi does not even define what tithes is and how it should be paid. The definition of tithes as practiced today was manufactured by modern-day pastors to suit their purpose as it is completely in contrast with what is the bible and it only seeks to manipulate Christians to believe that God requires 10 percent of their gross income from them.
ARE CHRISTIANS TO PAY TITHES TODAY?
The New Testament is clear on this: we are commanded to give:
Not out of necessity
According to our means
In the right spirit.
The New Testament is NOT at all clear on amounts and percentages that are to be given. Paul does NOT say to give according to a percentage and he was certainly familiar with tithing (1Cor. 16:2). Several times Paul compares voluntary giving of fruit and burnt offerings. Paul’s use of Old Testament terminology (fruit and burn offering) without the mention of tithing could NOT have been an oversight given Paul’s Jewish background (cf Phil. 4:17-18, Rom. 15:26-28). The bible teaches to give “as God has prospered us,” (2Cor. 8:11-12, 9:5-13, Acts 11:27-29). This is God’s plan or pattern to finance His work in this Christian dispensation.
Ministers of the gospel who are laboring for Christ to feed the flock of God are to be heavily supported to enhance their physical well-being. Believers in Christ are the flock of God; they are the ones being taught by the word, who are to “share in all good things (NOT tithe) with him who teaches.’ (Gal. 6:6). See also 1Cor. 9:7-14. Tithing under the law of grace is nothing but FRAUD and RELIGIOUS RACKETEERING!
By “blind leaders of the blind”? (cf Matt. 15:14)
By “false teachers... who will secretly bring in destruction heresies”?
(cf 2Peter 2:1)