Question: First of all my greetings to you in the name of our savior Lord Jesus Christ. Having come from a non-Christian background, I have a few questions for clarification. I shall be most grateful on your explaining the same:
TITHING: Could you kindly enlighten me as to why despite Lord Jesus having fulfilled the law once and for all, why does the Church in general (exceptions! be blessed in the name of the Lord) encourage people to tithe (as opposed to offerings or gifts sought or given- not grudgingly or under compulsion - for the extension of God's Kingdom). Is tithing not outside the spirit of the New Testament?
BOOK OF LIFE: Every one is going to be judged on the second coming of the Lord (books will be opened). The general impression given to me is that Christians will find their place in the first resurrection and only non-Christians would be judged by the Lord on the white throne (Rev 20: 12-15). My understanding of the pure WOG without commentaries is to the contrary. The moot question is whether or not anybody's name is in the book of life. This is the central theme of the Bible as I understand. If one carries on and on and never reaches the destination, his efforts are futile and useless however hard work he may have put in
SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN: What does Paul mean when he lays down in I Timothy 4:10 as follows: "-----because we trust in the living God, who is the saviour of all men, specially of those that believe"
May God bless you abundantly for your time and attention.
Response: I entirely agree with you on tithing - tithing was a system of support for the Levites and priests, and for the organization of the temple ministry. In fact, it is more complicated than one "10%" share, as anyone reading the relevant passages can easily see (Lev.27:27-30; Num.18:21-29; Deut.12:6-18; 14:22-29; 26:12). There is no repetition of any such system of tithing given in the New Testament for we who are "under grace, not law" (Rom.6:14-15). Two further observations: 1) Although there is much in the New Testament about the subject of Biblical giving (cf., 1Cor.16:1-4; 2Cor.8:1 - 9:15; etc.), and so plenty of opportunity to mention tithing - if that was supposed to be the standard - , nevertheless, it is not mentioned. This puts the burden of proof clearly upon those who claim that tithing is still legitimate (much less "required"), especially since the information on giving is filled with other details.
2) Since tithing was part and parcel of the temple rite, and since we have two entire books of the New Testament to explain to us why participating in these shadows of Christ's death is no longer appropriate or proper (Galatians and Hebrews, cf. especially Gal.4:8-11; and Heb.10:29-31; - and much elsewhere besides), it is fair to assume that tithing is really not a legitimate thing for any Christian organization to lay upon its members. Beyond all question, giving is important and necessary, but the tone and tenor of the New Testament is that those who can give should give (2Cor.8:13-15). It is also true, however, that proportionality is a true principle before God, that is, the less you have, the more your gift means (cf. Jesus' observation of the widow's small contribution: Lk.21:1-4). Here is another e-mail response on the subject of tithing from a slightly different point of view which you might find helpful:
Is Tithing net or just "gross"?
Church Polity and three other passages.
Some Questions on Church Polity.
Mega-Churches, Emergent Christianity, Spirituality and Materialism.
The Local Church and Personal Ministry I
Your next two questions are, to my way of thinking, interrelated. That is because they both deal with the question of free will vs. the sovereignty of God. For temporal creatures of limited capacity, limited intelligence and limited power that we are, it is hard to fathom the idea that a God of unlimited potential, independent of time and space (because He created them) should have no trouble "making vessels for honor or dishonor" (Rom.9:22-24), and at the same time really give us a choice. But the fact is, that this is just what He has done. It is true that volumes of theological tomes have been written about this - largely to little purpose in my view. This is one of the many things that defy human logic but are entirely logical when the subject is God. He is great enough both to know ahead of time what we would do (and did do) in any and all circumstances, and at the same time actually give us a true free will choice in the matter. Both of these propositions are absolutely crucial to understanding Him and His plan for us. For it is essential to see the lengths to which He has gone to preserve our genuine freedom on the one hand (e.g., were we to see only a small bit of His glory, it would be impossible for mere mortals to deny Him), and the lengths to which He has gone to write this all down in His record ahead of time, foreordaining the choices we actually made (cf. Rom.8:28-30). There is much written about this at ICHTHYS in the Basics #1 Theology study, and in the Satanic Rebellion series, especially part 3.
For more on the book of life in particular, see Part 2A of The Coming Tribulation (The Book of Life). We believers are indeed all written there (cf. Ex.32:32-35; Ps.69:28; Dan.12:1; Phil.4:3; Rev.3:5). It is good to have our names in His record, for it is an assurance of salvation. But it is also true, as seen for example from the Ps.69:28 and Rev.3:5 passages, that by turning away from Him and His Son, in time, is our names can be removed (motivation to stay faithful). As to the time of judgment, we believers are indeed judged by Christ at His return at the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennium (the first resurrection: cf. Rom.14:10; 1Cor.3:11-15; 2Cor.5:10). Unbelievers, on the contrary, are judged at the Great White Throne (i.e., "the last judgment") at the conclusion of time prior to the beginning of the eternal state. All this will be covered in much greater detail in the upcoming part 6 of the Coming Tribulation series (but for now see part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series: "Things to Come"). As the presence of our names in the book (or lack there of) is indicative of salvation, this is indeed from our point of view a critical theme in the Bible - that is to say, in God's plan for us.
And so it is with the phrase "Savior of us all, especially of believers". Christ came to save sinners, all sinners. He came to find the lost sheep - and that is every one of us. God's desire is for all to be saved (Jn.12:47; Acts 17:27;1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9), but the one sin for which our Lord could not die was the rejection of Himself, the rejection of the Person and the work by which we are saved. He is indeed the Savior of all men, having died for all (1Tim.2:6), even for those who would choose to reject Him, and choose, in effect, to have their names excluded from His book.
Hope you find this useful.
Yours in Christ Jesus,