The Bible and giving
Posted on Nov 27, 2007
Comments by Russell Earl Kelly
Daniel Akin is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
[Comment: With the lone exception of the second statement which I underlined, Dr. Akin’s position is identical to my own. It seems like SBC leaders are required to make the underlined statement in order to keep their jobs and obey the almost-secret Position Paper. Akin avoids any reference to tithing in the remainder of the article and does not retreat to OT examples. He is to be highly commended.] Position Paper http://www.tithing-russkelly.com/id98.html
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Giving in response to God’s amazing grace is a vital and essential aspect of true and genuine Christian discipleship. The manner in which one gives, both in attitude and amount, will be a reflection of the condition of the heart.
When Jesus spoke to this issue, He encouraged His disciples to do more than what was required under the Old Testament with what was called the tithe (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42).
It is clear that our Lord was concerned not only with what we give but how we give. In other words, issues of the heart are at the heart of giving.
[Comment: This is correct. There is no compulsion or mandatory percentage to determine giving levels.]
The most extensive section on giving in all of Scripture is found in 2 Corinthians 8-9. Here Paul lays down basic principles of New Testament giving. Again, as did the Lord, Paul makes it clear that giving as we ought is a matter, not so much of obligation, as it is of gratitude, of grace.
[Comment: Correct. Tithing was an obligation and commandment. Most Baptists teach that the freewill giving principles found in 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 are above and beyond the still-required mandatory tithe. It is significant that Akin does not use that appproach.]
Throughout my 30 years in ministry I have instructed the students under my watch-care in what I call “Grace Giving.” Quickly walking through this classic passage in 2 Corinthians, what are some basic questions we should follow as we express our gratitude to God for what He has done for us through His Son Jesus? I note 12 things:
[Comment: There is not a hint that Akin is teaching on NT giving by requiring the tithe first.]
Outward circumstances and personal difficulties should not prevent generosity in our giving (8:1-4).
[Comment: Yes but that does mean that a person in great pain should first tithe and not be able to afford pain medication or foot and shelter.]
All financial giving should be preceded first by the giving of oneself to the Lord (8:5).
Those who follow Jesus should excel in the grace of giving (8:6-7).
Generous giving is an expression of the love one has for Jesus (8:8-9, 24).
There is an intimate connection between the “Grace of God” and the “Grace of Giving.” The former naturally leads to the latter (8:8-9).
A willingness to be generous in giving is more important than the amount given (8:12).
[Comment: These verses (8:12-14) are vital because they teach the “equality” principles of giving. The affluent should be willing to give more than 10% while the poor also give to the best of their ability. No percentage is involved. There is an “equaling” out of the gifts. ]
We should give to churches and ministries that handle God’s money judiciously and responsibly (8:16-21).
Generous giving out of gratitude to God will encourage others to do the same (9:1-2).
The attitude in which we give is important to God. He loves willing and cheerful givers (9:5-7).
Generosity in giving moves God to supply more and meet our genuine needs (9:8-11).
Grace giving will result in praise and thanksgiving to God (9:11-14).
Generous giving is the natural response to God’s gracious gift of Jesus (9:15).
Paul understood how important Christian stewardship was to true and genuine Christian discipleship. He knew that giving cannot help but reveal the spiritual life of those who call Jesus Lord. He knew that how we give is a commentary on our love for Christ, His Church, and the lost.
Second Corinthians 9:15 says, “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” So, look to the cross, consider what God has done for you in Christ, and give. You will find it impossible to be anything but generous in your response.
Why Akin’s underlined portion is wrong.
(1) Jesus was only speaking to his Jewish disciples . He could not have been telling Gentiles disciples to tithe to the Temple or show themselves to the priests after being healed.
(2) Jesus was living under the jurisdiction of the law and was instructing his Jewish audience concerning matters “of the law” in 23:23.
(3) Jesus was telling his disciples to obey the scribes and Pharisees to go beyond the OT tithing requirements and tithe garden spices because “they sit in Moses’ seat” of the Law. Christians today do not literally obey Jesus’ words and tithe garden spices.
(4) Jesus did not tell His disciples to “do more than what was required in the Old Testament” and give more than 10%. That is the SBC Position Paper commandment and interpretation in order to coerce everybody to begin their giving level at 10%. It is based on the false assumption that the OT required everybody to tithe.
In reality, when researched 16 of 16 texts in God’s Word which describe the contents of the tithe always limit it to food from farms and herds inside Israel. This is strange since money was an essential daily item even in Genesis and money was used to buy land, slaves and pay sanctuary taxes.
Thus only farmers and herdsmen had that which was tithe-able from God’s miracle increase. That which man produced through his own skills was never tithed. In fact even Jesus, Peter and Paul had nothing tithe-able. This fact affects the entire tithing doctrine.]