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‘Season of first fruits’ and challenges of pro-New Testament worship

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RELIGIOUS articles on Sunday newspapers contain intriguing controversies pertaining to financial transaction in churches like payment of tithe and first fruit. The Bible in the Book of Leviticus contains modes of worship in the Old Testament guided by the Mosaic Laws.

The agrarian situation dictated what was termed “tithes and tributes”. Others include first fruits and using live animals for burnt offerings for fortunes and cover the sins of the worshippers performed by the priest and high priest. Tithes and tributes were designed to provide for the priest since they were divinely set aside for presiding worship.

In the New Testament mode of worship which is Christian religion, the office of priest with its esoteric conditions was no longer necessary and liberalized so that those who take to head churches should have means of livelihood and not depend on the congregation as in the old dispensation of worship guided by Mosaic Laws. Contrary to expectation, some churches have resorted to the pristine tradition of depending on the congregation for their livelihood. Consequently the issue of tithe and first fruits has ignited unending controversies on financial transactions.

Modes of worship and how those separated to head worshippers were spelt out in the Book of Leviticus. Chapter 27 verse 30 deals on tithe which has penalty in the book of Malachi which stipulated ‘curse’ to defaulters. According to a bible student who chose to remain anonymous, “…the penalty of a curse was effective in the old dispensation mode of worship but it is mischievous for ministers of the gospel to quote that portion of Malachi ostensibly to instill fear on people who are not versed in the scriptures as we are in the era of the new dispensation mode of worship, Christian religion”.

The controversy surrounding payment of tithe by Christians stemmed from the admonition and writings of the apostles from the book of Romans, stating that Mosaic Laws have been nullified by the reincarnation of God-the Son, Jesus Christ, typified by his vicarious death on the cross of Calvary, resurrection and back to Heaven and glorified at the right hand of God-the Father.

The apostles, in the heat of debate among themselves on some aspects of Mosaic Laws, finally resolved that any believer that still reckons with the Mosaic Laws should observe all since it means that the death of our Lord and Saviour means nothing. By the sacrificial death and subsequent grace, it entails that Mosaic Laws did not lead to salvation since worshippers found it difficult to observe them, hence the imperative of the coming of Jesus Christ as saviour and redeemer of mankind to attain salvation and eternal life.

Writing on “Tithe is your tax”, Dr. Francis Akin-John, Sunday Sun, November 4 and 11, pages 37, respectively, was of the view that the controversy on tithe was triggered by disobedient worshippers probably based on some church leaders’ materialistic proclivities. He said: “In recent months, there had been too many unnecessary controversies about payment of tithe, championed largely by individuals that have one axe or the other to grind with the pastors and the church of Jesus”.

Akin-John apparently went political by alluding to the fact that tithe is equivalent to tax demanded by governments. “Your tithe is equal to your tax. Every nation demands for tax from her citizens. It’s your civic responsibility to pay tax to your government, so that it can provide amenities for the populace, and you are expected to be faithful. Well, it is the same thing with the Lord.

Citizens of His Kingdom must pay their tithe for the propagation of the gospel, growth of the church, upkeep of her ministers and caring for the needy. In America, Britain and some European countries, once you pay tithe to your church, with proof of payment, you are automatically exempted from paying tax to the government, simply because the church is partner in progress with the government”.

The bible student countered by saying that tithe-taking church leaders have never been using tithe on sundry stipulations under Mosaic Laws like looking after the poor. “These tithe takers see it as avenue for material acquisition and have never offered help to the poor in their congregations with the proceeds from tithe according to the book of Leviticus.

“Going through the new testament scriptures with understanding, one would know that the apostles enjoined believers to always cross-check what their church leaders teach them with their writings since wolves in sheep’s clothing would emerge to make merchant of the gospel and exploit ignorant and gullible believers after they have gone”.

In the light of the distinct modes of worship between the old and new dispensations in the worship of God, it appears mammoth worshipping has overwhelmed Christian churches especially in Nigeria and other West African countries. “Today’s Christianity is all about how to raise money to wallow in material superabundance.

It is exasperating and unfortunate that some churches are running crazy about tithe and first fruits and have the temerity to describe contrary views on the matter as ‘devilish controversy’. To these mammon pursuers, tithe and first fruit has become a passport to heaven and defaulters are “robbers, criminals and crooks”, according to Dr. Akin-John”, Maxwell Maduka contented.

Akin-John, a church leader apparently regretting low proceeds from tithe in his church said that only “five percent of believers pay tithe”. To this, Maduka said: “The regret is uncalled for since God has raised people who have thrown lurid light on every chapter and verse in the Study Bible. It takes avid readers to traverse the documents to know the truth in the New Testament worship, and airing views contrary to those who make merchants of the gospel is not ‘devilish controversy’ according to Akin-John.

“Protagonists of tithe have been deploying ‘creative’ interpretations to hoodwink people who are not able to read wide and diligently dissect both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to actually know the truth about certain issues pertaining to the modes of worship between the three dispensations in the worship of God viz: [1] Noah’s time, that Pre-Mosaic Law; [2] Mosaic Law, [3] Dispensation of Grace, Christian religion. The first dispensation was a period of laizer fair, that is, anything goes in the name of worshipping God”.

Since the fall of man [Adam and Eve], the earthly nature of man became corrupted and greatly under the overwhelming influence of satan’s kingdom of darkness as darkness is the sphere of demons. Demons inspired modes of worship, hence the killing of human beings for sacrifice and hanging of new born babies in the fire to appease gods or what they had wrongly perceived as the creator of the universe-God.

Many of the churches are family businesses with chains of investments and sundry frivolities they indulge in due to brazen exploitation of the ignorant members through tithe and first-fruits. Simon, as he referred to himself, said that it was immodest for Akin-John to posit that “Tithe is your Tax”, citing some European countries who exempt those who pay tithe from paying tax “but can he say that with respect to Nigeria whereby if one shows evidence of tithe payment, the person will be exempted from payment of tax? Can you imagine how desperate he is in quest of money probably to have his own university and private jets?

“Have you seen how they brazenly manipulate the word of God to hoodwink people because they know that only very few can read wide to grasp the truth in the New Testament dispensation mode of worship? What these people do is ‘political’ tithe since the essence of tithe has been abolished with the Mosaic Laws. Political Tithe in modern exploitative churches is for the headquarters not for the church where members are, contrary to the injunction that “there may be food in my house”.

So politically, “my house” was turned into headquarters! That is why some general overseers are so rich that they venture into what is outside “Great Commission”, by establishing universities where they covet worldly titles like chancellor, float football teams, buy private jets whereby they pay over one thousand dollars every day as fees for parking the jet at air-ports.

Several acres of land are purchased and housing programmes are established for rents during the so-called congregation which is virtually uncalled for. Trillions of money are wasted there for the so-called annual convention just like going to pilgrimage in Jerusalem and Mecca. They tell you that if you step your feet there “your life will not be the same”.

The trillions being invested in the camps are better used in purchasing lands in urban and rural areas to erect befitting places of worship to attract people. The annual camping is simply a money attracting gimmick. In spite of trillions gathered, church workers are paid peanuts even as those in the remote areas trek to church instead of giving them motor cycles and cars while obscene luxuries are perpetrated at the headquarters of the churches, that is Nigerian mentality

Some have the temerity to boast of having many private jets when they could simply use commercial planes to travel and deploy the enormous resources to plating churches instead of having batchers and scramble for uncompleted buildings in towns and villages. These are churches where pastors in the rural communities trek to church and paid N5,000 as salaries, among other disgusting things.

The fact about tithe is that it is not applicable to the “Dispensation of Grace” which is Christian religion. In the private closet, Jesus Christ used to explain to the apostles that with his vicarious death and resurrection on the first day of the week, the mode of worship would radically change from the Old Testament mode of worship and all the appurtenances and demands. Christian religion did not start with the synoptic gospels, rather it started in the Acts of the Apostles, and explanations on the new mode of worship were serially explained in the subsequent write-ups in the New Testament.

When the apostle was explaining about the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ which would abolish human high priest in Hebrews, he made mention of Melchisedec, ‘a High Priest and King of Salem,’ who was a type of Christ with no known family roots, and how Abraham emulated the gentiles who pay what was called “Tithes and Tributes” to their kings who also were called “priests, high priests. But these political tithe takers said: “Oh, tithe is in the new testament” and therefore Christians must be paying tithes.

They even cite the gospels where Christ spoke about tithe not or pretending not to know that Christian church had not started then; that Jesus was attending Sabbath and observing the Mosaic Laws. The Jews never knew his mission, which was to abolish the laws to pave way for the “Dispensation of Grace” which birthed Christian religion.

Bible says that laws are the shadows of the truth to come… Laws were brought by Angels but truth came with Jesus Christ”. Mosaic Laws were meant to prepare true worshippers for the truth about worshipping, as people of God then were not able to cope with the laws because of human weakness.

What people should know is that there are three dispensations in the worship of God viz: [1] the pre-Mosaic Law, when there was a laizer fair attitude to worshipping God. People indulge in anything in the name of worshipping God because there was no guidance from heaven.

This is because God had cut off His spirit from man when Adam and Eve committed sin and man lacked spiritual direction in going about life and worship. So, xxxxxwhat some people who had an inkling of how God were devising all sorts of things and ways in worshipping Him.

Since the Gentiles filled the world, those who had the urge to know the true God had no option than to emulate the gentiles as they worship their deities like killing human beings for sacrifice and killing of new born babies for so many devil-inspired goals and sundry abominable things which their deities demanded.

That was why God asked Abraham to use his son Isaac for sacrifice and having seen that the gentiles do the same thing, he had no objection. But God stopped him along the line and provided a ram for the sacrifice. This was to instruct him that using human beings for sacrifice was not from Him. Similarly, when Japhet, an army general wanted to face his formidable enemies, he made a vow to God that if He granted him victory that he would use any life object that first came out of his compound for sacrifice. God granted him victory. Unfortunately, the first living object that came out from his compound was his daughter and he remembered the vow and wept sorely, but nevertheless sacrificed her.

What God taught Abraham was that a second dispensation was coming where the modalities for worshipping Him would be spelt out; and that was the Mosaic Law. In the book of Leviticus, from chapter 1-27, were prescriptions on worship which were designed to be temporal as God has made provision for the redemption of man to restore his lost glory in the Garden of Eden. Tithe is at verse 30. Isrealites were unable to fulfill the law, hence, the need for the “Third Dispensation” of worship which is Christian religion.

One of the Apostles had to quarrel with some teachers who were forcing the converted gentiles to observe Mosaic Laws, including paying tithes and first fruits, saying that if Mosaic Laws were perfect for man’s salvation, that there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to come and pay the supreme price for the redemption of man.

He also admonished that if one would want to observe some Mosaic Laws, he should observe all of them. Apostles who were versed in the Old Testament knew the origin of tithe and first fruits and other ceremonial observances and thought the Christians alternate ways of receiving material blessings from God.

He thought them about “Sowing sparingly and reaping sparingly; and sowing bountifully and reaping bountifully”, offerings, giving to the poor in the church, supporting church projects by voluntary donations as “God loves a cheerful giver”. A Bible commentary described tithe as “grudging tithes and tributes”, which means that Isrealites were not comfortable in those exactions and were defaulting, hence the invocation of curse in the book of Malachi which was pertaining to the Mosaic Laws.

But political tithe-takers would brazenly quote Malachi as if Christians are bound to Mosaic Laws which prescribed such penalties. It is easy for many Christians to know all these things and that is why they are being threatened and called “criminals and crooks” for not paying political tithes to the crazy materialists who claim to be worshipping God but are actually worshipping Mammon. Do not be dazed by the miracles they perform because God simply overlooks the inordinate quest for material acquisition. Time for judgment will surely come.

The author said that “one out of five Christians pay tithe”. Yes, why not? People have observed that tithes belonged to the Mosaic Laws, and the pre-Mosaic Law tithe originated from the gentiles and copied by Abraham, even as there were no guidelines on the worship of God, hence the need for another dispensation which was the “Dispensation of Laws”.

Political tithe takers should be made to understand that tithe is not human head! If they are in desperate need of money, let them passionately appeal to the congregation who would voluntarily donate more than one year tithe because “God loves a cheerful giver”. For instance, there was a man of God who does not like to pester the congregation for money.

There was a need for seats and he appealed for donation of seats. Wao! Within two Sundays, the auditorium was filled with excess seats. Same goes for other needs in the church. So, why instill fear in the church members that without political tithe they would go to hell as ‘criminals and crooks”? There are so many ways to receive material blessings from God through voluntary giving for the needs of the church, men of God, their families, the under-privileged in the church, etc.

Can you imagine the wickedness and callousness of the political tithe and first fruit takers when they threaten their ignorant members about first fruits in January? They will tell you to bring your January salary when people go through hell in managing their income in paying house rent, school fees, etc, in the harsh month of January!

They do not care if you wallow in privation since they instill fear in you that if you don’t pay your first fruits, you will suffer for the rest of the year. But one thing is clear: if one can afford to pay tithe and first fruits as he has other sources of income, they are simply “Sowing of seeds”, with rewards.

All those things ought to have been explained to people and not to threaten them and instill fear in them. Mosaic Laws were said to be “Shadows” but Truth was to replace them. Sowing remains the “Truth” about tithes and first fruits. Fact therefore remains that if some people would find it convenient to use tithes and first fruits as “seed sowing”, well and good, as long as they do them voluntarily without threats and invocation of curses from the church leaders who are crazy for materialism.

Deceivers who indulge in creative interpretation of tithe said that “Oh, tithe is moral law”, and not affected by the abolition of Mosaic Laws. Did the book of Leviticus indicate that chapter 27: 30 on tithe was moral law?
Was the tithe at pre-Mosaic Law which Abraham copied from the gentiles to pay to Melchdesec moral law?

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