By Ninyo Omidiji
Of all the false theological vehicles used by the material prosperity gospellers to obtain money from their followers, it seems to be the only one that has its origin in Africa, Nigeria to be precise. All the other ones were imported from a section of the American church. It is called the firstfruits offering. From Nigeria, it has been exported to the rest of Africa and other nations of the world.
The proponents of this theology in the church preach it as if it is a powerful “rhema” sent from above. They use it to collect the first salaries of the year from their members and any other time there’s an increase in their earnings. However, those who are privileged to see beyond “the shadows” are fully aware that the doctrine of firstfruits offering is a miscarriage of theology in the church. It is a high-sounding nonsense. It is the brain child of the pervasive greed that has taken over both the pulpits and the pews.
What the teachers of the firstfruits doctrine did was to import the ordinance from Judaism and replace agricultural produce with money. Back in the days, when God gave the law to Israel, one of the articles of the law required the Israelites to bring a good portion (not all) of the first harvest of the canaan soil to the Lord (Exodus 23:19). In another but related development, all the firstborn animals and male children also belonged to the Lord. However, God gave a concession for human firstborn to be redeemed back and this required their parents to buy them back with certain stipulated offerings. That is to say that they would present an offering in their place to the priests so that they could keep their children. In their place, however, God took to himself the tribe of Levi, who were solely dedicated to the service of the temple.
Time would fail me to elucidate on details of these offerings but it would suffice to state their documented purposes here. The purpose of the first fruits offering was purely gratitude; it was meant for Israel to thank God who delivered them from Egypt and gave them houses that they did not build and vineyards that they did not plant in Canaan (Deuteronomy 6:10-11). On the other hand, the purpose of the firstborn redemption offering was to raise a memorial throughout their generation of how God spared all the first born of Israel when the angel of death visited Egypt and took away all the firstborn humans and animals. The first born redemption offering were animal offerings while the first fruits were crops of the land. There was no biblical benchmark as to the proportion of the first harvest considered to be standard. However, according to Jewish historians, the practice popularised by rabbinic recommendations was to give one out of 60 portions of the first harvest as firstfruits offering.
The above narrative was a practice that was sanctioned under the law of Moses and invariably, when the law passed away, it also passed away. I know many Christians have been wrongly schooled to think that the law hasn’t passed away. Hence, they hold unto it like their very lives depend on it. They practice Judaism but they think they are following the “commandments” of Christ.
I know by now, Someone reading this is already thinking of the statement of Jesus where He said that “heaven and earth will pass away but not a single jot will disappear from the law until it is fulfilled. May be this will help – the law was not meant to subsist forever. It was meant to hold sway until it is fulfilled. After Jesus said that statement, He fulfilled the law. He met the righteous requirements of the law and then expired it.
In Romans chapter 10, Paul made reference to his fellow Jews who were still erroneously struggling to keep the law after Jesus had come and gone and put paid to it. In verse 4, he wrote unequivocally: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). Friends, please if this truth can truly sink deep into you, then your deliverance from age-long religious deception will begin: Christ Jesus ended the Law. Period !
I know someone may be curious to know the reason for the law in the first place. Here is it: It was instituted as a tentative arrangement pending the arrival of the fullness of time – the time of the arrival of the saviour whom God has appointed before the foundations the world. God , indeed, has his own calendar and timetable but it is not according to the Gregorian calendar that we use.
Furthermore, the law contained ordinances bordering on diverse offerings, feasts and sacrifices which were also tentative and were not intended to be carried over to the church of Christ. They underpinned Judaism, which is the religion of the Jews. In addition, they were shadows and unclear pictures of what God had planned to do through Christ Jesus. All the offerings put together were a pale representation of how Jesus would offer himself as an acceptable offering on our behalf. They represented symbols, rather than the original. They were the sign posts, not the final destination. They are like the negatives from which a photographer processes the true picture.
What happens when a man sees the true pictures? He would discard the negatives. When a man sees the real substance, he walks away from the shadows and symbols, and focuses on the substance. Shadows may look like it but it is not it. It is not the original.
Christ Jesus is the substance. Those who still stick to the rudiments of the law are either saying that Jesus, the saviour has not come at all or that he failed to fulfill the righteous demands of the law. For us who believe, Christ Jesus is the real first fruit. There is no other firstfruits anymore.
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
I Corinthians 15:20 NKJV
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Romans 8:29 NKJV.
Friends, let me very blunt. Whoever uses the Judaic firstfruits sermons to take an offering from you is extorting money from you. God has not sent him.
Whoever preaches firstborn redemption sermon and collects it’s offering from you is obtaining from you under false pretence. It is called Fraud – Ecclesiastical fraud. God has not sent him. Your redemption is in Christ Jesus and it is complete. It is not in any monetary offering that you could give.
Friends, please mark yourself safe from the fraud packaged in theological garbs known as firstfruits and firstborn redemption offerings. God has not sent anyone to collect anything like that from you. That god that needs to collect your first salary in order to bless you in the new year is not from “heaven”. The god that is so hungry to collect firstborn redemption offering from you is fraud. That god is not your father. That god is not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What beats me hollow is that I know a popular preacher who seems to teach the new testament realities and still manages to extort money from his followers in the name of firstfruits offering every year. How his listeners couldn’t see the contradictions is still a mystery to me.
In conclusion, friends, I need to affirm that I am fully in support of giving. A child of God gives because, by nature, he is generous. If he’s not giving, then he is still a slave; a slave to money and self-indulgence. And let me state that the idea of putting God first has nothing to do with taking your first salaries to church in the name of firstfruits. It has everything to do with meeting needs, everywhere you find them. And the kind of giving sanctioned in the church of Christ must be such that it is “willing and as everyone has determined in his heart”. No cajoling! No promising what God has not promised the believer in order to get into their pockets.
Child of God, never shut your bowels of mercy to do good. However, let 2019 (2022) be the last time anyone will use any Judaic-styled offering to take money from you.
It is a new day!
Picture: creator, Getty images