Before we go on reading this study, please read FirstFruits PART 1 to get a background to understanding what is firstfruits? When was it instituted? Was it a public acknowledgment of the bounty and goodness of God for the generous fruit of the earth?
CLAIMS TO JUSTIFY FIRSTFRUITS GIVING
In this Second Part of the study of firstfruits, we will look at some of the claims that people, usually leaders who teach firstfruits use to justify this doctrine and practice.
CLAIM 1 – IT IS A PERSONAL CONVICTION
Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
I have heard many people use this scripture to say that they are led by the Spirit of God and it is a personal conviction to give firstfruits. When they claim to receive the conviction from the Holy Spirit there is nothing much that anyone else can say. However, the Holy Spirit is not only the spirit of truth but also helps us discern error.
The Holy Spirit was given to reveal Christ and He will help us discern law and grace. How can one claim to hear the voice of the Lord and mix law and grace as well as the old and new covenants? No apostle in the New Covenant has ever asked the local churches to offer firstfruits, whether the twelve of the Lamb or the ascension five-fold graces.
CLAIM 2 – IT IS A PRINCIPLE OF HONOR
Proverbs 3:9 – Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.
The firstfruits were never the same as wealth, possessions or non-food items. The verse in Proverbs 3 is a blessing for Old Covenant Israel who called God, their LORD. Wealth, possessions and non-food items were also called “substance” in the Old Testament. Like all the other occurrences in the Old Testament firstfruits refers only to food.
The “increase” did not apply in years of famine, drought or crop failure. It did not include those with no increase; they brought freewill offerings. The “barns” and “presses” prove that the blessing came in the form of more food. This reference was to the maintenance of the priests and Levites under the law, which among other things, was out of the annual produce of the earth, and the firstfruits of it.
CLAIM 3 – IT IS TAUGHT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The claim that because the New Testament teaches giving and the methods of giving are left to the discretion of the believer, and thus firstfruits are to be given. This is an erroneous claim because although the New Testament teach giving, it does not teach firstfruits, nor did Jesus or any of the apostles mention it. When Christ rose from the dead, He became the firstfruit of all those who were dead, and in this manner He fulfilled the Old Covenant firstfruit.
CLAIM 4 – IT IS PRACTICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS
Matthew 5:20 – “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I John 2:29 – If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
The verses above are used to claim that because the Pharisees gave firstfruits under the law, so we must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and the Scribes by including firstfruits in the new covenant.
This understanding is based on misconceptions. Giving generously and voluntarily are New Covenant principles. But, manipulating scripture to fulfill our desires is not scriptural. Offering firstfruits, under the Law was only to the Priests.
Leviticus 23:20 – And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
Numbers 18:12-13 – All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, the firstfruits of what they give to the LORD, I give to you. The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the LORD, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it.
Deuteronomy 18:3-4 – And this shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him.
CLAIM 5 – FIRSTFRUIT IS A PRIORITY PRINCIPLE.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
This priority principle that some teach is they want God to be first in their lives, in every area of family, ministry, friends and also money. They therefore teach that at the beginning of the year, you should take the best portion of your income and give it to the Lord.
The teaching is to give the whole income for the first month of the year-January, or the total income of the previous year divided by 52. It is also said that the amount given is determined by the Spirit.
I teach the priority principle, seeking the Lord, His will and righteousness, but this is not applied to giving or firstfruits. In fact, when you seek first the kingdom and the righteousness of Christ, all things will be added to us, is the promise.
Paul in his writings makes it immensely clear that the offering given to the Church has to be predetermined in the heart, and not grudgingly or of necessity. It should be a willful, sacrificial and voluntary act, according to your capacity and love for the Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
CLAIM 6 – FIRSTFRUIT TO BE GIVEN AS DISCIPLINE
Matthew 26:41 – “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The claim is that the spirit is willing to give, but the flesh is weak and the flesh does not want to give.
I agree there should be discipline in giving, but again that giving is not according to the law of the Old Covenant but of the heart by faith in the New Covenant.
The claim is also to install a structure in your giving – offering, tithes, and firstfruits and with this structure, you will fulfill your desire to give more to the kingdom of God.
Installing a structure in giving is very good and helpful in the Kingdom of God, but this giving is not necessarily your tithes or firstfruits but again any amount according to your capacity, and not neglecting your daily needs in your family.
CLAIM 7 – GIVING FIRSTFRUITS BRINGS ECONOMIC DOMINION
Proverbs 3:9-10 – Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
The claim is that Economic prosperity is connected to firstfruits.
The New Covenant does not promise economic prosperity with our giving except for the part that our sowing sparingly or generously is connected to a miserly or a cheerful heart. You must remember that you are already blessed in Christ. We do not give to receive but we give because we have been blessed and given all by God.
Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
CLAIM 8 – FIRSTFRUIT IS INSURANCE
Romans 11:16 – “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches”
Yes, you heard it right. I have heard quite a number of people over the years, especially in the apostolic and prophetic who claim that the offering of firstfruits is an insurance. They believe firstfruit blesses the whole and blesses the rest. It is also added that Paul is stating a principle and extracting from the principle.
Firstfruits were very small token offerings which could be carried in a basket. The Israelites were required to offer to God the first-fruits of the earth—both in their raw state, in a sheaf of newly reaped grain, and in their prepared state, made into cakes of dough.
Numbers 15:19-21 – and when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall present a contribution to the LORD. Of the first of your dough you shall present a loaf as a contribution; like a contribution from the threshing floor, so shall you present it. Some of the first of your dough you shall give to the LORD as a contribution throughout your generations.
The firstfruit of the dough are the first believers among the Jews, in the New Covenant. Paul implies believers that were first converted to Christ. These were they who received the firstfruits of the Spirit in Judea, and who first among the Jews hoped and believed in Christ. These were but few in number, as the “firstfruit” is but small in comparison of “the lump,” and humble, and base, as the “root” under the surface.
The people who were converted among the Jews, were initially few, and were truly consecrated and set apart by the Spirit of God; and as they were, so is the whole body of Christ.
The meaning in this context of scripture is of God’s promises to the true believers and spiritual Israel. Those promises began with Abraham in Genesis 12 and were apart from the conditional Old Covenant Law.
Galatians 3:19 – Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary.
Galatians 3:24-25 – Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
The Law was temporary until Christ would come and replace it with the New Covenant written in His own blood. Now the law of Christ is written in our hearts and our giving is based out of a cheerful heart, and the measure is not fixed.
Jeremiah 31:31-36 – “Indeed, a time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the LORD. “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the LORD. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the LORD. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” The LORD has made a promise to Israel. He promises it as the one who fixed the sun to give light by day and the moon and stars to give light by night. He promises it as the one who stirs up the sea so that its waves roll. He promises it as the one who is known as the LORD who rules over all. The LORD affirms, “The descendants of Israel will not cease forever to be a nation in my sight. That could only happen if the fixed ordering of the heavenly lights were to cease to operate before me.”
Hebrews 8:8-13 – But showing its fault, God says to them, “Look, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. “It will not be like the covenant that I made with their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not continue in my covenant and I had no regard for them, says the Lord. “For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people. “And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. “For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.” When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear.
Many things were holy and most holy in the Law which is no longer holy. These were only holy momentarily while the Law was in effect. The book of Leviticus records the details of things called holy and most holy.
When a verse is taken out of context to prove a point and making scripture say what we want to say, it quenches the spirit of truth. It is difficult to understand how Paul is extracting from the principle in relation to giving and economic gain from the scripture which speaks of the remnant of Israel and the grafting of gentiles to be made part of God’s Church and kingdom.
CLAIM 9 – FIRSTFRUIT WILL GIVE REST OF THE BLESSING
Ezekiel 44:30 – And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house.
The claim that firstfruit will deliver the church from an unstable economy is a false claim. The verse above speaks of giving the firstfruit to the priest. And if the claim is accurate, then in the new covenant, there is a priesthood of all believers. So according to their logic of scripture usage, all are supposed to receive firstfruits today. As I mentioned earlier, we are already blessed in all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. We trust our Father to supply our needs even when the economy is unstable.
CLAIM 10 – FIRSTFRUIT BRINGS SUSTENANCE IN FAMINE
The scripture used to justify this claim is from 1 Kings 17.
1Kings 17:9-16 – “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.
The claim is that the widow was sustained in famine because she released the first portion to the man of God.
If we read the verse carefully, we see the widow did not release the first portion but she gave everything she had. If this is to be taken then our everything is to be given to the man of God. God instructs Elijah to go to the widows house. God had already commanded the widow to feed the prophet. She gave everything that she had and the prophet multiplied it. Let us be watchful on how we interpret scripture. Misconstruing scripture to prove our point is not from the Spirit of the Lord.
CLAIM 11 – FIRSTFRUIT IS TO BE GIVEN TO THE SENT ONE | SET-MAN | SPIRITUAL FATHER
There is a claim made that the sent one’s function is different from all other believers. It is also believed that all believers are priests, but not all are sent to us so we must recognize the unique function of the sent one/apostle/prophet/spiritual father – sent to bless me and my family.
The “firstfruit” in Hebrew is “bikkurim” and it means “promise to come.” And there is ‘ONE‘ who never breaks His promise – and the promised ONE came and became the firstfruit offering! That is why the truth behind this “promise to come,” in God’s Word is so powerful.
Paul referred to Jesus’ resurrection as a type of FirstFruit, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” In the new covenant, Christ is the firstfruit.
1 Corinthians 15:20 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
He was the firstfruit of them that had died and by his resurrection, He made a way for the raising up of others, even of all such as were members of His body; as the offering of the firstfruits, under the law, sanctified the whole crop.
The teaching prevalent in many apostolic and prophetic groups today is that when you give your firstfruits or tithes to the set-man or your “spiritual father,” the firstfruit displays a sign of your covenant with him/her as a “spiritual son.” It is also added that the spiritual father’s grace and anointing are imparted to your life, and through this, your life and ministry are matured and enhanced with the DNA of your spiritual father.
This assertion is completely un-biblical. The New Testament does not say that you receive an anointing from or will carry the DNA of your “spiritual father.” But, the scripture says,
Hebrews 9:14-17 – how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven. For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive.
Making covenants with spiritual fathers/mothers/apostles/prophets is not a New Covenant teaching. Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant and it is Christ in us the covenant of God.
May the grace of Christ overflow in you.