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God’s Children Are Free!

By Patricia Backora

The Children of Israel had been enslaved to Pharaoh of Egypt for 400 long years.
But after God set them free from Egyptian bondage, they started on their journey
to the Promised Land. But Pharaoh panicked. Who would toil to keep his building
programs going? Who would produce the wealth of the land which kept Egypt's
economy strong and kept him in creature comforts? No, Pharaoh would have none of
this freedom business. He must go after those slaves and force them to go back to
Egypt.

A similar situation is happening today. For centuries God's people have been held
in bondage to the laws of carnal religious rulers. According to McClintock and
Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, “In the early Christian Church the
custom of consecrating to religious purposes a tenth of income was voluntary, and
it was not made obligatory until the Council of Tours in 567 A.D. The second
Council of Macon in 585 A.D. enjoined the payment of tithes under pain of
excommunication (article ‘tithes’).

The Encyclopedia of Catholicism states: “Paul’s instructions on the Jerusalem
collection urge voluntary giving (I Corinthians 16:1-4; II Corinthians Chapters 8
and 9) which became the practice of Christians until religious and civil
authorities (sixth and eighth centuries) initiated legislation mandating
tithing.”

By the beginning of the Middle Ages (the sixth century A.D.), the bloated
bureaucracy of Big Religion had grown so complex that it needed a more
predictable source of income than freewill offerings to keep its machinery
running. It was hard for organised Christendom to subsist by faith alone. The
prelates sitting on Church councils knew that the poor peasants generally could
neither read nor gain access to the Scriptures, let alone scrutinize Church laws
in the light of Paul’s Gospel. So the council met with no serious resistance when
they took material out of the Old Covenant and spun it into a panacea for their
financial ills: obligatory tithing on money. And even though most modern
Christians are well able to check this doctrine out for themselves, they are made
to feel guilty for even questioning its validity. It would be too costly for
organized Christendom if too many tithe-payers learned the truth. But why should
modern Christians be burdened with man’s version of an ancient ordinance the
early Church didn’t have to keep? Jesus denounced the Pharisees for teaching as
doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. 15:8-9; Mark 7: 6-7).

Just like Jesus went through the Temple setting the birds and the beasts free from
the buyers and the sellers, God is setting His people free, hallelujah! And no
man has the right to make God's liberated people return to their cages of bondage.

Jesus did not truly abolish the ordinance of circumcision, one author claims,
contrary to Ephesians 2:15 and Colossians 2:14 which teaches that He took the
handwriting of ordinances which had condemned us to the Cross with Him. Instead
Christ changed it to a spiritual form which is still binding upon God's people.
Spiritual circumcision has nothing to do with a surgical scalpel. It refers to
putting off the sins of the fallen nature (verse 11). But this pro-tithing writer
uses this comparison to argue for "spiritual tithing" which calls for the
collection of material money. The author reasons that if, in this age of grace,
there still remains a spiritual application of the Law of circumcision in the
lives of God's people, then it must follow that even though Mosaic tithing might
have been abolished by Christ, it was only to make way for a revolutionary new
method of tithing: a "spiritual" tithe which consists of literal paper money
collected by material men in suits and ties. A tithe never once commanded or
taken up either under Moses' Law or by any New Testament apostle!

When you add to Scripture by rationalizing that there must be some new commandment
God overlooked and adding it yourself, you're opening a real can of worms! Certain
churchmen might grudgingly admit that New Covenant tithing was nowhere commanded
in Scripture by the early apostles of Christ but they still justify their ten per
cent tax on churchgoers' wages. Circumcision has a spiritual counterpart in the
New Testament, and so must tithing, they reason (or hope!) Theological experts
decide what form that "spiritual" counterpart is, with or without the authority of
Scripture! The metal scalpel was put away to make way for spiritual circumcision
of the heart. But the wicker basket or velvet bag is still there to take up a
"spiritual" tithe!

Appeals to Christian debt or duty were used extensively in the piece I read. The
author relies more on emotional extrapolations of biased theological logic than
on what the plain text of Scripture has to say TO NEW COVENANT BELIEVERS. Instead
of appealing to plain commands to Christians clearly spelled out by the first-
century apostles, he appeals to the believer's sense of obligation to pay those
who make their living from preaching. If ever there was a desperate "end justifies
the means" tactic, that has to be it! Pharaoh won't get his tomb finished in time
if those selfish slaves don't have a heart and come back to Egypt! Pharaoh misses
his sacrificial offerings of sweat and tears.

The writer even argues against one of the clearest cases against New Testament
monetary tithing: that every one of us who believe are part of Christ's Kingdom of
Priests (I Pet.2:5,9). Aaron the High Priest did not pay any sort of tithing tax.
We are joined spiritually to be made one spirit with Jesus, our own High Priest,
so we are not subject to the tithing tax either. As He is, so are we in this world
(I John 4:17).

Yet the writer insists there’s still a problem because the Body of Christ
includes not only learned theologians who actually "minister" for a living, but
tiny children and uneducated lay people as well. Why admit that a five-year-old
believer is part of Christ's Royal Priesthood? Can he preach an eloquent sermon?
Can He read Greek?

Okay, let's examine this part of his logic which supposedly justifies New Covenant
tithing. He asserts that a tiny child in the Body of Christ can't really be called
a priest because he's not educated enough to count both feet yet. So it must
follow this kid is one of the lowly laity who has to tithe on his teething
biscuits! My sides are aching, I'm laughing so hard! Following that theory to its
logical conclusion, you can deduce that the baby grandsons of Aaron the High
Priest would have been subject to the tithing tax too, because the dangerous
equipment at the altar hadn't been childproofed! Give me a break! Being an infant
does not exclude you from the tribe you were born in or make you any less of an
heir of your father! And guess Whose heirs we are?

Jesus fed the five thousand. He didn't fleece them for five thousand tithes.
What seminary did Jesus earn his post doctorate in? As a Carpenter, Jesus did not
owe any Mosaic tithes (unless He raised livestock or grew a veggie garden on the
side). Jesus might have paid some whopping dues to the government, and He did pay
a small tax for the upkeep of the Temple (Matt.17:24-27). But Jesus' carpentry
income was not subject to the Mosaic tithing tax. As a Member of the Tribe of
Judah, Christ did not qualify to collect the Mosaic tithe either (Heb.7:5,14).
That task was reserved strictly for descendants of Levi. Next time your spiritual
leader asks why you're late paying your "tithe", ask him (or her) which tribe of
Israel they're descended from!

Jesus poses a profound question to Simon Peter in Matthew 17:25 when collectors of
the Temple tax came calling (Translator’s notes in the margins and other versions
indicate that’s the kind of tax it was). “What do you think, Simon?” inquires
Jesus. “From whom do the kings of this earth take custom, or tribute? From their
own children, or strangers?”

Peter replied, “From strangers.”

Jesus said: “Then the children (of the overlords) are free (exempt from paying
taxes to them).” That same usage for “free” is found in I Samuel 17:25, where
one of the rewards offered for dispatching Goliath is that the giant-slayer’s
father and his house will be free in Israel (free from taxation).

All who have experienced the New birth are free children of God. God does not
appoint His more privileged children as religious tax collectors over His humbler
ones. In the Old Testament a Temple tax was levied, but not under the New
Covenant. Believers of the New Testament ARE the Temple of God (I Cor.3:16;
IICor.6:16)! On what Scriptural basis do you levy a ten per cent tax on the Temple
of God? The tithe is a tax, not a gift!

Leviticus 25:1-5 describes a Sabbath of the Land, during which time no crops would
be grown (or tithed on). The Old Testament was an inferior covenant to the New,
but back then even the land got a rest! So if you've got the gumption to do it,
point these facts out to your pastor and ask him if you can have a break from
tithing every seven years like the ancient Israelites did. If you really want to
raise his eyebrows ask him if you can hold a thanksgiving potluck cookout with the
tithe (Deut.14:26). Ask him if he's willing to turn the "tithe money" over to the
local food bank every three years to feed the hungry in your community
(Deut.14:28-29). That's about as close as you could get to the true spiritual
intent of the true Biblical tithe, which was used for those purposes! Even if
tithing was still applicable today, wouldn't it be more charitable to feed the
poor widows with "tithe money" than take that money from poor widows to build big
churches with?

And as for this nonsense about children not being able to minister in Jesus' name,
I'll say from experience that I've sometimes heard wiser words out of a tiny
child's mouth than out of the mouth of a pulpit pilot. My daughter wasn't even
old enough to go to kindergarten when she said to me on a day the devil was
hassling me: "You have Jesus in your heart, Mommy." I've also heard other
testimonies during my lifetime of how people's believing children would speak an
encouraging word or do something kind to lift the morale of grown-up believers.
Jesus often lambasted the learned men of His day for neglecting duties of charity
toward the poor and for hindering people from entering into the kingdom of God.
Just read Matthew Chapter 23 to see what Jesus thinks of these educated fools.

It isn't years lived on this planet or theological nit-picking that brings the
love of Jesus or His wisdom, it's the Spirit of the Living God! Better a sticky
kiss from an innocent child than a sticky question about why you aren't being
faithful to a false doctrine!

I'll cite a few verses from Matthew Chapter 18 to show how Jesus Himself viewed
children.
Verse 1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Verse 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of
them,
Verse 3 And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as
little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same
is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Verse 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Who did Jesus point to as being greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Professor
Knowitall from Brightbrain University? The Pope? This year's bestselling author?
Nope! A little child who probably hadn't even learned his ABC's at the village
school yet! A little tyke who hadn't even dragged his first soapbox out to the
front yard and preached yet! And most telling of all about Jesus' attitude toward
children is the way He identifies Himself with them so completely! Whoever
receives one of these little ones in His Name receives Christ Himself! That
includes every part of Jesus, even the Jesus Who's up there in heaven right now
interceding on our behalf as our High Priest, because Christ is indivisible (I
Cor.1:13) and we are one in the Spirit of Christ (Gal.3:28; I Cor.6:17). The
world might lay taxes on God's people, but in light of these precious truths, how
can Christians be justified in doing that to brethren with whom they are supposed
to be one in the Spirit of Christ? Going back to my original point, how can
anybody downplay the plain teaching of the Bible that ALL who have saving faith in
Christ belong to His Royal Priesthood, everybody from believing babies barely out
of diapers to elderly people getting ready to go home to heaven?

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of
heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and
hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for it seemed good in thy sight
(Luke 10:21).

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