Why Christians Give
OPEN: Hey, good morning and welcome to STAG, I'm Jack. Tammuz birthday is coming up, so I thought I'd let you see where Christmas really came from. I also want to give you the complete run down on Christian giving. But first...
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Christmas: For almost two thousand years we've been celebrating the birth of Jesus on Dec 25th. Now, I don't mean the whole world. I mean mainly folks who call themselves Christians. Christmas has been one of the major Christian holidays for many centuries. Does that make it true? Was Jesus really born on Dec 25th? If he wasn't, then why do we make such a big fuss over the day?
Can we know when Jesus was born? Lots of folks have been told, and they just parrot what they've been told, and say the we can't know from the Bible when Jesus was born. Ill taught. We can know exactly when Jesus was born. It's right there in Luke. I won't go into the details, but it says that John the Baptist was born at a time we can pin down, near the end of March, Passover time. We also know that Jesus was born six months later. Six months from the end of March, is the end of Sept.
Jesus was born on Rosh Hashanah, late Sept, early Oct. But here's something interesting.
Go back from the end of Sept nine months. End of Sept, end of Aug, end of July, end of June, end of May, end of April, end of March, end of Feb, end of Jan, end of Dec. You end up at Christmas time.
God has a great sense of humor. He used it on Pharaoh. Remember, Pharaoh said, "these Israelite are getting to strong. Throw all the male babies in the river." So God just had Moses, the Deliverer of the Israelites, come out of the river.
Isn't it just like God to thumb His nose at the devil by having the True Messiah conceived on the day that the Pagans celebrated their Messiah's birth?
Those pagans worshipped the sun because their messiah lived in the sun, was the sun. And because the sun was "reborn" on Dec 25th, they put their messiah's birth on that day, too. You see, it takes three days before the sun can be seen to start moving back north. That's why they don't celebrate on the solstice, the way they do at other times of the year.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't celebrate on Christmas. You can celebrate Christ's birth on Dec 25th if you want to, just don't participate in the pagan aspects of Christmas. And by all means, do a little homework and find out what Dec 25th is really all about. And it ain't Christ.
Let's see what Alexander Hislop has to say. He wrote "The Two Babylons" in 1916. Very scholarly, well documented book on paganism that came into the Christian church.
[read p93 1&3]-- 3rd century + Egypt
[read p94 1&2 - Arabian Lord Moon
[read p97 1--Yule log/tree
[read p98 1-Nimrod
But this wasn't a Roman Catholic invention. They were 800 years late. Remember, the third century. At the time of Constantine many pagan elements were transplanted into Christianity. The college of Cardinals never existed in the Church. Neither did the Pope. Same thing for Easter.
800 years earlier the prophet Jeremiah warned the House of Israel not to do that Pagan stuff. Turn to Jeremiah 10, verses 1 through 5. [read it]
And you know, there are those who use their tithe money to give gifts at Christmas. They put a little extra in the plate at the Christmas service. Maybe even buy some Bibles for family or the Poor. They haven't been taught the purpose of a Christian's giving.
The Reason For Giving. (the work of the ministry)
Giving has really gotten a bad name. Even among the Christian community, giving is almost a taboo subject. Pastors are afraid to mention giving. Churches are filled with projects so the people will have some focus for their giving. Orphans, the new educational wing for the church. Sending missionaries somewhere. That leaky roof.
If a congregation is giving the right way, none of those reasons will even come up. Then, one must conclude that most giving in the church is off track somewhere. Why must people be coerced into opening their wallets?
Let me quickly counter the argument, "What do you mean? I regularly put something in the plate at church. I've supported this ministry for almost 17 years." I'll ask, did your giving total 25% or was it just a $20 when the plate came around? Let's see, $20 times fifty-two weeks makes $1,042. Wow, $1,042. A thousand dollars is a pretty good chunk of change, even nowadays. But that means that you must have lived all year on only $3,120. You made $4162. You tithed $1,042, leaving $3120 to live on.
If you made next to poverty wages of $40,000 a year, it means that your weekly $20 only supported God's work by 2.6%. That's not even the first tithe of ten percent.
I know that there are those who raise the argument that the tithe is only ten percent. That's true enough. What they haven't been taught is that there are three tithes. And a Believer's giving doesn't stop at the tithes. There are a few mandated offerings, like first fruits and Corners.
I'm not going to detail those tithes and offerings here. What we need to look at is the reason why we are suppose to give. It has to do with the function of the church, as laid out by Paul in Ephesians four.
Without the Ephesians four teaching, people and pastors wander around trying to figure out ways that it is right to give. And please, I'm not talking about the fraudulent methods employed by the TV preachers. They mostly tell you that you'll get a bunch of stuff in return for your giving. They don't even talk about why God wants us to give. It's all about giving to get. So forget those guys.
We're looking at people who are sincerely trying to help the overall ministry. But Pastors are just as ill taught as most of the congregation. Because they can't lay out God's plan for them to participate in what He's doing, the folks in the pew will be placing a limit on how much they give. The pastors will always be trying to think up ways to pay the bills. Most churches experience fund raising projects because the offering plate is never full enough to sustain the ministry.
People like and need good solid reasons for doing things. One of the main reasons for giving that I've heard is true but very minor. They say that giving isn't for God. God doesn't need our money. God wants us to give so that we learn to surrender and overcome our selfishness. Giving is for our benefit. That's not the reason why God has instructed us to give. God didn't create us to learn how to overcome our egos.
Plus the fact that using surrender as our motive for giving will not carry through and in most cases will fade quickly. Additionally, it allows us to be the judge on how much and where to give. That's the biggest error. We don't have any say in the matter. We can only follow what God has said to do. So, the Pastor's admonishment to give "hilariously" falls on deaf ears. People soon get tired of giving to feel good. And if anyone even hints at 25%, the steel shutters come crashing down.
I haven't been everywhere, but I've heard plenty of talk and teaching on giving. I have only heard one preacher teach giving. The teaching locks down the fact that we are to give. The tithes, all three, were taught and confirmed with much scripture. The add-on offerings are taught as part of regular giving. One comes away convinced that giving is right and indeed is a faith act that will get the implant of the Holy Spirit. Even so, for many years I haven't heard even from this ministry, a practical breakdown on why God tells us to give. He has to have a better reason than overcoming our ego.
I think the place to start is not how much, but where we are to give. It's the same place in the Old or New Testament. In the Old Testament the people were instructed to give their tithes to the Levites. The Levites would then tithe out of that money to the Priests. The Jerusalem Red Cross didn't get the money. The local orphanage didn't get the money. It wasn't used to send missionaries to the Babylonians.
Why the Levites and Priests? They were the ones responsible for dispensing God's word to the people. They were the Teachers of God's Word. But didn't Christianity turn away from the Priesthood and Levites? Didn't the New Testament Christians just throw it all in a common pot for everyone's use? They weren't tithing. They were giving it all.
That puts us in a very tight space. We surely can't give it all. But we don't have to tithe, either. They didn't, so we don't. Besides, the tithe is part of the Law that Jesus overcame. You see how that leaves it up to us to try and figure out? We become the rule maker for giving, not God.
But wait, tithing began over four hundred years before the "author" of the Law was even born. Moses didn't show up until way after Abraham, and Jacob. It was way back in about 1950 BC that Abram tithed to Melchizedek. Moses didn't put the Law together until almost 1400 BC. Tithing was considered as part of the Law, but was actually separate from it.
Lets go to the New Testament and see what Jesus and Paul say about giving. Jesus clearly told the Pharisees that they were right to tithe. If Jesus thought tithing was right for the Pharisees, then it stands to reason that he thought it was right for everyone. So, that not only says that tithing is right now, but it also says that what we give now should be the same as the tithe was back then. The tithe is a certain amount and it goes to a certain place.
Jesus' New Testament Mouthpiece, Paul, says that same thing in every letter but one. Jesus personally gave Paul his mission and even instructed him personally for three years in the desert. Paul became the interpreter of all that stuff in the Old Testament; all the stuff that the Jews had missed, like the prophecy of Isaiah 53. Paul quotes the Old Testament more than all the other writers and speakers in the New Testament combined. And that's only counting the times when it says "as it is written." All the other people only quote the Old Testament 85 times. Paul quotes 121 times. He quotes the Old Testament 49 times in just the book of Romans. Paul interprets the Old Testament.
If Jesus told Paul what to say, then we should find out what God wants about giving from what Paul has written about the subject. In the fourteen letters that Paul wrote, he teaches that we are to give to the person who teaches us about God. That's exactly the same as the Old Testament. Paul even takes it to the extent that giving proves the implant of the Holy Spirit.
When you do a study on 2 Corinthians 8, the original language will tell you that Paul is calling the Holy Spirit of God the "grace" of God. He's telling them that the Philippians have this "grace", this Spirit, and he wishes the Corinthians had the same "grace." Paul says that these folks had been supporting him for eleven years, even though he hadn't seen them personally in all that time. He has concluded that they must have the Holy Spirit to be able to continue their support all that time, especially since they were a very poor group of Believers. The way Dr. Scott always said it was, "You prove the Spirit by the way you give."
Old Testament or New, God says we are to give. To make sure we don't go overboard, He has given us limits on our giving.
But, what about the reason? OK, we're to give to the teacher. That certainly makes sense, but look at the limit. You are not to give anywhere else. You go to a church and receive teaching about God and you give to that Pastor for the teaching received. You don't give any of your tithes to that church's relief for the poor. You make out the check to the teacher. You support the one who builds you up in God. He'll use the money the way God tells him to use it, and NOT the way you might want to tell him to use it. Any giving to the church's food bank will come out of what's left of your income, not the tithes. This is where the function of the church comes in.
God has set up an educational system for Believers. The saving thing is just the bare beginning of the Believer's Walk. What's he supposed to do after that? The process of the Walk is the process of growing in our knowledge of God. Learning more about God all the time. Who can we learn from? Someone who knows more about God than we do. Some other Believer.
In the case of the Pastor, he has to eat. He has to have time to study. Working a nine to five doesn't make a good Pastor. The teacher needs the support of his students. You can't get into college without paying the teachers. That's only for an average life here on earth. What about the teacher for God?
Some Believers have been studying for years and are available for our learning. After years of study, we will be available for other Believers to learn from. You see, we are all teachers for God. It isn't only the Pastor who can teach you something about God. This is clear from the function of the church outlined in Ephesians four.
Now you may have heard this before from me, but I don't think you'll find others saying the same. It's right there in the Bible. The whole thing.
God is going to set up a kingdom here on earth and will require help. Jesus will rule the earth. David will be the King over the twelve Nations of Israel, with each Apostle the head of the individual tribes. The saints, who now have glorified bodies and are no longer human, but more like angels will be in charge of the regional and local governments. The law that will be in force then will be the laws set down in the Bible, which are even better than our constitution. The Constitution is the great-grandchild of the Bible. But there's a big difference between God's law and what we call our laws.
Not only will corporations be stripped of their personhood. They will cease to exist. There will be no Congress. We won't need to make any laws. No income tax. Way different than today and it will take people who are qualified to administer such a system.
Who gets that glorified body? Only Believers. Believers who have been furnished with the tools and knowledge of God to the point of becoming just like Christ. That's not some Saturday afternoon project. A Believer will have to go through a vast change in the process. Who will help him do that? Other Believers. From the Pastor to the person in the pew, Believers will be instructing other Believers. When Jesus returns, those who are Believers will be changed and their bodies glorified.
You first tithe goes to the teacher. Not the church, the orphanage, the charity. The teacher. I hope you realize by now that the term teacher doesn't include those preachers who aren't staying in the Bible and turning people on to God's Truth. Those little tear jerking sermons on starving babies in Africa don't count. If you're not learning more about God and the Bible, find another person to teach you. You don't need all that other teaching to make it to God. As CS Lewis says, Our job is to show off God to each other. To each other.
I don't know how much clearer this idea can be than Ephesians four. You've heard me say this more than a couple times, but here it is again.
After the resurrection, Jesus gives some gifts to the saints. The saints are called the Body of Christ. These gifts are already Believers. They are different forms of teachers. These teachers are given to give the Believers the tools to live a life for God, mainly showing how God is real and can be trusted to do what He says. They are to build up the Body. This is accomplished mainly with Bible teaching. They help us know that God is real and that the Bible is True. Without this teaching, the saints won't be able to muster up the strength to live the way God says in the Bible; give 25% of what comes in to the service of the ministry. The "gifts" and the saints continue in this process until they die or Jesus returns. At their death or Jesus' return, the saints get their glorified bodies. They become like Christ.
Now here's the way the Bible says it.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
It doesn't say anything about unbelievers. There are no unbelievers in the Body of Christ. I guess you can see how all those denominations that dote on evangelism are dead wrong. They are sending out the people in the pew to "lead someone to the Lord." They think that witnessing and saving souls is the function of the church. Go after those unbelievers. The Saturday Save a drunk Society.
Another place in the Old Testament it says "Ye are Gods." Another place it says we will be better than angels. The only one I know that's better than an angel is Jesus. The "stature of the fullness of Christ" means literally that.
Your tithe isn't meant to help you overcome your selfishness or help build a building or send missionaries anywhere or save the local drunk. It definitely is not meant to help evangelize non-Believers. Paul said only the saints get the teaching. Any of those other things are taken out of what's left after all your tithes and offerings are made to the teacher. Your tithe is meant to help the teaching of God's word go out to other Believers. And you don't have anything to say in the matter. You do it God's way or it's wasted effort.
The folks in the Bible didn't tell the Levites or the Priests what to do with the money. They didn't ask to see the receipts for how the money was spent. That was up to God. And don't think that those Levites and Priests were any better than what we have today in churches. The elite took control of most of the denominations in the late thirties. They've had a lock on the teaching at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary for decades. And their graduates dominate the religious scene in America today. It's all part of the move for a one world religion. The interfaith movement is well near completion. Why, the Pope has even gone so far as to say that aliens could be saved.
But the people in the pew aren't willing to do their homework and check up on their pastors or demand that they be taught from the Bible and not some denomination quarterly, that hardly even mentions the words Greek and Hebrew. Where do you think all those heart-rending sermons come from? The Guide to Effective Sermons must be a best seller. It's no more than Pulpit Propaganda. A quick 20 minute feeling fix. Stir up your emotions.
Believers are part of a vast educational system set up by God to replenish the void made by the fall of Lucifer and his followers. Your decision to follow God enrolls you in His University. The College of Christ in God's University. Like any University, GU runs on the "tuition" paid by the students to their teachers. Just think how great such a system would be for our regular universities and colleges. The only teachers who would get paid were the ones telling the best truth. The phonies, with their "learn, to be better than the next guy" philosophy would starve.
Find a teacher, learn, pay your tuition and graduate to Christhood. That's the way God has it set up. Build up the Body.
I've talked a lot about Ephesians four over the years and told you a bit about what the original language says. But now, as a follow up on what I just said I want to pick the passage apart and put it back together using the original Greek definitions of the words Paul wrote.
Paul is talking about Jesus snatching captives of Satan and giving them to the saints. He quotes the prophet David from Psalm 68:18.
Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift (gratuitous sacrifice) of Christ.
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts (a ministering present) unto men. ( Psa 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men;)
Verses nine and ten is a clarifying parentheses explaining the descent and ascent. Then in verse eleven Paul lays out who the gifts are, who they are given to and what their function is, including the end result. Here again is what the King James says.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Now let's take a look at the original Greek to find out what Paul really wrote. I have taken all the significant words and placed their Greek definitions behind them. Then we'll construct a passage using these definitions. Finally, we'll condense the re-write into a single sentence. That's what I call the Trans-Substitution.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some(saints),(the)apostles(The commissioners of Christ); and some(saints), (the)prophets(inspired foretellers); and some(saints,(the)evangelists(Announcers of good); and some(saints), pastors(shepherds)and(that)teachers(teach);
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting(complete furnishing) of the saints(sacred consecrated), for the work(the acts-toil) of the ministry(attendance, aid, service}, for the edifying(build a family dwelling) of the body(a sound whole)of Christ(the Messiah):
Eph 4:13 Till(up to the terminus) we all come(meet arrive at)in the unity(primary oneness unanimity)of the faith(action trusting God), and of the knowledge(recognition acknowledgement) of the Son of God, unto a perfect(completed concluded finished) man, unto the measure(equal portion degree) of the stature(maturity, as big as, how much) of the fullness(complete finished performance) of Christ(the Messiah):
OK. Let's put all those definitions into a passage and see what Paul said.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some believing people, the commissioners of Christ, and some believing people, the inspired foretellers, and some believing people, the announcers of good, and some believing people, shepherds that teach;
Eph 4:12 For the complete furnishing of the sacred consecrated believers, for toiling acts of attending, aid and service, for building a family dwelling of the sound whole of Christ:
Eph 4:13 Terminating when we all arrive at the primary unanimity acting in trusting of God, and of the recognition and acknowledgement of the Son of God, unto a completely finished man, unto the portion and degree of the full maturity of the finished performance of Christ:
Well, that certainly pins it down. Did you notice, again, that Paul never said anything about unbelievers? The gift ministers weren't given to non-saints. They are to equip saints. And the whole work of the ministry, for the ministers and those in the Body, is the building up of that Body. Nobody, ministers or saints, has any instruction regarding unbelievers. All Believers, saints and ministers alike, are to be about the building up a family dwelling place in the Body of Christ. Now the reduction.
Christ gave some people gift ministers to equip the consecrated Believers with the tools to act in trust of God, building up the Body of Christ, until they are transformed into the full maturity of Christ.
WRAP:1-Another name for Believer is Student. A Believer's study never stops.
2-Today I gave you some important information that all Believers should know. Christ wasn't born on Dec. 25th and Believers are to pay tuition to their teachers.
3- If you want to talk some more about these or any other subjects, STAG is a comfortable place to do that. We're at 88 Briceland Rd. in Redway. The number is 707 923 ALLY (2559). On the web it's STAG.WS and the email is STAG@asis.com.
4- Thanks for listening today. I'll be back on Jan 4th. I hope to see you then.
5-I don't know if you want to live you life for God, but today's information will help you do that because God IS real, and He says He'll bless you if you live by His instructions.
This is Jack, Bye