Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Discussion About Tithing

The following is a slightly edited version of a discussion with a Facebook Friend.

Facebook Friend:

Those who teach that God requires 10% of your income be given to a local, religious social club are not teaching either Old or New Testament doctrine.

John Edwards:

To me it doesn't feel adequate to simply command believers that they must 'tithe', but neither would I feel comfortable saying we don't have to - because neither of those two explanations seem like the New Testament approach to Biblical Law.

Facebook Friend:

Well, until it can be solidly established that the New Testament commands it, one cannot, in good conscience, say that it is required.

John Edwards:

True, and neither can I in good conscience say simply that 'tithing' is not required - because that would be as inadequate a reflection of the way the New Testament treats the Law as it would be if I simply commanded that believers must tithe.

Facebook Friend:

One does not need a reason to abandon a doctrine. One needs a reason to espouce it.

How the NT handles the Law has nothing to do with the subject, since the modern doctrine bears no resemblence to the practice depicted in the Law.

John Edwards:

There aren't really any serious evangelicals today who espouse that 'tithing' ought to be practised in a way that exactly resembles the Law. Keeping the Law isn't the objective of anyone's doctrine about tithing today because keeping the Law hasn't been possible since the demise of the Levitical priesthood and Temple.

Instead the objective has been to apply the underlying ethic that was foreshadowed by the Law of the tithe - the only question is, how do we do that in a New Testament way.

The Law of the tithe - in all its details - cannot be followed anymore. But the underlying ethic of God's Law remains unchanged. The question lies in identifying what are the essential components of the underlying ethic.

Is the principle merely to give if we want to? as much as we want to? wherever we want to? when we feel we can afford to?

Or, is giving still an obligation? is there still a right and wrong place to give? can it ever be said that a certain amount isn't quite just? is faith-giving (from a state of lack rather than abundance) still sometimes part of the principle?

After all, Paul did use terminology like: "I robbed other churches to do you service" and "whose duty it is".

Paul appealed to Christ's instructions; and to nature; and to the Law - in order to source principles in support of the churches' practice of giving.

So although I think it's inadequate from a New Testament point of view to simply command 'tithing', neither do I feel that it's adequate to simply speak disparagingly about 'tithing'. Doing so could inadvertently undervalue the manner in which Paul (and the entire New Testament) used the Law to illustrate enduring ethics. There still is something godly about giving as a priority, out of a sense of duty, to the appropriate recipient, and the amount that we give in proportion to our wealth is something that both the Lord Jesus and Paul still made a point of mentioning. The Law of the tithe - as well as the patriarcha' practice of it - illustrated each of these ethics and faith-components quite well.

Of course we can concretely reject any teaching that says we are debtors to keep the Law - but like a bird fluttering-around unable to find a perch for the sole of its foot, I feel it still doesn't ring 100% true either to hear 'tithing' discounted without also showing the manner in which its underlying ethics - all of them - become embodied in the practice of giving as taught in the New Testament See More

There isn't one jot nor tittle of the Law which hasn't been fulfilled by New Testament practice. Our job is to 'rightly divide the word of truth' by showing the manner in which each part of the Law gets fulfilled in the New. And so far, I must confess, I've felt that both sides of the 'tithing' argument have been a little less than adequate in the way they've explain how they arrive at their conclusions. No part of the Old was abolished without first being engulfed into the New - it's up to us as Bible students to show in what way.

Facebook Friend:

What you said might have been valid, except for the fact that the New Testament tells us specifically and clearly how we are to give.

And all evangelical ministers justify their Godless tithing doctrine using Malachi 3:10...a clear allusion to the law...

John Edwards:

The things that the New Testament says about giving, fulfill all of the ethics that were underneath of tithing, don't they? So although we as believers don't follow the Laws of the tithes per se, we will find that our giving fulfills all of the same ethics as 'tithing', because we're walking in love and walking in the Spirit, which fulfills the Law.

Isn't it like asking the question, "Do we have to obey the commandment, 'Thou shalt not covet'"? To simply answer, "Yes" without further explanation, would make us debtor to keep the whole Law. But to simply answer, "No", could give the wrong impression too - because God does still desire that we as believers walk free of covetousness.

So answering either simply "yes" or "no" would both be inadequate. The efficacy of the Gospel is that God actually created in us a new heart and causes us to walk in His ways, free of covetousness.

Hasn't God similarly also empowered us by a new and living way to fulfill all of the ethics that were underneath of the Laws of the tithes, even though we are no longer under those nor any other Law?

Saturday, 23 October 2010

New Creation

The term "new creation" and "new man" meant that neither Jewishness nor Gentileness was relevant anymore. God made a new distinction - those who are "in Christ". It refers corporately to the body of Christ, but also individually to the believer. All the privileges that belong to this corporate, non-Jewish, non-Gentile "new creation" ("new man") belong also to me because I'm a believer - I'm "in Christ"! That makes us Jews "inwardly" - the "Israel of God". This privilege was available to the Jew first and now also to the Gentiles.

How We Please God

Although Paul said believers are not under the Law, he nevertheless described the Christian life as a stand, walk, run, obedience, service and as being led. We are not under Moses' Law, but Paul did mention "the law of Christ" and "this rule". But we are enabled to perform those actions through faith by love, not by our own observance of the Law.

Being "led of the Spirit" is not the same as trying to keep the Law; the "fruit of the Spirit" is not the same as trying to keep the Law - the source is not from ourselves - but from Him.

His Spirit's power is exceedingly great towards us and in us. We are a new creature, a new man. Old things have passed away. This is true in our spirit, in the inner man. Therefore the Christian walk is a walk of being spiritual. We simply have to allow the outworking of what God has worked in us by His Spirit, freely by His grace.

Confess This

Confess this (from Ephesians 1-4).

In Christ:

I am a saint
I am faithful
I am blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
I am chosen
I am holy and without blame before him in love
I was predestined unto the adoption of children to Himself
I am accepted in the beloved
I have redemption
I have forgiveness
I have obtained an inheritance
I was sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise
His exceeding great power is toward me
I have been quickened
I am saved
I am raised up and have been made to sit in heavenly places
I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works
I was made nigh
He is my peace
I am a new creature, a new man
I have been reconciled unto God
I have access by the Spirit unto the Father
I am a fellowcitizen with the saints
I belong to God's house
I am built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone
I am growing unto an holy temple in the Lord
I am built for an habitation of God through the Spirit
I have boldness and access with confidence
I am filled with all the fulness of God
His power works in me
This is my heavenly vocation
And I am part of the unity of the Spirit - I have unity with Christ, with God, with the apostles and prophets, with the saints, and with all believers
I am coming unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: I am growing up into him in all things
I am sealed by the Spirit of God unto the day of redemption

The Source of Better Behaviour Amongst Christians

Better behaviour begins with better revelation - a better revelation of our completeness in Christ - it doesn't come from a more strenuous effort to keep the Law

Not of Works but Unto Good Works

Salvation is not of [from] works - but it is "unto [resulting in] good works" (Ephesians 2:9, 10)!

Monday, 18 October 2010

How to Reduce Cravings by 50%

A doctor-friend of mine said that a person's cravings can be reduced by up to 50% simply by proper nutrition. He was talking about the advantage of including a nutrition program with a rehabilitation program. But I suppose it goes for other types of cravings too besides street drugs - like caffeine, sugar or any type of food. Having a good vegetable juice, fruit juice, or a hearty and balanced meal can reduce cravings seemingly by half. Sometimes eating more can make you eat less (when it's more of the right stuff)!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Profit, Welfare & Foreign-aid

Here are some great quotes which show why capitalism is better than socialism, welfare and foreign aid:

"A deal that is better for you can also be better for them. So, if working for your own interests strikes you as being selfish...then consider it as a favour to them"

"It is my belief that persons who strive to look after their own interests are more likely to contribute to the common good than those who assume the world owes them a living"

"If you don't trade profitably you won't trade for long and if you don't trade at all you will have sealed your fate as surely as if you had gone in for free-fall parachuting - without a parachute"

- Gavin Kennedy


Some people say the existence of aliens can fit with the Book of Genesis because the Book of Genesis, they say, only describes the creation of earth and the human race not of the whole universe.

But the Book of Genesis describes the origin not only of the earth but of "the heaven and the earth". That means the universe, doesn't it? It also describes the origin not only of our solar system but of the stars. Stars exist outside our solar-stystem.

Not only that, but the Bible describes the reason why all the heavenly bodies were made. They were made for earth's benefit - to give light, to mark time and seasons, etc. It doesn't say they were made to be the home of aliens.

But even if the Book of Genesis is only meant to be about what concerns us in our part of the universe, the Bible as a whole describes everything that can have a causal relationship with mankind here on earth.

So I would say the existence of aliens can fit with the Bible only if they exist in another universe that is not capable of ever having a causal relationship with our universe. In which case, we should never see any aliens - not in the past, present nor in our future!

However, I don't think the concept of multiple universes is possible - because the very word 'universe' is meant to describe everything that exists. So I think the existence of aliens is unlikely.

I often say that if their existence starts impacting on my life practically, that's the time I'll start responding to their existence. But in the meantime, I'm happy to stick with Biblical revelation as I currently understand it.

Queensland and Daylight Saving

Here in Queensland, during summer, everyone has the freedom to enjoy extra sunlight in the morning before work, if they want to. At the same time, everyone has the freedom to instead start work early if they want to so they can spend the extra sunlight in the afternoon after work. The government doesn't dictate to us when we will spend the extra sunlight in summer - we can enjoy it in the morning when we're nice and fresh before work, or we can spend it in the afternoon when we're hot and tired after work. It's up to us. It's called freedom!

For example, when I was a TA working for boilermakers, in summer our whole factory consulted with the foreman and decided to come into work early - so we could spend an hour less in the hot afternoon sun and knock-off early instead. Lots of tradies were doing the same. But even though we made the choice to start work early, we still called 4 o'clock 4 o'clock - we didn't call it 5 o'clock!

Whereas, when I worked with shipping and customs offices in the City, we chose to maintain usual office hours during summer so as not to confuse overseas offices who dealt with us hourly. Most offices around the City did the same. Each industry throughout the State of Queensland is free to start and finish work when they see fit - but we still say 4 o'clock is 4'clock.

But that's just us! In Queensland we also still think marriage is between a man and a woman; and abortion kills; narcotics are bad; we shouldn't kill our elderly - and an individual's wealth belongs to the individual not to the whole State. ;)

There is a case in Scripture where the sun actually stood still for about a whole day; and another case where the shadow of the sun actually went backward 10 degrees - but I can't think of a single case in Scripture where, despite nothing changing about the position of the sun, a government was instructed to call it a different hour of the day.

The Mark of the Beast Might Not Be the Microchip

Many of us have been taught that the Bible prophesies a time coming when a worldwide political leader will introduce a microchip which will enable those who accept it to buy and sell, while some who refuse it will be physically unable to buy and sell because there will no longer be any alternative medium of exchange. The microchip allegedly will be implanted invisibly beneath the skin to avoid identity fraud.

But is that what the Bible says?

The Bible doesn't necessarily say that there was no alternative medium of exchange - Revelation 6:6 mentions the use of the currency of the Roman Denarius.

Neither does the Bible necessarily say that the 'mark' of the beast physically enabled people to buy and sell - it could just mean that without it people wouldn't be allowed to buy and sell.

The Bible doesn't mention that the mark had the function of distinguishing one individual from another - rather, it only distinguished between everyone who was marked and everyone who wasn't. So the mark in itself couldn't actually physically facilitate buying and selling.

The Bible doesn't say the mark will be a microchip - a 'mark' is defined as something visible. Last time I checked, microchips are supposed to be implanted invisibly!

The Bible doesn't say that each person was marked in a way that identified him as an individual - it says he was marked with either the beast's name or number, not his own name or number.

The Bible does not say the number of the beast was some symbol of a financial system - it says it was the number of a man - the beast.

The Bible does not say his number was a logo that looks like three sixes - his number was literally six-hundred-sixty-six.

The Bible also implies that John's first-century readers - if they had wisdom - would be aware of the system being used by John when he gave the person's number as six-hundred-sixty-six, enabling them to work-out who the beast might be.

When an allegorical book (the book of Revelation) describes an allegorical beast giving a 'mark', chances are the mark might be allegorical too. After all, was God's mark in the foreheads of the righteous a literal, physical mark - or was it symbolic and spiritual? If one mark was symbolic rather than physical, then maybe the other mark was too. Just a thought!

Besides, even if the mark of the beast was literal, and even if it did have some physical function that directly enabled buying and selling, it still couldn't solve the identity problems that it is purported to solve: if it had electronic signals, those electric signals could still be interfered with even if the chip was placed beneath the skin.

Plus, the Bible says that only those who had already worshipped the beast and his statue were marked by the beast. So, before thinking we've identified the fulfillment of the mark of the beast, shouldn't we first be seeing the worldwide worship of a political leader and of his statue (that's assuming the futurist interpretive model is correct - and that's another question in itself!).

Worshipping the beast and receiving his mark resulted in being cast into the lake of fire. Mere participation in a cashless system would not in itself be indicative of worship, nor would it be eternally damnable - would it?

I'm not necessarily asserting that the microchip can't be the mark of the beast, nor am I hereby proposing any alternative interpretive model - I'm merely pointing-out that to assert that the mark of the beast must be the microchip, requires a fair bit of interpretive licence - maybe more than some people realize.

I'm not even saying that such interpretive licence shouldn't be taken. But if that's what people are doing I just want them to concede that that is what they are doing.

When a Bible-student becomes aware of that, it will have a number of obvious practical and helpful ramifications which needn't be mentioned here.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

How to Help Moody People

Moody people tend to inflict their moods on others. I heard Dennis Prager say:

"It's not easy to change your personality in that way - it is not. But we can help you by not tolerating it. Tolerating the bad-moodedness of people is exactly like bringing an alcoholic another drink. 'Are you really feeling bad? Here, let me get you another drink.' There is no difference - and you know that anyone who did that would be a fool...

...The earlier you teach your child that he or she cannot inflict their mood on others, the easier it is for you and for others...Even a two-year old you don't let do that. Easier to do it at two than at twelve. Far easier at twelve than at twenty-two..."

Monday, 4 October 2010

Stating the Obvious

"We have sunk to a depth in which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men" - Orwell

"As Orwell pointed out, it takes effort and determination to see what is in front of one's face. Among the efforts required is the discarding of the lenses of excessive or bogus theorizing. When it comes to our attempts to understand the phenomena of our own society, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are in the grip of theories that are the equivalent of Hall's Galenical theory, and whether as a result we do not prescribe the legislative equivalents of human skull, mummy dust, and jaw of pike" - Theordore Dalrymple

This may apply to modern paradigms on issues like abortion; same-sex marriage; wealth redistribution; socialism/communism; welfare; modern diagnosis and modern medication especially the diagnosis of alcoholism, drug addiction, psychosomatic "pain" and depression as "diseases" and the prescription of mental medication.

A wise man questions the social and medical science of his own generation.

Daylight Saving - an Ideological Ally of Cultural Relativism

In the middle of summer, sunrise will be at 4:41am. That gives Queenslanders two or three hours, on average, of morning sunlight to enjoy doing whatever we wish to do, before going to work. We can go surfing, attend to the garden, do some... study, spend extra time with the Lord - or we and our employees can even come to work early if we wish to. It gives us total freedom.

Daylight Saving on the other hand sends its unfortunate subjects to work an hour early whether they or their employers wish to or not, robbing them of a whole hour of the best part of the day to do whatever they enjoy. Sure, Daylight Saving gives them that hour back again - but only at the end of a long, hot afternoon after they've already spent their most energetic hours for their employers.

In a Queensland summer, we have the freedom to choose how and when to spend that extra hour of sunlight - but Daylight Saving tells people they WILL go to work early and they WILL have that hour later in the afternoon whether they want it then or not. It robs people of the freedom of choice that we have in Queensland.

And there's something about calling four o'clock five o'clock that doesn't have a parallel in God's character. Four o'clock is four o'clock - that's a fact. It's not five o'clock. It's not in God's character to alter an absolute. But it's a trait of the political Left to mess with absolutes. They refer to God as "he or she"; to marriage as either heterosexual or same-sex; to redistributing other people's profits as the public's right if it suits; to abortion as something other than murder when it suits; same with euthanasia; same with legalizing narcotics. In the same way, there's something unnatural about calling four o'clock five o'clock - it isn't consistent with God's character, in my opinion. Daylight Saving is a natural ally of moral, cultural and political relativism.

It's no surprise therefore that it's the conservative States of Queensland and Western Australia that choose to stick to the freedom and integrity of Standard Time. The more traditional the morals, the more likely they are to want to stick to Standard Time. But our socialist/leftist Labor government wants to change that, even though we the people have already said No in a Referendum.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Daylight Saving

There's something I don't like about the way the Queensland Labor Government keeps suggesting another Referendum on Daylight saving when it isn't long since we had one and voted No. Their continued insistence makes me feel like Daylight Saving comes from the same stuff as the Left's moral, cultural and political relativism.

As one Pastor Tweeted: "Still proud to be a Queenslander - plenty of sunshine without messing with the clock. So, no confusion - church is at usual time tomorrow!"

If synchronization between the Tweed and the Gold Coast is desirable, then the Tweed can change for the Gold Coast not the Gold Coast for the Tweed - the Tweed has more to do with the Gold Coast than it does with Sydney 800km away.

It's interesting that the politically conservative States of Queensland and Western Australia adhere to standard time. Changing to Daylight Saving time seems to be akin to moral and cultural relativism.

Fact: four o'clock is four o'clock. To say it's five o'clock is an aberration, a deformity, mutation, contortion, distortion, malformation, deviation, manipulation, abnormality, defect, irregularity, disturbance, it's akin to relativism, it's the opposite to Conservativism and absolutism, it's latitudinarianist - to be honest, it's like elective cosmetic surgery.

If you want to make more use of daylight, get up an hour earlier - but don't call four o'clock five o'clock.

I wouldn't mind so much if the relativist Left wasn't so imposing after we've already had our say in a Referendum.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Prosperity on Ten Levels

1. Spiritual Prosperity - We can experience the spiritual blessings of God's kingdom - righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit - in our spirit, right now

2. Soul Prosperity - Mental, emotional

3. Bodily Prosperity - Health

4. External Prosperity - Adequate and abundant provision to fulfill God's unique will for your life

5. Family Prosperity - God promises to multiply the number of your children, land

6. Tribal Prosperity - God promises to increase your family into a prosperous tribe

7. National Prosperity - A prosperous nation is comprised of prosperous tribes

8. International Prosperity - A prosperous nation engages other nations, resulting in a mutual increase of prosperity

9. Church Prosperity - The Church - universal and local - is God's family, tribe and nation which engages other nations spreading His prosperity

10. Eternal Prosperity - When Christ returns, perfect and permanent prosperity shall be experienced. In this present world, there is some variation and limitations on different believers' experience of prosperity - depending on their individual calling; the level of persecution they experience; and the circumstances surrounding them - but at the Second Coming all imperfections and limitations shall be replaced by perfect and permanent prosperity and happiness in God's Kingdom. God promises resurrection, victory over death, and eternal life in God's kingdom and glory, to believers in Jesus. We have this confident expectation, but at present, it is unseen. That is our hope - the Good News of the Gospel.

The Imperfectibility of Life

"All things that men desire are not compatible, and therefore discontent is the lot of Man...A man who understands this will not as a result cease to experience incompatible desires...but he will be less embittered that he cannot have everything he wants. An understanding of the imperfectibility of life is necessary for both happiness and virtue" - Theodore Dalrymple on Johnson in "Not With a Bang But a Whimper" Page 29

Our happiness shouldn't depend on the perfect attainment of goals which depend upon the perfect co-operation of others for their perfect attainment. That's unrealistic, and will call for less-than-virtuous strategies and result in frustration.

The source of happiness is in God Himself. And the best course of action is to get a Word from God and do what He tells you to do. That way, you can leave the results to God, and your personal happiness won't go up and down like a thermometre as others' co-operation with your goal goes up and down. Your happiness will come from an inner-knowing that you have done the will of God. Any happiness that you derive from the outcome will be real, but secondary, to that greater source of happiness which no other can interfere with.

"But most people find it more comforting to believe in perfectibility than in imperfectibility...The notion of imperfectibility not only fans existential anxieties but also - by precluding simple solutions to all human problems - places much tougher intellectual demands upon us than utopianism does. Not every question can be answered by reference to a few simple abstract principles that, if followed with sufficient rigor, will supposedly lead to perfection - which is why conservatism is so much more difficult to reduce to slogans than its much more abstract competitors." - T. D.

Dalrymple mentions "the yearning for principles that will abolish human dissatisfactions". He states that removing boundaries to please one's self - as opposed to having a sense of duty - hasn't worked, as a strategy, but has resulted in millions of deaths [under communist revolutions] as well as hurt and broken families [through traditional boundaries being ignored at a family-level].

Even in Christian ministry, we may long for perfectibility. We may therefore long for a station in ministry where perfectibility will be less interrupted, and more possible by hard work alone. There may be times when that's necessary. But often we can miss-out on a fruitful field by leaving it for another that is presumed more fruitful, just because we don't like the imperfectibility of the present field. In that case, it would be better to admit and work with the imperfectibility of the present field - if it is indeed going to prove to be a more fruitful field than another endeavour.

But doing so truly does place much tougher intellectual, emotional and spiritual demands on us! It requires a higher motivation than the motivation of perfection: motives such as service, duty and love - and faith, because you believe that it will prove in the longrun to be a more fruitful field than the alternative field.

But if you know the other field will be more fruitful, then by all means "emigrate" there (figuratively speaking)! But make sure it really will be more fruitful, and doesn't just present a mirage of fruitfulness because of your own imaginings of perfectibility!

Faith, hope, love, service, humility, duty.

The Importance of Grammar

Dalrymple explains that when an educator doens't care for his own bad spelling, let alone his students', it "has the practical effect of encouraging those born in the lower reaches of society to remain there, to enclose them in the mental world of their particular milieu." He goes on to say that, "This is perfectly all right if you also believe that all stations in life are equally good and desirable and that there is nothing to be said for articulate reflection upon human existence. In other words, grammatical latitudinarianism is the natural ideological ally of moral and cultural relativism" - ("Not With a Bang But a Whimper" Page 13)