A conversation with a brother about healing (and other issues)

I found a conversation between a brother and I which took place in 2011. I found it useful, and I pray that you will too.

SDG

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Subject: Just following up…

Hey Bro
As you asked, M and I did indeed pray for you and yours. We also lifted up your church search..
A suggestion that I can make is EPC, I am not sure if you have heard of them. (redacted) is the Pastor there.
I only know of them that they are Reformed, and he is an Author that I like. The church’s website is here:
(redacted) and Please know that you are ALWAYS welcome to join us via Skype or by phone for our time of Fellowship…
We start at 2:30 Every Sunday, and we also do a Bible Study by Phone
Mon-Wed at 9 pm
Much Love
C

 

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Thanks C. I did try EPC and while I loved the people, I did not join because they do not believe that healing is for all believers and they perceive natural disasters as punishment / judgment from God.
Thanks as well for your invite for church and Bible study. I am interested in the Bible study. Can I call in or do I need Skype?
Thanks

  •  Sun, May 15, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Hey Bro
I did not know that they flowed that way. I have a question for you…
How are they wrong? Is (physical) healing in fact for all believers?
Where is this in the scripture? Not trying at all to give you a hard time, but I would sincerely like to know.
re: The Bible Study, You do not need Skype,  the phone line is sufficient,
Peace
C

 

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 9:19 PM

C – You already know that the broken body is for our healing and the shed blood is for the remission of sins. We often part and parcel God’s promise because we don’t see it in our own lives. I may call in to a Bible study.
Thanks Bro
Love you

  • Sun, May 15, 2011 at 9:57 PM

J
I am asking a specific question, because I have a lady who is a part of our group who is quite ill, and she is ‘believing God’ for her healing. The trouble is that she is not getting better, and as such her faith has begun to wane. She now thinks that God has forsaken her, because she is not getting better, and that He no longer hears her prayers. What do I tell her, brother? That healing is promised to everyone but her? Or perhaps that she does not have enough faith to be healed? What do I say?

Personally, I am of the belief that Isaiah 53 is about the reconciliation between God and man, that is the healing that he writes of. It is not about physical healing.
I understand that the prevailing thought is that we are to ‘walk in divine health’ but the reality is that we die, Pastor JK. We get sick, we sometimes suffer and we all die.

Why would Paul say that God told him no? Why would He do that? Is it perhaps that His sovereignty is the main thing? He told him that his GRACE was sufficient for him…
Why would He tell Moses that He chooses who He will have mercy on? If healing is for EVERY believer?
There are those whom He heals instantly, those whom it is given to after a time of illness, and others for whom it is not His will that they be healed.
Romans 8 is clear that we are promised God’s presence in the midst of sickness and all other manner of trial. His presence, brother. He does not promise to take it away, He promises never to Leave us…
I have told her this, but she will not hear.

So I am asking you to provide for me scriptural proof that God promises physical healing to EVERY Christian.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – (Rom 8:35-39)

I appreciate your thoughts on this, man. If I have it wrong, please correct your brother.
Thanks
C

 

  • Mon, May 16, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Hi C,

I perceive the pressure you feel as a shepherd to your flock. (I prayed for our Father to comfort and lead you in all truth).

Whenever I face questions like this I usually go back to the Gospels to look at what Christ modeled since Christ is ultimately what God wants us to become. Jesus has never turned anyone away who wanted healing but rather healed them all. Jesus said He did only what He saw the Father doing therefore we can conclude the Father is in the healing ministry. Also in the book of Deuteronomy sickness is a curse and health is a blessing. We also know that sickness is a result of sin and so is death. Well, Christ bore the sin and sickness since he was the last Adam and therefore we are free from the consequence of sin which is sickness and death. We know that we will experience the final victory over death upon His return.

I urge you to use this situation to press into the throne room of God and experience His face. If Jesus was there among you and your church members would she be still sick?….no! Therefore press into worship. You and the elders must lay hands on her and speak to the mountain to be removed and do it over and over and over and over and over again (like Elijah). Also tell this woman to speak to her mountain consistently and rebuke it and cast it out. Also there must not be any unforgiveness, jealousy, slander, bitterness or malice among you. Confess your sins to one another!

Heavenly Father, your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we know Father that there are no wheel chairs, medicine, or doctors in heaven because Jesus paid it  ALL. We thank you that we are healed by your stripes and we give you ALL the glory and ALL the honor. I know Lord that C’s heart is moved with compassion for Your flock just like You are. I pray that you anoint him with more power from on high to give You more glory in this earth. Holy Spirit help this local body to press in even more in worship for You delight in it and when presence is here there is healing in Your wings. Spur us on Holy Spirit…..
In the matchless name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

 

  • Tue, May 17, 2011 at 12:54 AM

J
First off, thank you for taking the time to write me back. I really appreciate it, and I appreciate your going to the throne on our behalf.

Regarding you comment that, “Christ is ultimately what God wants us to become”. I agree that we shall ultimately be like Him. The scripture is plain…

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  – (1John 3:1-2)

Notice that it is future tense; we shall be, when He shall appear. Shall be, is not now.

I would also ask that you read John Chapter 5 in context, re: the comment that Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. You may come away with a different understanding as to what He was talking about. It wasn’t the healing, it was the perceived transgression of the Law. The Father transcends the Law, so does the Son, and I believe that was His point…

I looked up your assertion that according to Deuteronomy sickness is a curse. I found that according to Deuteronomy 28, it is indeed a curse, and it is YHWH that is letting Israel know that should they disobey him, they will be cursed by HIM with sickness, and a host of other calamities.
It begins with verse 15 which says:

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:  – (Deu 28:15 KJV)

And it ends with this:

And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.  – (Deu 28:64-68 KJV)

Here is where I have a problem, bro. Actually a couple of problems

1) The curses described here are God’s promise to that people, and were quite specific. How do we handle then, verses 64-68 in context? Is this happening now? In fact, I would ask that you read the entire Chapter (and the preceding one) in context, and tell me if you can still draw the same conclusion..

2) If you can, then I must ask this: Using this reference then, and by extension the logic, I must glean from this that I am to tell this woman that she is in sin, and God is cursing her. This is the cause of her affliction unto death. How can she therefore ‘rebuke and cast out’ the very illness that YHWH Himself has afflicted her with because of her sin?
I should also tell my cousin who is in her 3rd bout with breast cancer, (which has also affected both lungs and her brain) that the God she loves, serves and worships faithfully is in fact afflicting her because of sin…
And what of Zac, whose video I have linked below, who went to be with the LORD a year ago today, leaving a young widow, and 3 young children… He is dead because he sinned.
http://www.godvine.com/Man-Dying-of-Cancer-Leaves-Behind-an-Unforgettable-Video-258.html

How then is this any different than EPC saying that natural disasters are punishment/judgment? It seems much the same to me…

3) Additionally, are you saying that God curses people, but we can, by obeying the Law get Him to lift the curse that HE has placed on us? That must be what you are saying, because if our cursing and disease and are the result of sin, then we must also accept the fact that it is our works of obedience that heal us. After all, verse 1 of the same Chapter says this:  And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  – (Deu 28:1) A list of blessings follows.
If this is true, then there was no need for Jesus to come, because we can obey and keep the Law ourselves…

4) Why do believers die then brother? If sickness is the result of a curse from God, yet Jesus came to make us all well, then does it not make God a trifle arbitrary and capricious?

5) On that note, using Deut 28 as a launching pad, can we not also then make the assumption that Jesus was healing people to in fact, prove Himself to be the antidote, to in effect, reverse the curse? Could it be that the purpose of His healings was to prove His deity, Prove his power and His authority to the ones to whom He was sent? To show them that as He said, the Son of man was the Lord of the Sabbath and the Law (Matthew 12:8-13),
When He spoke to the people during the sermon on the mount and said this:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18).
On the excellent website www.gotquestions.org we find this re: the fulfillment of the law:
“Christ fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic law, which called for perfect obedience under threat of a “curse” (see Galatians 3:10, 13). In this sense, the law’s divine design will ever have an abiding effect. It will always accomplish the purpose for which it was given. If, however, the law of Moses bears the same relationship to men today, in terms of its binding status, then it was not fulfilled, and Jesus failed at what He came to do.”
Keep in mind bro, that EVERY one of the people that Jesus healed, died. I say that with almost complete certainty. Even Lazarus, and the little girl raised from the dead, died again. So unless Jesus failed in His mission, (and we know that He did not) , the death that He went to the cross to save us from was the Eternal death of separation from God. And the stripes that whereby we are healed were for our permanent (Spiritual) not temporary (temporal) healing.

6) Is not physical death the natural ordered result of physical life? Am I not to expect that no matter how I pray, praise, and worship, I will  (unless the rapture comes) have to experience physical death in order to experience eternal life?

7) Do I believe that God heals? Of Course. I am aware however, that it is not my prayers, decrees or declaration, but his will, and His Mercy. Paul who asked and was told no, says this in his letter to the church at Phillippi: Phil 2:  25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 

Paul says that  God had mercy on him, brother

8) I have to reiterate, bro, that by your logic, there is no need for Romans 8:35-39. In theory we should all live in perfect health forever. We both know that this is not the case. We age, we change, this mortal coil wears down, and we go. But maybe I see it a little more clearly than you do, as I can see 50  just few months away, and am discovering new aches and pains as I go… LOL!

Please read Romans 8 completely bro, and notice that Paul is writing to believers, and he is not speaking of sin, or to sinners. Remember that the chapter begins with this wonderful declaration:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  – (Rom 8:1-4 KJV)    

So since this is true, if sickness is a curse, and a curse from God because of sin and disobedience, why can this promise be made?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  – (Rom 8:35-39)

I am most happy for this discussion, and look forward to your reply.
Peace & Love
C

The conversation ended there… Your thoughts/opinions are welcomed, fam.

What sayest thou?

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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/

 

A ‘lose lose’ situation…

Several years ago, I was in negotiations to become the ‘worship pastor’ of a local denominational church. I had served there previously in several capacities (choir director, worship leader, and more) in two previous spans.

The situation seemed really good; The church,suffering numerically and financially, was seeing dwindling numbers especially in the key 25-40, and 40-59 demographics, (Key of course since these are the two groups who normally bring both energy and steady income to the church)  and was looking for a way to turn the situation around…

Per the negotiations that I had with the pastor, I would work directly with him on worship planning, service structure, and have responsibility over the music and arts ministries. In that capacity, I was to:

1) Implement training (Biblical, Musical, Theological) for both the adults and children, re: Worship, the use of music, etc.

2) Create/develop a band and choir from among existing membership so that the church would not have to hire outside musicians, (especially those of a different faith as they were doing, which is another post in itself).

Additionally, the pastor told me that he was looking to build what amounted to a ‘two-winged’ system (aka the cell-celebration model) where leaders were trained and empowered, and the cells met and sought to experience/manifest their faith in a much more intimate way, and that he needed my help to do it. I was hooked…

I even agreed to commit to the work for less than one half of what I knew the work was worth in terms of time, effort and value.

Keep in mind that I was going to take this on in addition to my other duties, including pastoring/teaching the Repairer’s Fellowship. (What was I thinking? In retrospect, I’m not sure)

As we went into the process however, things began to change subtly. After a while it became clear that the pastor’s aims/goals and mine were not in alignment.

He wanted Immediate results, performance and pomp, (especially since he was aware of my prior work with a very large ministry of which he is enamored), while I was looking for steady growth, community development, and long-term success.

Additionally, I began to see during meetings that what we had discussed privately was clearly not being communicated to the board members of the church, in particular those whose support would be key, if the endeavor would be successful.

Most importantly  however, I began to see (in these same meetings) that the Theological positions which we seemed to share on key issues must have been figments of my imagination. In short, we were at an impasse.

The last straw was a meeting which I was invited to, which took place a mere 3 days before my scheduled ‘official’ start date. I had been attending events, getting familiar with the people with whom I’d be working closely, some of whom were new to me, some were not. Several things took place at the meeting which did nothing to assuage my growing discomfort with the formerly idyllic enterprise, in fact it was looking more and more like an elaborate gimmick-filled program designed to bolster/rally support for the pastor, at the expense of the people… Then, the coup de grace. I was asked to stay behind after the meeting, and I was told by the pastor and a key board member, that they then wanted me to come in and work for the first couple of months gratis, and then at the beginning of the third month, they would ‘by faith’ be able to pay me…

I told them that I would pray and think about it, and what emerged was the following (edited for names etc.)

Date: —-

To: Rev. ——, and committee

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you because there is much that needs to be said, and it is my desire to be thorough and concise, neither do I wish to be misunderstood, therefore, I ask that you read completely what follows, and then if you’d like to discuss any part of it, I will be happy to at a time that is mutually convenient.

I came out of the meeting that I attended on March xxth, conflicted and concerned for several reasons which I will, if you will indulge me, make clear below. I will first lay out the various situations as I see them, followed by a conclusion…

The liturgical situation:

Clearly we are on different trajectories in terms or our understanding of what it means to be, and function as the church.  As we are all aware, I am not (denomination), and there are many reasons for that. I thought however,  that we could surmount those differences and try to come to a middle ground, but I am now no longer so sure that this can happen successfully.

By nature, due to experience and years of study, I am antagonistic towards doctrines and practices foisted on the church (the people of God) that I do not see Biblical support for. Things that are in my view, destructive to the simple clarity of the Gospel and what it means to be the Ekklesia. Things like Paedo-Baptism, tithing, and consubstantiation to name a few.

I realize also that we have very different ideas about, and definitions of, words like ‘Worship’,’ church’, and ‘service’. I was in error because I thought that we could find a place of agreement, especially when in conversation with Rev. —, I was told that he envisioned eventually the (cell groups) functioning almost like individual house churches. As a house church Pastor, trainer and planter, this appealed to me greatly. But this, like a few other things that we have discussed during this process, I heard (I realize now) through the filter of my definitions and therefore did not hear what was really being said. Again, this is my error.  

That said, I am very concerned about the shape that the (leadership training unit) is taking. I see now that I did not understand the purpose as it has been defined. I thought, (better yet, I assumed) from our discussions that you (church name) were seeking to develop a group of servant leaders, who would, as the Aposle Peter commanded, shepherd the flock which is ‘among them’ (1 Peter 5:2). What I saw the other night instead, was the institution of another level of religious bureaucracy and separation. Another level set in place between the congregation and God, and I am not in agreement with this at all.

Using Exodus 28, Rev. — set up the premise of a level of priests among priests. While this is clearly the way that Israel functioned, it is clear that we are not Israel, we are the body of Christ, a body fitly joined together, where everyone is equally important, with differing gifts which edify the whole. As I say to our group consistently, Pastor is my gift, not my rank.

The spiritual situation:

The essential message of Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees was that they had put so many things (practices, systems, dogmas, doctrines) in between the people and the Lord that the people’s vision of the true God was obscured, and they were being destroyed because of it.

The ultimate end of what I teach regarding Worship is paradoxical:

  1. The truth that the blood bought believer is a slave. Completely captive to Christ, His will and desire. This understanding shapes everything else in life.
  2. That there is freedom in Christ of the individual, who having come to a place of true liberty can function freely, fully and passionately in the community of believers.

In short, in Christ we are both slave and free simultaneously.

That is what I see in the New Testament, people being set free, as they come into the knowledge of the truth. Simply and sincerely. And those same people becoming willing slaves to the will and purpose of their Master. Utterly and completely…

Instead, in churches all over, we add pomp and circumstance, extra-biblical rituals and forms, and the clever plans of men, which now as then, obscure God from the people, this is why members that I have spoken to recently, identify themselves as (denomination) before they are Christian, if they identify in a meaningful way as Christian at all.

The solution to most all of the issues in the body of Christ (including factionalism, church growth struggles, marital issues, the so-called ‘worship wars’, etc) is quite simple. “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus”.  Not on our terms but on His. It is not about professional presentation, more complexity in our rituals, new levels of hierarchical structure or worship planning that focuses on entertainment or experience. Rather it is about education and edification.

In John 4, Jesus makes clear that true worship is accomplished not in location, ritual, or tradition, but rather in spirit and truth. Teaching before practice, and holiness unto the Lord which comes from within…

Regarding my ‘rigidity’: I have been at various and sundry times been called that and much worse, because I regard the Worship and things of God as holy, and His people as precious. It is clear that the holiness of God is the primary focus of our Worship, it is clear that worship is for God’s glory and for our benefit. I regard Worship (and its associated events) the same why that you, brother (Rev—) , guard the pulpit.Why? Because God does.

This is the same God who killed his own priests, denied his own chosen man the promised land, killed people in the church gathering, and will deny many who profess belief, access to heaven and his throne. Why? Because He is Holy.

This is the same God who admonishes the shepherds to follow His example and lay down their lives for the sheep, the same one who says that a fate worse than death awaits those who Abuse his children, and promises a harsher judgment for those who claim this gift of Pastor/Teacher. Why? Because His people are precious.. His Bride is precious.

As Paul Washer says, ‘If I knew that someone had assaulted my wife, and that people had seen it but did not help, I would first hunt down and destroy the ones who had assaulted my Bride, but then I would hunt down the ones who saw and did nothing. How do you think that Jesus will deal with those who abuse His bride, and those who see and do nothing?’

I refuse to be on either list…

You see brothers and sisters, for us to think that it is ok to bring people in, or put people up to minister who are at best unregenerate, have doctrinal positions which are not Biblically supported, or at worse, do not follow Christ at all, is dangerously errant, and is ‘strange fire’ (see Leviticus 10) .  For us to have ecumenical services with those who follow different gods or hold heretical beliefs about Christ, claiming that they are ‘brothers’ is ‘strange fire’.

This seems not to be an issue for the folks at (church name), and though I am concerned, I understand why. They have not been taught, and many do not have a clear understanding of the depth of it. Clear Biblical teaching will easily fix that, and those who are given grace to hear, will. That is your task, brother (Rev—), and I pray that you will be up to the challenge by God’s grace.

(discussion of the financial situation redacted)

As such, I hereby remove my name from consideration for the position or Worship Pastor/Director of Worship Arts at (Church name) . It is my prayer that in the coming months,  the Lord will guide you towards the best candidate, even as He prepares you in every way to accommodate he or she at that time

In His Service, by His Grace,

Pastor CT. Jermin

The Beginning of Forever (Part 1)

From Part 57 of our study of The Revelation

Revelation 22:1-6 (HCSB)
1  Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2  down the middle of the broad street of the city. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations,
3  and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him.
4  They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
5  Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
6  Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His slaves what must quickly take place.”

It is the 8th Anniversary of The Repairer’s Fellowship

Pastor Jermin shares his thoughts on this, the 8th Anniversary of the felllowship’s founding…

It has been 8 years…

8 years since the first little group met around a dining table in Brooklyn, and began a journey.

We weren’t really sure WHAT it was going to be, but we knew that it WAS supposed to be, and that was what we stood on.

We called ourselves ‘The Repairer’s Fellowship’ all of us having traversed the unforgiving wilderness of ‘church’, all of us bearing the scars of numerous battles, some minor skirmishes that merely left a bad taste in one’s mouth, some major wars which left one bloodied and deeply wounded. We knew a couple of basic things:

1) God IS

2) He has provided the cure for every ailment, every hurt, and the solution to every issue.

3) Healing happens in the midst of the community of the redeemed.

8 years later, a lot has transpired. People have come, people have gone. People have been born, people have gone home. People have married, people have divorced. People have separated, people have reconciled. The numbers have ebbed and flowed, sometimes we’ve had a full house, other times food has sat untouched because the house was empty.

The idea of ‘life in community’ has been a hard sell; in fact, I must admit that it has been nearly impossible to practice in real life. This reality has surprised and saddened (in fact grieved) me for a long time, because it is so clear to me that this is the message of the Bible, this is the strength of the Church, and I believe to my core that we are, as a body of believers, doing ourselves a disservice by not seeking to live in the way that the Bible prescribes…

But I understand that the idol of ‘success’, and the dual messaging of ‘independence’ and ‘individuality’ are interwoven into every aspect of ‘modern life’ (this includes modern American church life), and interdependence (the Biblical standard) is viewed as weakness, by many.

As such, for me there have been moments of great joy, and others of deep sadness, even sometimes despair.

It has been said that ‘doctrine divides’. I have found this to be true. Unlike some who avoid dealing with the tough issues for fear of offense, (‘Go along to get along’ is not a Biblical construct) we have had to, and admittedly sometimes with great trepidation, approach what was difficult and seek the Word for clarity, and make decisions.

We have done this, all the while knowing that this might cause some to leave, and it has, in no uncertain terms. Most often this has been because people like the God that they’ve been taught or made for themselves, the Jesus that aligns with their chosen parameters, and would rather bend this God to their whim, then bend to His Word.  

It must be noted that: Midway through this experience, I was introduced to the doctrines of Grace, and I began to see so very clearly, The Sovereignty of God, and with that, an understanding of Grace that is sometimes overwhelming…  Mind and ministry completely revolutionized, I began to teach them in depth, and in earnest… I was very surprised when all did not embrace the comfort and assurance of knowing that God was in fact truly Lord of All,  and that as one of our Elders says  ‘Everything that concerns us, concerns Him.’ This was especially evident when we studied the doctrine of Election… That was the final line of demarcation.

This in fact, caused some to leave. Perhaps it was my delivery, perhaps my earnestness, perhaps my complete conviction that this is in fact what The Bible teaches. Perhaps it was that their concept of God was unsettled by the Bible itself, and it was too much for them…

We lost others when it became clear to them, that I would not do what they wanted when they wanted, and how they wanted. This of course meant that because I did not see things exactly their way, I was no longer hearing from God…

One learns as a Pastor/leader:

  1. Not to take things personally.
  2. Everything in the barn isn’t necessarily your sheep.
  3. Today isn’t always. Those with you now, may not be tomorrow, and that’s OK
  4. Some aren’t sheep at all, even if they look and sound like it at first.

As I sit here and try to think through, ponder, circumspectly evaluate the past 8 years, I am somewhat blank emotionally. This is odd, because I thought that I would have some emotion. I don’t, (perhaps I am suppressing it) at least not in the sense of wistful longing, or sadness or regret.

I experience a deep sense of gratitude most days, with some frustration and even annoyance, when things do not go my way, but as another of our Elders says, ‘we must get over ourselves’.

Mostly I am grateful.

I am grateful to God for the men and women who have stuck it out and remain.

I am grateful for my family. My wife and daughter, who see, and understand, and continue to walk this road with me.

I am grateful for the people who see enough of Christ in me that they entrust me with themselves. (Aha, my tears are letting me know that I am not as suppressed as I thought)

I am grateful to God for the new ones who are circling the periphery and are as yet a bit unsure (a former attendee used to refer to herself as a ‘sheep at large’), but know that they need more, and are intrigued by the possibilities.

I am grateful to God for the honor of pastoring His people, to nuture and be nurtured by them, each in their own way.

It is an honor to be in fellowship with people of God, a privilege to be able to share my own travails in safety, knowing that I will be lifted up when I need that, and corrected when I need that. It is humbling.

I am learning to be more consistent in the day to day, to be more faithful to the accomplishment of the task set before me. I am aware that I must be even more studious and diligent with my handling of the scripture. I am learning every day that more (much more) time must be spent in prayer, and I must be more trusting in the assurance that no matter what it may look like to me, God does indeed have a plan, and his way is the best way.

There are times, I admit, when I look over the fence, to other pastures, (especially when numbers and funding seem scarce, and the ‘needs doing’ list is longer that the ‘doers’ list) and I wonder what it would be like to have a big pen with lots of sheep. Invariably, I come back to the fact that if the pen has a lot of sheep, they are usually little sheep, completely dependent on the pastor’s every word. Sheep who will gladly toil and pay for the honor of toiling to build the pastor’s pen (aka ministry/vision, etc.)  (I used to be one while in another’s pen).

I am sure that it would be monetarily beneficial. But that is not my calling. I knew from day one that the task for me was to be Big Sheep, not big pens.

I must stand on His Word, and continue to put my hand to the plow. There is a field in front of me that I am responsible for, and I must accomplish that with which I have been tasked.

So I will thank Him for the first 8 years, and trust Him for however more there will be, and ask/trust Him to show me when the changes are up ahead, so that I can adjust.

To God Be The Glory, great things He has done.

pastor.ctj

The Babylon Virus/Mammonitis

The Babylon Virus/Mammonitis, Pt.1 of Week 49 of our study of The Revelation

Idolatry is the virus, materialism is the manifestation… But what is the antidote?

About the study:
In April of 2014, The Repairer’s Fellowship embarked on an expository, verse by verse teach-through of The Book of Revelation. It has been tremendously enlightening and enriching for all who have taken part. The primary materials tht we are using in addition to the book itself are: G.K. Beale’s commentary on Revelation, ‘More Than Conquerors’ by William Hendericksen , and Arturo Azurdia’s 81sermons preached on the text in 2002-2003. Other resources are being used as well, but these are the main ones. We have decided to share the lessons on Youtube, praying that God be glorified, and His people edified by our journey.

Part 48 of our study on The Revelation – 09/27/2015

Revelation 17: 9-18

“Here is the mind with wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated. 10 They are also seven kings: Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes, he must remain for a little while. 11 The beast that was and is not, is himself an eighth king, yet he belongs to the seven and is going to destruction. 12 The 10 horns you saw are 10 kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they will receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

15 He also said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute was seated, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. 16 The 10 horns you saw, and the beast, will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, devour her flesh, and burn her up with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to carry out His plan by having one purpose and to give their kingdom to the beast until God’s words are accomplished. 18 And the woman you saw is the great city that has an empire over the kings of the earth.”