New Testament (Church Age) Giving
Must be understood in light of the following:
1. The Church Age (Dispensation)
The present dispensation (a period of administration by God toward the human race) that began at Pentecost (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4) and will come to a conclusion with the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
2. The Church—the Body of Christ
Upon acceptance of Christ alone by faith alone a person becomes a (spiritually linked) member of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22, 23; 4:12; Colossians 1:24; 2:19) and the following is true:
Baptism of the Holy Spirit unites the person eternally with Christ (Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 2:10-12; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2:5, 6).
God’s revelation to the Church is the completed cannon of Scripture, by which believers mature in Bible doctrine and are conformed (sanctified) to the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Ephesians 4:13).
Church Age believers are under the “law of grace and faith”—not the Mosaic Law (Romans 6:14; 8:2-4; 10:4; Galatians—all of it).
Church Age believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
Church Age believers are called to full-time Christian service—each one is a personal ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Church Age believers are a royal priesthood—each one is a royal priest who represents himself before God (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
Church Age believers, as royal priests, are responsible to grow to spiritual maturity (Ephesians 3:17-21; 4:11-16; 2 Peter 3:18) through doctrine (Bible study) prayer, song, witnessing, the Lord’s Table, works of divine good (including giving).
What New Testament Giving Is Not
A path to riches; although, true Biblical giving will result in the recompense of blessings from God (2 Corinthians 9:6).
An assuaging (lessening) of guilt (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Deprivation (1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Corinthians 16:2).
Tithing—failure to distinguish between New Testament giving and tithing indicates a misunderstanding of the differences between the Church Age and the Age of Israel.
Tithing was an obligatory form of “national taxation,” which provided for the maintenance of the “client-nation Israel” (a theocracy ruled by God personally—a unique union of God and state). Tithing was imposed by God on every person, believer and unbeliever alike, of Israel. The word “tithe” means a “tenth,” and there were 3 separate tithes: (1) Maintenance of the Levites—Numbers 18:21, 24, (2) Support of the national feasts and sacrifices—Deuteronomy 14:22-27 and (3) Every 3rd year for the poor and destitute of the land—Deuteronomy 14:28, 29). The New Testament believer is not under the law and thereby not subject to the legalistic tithing of his income.
In the Old Testament (Age of Israel) there was a distinction between tithing and giving.
Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. (Exodus 25:2)
The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.(Proverbs 11:24, 25)
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings [contributions or givings]. (Malachi 3:8-10)
Within Israel every person was responsible for supporting the nation through tithing—but only true believers could be properly motivated to freely give as a function of worship.
What New Testament Giving Is
An expression of worship commemorating God’s supreme gift—His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 9:15).
An act of volition (free choice) made with right motives—mental attitude (Acts 4:32-37; 2 Corinthians 8:12; 9:7).
An act of faith (Romans 14:23; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Hebrews 11:6; James 2:17).
An act of love (2 Corinthians 8:8).
An act of grace (2 Corinthians 8:6, 7). We are saved by grace (Acts 15:11; Romans 5:15; 11:6; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8, 9; Titus 2:11; 3:7). We live by grace (2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-25; 2 Timothy 2:1). We serve by grace (1 Corinthians 3:10; 15:10). We will be eternally rewarded by grace (Ephesians 2:7).
An act of truth (Acts 5:1-11).
An act of joy (2 Corinthians 9:7).
An act in accordance with God’s will (2 Corinthians 8:5).
An act of privacy between you and God and no one else (Matthew 6:1, 3).
Improper Motives for Giving
Coercion or pressure
“Grace giving excludes gimmicks that incite a momentary passion, foster guilt, compete for human recognition or presume to bribe God for divine blessing. . . .The royal priesthood of the individual believer must operate from volition and privacy. . . .There is no place in the royal priesthood for giving with strings attached.” R.B. Thieme Jr. (Bible Scholar, Houston, Texas)