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Sunday: Walking in the Spirit — 33 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I am requesting to be helped regarding the issue of tithe and offering because I find it difficult to appreciate. I feel it is another form of taxing which was happening in the Mosaic law since they had no tax system. Currently, we have a tax regime which is taking care of this issue. Anyhow, how was it happening in the time of Jesus? Were they paying tax as well as tithe and offering? I know the issue of give Caeasar what belongs to Caesar but what was basically the the tax system vs tithe and offering. I ask this in line with the walking in the Lord and legalism of 10% tithe and 10% offering. I want to improve, by the grace of the Lord, in this issue. Honest doubt please, help!

    • In Jesus time they had both tithe specific for preist. Offerings are free will % if you have to giving % that might be legalism you don't have to u want to give in order to b free will

    • Hi Bestone ... its is possible that we can return our tithes in a legalistic way...
      our relationship with Christ should be motivated by Love and everything we do should be a result of that love.
      there are persons who return their tithes because in the local church because if they don't they will not get any office or they may feel if they don't return the tithes they will not be blessed materially etc.
      Remember in Jesus time the Jews were paying taxes to Rome, yet the tax collectors were Jews who oppress their Jewish brothers but the taxes belonged to Rome.

      The tithes on the other hand was a part of God's plan in taking care of the sanctuary and the levites, this had nothing to do with the Roman Government. there is a difference between tax and tithes..

      The offering was of freewill and in no way was of any set %. It was, is, and always will be free willed.. by hearts responding to God's Graciousness

    • Bestone,

      I find your concerns being very important indeed!

      First I wish to underline the importance of PJ's point, that is, the importance of truly wishing, and of truly, and from the bottom of your heart, being willing to do whatever you choose to do within, and towards the realization of, the Kingdom of God here, now, and in the life of each or any one among God’s People.

      Second, both 'tithing' and 'taxation' are means used for demonstrating, before the powers that be, unto whom we claim that we belong. That is why it is being called a 'return,' as in "all the tithes... is the Lord's..." Leviticus 27:30, and as in the name 'Internal RE-VENUE Service.'

      Now, no doubt you are aware that there is a distinct and clear difference between the Kingdom of God, the Creator of all, and between the Kingdom of Death, Satan's Kingdom.

      The problem that most are not very willing to face and to resolve unto full clarity and for a full resolution, is that which pertains to the true definition of the boundaries belonging unto each of the above two Kingdoms. For the one is certainly not the other. And no one can possibly bring the first and foremost portion of their produce to more than one King. If anyone is attempting to serve two masters, well one must necessarily be set aside in favor of the other so far as being given first priority. In the words of Jesus:

      "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13.

      Thus it behooves each of us to open each our eyes and start looking at the powers unto whom we are bringing our returns. How do they present themselves? Unto what kingdom are we contributing by that which we are returning unto whomever king we are serving? Are we contributing unto a kingdom bent on self destruction in promoting the sales of liqueur, pornography, divorce, and anything whatsoever that adds to real time family destruction? Or else, are we contributing to that which is upholding and promoting eternal values such as lasting joy and happiness within stable families that stays together and that spend most of their time, whether in work or leisure, together, that is, such as was, and is, from the very beginning the design of the one that created man, as male and female, in the image of themselves, that is, the Creator of the Universe?

      Yes, one is not the other, and though most of us pay lip service to the idea that our world is dominated by sin and by worldly things belonging to Satan, few are willing to face the reality that they themselves are doing what the Joneses do while paying out of their God given produce as a result of the coercion and propaganda of those same worldly powers. Thus, though rarely with a love, or with a willingness stemming from the very bottom of their heart, most are paying homage to the destructive powers of this world. That is, while being otherwise afraid that they might risk losing their regular pay checks and such security as was once also being offered by Satan to Jesus. Cf. these words:

      "And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Matthew 4:9 KJV

      There is a difference! And never forget: Jesus shows us the Way! By his words, and by his example!

      Consider it! Selah!

      • Andy... I have one concern, when u talk about you cannot serve God and Mammon, and contributing to kingdoms, what exactly are you saying?
        I get the impression that you are saying that Christians should not pay taxes

      • Andy, your verse about God or mammon requires some clarification. In the Greek "serve" is a present case infinitive (douleuein) which carries with it the idea of an ongoing or continuous action. Jesus point is that no one is able to continuously serve two masters. If He meant all service, even momentary service as in the payment of a tax for instance, then we would have a fundamental disagreement between the words of Jesus and those of Paul in Romans 13:5-7.

        Another perspective is that it is the person who refuses to pay taxes that is probably more in danger of serving mammon than not. This is because the one choosing not to serve Jesus and the one choosing not to pay taxes may be motivated by the same idea. They may believe that they are better able to determine what to do with their lives or their money than someone else. For these people God's tithe becomes "my" tithe, and the taxes the government levies become "my" money that they are trying to take away. Once we feel that way, it is hard to let go. In this instance, it is the one who refuses to pay taxes or tithe that is truly in love with mammon.

        • Yes, Stephen, I agree with you re much of that last comment of yours.

          The one you seem to be describing in the latter half of your comment would be, in my book, a true anarchist, that is, someone that tries to make him or herself the one and only God. However, such a one is always fooling him or herself, because such one would thereby in affect be serving Satan and Satan's objectives.

          However, I cannot agree with your statement: "If He meant all service, even momentary service as in the payment of a tax for instance, then we would have a fundamental disagreement between the words of Jesus and those of Paul in Romans 13:5-7."

          First of all, the payment of tax is not truly ever intended as "momentary service" even though the moment of payment obviously is. As I am sure you are aware, the prime objective of a tax is that it is a return out of the produce, out of the harvest, out of the gain, unto the ultimate owner of all of that which is being produced (cf. the parable taught per Matt 21:33-41; Luke 20:9-16.) The prime objective is to demonstrate recognition of, and appreciation unto, the one that is being claimed by the giver as being the rightful owner of all things produced, not merely the tax, or the tithe, as the case may be. Thus a return of a tax to a certain king, or unto a certain Caesar, is, in and of itself, a claim of allegiance, or, at the very least, a demonstration that the things out of that which the tax is being taken is ultimately the property of that king, or of that Caesar.

          Now, I find it obvious from Jesus' words to Peter that Peter had committed an error. That is, Peter had missed the point. Jesus was taking Peter aside after the fact and reprimanding him. That is, Jesus was straightening Peter out by teaching him the fundamentals so as not to commit a similar error ever again.

          Peter had committed an error. A contract had been entered into. Yes, from the standpoint of God's Kingdom, it was an unlawful contract, due to the simple fact that it was a trespass upon the boundaries of Man's dominion as defined in Genesis 1:28, as also perhaps more clearly defined in Exodus 20:2-3. However, God has also given Man, each one of us, the freedom of choice, even so far as making a choice of allegiance between God's Kingdom and between Satan's Kingdom, that is, per Genesis 2:16-17. Making a choice within the Kingdom of God is not unlawful. As you know, God will never not stand up for His contracts, agreements, or promises. Thus, God will definitely honor and give heed to a person's choice of contract, even when such a contract is blindly entered into. However, the consequences will be accordingly. Please recall God’s dire warnings through Samuel unto the people of Israel prior to the fact (cf. 1 Sam 8:4-18.) Thus, Jesus recognized the reality of the contract Peter had entered into on behalf of Jesus and himself.

          However, God has identified Himself, once and for all, as the one who is bringing His people out of the State, "out of the house of bondage." This is the same calling as we find in Revelation 18:4. Cf. Deuteronomy 5:2-6! This was certainly true also in the setting where we find Jesus reprimanding Peter. God has many ways of leading His people. He will meet us where we are, each of us. He will guide us out of bondage the safest and quickest way that we are willing and able to go. Peter was a fisherman. He knew how to fish. Jesus, as our Master and pattern knew and taught Peter, as he is also teaching us, how to follow God's leadership out of the bondage that we ourselves have brought ourselves into. He will never force us out of bondage, but He keeps calling us out of bondage... in more ways than one. So also in regards to the contract that Peter had entered into on behalf of himself and his Master. Peter was the one responsible so far as the act goes. But Peter was ignorant. He had missed the point. Jesus had overheard Peter's conversation with the tax collectors. I find it amazing that Jesus was able to restrain himself not to take exception to Peter's promise right there and then, in front of the tax collectors. What an example for us! Remember Matthew 18:15! That is, step one, is to correct one another in private! Not in public! Not in front of the tax collectors. That would be tantamount to skipping ahead to step number three all at once. Jesus didn't make that mistake! As always, he is our perfect example and the pattern we should learn from and follow! But notice, Jesus recognized his responsibility for teaching Peter how to find a lawful, quick, and doable means of bringing the bondage to an end!

          Accordingly, I cannot agree with you that there is even the slightest tendency towards, as you say, "a fundamental disagreement between the words of Jesus and those of Paul in Romans 13:5-7." We too, once we have each put ourselves under any given law or contract to pay any tax, or any dues whatsoever, are obligated, even according to God’s law, to live up to the contract entered into. Yet, each and every one of us entered into this life outside of bondage as free men and women. Most of us, unfortunately, were trained, even in utero, to become slaves and servants, and most of us were sold into slavery, as tax payers, even at the time of delivery (cf. Rev 12:4!) That bondage was then confirmed very close to the “age of majority,” for instance by accepting an offer by Selective Service, or else by applying for, or begin to use, a Social Security number. Please recognize the SS, as in SS Waffe, in both of those names. The Hebrew letter S stands for 60. That is, as in the numbers 600, 60, and 6! Cf. Revelation 13:18 and Strong’s G5516! Accordingly, Paul’s teaching is entirely in harmony with Jesus’ teaching in word and in action!

          Do you see that?

          Finally, re your words "ongoing or continuous action:" I have no problem with that. People do make mistakes. God knows that this is almost unavoidable given each our initial environment. The question is always: Are we, each of us, willing to learn from our mistakes? Are we willing to allow God to lead us out of the bondage we put ourselves into by means of each our mistake. Are we willing to learn better ways so as not to commit the same type of error over and over again? Are we willing to learn how to become more apt to listen to God's still small voice even before taking action, that is, so as not to keep on making mistakes every single time we enter into new and previously unexplored territory?

          Jesus had learned from his earliest childhood to be attentive to his Father's still small voice. His father and his mother were both very attentive to that small voice of God. In the Bible I find three occasions when Jesus was being brought out of God's Kingdom and into the bondage of men. The first time was in utero, that is, when Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be taxed (cf. Luke 2:1-6.) The second time was when Peter entered into a contract with the tax collectors. The third time was when Judas sold Jesus. As you know Jesus got out of those contracts within a very few days each and every time. Each time because either he himself or his parents were heeding God's calling to come out of bondage.

          Thus, what for most would have become an "ongoing and continuous action," was turned, by our Savior, by God, into a very temporary action. It can be the same for each and every one of us. However, the more we have entangled ourselves in the snares of Satan, the longer it will likely take us to get untangled. God is the Master teacher above all and He is able to lead us out of bondage very quickly, but most of us have yet miles, even years, to go before we become Master Students at God's own University of Life. Cf. the 40 days vs. the 40 years before the people of Israel were able to enter the promised land!

          Thanks for allowing me to think this through together with you!

          May the peace of our Maker, our Redeemer and Savior, rest over each our families and homes, even while we are each and all learning to better heed that still small voice,

          Andy ©

      • I’d like to address the implication that we should not pay taxes.

        Paul gives this counsel:
        “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Rom 13:1-7 NKJV).
        To me it is quite obvious that he was not advocating not paying taxes. Furthermore his counsel to Titus is basically the same, “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1 NKJV).

        Some use Mat 17 to support not paying taxes. On the surface it might seem to do so if we ignore other revenue-raising campaigns being done in that period of history. The SDA commentary has a very interesting view of what happened with Peter and Christ’s reaction to it.

        On verse 24: “They that received tribute. Literally, “they that receive the double drachma [Gr. didrachmon].” These were not the publicans, or taxgatherers (see on Luke 3:12), who collected toll and tax for the civil authorities, but designated men who were appointed in each district to collect the half-shekel Temple tax required of every free male Jew 20 years of age or older, for the support of the Temple. This tax was not compulsory in the sense that the tithe was, but its payment was nevertheless considered a religious duty” (5 BC 441)

        “Doth not your master? . . . In the Greek the word for “your” is in the plural. The tax collectors thus made the matter one of concern to all the disciples, not to Peter only” (page 442).

        On verse 25: “But, as upon later occasions (see ch. 22:15–22), the scribes and Pharisees here sought to confront Jesus with a dilemma from which He could not escape. Levites, priests, and prophets were exempt (DA 433). To refuse to pay the tax would imply disloyalty to the Temple, but to pay it would imply that Jesus did not consider Himself a prophet, and thus exempt from it” (page 442).
        In this instance it had nothing to do with the Roman tax and was only a trap the scribes and Pharisees set for Jesus. While we are dealing with what Jesus taught we should also look at another trap they tried to set .

        “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. ‘Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, Caesar’s. And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Mat 22:15-21 NKJV).

        So the money is Caesar’s and he has a right to expect a portion of it. Jesus said we should pay taxes and Paul said that we should pay taxes. As for me and my household I think we have an obligation to support the government God put in place and so I will pay the taxes levied on me because that is what the Bible tells me to do.

        • Dear Andy,

          Your latest comment again promotes the non-payment of taxes on a faulty premise. Peter's mistake was not what you declare, but it was that Jesus did not have to pay the temple tax because he was exempt, due to his status as a teacher. Tyler Cluthe made this clear in his comment. Please read it again.

          Even though Jesus was not legally required to do so, He paid the temple tax for Himself and Peter, but His manner of paying it demonstrated that He was actually exempt. He went the "second mile," as He taught in the sermon on the Mount. (Matt 5:41)

          Jesus made clear that His kingdom is not of this world. He came to free us from the bondage of sin, not from human governments. Jesus also made it clear that He expected His followers to pay taxes to secular governments.

          Please also consider seriously what Stephen Terry pointed out:

          Another perspective is that it is the person who refuses to pay taxes that is probably more in danger of serving mammon than not. This is because the one choosing not to serve Jesus and the one choosing not to pay taxes may be motivated by the same idea. They may believe that they are better able to determine what to do with their lives or their money than someone else.

          Essentially, the attempt to keep as much money as possible to ourselves reveals a self-centered focus which is the kind of focus that started sin and rebellion in heaven. Christians are to demonstrate by their lives that they are not focused on the mammon of this world. Thus they should be the most generous people on earth.

        • Thank you Tyler, and thank you Inge,

          First let me say that I agree whole heartedly and 100% with Inge's words subsequent to her quote from Stephen's post! To the extent that money is the chief objective of not paying taxes, yes, I perceive that as truly being the essence of Mammon worship.


          Let me add this to the SDA Commentary on Matt 17:24 re the Greek word 'didrachmon:' In Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew, which I am convinced is about the closest thing we have to the original Matthew writings, I find the Hebrew word 'jikrvwho.' The root of that word, 'jakr' corresponds to Strong's G3365-3368 and means "be heavy... valuable... wealth... costliness..." That's all folks! There is nothing there, so far as I can tell, to specify whether this passage is pointing to a temple tax or to a tax payable to the Roman authorities. As for me, I find reason for believing that this event coincided with one of the years when Roman tax was indeed being collected.

          The argument's brought forth re efforts to entrap Jesus are certainly well documented, but do not, so far as I can tell, distinguish between a temple tax and a Roman tax. Those arguments could be made equally well in favor of either one!

          Matt 22:15-21 is certainly one of the texts most commonly brought up as an argument in favor of paying tax to the State. However, if you stop and think just a little bit about what Jesus is actually saying, you just may come to quite a contrary conclusion. Ask yourself some of these questions: Who is your Maker, your Creator? Who made your body? Who designed and made your food grow? Who created time? Who is giving you the strength to move each and every muscle of your body? Who created the land? Did the one whose title may be on the coin create any of that? Is the one whose title is on the coin entitled to any of that which he, or it, did not create and which was never authorized to be turned over to him or it? If not, then why do you reckon that the State is entitled to receive a return on that which you produce based on time, e.g. hourly or monthly payment? Or a return based upon the strength and the power God is giving you from moment to moment? Or a return based on anything produced by means of your body or brain? Or a return based upon anything based upon land or upon any element created by God? Indeed, why would the State be entitled to anything alive? Isn't the stamp and insignia of the Creator identifiable within the DNA of every living cell? How can that insignia of the Creator ever be mixed up with that of any King or Caesar?

          But, yes, certainly you should pay taxes upon all increase based upon money that multiplies by itself. That is, without the use of time, without the use of any living thing, and without the use of anything tangible whatsoever! I fully agree, and I have no problem with that. Indeed, when studying the root words pertaining to the coin in that mouth of the fish I once came to realize that there is a certain close association between that coin and the tooth decay resulting from things promoted by the State. Thus we should pay a return to the State out of each our tooth decay, shouldn't we? I am not kidding!

          Praise the Lord of Hosts, the Creator of all! He alone is worthy to receive praise, honor, and the returns out of anything at all being produced by man! Cf. Rev 4:11!

        • Andy, you reference Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew and hold it up as something superior to scripture that has come down to us from close to the first century. Shem Tov was a 14th century Jewish physician who may well have gotten much of that work from various sources since it is similar to several other works. Furthermore it seems that the original work was interspersed with commentary which according to some is difficult to separate from the actual text.

          It is a work that is rather anti-Christian as was a lot of Jewish literature up to that time. What amazes me most is that you seem to have accepted it as Gospel when the vast majority of theologians throughout Christendom have not. To me this is just like an apparent discovery of Noah’s ark and the Ark of the Covenant some years ago that was being heralded by a handful of people trying to raise money for their exploits. The problem was that there weren’t any scientists including anthropologists flocking to that so called discovery. There are reasons why theologians, linguists, and historians are not too excited about Shem Tov’s work. In fact there is quite a bit of debate over it on many levels.

          As far as I am concerned I am going to stick to the Bible as it is written which has been preserved better that any other literary work in history.

          Concerning your treatment of Matt 22:15-21 Jesus teaching is abundantly clear, we give to Caesar what he claims and if that means our tunic so be it. The kingdom of God is not in the abundance of things but a molding of characters into His likeness who laid down His life before the roman crucifixion and never said one nasty word to any of His executioners. Jesus never argued against many of the social injustices including slavery and women’s rights. And from what I can see neither did he argue about politics. For Him it was our relationship to God that mattered because that is what determines our standing before the judgment.

        • Thank you Tyler,

          Yes, I am well aware of the fact that Shem Tov, as you say, lived and worked in the 14th century.

          I am also well aware of the opinions which you reflect, and which are the opinion of a majority of scholars.

          Nevertheless, I have found that, as a rule, the majority is rarely if ever right.

          If you think about it, God's People are to be the head and not the tail. Part and parcel of that concept is the obvious truth inherent in the fact that the front line man, in any pursuit, is never in the majority. Whenever someone first discovers something previously unknown or forgotten he or she will be the only one recognizing the discovered thing. He or she will then stand as a loner with a contrary opinion to most everyone else. That is a characteristic of God's true People, and I have learned to appreciate the value in recognizing that the opinion of the majority of scholars can never be relied upon.

          I am not sure how fluent you are in the Hebrew language, but I have learnt to understand that language well enough to be able to recognize for myself the truth inherent in the fact that there are a number of characteristics of Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew which makes it quite clear that Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew is a transcript from an original Hebrew text, which text was translated first into Aramaic, then from Aramaic into Greek, and then from Greek into most of our various other languages. Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew is obviously not one among the various Hebrew New Testament translations which are reverse translations out of the Greek.

          And, yes, I totally agree with your last sentence "For [Jesus] it was our relationship to God that mattered because that is what determines our standing before the judgment." In particular I am always reminding myself that that God, the God of Truth, the God of all things real, is the originator of all things. It behooves us to return to the very beginnings, re each and all specifics, if we are ever to have any hope of reaching the ultimate truth. So also re the original Hebrew manuscripts upon which Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew is based. (However, that is not to say that Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew is a perfect copy of that original manuscript. Among other things, as you say “the original work was interspersed with commentary which according to some is difficult to separate from the actual text…” However, for those fluent in ancient Hebrew, it is by no means impossible to distinguish those comments of Shem Tov.)

          May the peace of our Creator rest upon each our families and homes in a special way this Sabbath,

          Andy ©

        • Hello Andy, I generally agree with you concerning the minority vs. the majority. The problem with using this as a hard and fast rule is that it opens the door to any little wind of doctrine that wafts under our nose. That means that by using that rule I can accept any minority view on anything and consider it the correct view solely on the basis of a minority consensus. I think you would have trouble with that on some things just as I would.

          Furthermore if that version of Matthew was that great certainly Ellen White would have said something about it but she doesn't. Besides why would Matthew write his Gospel in Hebrew when the most widely used language of the time was Greek. We need to ask our selves why the persecuting Jews became silent when Paul addressed them in Hebrew (Acts 22:1). Was it because that was the language the Jews used at that time? No, Aramaic was the regional language. Perhaps they kept silent because Hebrew was the priestly language of the temple and not the common language in use by the people around Jerusalem.

          It might also be the reason why the Septuagint was produced, because Greek was the main language of the Jew. So, if Matthew wanted to reach as many Jews as possible why write in a dying language why not write to the majority?

    • PS. And... as to your specific question. Yes, in the days of Jesus taxes were being paid to Caesar. But the amount was small, perhaps no more than one silver coin per person, and the frequency of taxation, during those years of Jesus' life, was no more often than once every fourteen years (a fact that is useful for nailing down a more correct chronology than that which is being commonly proclaimed today.)

      As for tithing to the temple services, well, the basics are provided in Genesis through Deuteronomy, and in addition you may find Jesus' words re tithing in Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; and 18:9-14.

      • I don't believe it's correct to say that the amount of Roman taxes was "small" or infrequent. The tax collectors or "publicans" collected taxes for the Roman government, and apparently there were many of them.

    • I've heard it said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

      "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (II Corinthians 9:7 NKJV)

      Bestone, if you have purposed in your heart to give a certain percentage in offerings, by all means give it. If you are doing so as a cheerful giver, then I personally can see no reason to call it legalism.

    • Hi Bestone,
      You asked about tithing and offerings, expressing some confusion on the issue. I would like to respond to your question by first telling you how my wife and I relate to the support of Christ's kingdom, that is, His remnant church.

      We return one tenth of all our income as tithe which supports the ministry, pastoral, religious educators, and administration of the church. Then we give another ten percent of our income to support the local church and mission work and other worthy projects. We believe that giving a percentage of our income is a simple way to give "as God has blessed." (Otherwise it is too easy get into a rut and give an amount that is not representative of the blessings of God.) This is for God's kingdom. We also pay the taxes due the government. We have been doing this for almost fifty years of married life. We are far from wealthy by this worlds standards.

      When asked why do you do this? Or, are you crazy? I can only answer, 'God has blessed us all these years protecting us from even the results of our own mistakes.' Its been a good life. Its been a privilege and not a legalistic obligation. Its even been fun, turning in our tithes and offerings in particularly tight circumstances an wondering how God is going to work out the situation. He always came through.

      By returning the tithes and giving offerings we have demonstrated to ourselves that God's kingdom is a reality in our lives. We trust Him completely. Our natural tendency of selfishly looking out for our own interest is rebuked, and we are free to serve the interest of others.

  2. I have no problem with the conception re 'the way,' as this term is being taught and considered in Sunday's lesson study, that is, to a limit. However, I believe that perhaps an even more important aspect of this term, 'the Way,' is inherent in the word 'progress.' That is, in terms of progressing ever closer towards the realization of the true Kingdom of God...

    To me the foremost step upon this Way has to do with title, that is, ownership. Who is being credited with being a true Christian's owner? None but the Creator alone? Or else, is the 'Christian' compromising him or herself by pulling out his Government issued Driver Licence, or ID card, to show proof of identity, that is, in terms of ownership and authority, when requested for identification by anyone in 'authority?' Or isn’t it true that the word ‘god’ as referenced in the first of the Ten Commandments is a reference to an authority of whatever species?

    Another very important, but not primary, step towards the Kingdom of God is certainly that which is known by the words 'character development,' that is, a description of the current beingness of the collateral, that is, of the substance being owned and controlled under said title and ownership.

    To achieve perfection in regards to any one of many areas of progress within the above two categories there are many steps on 'the Way.'

    As Yehoshua himself defined and identified himself:

    "Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

    Leaving out the element of progress out of the identifier 'the Way' to me is tantamount to a tendency towards status quo, and, as well, to that which is no less than the motto of the Roman Catholic Church: "Semper Aedem" meaning "Always the same."

    To me, that is much the same as "missing the point," much the same as "missing the mark," and much the same as "sin."


    May the peace of the Holy Spirit, whose name means 'cleanser of life,' rest upon each our families and homes,

    Andy ©

    • You imply that a Christian is "compromising him or herself by pulling out his Government issued Driver Licence, or ID card, to show proof of identity."

      This is a faulty argument -- most glaringly so in a representative form of government, such as a democracy. The showing of identity cards recognizes the authority of the state in civil matters, not the state's right to spiritual allegiance. And as Tyler has clearly demonstrated, Paul consistently taught that Christians are to submit themselves to civil governments. (Please review his comment carefully.)

      Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. (Rom 13:1 NKJV) See also Rom 13:6-7, Titus 3:1, 1 Pet 2:13

      We demonstrate our allegiance to the God of heaven in our obedience to the instruction given through His servants. Thus a rebellion against earthly governments, including "civil disobedience," may in reality be rebellion against God as well. (There are exceptions, of course, where we must obey God rather than men.)

  3. The lesson asks......

    "In what way is Paul’s metaphor about walking different from that found in the Old Testament? Compare Exod. 16:4; Lev. 18:4; Jer. 44:23 with Gal. 5:16, 25; Rom. 8:4."

    I think this is a mis-leading implication that creates a "false dilemma."

    The way the scriptures are used in the context of the question would imply that the old covenant was a system of legalism that we now transcend by "walking in the spirit".

    The old covenant is not a system of legalism. As someone has pointed out, any exhortation can be misunderstood as placed in a non-biblical meaning and application.

    To assume no one understood the true function of the old covenant, or, the old covenant was, ipso facto, legalism is not correct. Yet this seemed to be the implication of the authors of this question by the scriptures they used in the context of the question.

    Bill Sorensen

    • I believe that the difference pointed out is indeed instructional for us. It's not that the gospel has changed since Old Testament times. However, there is a progressive revelation of truth. I am convinced that we miss the implications of Paul's emphasis on walking in the Spirit (and not only in the law) only at the peril of our souls.
      As the lyrics of "Once to Every Man and Nation" say: "Time makes ancient good uncouth. One must ever onward, upward, who would keep abreast of truth."

  4. Andy, you wrote "once we have each put ourselves under any given law" regarding Romans 13. The Biblical text makes no such qualification to obeying the authorities. Instead the text clearly states that God has established these authorities over us. Your conjecture appears to be based on personal opinion rather than a clear reading of the text. You may want to review your position on this particular matter of civil disobedience. I don't see it supported in Scripture.

    • Thank you Stephen,

      Are you paying tax to all of the several hundred 'authorities' on this planet, that is, all those found within each of the States, Nations, and Countries in the world? Of course not! Yet, they are all 'authorities,' are they not? If I read your words correctly and if I insist on being consistent, then I should pay taxes to each and all of those, or don't you see that?

      All right, perhaps you don't buy that... But maybe you'll agree that every man made Government is created by means of a law, typically one named Constitution. Usually you'll find, at the very beginning of those constitutions, words to the effect that "We the People do make..." or "All power has its foundation in the People..." Also, those same 'authorities' are continually being upheld by means of the sum total of those that vote for any of the parties being provided.

      That is, all of those 'authorities' are man made, not made by God. Permitted yes, but not advised!

      In contradistinction, per Romans 13:1 KJV, you'll find the words "There is no power but of God..." To me that is the same as saying : "There is no authority other than that which God owns" or "There is no authority other than that which God Himself has intended, authorized, and created."

      In other words, you could well, as I do, perceive those very words of Romans 13:1 as a definition of what is and what is not an authority in the eyes of God and per the definition of the Bible. Any other 'authority' would in affect be, in the eyes of God, nothing less than anarchy. Organized anarchy. Organized crime...

      Yes, God has authorized each of us to put ourselves in bondage even unto Satan, that is, by giving us the freedom of choice. And yes, it is exceedingly important that the State of Destruction, the Kingdom of Death, is well organized. If not there would be no limits to the anarchy and it would self destruct only too quickly... But at the very same time, from the beginning, God, our Maker, is warning each of us not to exercise that freedom of choice by putting ourselves in the position of incurring all those curses outlined under Deuteronomy 11:26-28...

      Thus the answer to your very valuable, and very representative, objection, is found in those words of the Bible themselves. That is, not in me...

      Be blessed! Not cursed! There is a choice! Here and now, even today... Cf. Deuteronomy 5:3!

      Andy ©

      • Dear Andy,

        Contray to what you imply, by quoting only half of one text, the rest of Romans 13:1-8 clearly teaches that all authorities/governments are "appointed by God." (That's kind of a hard pill to swallow, but I believe it means that God is sovereign over all, and governments rule under His authority.) And in this same passage, Paul clearly directs believers to be "subject" to governments and to pay taxes.

        You appear to be suggesting something that is in direct contradiction of the words of Paul. Paul leaves not the least bit of wiggle room to argue that we should not pay taxes to a particular government because we think it's not a good government. Paul's counsel has the effect of making good citizens out of all Christians who do what he says.

        The blessings and cursings of Deut 11:26-28 tell of blessings attendant to obeying God and the "cursings" that naturally follow disobedience. The passage says nothing about the "organization" of the "Kingdom of Death."

        The Bible is not difficult to understand if we will refrain from imposing arcane meanings on the text.

        • Thanks for your feedback Inge!

          I am glad that you are writing that I "appear to be suggesting..." because that which may seem apparent is not always what it seems to be. So also in this case... Indeed, that applies also to your introductory words "Contray to what you imply..."

          You see, by giving man the freedom of choice, God is in effect authorizing man to be disobedient to God's instructions, to God's own laws and to God's own precepts and principles. God is ever careful to warn His beloved not to thus trespass upon His instructions, and that, if and when they to anyway, they will have to take the consequences thereof, consequences that are very much in the nature of a curse. Thus, by having thus delegated unto man the authority to do whatever he will, God has in fact appointed said worldly Governments, but not firsthand. Man has been acting as the middle man, while in so doing in fact disobeying God's direct instructions and laws. However, once any of us puts ourselves - or each other - in such a dire situation of disobedience and bondage, we must be consistent! We must learn to live according to our words! We must learn not to bear false witness! That is the ninth Commandment out of the Ten! Yet, our loving God, our Father in Heaven, never ceases calling His wayward children back to Himself, out of bondage unto any other men, unto any other authority, and unto any other god... God's wish is for each and all of us to be truly and optimally free under none but Him alone. But remember, His Way of exiting is lawful. - Only by man's ignorance and tendency to skip ahead without staying close to his Maker may such attempts to exit out of bondage become contrary to law.

  5. Hi, Andy. Of course I would pay taxes to those various authorities should I choose to live in their dominions. by choosing to live there, I acknowledge their suzerainty and defer to their laws.

    Jesus Himself said that the power of civil government is derived from God when he said to Pilate "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." John 19:11, NIV

    I guess I do not understand why you are making such an issue of this. Are you advocating some sort of rebellion against the existing government? If so, you may want to consider 1 Samuel 15:23. E. J. Waggoner correctly states of this passage in his book "The Glad Tidings" that it should properly be rendered "rebellion IS the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness IS iniquity and idolatry." Nihilism does not appear to have much Biblical support.

    • Thanks Stephen, Believe it or not, but I agree wholeheartedly and 100% with all of your words in the above comment of yours. Yet, I perceive that this claim of mine may require just a little bit of clarification for you to better understand my point of view...

      Yes, it is all about 'dominions.' Dominions are not defined by exactly the same boundaries as are geographical boundaries. Most people I know are not taught to understand and perceive the difference between one and the other, but the ones placed in the upper echelons of the man-made hierarchies, i.e. those that you are likely to recognize as "authorities," do recognize and very much adhere to the correct definitions. The conflict and disagreements that surface between people, for instance that which may be represented by the apparent differences of opinion within this forum, largely stem from a failure to recognize the distinctions between these two sets of boundaries.

      A good and useful illustration is this: There are three categories of people, 1. Obedient slaves, most of whom believe themselves to be free, 2. Disobedient slaves, and 3. Free people. The great majority of people fall into category one. When an honest and God fearing obedient slave first begins waking up to his true position, he may do his best to follow God's guidance out of bondage, but, like a tiny tot, he may be frequently falling and as a result he may also be perceived as a disobedient slave, that is, in many ways indistinguishable from an anarchist or a criminal. The reason for his confrontations is that he is still formally registered as a subject 'slave' within one of the dominions claimed by worldly Governments. However, once he has proceeded a bit further along "the Way" (!) he may eventually be effectively free from bondage and be recognized as such by his former "authorities." Once truly free he has arrived in the dominion of God's true Kingdom here and now and will no longer be perceived or treated as the disobedient slave that he used to be. That is, prior to reaching this point on the Way along his life's path his behavior may well have been described, in the good sense of those words, as one involved in acts of "civil disobedience." The word 'civil,' e.g. as defined in Webster's Dictionary, defines the boundaries of any one of those States and Nations that we are so familiar with today, and included within those dominions are anyone and all of its 'citizens.'

      Thus, as you may understand from the above, I am in no way advocating rebellion against any outside authority at all. The only authority against which I would advocate rebellion is the authority within each our own mind. That is, that authority which is so well described by David in Psalm 1:1, that authority within each of us which is unwilling to go forwards along 'the Way' while thus heeding God's calling each of us to follow His guidance as He instructs each among us step by little step, line by line, and precept upon precept, re the details of how and when to take each next step along the path of lawful and legal exiting out of any and all species of bondage. Most especially out of such bondage as puts each of us in bondage under anything created, whether created by God or by men (cf. the 2nd of the 10 Commandments!) That is, our Creator desires for each of us to have no middle man between any of us and between Himself.

      Indeed, the process is very similar to the process of growth and the process of gradual separation between a child and his loving parents. In my book, it is only natural and normal for parents to wish for their little ones to grow and become ever more free, ever more able and competent to handle their own affairs towards success, ever more on their own. Sometimes, as we all know, the little ones seem to feel a need for being in rebellion. Typically, that occurs when they wish to do something that they are not ready and able to do or when they desire something that, unbeknownst to them, is not good either for them or for another. I do not believe that any healthy parent wishes to keep their own blood descendant for1ever as a slave or as a servant of their parents. That would be a most unhealthy relationship. An unhealthy type of relationship that is much much more, probably 100 x more, likely to occur with foster parents vs. an adopted child.

      That's one reason why our Maker desire for each of His children to have a one to one relationship with Himself, without any interference of any middle man, such as every man-made State authority always is. Yet, until such a time as a citizen has become sufficiently mature, sufficiently taught and skilled in living in harmony with people and things around him, yes, there is very much a need for such man-made authorities to be in charge of otherwise unlawful men and women.

      May our Maker's peace rest over each our families and over each our homes as we each walk with Him along the Way...

  6. Dear Andy,

    Most of what you say in your comment sounds right. I just have a problem with what I think you mean. But my thinking may be wrong. So I am going to ask you to clarify, so that I may understand you. Please answer these questions directly, as briefly as possible.

    In your view:
    1) Is it God's ideal that Christians should not be subject to "worldly governments."
    2) Should Christians avoid filling out tax forms, passport applications and other such forms in order to avoid being "subject to worldly governments"?
    3) Are Christians free not to pay taxes if they do not declare income or fill out any tax forms?
    4) Is a Christian's subjection to "worldly governments" contrary to God's plan.

    The questions above can probably each be answered by YES or NO, with little explanation.

    Please explain what you mean by "God’s wish is for each and all of us to be truly and optimally free under none but Him alone." How does this ideal look in 21st-Century society?

  7. Thank you Inge!

    I appreciate your questions and I appreciate your sincere interest in things pertaining to the true teachings of the Holy Scriptures. We are all students in God's own University of Life and it behooves each one of us to humbly recognize the extreme limitations of our individual and collective insights and knowledge into God's infinite knowledge bank. That's true for me. That's true for you. That's true for everyone ever created.

    Yes, I could answer each one of your four questions with a simple YES or NO, but few if anyone would be much the wiser if I did. Such answers would be more likely to serve the interests of self-righteous people with a desire to throw me, as well as those small rays of God that I am doing my best to convey, into one category (I call it 'trash can') or another, to the end that they may feel more safe and secure in continuing upon their own, frequently off shoot and/or superficial, path of thinking and teaching. That is, to the end that they may see no reason for identifying with those that are being so astutely described by David in Psalms 1:1 and by Jesus in Mark 12:38-40. That said, here are my answers - to the limited extent of my understanding:

    1. Yes, that is God's ideal and that is His ultimate objective for each of us, BUT that is rarely, if ever, a one step process along the Way. We have proceeded to walk many many steps into Satan's Kingdom of Death, and accordingly we are not likely to suddenly find ourselves in a position of suddenly being able to step out of all of that mud by some miraculous hocus-pocus act of anyone. If God were to do that to us, we would be likely to learn nothing and to keep committing the very same sins tomorrow as we did yesterday. If He were to suddenly change our thinking and erase each our habitual though pattern and our habits generally... Well, think about it! Wouldn't there be a total discontinuity, a total disconnection, between each our new life and being and that of our past? Wouldn't we be totally amnesic, not knowing even who we are, not recognizing even our most intimate and beloved family members? So yes, this takes time and patience! Many steps to walk with our Savior along the Way! Cf. Revelation 14:12!

    2. Yes, the true Christian should seek God's guidance so as to learn to understand how to find ways to lawfully avoid - no tax evasion, please! (There is a difference!) - signing on to ever more contracts that serve no other purpose than to entangle him or her ever more deeply into the circle of self-destruction of evil, which self-destruction is the God ordained purpose for worldly governments and their citizens. This requires prayer, an attentive and clear mind, discernment, and a willingness to unlearn past habits of thinking and doing, and to learn new and unfamiliar, albeit ever challenging and exciting things. By so doing lives, that used to be experienced as being meaningless and empty, will be turned into experiences of meaningfulness and abundant joy. Believe me! But that is not likely to mean that you are going to have much money. God will provide each one's need for such purposes as only He knows best. Commit your will and your life in His hands and He will bless you abundantly in ways that you may never have experienced before! Or at least that is my experience...

    3. Every one, not excluding the Christian, is free not to give a voluntary contribution to whomever, or whatever, they do not wish to contribute. Every self assessment, every 1040 form etc., is exactly that, a self assessment. When someone assesses him or herself as owing 'a debt' or 'an obligation' to pay tribute to a certain cause and makes a promise to that effect, even to the point of signing his or her name in writing upon such a document of promise... Well, such a person must learn to live by their word such as not to further commit a breech upon the 9th Commandment of God. Remember Ananias and Sapphira of Acts 5:1-10. Yet, no one has an obligation to pay even one penny more than that which he or she has himself promised to pay. These things are voluntary, but many people have yet to get the point and to learn to recognize the true meaning and definition of each word being used by the author(s) of such words. The word 'income' is an excellent example of a word greatly misunderstood. Very few, if any, tax payers know the true meaning of that word, as that word is being defined by the authors of the taxing authorities! Only when beginning to wake up to God's calling voice does a tax payer slave begin to recognize the true and intended meaning of such words.

    4. Yes or No, depending on whose definition of the word 'Christian' that you are using. If you study Webster's with an eye to recognize the ties between the word 'Christian' and the 'Roman Catholic Church' you'll likely begin to recognize that the word 'Christian' does not necessarily always denote a true follower of the man in the New Testament who is referenced in KJV by the words 'son of man.' I have no doubts but that it is God's plan for evil to destroy itself so as not to keep on forever doing damage to God's People and to God's own Kingdom. Thus, so long as "a Christian" is identifying him or herself as being a creation of "a worldly government..." Well, he or she must act according to his or her claim, such as not to bear false witness and so as not to add even more to the confusion and to the disharmony and the conflicts within such "worldly governments." Yet, God keeps calling each of His own People out of "worldly governments," and He is tenderly and lovingly leading each of His own... Precept upon precept, and step by little step, along the Way out of "subjection to... worldly governments."

    My answer to your 5th and last request goes hand in hand with Moses's words to the people of Israel per Deuteronomy 5:2-5. Notice especially Moses' reprimand per his parenthetical note in verse 5! That is, the people's insistence upon having anyone, even Moses himself, as a middle man between themselves and their Maker! One aspect that I perceive as exceedingly important in order to accomplish this today, in our "21st-Century society" is for each of us to learn ever more effectively how to take back each our own God ordained responsibility upon our own shoulders while relying on none at all other than our Maker, and while learning to live ever more in harmony with the laws and principles established from the beginning by Him alone. We must learn to stop seeking ever more ways of delegating our responsibilities - and the associated freedom of choice - upon others, whether upon the State, upon various Insurance Corporations, or upon each other! We must stop pointing that proverbial finger unto our neighbors! We must stop peeking across the fence and to attempt the impossible by controlling one another while not being able to control our selves! But so doing must not ever exclude our proper submission unto that tiny God ordained hierarchy, designed from the very beginning, which we recognize as each our own family. That is, that intimate image that the Creator is seeing fit to provide unto each living being, that is, by means of that family of theirs which is based upon the words "male and female created he them..." Genesis 1:27. For no one exist, except by means of a father and a mother of their own... Whether, and to what extent, we know our own parents, well, that is a unique story that is pertinent to each one's journey along 'the Way...' That is no one else's business!

    May God bless and teach each of us forever as we each learn to wake up to His still small voice,

    Andy ©

    • Dear Andy,

      Thank you for clarifying your understanding of how Christians are to relate to the "authorities" and governments of this world. It now seems clear that you are advocating not being "subject" to any governments because you see them as usurping the place of God.

      According to our understanding, this is contrary to what the Bible commands and what the Seventh-day Adventist church teaches. We have already mentioned the teachings of Jesus and of Paul, which tell us to pay taxes and to be subject to the governments of this world, as long as they do not oppose the clear commands of God given in Holy Scripture.

      Additionally I can think of one example in the Old Testament. (There may be more.) When the people of God were captured and taken into exile into Babylon, they were naturally not very happy with the situation. Yet God's prophet gave this message: "And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace." (Jer. 29:7) These words imply cooperation with the authorities of Babylon.

      If Christians follow the counsel contained in the Bible, they will be model citizens in whatever place they find themselves. By contrast, Christians who refuse to subject ourselves to lawful civil authorities are also in a state of disobedience to the commandments of God.

      Since you have made your position clear, we ask you not to submit any more posts suggesting that we should not pay taxes and not to submit to civil authorities.

      Thanks for understanding,
      Inge Anderson,
      Editor of Sabbath School Net.

      • Dear Inge,

        Please consider also... God's instruction per Ellen White, re the importance for each one to be allowed to experience for themselves the consequences of each their own choices in life. I am referring to Ellen's words per Patriarchs and Prophets p. 361.2!

        Sabbath peace to all,

        Andy ©

        • With all due love and respect, Andy, that's what I think she is doing -- letting you experience the consequences of your choice to persistently advocate unscriptural views. I sincerely hope that you will not also have to suffer the consequences of rebellion against the God-appointed civil authorities. I guess that some of have to learn things the hard way.


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