Wednesday, May 30, 2012

United We Stand.

I wrote a note about tithe and pastors a few weeks ago. I tagged some people, others I did not but then also read it. In a previous article, I wrote 

Church traditions versus the Word == controversy. "| Anything, however good it is, presented as a law will never benefit God's people until it is presented as of faith! So, what I am examining here is the truth in the Word vis a vis Church traditions. 

Some people who have read might have found an excuse to stop tithing or giving. Others are genuinely wondering why we tithe, others love the study of the scriptures. Others, after reading have been offended, others have decided to be like the Berean [Act 17:10  But the brothers at once sent both Paul and Silas to Berea during the night; who having arrived went into the synagogue of the Jews. Act 17:11  And these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with all readiness, daily examining the Scriptures if these things are so. ], others have agreed.

While I wrote to bring to light what the New Testament Church did with their money and giving, it would also be wise to add that the Church was one. Any teaching in the body of Christ is meant to build, knit together, mature believers. Not withstanding, some are babes in the Lord who should crave pure spiritual milk [1Co 3:1  And, brothers, I was not able to speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly ones, as to babes in Christ. 1Co 3:2  I gave you milk to drink, and not food, for you were not then able, for neither are you yet able now. ], some are young men, and some are Fathers. In simple terms, some of us have grown up more than others. More still, some of us might think we are right when we are wrong, and some of us may think we are wrong when we are right.

The Church of the New Testament was united, not according to denomination, or doctrine, or a man's calling; rather it was imperative that Christ united all. It was the desire of Christ and still is that we all mature to the same level, so that as prophesied Jer 31:34  And they shall no longer each man teach his neighbor, and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah. For they shall all know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest of them, declares Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.  

. In essence that we might be at the same level. Yet I will share about the greatest. Love. Knowledge, Paul rightly said, puffs up. Those who know more may look down on others who know less and create factions saying for example " we cannot fellowship with people who think the only way to worship is by singing", or "I cannot just give ten percent, I owe my whole life to God..." or "I belong to Ap. so and so".

Yes, it is intimated "2Ti 3:16-17  All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, being fully furnished for every good work. " . We need to learn how to be reproved, corrected, instructed so that we can be fully prepared for every good work. Love cannot be an excuse to live in sin, and reject the truth of God.

However, this is what the love of Christ does: regardless how I disagree with you, it should not give me a reason to stop fellowship with you. Fellowship, in this case, I do not mean gathering once in a while, but relationship with you. 

Because of doctrines and special "callings", the body of Christ has become this: "butchered, fragmented, sliced and diced into denominations, movements and parachurch organisations" . I need to accept someone who does not eat meat just as the one who does not must accept it. I must accept someone who tithes and the one who does not. I must accept the one who drinks wine and the one who does not. I must accept them. On what grounds? On the grounds that Christ desires it.

Rom 15:4-7 For whatever things were written before were written for our instruction, that through patience and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. And may the God of patience and encouragement give to you to mind the same thing among one another according to Christ Jesus, that with one accord and with one mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of this, receive one another as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
We have been received by Christ, so let us receive each other. Pray for each other and pray that the day will come, when the fault lines of doctrine, denomination, "men of God" (clergy) have been removed. Where Christ is all. Not Pastor M... or Pastor N or Pastor O. Not on the teaching of circumcision or whatever.

The only time a person is excused from the body of Christ, and please note "excused" is when he himself intentionally refuses what we saw above 2 Tim 3:16-17 and continues to live in sin. Why is he "excused" coz he might poison the unity. When he is excused, sometimes he does repent, like the brother in 1st and 2 Corinthians; sometimes, he may be given up so that his soul shall be saved on the last day.

So, if you've read my previous note. Maintain this, peace, love, the bond of the Spirit. Remember, knowledge can puff up, but love, the law of love, the love of Christ builds. If you and I disagree, it is okay, we are still growing in the Lord, it takes time sometimes but let Christ remain and let us join together. Let us blur out the lines tradition has painted , let us remove the wall of denomination, or doctrine, and become the Church- Christ;s bride, His temple made of living stones, His body.For when we do that- surely the world shall recognise and be drawn unto us and in essence unto Christ.

For your own reading, 1 John 2 is a gem.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Aren't pastors preaching tithe for their own gain?

The following is controversial. Might dislodge a bit. Feel free to read understanding this.

The laborer deserves his wages- 1 Cor 9.  Barnes a commentator of the Bible says of this- " He does not mean to say, by this example of the ox treading out the grain, that the law as given by Moses referred to the Christian ministry; but that the principle there was settled that the laborer should have a support, and that a suitable provision should not be withheld even from an ox; and if God so regarded the welfare of a brute when laboring, it was much more reasonable to suppose that he would require a suitable provision to be made for the ministers of religion.
Matthew 10:7-10. Luke 10:3-7. According to Barnes - "The workman is worthy of his meat - This implies that they were to expect a proper supply for their needs from those who were benefited. They were not to make “bargain and sale” of the power of working miracles, but they were to expect competent support from preaching the gospel, and that not merely as a gift, but because they were “worthy” of it, and had a right to it."

So  a Christian minister (servant for the Kingdom/Gospel ) , is sustained by those to who he has ministered. Sustained. They meet his needs. I feel as this strongly applies to evangelists and not more than that- for even Paul while in a city, teaching, trying to convince many worked - "Act 18:3  and stayed and worked with them, because he earned his living by making tents, just as they did. "

Look at Paul's convictions-  

"1Co 9:13-  Do you not know that those who minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And those attending the altar are partakers with the altar. Even so, the Lord ordained those announcing the gospel to live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it is good for me rather to die than that anyone nullify my glorying. For though I preach the gospel, no glory is to me. For necessity is laid on me; yea, woe is to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I am entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.  For though I am free from all, yet I have made myself servant to all, so that I might gain the more. "

Acts 20:34-35 GNB  "You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I have needed.   I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, 'There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.' " 

Point is, there is need for the Church to take care of its own-so if an evangelist goes hungry, has no food, should you not take care of him seeing as you have benefited eternal life from his labor?  But also, the minister must take care of his flock. Should the evangelist abuse this right, by defrauding you to give? Using cunning and deceipt (tithe) to compel you to give? I rather not. 

"1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God among you, taking the oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor for base gain, but readily;" 

"2Pe 2:1-3  But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who secretly will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their pernicious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness they will use you for gain with well-turned words; for whom judgment from of old does not linger, and their destruction does not sleep." 

"Tit 1:9-11  holding fast the faithful Word according to the doctrine, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convict the gainsayers.  For there are indeed many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouth you must stop, who subvert whole houses, teaching things not right for the sake of ill gain. "

"2Co 4:1-2  Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. "

Ministers of God, servants, need to make people know this. 

I feel tithe is wrongly used for ill gain by many a pastor. A minister should have what he needs for the ministry. If he moves to kampala to preach from Gulu, let the Church in Kampala feed him, clothe him, etc... But telling them to tithe to him is outright wrong. 

It is a shame to have the body of Christ with pastors who own lakeside villas while their congregation is poor. Large congregations are no good, if you do not know how each member is, if you are to follow Paul's advice and Peter's advice. (1 pet 5:2). Not only that- Christ looks for one lost sheep out of the hundred- what should that tell you?

Acts 4: 32-35. "And the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul. And not one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own. But they had all things common.And the apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power. And great grace was on them all. For neither was anyone needy among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and they laid them down at the apostles' feet. And distribution was made to every man according as he had need."  

The above word and  Acts 20:34-35,  for me disqualify the teaching of tithe, in fact, the application of tithe to today's Church while there are poor, unfed congregations, large congregations where the elder cannot really oversee. 

The Lord attacks the Shepherds in Ezekiel.- these are His words- 

"Eze 34:2-4  "Mortal man," he said, "denounce the rulers of Israel. Prophesy to them, and tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, say to them: You are doomed, you shepherds of Israel! You take care of yourselves, but never tend the sheep.   You drink the milk, wear clothes made from the wool, and kill and eat the finest sheep. But you never tend the sheep.  You have not taken care of the weak ones, healed the ones that are sick, bandaged the ones that are hurt, brought back the ones that wandered off, or looked for the ones that were lost. Instead, you treated them cruelly. " This sound like someone you know?

See how big congregations and a preaching of tithe make this possible? People are too many to be shepherded. (Cell groups are good especially when the routine is thrown out but the Holy Spirit allowed to lead) The tithe benefits the few. 

In this same book, God promises us a better shepherd- "Eze 34:23-4  I will give them a king like my servant David to be their one shepherd, and he will take care of them.  I, the LORD, will be their God, and a king like my servant David will be their ruler. I have spoken. " The whole chapter should be read.

Church, open your eyes. If you're forced to tithe, made guilty to tithe, you are doing no good for yourself or the Church, for anything not of faith is sin. If you're to tithe to anyone- let it be of Godly conviction not of man preaching that blessings come from tithe. No, that is not true, because even Abraham was blessed before he tithed, not after. 

Give willingly, cheerfully, compelled by love knowing it benefits another brother who is not doing well- that could be an orphan, widow, poor person who is brethren or even a pastor, prophet, evangelist, teacher in your midst.

Does someone understand what I am saying?

2Co 9:5-15  Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brothers that they would go forward to you, and make up beforehand your blessing, it having been promised that this would be ready, thus as a matter of blessing, and not as of covetousness. But I say this, He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.  Each one, as he purposes in his heart, let him give; not of grief, or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self-sufficiency, you may abound to every good work;   As it is written, "He scattered; he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever."   Now He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for eating, may He supply and multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your righteousness   you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which works out thanksgiving to God through us.   For the ministry of this service not only supplies the things lacking of the saints, but also multiplying through many thanksgivings to God,   through the proof of this ministry they glorify God for your freely expressed submission to the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of the fellowship toward them and toward all,   and in their prayer for you, who long after you, because of the exceeding grace of God on you.  Thanks be to God for His unspeakable free gift.