Monday, February 2, 2015
Prosperity: Supplying needs or satisfying greed?
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always under all circumstances whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. 2 Corinthians 9:8
We are in a new series concerning God's will and purpose and plan for our blessing and provision. As I began last week this message is the one message that seems to need much balance in the Body of Christ. One extreme view in Christian circles is God is content and pleased with your lack, misery, and complete famine. The other side takes the extreme position that Biblical wealth is defined as sports cars, flashy clothes, shiny jewelry, large houses and private planes.
I truly believe both of these positions are in serious error. In our last message we dispelled this first myth of extreme poverty. We saw from God's Word that He wills to supply the needs of His people. I want to dispel the other myth of extreme prosperity teaching over this post and possibly the next.
As a believer in Christ with a background in the Word of Faith and prosperity camps I am not unlearned in the prosperity messages. I have sat in service after service hearing a great deal about the subject of wealth and prosperity. I have heard almost every message you could on Mark 10 or Mark 4 and 3 John 2. I have heard message after message on how to sow, how to reap and who to give to, how much to give, and who not to ever give to. So it isn't that I don't have clear understanding on what prosperity teachers are saying.
With this foundation lets examine some of the practices and teachings of the prosperity message. Note that I said the prosperity message and not Biblical provision principles. What about the practice of naming your seed?
The Bible is clear in 2 Corinthians 9 that our offerings or donations to ministries or fellow believers can be likened to a seed that is planted in soil. I have no issue with calling an offering a seed. What then is the basis of giving a name to a seed planted or "sown"? I have heard time and again, "Got a need, plant a seed." It is curious how no passage in the Epistles refers to our giving in such a manner. That is because the motive, the focus of that kind of giving is "self focused". I know some who read this may get offended or upset. I understand I may be stepping on your pet doctrine.
If a doctrine or idea we hold to can't pass the scrutiny of Biblical evidence or confirmation then where did that idea come from? The Biblical evidence or confirmation requires in the mouth of two or three witnesses will a thing be established. Not one time is it stated to give a name to an offering to meet a need or fulfill a desire. I only see Paul seeking an offering to bless others. I never see an attached string saying I am giving this so I can have this or that.
We do see, in Philippians 4 that when the church partnered with Paul to fund the gospel, he reminded them that God is good and they will be taken care of as well. The point and focus of giving wasn't to meet their wants and needs. It was to genuinely support the preaching of the gospel of grace. It was a genuine motive of love. God saw their hearts and responded by saying because you will allow my blessing to flow through you I will always supply you.
Naming your seed is simply a man made idea to generate more offerings and larger donations. It is not found in one single passage in the New Covenant. What about these "debt breaking offerings?"
Again, where is this substantiated by Scripture? I have been in services where a man gets up on stage and declares,
"If you give right now your debt will be supernaturally cancelled!"
I have seen and know of many, many dear precious saints pull crinkled up dollar bills and grocery money and throw it on the altar and I still see them living paycheck to paycheck. I am not talking about 3 weeks I have known them, how about over 10 years Ive seen them struggle? It saddens me how some men in the pulpit manipulate and deceive saints to get them to depart from their money. These debt breaking offerings are yet another unScriptural practice to allure some to depart from money in their wallet.
Can God cancel debts? Can God bless you to pay off debt? Absolutely! He said He would supply our needs. God is still a miracle worker. I have seen debts paid off many times. It rarely came by somebody giving me an envelope full of cash. Many times it came through diligent budgeting and Godly wisdom.
What about throwing money on an altar? Perhaps there is a special offering for a need or mission work. Instead of passing a collection plate a minister may say just drop your offering on the Altar and we will tally it later. That is a convenience motive. No issue there however, I do have issue with the unScriptural practice and idea that by throwing money on an Altar will make it more "anointed" and guaranteed to come back to you in greater measure. Especially so if a minister who is "anointed" walks over the money on the Altar.
These are just some unsound practices and man made ideas. Think of this. How do we know speaking with tongues is not some demonic activity or something unsound? Because in the Word we see more than 3 places it details this practice. How do we know we can use musical instruments in Church? In the New Covenant book of Revelation John describes instruments in Heaven, and in the Psalms God enjoys instruments for His praise.
When we refuse to allow the Word of God to be the final authority in our teachings and practices we open ourselves to these erroneous practices and ideas. The truly sad part is how high minded many of these prosperity preachers can be. They almost assign themselves to some Papal level of ministry. Where because they teach something or do something it must be accepted as right without scrutiny or question because of the fact that they taught it. How dare you question minister so and so. Don't you know who he is? Is what the deceived masses will say when inquiring about the Biblical validity of any of their teachings or practice.
I have witnessed many so called prophecies and words from God given by some of the most well known ministers (TV and crusade ministries) that went nowhere. I recall one such minister tell another extremely well known minister that he was supposed to build something. A second well known minister got up and "confirmed" this. Now this is witnessed by several thousand. The minister concurred. It is God to build this. Did he ever build what he was "instructed"to? No, it was never built. I guess God reserves the right to change His mind with these level of ministers. I guess it was an "optional" word for these level of ministers.
To summarize, many have taken giving and God's promise of provision and perverted it to some greed satisfying philosophy. We need to be more Scripturally knowledgeable to avoid deception and false practices.
I trust these lessons will bring clarity and wisdom to an oft unbalanced subject. Next time we will discuss the greed motives even further. We will learn the truth about the "hundredfold return" teaching. We will discuss in more detail this idea that if you're not a millionaire you've missed God. We will also begin to look at prosperity through the lens of grace and not works. I pray you are blessed and comforted this week