Rebuttal to Paul DeJong’s Tithing Sermon
(Auckland, New Zealand)
by Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D.
This article is not intended to be a rebuttal of any other doctrine taught by Paul DeJong and I wish him God’s blessings to the extent he preaches the gospel according to God’s Word in other areas of doctrine.
DEJONG: As I said this morning, what I want to do is to focus in on God’s first placed priority, because when you think priority you’ve got to think of the scriptures we have already looked at. In Matthew 6:33 it says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will happen.”
KELLY: There is a vast difference in God’s Word and our dictionaries between the word “first” and the word “tenth.” They are not the same in either usage or else they would be equal. Leviticus 27:32 reads “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.”
DEJONG: Malachi chapter 3 beginning at verse 6, very interesting words that God writes. He begins by saying this …
KELLY: DeJong and almost every tithe-teacher “begins” at Malachi 3:6. On the other hand, God began the specific condemnation in Malachi in 1:6 and 2:1 where he addressed the “priests” with the pronoun “you.” If one follows this pronoun from 1:6 to 3:12 it is evident that it does not change. The priests (not the people) are cursed four times in 1:14 and 2:2.because they had stolen from God in 1:14. God threatened to throw dung into the priests’ faces in 2:3 because they had violated their covenant with Levi in 2:4-10. The priests’ question in 2:17 is answered with a severe chastening in 3:1-5. There is no legitimate textual reason to conclude that 3:6-12 is not a continued rebuke of dishonest and greedy priests. Malachi is speaking to dishonest Old Covenant Israelite priests and is not speaking to the New Covenant church.
DEJONG: Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change.”
“It is very interesting when there is much debate at times, particularly in Christian circles over the whole subject of tithing and the way that God has laid down as a foundation as a provision for His house.”
KELLY: DeJong very often calls the “church” a “house” in order to compare it to the OT “house of God” in order to collect tithes there.
DEJONG: Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change.” “….the birthing of the challenge of tithing to God’s people was this statement:
KELLY: “God does not change His promises within a covenant” is the context. As long as the Old Covenant was in place God kept the covenant terms of both blessings and curses and national Israel had also agreed to those terms. However everything about tithing changed. (1) The Old Covenant ended; (2) national Israel ended; (3) the physical house called the Temple ended; (4) the Levite-support system which received tithes and performed servant duties to the priests changed to unpaid church deacons, choirs, ushers, etc; and (5) the ministry of priests who received a tenth of the tithe from the Levites changed to a clergy patterned after Jewish rabbis.
DEJONG: “Malachi 3:6-7 “… Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return urn to Me, and I will return to you.”
KELLY: DeJong does not elaborate on these texts. Again the pronoun “you” from 1:6 onward is addressed to dishonest priests who are, of course, also “sons of Jacob.” The “ordinances” (also called “statutes”) are the ceremonial worship laws given to the priests under their special “covenant of Levi” in 2:4-10. The only covenant specifically mentioned in Malachi is God’s covenant with Levi which they violated in chapter 2.
DEJONG: Malachi 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’
KELLY: The question-and-answer format between the priests and God continues. In1:6 God rebukes and the priests reply. In 1:7 God rebukes and the priests ask a question. In 1:7-11 God and the prophet rebuke the priests. In 1:12, 13 the priests rebut God. In 1:14 God curses the priests for stealing. In 2:1-9 God curses and rebukes the priests. In 2:10 the priests ask a question. Next 2:11, 12 are in third person to all Judah. In 2:13 the prophet rebukes the priests, In 2:14-16 the priests ask a question and God rebukes them. In 2:17 the priests ask a question and God answered in 3:1-6. In 3:7 the priests ask another question which is answered in 3:8-10. That is the context!
DEJONG: Malachi 3:8 … In tithes and offerings. [No elaboration.]
KELLY: This does not mean that one cannot pay offerings until one has first apid tithes. It means that those who qualify as tithe-payers (farmers and herdsmen inside Israel) should pay tthes and those who qualify as only freewill-offering-givers (carpenters, fishermen, tentmakers, etc) should give offerings.
KELLY: Malachi 1:14 reads “But cursed be the deceiver, which has in his flock a male, and vows, and sacrifices unto the LORD a corrupt thing.” According to Numbers 18:30 the Levites gave the very best of the tithe which they had received to the priests. Yet for their own personal offering in Malachi the priests had kept the best and given God the sick and weak (1:7-14). In Nehemiah 13:5 the high priest Eliashib had emptied the storehouse which held the tithes. “And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the grain offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the wheat, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.” Nehemiah realized that the tithes for the ministering Levites had been STOLEN by the priests. “And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field” (13:10). While this may not be the exact cause of Malachi 3:8-10 it is also likely that it is the exact context. This is biblical proof that the priests had stolen both tithes and offerings from the Temple storehouse in Malachi’s lifetime. DeJong does not discuss either Malachi 1:14 or Nehemiah 13.
DEJONG: Malachi 3:9 “You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.”
KELLY: [This whole nation –of you—that is, of you priests.] The priests had already been cursed four times in Malachi.
Mal. 1:14 But cursed be the deceiver, which has in his flock a male, and vows, and sacrifices unto the LORD a corrupt thing …
Mal 2:1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
Mal 2:2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
DEJONG: Malachi 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…”
KELLY: There are many problems with the normal interpretation of this text which are totally ignored by tithe-teachers. From my online essay:
(1) The “whole” tithe: In reality, the overwhelming majority of Levitical tithes never went to the Temple. Those who teach otherwise ignore the Levitical cities and the 24 courses of the Levites and priests. According to Numbers 35, Joshua 20, 21 and First Chronicles 6, Levites and priests lived on borrowed land like Jericho and Hebron surrounding the Levitical cities where they farmed and raised (tithed) animals. And it is clear from Numbers 18:20-24, Second Chronicles 31:15-19 and Nehemiah 10:37 that the ordinary people were expected to bring their tithes to the Levitical cities. Why? That is where 98% of the Levites and priests lived with their families most of the time. See also Nehemiah 13:9.
(2) The 24 courses of Levites and priests must also be considered. Beginning with King David and King Solomon, they were divided into 24 families. These divisions were also put into place in Malachi’s time by Ezra and Nehemiah. Since normally only one family served in the Temple for only one week at a time, there was no reason to send ALL of the tithe to the Temple when 98% of those it was designed to feed were still in the Levitical cities (1 Chron. 24-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5).
Therefore, when the context of the Levitical cities, the 24 families of priests, under-age children, wives, Numbers 18:20-28, 2 Chronicles 31:15-19, Nehemiah 10-13, and all of Malachi are all evaluated, only about 2% of the total first tithe was normally required at the Temple in Jerusalem.
DEJONG: Malachi 3:10 “…That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
KELLY: DeJong makes the same basic mistake that all tithe-teachers make when he DEFINES “tithe” from secular dictionaries and not from God’s Word. From Leviticus 27 to Malchi are almost 1000 years and the tithe still only refers to food. From my essay:
Use God’s Word to define “tithe.” Do not use a secular dictionary! Open a complete Bible concordance and you will discover that the definition used by tithe-advocates is wrong. In God’s Word “tithe” does not stand alone. Although money existed, the original source of God’s “tithe” was never money. It was the “tithe of food.” This is very important. **True biblical tithes were always only food from the farms and herds of only Israelites who only lived inside God’s Holy Land, the national boundary of Israel.** The increase was gathered from what God increased and not man’s craft or ability.
There are 15 verses from 11 chapters and 8 books from Leviticus 27 to Luke 11 which describe the contents of the tithe. And the contents never (again), never included money, silver, gold or anything other than food from inside Israel! Yet the incorrect definition of “tithe” is the greatest lie being preached about tithing today! (See Lev. 27:30, 32; Numb. 18:27, 28; Deut. 12:17; 14:22, 23; 26 12; 2 Chron. 31:5, 6; Neh. 10:37; 13:5; Mal. 3:10; Matt. 23:23; Luke 11: 42).
DEJONG: Malachi 3:11, 12 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the LORD of hosts; And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts.”
KELLY: This is where the correct definition of “tithe” makes a difference. God did not command tithes from that which man produced, built, sculptured, fashioned or earned through his own wisdom. Money from crafts and trade always existed in the Bible, but it was never included in the basic definition of “tithe of food.” The tithe only came from that which God gave the increase through His own power on His own land of national Israel. First Corinthians 3:7 “So then neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.” Notice that God “gives” the increase! This idea is also seen in Deuteronomy 14:22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of thy seed that the field brings forth year by year.” See also Lev. 19:25 and Ps. 67:6.
Also the blessings and curses of tithing are the blessings and curses of the entire Mosaic Law from Deuteronomy 26 to 28 which Malachi’s audience reaffirmed in Nehemiah 10:29. In order to receive the blessing of tithing one must keep all of the law. Violation of any part of the law brings the curses. Tithing does not stand alone apart from the remainder of the Mosaci Law.
DEJONG: “See, often when we as Christians or particularly as churches begin to talk about money there’s all kind of responses that come back, particularly when it comes around the subject of God’s house. Because if it is true, and again we have taken some time to establish the priority that God has over His house; that His house is like a jewel in His crown, that the house or church of Jesus Christ is something that the Bible says Jesus gave Himself for, then it would be logical to think that the enemy will attack everything that would establish or cause that house to become everything that God wants it to be.”
KELLY: DeJong prefers the word “house” to “body” or “living organism” when describing the assembly of believers. Tithes were brought in the OT to the “house” of God, the Temple. In the NT the “house” of God is within every believer. From my essay:
God’s Word never describes New Covenant churches as “tabernacles,” “temples” or “buildings” in which God dwells! God’s church, God’s dwelling place, is within the believers. Believers do not “go to church” — believers “assemble to worship.” Also, since OT priests did not pay tithes, then tithing cannot logically continue. Therefore it is wrong to call a building “God’s storehouse” for tithes. (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20; Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:21; 4:12-16; Rev. 3:12). For “storehouse” compare 1 Corinthians 16:2 with 2 Corinthians 12:14 and Acts 20:17, 32-35. For several centuries after Calvary Christians did not even have their own buildings (to call storehouses) because Christianity was an outlaw religion.
DEJONG: “… in this church we committed to teach the whole truth and at least every 18 months or 2 years I take some time to again focus in on God’s first place priority of tithing of giving of offerings around the purpose of God, because finance is a tool that can actually release the purpose of God.”
KELLY: The “whole truth” would include the following:
(1) Tithing was an Old Covenant method of supporting, not the Temple building itself, but the Levites. (2) The Levites who received the tithes were only servants to the priests and were skilled craftsmen responsible for assisting priests, Temple maintenance, Temple security and they also held government positions for the King. (3) The Levites gave one tenth of the tithe they received to the priests. (4) Since they received the tithes neither Levites nor priests could own or inherit land inside Israel. (5) Since they received tithes the head-of-household priest was abolished and an intercessory priesthood was established under the Old Covenant system. (6) According to 2 Corinthians 3:10-18 the Old Covenant had “no glory” unless illuminated by the New Covenant teaching of the Holy Spirit. (7) According to Hebrews 7:12-19 the entire Old Covenant priestly support system of ordinances ended at Calvary and was replaced by better principles of support.
DEJONG: “Do you say Amen to that? [Talking about money] Don’t go quiet on me this morning. All right this is good stuff. Turn to your next-door neighbour and say, “you need to hear this message today.”
KELLY: Is emotion a substitute for expository contextual sermons?
DEJONG: Wrong understanding reaps wrong reward. Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children… You need to leave an inheritance to your children’s children.
KELLY: How do we fit First Timothy 5:8 into a tithing sermon? “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” There are sincere Christians who give everything they have to “anointed preachers” and set aside nothing for their retirement and children. Too often those building bigger “barns” to hold their yachts and airplanes are taking the money from their own flocks per Acts 20:29-35.
DEJONG: Poverty was never God’s plan. That is why we have got to talk about this. God never intended us to struggle financially and be in poverty all of our lives. There are seasons, yes we go through tough times and there is hard work getting the foundations down. But it is often our wrong thinking, negative attitudes and bad choices or lack of principled living that causes us to continue the battle in financial areas.
KELLY: Tell this to Jesus. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born poor (Isa. 53:2). He was born in a barn. He lived the life of a poor man. He often uplifted the poor and chastised the rich.
Tell this to the rich young ruler whom Jesus commanded to become poor and follow him –promising only “riches in heaven.”
Tell this to Paul. As a Jewish rabbi he refused to accept money for preaching God’s Word (1 Cor 9:15-19; Acts 20:29-35.
Tell this to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian and the persecuted leaders who boasted about their poverty and sought martyrdom.
Tell this to almost all great church leaders from the 4th to the 17th centuries who took vows of poverty and chose to live in monasteries. Christianity was nurtured by self-denying missionaries who took vows of poverty. That is not the way they interpreted Jesus’ words about holy separate lifestyles.
Many of those who are rich and do not struggle financially become complacent and become their own little gods. Matthew 19:24 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” James 5:1 “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!” Jesus often mentioned the rich in a negative manner and the poor in a praiseworthy manner.
DEJONG: Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man, who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. 2 His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever.
KELLY: (1) Does this mean that poor Christians are somehow not spiritual and are guilty of terrible sin? (2) Does this even refer to Christians since “commandments” refers to the entire Mosaic Law and the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy? (3) Does this mean that our descendants will be mighty because of our spirituality? (4) Most “poor” today in advanced countries still have appliances and luxuries that would make them among the “rich” in biblical times.
DEJONG: There is some dumb teaching going around that if you are really godly, you struggle. You’re in poverty [throughout] your life. Paul says “I know how to abound and abase.” [Phil. 4:12] There are times when we go through tough times, but I am learning to see the splendour and wonder of God flow through me.
KELLY: 1 Tim 6:7-9 “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Phil 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
DEJONG: Financial significance.More about our right principles and attitudes than external opportunity.
KELLY: Then present the “whole story” of tithing. Discuss EVERY tithing text and explain how they apply in the New Covenant.
DEJONG: “ …you can be sure I have heard just about every argument under the sun when it comes to the subject of tithing and God’s plan.”
KELLY: Then why do you ignore most of them? Your sermons should discuss related explanatory texts like: Gen. 14:21; Lev. 27:33, 34; Numb. 18 all; 35:1-3; Deut.12:6, 7; 14:23, 27-29; Josh. 20, 21; 1 Chron. 23 to 27; 2 Chron. 31:1-19; Neh. 10-13; Malachi 1:6 to 3:5; Matt. 23:2, 3; Acts 20:29-35; 21:20-25; 2 Cor 3:10-18; Eph. 2:13-17; Col. 2:14; Heb. 7:12-19; etc. etc. etc.
DEJONG: “Because God has got a plan for His house. Everything He does – so if God is going to build His house, He’s got a plan.”
KELLY: The Old Covenant plans have been replaced. God’s plan for the church is called the “New Covenant.” The New Covenant is not the same as the Old Covenant. It is based on better principles and better promises.
Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant , which was established upon better promises.
Heb 8:13 “In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away.”
2 Cor 3:10-11 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excels. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious.
Heb 7:18-19 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh unto God.
DEJONG: Proverbs 3:9 “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase.” The best part the first part, so that your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats full over. In other words, again it is not just Malachi but in Proverbs it is kind of like the first fruit is God’s, is His. Not the after thought. Not the part we do when we can. It’s the first fruits. It’s the thing that puts God in that first place.
KELLY: More later. DeJong is setting the stage to declare that first-fruit and tithes are the same thing.
DEJONG: Genesis 14:17-20. Again go back to your Bible. The first example of tithing in the Bible we find in Genesis 14:17-20, which is the example of Abraham coming to a point where he recognizes that all that he had and everything that is coming his way was from God.
KELLY: This is pure conjecture. Abraham probably reached that point either at the end of chapter 12 or the end of chapter 13. When Abraham sinned God blessed him. When Abraham earned something he gave it all away.
DEJONG: And so he committed a tithe to God. There was no law. There was no example of I have to do this thing.
KELLY: This is definitely not true! It shows that DeJong has never made any attempt at serious research on the history of tithing. One would have to ignore historical documents found all over the known world to deny that tithing existed in primitive pagan societies centuries before Genesis 14.
DEJONG: But he says, “No God, you deserve this wonder of receiving the first tenth of my increase. I give it to you. And so he gave it to Melchizedek, the high priest of God, the image of God — before the law. Before there was anything needed there was a willing response.
KELLY: DeJong is placing words into Abraham’s mouth which are not found in Scripture. From my essay:
For the following reasons, Genesis 14:20 cannot be used as an example for Christians to tithe. (1) The Bible does not say that Abraham “freely” gave this tithe. (2) Abraham’s gift was NOT a holy tithe from God’s holy land gathered by God’s holy people under God’s holy Old Covenant. (3) Abraham’s tithe was only from pagan spoils of war common to many nations. (4) In Numbers 31, God only required 1% of spoils of war. (5) Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek was a one-time recorded event. (6) Abraham’s tithe was not from his own personal property. (7) Abraham kept nothing for himself; he gave everything back. (8) Abraham’s tithe is not quoted anywhere in the Bible to endorse tithing. (9) Genesis 14, verse 21, is the key text. Since most commentaries explain verse 21 as an example of pagan Arab tradition, it is contradictory to explain the 90% of verse 21 as pagan, while insisting that the 10% of verse 20 was God’s will. (10) If Abraham is an example for Christians to give 10% to God, then he should also be an example for Christians to give the other 90% to Satan, or to the king of Sodom! (11) Since neither Abraham nor Jacob had a Levitical priesthood to support, they had no place to bring tithes and probably left food for the poor at their altars.
DEJONG: Genesis 28:20-22. And again, Jacob makes a vow. There is no law. There is no “have to” to God, and I am going to give you a tithe. And there again it wasn’t just 10% of my income. It was the first tenth. It is the very first thing that I do when things come my way. I honor You as God to establish you as greatness over my life. It’s an Old Testament law; it is an Old Testament law that in both Abraham and Jacobs’s life, it was a part of their expression of honor to God for who He is.
KELLY: (1) The Bible does not state that Abraham and Jacob tithed because it was a law of Yahweh. (2) The “contents” of this tithe does not fit the contents of God’s tithe and would have been rejected under God’s law. (3) The word “first” does not occur in the text, thus DeJong is making the text say what he wants it to say. (4) Jacob’s conversation is not in the text, thus DeJong is again making the text say what he wants it to say. (5) The unquoted text is actually Jacob’s free-will vow and BARGAIN with God which would be totally unacceptable if offered to DeJong by his own church members. (6) As a priest himself Jacob most likely left items at his altars for the poor as his donation for the poor.
DEJONG: And then you go into the law and the law is established in Leviticus 27 and then in Numbers 18, and as we have just read in Malachi chapter 3 where we see the law of God for His people being one of tithing. And it is interesting because the law often embraced something that was already established.
KELLY: DeJong does not ask his congregation to read Leviticus 27:33, 34. These texts point out that every TENTH animal was the tithe and not the first or the best animal! Verse 34 reminds us that these laws were only for Old Covenant Israelites and not for Gentiles. Numbers 18 is even more important. It is the exact wording of the “ordinance” of tithing! (1) It proves that “first-fruit” and “tithes” were not the same thing. (2) It denies land inheritance to Levites and priests who receive tithes. (3) It gives the whole tithe to the Levite servants to the priests. (4) It only gives one tenth of the whole tithe to the priests. (5) It destroys any possibility of the priesthood of believers.
DEJONG: The law now demanded tithing and offerings. And that happened before the law. It wasn’t like it began as an Old Testament law; it was something that was embraced by the Old Testament so that it would be tracks to run on to see the will of God established. Very important.
KELLY: DeJong admits too much here unless he is thinking that the beginning of tithing was Abraham and Jacob. Check out a few commentaries on Genesis 14:21 (not 14:20) and you will discover that pagan tradition controlled what happened to the 90%. In 14:21. Therefore it probably also controlled the 10% of 14:20.
DEJONG: Matthew 23:23. Let’s go there and enter the New Testament. Matthew 23, and I trust you have got your Bible because we have got to come back to a basis of biblical understanding to literally embrace and understand and know where we need to go as we lay this platform.
KELLY: DeJong is subtle, but wrong. Although Matthew 23 is in what man calls the New Testament, it is NOT in what God calls the New Covenant. It is before Calvary, before Pentecost. It is in the context of the Mosaic Law (Gal. 4:4).
DEJONG: Of course in Matthew 23, Jesus has a problem with the religious leaders of the day, the scribes and Pharisees. This was the problem. Those that were leading the church, those that were seen as the ones closest to God were so committed to the external form of doing what was right that they had no internal heart. And Jesus was bringing to pass and putting in the concrete of the fact of a new order.
KELLY: First, the Scribes and Pharisees were NOT “those that were leading the church.” According to Matthew 23:1-3 (which DeJong does not quote) they were the authorities whom the people recognized as interpreters of the Mosaic Law. Matthew 23 is a series of seven woes against their hypocrisy concerning the Law. The problem was that they had greatly exaggerated what God had originally defined as tithing and had added the smallest of kitchen spices to tithing –thus making it a burden.
DEJONG: The fact is that this new dispensation of time, this new covenant, was a covenant of grace. It was a covenant of relationship with God because Jesus was making the way.
KELLY: From my essay, these are the principles of grace-giving in the church. Why doesn’t he preach these principles to his congregation?
Free-will giving existed before tithing. The following New Covenant free-will principles are found in Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9: (1) Giving is a “grace.” These chapters use the word, “grace,” eight times in reference to helping poor saints. (2) Give yourself to God first (8:5). (3) Give yourself to knowing God’s will (8:5). (4) Give in response to Christ’s gift (8:9; 9:15). (5) Give out of a sincere desire (8:8, 10, 12; 9:7). (6) Do not give because of any commandment (8:8, 10; 9:7). (7) Give beyond your ability (8:3, 11, 12). (8) Give to produce equality. This means that those who have more should give more in order to make up for the inability of those who cannot afford to give as much (8:12-14). (9) Give joyfully (8:2). (10) Give because you are growing spiritually (8:3, 4, 7). (11) Give because you want to continue growing spiritually (9:8, 10, 11). (12) Give because you are hearing the gospel preached (9:13).
DEJONG: And basically if you read the context, which I don’t have time to read, Jesus says it is not about the outer thing, it is about the heart and the outer thing. It’s the inner and the outer. That’s the establishment of the new covenant. Then we’ve got to verse 23:
KELLY: Over and over DeJong skips over context because he doesn’t “have time” but he finds plenty of time to repeat his points and tell long stories. He found time to read verses 16 and 22 but not verses 2 and 3 which give the context.
DEJONG: Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” And so He says you ought to have tithed but you should never leave truth and mercy and the things of the heart. This is further developed in 2 Corinthians 9. You should give as your heart is free to give. In other words, it is a heart issue.
KELLY: Jesus was merely reminding his disciples that true obedience to the Mosaic Law included both outward tithing and inward justice, mercy and faith. The Jewish Christians in Jerusalem later refused to place Gentiles believers under any portion of the Mosaic Law in Acts 15 and Acts 21.
DEJONG: When Jesus said, hey Scribes and Pharisees you must tithe. But don’t loose or don’t let go of the heart response, as a part of the tithe.
KELLY: Yes, they ought to tithe –because they were still living under the jurisdiction of the Old Covenant Mosaic Law. That is what “weightier matters of the law” refers to in Matthew 23:23. Gal. 4:4 “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”
DEJONG: In fact when you go to Deuteronomy 26: 9-12 you’ll find that tithe is rendered first fruits. So actually they used the same picture and context of tithe and first fruit. So all of the Scriptures regarding first fruit must marinate and cross over with the concept of tithing.
KELLY: This is a severe distortion of God’s Word in several different ways. Deuteronomy 26:9-12 is a summary of three different offerings! Notice that DeJong does not read the texts! (1) The “first-fruits,” like the wave-sheaf, were very small tokens of the eventual full harvest which were taken directly to the priests who were ministering their one-week rotation at the Temple in Jerusalem. This first-fruit is described in Deuteronomy 26:10. The NIV calls it a “basket” and the TLB calls it a “sample.” It was a small token. Compare Lev. 23:16-20; Numb. 18:12, 13; Neh. 10:35-37. (2) While the tithe was taken directly to the Levites in the Levitical cities, none of the first-fruits went to the Levites. See Numbers 18:20-24; Neh. 10:35-37. (3) A second yearly tithe was brought to Jerusalem for the three festivals and was eaten then by the Levites, the priests, the strangers (three categories of the poor) and those who brought it. This is the context of Deuteronomy 26:9-11 which DeJong does not read. See also Deut. 12:6, 7 and 14:23. (4) Deuteronomy 26:12, 13 (which DeJong does not quote) describe the “third-year tithe” for the poor which is kept in the homes of the worshipers solely for the poor (Levites, priests, fatherless, widows, strangers). Of course, there is no way for DeJong to work the context of these texts into his explanation of tithing. They also prove that tithe-recipients were normally among the poor of the land.
DEJONG: God knows that when we get it right – again, honor the Lord with your first fruits, with the choice part the best of all of your increase and your life will be filled with blessing. … the first tenth I would bring into the storehouse. … And it is foolish to think any other way. And it is Scriptural. Can I read it [Malachi 3:6-11 again, hey…”
KELLY: Speaking of “getting it right,” once again, according to Leviticus 27:32, 33, Numbers 18:20-24 and Nehemiah 10:35-37 the tithe for the support of the Levites was NOT the “first” – it was the “tenth.” It was not even the “best” –it was the “tenth” regardless of quality! According to Numbers 18:26-28 and Nehemiah 10:37, 38 the “best” which eventually should go to the Temple to feed the priests was only 1/10th of the whole tithe, or 1%.
DEJONG: But I would also say we are far from a people committed to tithing and giving of offerings. I mean we are not even talking about offerings, you know.
KELLY: DeJong teaches that 10% of one’s income is the absolute minimum beginning standard for giving. Not until that ten per cent is given can one decide to give freewill offerings above the ten per cent level. That is his next sermon. The fatal flaw in this logic is that only OT Israelite farmers and herdsmen were expected to tithe and the Jewish Encyclopedia says that even that was voluntary. In other words, it never was a minimum standard for everybody, so how can it be one for Christians who never were under the Mosaic Law of tithing at all?
DEJONG: … just to keep our doors open, this is not to do with capital repayments on the building or anything like that, we need $54,000 a week. Just to run the programs we run.
KELLY: How is this $54,000 a week spent? Only incomes for preachers? That is wrong! Church property? That is wrong! Christian equivalent of the Levites? Yes. That would require that we pay the deacons (servants to the priests), ushers (door porters), bankers (treasurers), choir leader and members (singers), bakers for church functions, maintenance men (carpenters, roofers, electricians) and we should also include the politicians and judges which were Levites under David and Solomon. See Numbers 3, 1 Chronicles 23-27 plus many other supporting texts in my essay and book.
DEJONG: The first tenth is God’s tithe. And I have got to be careful how I say this, but I mean it with all my heart, that tithe does not go to para-church organizations or great Christian endeavors. It belongs in the storehouse.
KELLY: The New Covenant assembly of believers, the body of Christ, is never called a “storehouse.” Their assembly was an illegal religion for almost 300 years and they met in secret wherever they could hide without a building! Once again DeJong is trying to equate “church” with a physical “building” which is not scriptural.
Jesus told both the rich young ruler and Zaccheus to give their wealth, not to the establishment, but to the poor. What kind of example was that? What gives DeJong the authority to demand that his assembly should only give their money to him? There is no monopoly of hierarchy in our age.
DEJONG: The fourth reason, just moving quickly, why I tithe. “Because it is holy unto God” Leviticus 27:30. God says, … all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s. It is holy to the LORD. But in Leviticus 27:30 it says that the tithe is holy. It is literally of God. It is not something that is external to God. The question being, does holy ever change?
KELLY: Ask a church member to bring a lamb to church, place it on the altar, kill it there and say to DeJong, “Here is my offering today.” When DeJong objects, ask him, “Does holy ever change?” I commented earlier about this in the discussion of Malachi 3:6. From my essay about Leviticus 27:
The phrases “it is HOLY unto the LORD” and “it is MOST HOLY unto the LORD” are very common in Leviticus. Almost every other use of these same two phrases in Leviticus has long ago been discarded by Christians. These phrases are used to describe all of the festivals, the sacrificial offerings, the clean food, the old covenant priests and the old covenant sanctuary. Especially read verses 28 and 29 in the same chapter.
DEJONG: Should I tithe on the gross or the net? So the question of the gross and the net is: “Are we just doing what we have to do, or is it a position of a beginning point?” …
And again I don’t want to lay any guilt trips on anyone, but I want to challenge you to think about if the challenge in the Old Testament was not just tithing but the giving of offerings; you go into 2 Corinthians 9, basically it challenges everything we have.
KELLY: For “guilt trip” see the next question and answer.
DEJONG: What if I have a major personal need that needs to be met? Should I tithe at a time of incredible challenge? Again I think I have answered it in point that we’ve got to watch that we don’t lower ourselves to natural wisdom. If we want God’s help with previous debt then release Him through today’s increase. And I know I am covering a lot of ground. If you find yourself under debt of your past, don’t allow your past to rob God’s blessing on your increase today.
KELLY: Incredible! Your husband has had a car accident and is out or work with medical bills or is dead. The bills are due and the utilities are going to be cut off. The last pay check comes and what do you do? DeJong says that you pay your tithe! 1 Tim 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
This is the kind of tithing abuse that arouses thousands like myself. THE POOR AND NEEDY WERE NEVER REQUIRED TO TITHE!!! Much of the second tithe and all of the third year tithe was given to the poor. And, although I cannot prove it from scripture, something teaches me that much of the first Levitical tithe also ended up feeding the poor and caring for the needy in Israel. Surely the Levites and priests would have shared their tithes with the poor.
God judged greedy dishonest tithe-recipients in the Old Covenant and he will judge dishonest ministers today also. Malachi 3:5 (in the context of tithing) “And I will come near to you [priests/ministers] to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 2:1 “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you” –the context of Malachi 3:8-10.
DEJONG: Honor Him with what is coming your way today, and God will take care of not only your future, but help walk with you through what is around you. If you are a farmer, you’ve got a last bag of seed. Your family is hungry. You’ve got a big decision to make. Do you eat the seed, grind it into the wheat, or do you sow the seed? If that was what you were at the end of, what would you do? Many of us would eat the seed and say let’s die. Those that are wise will live according to Bible principles will say; no you sow the seed unto harvest. And even though you may take a lean year or two, you release the principle of seedtime and harvest.
KELLY: What a stupid illustration! According to the illustration a person would be DEAD before the harvest was made! Of course you would eat the seed. The next crop would still come in because of fallen seed just as it did every seventh year and every fiftieth year. The pitiful thing is that DeJong is speaking to the destitute church members from the previous question who have absolutely nothing but their last paycheck. The poor in the OT went to the Levites and priests and their neighbors for assistance.
Since you would accept their last dime, do you let the poor in your community glean from your abundance, swim in your pool, ride on your yacht, fly in your plane, eat at your table? Are you satisfied with their smaller offerings (Lev. 14:21; 27:8)? See Deut. 10:19; 15:7, 8, 11; 24:19-21.
DEJONG: 2 Kings chapter 4, the widow had a little jar of oil. She says Elisha what shall I do? He says you’ve got to take the little, and sow the little. 1 Kings 17, the Tishbite widow. Elijah comes and says; I want you to bake me a cake. She says; all I have is one little meal of flour and a little bit of oil. We’re going to make a cake and my son and I are going to eat and we are going to die. He says no you make me one. How brash is that? Come on, this is over the question, what if I have a personal major need? You make me the man of God a meal. So she made the man of God a meal and a miracle happened.
KELLY: If the widows of 1 Kings 17 and 2 Kings 4 brought their very last bit of food to DeJong, from what he just said, he would accept it from them. But would he then immediately work a miracle and immediately return to them many fold? Perhaps the purpose of the stories was to demonstrate the power of God’s true prophet rather than the generosity of the giver. Regardless, DeJong is not in the position of a poor hungry prophet and he should not be accepting the last food from starving widows.
DEJONG: What is my increase? Increase literally is any source that you increase from.
KELLY: That is not the definition given by God. “Increase” is what God personally provided through either abundant harvest of large herds. Man had nothing to do with producing the increase from neither source. This was previously discussed.
DEJONG: Can I use my tithe to help mission work? Well, I don’t believe you can.
No the tithe belongs to the storehouse. They are not the storehouse. They are not the place of God’s appointed expression of His bride, but they are important. That is where our offering should be considered to be sought. … the tithe belongs to the local church.
KELLY: Personal opinion.
DEJONG: Does it really mean my first tenth? Yes, it does mean the first tenth. The tithe is the first tenth. It is not just 10%. It’s the first tenth.
KELLY: If you repeat a lie 50, 000 times it is still a lie. Lev 27:32-33 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD. He shall not search whether it is good or bad …
DEJONG: Can I have a say in what happens to my tithe? I have to respect and understand God’s ability to guide the leadership.
KELLY: The assembled body of believers should be consulted to make or confirm all major church decisions. Although a large church should have many elders and many deacons, Christ is still the head of the church.
Mr. Paul DeJong, my friends and I would certainly appreciate a rebuttal/reply from you in order that we may engage with you in a dialog in this important matter of God’s Word.