Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
The prevailing attitude amongst such pastors, as have been typified in this series, is preaching this whole counsel of God would give too much liberty to the people and jeopardize the clergy’s grip on them. That is why these Laodicean Protestants only preach grace singularly at a fine point in the salvation process, and deny it in almost every other avenue to the Christian walk. The Apostle Paul had to deal with the issue of Christian liberty when even Peter was tempted to give the appearance of receiving justification under the law, and Paul “withstood him to his face” (Gal. 2:11). If it was possible for Peter to stumble out of fear and a desire to placate his denominational heritage, it is easy to see how many protestant pastors make void the word of God by following protestant traditions such as enforcing the tithe.[i]
Many families experiencing financial difficulties have been ostracized in churches today. They are treated as if they were in a lower cast, blamed for their lack of faith, and pronounced as cursed by God and deserving of it. They have been driven out of churches altogether.
Nevertheless, the word of God admonishes us, as Paul did the Galatians, to: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal5:1). Being free from the law, we are under the law of the Spirit which operates by grace. This is why Paul told the church at
For example, if a child hungered: would parental love be expressed by giving ten percent of their cereal from their bowl? No, we would expect that the parent would give all, and even be searching for more to give. This is the type of liberty characteristic of “the grace God bestowed on the churches of
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. (2Co 8:1-5; emphasis added)
The genuine love they had for God proved by their tuning all that they had over to Him caused the grace of God to flourish in their heart to such a degree of liberality that they were willing to give more than was in their own power to give. It should be easy to see by this demonstration of grace and liberty that, while the tithe can be too much to give, a fixation of this amount is often an impediment to a closer relationship with God. In fact, teaching the law of the tithe can lull people into believing they have a relationship with God when they do not. Jesus pointed this out by comparing two men who went to the temple to pray, and in the illustration we can also see the proclivity of men to justify themselves by measurable religious works:
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luk 18:9-14)
Here is the difference between a religious man, justified by his own works, compared to a repentant sinner seeking mercy and grace from God for justification. The Pharisee brings his works, including his tithes, to remind God that he is justified by them; there is no petition in his prayer as in the repentant sinner’s prayer. Notice also that the self-righteous tend stand away from, and to scorn, those who do not measure up to their physical and material means of religious ostentation. Many families experiencing financial difficulties have been ostracized in churches today. They are treated as if they were in a lower cast, blamed for their lack of faith, and pronounced as cursed by God and deserving of it. They have been driven out of churches altogether. In churches positioning themselves in communities in this fashion the corporate model is prevailing; not the
The question to ask the SBC (see part I), and all such denominations, is: does this fraudulent misrepresentation of biblical standards for giving, along with the damaged lives strewn in its wake, authenticate a denomination to the world as a genuine body of Christians, or as a misled and deceived body they would be wise to avoid if for no other reason then there own financial and domestic health? This leaves us to question the second arm of popular community outreaches, and it has become the new test for determining the tact a church should take to reach and lost for Christ. This is a question that involves pastoral stewardship.
Pastors have a particular responsibility of stewardship towards the flock over which they’ve been made overseers, but many contemporary pastors are seeking, instead, to engage society at its vitals in order to achieve relevance: a point at which society will accept them a necessary. Towards this end, they are posturing to talk the same talk, walk the same walk, and pipe the same tune in order to authenticate their secular credentials. This approach to stewardship is doomed to failure for both those outside the church, and those inside the church.
The fundamental problems with engaging the culture on their terms is they are, by and large, incapable of taking their own vital signs. While these outreach programs are designed to, and do, touch them where they are most concerned, with temporal themes, these really are only fringes in relation to the heart of the matter. Messages that hint of a need for repentance to obtain salvation are easy to shake off after learning to balance a checkbook, obtain professional success, or smooth over a rough spot in a relationship. Because this dawns on many a pastor who has gained a significant market share of these types of consumers as regular attendees, they are reluctant to change the product line and risk losing paying customers. These self-help series continue with the promise of making better people, and the better people are encouraged to invite others, and this makes the better people better for making other people better too. This is how many churches have become completely compromised; they reached out, and have been pulled over. A church using marketing strategies for positioning is subject to market forces. If this style of stewardship is disingenuous and deleterious, how then is the church to become, remain, and return to being, authentic?
[ii] Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.