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New Testament Giving Versus Being Severed From Christ Through Tithing

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"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. -- Matthew 6:1-4 (ESV)

I usually read these tithing articles expecting to see all of the same old tired arguments. How the church is the storehouse when it is not. How Abraham tithed when he really did not. How Jesus taught tithing that ignores the fact that He was alive during the Old Testament time period, when tithing was still enforced upon the Jewish people. I did not get any of that in the above linked article from retired pastor, Joe McKeever. Heck, there is not even one reference to the poor abused prophet Malachi! Pastor McKeever sets out to teach that tithing is not legalistic and then abandons this premise to tell us how much he gives. I would just as soon leave something like this be but McKeever will unwittingly lead people who teach to think it is ok to teach tithing when it remains abusive and unbiblical. It can also lead people back to the law as we will soon see. So let us reason again through this short article and remind everyone what true New Testament giving is all about.

"God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always having enough of everything, may abound to every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8). Over the years I've been doing this website--some 15 years now--I have occasionally written about tithing our income to the Lord through His church. Invariably, among the responses will come some hostile attacks, accusing us of preaching Old Testament doctrine, being legalists, misleading God's people into a salvation by works and other such foolishness. They could not be more wrong. Some people--like Judas--just cannot stand to see someone expressing love to Jesus by giving generously to honor Him. "For what purpose is this waste?" said Jesus' disciples (Matt. 26:8). I decided I would tell you what I'm doing. I'll save this draft and come back to it later and decide if I have permission from the Lord to post it or if I should delete it. (Later note: I removed most of the dollar amounts, but left everything else in.)" -- Joe McKeever

Foolishness. It has come to this. That people who simply stand for the bible as it is written are considered fools by those who still want it to say things it does not. I do not know Joe McKeever. Seems he is a retired pastor and as such he was surely raised on good old-fashioned tithing. I do not blame him for what he was taught. I just ask that reasonable people read the bible and determine for themselves after doing the work of a Berean. I have said all along and in my book on the subject that this is NOT an exercise in the avoidance of supporting ministries. The bible says God loves a cheerful give and sowing a reaping is a biblical principle, even of "seed faith" is outright heresy. So nice try with the strawman arguments to open up your defense of the indefensible but no one is in this imaginary position of hating to see people honor God with their personal giving. Knock yourself out just do not call it tithing, which has been nailed to the cross. Do not give less scrupulous pastors cover to use tithing to beat their sheep into submission and turn God into a blessing dispensing prostitute who will not bless unless first paid.

'"How much are you all giving?" I asked that of my sister tonight. Our family will be participating in a fundraiser for the family's long-time pastor in Walker County, Alabama. Mickey Crane has faithfully served New Oak Grove Free Will Baptist Church over several decades. In 1982, he helped my brother Ron and me conduct our Grandma McKeever's funeral. Since then, he worked with us in services for our brothers Glenn and Charlie and our parents, Carl and Lois. In recent years Brother Mickey has been in bad health and the church is inviting everyone to contribute to helping with his bills. My sister said they haven't decided, and she has not heard from our brother, Ron. I wrote a check for $200. Each month, I write a monthly check to our church. I call it my tithe, but I do not sit down and laboriously figure out my income and compute the amount of a tithe. My wife gives a tithe out of her income, which is separate. Two years ago, when our church did a capital funds campaign to raise several million for renovation of properties, I pledged $10,000. I gave half of that amount last year and am halfway through the balance for this year. I support a missionary with CRU, which is "Campus Crusade for Christ," to the tune of $200 a month. I give my seminary $50 a month and another $100 a month to Global Maritime Ministries, the New Orleans-based outreach to ships' crews from all over the world. In addition, I support--although not on a monthly schedule--a ministry in South Africa, an outreach to Muslims in Texas and a start-up church in Chicagoland. It all adds us to a double tithe, pretty much, although my church gets only the first tithe normally. (And yes, I do give to special offerings.)' -- Joe McKeever

Wow, that is mighty impressive giving. A true model for the church except for the fact that you violated the key verses today as God says to not announce your giving so boastfully. I will give you a pass on that because you reveal the truth within this paragraph. You do not practice tithing Pastor McKeever. You say it yourself! You "call it" tithing. You do not bother computing. Before you get into the fact that all of your giving guarantees you are over 10% that misses the true teaching of tithing. That the first ten percent must go to your church. In all seriousness Pastor McKeever sounds like he understands New Testament giving but for some reason insists on hanging onto the Old Testament language. It is not the McKeevers of the world that cause the problem with insisting on tithing. He merely paves the way for the abusers. He allows Robert Morris to teach that God will curse all of your money if you do not give him his ten percent first. Before you pay your electric of medical expenses. He is what allows Benny Hinn to make 42 million dollars from God's church. Or Paula White to make her five million dollars. I have met with newlywed congregants who say their pastor said they were not conceiving a child because of their tithing record. I have had pastors at churches I attend steal church memberships from people there decades longer than them because of tithing. Joe McKeever must understand that the vast majority of the teachers do not deal with tithing as he does.

'Legalism Has Nothing to Do With It. I am one cheerful giver. Few things give me as much joy as writing these checks. I'm so thankful to be in a situation where I have it to give and to have arrived at the point in my spiritual journey when I know how much more blessed it is to give than to receive. I receive plenty, just so you'll know. People are so kind to invite me to preach and minister. A week ago, I ministered for two days, sketching and speaking at a men's conference 120 miles from here. They paid me generously. The first two days of this week, I drove a similar distance and sketched at two colleges for the student ministries and was similarly rewarded. I've done two revivals this summer and will do two more this fall. I receive whatever the churches choose to give me; there are never any monetary requirements. And they are unfailingly kind and gracious. All of which allows me to give more. (I will point out that next birthday, I will reach 80 years of age, which makes these invitations all the more remarkable.) The text above is a great reminder: God gives us more so we may be more generous. We are conduits, channels, of His blessing. We used to sing a song in church about that: "Make me a channel of blessing today; out of my life may Jesus shine."' -- Joe McKeever

This is a picture of the principle of sowing and reaping that is in the bible. It does not surprise me that someone who so freely gives is so freely rewarded. The problem, is that McKeever is not writing an article about the beauty of New Testament giving. He is writing an article about how tithing is not legalism. The problem is that he only offers up his own life as an example to prove his point and as nice a life as it sounds like he has had, I prefer to see what the Bible says.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love." -- Galatians 5: 1-6 (ESV)

One of the problems at the church in Galatia was that they were being influenced by a group known as the Judaizers, who said that circumcision must accompany faith in Christ. Now, Paul's issue was not with circumcision per see but rather with an adherence to the Old Testament law. That law can be represented by circumcision or any other facet, such as tithing. Thus, insert the word tithing wherever you see circumcision and you will discover how legalistic tithing truly is. It is a yoke of slavery! If you accept tithing Christ will be of no advantage to you! You must now keep the whole law and are severed from Jesus Christ! You have fallen away from grace! This is no trivial matter to lead so many back to the law. No matter how well intended you may be. McKeever concludes:

"Some of us have noticed that when we clog up the channel with our greed, the blessings dry up. The old illustration about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea still works. The sea called Dead is dead because it takes and takes but never gives. The sea called Galilee receives from the north and sends the water on its way to the south, and thus abounds with fish and life. I said to a particularly greedy man once: "I want you to give your wealth away." (His greed was destroying his marriage and ruining the relationship with his adult children.) You would have thought I had asked him to jump from a plane with no parachute. But he did take one teeny-tiny step. The next time we counseled, he boasted, "I gave my daughter $100." But never again, as far as I could tell. Some years later, when I saw his wife, she told me they were long divorced, and he was no longer living. His children finally got all his money. A lot of good it did him. I love the old line about that: "I'm doing my giving while I'm living so I'm knowing where it's going." My children know without being told that I am not giving away their inheritance. There is no inheritance until I'm no longer here. And they're good with that. They love me more than they desire a financial windfall upon my absence. I'm dead certain of that." -- Joe McKeever

To which I will say amen, except for the reference to dried up blessings. Listen beloved, this seems more like a positive confession of a man who served Christ for decades and wanted to brag a little. Not biblical, but not a crime. What is criminal is to lead other pastors to think it is ok to lead their sheep back to the yoke of slavery found under the law. It sounds like pastor McKeever has led an admirable life and will be slated to hear well done my good and faithful servant. On tithing however, he remains wrong. It is legalistic to demand any child of God adhere to any part of the Old Testament Law, except the moral code, which Christ reiterated. I said at the start that we would remind everyone what New Testament giving is all about but Pastor McKeever did that all on his own. His pattern is exemplary in every way except boasting about it but we have plenty of grace for a man who appears to have served faithfully and well. Ironically, he has taught us not only what New Testament giving should look like but how tithing pales in comparison. How it is truly unbiblical and legalistic at heart. Thank you Pastor McKeever.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- September 16, 2019

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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