By Femi Aribisala
At a Sunday service in a New Testament church, the pastor asked the church-members to open their Bibles to Deuteronomy 21:18, and then began to read.
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city.
And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones.’” (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
He informed the church that the son of Mr. and Mrs. Tunde George has been rebellious. The parents, in concert with the church, have exhausted all the available resources for counselling him. They have now reached the conclusion that he is past redemption.
Therefore, the pastor regrets to announce that they are left with no choice than to require that the boy be stoned to death, according to the Law of Moses. This stoning will take place without further delay immediately after the service in the parking lot. All parents should endeavour to attend with their children so that lessons could be learnt by all.
I was wondering if this kind of announcement has ever been made in your church. My guess is that it probably has not because, in the New Testament: “We are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:15).
There is no scripture whatsoever in the New Testament asking Christians to tithe. When Jesus once referred to the practice, he was talking about Pharisees who were still under the Law of Moses and not about New Testament believers.
Nevertheless, he pointed out that, even under the law, tithing was not an important matter. (Matthew 23:23). The only other scripture that deals with tithing in the New Testament says people only receive tithes “according to the law.” (Hebrews 7:5). It then points out that tithing (and everything else under the law) was annulled.
“The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:18-19).
Nevertheless, there is one scripture which is the mother of all scriptures. It is the favourite of pastors. It is repeated ad nauseam. And yet, the scripture is also rooted in the Old Testament.
That scripture says: “‘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.’” (Malachi 3:10).
I am sure many Christians have heard this scripture applied to them in church before. The genius of modern-day pastors lies in their ability to hoodwink church-members into believing that while scriptures like Deuteronomy 21:18-21 are no longer applicable under the New Testament, Malachi 3:10 remains mandatory.
Thieves and robbers
Therefore, let me state it categorically here: every pastor who collects tithes from his congregation is a thief and a robber. The reason for this is simple. If Jewish rabbis, whose terms of reference remain the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi do not collect tithes, then Christian pastors who are supposedly under a New Testament built upon better promises, have no business collecting tithes.
Pastors cannot say Christians are no longer under the law in one breath, then continue to insist that their church-members pay tithes in another breath. The payment of tithes is a requirement that comes under the law.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for keeping part instead of the whole law. That is what tithe-collecting pastors demand of Christians today. But if they insist that tithes must be paid, they must also insist that they keep the rest of the law. James notes that: “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10).
Therefore, if pastors insist on tithing, they should also refrain from eating pork. They should stone adulterers, execute homosexuals, stone Sabbath violators, sacrifice animals and leave the corners of their fields for the poor to harvest.
Precisely because it would now be inappropriate to do any of these, given the novel teachings about the kingdom of God, Jesus warns that we cannot put new wine in an old bottle. (Matthew 9:16-17).
Pastors try to whitewash this contradiction by insisting that while Christians are no longer under the law, the payment of tithes pre-dated the law. Here Abraham is cited as a prime example of someone who paid tithes before the promulgation of the Law of Moses, as also did his grandson, Jacob.
However, such arguments are disingenuous. Before the law, tithing was at best an example but not a commandment. Moreover, pastors fail to mention that Abraham only tithed once in his lifetime. When he did, he did not even tithe his own money: he tithed the spoils of war. He gave ten per cent of the plunder he took when he rescued Lot to Melchisedec, king of Salem. But then he did not even keep the rest but returned it (all ninety per cent) to the king of Sodom.
For his part, Jacob also only tithed once. He did this in a “let’s make a deal” arrangement he made with God that hardly constitutes precedence in righteousness.
“Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’” (Gen 28:20-22).
This tit-for-tat with God certainly cannot be a term of reference for any serious believer.
In any case, the Jerusalem Council nailed the coffin on the law. When a dispute arose over whether Gentile believers had to be circumcised according to the law, the disciples of Jesus sent a circular directing that they do not have to abide by the Law of Moses.
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29).
No mention of tithing here because it is no longer required. Jesus gave them the authority to give this kind of directive. He said to them: “Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18).