Jesus Did It!
By: Norm Rasmussen
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Regarding the giving of money and being a Christian, many times the wrong questions are asked. In asking the wrong questions, wrong answers can be supplied that can become outright rabbit trails; actually falsehood and deception, no less.
So to start out asking some RIGHT questions regarding money and Christianity, let's see where it takes us.
If you could afford to give a million dollars to your local church ever week, or any other Christian ministry, would that save you from your sins? NO it would not! Salvation (forgiveness for your sins) is only given by God's grace (His unmerited favor, in other words) and our faith. Our faith in WHAT? Believing that Jesus Christ paid full penalty for all our past, present and future sins by taking our punishment for those sins when He died on the cross. That is the faith that saves us from our sins.
Well then, if you could afford to give a million dollars a week to Christian ministry, or even give it to the poor, would that KEEP you saved? Absolutely NOT! Salvation is given and kept by God's grace and our faith plus NOTHING else. The matter is settled as is clearly stated in Ephesians 2: 8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Yet salvation is more than just being saved from our sins. Christians are also saved "to do good works." Rather than take up space writing about it here, you can click on the following link: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/MEncouragerArchives/CalledToDoGoodWorks.htm
The next question hopefully will drive the point home, as it dovetails with the first two questions. If you never give one penny to the work of the Lord, which includes giving to the poor, from this moment forward the rest of your life, will that cause you to lose your salvation? Absolutely not! No matter how you ask the questions, the giving of money or the withholding of money will not keep you from being saved, nor will it keep you saved once you become saved. Salvation is truly a FREE gift from God. It doesn't require money to obtain it, and it doesn't require money to keep it.
What then, is the big deal about money and Christianity, and percentages of money given (the 'tithe' word in other words) to the 'work of the Lord?' Here's the answer. The giving of money involves sowing and reaping. It involves God's favor on our lives. It involves eternal rewards most importantly.
Do yourself a huge favor and forget every Old Testament scripture that has been used out of context on tithing that was given to the Jews under the Old Covenant Law ... and not nor never given by God to the Gentiles ... yet you may have been brainwashed by. Let's closely examine the following scripture passage, because it's the LAST thing God clearly has to say to Christians (who are composed of BOTH born again Jews and Gentiles) about the giving of money (AND our time and talents, by the way, also fall under the category of sowing and reaping):
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. ' 2 Cor. 9:6-7 (NKJV)
The wonderful promise that follows this scripture passage is 2 Cor. 9:8 (NKJV):
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for ever good work.
Let's go back to 'So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity'. See any compulsory giving mandates from God here? No we don't. See any specific percentages of giving mandated from God here? No we don't. What then, is God saying? He's saying, 'If you don't want to give one penny to the advancement of the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, DON'T!'
What's the deal then about God 'loving a cheerful giver?' If you are giving money, your time, the use of your abilities because it is EXPECTED of you ' don't lie to yourself. You are not a cheerful giver. You can only be a cheerful giver if you want to give; desire to give. Not because you are EXPECTED to. Give because you simply are happy to give whatever amount you're at peace with at the time.
Notice God doesn't promise us that He WILL make all grace abound toward us when we give either. He promises that He's able to make all grace abound. There's a big difference. What would be my best guess as to why God says He's able to make all grace abound? I believe because when we give, especially money, we can so easily have lust take over our thinking and we can expect God to make us financially wealthy in a week or less time, for starters. Giving to get on our time frame and by our expectancy of what God should give back to us can be a very frustrating experience. God will withhold blessing at times to try to get our attention, so we will modify our thinking.
Here is where many Christians will do well to let the Holy Spirit modify there thinking. Christians who desire to walk in true, Godly righteousness have the following understanding about giving. They don't give to just get. They give to primarily BLESS. There's a big difference. When our REAL motive is to primarily bless, instead of just to get, God's grace (which includes Him imparting faith to us we may not receive otherwise) will start being poured out on us more generously if we're patient and willing to do what God is wanting us to do.
Regarding where to give -- so many Christians have been sadly brainwashed into believing that if they don't give their 10% to their local church fellowship exclusively, God will not make all grace abound toward them. Hogwash! There are church fellowships that are doing essentially ZERO when it comes to tangible outreach in their communities to reach lost souls. So many church fellowships have become far too ingrown ' caring only that salaries and benefits and building expenses get paid. "Put you tithe in the offering plate; keep your mouth shut and don't complain ... and you'll do fine in this church fellowship".
Then we have teachers in way too many local church fellowships and probably more-so ... TV ministries/Internet ministries ... who are compromising and deviating far to often from God's clearly written Word. By-passing some truths altogether, teaching half-truths ... which is really spiritual deception from God's perspective.
Could you feel God's freedom to give to a fellow Christian in financial straits (as was what happened when the Church first started as is recorded in the Book of Acts), or maybe even a poor neighbor to eat by buying a few groceries, or help them keep the heat on in the dead of winter in the name of Christ as a witness rather than feel obligated to give that same amount of money to your local church fellowship who may care less about your poor neighbor? If not, you might want to do some serious soul-searching about what kind of rewards you are REALLY laying up for yourself in heaven, let alone how much favor God is shining on you in this life - or NOT shining.
Please don't assume I'm against giving to one's local church fellowship either. My wife and I are THRILLED to give to the local church fellowship we attend regularly, because, first off, they would treat us the same if we didn't give a penny to them. Furthermore, they do help Christians who are struggling financially, and they are both evangelistically minded locally as well as internationally. They fully believe that giving in all arenas is between the individual person and God, and no one else. That's the kind of local church fellowship my wife and I are blessed to be connected with and help support financially. Conversely, if they started expecting my wife and I to give to them, no matter how well they are excelling in discipleship and evangelism, you have my assurance they would never see another penny from us. That's how strong I feel God wants me taking a stand on the matter, because Satan has used the expectation of "tithing" to drive more people AWAY from attending any local church fellowship than any other means.
Satan has done a remarkable number on Christianity in the money arena. Show me a person who will do ministry without making a dime at it, and that person has my HUGE respect, as I believe has GOD'S respect, which is all that really matters. Yet I also believe that God wants certain people in ministry being paid for what they are doing as funds are available, so that also I can appreciate and have no issue with. But it still comes down to motives. Will a person do the same call they believe God wants them to be engaged in, and be willing to keep doing it by not being paid for it if that is what God ordains? I sure would hope so.
Remove the 'wallet factor' from Christianity and we would ALL be amazed at what organized Christianity would then look like, I'm fully persuaded.
Scripture clearly states that the Apostle Paul could have received money from Christians for the ministry He was called to do, but he sat a higher standard for himself and often (See: 2 Cor. 11:7-8) made tents to have money to live on. He set that higher standard because he didn't want to give Satan an opportunity to deceive others in believing Paul was 'doing the Lord's work for money'. Anything Paul could think of to help reach a lost soul was what made Paul tick. Would you say Paul had the heart of Jesus Christ ' who did what he did without making a plug nickel at it for personal gain, but did it because of the joy he knew it gave God, the angels, other saints in glory, and the joy that He NOW experiences every time someone on this planet opens the Bible and is fed spiritually and changed by the words the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write?
Although there can be a number of reasons other than just the abuse of money ... more and more Christians, it seems, are opting out of 'organized' Christianity and are meeting with fellow believers in homes -- inviting the unsaved in their communities to join in with them to learn about God and Truth. What money they have and choose to give to the work of the Lord is usually given to those in financial need that meet in a respective home, (Yet laziness and poor financial stewardship should never be rewarded). This was how Christianity mostly operated when it first started, though those disciples who were called into full-time ministry were helped financially as the need arose by the people they ministered to, we also must not forget.
It bears repeating: Jesus Christ never linked money with salvation. Salvation is a FREE gift. It doesn't require giving money to get saved, or stay saved. We need to tell that to every person who is seeking answers about Jesus Christ and Christianity; otherwise we are doing Satan a huge favor and Jesus Christ a huge disfavor as well as that individual.
But to purposely withhold from giving to the work of advancing the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the lives of others is not wise either, and certainly not New Covenant Bible. If we sow a little, we're going to reap a little at the Judgment seat of Christ (reward day for true Christians). Not everyone is going to be rewarded the same in heaven. Christians who withheld giving while they were alive on earth are going to be STUNNED with how many rewards God is going to give to those who gave for the right reasons (which includes fruitful ministries; not wood, hay and stubble ministries), and how many rewards will be withheld from those who sowed little or nothing for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the lives of others while they were alive on earth. We sow a little, we're going to reap a little. It's the spiritual law of return God implemented for all living beings from the beginning.
And giving 10% of our income or even more to the advancement of the Kingdom of God? Is there anything wrong with it? There is if we're made to feel obligated to. When we're freed to give what we want to give and where we want to give, what wisdom and a privilege and a joy it is to give!
I'll close this out by presenting a hypothetical question. Let's say you are living in a remote part of the world. You have never heard a thing about Christianity, and you've never had access to a Bible. One day a missionary shows up and wants to give you a free New Testament Bible. You are greatly blessed and excited to read it.
Where in your New Testament Bible can you find that God commands Christians to give 10% of their money to Him? You won't find it.
Tithing in the Old Testament Bible was the means God ordained to support the Jewish Priests who ministered to the Jewish people. The Jewish Priests were ordered by God not to work a "secular" job to live financially on, in other words. God ended this practice when Jesus Christ came on the scene, because God was finished with the Jewish Priests. Jesus became the Great High Priest once He resurrected from the tomb, as He remains so today.
In Christianity today, when an overseer (namely Pastor) is faithfully helping meet the needs of those God has given Him in his/her local church fellowship, the Holy Spirit speaks to the hearts' of believers in that fellowship - it is a wonderful thing to free up that Pastor so as not to have to work a (secular) job by supporting that Pastor financially. Yet it is not mandated by God in Christianity today as it was under the Old Covenant because a Pastor is NOT a PRIEST. (Hence the demonic deception of the Catholic "church" and some offshoot denominations). He/she is a Minister of God called by God to help people in their relationship with God, just as you and I are when God uses us to help someone in their relationship with God in our workplace, on the street corner, our next door neighbor - wherever God connects us with them. We minister as we feel God would have us to minister - no financial strings attached. A well-balanced Pastor should do the same ... yet never feel guilty for being helped financially by those who want to help him/her financially to be freed and stay freed to be able to do so without financial hardship. After all, God has said that a true, fruitful Minister of His is worthy of double honor.
Having said all of the above, let us ask ourselves if we believe the book of Proverbs is as relevant to people today as it was in Old Testament times (Old Covenant). Most Christians believe that it IS, as my wife and I do. Coming to that conclusion, let us always remind ourselves when it comes to "sowing and reaping" issues what God has to say to ALL people at ALL times:
Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits (emphasis mine) of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
If you do a detailed study on the word "first fruits" found under the Old Covenant (Old Testament), you will discover it means one-tenth (10%) of the best you have. If we are wise, we will demonstrate our honoring God by giving our 10th BEST to helping reach lost souls, and helping them become spiritually grounded and discipled in God's Word, and helping them in their time of need as we are able to and feel impressed of the Holy Spirit to do so. (Helping the poor). Not because we HAVE to ... but because if we are WISE, we'll WANT to.
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Here's a short testimony that addresses well this matter of "obligated" giving and Christianity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cgGF83xgv8
I've written more in-depth about money and giving in this link for anyone interested: http://www.precious-testimonies.com/Exhortations/p-t/tithingsecret.htm
Here are three excellent links from other writers that explains Old Covenant tithing verses New Covenant free-will giving more in detail for those interested:
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