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?

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/

 

Tools For The Trial

An transcription of an Old sermon of mine. May it Bless you today:

Abide & Abound, or; Tools for the trial – 05/27/06

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

That is easy to read, but Hard to do, isn’t it.

Why? Because:

We have misunderstood the reality of our connection to the church. It is an internal connection not external, and because we fail to understand this, we become anchored to, and enslaved by, the buildings and organizations that we tether ourselves to. Instead of being attached, we become entrenched. Jesus made it plain that:

  • Worship is not tied to a locality, and the Church is not a building.
     – John 4:19-24.
    Paul echoed the sentiment, in that it is not about created things, and God is nigh thee

Acts 17:19-34

People going to church for feelings. Feel Good religion, non-confrontational Gospel.

You know, the all things work, etc. positive confessions, etc.. Focus on Praise. Corporate, modern, sophisticated, church

But the Spirit of the Lord let Paul that this would happen 2000 years ago

 

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Recently I shared about the Barna Group website. George Barna has written one of the most startling books of the past five years: Revolution. Reading that book caused me to want to find out more about what he does, so I went to his website.  While on his site, I came across a page dealing with Statistics that his research group gathered re: the Faith of African Americans. I was intrigued, and a bit upset, to say the least, because according to the Barna group’s findings:

Although 75% of us believe that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator who rules the world today, and 83% of us say our religious faith is very important in their lives….

  • Only 10% of us believe moral truth is absolute.

This goes right back to what I keep screaming. Until we teach God’s people to WORSHIP, Until the People of God have an Isaiah 6 experience, Until we as ministers, worship leaders, and whatever else we call ourselves, model Worship in our day to day living, until we teach foundational Bible truth, and Stress the importance and NECESSITY for Worship and Holiness, Our churches will be full of people who believe that:

  1. A) Sin is relative B) Holiness is optional C) Righteousness is tentative

D) Holiness is conceptual at best E) Righteous Ethical living is situational

People MUST know, that charismatic preachers, slammin’ choirs and a Shout and dance DO NOT get you anywhere near the LORD! No matter how many tongues folk speak in.

You want the formula? The Lord says:

Humble yourself and pray, seek my face and turn from your wicked ways. Draw night unto me and I will draw night unto you, but you must clean your hands, and purify your hearts.

– 2 Chron 7:14 – , James 4:8)

Humble yourself in my sight, and I will lift you up, for a broken spirit and contrite heart I will not despise.,  – James 4:10, Psalm 51:17

Study to shew thyself approved, for I need knowledgable workmen that can go forth without fear, because they know me, and my Word. – 2 Timothy 2:15  

Because the hour comes, in fact, it now is, when the true worshippers will Worship me in Spirit and in truth, for I am a Spirit, and I seek these to Worship me.  – John 4:23-24

 

Everybody’s got drama, it is part of life, as Solomon so aptly put it in Ecclesiastes 9:11

 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

  • 3 Types of people, many types of Praise. There are only 3 types of people:
    1. Those facing a trial or valley,
    2. Those in the midst of a trial or valley,
    3. Those who are on the way to the next one.

Those of you who are facing or in the midst are probably finding it harder to Praise and Worship. Here’s some perspective for you:

Life is peaks and valleys, but we want to go mountain to mountain. Glory to glory

Why? Because Goliath is in the valley and the Philistines are on the other side.

 

Worship causes you to KNOW your God, and KNOW yourself. Knowing God allows you to have David’s perspective when facing your Goliath. As Daniel put it

Daniel 11:32b  – But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.1

But how do you get through the valley?

1 Thessalonians 5:16 -18 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

But how can you do that?

Dr. Roy Blizzard in his book Let Judah Go Up First. Recounts the following story:

In the book of Judges, chapter 1, verses 1-12, Israel is preparing for battle and they inquire of the Lord, Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites? The Lord tells them …Judah is to go. Later, in Judges 20:18 we find, …who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites? The Lord replied, Judah shall go first.

There were twelve tribes of Israel. Why should Judah be called upon to go up first? The Hebrew word translated as Judah is used many times in English as PRAISE. So the scripture could be translated as, LET PRAISE GO UP FIRST. This is good advice for us when facing struggles or battles. Let us first praise. This is both an act of faith and submission. Praise God before the battle is entered; anyone can praise when the battle is over and won. Only by faith can we praise at the start.

 

We want to praise and praise accurately. To help us understand what this is about, we will look into some of the Hebrew words translated as praise.

 

  • For us to let Judah go up first is to recognize that our battles are spiritual and must be fought in the spirit. When we let Judah go up first, we confess the attributes of God

2 Corinthians 10:4-5  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  • Here are some tools to use, straight from the Word…
  • At all times

GADAL (Gah Dahl) – Often translated “magnify,” it is used as a synonym of praise. In Psalms 34:4 and 69:31, it literally means “to cause to become great.” Gadal calls the worshipper to ascribe greatness to the Lord and His name.

  • As you face the valley

TOWDAH – (To-Daw) -To give worship by the extension of the hand in adoration or agreeing with what has been done or will be. This word is commonly found in connection with sacrifice-applying the giving of thanks or praise as a sacrifice before reception or manifestation. Thanking God for something that I don’t have in the natural. Agreeing with His Word – faith in His Word. This form of praise goes in operation just because His Word is true. “Father, I thank YOU that YOUR WORD is TRUE. As we raise our hearts and hands in praise to the Lord, it involves a sacrifice, especially if one is very sick in body. The carnal mind would fight and ridicule this particular action, but there is great faith in TOWDAH as praise. The lifting of the hand symbolizes agreement. The right hand symbolizes my covenant with my

Father. As I go through the scriptures, God is seen extending His Right Hand to me. That’s the covenant. When He extends His right hand to me, He’s saying to me – ALL THAT I AM IS YOURS, and when I extend my right hand to Him, I am saying “All that I am is yours and I agree with what You’re saying. It is the sacrifice that God honors by His performing of miracles.

 

The ATTITUDE for TOWDAH is: I’m thanking God. I’m agreeing with God that it is as He says. I don’t care what it looks like. I’m agreeing with what His Word says. Example: Father, I thank You that I am healed. Scripture: Psalm 42:4, 50:23, Jer. 17:26

  • In the midst of the valley:

YADAH  (Yaw-Daw) – To worship with the extended hand. The giving of oneself in worship and adoration. To lift your hands unto the Lord. It carries the meaning of absoulute surrender as a young child does to a parent – “pick me up, I’m all yours”.  Scriptures: Gen. 29:35, 2 Chron. 7:6, 20:21, Psalms 9:1, 28:7, Psalms 33:2, 42:5,11, 49:18,

Isaiah 12:1

Yadah in practice – Lift my hands to Him and say how I am surrendering myself to Him. List the ways that I am surrendering to Him. Be diligent. Be disciplined. Be specific. Take the discipline and SAY to the Lord how I am surrendering to Him. With my hands uplifted – surrender unto my God – spirit, soul & body. Totally commit myself to my father.

 

  • The victory cry!

SHABACH – (Shaw-Bakh) – to address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout! Proclaim with a loud voice, unashamed, the GLORY, TRIUMPH, POWER, MERCY, LOVE OF GOD. This word implies that testimony is praise. The phrase “shout unto the Lord” can be understood as the action of SHABACH. It is not just being loud. You should have the attitude of putting your whole being into it, an attitude of being totally uninhibited. Scripture: Psalm 117:1, 63:3-4

 

  • Elder Pointer ministered last week about testing and chastisement, how God sends or allows both, but they are different things for different purposes. I was thinking about that, and there it was, the reason for the valleys…

 

Romans 12:1-3 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Could the trials, the valleys, could they be to remind us of the one on whom we rely

The one in whom we live and move and have our being? This is why we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

You see when you change your mind, you change yourself! That’s the experience Isaiah had, and the woman at the well had…

I dare you to step back and take a LONG look, a LONG look at your circumstances,

And figure out what you need to change. Then you know what you got to do…

Change Your MIND!

Now I see some of you sisters looking over at your husbands, and some of you brothers looking at your wives. That’s not what I’m talking about.. Amen? Amen!

You’re asking: “How am I supposed to renew my mind?”

Well here’s a simple start. Turn the TV off, and Open your Bible!

Call your cable company, and cancel that playboy channel, start watching the WORD network!

Put down the knife and fork, and pick up your Bible!

Turn off the 50cent, and turn on Fred Hammond!

Hmmm. It’s awful quiet in here… But that’s good. Work Holy Ghost, have your way…

For those that are thinking, None of that applied to me, I’m all right now, why would I wanna change my mind? Well brothers and sisters, the answer is in the next sentence of Romans 12:2

that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God

“Prove it to who Pastor Cyril?”

Well Jesus answered that one in Matthew 5: 13-16

No need to turn to it, just write it down…

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven

You see there is a responsibility in serving God. God has certain expectations of us.

They’ve got to see your good works, yes, WORKS!

You and me, we are employees, you see.

Of Jesus, Inc.  And the boss expects productivity!

Some of us are very productive, out in the vineyard, working. Doing the work, fighting the good fight, pressing on towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus!

Praise the Lord! Others of us got hired, worked for a while, then went on break! I ain’t callin you out, you know who you are. You’ve been in the break room so long that you forgot what your desk looks like! But I’m here to tell you today, I’ve got to pass this message on from the boss:

Break Time is Over! Look at somebody and say Break Time is Over!

Look around you! There is work to be done!

Look at your neighbor and say… “There is work to be done.”

Some of you are on vacation. That’s all right… For a time.

He understands that we get weary, and need to rest…

But some of you are thinking about not coming back to work. Things have gotten too hard. Situations have made you weary…

Like them that’s on leave, but I got a Word for you BENEFITS!

Say Benefits!

Psalms 68:19  Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Psalms 103:2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Psalms 116:12  What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?

 

David said this in Psalm 139
1 O LORD , you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD .
5 You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

 

  • He knows, and he understands. You might be discouraged, you might be beat down, might not want to go on, but remember the benefits, brothers and sisters. Remember the benefits!

Psalm 91
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

You see, if you stay close, you will abide. You will Abide

Y’all didn’t hear me! You will abide!  Glory to God!

Ok, let me break it down… Help me Holy Ghost….

  • To abide means to:  Remain in a place. To continue to be sure or firm; To endure.

Think about it. If you dwell in the secret place of the Most high God,

You will remain under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s peace!

You will continue to be sure under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s confidence!

You will continue to be firm, under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s security!

You will Endure under the shadow of the Almighty!

That’s power!

When you Abide, Surely he shall deliver thee!

He shall cover thee! under his wings shalt thou trust!

When you Abide, His truth shall be thy shield and buckler!

Thou shalt not be afraid of anything!

 

When you Abide,

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee!

When you Abide,

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee!

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways

You’re gonna abide! Oh somebody Praise Him!! Hallelujah


It’s in your mouth, let it out

For those of you who don’t think it takes all of this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  –  John 1:1-3,

If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.  – Deuteronomy 30:10-14

Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! – Psalm 81:1

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.  – Psalm 95:1-3

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD.  Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say:”Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” – Isaiah12: 1-6

And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.  – Joshua 6:16  

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. – Psalms 5:11  

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. – Psalms 32:11  

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. – Psalms 35:27  

O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. – Psalms 47:1

AMEN!

 

The sovereignty issue.

Pastor Jermin says:

Note: This piece came out of a debate that I was having on Facebook with a dear brother who is of the Arminian/Wesleyan/point of view…

As I see it, the core problem here, as always, is the sovereignty issue.

Either we believe that salvation is a sovereign act of a sovereign God , or we believe that God’s will and salvific action is somehow secondary, or subordinate to man’s.

So many believe that in fact God can only offer, in hopes that man will respond, but since they do not want to go quite that far, they’ll say that He, knowing that you would choose Him, chose you first.

This is how most people try to rationalize Romans 8, and the doctrine of predestination. But it is, if you think about it carefully, quite silly actually. We ascribe complete sovereignty and omnipotence to God up until we get to man’s will.

This appears to be God’s Kryptonite. He has the power to create and hang the stars, but cannot determine whether or not I’ll get saved without first using His time vision to peek into forever, see my decision-making, and saying

 ‘Ok, he’s gonna pick me, so I’ll pick him’ 

Yes, it is indeed as silly as it sounds, but it is alas, what most Evangelical Christians believe. They won’t put it quite that way, but it is what it is.

If you’re offended right now dear reader (whomever you may be) , it is because you think that I am making light of this issue, or your position. Believe me I am by no means doing that. I have wrestled with this for some time. It is not ‘cut and dried’ by any means, but it is plain, and it is Biblical. I will not fight with the text any longer.

Hence it is my knee that most bow to His Word and His power, and His sovereignty, not His to mine. No matter what the Osteens of the world tell us.

Predestination, Election, Total Inability, etc. are not as some would claim, merely Calvin’s positions, they are the Bible’s. Clearly the Bible was around before Calvin was born. So let us not try to belittle these fundamental Biblical truths as being the sudden revelation of a 16th century man. They are those of the Most High God.

Here’s a fact: Dead (non living) things do not come to life on their own. They do not suddenly spring to life of their own volition… We all agree with this, clearly we are not believers in Spontaneous (aka Equivocal) generation. Yet, we who proclaim that the true life is the Spirit, seem to believe in Spiritual Spontaneous generation. We somehow believe that something spiritually dead can come to life on its own.

How can this be? Simple. Pride…

The vestiges of the grave clothes that we are consistently being released from a la Lazarus.  (Read John 11,) Lazarus’ resurrection as analogous to man’s salvation, and it becomes quite clear. The dead thing cannot hear because it is dead. It is the Master that has the stone rolled away, quickens the dead thing, and commands for the grave clothes to be taken off. Did Lazarus ‘Choose’ to get up, and come hopping into the light, yes He did. But he could not have done so, unless Jesus gave him the power to hear in the first place, dead as he was…

We all believe that the fruit/outcome/natural ordered result/wages of sin is Death, and the gift of God is eternal Life, yes? (Romans 6:23)

We all believe that pre-salvation we were dead in trespasses and sins, right? (Ephesians 2:1…-10)

Yet we still want to maintain the right to believe that we came to life by ourselves… Curious indeed…

I had a discussion/debate with a brother recently, and he presented a few well known oppositions to predestination, which I will answer below:

The progression, or sequential order of Romans 8, which says that:

The scripture sets a clear pattern there: “foreknew” BEFORE “predestined”, “predestined” and then “called”, “called” then ‘justified”, “justified” then “glorified”.

Essentially, because God is ALL-KNOWING, He already KNEW (foreknew) who was going to RESPOND to His Grace and CHOOSE to ACCEPT it, therefore, He determined (predestined) that those who make that CHOICE will hearken to His call (be called) and ultimately be “justified” in their calling and “glorified”. “

To which I respond that :

a) What God foreknew is not what you’d do, it is *You*. I needn’t know you to anticipate your actions, advertisers know this. Clearly, the scripture supports this fact that what is known is far more than your actions and/or behaviors, it is you, down to the hairs on your head (or in my case the lack thereof) (Psalm Psalm 22:10, 139:13, Galatians 1:15, John 1:47-48, Matthew 10:30 and more) .

It is not the actions that God Forknows, it is everything.

b)  I see no progression or sequence in that verse, it is not an ordered sequential thing, rather it is a one time totality. the ‘ordered sequence interpretation’ (I may have just coined a phrase) allows us to insert man’s will in where we please. So it becomes: Because God Forknew that I would do A, He did B.

Here is the problem. In order to get to that you must turn ‘also’ into ‘and then’. Of the 17 English Bible translations that I have, only one (the ERV) translates the end of verse 30 (and only the end) in a sequential way.

Here’s another one that the brother posited:

“The ONLY true predestination is that which starts with a person’s choice – the choice to accept or reject Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Once you make that choice, it’s similar to choosing a path… that path (based on your choice) will then lead you to an expected end (predestination). To remove this necessary prequel of choice from the ‘predestination’ as it is in this dispensation is errant theology, my brother and is completely antithetic to the Person and Character of God.”

In this the brother plainly declared the fundamental belief that people have, which is that when presented with a choice, we will choose righteousness. Biblically, I cannot find this supported. Not only that, but it is a complete mis-definition of the word.

What does Predestination look like in the scripture? Does it begin with MAN’s Choice?Really? Let’s look in the book:

The word predestined, as used in Romans 8:29-30 is the greek word προορίζω, or proorizō according to Strong. It appears 6 times in the NT twice in the aforementioned verses in Romans, Once in Acts, (4:28) once in 1st Corinthians, and twice in Ephesians (1:5, 11). In NONE of these passages can it be accurately defined the way that the brother did.

For example, here it is in Acts:

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel *determined before* to be done. – (Act 4:26-28)

Can we fit his definition into this? That man’s choices led him down a path to an expected end?

Or what of this:

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God *ordained before* the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. – (1Co 2:6-8)

I will ask at this point again that you take the time to read Ephesians 1:3-14 in its entirety, but will list the verses for you that contain this word:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having *predestinated* us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, – (Eph 1:4-5)

 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being *predestinated* according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: – (Eph 1:10-11)

So having read in context the Biblical uses of this word, can one stand by this definition? If so, can it be done with the scripture not sentiment?

Later in the debate the brother said:

Let me ask you this: does Satan exist? Is there a devil? If so, what is his current role on the earth and in the affairs of men?

I replied that yes he does exist, and his two main ‘roles’ are as follows:

1) To accuse the brethren (Rev 12:10)

2) To blind the eyes of the hellbound (John12:40) As a sidenote, please read John 12:38-40, and note the reference to Isaiah 53. Note that it asks to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? So once again we see that the selection is God’s.

He then posed this question:

If you believe there is a devil and you believe in hell, yet tout this type of ‘predestination’ claim, then you must be saying that God created some people exclusively for the devil. They NEVER had a say in the matter, they NEVER had a choice, they were just offered to the devil before the foundations of the world!

What he is representing here, is the doctrine of double predestination, ( a common misinterpretation of predestination) and it is not Biblical. For the purposes of clarity, I gave him (knowing full well that we are trying to use mere human words to explain the mysteries of God, so they will be somewhat inadequate) the analogy that we have used in our services:

Everyone is on the line to go to Hell, and God picked some off the line.

Again and again we see the doctrines of sovereign election and predestination in the Bible, and we seem to have no problem with them as long as it happens to others in the book, and not to people we know now…

But what of EVERYONE in Ur of the Chaldees except Abram and his wife? They ALL died and went to Hell. What of EVERYONE on the earth except Noah and his family, and the animals that Noah Chose? They ALL died and went to Hell. What of EVERYONE in Sodom and Gomorrah save Lot? They ALL died and went to Hell! Do we go back and rail at God, or take issue with him over those people?

 

Just some thoughts…

What say you fam?

 

The Questions and Answers series. Question #1

Last year (2012) Pastor Jermin asked the members and friends of the Fellowship to submit questions that they had about all things Biblical. Nothing was out of bounds. All of the submitted questions were answered in the early part of 2013, and we’ll be posting those questions and answers in the coming days.

 #1 – The Question: ‘Is Spirit baptism essential for salvation or just for effective service?’

The Answer:  I believe that it is first necessary to define the term.

What is meant by ‘Baptism of the Holy Ghost/Spirit? According to CARM.org:

“Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a term used to describe a movement of the Spirit upon and/or within a believer usually sometime after the person is saved. There is controversy surrounding this phenomenon as to whether it is legitimate or not.

Some people believe that once a person is saved the Holy Spirit is in the person and there is no subsequent “baptism in the Holy Spirit.”  In other words, they maintain that this Baptism of the Spirit occurs at salvation.  Others believe that it is possible for the Christian to experience an additional movement of the Holy Spirit sometime after salvation.  Generally speaking, it is the charismatic movement that supports the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

 The question is based on  the belief is that there is a second blessing, such as taught by Charles Wesley, DL Moody and many others.

 What are some opinions on this doctrine?

I was on a website recently, (www.choicesforliving.com) which was certainly of the belief that the ‘second blessing’ was/is real. It stated this:

“How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit – Receive power now!

Just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). This page will give you the instructions of how to be filled with the precious Holy Spirit of God Himself, the manifest power of God. This is not for our own purposes and is only to serve Him. However, this same power enables us to be what God wants us to be in this life and to be an overcomer.

IMPORTANT: This power is not available unless you have already been born of the Spirit by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Otherwise it does not work. Don’t try. In fact, it may even be dangerous. If you have not received Christ, stop now, and click here. All believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit; however, not all believers are “filled” with the Spirit and His power, otherwise God would not have to command us to be. The lack of spiritual power is all too evident among believers.

Not an option. If you have already received Christ, in Ephesians 5:18 God commands all believers to be filled with the Spirit; therefore, we know it is God’s will for everyone. It is really a command from God and really not an option.”

(Side note: I will come back to this usage of Eph 5:18… I smell eisegesis)

On the other side of the spectrum, I found this:

(The following is based on an article by the Bible Baptist Church, which I have expanded upon http://www.bbcmorehead.org)

“It is the teaching that there is a second experience, after the New Birth, (subsequent to salvation), that empowers the child of God. People are taught that they need to seek this second experience to give them assurance, power, and victory in their Christian life.

(This is also known as ‘the doctrine of subsequence’)

Essentially, the doctrine stated takes one of three forms (or all of them)

  1. It is taught that sometime after salvation a believer has a second work of grace and this completely eradicates the sinful flesh, resulting in the believer not sinning.  This is the “sinless perfection” teaching (which is not Biblical).  John Wesley taught this. The Nazarenes are a denomination which teaches this today. (Having grown up in the United Methodist church, I did hear this occasionally).
  2. Also taught is the idea that after the New Birth, there is a second work of grace which is called “Holy Spirit Baptism”.  This is an experience which will cause the believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit which will then give him the power to live the Christian life, or have special empowerment for Christian service.  For most in the Charismatic circles, this is evidenced, by the phenomenon of ‘speaking in tongues’.  (The subject of ‘tongues’ is addressed in another of the answers in this series) For many, the ‘evidence of speaking in tongues’ is necessary for salvation. If one never has this second experience, they are looked upon as not being spiritual or not truly saved.  (I experienced this at a church that I attended for many years. If a person did not ‘speak in tongues’ they were considered either lacking in Spiritual development, or worse, not even saved. It was a great weight for me, and at times caused me to question the sincerity of my walk because I could not ‘speak in tongues’, but later did do so…)
  3. In some churches/denominations, the teaching is that one must have this second blessing in order to have: consecration, conversion, or sanctification. Many times this is accompanied by an inaccurate understanding of Acts 19:2. They teach that one may be born again and still be absolutely powerless in his Christian walk until the time when he completely gives himself over to Jesus as his Lord and/or receives the power. What is common is the teaching that although Christ is Savior, one must ‘make Him Lord of your life’ in order to truly be filled/empowered.”

So we can easily see that there are widely disparate views here, concerning this doctrine. But do not despair fam, the answer is close at hand.  The LORD is, after all, a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him…

The next question that must be asked is: Does this term appear in the scripture?

The answer to that is yes, the term “baptize with the Holy Spirit” occurs several times in scripture:

Matt. 3:11,  “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”**

Mark 1:8, “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Luke 3:16, “John answered and said to them all, ‘As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John 1:33, “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.”

Next we must examine the context: In each of the Gospel occurrences, they describe the same event: John the Baptist making a distinction between his baptism, and that of the Messiah.

The phrase occurs again in the book of Acts: Jesus says, in Acts 1:4-5 (HCSB)

While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” ⌊He said, “is what⌋ you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Peter, in relating his experience with the Gentile believers at Cesarea says in Acts 11:15-17 (HCSB)

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning.  16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore, if God gave them the same gift that He also gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God?”

There are no other times when this phrase occurs in the scripture.

We must ask then, what was the context of and purpose for, these occurrences?

In the first one, the Holy Spirit comes upon those in the upper room, and they are empowered to speak in languages that they do not know, and what are they saying? They were, according to Acts 2:11, speaking the magnificent acts of God… (Please read Acts 2:1-12 for the full context) The people who saw and heard this, knew that they were experiencing something extraordinary, in fact impossible, because these looked-down-upon Galileans, were speaking between them, at least 12 different languages that it was impossible for them to know. As a result of this, the stage was set for the preaching of the Gospel and 3000 were saved that day.

In the second, Peter is describing what he and some of the other Jewish believers had experienced. In the following passage we see what occurs:

Acts 10:44-48 (HCSB)While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.’

What happened here?

The people who saw and heard this, knew that they were experiencing something extraordinary, in fact impossible, because these looked-down-upon Gentiles were given the same power that they themselves had been given. The Holy Spirit gave the exact same sign to those who were heretofore believed to be unclean and outside by the Jews, in order to show them that GOD is LORD of ALL, and Jesus came for ALL who would believe, not just the Jews. This was also the reason for Peter’s preparatory vision in Acts 10:10-15. Nothing that the LORD had made was to be called unclean, and that included Gentiles (non Jews)

So then, the next question is the really significant one, and is really one of doctrine:

Do we believe in a secondary work of the Holy Spirit, in other words, Is there, as John Wesley taught, ‘a second blessing?’ If so, from where do we derive this?

I do not see this supported by the passages that we just read.   In fact, the conclusion that I draw is that these instances were not about a special empowerment for service, they were about the Sovereign Will and Work of God for His Glory. They are not universal; they are specific and isolated, not presented as a pattern to follow, but as a time and condition specific display for a specific purpose.

Dangerous eisegesis:

What is eisegesis? From wikipepedia:

Eisegesis (from Greek ες “into” as opposed to exegesis from ξηγεσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that it introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, and/or biases into and onto the text. The act is often used to “prove” a pre-held point of concern to the reader and to provide him or her with confirmation bias in accordance with his or her pre-held agenda. Eisegesis is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discover-able meaning of its author, eisegesis occurs when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed effectively while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective.

Taking first, the Ephesians 5:18 usage detailed above, I do not see how, taken in context, this verse is a command of God to have a ‘second blessing’. In context, the verse is used to contrast the behaviors of believers and unbelievers. Let’s look at it:

Ephesians 5:6-21 (HCSB)  Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made clear, 14 for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

So, this is a passage of instruction, advising the believers on how they should walk in the world, and live among one another. In fact, the chapter begins with the command to  –

“be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.  And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (HCSB)

There is no discussion here of a subsequent act of the Spirit, the Apostle is speaking to them as though they are filled, not needing to be. How else could one imitate Christ (v1)? How else could they have discernment (v6-10)? They are, according to verse 8, already changed and empowered.  The verses in question (18-21) merely state that we are to act outwardly in accordance with our inward state, hence the proof of being filled with the Spirit, as opposed to being filled with wine is that the believers are: “…speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from their hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, & submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Notice also, that there is no mention of so-called ‘tongues’ here.)

I have seen John 20:22 combined with Acts 2, to make the case for a second blessing, but this, in my opinion is also eisegetical.  Keeping in mind that Luke and Acts are consecutive narratives by the same author; I believe that it is more accurate to look first at Luke 24:36-49, specifically the following:

Luke 24:45-49 (HCSB)  – 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And look, I am sending you what My Father promised.    As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.”

Is this a general command for all believers or is it specific instruction to those in the room? Let’s look at Luke’s second book (Acts) to see:

Acts 1:1-11 (HCSB)

I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up, after He had given orders through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. 3 After He had suffered, He also presented Himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While He was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  9 After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Is this evidence of a second blessing? I do not think so. This is about a specific incident which will occur at a specific time, for a specific purpose.

Now there are some people try to infuse John’s account to make the second blessing case. Let’s examine the passages in question:

John 20:19-23 (HCSB)  In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

It appears to me here, that as HE breathed on them (in the same way that His Father had on Adam. The church had the same experience that Adam had. See the teaching: “Shape, Form, Blow, Become”) they were both filled and empowered. Why else would He state that they were able now to forgive sin?

The point of this inclusion is meant to say that though they were filled, they needed the second blessing to act. How can this be, if the text says that they are able to forgive or retain sin?

So, examining these passages in context, we cannot firmly support the premise that there is a subsequent ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ that occurs after the initial salvific experience.

Personally, I do not believe that there is:

1 Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”

And I do not have any indication from the Scriptures that anyone received a ‘second dose’ in order to be saved or empowered.

** Concerning the declaration that one is ‘Fire baptized’ In context, I doubt that this statement is an accurate one, since Matt 3:11 in context, reads thus:

Matthew 3:10-12 (HCSB) “Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove His sandals. He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.”

Look at the references to fire in verses 10 and 12, this speaks of the destruction of the wicked. Could it not be that verse 11 does as well? Could it be referring to the two-fold consequence of Jesus’ coming? For the righteous it is the Spirit, for the unrighteous, it is the Fire?

Look at Luke 3:15-18, the reading is almost identical:

 Luke 3:15-18 (HCSB) 15 Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were debating in their minds whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but One is coming who is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing shovel is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with a fire that never goes out.” 18 Then, along with many other exhortations, he proclaimed good news to the people.

(Read also John 5:28-29,  Acts 24:15, Rev. 20:13-15)

Notice that John was speaking to all of the people, surely not all of them were Elect, and yet John makes a global statement, that “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing shovel is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with a fire that never goes out.” That is a statement of contrast…

Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)  

Sola fide (“by faith alone”) / Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)

Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”) /

Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)