One of the things I love about Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement is its enthusiasm to embrace the Bible and to live out what it says in an experiential way. One the other hand, there is a danger that the movement’s interpretation and embracing of the Scriptures is too simplistic in its taking the scripture and applying it to today.
The danger of this is that if our interpretation of the Scriptures is not what the author meant, we undermine the foundation of our movement to be truly Spirit led. We have to be careful to ensure that our exegesis of the scriptures is in line with what the Holy Spirit inspired the authors to mean.
One of the greatest risk is in interpreting the Old Testament, and how we apply what the OT is saying to us today. I believe the simplest check and balance to ensure what we are teaching within the church is to see if our teaching is what the Apostles of the New Testament taught the early church.
The Epistles of the NT record two major divisions within the church, they being Jews and Gentiles. The Apostle Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles and is considered the true father to the early Gentile church. This Apostle was at one time an apprentice to a well known Rabbi and speaks of himself as being well advanced compared to others in regards to the knowledge of Jewish history and the application of the Jewish law.
Therefore, because of Pauls in-depth knowledge and his mission to bring the Gospel message to the Gentiles and establish the church in true righteousness we can safely assume that Paul taught the Church all it needed to know to truly expand. If we truly believe the Scriptures to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, then we have more than enough to gain from the New Testaments teaching for us today.
This then brings me to the area of our movements teaching that I believe falls outside the teaching of the Scriptures for us today. And this is the area of Tithes and Offerings. There is no teaching in the New Testament that supports the teaching that we often hear in our meetings.
The Apostle Paul was an expert in the Scriptures. He knew the law and the prophets backwards. He was called, he was anointed and he was inspired. So the question to ask is, “What did Paul teach the early church about Tithes and Offerings?”
The truth is that Paul didn’t teach the church about Tithes and Offerings at all. In his teachings he never taught from Malachi. In his teachings he never taught about Abraham tithing to Melchizedek. He never taught the early church to ensure they brought the whole tithe into the storehouse and test the lord and that the lord would bless them immensely by opening up the windows of heaven…
What Paul did teach however was that Christians are to live a life of Generosity. In 2nd Corinthians chapters 8-11 Paul writes much about money and the life of the Christian. And its basic teaching is to live a life of generosity. Its teaching is to give according to our means, to give cheerfully and to support those who need help.
Our teaching therefore should be that of Pauls. He doesn’t teach or insist on a ten percent tithe. He does however say;
2Co 9:6 Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.
2Co 9:7 Each of you must give what you have decided in your heart, not with regret or under compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 Besides, God is able to make every blessing of yours overflow for you, so that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work.
2Co 9:9 As it is written, “He scatters everywhere and gives to the poor; his righteousness lasts forever.”
2Co 9:10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread to eat will also supply you with seed and multiply it and enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2Co 9:11 In every way you will grow richer and become even more generous, and this will produce thanksgiving to God because of us.
2Co 9:12 For this ministry you render is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but it is also overflowing with more and more prayers of thanksgiving to God.