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Thursday: Tithe and Salvation by Faith — 29 Comments

  1. In regard to the lesson's comment that we are "undeserving of redemption", if the lesson is suggesting that I don't have any claim to redemption because of something that I have done that entitles me to redemption, then I agree with that expression.

    However, if the lesson was suggesting that God sees me as "undeserving", then I would say that such would be out of character with God.

    Thus, while I am undeserving in terms of having nothing to entitle me to salvation, God does not view me as undeserving.

    • Phil, it is my understanding that God does not look at us as deserving/undeserving, but sees us as His children by creation in great need, due to us all having sinned against Him, His law, and His government. His love does not make us any more deserving, but His grace offers us a solution in Christ that allows Him to justly forgive all who repent and allow Him to create in them a clean heart and renew a right(eous) spirit(breath = life) in them.

      The Law sees the sinner has deserving of death, but the great propitiation in Christ allows the law to recognize the forgiven sinner as no longer guilty. The Law is without partiality and sees only guilt in violation or acquittal in perfect obedience. (yes, perfect, since anything less will bring the law's condemnation. But this perfect obedience is Christ's work in us IF we allow it by taking His yoke upon us, learning of Him who is meek and lowly of heart.)

      We will all stand before the judgement seat. It's our choice in how we will stand, a choice made possible by the Lamb of God. This is the only hope for the sinner.

  2. To me, the phrase of the day is "we owe God everything."
    And this is done by Him out of love!
    We need to look for perfection in LOVE! Love is the key to success!
    You all have a wonderful day!

  3. I think if we are to be truly honest we would realize that our willingness or lack there of to RETURN God's tithe and to PAY a honest offering is just a manifestation of our reality 🙁 I don't always want to return a honest amount because sometimes I feel it's too much and am ashamed to admit it but I return an honest amount even in the midst of those feelings because I understand it's purpose. Now even though at the end I do the right the fact that I struggle to get there reveal to me a shameful fact of who I really am at my core and I am thus constantly seeking him for a new heart

  4. I once asked my Jewish friend what they used their tithe for, her response was that one of the function was to support the poor. As a child growing up in the church, Luke 21:1-4 has always been quoted, it was not until I read the book of Deut; Deuteronomy 14: 22-29, Deuteronomy 26, and other passages that I understood why the widow could give all she had; she was provided for. God had made provision for her also through tithing and other measures of the church.

    I have been waiting to see if the lesson will use ALL scriptures on tithing. We are a group of believers who use ALL, or is able to explain ALL scriptures. I have never heard my church speak on tithing as a means of supporting the fatherless, widow, poor, or the stranger.
    I know that Pastors in the early church were very poor, bruised, battered and were not supported; they died in poverty. I also know that it was not until the tithing system was instituted that their lot improved; however if ALL the tithing rules were followed, it is my opinion that the church would not have to preach on tithing, the members would return their widows mite. After all they knew the abundance would be soon be returned. God's plan makes sense; it is one of love and caring.

    We still have some lessons to go before the quarter is up, so maybe the scriptures that quote ALL the use of the tithing system will be used. I remain disappointed that my church will not touch that aspect. In fact I already see where it has been said that the tithe is not to be used to take care of the poor. That is against God's will for the tithe. I felt a difference when my Jewish friend told me of their ways of using the tithe to help the poor, the widows mite then made complete sense. God is a God of love who takes care of His people. Seeing that He will not be coming back to claim this money, I was heartened and impressed by my Jewish friend's answer.

    It is in the light of the complete use of the tithe that Malachi 3: 6-12 started to make sense to me. Instead of a God who curses His people, He shows mercy, grace, love and righteous indignation for those who would refuse to take care of those with beautiful feet, the poor, widows, fatherless and the strangers. I love when the bible makes sense, I have to explain it to my unbelieving friends.
    God is not a God of chaos, He makes every provision for ALL His children.

      • Thank you Pascal. I also appreciate Maurice, for addressing this ancient Israelite practice of tithing; the different types, and its uses.

    • Perhaps we could also consider that Israel was set out to be a theocracy, and until they desired an earthly king like the nations around them, they didn't have taxes. It was the tithing system that provided, or, would have provided if they had been faithful throughout their generations.

      We do not live in a theocracy today, and are taxed by our earthly governments, which is partly used for the welfare of the poor in our nation(I'm speaking as a United States citizen). Still, we do have what is labeled as Tithe for the support of ministry, and free-will offerings for all other needs including the poor. I don't know what others give, and there is still poverty to be found in our fellowship, yet I have seen our local church provide from this special fund for those in need when they could not meet the need alone. These funds, including the 2nd tithe for the poor in the days of ancient Israel, are/were not to make the poor rich, but to relieve them of complete ruin due to their poverty, and possibly to help restore them to the prosperity of God's blessing to the wise and diligent who trusted in Him through obedience.

      The tithe/offerings for the poor are not for just any who are poor, for many are willfully poor and would be a constant drain on the provisions, but God has designated who are worthy of this relief, and we do well to be wise, lest the worthy poor be left out due to the greed of those who remain unworthy by choice.

      • Let's be careful about calling people "willfully poor". I don't know of many who actually want to be poor. Many simply can't find a job or are among the "working poor"....the millions of people who work at one or two jobs just to survive.
        I've been there and it certainly wasn't by choice! I was fully educated at the time (grad degree) and worked full time and then some, and still made barely enough to feed myself and pay for a room. Heaven help them if they get sick! No money for a doctor. Fortunately I was able to eventually find work that paid enough for me to live.
        We can't judge others. You don't know what their stories are (family member with cancer?) or what they have to deal with. Also, an awful lot of the poor today are military veterans. Many of them are just getting by on various forms of assistance. We need to help them, not judge.
        Yes, of course, here and there you might find someone who wants to take advantage of the system. But overall most people just want to survive and are trying as best as they can. My heart goes out to them.

  5. When we give we should not do it to glorify people but to give with all our hearts our best gifts so that His Kingdom can be glorified. the poor woman gave all what she had because she wanted to please God not men

  6. Romans 4:1-5. What do these verses teach about grace as opposed to merit?

    I boast not of works nor tell of good deeds
    For naught have I done to merit his grace
    All glory and praise shall rest upon him
    So willing to die in my place.

    That's why I glory in the cross.

  7. On Thursday’s lesion it is written

    “As for the matter of tithe, there is no credit obtained from God by returning it. After all, if the tithe is God’s to begin with, what merit could there possibly be in giving it back to Him?”

    I agree but, nevertheless, God promise us much blessings and rewards if we obey him/ his words. Therefore returning tithe faithfully is being obedient. So we can safely say there is an indirect gain (not because of the material it's self that we give) but because of our obedience in returning what’s really his (The Tithe) Let us all be faithful and obedient as we follow God’s commands.

  8. I believe this is an excellent summary of the rationale for tithing:

    "Tithe is an outward expression of our realization that we, indeed, are just stewards here, and that we owe God everything. Just as the Sabbath is a weekly reminder of God as the Creator and Redeemer, the returning of tithe can function in a similar way: it reminds us that we are not our own and that our life and salvation are gifts from God."

    A week or two ago, I read in the companion book to the lesson, Stewardhip: Motives of the Heart , that tithing was an ancient practice among pagans as well. The difference, of course, was that pagans offered tithes to their gods, instead of the Creator God. It seems to me that Abraham's returning tithe to Melchisedek is biblical evidence that the origin of tithing goes so far back in human history that its understanding was taken for granted and not mentioned in the biblical record until much later.

    Here we are, far removed from those days, and we are struggling again to understand the principle.

    Satan, the master deceiver, seems to have succeeded in twisting this acknowledgement of God's gracious provisions into some sort of payment that contributes to our salvation - even among God's last-day people.

    We need to recover the consciousness of God as Giver of all who asks only a token acknowledgement from us, and that acknowledgement is for our own good - to uproot the selfishness inherent in our hearts.

    • Hi Inge

      I have read and carefully considered your post.

      If I may, I would propose that the core difference between 'pagan' and 'Christian' tithing is not who the tithe is offered to as much as it is the 'philosophy/world view' basis upon which it was offered. Tithing to 'pagan' gods was on the basis of appeasement/placation and/or seeking of blessings. Thus, the giver - in essence - gave because they believed the god expected/demanded it.

      In contrast, tithing under a Christian philosophy/world view is a completely different phenomenon. Ellen White outlines this 'philosophy' beautifully in Desire of Ages pgs 20 & 21 where she explains in detail the concept of 'beneficence' (and "circuit of beneficence") and goes as far as to say that it is both (a) the essence of the character of God and (b) even THE very "law of life". Beneficence is conceptualised as living for the sole purpose of advancing the best interests of others (as opposed to advancing self-interest at the expense of others - which is the core nature of sin).

      So, on the one hand we have beneficent giving (otherwise known as Agape love or true love) as the core character of God as well as the foundational principle (ie law) underpinning how true/abundant (Jn 10:10, Greek: zoe) life works.

      As such, beneficence was the principle that was the core heart motive for Adam and Eve when they were created. Genesis 3 saw a change in that heart motive from beneficence to self-reference/self-protecting/etc. Given that this was the core change for humanity, salvation necessarily involves the re-creation and re-storation within us of that heart motivation once again - a return to the way abundant life works via re-creation of a Christ-like/God-like character within each of us. The centrality and importance of beneficence as our necessary bottom-line heart motivation is evidence by the manye references by Christ to the necessity of his followers manifesting love as the core way they lived and inter-related with others (eg Jn 13:35).

      Monday's lesson stated that "The greatest blessing tithing teaches us is to trust God (Jer. 17:7)". However, the following Ellen White quote instead actually emphasised the link between tithing and the restoration of beneficence: "The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which is as enduring as the law of God. This system of tithing was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time. Our heavenly Father did not originate the plan of systematic benevolence to enrich Himself, but to be a great blessing to man. He saw that this system of beneficence was just what man needed.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 404, 405.

      Thus, I would propose that tithing is a manifestation of beneficent living and, as such, is used by God (as one way among other ways) to re-train our hearts and characters back to being based on beneficence/other-centered-love (as evidenced by Ellen White's specific use of the term "systematic" benevolence in the quote above). Why? As Ellen White correctly identified, beneficence is the "law of life" (and hence why it is the foundational character of God - the Source of life).

      Consequenlty, all living beings must (of necessity), in turn, also have this as their foundational character/heart motivation if life is to actually work the way it is mean to. It is not going too far to say that this is the only way that abundant life (Jn 10:10) works and is therefore what must necessarily be restored within all living beings in order to return, once again, to what life was meant to be (and what life was like before the entry of sin).

      I do not believe it is going too far to say that the change of heart motive from beneficence to self-reference was the key change to/within humanity at 'the fall', and it correspondingly is a key issue that is addressed by Salvation/Redemption (in conjunction with the vindication of God's nature and character).

      Tithing (and the wider phenomenon of Stewardship) is an inherent part of a way of living that perpetuates beneficence (the "law of life") and is therefore used by God to aid in our restoration back to once again living in harmony of that which is necessary to sustain true/abundant Life. Consequently, I would propose that this is the wider rationale for tithing.

      • Thanks, Phil. I agree 100% with your thought on the real purpose and meaning of tithing. In my comment I was only addressing the visible difference between pagan tithing and tithing by God's people.

        To me, any evidence of ancient pagan tithing seems to indicate that the origin of tithing goes back very far, indeed, in the history of humanity.

  9. True Love does not demand that the party we express our love to has to deserve it from us. And it is the same with God. He did not wait for any human to deserve His love before he undertook His plan of salvation for us and eventually become one of us and one with us and then also pay the penalty of sin for us etc.

  10. do you think you can be saved even withiout giving a tithe? ohh yes, a thief at the cross is a good example. we need to since we now know than when we did not know for its our obedience to Him

    • Does the apple on a tree keep the tree alive? No. Is the apple on the tree evidence that the tree is alive? Yes. (Matthew 12:33; John 15:4)

      And so it is with our faith and works. Our works (tithing, keeping the Sabbath, etc.) do not save us. Our works (fruit) are evidence of our faith through which we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-10).

      See also:
      Matthew 7:16
      Matthew 7:18
      Luke 6:43

      • Hi Sieg,

        For what it's worth, I have come to learn that there's more to it than that.

        True, our 'works' are an evidence of our faith but they are at the same time also the necessary manifestation of our faith - and that is why they are evidence that faith is present. That works are the necessary manifestation of our faith is the reason James emphasised that faith without works is dead (see James 2:17).

        Also, it is also true that our works do not save us in terms of entitling us to salvation. However, works are a key part of the total salvation/restoration process because it is how we re-develop our characters to Christ/God-likeness. This is why Ellen White emphasised in Faith and Works (pg 111.1) that "While good works will not save even one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works". This has nothing to do with 'perfectionism' - it is simply a necessity because it is how reality works at the biggest level (ie the Kingdom of God level).

        • I don't see how your "more than that" adds to what I've already said. Our works are evidence of our faith and salvation... they do not cause it, they result from it.

          If you want to claim that faith alone doesn't save us and that faith + works is necessary instead, then you are contradicting the Bible and the righteousness by faith message. I think you will find your EGW quote is entirely consistent with that truth. Why add "more to it than that?"

          • Hi again Sieg

            Fair enough - I see your point. If you were offended by my post, that was not my intention.

            Yes, I do believe that faith and works are both vital and inseparable components of salvation/righteousness (and therefore necessary) because I see the Bible and Ellen White talking about salvation as a process of actual restoration of our character (our motives, thoughts, attitudes and behaviours) back to Christlikeness.

  11. Benjamin, you have asked the same question that I have. We are given the option of choice. If we choose to use Malachi 3:10? Is 2 Tim 3:16 then the persuading text. Malachi wrote this admonition for Israel. Does that matter?

  12. Does anyone have any thoughts on salvation by faith when it comes to giving offering? Maybe this is covered in next weeks lesson..I have been struggling with this b/c a friend said that if you don't give to every single person who asks you (say on the street or random people at the store) then Jesus may say "I didn't know you" when He comes again. But that isn't consistent with salvation by faith...I feel I can't afford to give every time someone asks, especially when they seem to be making up a story about why they need money. I want to give if they are truly in need. But he says its not up to us if they're telling the truth. It's up to God so to be safe we should give every time. Tithe is straightforward instruction. What about this? Thoughts?

    • We are saved by grace through faith. Period. Jesus assured our salvation. Our obedience and our gifts are a response of faith, not the other way around.

      As for giving to everyone that asks: We are stewards of God's goods, and He expects us to be good stewards. That means we need to listen to Him regarding whether to give to this or that person/cause - not to those who want to lay a guilt trip on us. On the other hand, when I'm not sure of the genuineness of the need but have the means to help, I'd rather err on the side of giving to the unworthy rather than not meeting a genuine need. Sometimes the Lord will make it very clear, other times not so clear - at least in my experience.

    • Like Job, we must search out the case we are not knowledgeable of. We must not be careless stewards with God's blessings. "God's poor" are not the careless, indifferent, or slothful who live off free handouts. Giving should not be without careful/prayerful thought and asking for the promised wisdom and Divine discernment. It is wise to know the will of the One to whom we are stewards of(Eph 5:17). God has not given anyone an endless supply of means to just broadcast without thought, and we are accountable for being wise with our limited means.

      • I agree with your assessment of those who "live of free handouts". There are some of those in our circle of acquaintances, who we am very wary of. Having said that though, we keep an eye on them and if the situation ever becomes desperate, they get sufficient help to see them through that situation. I will fix a computer if I can fix it, but I will not become that person's on-call computer help desk!

    • Hi Caitlin

      Adding to what others have replied, there is a school of thought that we are just to give and leave the consequences up to God. I do not find this to be a biblical position as a one-size-fits-all situations approach. Inherent to being a free, created being is the need to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, cognitively, relationally and so on. There are many references in scripture regarding development of our capacities to discern (eg Isa 1:18; James 1:5; 2 Tim 2:15).

      Another factor that has contributed to the 'muddying' of the matter of helping others is the frequent misunderstanding of what love is. Many people would consider that the loving thing to do is to give to anyone who asks. According to the most common conception of what love is and what it means to love, this would be true.

      However, the common conception of love is actually a misconception. Christian love - the love that God loves us with - is perhaps best described as beneficence. What is beneficence? It is a relational 'orientation' of one being towards another such that you are motivated to act only in another's best interests. What does it mean to act in another's best interests? To interact with them in a way that fosters their healthy growth and development. This is God's relational orientation toward us - He will only provide us with that which fosters our healthy growth and development. If we do not want this, God will allow us to follow the path of our own choosing, but will not help us follow that path because it is leading to our demise. In scripture this is described as God "giving us over/up" to our own destructive choices/actions (see Rm 1:24,26,28).

      Putting the 2 points I have outlined above together, we need to grow in our ability to be discerning in our inter-relations/interactions with others so that we (under the aid of the Holy Spirit's empowering of our developing discernment capacities) can discern what response is in their best interests (ie truely beneficent).

      Thus, I believe we are to call upon the Spirit's guidance to discern each particular situation with regard to what is the actual need of the person - for example, whether giving to a request for money will be of greatest benefit to the other or whether not giving will actually be of greater benefit (even though it may be more 'painful' for the other in the short term because, unfortunately, people typically need to experience a certain amount of pain before they are finally willing to make responsible change).

      Is there a time to just give and trust God. My personal opinion is that when a genuine effort to discern has been unable to come to a conclusion one way or the other, then in such a situation I would take the risk of giving and trust in God to redress the outcome if it shows up that giving was not the most beneficial thing to have done.


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