REBUTTAL OF RICK JOYNER ON TITHING, by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD, April 27, 2011
The Wealth of the Righteous, Week 42, 2004
Joyner: One of the most foolish things we can do as a Christian is to not pay our tithes.
Kelly: It is more foolish for a New Covenant Christian to try and live under the Old Covenant conditional principles of tithing when the New Covenant freewill principles are far superior.
Joyner: Tithing means to give ten percent of our income to the Lord.
Kelly: No, it does not. True HOLY biblical tithes were always only food from inside God’s holy land of Israel which He had miraculously increased. Though money was common and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never a tithed item. Tithes could not come from what man increased, from Gentiles or from outside Israel. Period.
Joyner: I have heard Christians make many excuses for not doing this, to their own determent. Without question, when we read the incredible promises of God for those who are faithful in this, we have to be the greatest of fools not to obey it.
Kelly: There is not a single Bible text to prove that Christians are to live under Old Covenant principles including tithing. You like to call others “fools” and that is arrogant. Exodus 19:5-6 limits the Old Covenant to Israel. Malachi 1:1 limits the book to Israel. The first rule of hermeneutics is “To whom was it written? Was it written to me?” and you ignore that rule.
Joyner: One of the most popular excuses for this disobedience is that tithing was a part of the Law and that we are no longer under the Law.
Kelly: You greatly err in this statement. Gentiles and Christians NEVER WERE UNDER THE LAW.
Joyner: Okay, I will concede that it was a part of the Law but so was not committing murder. Is it okay to murder now that we are no longer under the Law?
Kelly: You show your ignorance about the nature of the Old Covenant law here. The eternal moral law which is the foundational law beneath the Old Covenant is written in the hearts and conscience of all men through nature (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16). That eternal moral law includes the principle of “giving” but not “tithing” and “resting for worship” but not “Saturday rest.”
Joyner: Those who say that tithing is not in the New Testament are mistaken anyway. It is! Though this argument, because so many people have been deceived by it, is worthy of far more attention than I can give it here, let me briefly address these assumptions.
Kelly: I urge you to give it far more attention and enter into an extended dialog with me on the subject. What are you afraid of? If you are correct, then you should prevail.
Joyner: First, tithing was actually practiced by the patriarchs before the Law was given through Moses (see Genesis 14:20, 28:22).
Kelly: Tithes? Yes. Holy tithes blessed by God? No. All pagans around Canaan tithed spoils of war and tithed to pagan gods along with idol worship, child sacrifice and temple prostitution. That proves nothing. Just because something is very old and very common does not make it an eternal moral principle. The Bible does not tell us WHY the yet-uncircumcised Babylonian Abram tithed. He was probably obeying the well-known law of the land which required tithes of spoils of war to one’s local king priest.
Joyner: Tithing was included in the Law with other standards of righteousness (basic integrity and morality) which the Lord had already established before the Law.
Kelly: Tithing which was included in the law was not the same as tithing before the law. Tithing before the law was unholy pagan spoils from Sodom in Gen 14:18-20. Tithing in the Law was HOLY from God’s holy land which God Himself had miraculously increased. That is a huge difference.
Joyner: We also continue to observe things such as not lying, paying our vows, not committing adultery, murder, etc. under the New Covenant.
Kelly: Every man, Jew or Gentile, knows innately that it is wrong to kill, lie and steal because of the innate eternal moral law revealed by nature and conscience. Tithing does not fit that category. Tithing was a statute-ordinance of the Law in Numbers 18 which was legislated to support Levites and priests who ministered animal sacrifices in the Temple system. All of that ended at Calvary. Those in the OT who accepted Levitical tithes were not allowed to own or inherit property; today this is totally ignored. Read Numbers 18:20-28.
Joyner: As stated, how can we say that tithing was a part of the Law and therefore no longer will need to be observed without including these other things? It seems that such reasoning or lack of it would have to be included in the definition of foolishness.
Kelly: We could use the same logic to keep on stoning to death disobedient children and making monstrous women leave the house one week per month. Joyner fails to define how he uses law. Tithing was never part of eternal moral law for all mankind.
Joyner: Tithing is included in the New Testament and was a practice of the early church.
Kelly: Tithing is never commanded to the church after Calvary in the New Testament. While still under the full jurisdiction of the law, Jesus mentioned tithing three times as “matters of the law:” and, in each case, condemned the tithe teachers for abusing the law.
Joyner: Tithing … was a practice of the early church.
Kelly: No. (1) Jewish Christians in Acts stayed “zealous of the law” and never stopped supporting the Temple system per Acts 21:20-21. (2) Early Jewish Christians knew very well that tithes could not come from defiled pagan lands and must only be used to support Levites and priests. (3) Second and third century early Church Fathers who were mostly Gentiles strongly opposed Jewish traditions. (4) History records that the early church stressed extreme asceticism and later monasticism and boasted that poverty was godliness.
Joyner: As the writer of the book of Hebrews asserted, we are a part of the Melchizedek priesthood, and Melchizedek received tithes (see Hebrews chapters 5, 6, 7). In fact, one of the main points made in the Scriptures is when Melchizedek met Abraham (see Genesis 14).
Kelly: The law of tithing which was legislated to support the Aaronic priesthood (Heb 7:5) was “of necessity changed” when Christ replaced Aaron (7:12) and that “change” was the “disannulling of the commandment going before” of tithing (7:18). Christ’s priesthood is based on better eternal spiritual principles (Heb 7:13-19).
Joyner: As stated, if we really believe the Lord and His Word, then when we read the promises of God that are made to those who are faithful to tithe, we would be the greatest of fools to not do it.
Kelly: The blessings and curses of the law were only for Old Covenant Israel. You discard great portions of the law contrary to Mt 5:18-19 which are equally holy in the book of Leviticus but insists on retaining tithing with no explanation.
Joyner: Consider the following exhortation and promise from Malachi 3:7-12: “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes, and have not kept them.
Kelly: This is directed to Old Covenant Israel which was given the cultic ceremonial worship statutes-ordinances of the Law. It was never given to Gentiles or the Church. God was not threatening OT Gentiles for not tithing!
Joyner: Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
Kelly: God was not speaking to OT Gentiles because they had never turned to God in the first place.
Joyner: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
Kelly: This could not apply to Gentiles because they had not covenanted with God to obey His Law and tithe. One cannot “rob” that which he was never told to give.
Joyner: “You are cursed with a curse …
Kelly: The Gentles and Church were never cursed for not tithing. This is the curse of the Law as seen in Deuteronomy 28-30.
Joyner: … for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!
Kelly: This narrows the field to whom God is speaking. At the very most it is the nation of Israel who had just reaffirmed its covenant curses in Neh 10:29 and Mal 4:4. At the very least it is every priest in the nation who had been stealing in Mal 1:13-14 and Neh 13:5-10.
Joyner: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house …
Kelly: Notice that, over 1000 years after Moses, the tithe is still only FOOD from inside God’s holy land of Israel. It never becomes money increase of Gentiles. Plus, the early church had no legal buildings to call storehouses for almost 300 years.
Joyner: … and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts …
Kelly: The whole law was a test, not merely tithing. Obey all to be blessed; break one to be cursed. Jesus ended the curse of the law per Gal 3:10-13. Why don’t you preach this fact?
Joyner: “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
Kelly: It can be proven that modern tithing does not work because most tithers do not have “overflowing blessings.” God is New Covenant operating on New Covenant principles.
Joyner: “Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts.
Kelly: Still only food. Be honest with God’s Word.
Joyner: “And all the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.
Kelly: If God was telling all nations to tithe, this would not make any sense.
Joyner: I have not yet met a single Christian who is faithful to tithe and has chronic financial problems.
Kelly: You must live in a rich cloister.
Joyner: There may be some [tithers with financial problems] because there are other things we can do that can open the door to a spirit of poverty in our lives, but I have not met any.
Kelly: You are admitting that God will not automatically pour out overflowing blessings on tithers.
Joyner: In contrast, the testimonies of those who resolved to be obedient in this one thing are abundant.
Kelly: Of course they are. You seek them out and parade them across the stage. Yet you will not discuss the masses of faithful-tithers who are never blessed. Similar testimonies can be found among graduates to salesmanship courses whether they be Christians or atheists. These kinds of testimonies prove nothing.
Joyner: The text quoted above from Malachi is the only place in the Scriptures where the Lord actually invites us to test Him. He promises that if we will “return to Him” He will bless us until it overflows.
Kelly: How dare you say this after just saying “There may be some [tithers with financial problems] because there are other things we can do that can open the door to a spirit of poverty in our lives, but I have not met any”!!! The ghettos are full of generations of faithful tither who still have no education and motivation other than tithing to get rich.
Joyner: Again, considering the wise and foolish, it seems to me that this is a better way to live than most Christians now do.
Kelly: You live in your mansion while most of your contributors fail to be blessed with overflowing blessings.
Joyner: This promise is also corroborated in the New Testament in II Corinthians 9:6-8:
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.
Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have abundance for every good deed;
Kelly: This is dishonest. The eternal moral principle of sowing and reaping is active whether one tithes or not. These texts are not even discussing tithing; they are discussing freewill, generous, sacrificial, joyful offerings. Pastoral support is not the context either.
Joyner: Normal Christianity is a life that overflows and has “an abundance for every good deed.”
Kelly: This is not a reference to tithing.
Joyner: Every Christian should be financially independent.
Kelly: You are dishonest. What about single moms whose husbands have desecrated? What about those who are disabled because of inherited disease? What about those who are disabled because of accidents? Do you think that you are immune to being disabled and becoming poor?
Joyner: This does not necessarily mean that we should have great personal wealth. What it does mean is that we should never have to make a decision based on whether we can afford it, but simply on whether it is the will of God.
Kelly: Pie in the sky. As long as you are at the top of the giving pyramid, who cares?
Joyner: We should never come upon a good deed that we cannot afford to do. If this is not the present state of our lives, tithing the first fruits from our labors can begin to correct it.
Kelly: Not all Christians are financially and physically capable of performing all necessary good deeds.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD