Tony Evans: Tithing
RUSSELL KELLY REBUTS DR. TONY EVANS CONCERNING TITHING, February 1, 2015
References are to page numbers of Evans’ outline, Financial Victory.
Evans (1): God has a purpose when it comes to our finances … Deut 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
Kelly: While it is good to remember that God gives us power to get wealth, this text is addressed to Old Covenant Israel. The Church never was under that covenant. It is in the context of 8:1-16 which commands Israel to keep all (600+) commandments, judgments and statutes of that covenant. Since Evans claims to be a post-Calvary New Covenant preacher, he should reach his conclusions from purely Spirit-blessed teachings for the Church.
Evans (1): “In the preceding verse [8:17] wealth is defined as ‘having enough.’”
Kelly: Read on to see how consistent this will be. What happened to the “overflowing blessings” of Malachi 3:10?
Evans (2): “God’s covenant refers to His kingdom … God’s rule over every area of life.”
Kelly: Yes, but Evans is out of context when he speaks of God’s covenant in Deuteronomy 8:18. The post-Calvary covenant is new; it is not the same as the old covenant of Law. It is “not according to” the old covenant (Heb 8:8-13). A post-Calvary New Covenant preacher should get his marching orders from the post-Calvary New Covenant.
Evans (2): “The kingdom includes …; we have rules to follow.”
Kelly: Yes, but those rules, those principles of interpretation, must come from the post-Calvary New Covenant where the Holy Spirit gives the Church, the Body of Christ, His stewardship principles for them.
Evans (2): “God’s covenant is always intended to bless the person in the covenant.” Gen 12:2.
Kelly: Evans is badly mixing covenants. He quotes the old in Deuteronomy 8:18 and the Abrahamic in Genesis 12:2. This confuses the Bible student. They are different covenants.
Evans (2): [First 1 Cor 10:16 is referenced next.]
Kelly: First Corinthians 10:16 correctly states that our [post-Calvary New Covenant] blessings come from “communion of the blood and body of Christ.” They do not come from obedience to the Old Covenant given by Moses.
Evans (2): “Christians … have covenantal rights; God’s covenant; His covenant; His covenantal purposes …”
Kelly: How many covenants is Evans referring to? If only one, then it must be the New Covenant. If it is the New, then he needs to quote it and not the old one which has disappeared (Heb 8:13; 1 Cor 3:10).
Evans (3): “The Bible says: Whatever you have been given, make sure you give God His portion first.”
Kelly: No, the Bible nowhere states that! It is a lie. If “you” refers to an Old Covenant farmer or herdsman inside Israel, God asked for the first as a very small token offering: e.g. an apple, a handful of grapes or olives (Deut. 26:1-10). However, if “you” refers to Christians, First Timothy 5:8 commands us to care for our immediate family’s needs first: medicine, food, shelter.
Evans (3): “Be sure to honor Jesus Christ first that he might have “first place in everything.” Col 1:18.
Kelly: Colossians 1:18 is not a discussion of stewardship. Read the chapter. If we neglect the essential needs of our families in order to put something into the offering plate, we are acting “worse than unbelievers” (1 Tim 5:8). Christ is not honored when we cut or eliminate medicine or food and shelter from his children. This should be common sense.
Evans: (3) “When you put him first you will reap the rewards of His favor. I Cor 3:10-15”
Kelly: Again the texts given by Evans say nothing about “first.” Why does he keep referencing texts which do not agree with his statements? Is it not strange that Evans cannot find a proper post-Calvary text with the word “first” in it to prove his point?
Evans (3): “U. S. citizens live under a covenantal document called The Constitution … for citizens living under its realm of influence.”
Kelly: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And Christians are only under the realm and influence of the post-Calvary New Covenant! Christians are no more under the Old Covenant than U. S. citizens are under German or Russian law — and they never have been!!!
Evans (3): “What biblical principles of stewardship are trying to get you to do …”
Kelly: Evans has not given any principles which command Christians to give the first ten per cent of their income to the church. The freewill and sacrificial principles found in 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 require more than 10% from some and far less than 10% from others “that there may be an equality” (8:12-14).
Evans (6): God responded to Cornelius because his prayers were mixed with giving.”
Kelly: No. The Bible does not say that about Cornelius. Does God only save those who are able to give? If Cornelius were a poor beggar who sincerely worshipped God, would God have ignored him?
Evans (9): Your tithe reflects and demonstrates a fear of God. Deut 14:22-23; Prov 9:10; Eccl 12:13).
Kelly: Since Proverbs and Ecclesiastes do not contain the words tithe, tithes or tithing, Evans should not reference them here. He is correct when he says that the purpose of the (2nd festival-feast] tithe of Deuteronomy 14 is that [Old Covenant Israel] “might learn to fear the LORD always.” However this correct purpose of the tithe demonstrates that Evans errs when he says so often that the purpose of the tithe was to “acknowledge that God owns everything” (Ps 24:1). If God’s ownership of tithing proved that tithes come from anything, then the O.T. tithe would not have been severely limited to God’s holy land in 16 sets of texts.
Evans (9): As a descendant of Abraham you are to follow in the spiritual principle of tithing (Gen 14:18-20; Gen 3:29).
Kelly: No. This is nowhere stated in God’s Word. Real spiritual principles are known by nature and conscience (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16). Giving is a spiritual principle; how much to give requires special revelation. (1) Abram was uncircumcised when he ”tithed”; uncircumcised Gentiles were never commanded to tithe and never allowed to give holy tithes. (2) Abram is only recorded as “tithing” once; is that our example? (3) Abram only tithed spoils of war from pagan Sodom; are we to follow that example? (4) Abram kept nothing; are we to give away all increase. (5) Abram gave the 90% to the king of Sodom; are we to give the 90% to his equivalent today? (6) Abram lied about his wife and gave her to Pharaoh; are we to follow that example? In truth we are only to follow Abraham’s example of believing God unto righteousness (Gen 15:5).
Evans (9): Tithing started with Abraham and continues into the priesthood of Jesus.
Kelly: No honest biblical historian would agree that tithing began with Abraham. Tithing existed in all pagan cultures of the Mesopotamian Fertile Crescent before
Abraham’s time. Tithing to king-priests existed in Babylon of Abraham’s forefathers.
The Melchizedek-type-priesthood of Jesus end tithing. According to Hebrews 7:18 “the commandment going before” to “collect tithes” (7:5) was “of necessity changed” (7:12) and that “change” was the “annulment” of tithing.
Evans (9): The spiritual principle of tithing as a means of fearing God carries into the church age. 1 Peter 2:17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Kelly: No. Does anybody hold Evans for the way he twists Scripture out of context? His validating texts do not validate.
Evans (9): Withholding your tithe robs God of what is rightly his (Mal 3:8).
Kelly: (1) The holy Old Covenant tithe was always only food from inside God’s holy land. When Evans receives money which he calls tithes, he is robbing God. (2) O.T. Levites received the whole 10% (Numb 18:20-24) and gave the ministers at the altar a tenth of their tenth (1%) (Numb 18:25-29. When Evans receives more than 1% of the “tithe,” he robs God. (3) O.T. tithe recipients were forbidden from receiving inheritances of property or other things in God’s land (Numb 18:20). When Evans receives the “tithe” and also owns land and receives other inheritances, according to his own definition he robs God. O.T. tithe recipients were forbidden from accumulating wealth (“no part with them” (Numb 18:20); they were expected be first in line among the poor to receive the 3rd year poor tithe (Deut. 14:29). When Evans is not among the poorest of the land, he robs God by having wealth which did not belong to Old Covenant tithe recipients.
Evans (10): When you take God’s money and use it for reasons other than what he has demanded, God will allow your resources to dwindle (Mal 3:9-11).
Kelly: Evans completely ignores the fact that Malachi is only addressed to Old Covenant Israel and also that the Law was an indivisible whole (Mal 4:4). In order to be blessed by tithing, one was to perfectly obey all 600+ commandments of the Law; breaking one commandment brought curses (Deut 27:26 quoted in Galatians 3:10). God did not bless tithers who sinned against Him in other ways.
Evans (in You Tube sermons): “If you are not tithing you are wearing stolen clothing, driving stolen cars and living in stolen houses.”
Kelly: The curse of Malachi 3:9 is the curse of the Old Covenant Law which Israel had called down upon themselves in Nehemiah 10:28-29. It is the same curse found in Deuteronomy 28 to 30. It is the curse which Jesus ended at Calvary in Galatians 3:13. And Evans errs greatly when he places New Covenant believers under the Old Covenant curse. He also brings his own curse upon himself when he robs God as previously discussed.
Evans (10): God encourages you to test Him in your tithing so you can see him test you. (Mal 3:10).
Kelly: The test is a much distorted idea. The whole law was a test –not just tithing –and Evans knows that! Stop and read Deuteronomy 28 to 30. Read the context of Malachi in Nehemiah 10:28-29. See the similarities – same tests, same curses, same blessings and same covenant.
Evans (10): The first portion of your financial plan should be directed toward your needs (e.g. living expenses, clothes, food).
Kelly: This is exactly what I pointed out previously from First Timothy 5:8. Evans attempts to go in two different directions. Believers cannot, at the same time, give their first to God through the Church and also give their first for family necessities. Why does Evans not refer to First Timothy 5:8 here? Why is he not attempting to equate tithes with firstfruits here? He has done so elsewhere often.
Evans (11): God said “Give to me, then I will protect, provide for and promote what you do.”
Kelly: Evans means “Give to God first, then …” He is obsessed with equating firstfruits and tithes in other sermons. Notice the lack of a verifying Bible text. The concept of firstfruits storehouse giving is not biblical and is contrary to First Timothy 5:8.
Evans (13): Validate your faith by giving 10 per cent as a minimum of what God requires as a tithe.
Kelly: Notice no text; there is no text which says that God commands every believer to begin his/her level of giving at ten per cent. It is a common lie of tithe-teachers. Actually, in the Old Covenant economy, only food producers who lived inside God’s holy land of Israel qualified as tithe-payers. Those Hebrews who earned a livelihood in other vocations did not qualify (e.g. carpenters and tentmakers). Those Hebrews who lived outside the holy land of Israel did not qualify. And Gentiles could not tithe from defiled pagan lands.
A Rebuttal of Tony Evans’, No More Excuses, pages 215-231, by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD; January 21. 2015
Evans: (216) “God’s will and plan for His people. … God has set up creation to act as a stewardship. Now He’s not going to revamp His eternal plan …”
Kelly: Tony Evans lists a Th. M. and Th. D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas is a pioneer in conservative theology. A key hermeneutic (principle of interpretation) is “To whom is the text addressed?” “His people” before Calvary was clearly national Israel (Ex. 19:5-6). After Calvary God’s “new covenant” was “revamped” to include Gentiles and the Church which were never under the Old Covenant Law.
The founders of DTS include Lewis Sperry Chafer and John Walvoord. DTS does not teach tithing. My book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?, quotes from their book to agree with my viewpoint. Tony Evans knows better.
Evans: (218) Ps. 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it.” The Bible declares that God owns it all.
Kelly: Every tithe-teacher quotes Psalm 24:1! Why? The words “tithe, tithes, tithing” do not occur even once in the Psalms! This text does not somehow magically prove tithing. While it is a true statement, tithes in the Old Testament and during the time Psalm 24:1 was inspired were still only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel which He had miraculously increased and they could only come from Hebrews living inside that land. Gold, silver, money and income are never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the HOLY tithe. Not even Jesus, Peter or Paul qualified as tithe payers; nobody living outside the HOLY land qualified, especially Gentiles. Therefore Psalm 24:1 cannot support tithing of non-food items by Gentiles.
Evans: (220) “If you are the Creator and you have created something for a purpose, you have a right to demand that it fulfill your purpose and nothing else. … If God owns everything how does that relate to the concept of tithing?”
Kelly: Evans never mentions the biblical purpose for the tithe found in Numbers 18 and Deuteronomy. He replaces God’s stated purpose with his own opinion.
According to Numbers 18 (the exact wording of the tithing statute/ordinance) the purpose of the first Levitical tithe was to reimburse the Levites for their (part time) service in the sanctuary/temple in exchange for their loss of land inheritance inside Israel. This real purpose is almost totally ignored by gospel preachers who also own property. “Part time” refers to the many professions and trades of both Levites and priests found in 1 Chronicles 23 to 26; they served the king and the LORD often as government employees. See my chapter on Kings, Tithes and Taxes from Should the Church Teach Tithing?
The total tithe was actually around 23%. Tithe-advocates like Tony Evans dare not point out this fact as it would be awkward asking for 23%. A second tithe of 10% was required to feed the masses at the seasonal feasts. A third tithe of 10% every third year was kept in the towns to feed the poor and Levites (who were expected to be among the poor). See my chapter, How Many Tithes? (www.tithing-russkelly.com).
Evans’ most fundamental error is in failing to define the biblical HOLY tithe as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. There is no biblical authority to define the holy tithe as income from Gentiles and the Church.
The Bible does not tell us why uncircumcised Abram gave a tithe from spoils of war to Melchizedek in Genesis 14. It neither says he was commanded to do so nor does it record that he freely chose to do so. Yet tithe-teachers usually assign one of these two reasons. Abram was most likely merely obeying the common demonstrable tradition of giving his local king-priest a tithe from the spoils of war. On the other hand, Jacob’s tithe was a freewill vow. Both were from defiled pagan sources; neither would qualify as a holy tithe under the law or by Malachi or Jesus.
The HOLY tithe (as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi, Matthew and Luke) was always only food from inside God’s HOLY land of Israel. It could not come from non-Hebrews. It could not come from non-food sources. It could not come from outside Israel. It could not come from what man made; it must come from the miraculous hand of God. There are 16 verses which validate this claim. Even Malachi 3:10 and Jesus in Matthew 23:23 still limit it to food.
Evans and all other tithe-teachers simply will not be honest and define the HOLY tithe according to God’s Word. They say that food was barter and used as money. In doing so, they fail to perform a simple word search in an exhaustive concordance such as Strong’s. The words “money, silver, gold” are common and required for temple worship but are never included in any description of the tithe or firstfruits. Check it out for yourself.
Evans: (220) God established the tithe with Israel in the Old Testament.
Kelly: Yes, yes, yes – and only with Israel in the Old Testament. Even then He severely limited it to food producers who lived inside His HOLY land. The tithe never did apply to occupations and trades beyond food production. The tithe was never used to build mission stations and proselytize Gentiles (so there is no precedent there). O. T. Gentiles could not tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul could not tithe. Not even crops grown outside Israel by Hebrews could be tithed.
Evans: He told the people that he wanted the first ten per cent of everything they produced, whether the crops in the fields or the animals born to the flocks and herds (see Lev. 27:30-33).
Kelly: Evans omits Leviticus 2:34 which limits the instructions to national Israel.
Evans uses Leviticus 27:30-33 to prove that the tithe was to be given first when the text limits the tithe to the tenth! Incredible! Any casual reading of the texts makes it clear that the tithe was the last tenth. Plus the texts do not include money, gold, silver or income among tithed items.
Evans: Now the tithe was not designed to allow the Israelites to say “O.K. God here’s your ten percent. No, the tithe was a way of saying “God, this tithe is my way of saying that you own it all and gave it all to me. I realize that the 90% is yours too.”
Kelly: These are nice sounding words heard very often but they are not biblical and they ignore the real purpose of the three tithes as previously discussed. It is dishonest to teach on tithing and totally ignore Numbers 18. Again, “God owned it all” in the Old Testament times also, but only allowed the holy tithe to come from what He had miraculously increased from inside His holy land.
Evans: (221) The tithe was also to be given first, to remind the Israelites that God would meet their needs if they honored him.
Kelly: This is a lie; it has no validation from God’s Word. The tithe is not the same as the firstfruits! The firstfruits was a very small token offering which could be carried in a small basket; it was a handful of grapes or olives; it was several apples or a handful of grain; it was not the tenth of the total harvest which could only be counted after the harvest was finished. Think straight; look up “firstfruits” in a concordance.
Evans: This is a view of stewardship most of us aren’t used to.
Kelly: It is unbiblical to use the principle of God’s ownership to teach that believers must give the first tenth of their income to the church.
Evans: The Israelites of Malachi’s day dishonored the Lord by giving Him the worst of their flock for sacrifice (Mal. 1:7-8). The people would …. (1:9)
Kelly: Stop what you are doing for a moment, pick up a Bible for yourself, and open to Malachi, chapter one. It begins with an address to Israel in 1:1. At 1:6 the writer/speaker begins addressing “you,” the priests. From 1:6 to the remainder of Malachi, the word “you” refers to priests and not to the people of Judah as a whole.
Evans has skipped Malachi 1:6 and begins at 1:7. This is dishonest because he changes the focus from dishonest priests to the people. It is the dishonest priests who have taken the worst (of the best tenth, Num. 18:25-28) from their flocks (Num. 35; Josh. 21)
Evans: (222) Look how seriously God took this insult, “O that one of you would shut the temple doors that you would not light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands” (Mal. 1:10).
Kelly: Anybody who honestly reads the Bible in context will realize that Malachi 1:10 is still speaking to the priests (the “you”) from 1:6. Even more so, the text itself (1:10) limits the context to only priests who are responsible for “shutting the doors” to the Temple and for “lighting fires at the altar.” This is not a condemnation of the people for not tithing. Rather, it is a condemnation of dishonest priests for substituting unqualified sacrificial animals.
Evans: God says shut the temple, close down the church if that is all we are going to give him.
Kelly: The New Covenant Church is never called a “storehouse” in the Bible. In fact, church buildings were illegal until after A.D. 313.
Evans: He wants to be first in everything.
Kelly: Evans again uses the magic trick of equating tithes with firstfruits. In the Old Covenant neither were non-food items; neither could come from outside Israel; neither could come from non-food-producing occupations. Sacrificial freewill offerings is another thing though.
Evans: When we give God lesser any
priority in our lives, we are relegating the Owner to the demeaning position below that of his steward of manager.
Kelly: Sounds good, but this is not biblical. Consider 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Modern tithe-teachers want the tithe first. They want the poor and needy to buy their medicine, food, shelter and other necessities after the tithe is paid.
Paul said to take care of one’s own essential family needs first! Yet many sincere “tithe-payers” are cutting pills in half and doing without proper food and shelter for their family in order to avoid an Old Covenant curse for Israel and escape their preacher’s wrath.
Evans: (God) would not be satisfied with your leftover time, energy and skills.
Kelly: If there is nothing “leftover” after buying essential medicine, food and shelter, God will not be angry. Evans has placed his own words into God’s mouth.
Evans: That’s the principle of priority we need to understand.
Kelly: Evans’ “principle of priority” is based on two false assumptions: (1) that Psalms 24:1 includes tithes from non-food increase outside of Israel from Gentiles and (2) that firstfruits and tithes are the same thing.
Having completed Evans’ arguments, let us look at a few facts.
(1) Evans failed to define the holy tithe as the word is used by Moses, Nehemiah, Malachi and Jesus.
(2) Evans fails to point out that those being cursed in Malachi 1:11-14 and 2:1 were clearly the priests and not the people.
(3) Evans fails to follow the pronoun “you” from 1:6. The priests’ question of 2:17 is answered in 3:1-5 as God’s promise to purify the priesthood. “This whole nation” of 3:8-10 only makes sense when understood as “this whole nation “of you priests” –every priest in the nation. In Nehemiah 13:5-10 the priests had removed the tithes from the small storeroom and forced the Levites to return to their cities for food. Also see Neh. 10:35-38.
(4) It makes no sense to teach that the temple in Jerusalem held the whole tithe of the whole nation.
- a) It was too small (compare 1 Kings 6:6);
- b) priests would have to travel to the temple every time they wanted food; c) there were no large storerooms for tithes in Solomon’s temple and a crisis was created in Second Chronicles 31:1-5. The crisis ended when most of the tithes were re-distributed back to the Levitical cities where they belonged. Again read Nehemiah 10:37b-38.
(5) It is absurd to imply that God owes believers “overflowing blessings” simply because they tithed. The O.T. Law was to be obeyed wholly and perfectly before blessings were dispensed (Gal 3:10; Deut 27:26). God did not bless tithe-payers who broke the law in other areas.
(6) The principle and doctrine of the priesthood of every believer abolishes tithing because every N.T. believer is a priest before God (1 Pet 2:9-10: Rev 5:10).
Mr. Evans, I invite you to enter an open dialog on this subject. It is far too important to ignore.
In Christ’s love
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
316 Aonia Rd
Washington, Ga 30673