Thursday, September 11, 2008

Somewhere Between Eternal and Non-eternal Secuity

I can agree that today’s gospel preaching misses the element of deep conversion brought about by repentance, which is metanoia, changing one’s mind about sin. True repentance will always involve a change of opinion about sin, seeing it as an evil and hateful thing in and of itself, not because it will get us in trouble, etc..., false repentance is a sorrow for sin that is only circumstantial, like, we’re sorry we were caught, or we’re sorry about the consequences of sin, but not about sin itself.

We also have to differentiate between belief as a phenomenon of the rational mind, v.s. belief as a phenomenon of will. As we know, the devils believe and tremble (Jas 2:19). Their belief is a mental assent that God is true, but their wills are still locked onto selfishness, and so their belief is not one of will. Many people are of this kind of mental assent toward the Gospel, and yet their beliefs do not affect their hearts, or their wills.

Here we have to be careful. And this is no small trifle: True Salvation is not something we either possess or don’t possess. But, True Salvation is Christ Jesus Himself.

The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation Ex 15:2

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Isa 12:2

This is important, because if we view salvation as a thing to have, be, or obtain, and hold onto, it becomes an impersonal thing, something we have to strive to have, and not lose, etc... But, as it is, God is our Salvation, as such, its more of a relationship, more personal, more based on interpersonal covenant, and He will not break His end of it. And, He knew what He was doing when He chose to enter covenant with us. He knows our weaknesses, and He works with us mercifully, becoming our strength as well.

While what you say here is true enough, it doesn’t account for the fact that the believer will sometimes struggle. Being a careless sinner is definitely not the hallmark of a believer who has Salvation. But, having sometimes moral issues over which he/she must overcome is a general experience of believers. There is the besetting sin acknowledged by the author of Hebrews (Heb 12:1). And he says to believers, Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Heb 12:4-10. This situation is that, while we are sons and daughters of the most High, there may be a besetting sin over which we must become the eventual victors through Christ. The resisting unto the shedding of blood should be our attitude toward our own moral failings, and sins. Not a self-hatred, nor self-condemnation, but a hatred for the sin itself, which will lead to true repentance. You’re right about repentance, and this is true generally when there’s a true conversion to Christ, yet there may be a temptation, a sin, or moral weakness that we have a predilection for, which we’ll have to dig deep down into our hearts to find the moral strength and fortitude, and frankly, the willingness to be able to repent of that sin, to find ourselves come to a place where we hate that sin for its own sake, because we see its evil, and perniciousness. Now, in this place of struggle, are we saved or unsaved? Hebrew’s author says we may be children who so struggle, and receive the Father’s parentage, and discipline. If we’re unwilling to be disciplined by the Father in our moral struggles, are we then children? There may be times of rebellion on our part, and no one can say when, or how long, only God can on an individual basis. Its not so cut and dry. But God knows the heart, whether it be willing, or evil. God will not be mocked, but neither is He austere, and unfeeling. Our God is very merciful.

Its true that obedience to the moral law of God must be entire, to breach one command is to break the spirit of the entire Law. This is borne out in James, For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Jas 2:10. And so it is, when we come to truly believe on Christ, we’ve made an ultimate decision to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. This decision changes us deep inside, and affects all our decisions. And yet, there is still the flesh, which hasn’t gone anywhere. There is still a mind that must be renewed daily, and sometimes is not. And we can fall back into selfishness, and this breaks the spirit of the law, which is love. And, yet, because we’ve made an ultimate decision to love, God still honors our covenant, and will deal with us on a point by point basis about areas of selfishness we need to deal with. All selfishness will lead to, or manifest as sin. But does God cast us out? Not necessarily. My child is still my child, even if she’s lied, disobeyed a "direct order", or not. Will I deal with her about her moral infractions, and moments of selfishness? You bet! But, while being firm, I will also be loving. While dishing out some punishment, she’s still my daughter, and I still love her. Parents know what I’m talking about. Even if there’s an area we need to "work on", a continued issue with lying, or what not, we don’t disown our kids. What would have to happen for us to tell our dear children, "O.K., That’s it!!! I’m fed up with you!!! You are no longer my child!!!" ??? A loving parent can scarcely imagine such an event, and if we being evil feel this natural affection toward our children, how much more God our Father?

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. Isa 49:15-16

Legalism, and an unbelief toward the Lord’s love, and compassion is no less a dangerous pitfall we should be instructed to avoid. Being serious about sin? Sure, we need to dig down deep to find true repentance if there’s an area of sinfulness in our hearts, but to not believe that God loves us in this process of repentance, is to enter dangerous waters of self-condemnation, self-hatred, and forsaking of the hope that is in Christ’s cross. We need to be circumspect, we need to be diligent in our own attitudes, and state of heart before God, I agree. Yet, we do not wish to fall from grace by entering into a performance based Christianity, which puts God as some score keeper Who’s just waiting for that "one more time" you fall, so He can say, "That’s it!! You’re now no longer saved, now you’re unsaved again!!!" As if Christianity is some revolving door, some Tyrannical Turnstile. God forbid! And I’m not saying these things as an adherent of OSAS!! Nor will I commit to that illusory debate, because God 1) Has a nature that is Love; 2) He is sovereign; and 3) He relates to us all on an individual, and interpersonal basis based on His Word, based on the finished work of the cross.

God as our Salvation is unconditional, as He is immutable in Himself, in His Holy nature. We are wishy-washy, and are mutable, But God will work with us according to the points above. Nor should we forget that the agape love of God is unconditional. He loves us first, saves us first, then works out those flaws in us which we need to be rid of. Thank God.

Amen, I can agree that the purpose of grace is to help us in overcoming our sins, its true. People confuse mercy and grace, but both are necessary.

Different churches and denominations have differing approaches on this issue. Yet, if the believers therein, including the ministers whatever their doctrinal position is on this "debate", if they love the Lord, they will preach against sin. Though to understand what sin is will help us to repent better, and change, its true. But, while one side may stress God’s unfailing love, and so help the struggling honest believer to believe in God’s love while he’s trying to deal with himself, and the other side that says that sin is sin, and God hates sin (though not the sinner), will help the struggling believer to deal more honestly with his sin, and see it as something God hates, and a serious thing to deal with in the depths of his/her heart. I think a balance between the two views would better help the Body of Christ, and that’s what we ultimately want to do, right? If we’re just interested in promoting a doctrinal stand, be it OSAS, or OSNAS (once-saved-not-always-saved), would not help anyone, except for the arguer’s ego. Instead, let’s love each other, love God, and cease loving the world, as we express a merciful God’s love to it.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Christ's Dual Nature, Our Experience

In answer to the previous post, "How to discuss the divine nature", I posted this in a group forum on Myspace:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us
Jn 1:1, 14a.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1Tim 3:16

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 1Jn 4:17

As Christians we believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was God incarnate. As such, He is theanthropic, that is both God and man. This is what is the dual nature of Christ, meaning that He has two natures, divine and human in one person. Hence, one Person, two Natures. This as neither dividing the Person, nor confounding the Natures. He may act through either nature.

This is the mystery of godliness, as said Paul, using the Greek word eusebeia, which means 1) reverence, respect; 2) piety towards God, godliness Thayers. In other words, the mystery of having a proper attitude of reverence, respect, and courtesy toward God is the very incarnation of deity into flesh and blood. But how does this concern Jesus Himself? He already lived a completely obedient life, in complete godliness toward God, so does this mystery then end? No. The mystery of godliness continues through us. How? By the divine incarnating through our flesh and blood.

As we read above, the apostle John says that we are now in this world (not in the sweet by-and-by) as He is, which is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). This is amazing! That puts us in the same predicament of being theanthropic as we live in this world. Now, understand this: we are not divine in our creature-hood, or as His creations. In fact, in ourselves we are as nothing. So, we cannot solely point to our humanity and say, "I’m divine, I’m God", no. But we point toward His divinity within us, as we bow out, and disappear in ourselves, and we let God arise, and His enemies be scattered (Ps 68:1). Also understand that our human nature is not evil in and of itself. Its only what we’ve done with, or from our flesh that has been evil. But our sins our washed away by His blood. And now, through the divine nature, God in us, we are able to manifest in our flesh a godliness, and holy living not possible before. Before, we just tried to keep the commandments in our own human nature, and effort, always falling, and coming short of His glory. But now, we have another nature to obey Him from, to love from, and from which to just be.

When Christ the Logos entered humanity, He changed things up: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Mt 13:33. The woman is Sophia-wisdom (Prov 8-9), and the Kingdom of heaven here is the divine nature hidden in 3 measures of meal: our spirit, soul, and body, lies dormant until we as Christians learn to realize Who we are in Him, and begin to access this, and grow into That.

Consider this thorough mixing together of two natures when Christ entered into humanity:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil Heb 2:14

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Now the word used above by Peter might be, is ginomai in the Greek, meaning
1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being
2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen
2a) of events
3) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage
3a) of men appearing in public
4) to be made, finished
4a) of miracles, to be performed, wrought
5) to become, be made Thayers Greek Definitions

Thus to participate, share in, or have in common the divine nature is something we must grow into, in terms of realization. The divine nature is not something additional to salvation, but a very part of our new birth experience. We have the divine nature now, it is up to us how much we want to clear away the clouds of ignorance, and realize God within us.

This is the prayer of Jesus for our maturing in the divine Oneness, which is the same Oneness He shares with the Father: And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Jn 17:22-23. This passage tells us at least 3 things:
1. This Oneness is the same Oneness shared between the Persons of the Trinity; 2. He gives us glory, which is His kabod-glory, or divine Presence, to help us realize this nature; and 3. We are to as believers be made perfect, that is, mature in this Oneness.

This was also Paul’s prayer: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph 3:19 [read the whole prayer, its amazing!]. And this is the duty of spiritual gift-ministry to bring us into this fullness: For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Eph 4:12-13

This is my prayer this morning, that we would awaken to the divine nature within us. That, while yes, we have our human nature, we also have deity incarnate within us, even as it was in Christ. In fact, as the Body of Christ, we are a continuation of His Holy Incarnation, amen. As the continuation of, and individual experience of the theanthropos (God/man) we should be able to act out of either nature, as the Spirit leads, and be Christ to a lost and dying world.

Be blessed, and be all He is in us.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Discussing the Divine Nature

How do we discuss the divine nature with other believers as a doctrine to be embraced, or rather as a Reality to realize?

We know 2Pet 1:4b states ...that ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. To 'partake' of the divine nature is to share in, to have in common with, to participate in. The divine nature being the Godhead, is the very nature of deity, His Essence, His Oneness, Absolute transcendence, and His immutable Being.

This blog entry is not meant to be an exposition of the doctrine itself, but rather a discussion as to how this doctrine is to be presented to other believers who may not be inclined to accept it.

The question of 'should' we share this doctrine I think is settled by the fact that the purpose of the 5-fold ministry (Eph 4:11) is to bring believers to a place of the very fullness of Christ, which would include a full participation in, and as the divine nature. And in Jesus' prayer, He prayed that we all might be one even as He is One with the Father (Jn 17:x). Also, He taught in that prayer that we mature in that Oneness (v.x). It is in our realization of our Oneness with God in the divine nature that we mature as believers.

Thus the question is not "should we...", but "how do we..." discuss this doctrine with other believers.

This is a question I'll explore in the near future, God willing. Or, if other wish to chime in, they can leave a comment. But this is something on my heart, and as soon as I receive more light on it, or if I discuss some experiences I've had discussing this doctrine, I'll create another post.

Thank you, and God bless.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How Many Hells in Christianity?

Sheol and Hades are Biblical equivalents, and were temporary holding places for the righteous, and the sinner after their physical death. At least this was true until Jesus came. We find both Lazarus and the rich man together in Hades, or Sheol separated by a great gulf (Lk 16:19-31). The place where the righteous went in Sheol before Christ was called Abraham's bosom.

But now, after Christ, Abraham's bosom has been emptied out, which is what the verse means, which states that He first descended into the lower parts of the earth, and when He ascended He led captivity (the former inhabitants of Abraham's bosom) captive (see Eph 4:8-9; cp. Acts 2:31; Lk 23:43). So now when we die we go straight to be with Him in Heaven (2Cor 5:6-9). And the wicked dead still go to Sheol where there is torment awaiting the Great White Throne judgment when the inhabitants of that place will be cast into Gehenna- the Lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15).

In fact, the casting of the wicked inhabitants of hades/sheol into Gehenna-the Lake of Fire is called the second death (Rev 20:14), why? Because they will be cast into it after the resurrection of damnation (Jn 5:29; Rev 20:11-15).

I haven't yet mentioned Tartaros, where the angels that fell which brought about Noah's flood are currently held (2Pet 2:4);

Or even the Abyss, what Scripture calls the bottomless pit, the deep, or destruction, wherein Abaddon/Apollyon dwells with his minions waiting for the trumpet to be blown for his release (Mt 7:13; Rom 9:22; 2Pet 3:16- note: apoleia-destruction is related to Apollyon-destroyer in Greek, Rev 9:1-19).

Thus there are about 4 hells:

1. Hades/Sheol- Temporary holding place for wicked dead;

2. Tartaros- Temporary holding place for angels that sinned with women (Gen 6:1-4; 2Pet 2:4);

3. Abyss, or Bottomless Pit- Where especially wicked folk are sent, along with Abaddon and his hourdes;

4. Gehenna, the Lake of Fire- The final place of torment after sentencing is given at the Great White Throne judgment.

Hope this helps.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Free Will and the Eternity of Hell

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Josh 24:15

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isa 26:9

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Rev 22:17

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart 2Cor 9:7a.

If there were no free-will, then God would be unjust to punish sin, or to reward obedience.

The doctrine of free will, as so obvious and universally understood and believed (though perhaps denied in theory), it didn't need explicit treatment in Scripture. The texts quoted above are an example, that if we just look at the simple language of Holy Writ, we will see that certain things are just understood as true.

I've noticed a pattern, here, and in another instances where this doctrine was argued, that in order for those who disbelieve in the eternity of damnation, a denial of the agency of free-will is necessary. Thus, perhaps if it can be acknowledged, that which cannot be denied in practice anyway (though it is in theory), that we have free-will, then it will be seen that perhaps we've deserved that doom from which Christ saved us.

Also, to those who deny the infinity of God's punitive action, we must weigh in our own mind's that the intrinsic value of God against Whom we sin is infinite. Therefore, if we understand that to choose finite self-gratification over the Infinite worth, and value of God Himself, and that of love to neighbor, then we will understand the infinite guilt incurred when the law of love is transgressed, and the infinity of the punishment (though varying in degree of intensity based on our foreknowledge of sin) that is rightfully attached to such transgression.

With the above being properly understood and appreciated, then the true worth of the blood shed at calvary, by God's own sinless Son, would be better grasped with more gratitude, to understand such a salvation as has been purchased for those of us who truly deserved at one time, an eternal hell.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Power of Words

Due to abuses from the 70's and 80's of the last century, from what has been termed the "Word of Faith Movement", as a back lash, much has been discarded by many Christians, and churches of the power and gifts spoken of in Scripture.

We may talk of several things, some of which have already been covered in this blog. We may talk about healing, the gifts of the Spirit, including tongues, prophecies, visions, dreams, etc.

But, relating to our last post, I think that one of the most tragic casualties of the reactionary responses of unbelief toward the Faith movement is that toward speech itself, as it is one of the most powerful tools the Christian has at his/her disposal. Now grant it, there were abuses by those who agian, suppose that gain is godliness (1Tim 6:5), who attempted to get rich through the power of "positive confession". And there were those who abused these doctrines in order to pursue their Americanized idea of what the gospel is.

Yet that others can abuse a principle, as in this case, the power of words, does not render the principle null and void. This is the same as to say that because others abuse the idea of grace, and live liscentiously renders the doctrine of grace moot. This would be horrible to approach the things of God in this manner.

The principle however still stands. God still created the Cosmos through His word, and we are still encouraged by the apostle Paul to as dear childeren be imitators of God (Eph 5:1). Also, in Mk 11:22 We are still told by Christ (as it reads in the original Greek) to have the faith of God (πίστιν Θεοῦ.). And, faith is still ...the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen Heb 11:1. Not only so, but our tongues are given a lot of power in Scripture:

Death and life are in the power [Heb. יד yad- power, or hand] of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Prov 18:21.

By thy words shalt thou be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned. Mt 12:37.

And, above all, Christ Himself is the Logos of God, that is the Word of God (Jn 1:1, 14). Therefore, all that can be known of God is revealed in the Logos as the complete expression of the Mind of God. All that will ever exist in actuallity and in potential of Nature, or Cosmos will do so through the Logos. Therefore, the Logos is the underlying Principle behind all things in any given world, be it spiritual, psychic, or physical. It then is no strange thing that we as Christ in the Earth would be exercising our God mandated authority, and dominion through the vehicle of speech.

We are told by Christ to speak to the mountains and the sycamine trees in our life (Mk 11:23; Lk 17:6); He Himself spoke to the fig tree, and it was cursed (Mk 11:13-14, 20-21). He spoke to deaf ears, and they were opened (Mk 7:32-35). He spoke to the dead, and they came back to life again (Jn 11:43-44). And as Christ said, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father . Jn 14:12.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Commanding Forth

Our words have power. This is denied in much of today's Christianity. But there is a good reason why this doctrine is denied much. It is because of the abuses of greedy Western Christians, who ...suppose that gain is godliness as Scripture states.

As a result, a very powerful tool, namely our tongue, is denied us in our Christian experience because of the excesses of the selfish believer. Because of this, many of our potential goes unrealized, because much remains in potential, awaiting us to call it forth verbally.

We are created in God's Image, and likeness, as such, we too are intended to have dominion, and subdue our environment. And a major weapon, and tool toward that end is our tongue. Just as God spoke the worlds into existence, He purposes that we would by faith speak forth 'our world' into manifestation. Our world, being our individual potential as known in Christ since the foundation of the Earth.

Picture, if you will, Christ standing before the tomb of Lazarus. Inside, though is our latent unrealized potential. As Christ, with that Christ Consciousness, we need to command that latency to "Come Forth!", even as Christ did in John chapter 11. He is the Resurrection, and the Life, and in relation to Him, our tongue becomes the conduit for life and power, that may then call forth the giftings, and callings of God.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Is Tithing for Today?

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Mal 3:8-9

It is commonly believed in most churches and Christian denominations today that tithing is a God mandated activity to which we are all beholden as believers. It is taught in such a way in certain circles that tithing must be done even upon pain of eternal damnation.

Is this the Gospel, i.e. good news?

All one has to do to have eternal life is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, right? Can anything be added onto what He accoplished at Calvary? Was it not there where He said, It is finished- Jn 19:30? And yet tithing is presented in churches today as a kind of additional item to faith in Christ. Like, "Oh, you're a Christian because you trusted in Christ? Great! By the way, have you payed your tithes? No? You're robbing God, did you know that? And as a thief, you're going to hell..." This is at least how I've heard it preached back in the day. This may be an extreme example (I hope), but this is the logical conclusion to this line of thinking. The doctrine may be presented more subtley, but its implications as a contradiction of sola fidei are obvious.

What does Scripture actually teach on tithing?

Aside from the Old Testament, which I say is entirely focused on National Israel, or on ceremonial requirements of the priesthood, I will only concern myself with New Testament thought. That being said, I will mention that the text with which we began this topic refers to the Children of Israel as understood by the prophet Malachi.

A final Old Testament mention of concern is the famous reference to Melchizedek when Abraham met him (Gen 14:18-20). This is often used, especially as the author of Hebrews refers to it (Heb 7:1-10). But given the context, the author of Hebrews is not mandating tithing, but is comparing the priesthoods, the Aaronic v.s. the Melchizedeccan priesthood, temporal v.s. eternal. The point has been made that since Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and the priesthood, to which our Lord is High Priest forever, is eternal, then tithing too is an eternal principle.

The above is one of two examples of tithing given in the New Testament:

1. The Hebrews 7 reference; and 2. Jesus's statement to the Pharisees (Mt 23:23).

Lets briefly deal with each one:

1. Hebrews 7:1-10 is dealing with the eternal and heavenly Priesthood to which Christ our High Priest belongs. When it speaks of tithing, as in the text, And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. Heb 7:8; and, And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren though they come out of the loins of Abraham v.5.

First of all, the Temple was still standing when this epistle was written prior to its destruction in 70 A.D. (V.5, and 11). Thus the tithing mentioned here pertained to the Temple service. In Christ receiving tithes in heaven, as it is testified that He lives, it is to say that the tithes given to mortal men, Christ the High Priest received them in their true substance and meaning, and not the physical coinage, or currency. It is a recognition, and assertion of Christ's eternal priesthood being spoken of, while the earthly Temple yet stood.

Second, the command to take tithes was given to the Levitical Priesthood in relation to their brethren the children of Abraham, that is, the Jews. This command to tithe was according to the law, of which we no longer are justified by the keeping of the law, but rather by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21-28).

2. Jesus' statement to the Pharisees (Mt 23:23): Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

First, Jesus spoke to how the Pharisees were so focused on the smallest matters of the law, which in this case was tithing off of the very plants (Lev 27:30; Dt 14:22), while neglected the more weightier, and more important issues of law, judgment, mercy and faith. He's saying take care of the weightier matters first, then do not neglect these lighter obligations. Because these Pharisees were still under law, Christ fully expected them to fulfill even their tithing obligations which included tithing off of all plant-life.

Second, if we take what Jesus is saying here as our mandate to tithe, then we must take it all the way, and tithe off of all our plants in our garden, trees in our yard, and spices off our spice-rack.

What then is our approach to giving to be in the New Testament? As the apostle Paul said, But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2Cor 9:6-7.

This then is the conclusion, that the doctrine of tithing is a remnant of Old Testament law, in effect under the Levitical Priesthood while the Temple yet stood in Jerusalem. But performing these deeds of the law can by no means justify us, nor are we made righteous thereby. Instead, by faith in Christ's blood are we justified. As for giving in the New Testament Church, if we're sparing with God, He'll be sparing with us. If we're bountiful, and hilarious ( the Greek meaning for "cheerful") in our giving, God, too, will be bountiful with us. But it will be in accordance, not to Old Testament law, but as we purpose in our hearts, so we give. We are not to give grudgingly according to selfishness, nor yet out of necessity, which is in obedience to some mandated law (such as the doctrine of the tithe), but cheerfully in accordance to how we purpose in our heart. Christ Jesus inaugurated the service toward God that is of the heart, toward the spirit and intent of moral law, which is love, and not according to the letter of a carnal commandment. This approach of the heart includes how we give to Him, not of the necessity of law, but the free-will motivations of a heart in love with Him.