Summary: This message focuses on giving in the New Testament, especially as it relates to tithing.
Paying God Part 2
Several weeks ago I delivered part one of this message. I talked about giving to God from a view point of the Old Testament. In that message I shared with you that in the Old Testament they gave of their first fruits which mean that they gave an offering to God first and foremost. They did not wait to see what they needed or what they would have left over; they gave to God first. This was done because they recognized that God was their source. I also discussed the tithe. I told you that the system of tithing was practiced before it became a part of the Mosaic Law. According to the Law, those who were farmers were required tithed a tenth of what they received from their harvest for the benefit of the Levitical priesthood. The Levitical priesthood did not receive an inheritance when the Children of Israel entered into the Promised Land. I also touched on what God said in Malachi the third chapter about a man robbing God through tithes and offering. I shared with you that this is the Scripture used today to entice people (or threaten them) to tithe. Based on what we reviewed in the Old Testament Scriptures, we understand that the tithe belonged to God and it was to be used for the support of the priests.
What I am going to tell you now will shock some of you and bring comfort (although probably a false sense of comfort) to others. Regardless, we will go in more detail this week in Bible Study as I am led to dedicate that time to ensure your complete historical understanding of tithing and to give you an open opportunity to disprove some of the things I have shared previously and will share with you today. (Those receiving this message via email you are welcome to attend the Bible Study lesson and/or receive the lesson plan.) The reason that I will dedicate this Thursday’s bible study to tithing is to because this morning you will hear me say that in the New Testament Church tithing was not practiced as it is in the Church today. In the New Testament Church they practiced a system of giving “all” they could so they subsequently gave to God more than ten percent. What I am going to share with you this morning might shock you, but do not let the shock about tithing make you miss your real responsibility. I will not complete this message this morning as what I want to accomplish will take a little time and I want to make sure you completely understand what the Bible says about your giving. Let’s begin with the real motivation for our giving anything to God.
I. For God So Loved The World
In my last message I shared with you John 3:16. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The New Testament Christians experienced Jesus in a way that the Old Testament followers of God could not – in the flesh. We know that Jesus was very active in the Old Testament, but the Old Testament followers of God did not know His name; understand His presence; did not fully understand the promised that was made regarding Him; nor did they live to see the promised fulfilled of Him giving His life as a ransom for many. Adam and Eve’s sin caused us to become captives of sin and death and Jesus paid the ransom needed to free us from it. The Old Testament saints did not get to experience this Jesus in the fulfillment of the promise.
However, the New Testament Christians did understand this once Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Can you imagine how free you would feel if someone gave their life to set you free. Imagine being in a prison; locked and bound by chains; going where you are told to go versus where you desired to go. Imagine not having any rights other than those granted to you by your captors. Imagine being born into captivity and captivity was all you knew. Your way of life was totally normal because you had no knowledge of anything different. Imagine a man coming and paying a large sum of money to set you free and then provided you with everything you needed for the rest of you life. Would you not feel grateful? Would you not be willing to give whatever you had if he asked you? Would you not be willing to share whatever you had so that others who were still bound in slavery could be set free?