Who was Muhammad?

From the ‘Islam For Christians’ series:

In the same way that it is not possible to accurately define Christianity without Jesus, it is impossible to accurately define Islam, without Muhammad. He, even moreso than Allah, is the key to understanding Islam, and what it means to be a Muslim.

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Did Jesus HAVE to die on the cross? (Questions and answers: Question #4)

From The Fellowship’s ‘Question and Answer’ series: The Question: Did Jesus HAVE to die on the cross?

Q: Did Jesus HAVE to die on the cross?  He is God but He was also subject to the will of the Father.  If He wanted to, could He have opted not to be crucified?

A: Well, the cross as the means of death? The answer is yes and no.

No, because they (The Godhead) could have chosen any means/method that they wished, Yes, because that is the means that they chose, and had the Prophets foretell it as such. There is a Much longer list of prophecies that pertain to the Messiah, but here is a short list:

Isaiah: I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;  I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).

Matthew records that when the soldiers were humiliating the blindfolded Jesus, ‘they spat in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”‘ (Matthew 26:67-68).

Isaiah: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth  (Isaiah 53:7).

Pilate tried to browbeat Jesus into convicting himself. ‘But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed’ (Matthew 27:14).

Isaiah also prophesies of the Messiah that he was to be ‘numbered with the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:12). Matthew records of Jesus that ‘two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left’ (Matthew 27:38).

In one of his psalms, David has the Messiah crying: All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:  ‘He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him’ – (Psalm 22:7-8, NIV).

Matthew records the Jewish religious rulers mocking Jesus as he hung on the cross and crying, ‘Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him’ (Matthew 27:42-43).

In another psalm, David prophesies, ‘He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken’ (Psalm 34:20). After the three men had been crucified, soldiers came to ensure that they were dead by breaking their legs. ‘But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs’ (John 19:33).

Zechariah sees the Messiah crying, ‘They look on me, on him whom they have pierced’ (Zechariah 12:10). John tells us that to make sure Jesus was dead, a soldier ‘pierced his side with a spear’ (John 19:34).

And of course, here is the song that Jesus sang on the Cross: Psalm 22:1 (HCSB) My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? 

Q: Could he have exercised the “free will” man has? Or did He have to die because the Father told Him to?

A: Let’s look at the scriptures: Psalm 8:4-9 (HCSB) 

what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas.
Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!

Hebrews 2:5-9 (HCSB) For He has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about. But one has somewhere testified: What is man that You remember him, or the son of man that You care for him? You made him lower than the angels for a short time; You crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet. For in subjecting everything to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him.
But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.

The cross was an act of the will. It was an act of obedience and Love, from Jesus to His Father

Luke 22:39-44 (HCSB) 
39 He went out and made His way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him.
40 When He reached the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray,
42 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.
44 Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.

It was an act of obedience and a mindset that we are to emulate/follow

Philippians 2:5-11 (HCSB) 

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So, his vicarious death on the Cross, was an act of Love From the son to the Father, as well as a Bride-Price paid, to purchase His Bride (the Church)

For more about that , please check this link. It is excellent:

http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/marriage.htm

From The Archives: ‘Accept the responsibility for your freedom!’

For the next few weeks, leading up to our 10th anniversary as a church, we’re going to look back on (and post here) some of the more significant things that we’ve studied…

Many of the posts (like the one that follows) is directly from Pastor Jermin’s notes.

RFBC Meeting Notes: 03/23/2008

Accept the responsibility for your freedom!

  • Accept responsibility for the fact that you have been set free.

Galatians 5: 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

READ: Exodus 16:32- through 17:6  then Numbers 33:11-14 (ASV)

11 And they journeyed from the Red Sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin. 12 And they journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah (Hebrew: דָפְקָה means knocking.)  13 And they journeyed from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush. 14 And they journeyed from Alush, (Hebrew: אָלוּש means leaven or crowding ׁ) and encamped in Rephidim, The name “Rephidim” (Hebrew: רְפִידִם) may mean supports.) where was no water for the people to drink.

  • There is a lot here, but the things we will deal with are:
  1. God took them from the place of Idolatry, (things built on lies, false gods) to Knocking (seeking, a quest, unsurety) to Leavening (to make light by fermentation, separation, preparation) to Support. (foundation, strength)
  2. The process took time
  3. This passage points to Christ, in that: 1 Cor 10:4 (the rock is Jesus) John 19:34  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
  4. God gave the tools to remember, but they chose to forget Because they let their immediate circumstances divert them from the larger situation/goals/objectives  (v.3)

How often do we do that? Why does it seem that in times of difficulty, we resort to the comfortable, destructive behaviors first…

  • What does it mean to be free? Freedom is defined as:
  1.  The condition of being free of restraints.
  2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.
  3. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want.   
  4. The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon   
  5. The right to unrestricted use; full access:
  6. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship

The Three Edwards

Thomas Costain’s history book The Three Edwards includes the story of the life of Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in the country of Burgundy (now called Belgium). Raynald III was grossly overweight, and he was commonly called by his Latin nickname, “Crassus,” which means, “Fat.”

After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured his brother Raynald, but he did not kill him, as was the custom. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieukerk castle and promised him he could regain his freedom, his title and his property as soon as he was able to leave the room.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.

When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had an available answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”

Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after his brother Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined that he died within a year . . . a prisoner of his own appetite. – Dave Wilkenson

 

  • What can we learn from Raynald?

His freedom kept him a prisoner, because he would not discipline Himself.

We are free to do a great many things, the question always is: SHOULD WE? How often do we resort to the familiar to our own detriment, when the promise that lays before us is so much better, simply because we do not want to do the work, or we are afraid, or it’s hard, or (your excuse here) ?

Paul put it like this, in his 1st letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

  • God’s provision…..Deuteronomy 29:1, 16-19, 29 –  

1 These are the words of the covenant which Yahweh commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

16  (for you know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed;

17 and you have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them);

18 lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from Yahweh our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood;

19 and it happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, to destroy the moist with the dry.

We can skip Verses 20-28, as they are the penalty phase, and we are not under this covenant…

29 The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

 

  • We can break that passage down like this:

 

16-17: You have gone through Egypt to LEARN, and over the last 40 years you have seen many cultures to LEARN, because you are accountable for what you KNOW

18-19: You have been allowed to SEE so that you are not deceived. Don’t fool yourself, constantly check yourself

  • 29: WE are RESPONSIBLE FOR REVELATION

 

Notice that this is from God to the people, a covenant with ALL the people, not just the Pastor, not just Moses…

 

  • God’s desire is for us ALL to KNOW HIM, be knowledgeable about Him, and be so attuned to His voice that we can be truly obedient.

Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

 

How I choose to exercise my freedom affects me, and impacts those around me…

 

  • Freedom. Like the Kingdom (Rom 14:17) is a gift, but it is up to us to maintain it.

 

Our thoughts, words and deeds are the factors that determine or situations, and though grace abounds, many times it is we who, like the Hebrews in the desert, wish to return to the comfortable in times of stress.

 

2 Corinthians 1:18  But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. 19  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. 20  For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21  Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22  Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 24  Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. (read this in the NIV)

2 Corinthians 3:17  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

  • Grace is the gift, it is on us to obey…

In the two examples below, the gift was free, the follow-through, and maintenance were the responsibility or the recipient. It is the same for us today

 

John 9:7,11

7, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.  – 11,   He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

John 5:4-15

4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5  And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.6  When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?7  The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.8  Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.9  And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.10  The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.11  He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.12  Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?13  And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.14  Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.15  The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

(11- I know what You say, but the one that healed me said…)

That’s the line to use on your temptations, the line to use on the devil

(I know what You say, but the one that healed me said…)

 

Pastor J is not concerned with Charlottesville, per se…

Why not? Because the issue pre exists, and is much larger than Charlottesville or MAGA hats…

I have been seeing for a long time, a growing tribalism that has permeated this culture in a way that was/is surprising to some, but certainly not unexpected. Personally, I don’t see why this is surprising to anyone; especially to anyone who calls themselves a Christian. The ‘values’ that seem to be in the lead in this culture are: Individualism, Diversity, Pride and Acceptance and all of those things are antithetical to The Gospel. If you do not espouse any and all of these things, declaring yourself to be an ‘ally’ of any and every group and expression, you are an enemy. This thinking transgresses all the lines of division, be they ethnicity, class, language, origin, sexuality or religion. It’s all the same issue.

The problem is, that this is a recipe for anarchy, and this is what we are seeing. Every tribe is lashing out in their various milieus, be it the board room, the class room, the neighborhood, or the street. It’s all the same thing. Every tribe wants to assert its rights, declare the supremacy of their ideology, and values, and give no quarter to the other.

Tribalism is the root issue, and the other things grow out from it as ‘values’. As such, one’s interpretation of each of those so-called ‘values’ will flow out of their given tribe’s definition. So at its root, ‘diversity’ is really division.

This is a divisive, angry selfish culture in America today, and the only cure is The Gospel, the very thing that the culture seeks to silence. We are raising a generation of self-absorbed, self-important bratty beasts who are now attending our Colleges and Universities, and being told that the culture should cater to them. Speech is violence, debate is aggression, and opposing points of view are ‘hatred’ that must be silenced. This to me, should concern us much more than it does.

Personally, I am not afraid or anxious, I am more disappointed than anything else. Why? Because I can’t see how people who claim The Gospel did not see/anticipate this. I am not clairvoyant, so it has to have been obvious to more than just me. Those who did/do, and fail to speak on it, for whatever sinful selfish reason, should be beaten with many stripes.

As one who went to a KKK rally near my college in CT. in 1981, lived through my neighborhood (Crown Heights) blowing up in 1991, stood less than a mile from the WTC and watched planes hit in 2001, losing friends and colleagues in the aftermath, (to mention just a few things), Charlottesville means little as a specific event. It is merely a symptom of the never-ending, heart-rooted issues that exist in all human cultures, and have since Cain and Abel.

We are tribal creatures, and we seek to find ways to a) find belonging and acceptance, and b) believe that there is something special about us.

The answer here is in the hands, hearts, minds and mouths of people like you and I, brethren. We are those with what the Bible calls, ‘beautiful feet’.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  – Isaiah 52:7

SDG

There is Rest in Release

From the Repairer’s Fellowship Service Notes from 2011, seems pertinent right now:

One of the reasons that the people of His day missed/couldn’t receive Jesus was that they didn’t know where the Battlefield was, or who the real enemy was.  They were looking at Rome, they were looking at their freedom from Rome as true liberation.

Much like today, people are looking for whatever nonsense is forefront in the media, when the real battlefield is elsewhere.

But we know where the real battlefield is:

Ephesians 6:10-18 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Eph 6:10-18)

A Jewish colleague of mine asked me this week, how it could be that the people of Israel for the most part stayed together during the Exodus. I explained the concept of the ‘galvanizing them’ or ‘galvanizing other’

Often what unites a people is having a common enemy, a ‘them’. One of the reasons that our country is in such turmoil is that there is no galvanizing ‘them’. The pressure exerted from without, forces the compressed to become stronger, closer, more resilient, and unified. We see this in the natural with diamonds, in the Flesh with wars. We see this played out in our various arenas, (sports, politics, religion, family)

What do we understand? We have a ‘galvanizing them’.

I – Satan

1 Peter 5:6-11 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 12: 10-11 – And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (The blood is the substitutionary atonement, which makes us not guilty in the eyes of the Father, the sacrificial love, and word of our testimony is what identifies to one another and to the world)

(see John 13:34-35, Acts 2:42-47, etc)

II – Sin – Romans 7 (whole Chapter)

How do we overcome?

  1. The blood of the Lamb
  2. The word of our testimony
  3. The whole armor of God
  4. Putting the things of God above the things that we prize the most.

But the Bible is full of paradoxes like this:

*lose to gain*

Luke 9:18-27 – And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

*I live, yet not I *

1st Corinthians 15: 9-10 –  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  (10)  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Galatians 2:19-21 – For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.  (20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (21)  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

*The things which we do, which we believe are for the bettering of our lives,, often in actuality, are a waste of time and energy, and are spending our lives…

Luke 12:16-34

*When pain can’t be released it is shared and if it is not shared, it is spread.*

Romans 15:1-2 – We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

*We are to share (bear one another’s burdens)*

Galatians 6:1-10 –  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  (2)  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  (3)  For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.  (4)  But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  (5)  For every man shall bear his own burden.  (6)  Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.  (7)  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  (8)  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  (9)  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  (10)  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

This is after all, the example of Christ

Isaiah 53:4-6 – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  (5)  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  (6)  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We have to let go, if we’re going to grow – and we cannot be the body of Christ until we are ready/willing to let go…

Fulfillment in life comes from the letting go, not the grabbing. 

In Closing, this:

Matthew 6:19-34

19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

The Cure for Anxiety

25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life-span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Jesus The Christ

The Tithe: For Christians or not?

Blessings to you dear reader.

Thank you for taking the time to read the following. It is my prayer that it will edify, and bring clarity, and provoke thought and a closer walk with our Savior. Please note that wherever scripture is quoted, it is taken from the American Standard Version (ASV)

In His service,

Pastor.ctj

 

A debated doctrine:

One of the most heavily debated doctrines of the modern church is the doctrine of the tithe.

Many Christians generally accept that the Jewish law, (as part of the Old Covenant) was abolished upon Jesus’ crucifixion, when he fulfilled it. As such, for the most part, Christians do not follow Jewish community laws such as the extensive dietary restrictions in the Old Testament, for example, and tithing was part of that group of laws.

Others believe that because Jesus spoke about tithing, he was instructing his followers to continue the practice, and for many, not only is the tithe still an active doctrine, it is proof of one’s commitment to God.

What is ‘Tithing’?

The doctrine is a simple one: The believer is required to give 1/10th of their earnings/wages to their home church. The word ‘tithe’ means simply ‘a tenth’.

The doctrine is based on the following passages of scripture:

 

The first is Malachi 3: 8-11 which states:

Will a man rob God? yet ye rob me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with the curse; for ye rob me, even this whole nation. Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before the time in the field, saith Jehovah of hosts. – (Malachi 3:8-11 ASV)

 

The second is found in Genesis 14, specifically verses 14-20:

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh (the same is the King’s Vale). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him a tenth of all. – (Genesis 14:14-20 ASV)

 

While these passages are indeed admonition and example, two questions must be asked;

1) For whom? And

2) Do these passages constitute a doctrine that should be in effect for the church?

 

Specific Points re: the tithe

There are different tithes mentioned in the Bible, let’s take a look at a couple of them:

Section a: Abraham’s tithe

While Genesis 14, (and its reference in Hebrews 7) is commonly used to bolster the claim that we (Christians) should tithe, I think that we should take a closer look:

Please take a moment to read the ENTIRE 14th Chapter of Genesis… After you’ve read it, please consider the following:

  1. That Abraham’s tithe was a ONE TIME event. (There is no other Biblical record of Abram/Abraham EVER tithing again)
  2. Abraham’s tithe WAS NOT on his personal possessions; rather it was only on the war plunder that resulted from his rescue mission for Lot, his nephew. . (Note: In Numbers 31:31-41, God only required 1% of spoils of war.)
  3. There is NO evidence that Abraham tithed on his personal possessions to anyone at any time. 4. As it was from the spoils of war, and pre-dated the law, Abram’s gift was NOT a holy tithe from God’s holy land gathered by God’s holy people under God’s holy Old Covenant. For this reason alone, this example should not be used in conjunction of Malachi 3.
  4. Abraham kept nothing for himself; he gave everything back. Genesis 14, verse 21-23, is the key text.
  5. Abraham’s tithe is not quoted anywhere in the Bible to endorse tithing to Israel or to the church. If Abraham is an example for Christians to give 10% to God, then he should also be an example for Christians to give the other 90% to Satan, or to the king of Sodom! (Thanks to Russell E. Kelly PhD for that one)

(Please note that I am purposefully not dealing with the identity of Melchizedek. That discussion is for another time, and will only serve as a distraction from our central theme)

Section b: Malachi 3, and the Mosaic Law

  1. The Mosaic tithes were always edible and came from the crops and flocks.

Malachi 3 says to  “bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be Meat/Food in my house.” Meat/Food is a very specific thing, in that it means something edible. In the Hebrew, the word is: טרף ṭereph (teh’-ref)

Meaning: From H2963; something torn, that is, a fragment, for example a fresh leaf, prey, food: – leaf, meat, prey, spoil.

  1. The teaching which states that everybody in the Old Testament was required to begin their giving to God at the ten per cent level is false.

The poor were not required to tithe at all! Neither did the tithe come from the results of man’s craft, hands and skill. Only farmers and herdsmen gathered what God produced as tithe increase.

Note: Please note the implication here, beloved: Jesus was a carpenter; Paul was a tentmaker and Peter was a fisherman. None of these occupations qualified as tithe-payers because they did not farm or herd animals for a living. It is, therefore, incorrect to teach that everybody paid a required minimum of a tithe and, therefore, incorrect to teach that in keeping with the law, New Covenant Christians should be required to at least begin at the same minimum as Old Covenant Israelites.

This common false assumption is very often repeated and completely ignores the very plain definition of tithe as food gathered from farm increase or herd increase. The easy argument to make here, is that being that we are no longer in a primarily agricultural society, we give money instead of food, but if we are honest with the text, how do we decide who is to tithe?

  1. There are three Different Tithes Described in the Bible.

The first religious tithe, called the “Levitical tithe,” had two parts. Again, the whole first tithe was given to the Levites who were only servants to the priests (Numbers 18:21-24; Nehemiah10:37). The Levites, in turn, gave one tenth of the whole tithe to the priests (Numbers 18:25-28; Nehemiah10:38]. According to Deuteronomy 12 and 14,

The second religious tithe, called the “feast tithe,” was eaten by worshipers in the streets of Jerusalem during the three yearly festivals (Deut. 12:1-19; 14:22-26).

The third tithe, according to Deuteronomy 14 and 26, called the “poor tithe,” was kept in the homes every third year to feed the poor (Deut. 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13).

 

Here is some more info re: the tithes discussed in Deut 14:

Occasionally, the discussion of Deut 14:22 comes up. This verse is often taken out of context, because if one reads verses 22-29 in context, the passage puts the tithing doctrine to bed once and for all: Here is it (continuing in the ASV)

22 Thou shalt surely tithe all the increase of thy seed, that which cometh forth from the field year by year.

23 And thou shalt eat before Jehovah thy God, in the place which he shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there, the tithe of thy grain, of thy new wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herd and of thy flock; that thou mayest learn to fear Jehovah thy God always.

24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it, because the place is too far from thee, which Jehovah thy God shall choose, to set his name there, when Jehovah thy God shall bless thee;

25 then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thy hand, and shalt go unto the place which Jehovah thy God shall choose:

26 and thou shalt bestow the money for whatsoever thy soul desireth, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul asketh of thee; and thou shalt eat there before Jehovah thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy household.

27 And the Levite that is within thy gates, thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no portion nor inheritance with thee.

28 At the end of every three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase in the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

29 and the Levite, because he hath no portion nor inheritance with thee, and the sojourner, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in all the work of thy hand which thou doest.

So, in short:

— Here’s One Tithe—

v.25 exchange your livestock and/or crops for money if you have to travel too far,

v.26 Spend the money however you see fit

v.27 Don’t forget the Levites, because THEY CAN OWN NOTHING (Some of you who attend traditional or megachurches may wish to ask your Pastor about that one)

 

—And another Tithe—-

v.28 Bring the tithe every three years

v.29 so that the Levites (who could not own anything) , the travelers, the orphans and the widows may have food. THAT was the reason for the tithe… Clearly, this is NOT a New Covenant practice or doctrine…

Also, according to First Samuel 8:14-17, the ruler collected the first and best ten per cent for political use. During Jesus’ time Rome collected the first ten per cent (10%) of most food and twenty per cent (20%) of fruit crops as its spoils of war.

Conclusion: The current tithe teaching ignores all other tithes and focuses on an incorrect interpretation of the first religious tithe.

 

  1. What does the phrase ‘windows of heaven’ mean in context?

No other Scripture has had greater mileage than Malachi 3:10

“Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3 has been greatly misused for God’s blessing to come to his people.

A closer look of this verse in the context shows that it has nothing to do with wealth or material blessings. The term ‘windows of heaven occurs 3 times in the scriptures: We first find this same term used by God back in Genesis 7:11 the windows of heaven were open and rain contributed to the flood, as the fountains of the deep were broken open.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:11-12)

In Genesis 8:2 it says the windows of heaven were stopped and the rain from heaven was restrained.

And God remembered Noah, and all the beasts, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged; the fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; and the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters decreased. (Genesis 8:1-3)

 

Clearly this phrase is consistently used for water. In Genesis it was a judgment. In Malachi 3 it was to be a blessing on their crops. The nation lived by their agriculture (Husbandry) and depended upon the rain. God’s blessing had to do with his provision of water; no rain and they would starve. If they did not give God their tithes which was part of the blessing in the Mosaic covenant God would bring a curse on them, the ground would not yield food because he would not allow it to rain.

 

The Jew vs The Christian

Let’s take a side by side look at the life of the Mosaic Law abiding Jew, and the Christian:

The Jew:

God’s Mt. Sinai legislation regarding tithing is spelled out in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. As we discussed earlier, there are as many as three separate tithes that can be distinguished:

1) The annual tithe for the support of the Levites, the tabernacle/temple workers Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-24). This was the only visible means of support for them, since they inherited no land when Canaan was conquered under Joshua. The Levites, in turn, passed along a tithe of this tithe to the priests, the highest echelon of worship leaders (Numbers 18:26).

2) An annual feast tithe, which apparently went for the support of the house of God and its services (Deut 14:22-27).

3) A “social ministry” or ‘poor’ tithe, received every third year, for helping the poor and needy (Deut 14:28; 26:12).

4) A further examination of point 1: According to Deuteronomy 18, and Numbers 18, the priests and Levites were not allowed to own anything. Please consider that carefully, beloved. The priests and Levites could not own anything.

The priests, the Levites, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the offerings of Jehovah made by fire, and His inheritance. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brothers. Jehovah is their inheritance, as He has said to them. (Deuteronomy 18:1-2 ASV)

And Jehovah said to Aaron, You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any part among them. I am your part and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And behold, I have given the sons of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Numbers 18:20-21 ASV)

5) Also remember that the Old Testament tithing code specified the bare minimum amount to be contributed; it commanded the starting point for giving, not a goal toward which the worshipper should strive. The tithing code presupposed an agricultural existence, targeting the offering of grain, wine, oil, and livestock.

The Christian:

1) Keeping in mind that several things happened After Christ died on the cross for our sins:

  1. He rose from death on the third day,
  2. Ascended into heaven to rule all things, and
  3. He sent his Spirit on all flesh.

As a result, the New Testament church is under a new (and better) covenant, of which Jesus is the surety of, and the Old Testament had been fulfilled. This means that the ceremonial laws which pointed to Christ have served their purpose, and are now no longer in effect. From the day of Pentecost onward the rite of circumcision, the temple sacrifices, and other observances have lost their Spiritual importance. Clearly, the early church knew this, which is why the practice of tithing seems to have fallen by the wayside in those days. The Jewish historian Josephus states that all three tithes listed above were firmly in place in first century A.D. Judaism, but nevertheless tithing is never mentioned in the New Testament’s description of the first century church.

If tithing was to be practiced by and in the church, I would think that it would have been mentioned in the Epistles, especially to the church at Galatia, because they were primarily a gentile congregation.

2) All three tithes became obsolete.

  1. The tithe for the Levites became unnecessary when the Levites were replaced by the apostolic ministry. Concerning the material support of ministers of the Gospel, all the New Testament says is that they should eat what is set before them (Matt. 10:10) and that the church should take care of them (Gal 6:6).
  2. Secondly, the tithe for the support of the temple services outlived its usefulness: the sacrifices of the temple, soon to be leveled in AD. 70, gave place to the one Sacrifice for all sin.
  3. Thirdly, the “social ministry” tithe was no longer needed because Christian brothers and sisters helped one another by way of special collections, as was the case with the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem (1 Cor 16). While giving for the Lord’s work obviously continued in the church, no amounts or percentages are prescribed in the New Testament. All that is said is that early Christians had everything in common (Acts 2:44 – this is not a tithe, it is 100%!), that they gave sacrificially (2 Cor 8:1-3), and that they gave as God had prospered them (1 Cor 16:2)

 

3) Jesus’ comments in Matt 23:23 were directed at those still under the Mosaic Covenant.

Clearly this is so, and the proofs of this are many, so I will not go into detail… Additionally, many things Jesus did and commanded would be sinful to bind on Christians.

– Jesus commanded animal sacrifice, in accordance with the Law. Once HE, the perfect sacrifice was given, there was no longer any need for animal sacrifice (Matt 8:4)

– Jesus observed the Sabbath (Luke 4:16) although he rejected their man made up regulations concerning the Sabbath.

– Jesus observed the Passover (Matt 26:18)

– Jesus commanded JEWS (Matt 23:23) to tithe their crops and flocks to support the Levitical priests, but such would not work well as the support system for the work of the Church.

 

4) The early church DID NOT TITHE!

According to the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of The Bible, P. 758

“For several centuries in the early Church there was no support of the clergy by a systematic giving of a tithe…rather freedom in Christian giving was emphasized.”

Conclusion:

So what then do we say dear reader? Is tithing for the church? For the believer?

No, but GIVING is! Give freely, abundantly, and with Joy!

May God richly bless you!

Pastor.ctj

 

Sources and Resources:

 

Pastor George Greene – In Your Bible Ministries

http://www.inyourbible.com/video.html

 

Dr. Russell Earl Kelly – Should the Church teach tithing?

http://www.tithing-russkelly.com/

 

Gary Amirault  – The tithe is illegal

http://www.tentmaker.org/books/TheTitheisIllegal.html

 

The ‘Let us reason’ website – Are you giving to God with a Cheerful Heart, or Tithing by law to Benefit Yourself?

http://www.letusreason.org/Wf34.htm

 

Dr. James Bollhagen – Tithing: The 10% Rule and the Church: A Topical Summary for “Issues, Etc.”

http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar56.htm

 

Pastor CT Jermin – The Repairer’s Fellowship

http://www.rfbconline.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/TheRepFel/

 

Is everyone a child of God?

Pastor Jermin shares a letter that he wrote to a friend who made that claim:

Regarding your assertion that the Bible ‘ultimately teaches that all of us are God’s children.’

The short response would be this: While the Bible is clear that all people are God’s creation (Colossians 1:16), and that God loves the entire world (John 3:16),  it is equally clear that only those who are born again are children of God (John 1:12;11:52; Romans 8:16;1 John 3:1-10).

The longer answer is :

Outside of the 10th through 13th verses of John Chapter 1, which say (as translated in the King James Bible or KJV) :

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I can see where that would be a logical conclusion, especially in light of the many times that we see words like ‘all’ or ‘every’ or ‘world’.

The key becomes, in every case then, what the context of the Word usage is.

The only way to get to the intended meaning of a text (the only accurate meaning) is by asking and answering the following questions:

1) Who is speaking?

2) To Whom are they Speaking?

3) What was the intent?

A good example is the contention that God wants all people to be ‘saved’ using 2 Peter 3:9 as proof text. In the KJV, it is translated as: 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The words any and all figure prominently here, and at first glance it is quite easy to see how the conclusion can be drawn.

But a more careful reading of the verse shows that the word ‘us-ward’ precedes ‘any’ and ‘all’. We’re then forced to ask the question: ‘Who are the ‘us’ of whom Peter speaks’?

Verse 1 of the Chapter has a clue:  It says: ‘This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance’

This means then, that this is a second letter. This implies then, that there is a first.

Thankfully we have that letter, and it is in the Canon of scripture. The Epistle of 1st Peter begins:  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

From this we can deduce the following re: 2 Peter 3:9 what he is really saying is: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward (the Elect of God) , not willing that any (of the Elect of God) should perish, but that all (of the Elect of God)  should come to repentance.

This is in keeping with the statements made by Jesus Christ (as recorded in the Gospel of John, Chapter 6:

37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.  41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? 43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is fairly clear that Jesus is not speaking of everyone in that he makes the distinction that ‘all that the Father Gives me’ will come, meaning of course, that not all people were given to Him by the Father. This is borne out by the fact that after the crucifixion and resurrection the Bible records fewer that 500 believers.

Jesus is even more succinct in the 8th Chapter of John’s Gospel, when in a discussion with the Pharisees, beginning at verse 39:

Our father is Abraham!” they replied. “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did. 40 But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! 41 You’re doing what your father does.”

“We weren’t born of sexual immorality,” they said. “We have one Father—God.”

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”

Consider these other NT passages:

Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.  – Ephesians 1:5

The children of the flesh … are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.  – Romans 9:8

He that committeth sin is of the devil … Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil.  – 1 John 3:8-10

As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  – Romans 8:14

Now this does not mean that God does not Love everyone: As one of my favorite preachers, John MacArthur says:

“The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God’s attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that these mercies flow out of God’s boundless love? Yet it is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners.

Scripture clearly says that God is love. “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9). Christ even commands us to love our enemies, and the reason He gives is this: “In order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). The clear implication is that in some sense God loves His enemies. He loves both “the evil and the good,” both “the righteous and the unrighteous” in precisely the same sense we are commanded to love our enemies.

In fact, the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31; cf. Lev. 19:18), is a commandment for us to love everyone. We can be certain the scope of this commandment is universal, because Luke 10 records that a lawyer, “wishing to justify himself … said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Lk. 10:29)—and Jesus answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The point? Even Samaritans, a semi-pagan race who had utterly corrupted Jewish worship and whom the Jews generally detested as enemies of God, were neighbors whom they were commanded to love. In other words, the command to love one’s “neighbor” applies to everyone. This love commanded here is clearly a universal, indiscriminate love.”
But it does not say that everyone is God’s Child.