King Rehoboam lost the greater share of his kingdom because of a dispute over the matter of taxes.
Indeed, there was, much more to the argument that split the twelve tribes of Israel into two separate kingdoms and cost Rehoboam ten of these tribes. Solomon had taxed the people to the hilt. To build the temple, his palace and temples for the gods of his many heathen wives, Solomon had to exact heavy taxes from the people. But he had also to conscript the men to labor in the forests of Lebanon to hew him trees and to labor in the erection of these buildings which he had purposed to bring into being. It was also this conscription against which ten of the twelve tribes objected and because of which they left foolish Rehoboam, who did not need these high taxes and conscription. But it certainly is true that a large element of their complaint was the taxes they had to pay.
The wicked Jews tried to trap Jesus by asking Him a question about taxes.
They were desirous of leading Him into a self indictment by having Him say publicly that the Jews should not pay taxes to Caesar. It was a cleverly laid plot. But they underestimated Him with whom they were dealing. He came not to destroy the law or the prophets. He came to uphold the fifth commandment as well as the first. And He told them to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s after having them tell Him whose superscription was to be found on the coins that jingled in their pockets.
And today men jokingly say that there is nothing more certain than death and taxes.
We could add that there is even at death more taxes. The inheritance tax at death takes from the bereaved a large piece of what might be left upon the death of the head of the house.
Politicians, to gain enough votes to assure or reassure their position and office, will make big and bold promises to lower the taxes. And the expression, “Tax-free,” is a welcome sound to the ears of man today. Tax-free means money in the pocket. It means more things that we can buy with our money. And what money we do have will go farther whenever we can be told that the item we are about to pay for is tax-free.
O, but there are so many wonderful things, so many essential things that are absolutely tax-free. There is so much God’s creation that is more than tax-free, so much that is absolutely free. The air which we breathe is free. The sunshine that streams down upon us and warms our air, causes our plants to grow and lights our day does not cost us one cent, not even a penny of tax. The rain that nourishes our crops and gives us food and water for our thirst likewise comes without one penny being paid down upon it or without a bill of any kind being sent us after we received it. The sun rises every morning without a coin being dropped in a slot. The rain falls and cheers the earth without a post card with so much as a four cent stamp upon it being sent to request it. The air is there for us to breathe the moment we come into this world before we could sign on a dotted line. The delivery room may have a fee which the parent is charged for its use. The bed in the ward, the care in the nursery all costs money. But that air is there; and no man has contrived of a way to sell it or charge tax for its use.
Time is also a creature. As we pass through time no one charges us for that time. No man has control of time. And God allots it to you and me tax-free. Talents, gifts, abilities and skills, friends and parents, love and being loved are also free and tax-free.
So is the Word of God. O, you may have to pay the printer and the binder for your Bible. You may have to pay men for their labors and pains in setting up the type and furnishing you with a neat, readable copy of the Word of God. But that Word is free and tax-free. No one pays God for all the revelation which He gave. No prophets paid a fee for the vision and dream and trance which God gave them. And when God preached the first gospel promise in paradise to Adam and Eve, when God preached the first sermon to fallen man, He did not somewhere in the “service” pass the collection plate and exact from Adam and Eve any contribution to help along His cause. It was free and entirely tax-free as well. He charged Noah not a cent for that water of the flood, wherewith all the Church’s enemies were destroyed. Noah received no water bill. All the mighty plagues in Egypt and the wonder of the Red Sea were not charged to Israel’s account. At the River Jordan, as Israel was about to walk between those high walls of water to enter the land of promise, there was no sign that read, “Pay as you enter.” Jesus charged Lazarus no fee, nor Mary and Martha, for bringing him back to this life. You and I paid not one cent for the cross. Even Pilate and Caesar did not pay for that cross, though God used them to furnish it. God caused that tree to grow and gave men the strength to, chop it down and prepare it for a cross. God furnished those nails and created their iron in the beginning. God furnished those Roman soldiers, Pilate, the wicked Jews and Judas. We were not charged even a cent of tax for that whole wonderful cross. Salvation is tax-free! It is FREE. But it is also tax-free.
To induce man to buy, trading stamps are given by many stores and places that sell articles of one sort or another. When a book of a certain number of pages is completely filled with such trading stamps, you can exchange it for certain designated products. This apparently painless way of paying more for our goods seems to reward us with something-for-nothing. But it is not so. Not only because the man down the street who does not give you stamps sells the same products for a lower price and saves himself and you a lot of fuss with licking and keeping stamps and books, but also because when you pick up that item for your full stamp book(s), you are told that there is so much tax yet that you must pay upon the item, even though you do not have to pay for the item (since you paid for it over and over again in the price your merchant had to charge you to be able to “give” you these stamps).
Salvation is NOT that Way!
“By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8. It is the gift of God. That salvation is, because that faith through which God realizes it in you is free. You cannot buy it. There is no store that sells it. And you cannot induce God to sell it. God is not in business. He is no merchant. He has nothing to sell. Remember that! God has NOTHING to sell. He has salvation to GIVE! And He will give it tax-free!
You cannot pay the spring that has given you refreshing water to drink. You cannot reimburse the sun for the light and warmth it has given you. That spring is there to give and not to receive. That sun has been made to give off light and warmth and not to receive anything from us. The light rays and the rain come down upon this earth. But we put nothing back on the sun and do nothing to fill the rain clouds. That is all God’s work. And much more is all this true of our salvation. God is the overflowing FOUNTAIN of all good. He is not a well that we must replenish. He is not an open pit that must collect the fallen rain or be filled with it. He is the fountain, the GIVER of every good and perfect gift. Salvation flows from Him and is not drawn out of Him. Faith is His gift to us, as is that cross, as is His SON, as is His SPIRIT. On the day of Pentecost He POURED OUT His Spirit; and again we read of no fee that He charged, no dotted line that He first requested the Church to sign, no slot was there for coins to be inserted into in order to let loose this flood of spirituality and revelation. Salvation is free. And it is also tax-free.
O, it all cost something. It cost the precious Son of God’s blood. The price was exceedingly high, so high that all men together could not begin to make the smallest down payment upon it. It cost the eternal excruciating pains of hell. It cost the curse of the cross, death and the grave. But that salvation is free to you and me. Christ paid the ransom price to the Father; but you and I have not one cent to pay for it, not even use tax, sales tax, inheritance tax or what have you?
It IS an inheritance. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Romans 8:17. We are begotten again unto a lively hope, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled. I Peter 1:3, 4. But we pay no inheritance tax. In the New Jerusalem there will be no taxes either. There may be nothing more certain than death and taxes; but it is also true that there is nothing more certain after death than that the saints in the new Jerusalem will pay no taxes. We may, of necessity, have to pay taxes in the government of men. The kingdoms of this earth cannot exist without a taxation program. They are not self-sufficient and self-sustaining. But the Kingdom of Heaven is not supported by its citizens. Its King supplies everlastingly all its needs.
And that means that also TODAY, while you and I are still on this earth, we pay NO taxes to that kingdom. There is NO entrance fee, no cover charge, no contributions of any kind. O, indeed, we do contribute to the cause of God’s kingdom here below. But that is after we are in it and not in order to enter it or receive its benefits. These are not to be viewed as tax upon a free gift. Paul tells us inEphesians 2:10 that our good works are before ordained by God that we should walk in them. He tells us in I Corinthians 4:7 that we have nothing that we have not received. John the Baptist says in John 3:27 that “‘A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” Even if we had to pay tax upon our salvation and an inheritance tax to enter the new Jerusalem, that tax would have to be given to us by God. And that would nullify all idea of tax. Then we do not support that Kingdom of Heaven but receive support out of that kingdom. Then we do not repay or reimburse or contribute to God’s cause, but He gives all that which we have free of charge.
It does not depend upon your and my will. That is not something that you and I still contribute; but the very desire for salvation is likewise a benefit of the kingdom which God gives to us. Arminianism of every sort makes our will the entrance fee, the tax we must pay before we can take home the “free” gift of salvation. But nothing is farther from the truth. God Himself says that salvation is tax-free also in regard to this will or desire or “acceptance of the offer.” Through His servant, the Apostle Paul, God says in Philippians 2:12, 13 that we can work out oursalvation only because God works in us both TO WILL and to do. And all this comes to us in God’s grace. We are saved by grace, not by our works. That means also not by the work of our will whereby we desire and seek salvation. This is also plain from Jesus’ words to Nicodemus to the effect that a man must be born again before he can even see the kingdom. No one desires that which he cannot see and does not believe to exist. And no one signs a dotted line, drops a coin in the slot, fills out a request or formulates a desire in order to be born either the fist time or again with the life which is from above.
God asks nothing of you and me. God gives everything to you and me. As far as our salvation is concerned, it is as true as with our natural life: OF Him and THROUGH Him and TO Him are all things. In His fear let us render ALL the glory to HIM!