The Lord’s Supper

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:19-20)

     The Lord’s Supper is mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew (26:26-29), Mark (14:22-25), Luke (22:19-20), and by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians at Corinth (1 Cor. 11:23-34). The Lord’s Supper is also called the Eucharist, from the Greek word εὐχαριστέω eucharisteo, which means to give thanks, which is what Christ did when He instituted this church ordinance (Luke 22:19). And, it is called Communion, from the Geek word κοινωνία koinonia, which means communion, fellowship, or sharing (1 Cor. 10:15-17), because it took place during a community meal where believers fellowshipped with each other during a time of Bible study and prayer (see Acts 2:42). 

     The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus on the night He and the disciples were celebrating the Passover meal. This was the night before His crucifixion. The Passover meal celebrated God’s deliverance from the final plague on Egypt as the Lord passed over the homes of those who had sacrificed an unblemished lamb and placed its blood on the doorpost and lintel of the home (Ex. 12:1-51). The flawless lamb foreshadowed the sinless humanity of Jesus who is “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet. 1:19), “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is “our Passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7), and His death paid the price for our sins (Mark 10:45; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:22).

     Jesus’ death instituted the New Covenant which was given to Israel and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the future millennial kingdom when Jesus is ruling. Because Christ inaugurated the New Covenant, some of the spiritual blessings associated with it are available to Christians today; specifically, forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31:34; Matt. 26:28; Heb. 10:17) and the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26-27; 37:14; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).

     The elements of the Lord’s Supper include unleavened bread and red juice. The unleavened bread symbolizes the sinless person of Jesus who “gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2). The red juice symbolizes the “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Throughout the church age, there have been four major views concerning the elements of the Lord’s Supper.

  1. The Roman Catholic view—Transubstantiation— teaches that the bread and red juice, without losing its form or taste, becomes the literal body and blood of Christ.
  2. The Lutheran view—Consubstantiation—holds that Christ is present in and with the bread and red juice in a real sense.
  3. The Reformed view—Spiritual—teaches that Christ is spiritually present in the bread and red juice.
  4. The Evangelical view—Symbolic—sees the bread and red juice as symbols that point to the body and blood of Christ (held by this writer).

     The first three views see Christ actually present in the bread and red juice, whereas the last view sees the elements as symbols that point to Christ. The last view is similar to how one understands the sacrificial lamb in the OT, which sacrifice did not actually contain Christ, but rather pointed to Him and His atoning work on the cross. Likewise, the Lord’s Supper does not actually contain Christ, but points the believer to His life and death.

     When Christians partake of the unleavened bread and red juice, we are recognizing our relationship with God through the life and death of Christ. Just as we are nourished bodily by physical food, so we are nourished spiritually by the life and shed blood of Jesus who died in our place. Eating the bread and drinking the red juice is a picture of the believer receiving the benefits that have been provided by the life and death of Jesus.

     There is a vertical and horizontal aspect to the Lord’s Supper. The vertical aspect indicates one is in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus, for the Lord’s Supper has meaning only to the one who has trusted Christ as Savior and received forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28; Eph. 1:7). The horizontal aspect of the Lord’s Supper indicates one is walking in love and living selflessly towards other Christians (1 Cor. 10:15-17; 11:17-34), for it is a picture of the love and selflessness of Christ who gave His life for the benefit of others. It is a sin to partake of the Lord’s Supper while behaving selfishly toward other believers, and God will punish those who do so (1 Cor. 11:27-30). Paul instructed the Christians at Corinth to partake of the Lord’s Supper retrospectively by looking back at the sacrificial life and death of Christ (1 Cor. 11:23-25), prospectively by looking forward to Jesus’ return (1 Cor. 11:26), and introspectively by examining their attitudes and actions (1 Cor. 11:27-32). A proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper will lead to unselfish love towards others (1 Cor. 11:33-34a).

Summary

     The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus while celebrating the Passover meal on the night before His crucifixion. The unleavened bread symbolizes the perfect humanity of Christ, and the red juice symbolizes the blood of the New Covenant that was ratified on the cross. Christians who partake of the Lord’s Supper see themselves as the beneficiaries of the spiritual blessings of forgiveness and the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Supper instructs us to look back to the selfless love of Christ, forward to His return, and inward to one’s values and actions.

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

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Christians Paying Taxes

     Paying taxes is a form of godliness for the believer, for we support divinely established institutions of government and believe in the rule of law (Rom. 13:1-5). As submitting Christians, we pay taxes to our city, state, and federal government. Paul writes, “For because of this [submission to government] you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Rom 13:6-7).

     Paying taxes to support the government is clearly biblical. But aren’t governments sometimes corrupt? And if I pay taxes, am I held accountable for the government’s corrupt use of that money?

     Jesus paid the temple tax (Matt. 17:24-27), which was required under the Mosaic Law (Ex. 30:13-15). He also taught it was valid to pay taxes to the Roman government (Luke 20:22), saying, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25). Jesus never committed sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5), and even though He paid taxes, He was not responsible for how those taxes were used.

     The temple in Jesus’ day was under the control of corrupt leaders—Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes—and some of the tax money given to the temple found its way in the pockets of godless men who used it for sinful purposes. Roman taxes paid the salaries of Roman officials and soldiers, some of whom wrongly judged our Lord and nailed Him to a cross. God sovereignly controls governments, even corrupt governments, and the actions of sinful men can be used to accomplish His will (John 19:10-11; Acts 2:22-23; 4:26-28). Occasional failure on the part of the state does not negate the authority of those whom God has delegated the right to rule. God sets up kings and nations, and He also removes them (Dan. 2:21; 4:17, 25; Rom. 13:1-5). As Christians, we are to pray for rulers (1 Tim. 2:1-4; cf. Jer. 29:7) and be subject to their authority (Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17). We obey until we are commanded to act contrary to God’s Word, and then we say no (Dan. 3:16-18; Acts 5:29).

     In the US, Christians are to pay taxes. Tax dollars are used to pay salaries for military personnel, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, and to cover the cost for roads and highways, public transportation, medical benefits, subsidized housing for seniors and disabled persons, food for the hungry, clothing and shelter for the homeless, and so on. I work for a nonprofit organization that feeds the elderly and disabled in my community and approximately 45% of our annual budget comes from tax dollars. I also work with other social agencies that help the impoverished in society and I see the many good uses of tax dollars. Certainly there is corruption in some social agencies and this means some tax dollars are used for immoral purposes. However, one should not overlook the many good uses of tax dollars in our society and the many good people who serve as God’s ministers.

     Thank you to all the godly Christians in America who pay your taxes and help support the best moral practices in our society.

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

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When Believers Hide

     The hyphenated term Crypto-Christians is used to refer to believers who hide during times of persecution.  The English word crypto is derived from the Greek κρύπτω krupto, which means to hide, and the word is used in both a positive and negative sense in Scripture.  There have been, and are times when God’s people hide themselves, or were hidden by others, in the face of persecution.  Biblically, there appear to be both right and wrong reasons for hiding.

     By faith, Moses’ parents hid him from Pharaoh (Ex. 2:1-2).  The writer of Hebrews comments on this act, saying, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden [κρύπτω krupto] for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).  By faith, Rahab protected the two spies that came to her house, for “she had brought them up to the roof and hidden[1] them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof” (Josh. 2:6; cf. Heb. 11:31).  Obadiah hid one hundred prophets of the Lord and provided food and water for them (1 Ki. 18:1-4).  These were true prophets, for a false prophet would not have been afraid of the public hostility of Ahab and Jezebel.  It is recorded that Jesus “hid Himself” (κρύπτω krupto) from an attack by the Jewish leadership (John 8:59).  Certainly there was no sin in Jesus’ action.  There was another time when Jesus “hid Himself” (κρύπτω krupto), though the text does not say why (John 12:36). 

     There are examples of believers who hid themselves and the text neither justifies nor condemns their actions.  For example, Elijah ran for his life and hid in a cave (1 Ki. 19:1-2, 9-10).  God showed the prophet grace, providing for him during his journey (1 Ki. 19:4-8).  Elijah thought he was the last prophet in Israel, saying, “I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Ki. 19:10b).  However, Elijah was unaware of 7000 faithful Israelites who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Ki. 19:18).  One might question whether these 7000 believers were also concealing their faith for fear of persecution; otherwise, Elijah would have known about them and realized he was not the last of God’s prophets.  Scripture reveals Joseph of Arimathea was “a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one (κρύπτω krupto) for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38).  However, after the crucifixion, he exposed his faith for all to see and apparently did not fear oppression.

     There are believers whom the biblical text rebukes for hiding.  For example, some of the Jewish leadership in Jesus’ day had “believed in Him” (John 12:42a); however, “because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue” (Joh 12:42b).  These believers chose to hide their faith for sinful reasons, because “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43).  One could argue that Peter was hiding from persecution when he denied the Lord three times (Matt. 26:33-35, 69-75). 

     In summary, there is Scriptural evidence of believers who hid from persecution.  For some, it was not wrong, but for others, it was.  How should we distinguish between them?  It seems permissible to hide oneself from persecution as long as it does not mean disobeying or dishonoring God.  A thorough knowledge of Scripture and strong faith in God will equip the believer to make good decisions in times of persecution.  The spiritually mature believer will be able to overcome fear and live confidently in God’s will, seeking His glory over personal protection.

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

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[1] The Septuagint uses the Greek word κρύπτω krupto as a synonym for the Hebrew טָמַן taman.

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Living in Babylon

     Daniel is one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  His life and times are recorded in the Old Testament.[1]  Daniel was born into a good family of noble birth in Judah (Dan. 1:3-6).  In his early years he witnessed the spiritual and moral decline of his country.  Idolatry was rampant in Israel to such an extent that human sacrifice had become acceptable (Ezek. 16:20-21).  As a result of Judah’s spiritual decline, God brought judgment upon the nation through Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king (Jer. 25:8-9; Dan. 1:1-2), who besieged Jerusalem in 605 B.C. and transported many captives to his homeland.  Though Daniel was young—perhaps about sixteen— he was taken from his family and deported to Babylon where he lived for nearly seventy years under the administration of several kings (most notably Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Cyrus).  While most Israelites were conforming to the influences of the pagan[2] culture around them, Daniel resisted.  He was a rebel in the best sense of the word, for he walked with God while others bowed to idols.  Daniel is recorded in Scripture as a righteous person (Ezek. 14:14, 20); however, God allowed him to be taken captive,[3] and this was because God had a plan for him to serve as a minister in Babylon. 

     Daniel was a role model for other Jews living in captivity.  Upon arrival in Babylon, Daniel (and his friends) was forced into a Chaldean reeducation program which was intended to assimilate him into the Babylonian culture.  Where possible, Daniel submitted himself to his new culture by learning “the literature and language of the Chaldeans” (Dan. 1:4), accepting a new name (Dan. 1:7), and serving as a governmental administrator (Dan. 1:17-21; 6:1-3).  God expected Daniel to pray for the prosperity of the city where he lived, saying, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jer. 29:7).  If possible, God’s people were to get along with their temporary captors.  “The exiles were to be peacemakers, not troublemakers, and they were to pray sincerely for their enemies (Matt. 5:43–48; 1 Tim. 2:1–3; Titus 3:1–2).”[4]  However, there were times when Daniel would not go along with the values of his new culture.  Specifically, Daniel refused to submit to Babylonian authority when it commanded him to violate God’s Word (Dan. 1:8a), or to pray to a human as though he were a god (Dan. 6:4-11).  In the first act of refusal, Daniel wisely sought a diplomatic solution to his problem (Dan. 1:8b-16), and the second time he simply defied the king—albeit respectfully—and trusted God to care for him (Dan. 6:12-23). 

     Daniel’s life manifested biblical wisdom applied to everyday circumstances.  Overall, his life was characterized by righteousness (Ezek. 14:14, 20), diplomacy (Dan. 1:6-16; 2:1-16), prayer (Dan. 2:17-18; 6:10; 9:3-19), wisdom (Dan. 1:17; 2:23), worship (Dan. 2:20-22), excellence (Dan. 6:3), faithfulness (Dan. 6:1-10), and humility (Dan. 9:4).  We learn from Daniel that God allows faithful believers to experience difficulties in the Devil’s world, which often serve to grow the believer spiritually so that he/she might be a light to others.  And, like Daniel living in Babylon, we realize this earth is not our final home, and that we are to regard ourselves as “as aliens and strangers” living in a foreign land (1 Pet. 2:11).  As Christians, our citizenship is actually in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

     So, how does the Christian overcome the demanding influences of a pagan culture and serve as a light to others?  First, the believer must replace a lifetime of human viewpoint thinking by learning God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18).  A biblical worldview enables the believer to see his/her spiritual identity as a child of God (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:1-5; Eph. 1:3-6; 1 Pet. 2:9-10), a saint (Acts 9:13; Rom. 1:7; 8:27; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:1-2), and an ambassador of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) who has a meaningful and eternal purpose in God.  More so, a biblically trained mind empowers the believer to properly interpret the world in order to see it from the divine perspective.  Cultural conformity is effectively resisted by the believer who is “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).  This means Scripture saturates the Christian mind (Isa. 26:3; Prov. 3:5-6; Col. 3:1), and the believer is not allowing his/her thoughts to be bogged down with the cares of this world (Matt. 6:25-34).  Mental discipline is necessary, for the stability of the Christian is often predicated on the biblical content and continuity of his/her thinking.  Second, the believer must be in daily submission to God, seeking His will above his/her own (Rom. 12:1-2).  Arrogance impedes the Christian life, but humility brings God’s favor; for “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).  Third, the Christian must learn to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and to walk in dependence on the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25).  Being spiritual means we are yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength to do God’s will.  Fourth, when the believer commits sin, he/she breaks fellowship with God and has grieved and/or quenched the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19).  Fellowship is restored when the believer simply confesses his/her sin to God and trusts that He forgives as He promises (1 John 1:5-9).  Lastly, the believer must be a wise steward of the time and opportunities God provides to advance spiritually (Eph. 5:15-17; cf. Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 1:17; 4:1-2).  The believer does not reach spiritual maturity overnight, and since he has only a measure of time allotted to Him by God (Ps. 139:16), he must make sure his days are not wasted on meaningless pursuits, but on learning God’s word and living His will. 

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

[1] English translations of the Bible place Daniel among the prophets, and there is good cause for this, since Daniel received direct revelation from God and was called a prophet by Jesus (Matt. 24:15).  Daniel is also listed among the prophets in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament).  However, the Hebrew Bible—called the Tanakh, an acronym for the Torah (Law), Nebi’im (Prophets), and Kethuvim (Writings)—places Daniel among the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, etc.).  It’s possible that the book of Daniel was listed under the Writings in the Hebrew Bible because his words and life modeled the wisdom one needed to live successfully in a pagan culture.

[2] I use the term “pagan” to refer to any value system that is contrary to God and His word.  Unfortunately, pagan values are often the norm, permeating every aspect of society including education, politics, law, art, literature, music, and so on.  To stand against paganism is not merely to resist the final forms it takes within a culture, but to see those forms as derivatives of a worldly system that is set against God and to resist the very value system upon which those forms are predicated. 

[3] Later, in 597 B.C. the prophet Ezekiel was taken to Babylon (Ezek. 1:1-3).  Jeremiah lived in Judah until its destruction in 586 B.C. and was taken away to Egypt (Jer. 43:1-7).

[4] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Decisive, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 124.

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Divorce and Remarriage?

     I’ve recently had several people ask  me about divorce.  It’s a difficult subject, but the Bible does address it.  Scripture teaches that divorce is permissible only when a spouse offends through sexual infidelity (Matt. 5: 31-32), or when an unbelieving spouse abandons their Christian partner (1 Cor. 7:12-16).  Divorce is not required, and is discouraged if any hope of saving the marriage can be found.  Forgiveness and love is expected in the Christian toward the offending spouse.  Remarriage is permissible when the divorce is biblical (Matt. 5:31-32), when an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage (1 Cor. 7:12-16), or if a spouse dies (1 Cor. 7:39).  The believer must only marry another believer (1 Cor. 7:39).  God does not recognize divorces for nonbiblical reasons; however, if a divorced partner remarries, forming a new covenant relationship, this frees the first spouse to remarry (Deut. 24:1-4). 

     God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), yet, it is recorded in Scripture that God Himself issued a writ of divorce against His people, Israel, after they had repeatedly engaged in spiritual adultery, saying, “I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce” (Jer. 3:8a; cf. Isa. 50:1).  The metaphor of divorce here speaks of God sending the Northern Kingdom of Israel away to their destruction under the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

Note in verse 8 [of Jeremiah 3] that God divorced Israel and that it was because of adultery. The Savior’s words in Matthew 19:9 are consistent with this. He taught that divorce is permissible for an innocent partner when the spouse has been guilty of immorality. When we read in Malachi 2:16 that God hates divorce, it must mean unscriptural divorce, not all divorce.[1]

(This short article is an excerpt from my book: Making a Biblical Marriage.)

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

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[1] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1000.

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Christianity is not a Religion

     Religion is man, by his own efforts, seeking to win the approval of God. This is true of all religions (Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, etc.). Biblical Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God through the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most think of Christians as people who seek to do good works for God in order to be saved; but this is wrong. Rather, a Christian is one for whom God has accomplished our salvation through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

     From the biblical perspective, unsaved people are marred by sin and cannot cleanse themselves (Rom. 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-3). Human good and morality has no saving merit before God (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 4:1-5; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). Work is necessary for our salvation; however, it is not the works we do for God that save us, but rather, it is ONLY the work of Christ that saves.  Only Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life in the sight of God (Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5) and then died a penal substitutionary death on our behalf, bearing the punishment that rightfully belongs to us (John 3:16; Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21).  The death of Christ forever satisfied God’s righteous demands toward our sin (Rom. 3:25-26; 1 John 2:2).

     Salvation comes to us as a free gift (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9), paid in full by the Lord Jesus who bore our sin at the cross (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:18), and who offers us eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28-30), and the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), by a simple act of faith in Jesus as our Savior (John 3:16; Acts 4:12). When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “what must I do to be saved?” Paul replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). Believing in Jesus means we look to Christ as our Savior and accept His atoning work on the cross as sufficient to make us acceptable in the sight of God. Once saved, the Christian is called to a life of good works (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:11-14), but such works are the fruit of salvation and never the cause of it.

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

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Honor the Lord From Your Wealth

Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine (Prov. 3:9-10). 

     This wise word from Solomon was written to his son, a Hebrew living in God’s theocratic kingdom, under the Mosaic Law. Under that system, Israelites were required to pay mandatory tithes from the produce of their land.[1] Through their obedience in giving, they would “Honor the Lord” from their wealth, and the Lord would bless them “with plenty” (Prov. 3:9-10; cf. Deut. 28:1-14). For Solomon, giving to the Lord was a means of honoring Him. 

     Giving was not only to be done for the Temple and priests, but also for the needy in the community. Solomon writes, “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed” (Prov. 19:17), and “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor” (Prov. 22:9), and “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him” (Prov. 14:31). 

     Christians are not under the Mosaic Law (Rom. 6:14), and are not, therefore, obligated to tithe to the local church.[2] However, though we are not commanded to tithe, I would argue that our attitude about money is a sign of our spiritual health. The Lord is certainly very kind to us and gives graciously with an open hand, and grace-minded believers will support His work, both in the church and in the community (i.e. helping one’s neighbor, the homeless, orphans, etc.). There are examples in the New Testament of believers who gave freely to help meet the needs of others (Acts 2:42-45; 4:34-35; 11:27-30; Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:1-5), and this was born out of a heart of compassion.

     Paul taught the Christians at Corinth to give regularly (1 Cor. 16:1-2). The Bible certainly teaches that Christians should support their pastor financially, as Paul writes, “the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14), and “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him (Gal. 6:6; cf. 1 Tim. 5:17-18). However, though it was his right to receive compensation, on at least one occasion, the apostle Paul refused to accept financial contributions from others and supported himself in his own ministry so that his life would be example of sacrificial living.  Paul said:

I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33-35)

     Paul, in the New Testament, wrote that believers should not “to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). Paul then instructed them “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Tim. 6:18-19). Giving for the Lord’s work is legitimate. The issue for the Christian is not how much one gives, but rather, that one gives joyfully, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

Steven R. Cook, M.Div.

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[1] There were actually three tithes the Israelites were obligated to pay: two tithes were required every year to the Temple in order to support the Levites and priests (Deut. 14:22-23; Num. 18:21) and a third tithe was taken every third year to help the poor, the alien, the orphans and the widows (Deut. 14:28-29).  For the most part, the tithes consisted of the fruit and grain that came out of the ground.

[2] See my article: Giving or Tithing?

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