EMPHASIS ON FAITH ALONE: A Biblical Response to Pastor Adeboye
In recent times, Pastor E. A. Adeboye has been in the news for his teachings on tithe. He has be heard claiming that you are cursed for not paying tithes, you will infect others with your curse, and will not “make” heaven for defaulting in the payment of tithes. Today, I hope to review these assertions in light of the Gospel Message.
In Galatians 3:1, Paul regarded the Galatians as “foolish” and wondered who bewitched them. He used the Greek “anoētoi”, translated as “foolish”, which is an adjective used to describe people who either lack understanding or don’t use their mental and intellectual faculties. This is a debasing description, to be sincere. Imagine me telling my members that they are intellectually unsound!
Why did he use such a strong word to describe them? He did not use such name while referring to the Corinthians who were guilty of denominationalism, abuse of spiritual gifts, denial of bodily resurrection, unwillingness to support God’s work, lawsuits against one another in pagan courts, eating in pagan temples, and even bragging in their tolerance of incest in their midst.
He used the adjective because they failed to grasp the Gospel message and its attendant implications. The Gospel message is all about FAITH, from beginning to end. You do not mix faith with obedience to the Law in order to gain God’s approval. In a previous text of this letter, Chapter 2:15-16 precisely, Paul boldly asserted:
“WE ourselves who are JEWS by birth KNOW , i.e. UNDERSTAND and REALISE WITHOUT ANY IOTA OF DOUBT, THAT a Person is NOT JUSTIFIED by works of the law…”
In other words, if you will be considered or reckoned righteous, it is NOT by obedience to the works of the law. Every GOOD act we can engage in, with basis in the law, CANNOT qualify us for righteousness. Think of every good work found in the Mosaic Laws which are taught in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Think of circumcision, not killing another, honouring one’s parents, not coveting other’s properties, not bearing false witness, paying tithes, the many ceremonial laws, love for God and for one’s neighbour, among many others. Disobeying any of these laws brings curse on a man (Gal. 3:10 cf. Deut. 27:27). This is why not paying tithes brings curse on an individual (cf. Mal. 3:8-10). Pastor E. A. Adeboye was thus right to say that not paying tithes attracts curse on the defaulters. However, that is an incomplete assertion and thus an aberration of the Gospel!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Paul said Christ Jesus has REDEEMED us, “believers”, FROM/OUT OF the Curse of the Law. What is the Curse of the Law? It is the Curse of NOT obeying the Laws of Moses, which includes NOT paying tithes. Thus, if any believer does not pay tithes, he CANNOT be cursed based on Malachi 3:8-10 which Pastor Adeboye quoted! This is NOT because such believer does NOT deserve to be cursed for disobeying BUT because Christ is the believer’s substitute! The curse has been transferred to Jesus and He saved us from it! (Gal. 3:13)
The very unfortunate and pathetic reality is that the Head of a Church named “The REDEEMED Christian Church of God” does NOT understand what it means to be REDEEMED. No wonder, he charges his ignorant followers “Redemption Fee”! It is such people who pay Redemption Fee that Paul described as “Foolish ” in Galatians 3:1. They DO NOT make use of their Intellect. I weep for this set of Christians!
If NO believer CAN be cursed for NOT paying tithes, how come others are affected by a curse that does NOT exist in the first place? You can imagine such a deadly manipulation and misrepresentation of the Gospel!
Not only that, Pastor E. A. Adeboye also pointed out that EVERYONE who does not pay tithes will go to hell! Could it be that the power of tithe is greater than the power of Jesus’ salvific and substitutionary death? Or is it that Jesus will forgive a repentant dying thief on the cross and admit him into Paradise while He discards those for whom He died because they fail to seek justification by obedience to the Law? This kind of teaching is NOT strange! The Judaizers brought it in Galatia: “Be circumcised or go to hell!” What was Paul’s reaction? He said he was surprised that the Galatian believers are quickly DESERTING (FORSAKING, LEAVING, IGNORING) God who called them IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST! In other words, they were not called by doing the works of the Law neither did they receive the Holy Spirit and experience His great manifestations in their midst through obedience to the Law (Gal. 3:2-5); but, now they seek to “upgrade” the perfect work of the Holy Spirit and “update” the finished works of Jesus Christ by seeking submission to the Law!
You might wonder: “Is there ANYTHING WRONG with obeying the Mosaic Law or are we to live lawlessly?” I would answer the second question that we CANNOT be lawless if we walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16) and thus exhibit the fruit of the Spirit AGAINST WHICH there is NO LAW (Gal. 5:23)! Therefore, the accusation of Lawlessness peddled by some preachers against Salvation by grace ALONE through faith ALONE in Christ ALONE to the glory of God ALONE is a malicious misrepresentation!
Now, as for the first question: “Is there ANYTHING WRONG with obeying the Mosaic Law?”, I would start by establishing the fact that FAITH and the Mosaic LAWS are like two parallel lines! Paul said that the Law is NOT OF FAITH! (Gal. 3:12). In other words, you CANNOT allegiance to both at the same time! If you seek to be of the Law, you CANNOT be of Faith and vice versa. No place for middle ground or admixture. If you try to go for the Mosaic Law, you are CERTAINLY and INDISPUTABLY under a curse. And, more unfortunately, you can NEVER be justified no matter the huge efforts you put into obeying the Law (Gal. 3:10-11). This is the message preached by Pastor Adeboye and reechoed by those he ordained into ministry. My home/family church preaches the same. I only pray that God will DELIVER them all (every “tithe or get cursed” church and preacher) from whatever bewitchment they might be under! Amen.
As I was explaining before, the Law and obedience to the Law is NOT of FAITH. If you seek blessings, reversal of curses and everything associated with the Law, through obedience to the Law, you have simply denied Faith! This is because you cannot be on the way to two opposite directions at the same time.
If, however, you are for Faith in Christ, be assured God will declare you righteous “despite your unrighteousness” and you shall live eternally (Gal. 3:11). I wouldn’t know why you will seek to be accepted by God or blessed by Him on account of your obedience when Jesus PURPOSELY CAME and DIED to redeem THOSE (the Israelis) who are UNDER the Law! Jesus came to bring the people to whom the Law of Tithing was given originally OUT OF THE LAW. Pastor Adeboye and similar preachers of “Tithe or be cursed!” are doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Jesus came to do!!! Will it be wrong to say they are enemies of the cross, men whose end is destruction and their god is their belly, glorying in shame with their minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19)???
Let us move on!
Cut-off From Christ?
Pastor Adeboye did NOT stop at “Tithe or be cursed!” He went on to assert that “Tithe or Go to Hell!” Here, again, he contradicts the Gospel Message at its basis. I see this assertion as the product of either an ignorance or a deliberate, evil distortion of the Gospel message! The problem is FOUNDATIONAL and “unnegligible”. Paul said that those who seek to be justified by obeying the law have FALLEN AWAY from Grace and worse is that they are SEVERED (cut off) from Christ! This means that as for many who pay tithes so as not to miss heaven, as preached by Pastor Adeboye, we can safely conclude that they are all CUT OFF AWAY from Christ and have all FALLEN from Grace.
Who is causing this great damage to Christ’s Body? The easygoing, gentle, calm, miracle-working, crowd-pulling Daddy GO of The Redeemed Christian Church of God!
And would anyone expect that I see someone attack the Gospel for which Jesus died and just keep quiet? Listen to Paul again:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. MARK MY WORDS! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised (THOSE WHO SEEK HEAVEN BY PAYING TITHES), Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised (IS COMPELLED TO PAY TITHES) that he is obligated to obey the whole law.” — Galatians 5:1-3
Then, what happens to such people? Paul said they are ALIENATED from Christ! This is the assignment Pastor Adeboye has embarked on and I pray he will NOT succeed!
Now, let us see who indeed is CURSED! Paul declared twice that:
“Let everyone who preaches a gospel contrary to the one the Apostles preached be ACCURSED!” (Galatians 1:8-9)
Now, who is actually accursed: Non-tithers or Pastor Adeboye???
Let God be TRUE ALWAYS and FOREVER while every human teacher that contradicts be a Liar!!!
Written by Anthony Opeyemi Ibn Fawole, who is a theologian and missionary.
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