Is Tithing A New Testament Command?

Detroit Free Press, Saturday, March 16, 1940



Sermon by Dr. J. Frank Norris, Sunday Morning,

March 17, 1940

(Stenographically Reported)

May I raise this question today, a very vital question that many good people have often wanted answered, and I think I have an answer to it from the Word of God.

This is the question: “Is tithing commanded in the New Testament, or is it an Old Testament commandment only?”

There’s no dispute about it being commanded in the Old Testament and practiced.

There have been some very sincere people who question whether or not it is likewise commanded and practiced in the New Testament. So I am going to answer that this morning and I direct your attention to the Scriptures, and you will find in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament:

Heb. 5:5-14: “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.

“As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

“Called of God a high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

I have had some happy experiences early in the mornings. We have a little baby at the house and she has a very peculiar way of getting us all out of bed early in the morning. She doesn’t have any alarm clock – she doesn’t need any to wake up by in time for her milk. So every morning around 5 or 6, I don’t know exactly the hour, but it’s about the same hour every morning that she wakes up for her bottle.

She’s an early riser and so am I, and it is my great joy to get up and get her bottle. I heat it and give it to her and she takes it, she grabs it, and when she is through when the bottle is empty, she throws that bottle just as far as she can across the room.

She is just a baby you understand, but I have seen lot of 40-year-old babies, some 60 and some 70; some 80-year-old babies – just babies in the church, you understand.

Not long ago one came up to me and asked when I was coming to see her – a 60-year-old baby wearing full grown dresses.

Another one came to me – he was wearing trousers, but just a baby. And they have to be treated like babies.

Now then, we read in Heb. 7:1-25:

“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

“To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

“Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

“Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

“And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

“But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

“And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

“And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

“And, as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

“For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

“For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

“And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another Priest,

“Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

“For he testifieth, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

“For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw night unto God.

“And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made Priest:

“(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Now, you know who Melchisedec was?

He was Christ!

He was one of the many pre-incarnation manifestations of Christ!

Did you not know that again and again Christ revealed Himself in person in the Old Testament?

For example, in the 12th chapter of Genesis, 1st verse:

“Now the Lord has said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee:”

Jesus said, “Before Abraham was I am.”

And again Jesus said, “And Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.”

Christ appeared in person to Jacob:

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” Genesis 32:24.

And He appeared unto Moses:

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:14.

He appeared unto Joshua:

“And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant ?” Joshua 5:14.

That’s the description of Jesus’ personality.

I AM the Way.

I AM the Door.

I AM the Resurrection.

I AM my Beloved’s.

I AM the Light.

I AM the First.

I AM their Inheritance.


Christ revealed himself unto David. “Oh Lord, my God,” said David, “be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.” I Chron. 21:17.

Christ revealed Himself in person to Isaiah:

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” Isaiah 6:1.

The seven divine attributes of Melchisedec proved conclusively that he was Christ the seven divine attributes belong to God only, not to man.

1 – King of Righteousness – “The Lord our righteousness.”

2 – King of Peace.

3 – Without father, without mother, without descent; from everlasting to everlasting.

4 – Another divine attribute, having neither beginning of days: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1, 2.

5 – “Nor end of life.” As in 1st Timothy, 6:16: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

6 – The sixth characteristic, “But made like unto the Son of God.” “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:25.

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” Daniel 7:13.

“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” Revelation 1: 13.

7-“Abideth a priest continually.”

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the, uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:23-2″.

Now you notice seven times this expression: “After the order of Melchisedec.”

Seven times the divine priesthood is declared, from lasting to everlasting.

With Him there was no change, therefore Christ revealed Himself as King of Righteousness,

King of Peace,

When he returned from the slaughter of the kings, what did Abraham do?

In that hour of victory and blessing, he GAVE unto Christ!

He gave one-tenth of all the spoils.

He GAVE a tenth of all that he had won.

He did not PAY it.


That’s a very definite point – He GAVE it.

Read very carefully this entire lesson the Abrahamic Covenant.

The covenant that tells of the promises.

The covenant that tells the birth of Christ.

The covenant that tells of the death and the resurrection of Christ.

The covenant that tells of the intercession of Christ.

The covenant that tells of the coming of Christ.

The covenant that tells of the justification by faith.

The covenant that tells of giving of all unto Him as He gave all to us.

That’s the meaning of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The heart of the whole lesson is:

“For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;” Hebrews 7:1.

I have no earthly use for these premillennialists, these Fundamentalists or Orthodox people who sit down, who just sit and sit –

Abraham was a premillennialist, but he went out and won victories for his Lord. (Amens.)

The worst sit-down strike I know about didn’t occur with the CIO and in the automobile industry. They settled that.

But the worst sit-down strike in all history is the sit-down strike in the church of Jesus Christ! (Amens.)

They just sit and sit and SIT! (Amens.)

My Mother had an old settin’ hen and she just set and set, and she took that old hen out and off the nest, and that old hen just went out in the corner of the yard and set on the ground. (Laughter.)

We have a lot of old settin’ hens in the churches – and roosters, too. (Laughter.)

You can solve sit-down strikes in the industrial world, but you can’t solve them in a church. Only the grace of God can do that.

What was the first thing Abraham thought of in the hour of victory?

He said we are not going to have any celebration for what I have done.

He said, “I am going to meet my Lord.”

He said, “I am going to bring my all to Christ.”

He said, “I am going to give God the first.”

“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” I Cor. 16:2.

On the first day of the week he brought his gifts.

On the first day of the week he brought sacrifices that he might have everlasting joy.

That’s what they did in New Testament times.

Therefore Abraham was not under the law this was 430 years before the law and Christ met him and Abraham gave him one-tenth of all, and we are children of Abraham by faith, therefore it’s a New Testament commandment, a New Testament privilege.

Oh, the Finns did not lose the war.

They won!

Leonidas did not lose the battle of Thermopolae Pass.

They won!

A hundred years ago or more every hero at the Alamo was killed.

They did not lose.

They won!

And in this hour of patriotism, that brave little nation has given an example to the world of real courage, and General Mannerheim, their commanding chief, said, “We have paid the last debt to the West.”

It’s Russia who lost.

But I am thinking today when we all go into His presence from a greater battle than ever fought on land or sea, what a reward awaits us, and as Wesley sang:

“Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And gird your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Through his eternal Son.

Strong in the Lord of hosts,
And in his mighty power,
The man who is the Savior trusts
Is more than conqueror.

Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endued,
And take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God.

That, having all things done
And all your conflicts past,
You may o’ercome through Christ alone
And stand complete at last.

From strength to strength go on
Wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day.

Still let the Spirit cry,
In all his soldiers, “Come”
Till Christ the Lord descends from high,
And takes the conquerors home.”

And the words of Isaas Watts:

“Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
And seize it with their eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
Thy glory shall be thine.”

So picture Christ meting the old patriarch Abraham, With more than 300 servants and soldiers in his own household. He brought back Lot and his family and the spoils and lost nothing.

Crushed under the weight of the cross, we are not able to bear, with crown of thorns pressed upon our brow, with the scars of battle in our bodies and souls – but when we say farewell to this old world – one second of vision of His face, His glory, will be reward enough!

How glad then that I gave him a little of my time, a little of my blood, a little of my money, and if regret could come in His glorified presence, I say if regret could come, where no regret or worry ever come, I will tell you who that regret would be. As I look back on this world on fire, the regret would be that when I lived in Detroit, I didn’t do more.

God help us to do more, to bring soul, body, time, purse, all and lay them down at the feet of Him when He returns like He met Abraham. How wonderful then we see Him and hear Him say, “Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord. Away with earthly crowns; away with gold and silver that canker and rust, away with empty honor.” I shall behold Him and be satisfied!

For once, just once in our whole existence if we should stop and think, and think of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in giving Himself, setting us an example, the whole question of giving our money to Him, paying our tithe would be settled forever – “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” (II Cor. 8:9.)

Gratitude alone should prompt us. If you want joy, if you want humility, if you want victory then bring all the tithes into the store house.

“Thy bounties, gracious Lord,
With gratitude we own;
We praise Thy providential grace
That showers its blessings down.

With joy Thy people bring
Their offerings round Thy throne
With thankful souls, behold, we pay
A tribute of Thine own.

Accept this humble mite,
Great sovereign Lord of all;
Nor let our numerous mingling sins
The sacred ointment spoil.

Let the Redeemer’s blood
Diffuse its virtues wide,
Hallow and cleanse our every gift
And all our follies hide.

Oh, may this sacrifice
To Thee, the Lord, ascend,
As odor of a sweet perfume,
Presented by His hand.

Well pleased, our God shall view
The products of His grace,
And, in a plentiful reward,
Fulfill His promises.”